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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December Updates:

Kyoto Animation's first project was this original series concept about space elves who devoured entire dimensions in order to support their own decadent lifestyles.  It was really stupid.  No matter how good it looked, there was just no saving it because there were essentially no characters and the plot made no sense.  It was called Munto.  This coming January, a new original series will be made by Kyoto Animation for the first time since Munto.  They learned from their Munto mistake and have been adapting works all this time, until now.  Now we have their original idea, "Tamako Market."  Like usual it looks beautiful, but I wonder if they've learned from their mistakes in the past in terms of scriptwriting?

For the first time since Munto, Kyoto Animation has also made a series that failed to enter my top 120 anime rankings.  It's almost unbelievable.  Kyoto Animation always makes a fantastic hit.  Always.  Kyoto Animation did Air, Kanon, Clannad, Full Metal Panic, Haruhi Suzumiya, K-On, Lucky Star, Nichijou, and Hyouka before now, and suddenly it's stumbled and made this awful story Chuunibyou instead of the Little Busters it should have adapted.  J.C. Staff is doing a great job with Little Busters, the best it possibly can, but the animation and detail just aren't remotely up to par with Kyoto's previous Key works, like Kanon and Clannad.  It's such a shame to see Key's greatest, most epic title being handled by a second rate animation company.  Nor does Key deserve such treatment. Every Key adaption by Kyoto Animation has sold like bonkers, making Kyoto Animation a ton of money.  They essentially betrayed their partners in Key in order to make this story, Chuunibyou, and what do they have to show for it?

A show where characters don't act like any human person has ever acted in human history, where the romance is half-baked and people treat every little emotional papercut like they've lost all their limbs after jumping on two dozen grenades, and everyone is rude and violent for no good reason.  Worst of all is the dialogue.  It sounds like Shakugan no Shana's constant weird terminology where you never even know what is being said, but this time it's not being said by supernatural entities which at least have some excuse for feeling alien but by normal human beings that are just saying ridiculous things that make no sense, never fit the occasion, and would never be said by anyone no matter how many millenia we fast-forwarded the history of mankind.  Chuunibyou is a positively bad series.  Its only saving grace is how pretty it looks.  Dekomori and Nisemorinatsu are pretty cool characters in themselves, but unfortunately they're just side characters and the story isn't about them, it's about the intolerably annoying main hero and heroine who you just want to throttle every time they open their mouths.

It's been something like ten years since Kyoto Animation made such a bad series.  That it corresponded exactly with the first season of Little Busters, a series that should have been animated by Kyoto Animation like all of Key's predecessors have been, is just adding insult to injury.  And now they plan on making an original series, after Munto was so bad?  If Tamako Market is also terrible, just remember every week a new episode comes out, "Kyoto could have been making Little Busters right now instead," because it will be airing alongside J.C. Staff's Little Busters too.  Every day I watch Chuunibyou said thought rages in the furnace of my heart, and I'll probably be transferring said feeling directly into Tamako Market next season as well.

Ever since K-On I've noticed a sharply downhill trajectory at Kyoto Animation.  Instead of adapting good material like Full Metal Panic, Haruhi, or Little Busters, they keep choosing worse and worse material to work with, almost out of spite, just to show how awesome they personally are that they can adapt any source and still make it good.  Nichijou is a fine series, but why did Kyoto Animation make 24 episodes of Nichijou when it wasn't even willing to make 24 eps of Haruhi Suzumiya?  Hyouka is something like 26 episodes long.  It's barely interesting in all that time Kyoto lavished on it, but meanwhile Haruhi Suzumiya was a huge phenomenon with worldwide backbreaking success, and they give us EIGHT episodes of Endless Eight, thirty minutes depicting the exact same groundhog day every episode for eight weeks in a row, a short story covered in the books in like twenty pages.  That was essentially Kyoto Animation giving their fans the finger.  It was one of the rudest, most obnoxious decisions in animation history.  What kind of company enjoys pulling pranks on their own fans?  This sort of hubris has overtaken Kyoto Animation ever since the end of K-On and it's really starting to take its toll.  It may be that Tamako Market is the last nail in the coffin of Kyoto Animation's reputation, and people start looking to A-1 Pictures, P.A. Works or Shaft for anything that's actually good in the animation world.

In other news, the translators of Bakuman have fully caught up, so it's okay to watch that series again.  Seitokai no Ichizon is only one episode behind now, which is a relief.  But Ginga E Kickoff is still languishing three episodes behind, with no end in sight.  I also grudgingly started watching JoJo's Bizarre adventure again, to keep track of what all the fuss was about.  Supposedly the subsequent arcs to JoJo's storyline are supposed to be much better than the first, so everyone has to keep on watching.  If we count Bakuman, JoJo's, and Seitokai as fall 2012 anime worth watching and actually possible to watch, we're back up to 15 watchable series this fall, a more positive result than the previous dismal 12.  However, Girls und Panzer is being delayed until as far out as spring concerning the last two episodes, so now we're back down to 14 again.  ::shakes head::  This season has been just full of trials and tribulations from all sides.

The only good parts of the new Hayate season were when they adapted portions of the manga about Hinagiku in the beginning.  After that the story just went downhill, to the point that it was some sort of action-adventure-mystery instead of the love comedy it was always meant to be.  It isn't exactly bad filler, but it's a terrible disappointment considering they could have just adapted more of the manga, which is excellent, instead.  It was madness to write an all new story for the Hayate world when there's so much good material just sitting around ready to be used whenever people might desire it.

Also, my memory was playing tricks on me when it comes to Mahoromatic.  I remember it being an excellent story.  And maybe for its era it was.  Maybe ten or twenty years ago, when it came out, there simply wasn't any competition so it automatically got first place.  But watching it again my opinion of it has radically plummeted.  I don't mind all the bare breasts flashed every episode.  In fact, that's one of the series' saving graces.  That and the combat scenes which are sincerely gorgeous to behold and keep you emotionally hooked throughout due to their dramatic life-threatening situations.  The problem is everything else.  First off, the ending is just terrible.  It's totally unlike the rest of the series and feels rushed, stupid, and like it doesn't follow from the rest of the series at all.  But also, the comedy simply doesn't work.  It's hardly ever funny, even though it's constantly trying to be.  Worse, the love doesn't work either.  For a love comedy, for both portions to fail utterly pretty much sinks your boat.  I can see why people would fall in love with Mahoro.  She's pretty, spirited, dedicated, cheerful, kind, practically a perfect human being, despite actually being an android.  What I can't understand is why she would fall in love with the main character she's serving as a maid to, Suguru.  The boy lacks any sort of character.  There's nothing interesting about him at all.  ((And his adult form at the end of the series is even more annoying and stupid than the rest of the series, like he's some sort of lame Cowboy Bebop ripoff pretending to be cool instead of actually cool like Spike was.))  Suguru is this short, glasses wearing, scrawny middle school kid with no distinguishing features.  He's smart and athletic, better than your average guy, but nothing compared to Mahoro's superhuman combat android powers.  He will risk death to protect the people he loves, but that's true of anyone.  Anyone will rise to that occasion if it's forced upon them.  Any mother, any husband, any of the millions of war dead that litter the battlefields of World War I and World War II.  That gives you absolutely zero credits.  It's a human instinct to fear losing people who are special to you more than just the chance of dying ((On the other hand, knowing that you will certainly die and proceeding forward anyway, for the sake of any goal, is an amazing level of courage, reserved only for a special few.  These people are almost superhuman and are extremely admirable)).  Anyone who doesn't possess that feeling is a loser, just possessing such a feeling doesn't make you a winner.  He has no goals and no dreams, not even any hobbies, and lives a completely aimless life of just studying for school and eating lavish meals.  He has absolutely no personality.  He never cracks a joke once in the entire series, that I can remember.  I don't think he ever stands up to anyone, disagrees with anyone, or criticizes anyone.  He's just like a human dishrag, he'll do anything he's told and he'll never do anything he's not told to do.

And to make matters even more ridiculous, this scrawny, glasses-wearing 14 year old randomly is loved by three other classmate girls in addition to his live-in maid.  There is never any explanation for why these girls like this particular guy.  They occasionally talk about how much they admire him, but you never once see, in the anime, any of these admirable traits they say he has.  It's inconceivable that three separate girls would all fall in love with the same guy, who shows zero consideration for them and has never shared any special moments or memories with them, because they admire him from afar for traits he doesn't even have.  I'm getting really tired of this trope in anime.  In the very first episode of Oniichan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kakeinai i-yo, there was this sister who had a romantic crush on her brother.  I thought, okay, that's strange, but I guess it could happen, since they have an entire lifetime of memories together and whatnot.  Then halfway through the episode three more girls, without any introduction whatsoever, suddenly appeared and were also all in love with the same boy, were all open about this fact, and yet the boy wasn't interested in any of them.  Four girls openly in love with the same guy and chasing him around while he complains about what a hassle it all is, none of whom could possibly love him for any legitimate reason.  I stopped after the first episode of that series -- and yet I not only watched Mahoromatic but even rewatched it a second time, despite having the exact same trope.  >.<.

In To Heart, the main character had to take the initiative to win the feelings of the girls around him.  He had to actually go do things with them, reassure them, encourage them, or inspire them with his words and deeds.  In the very beginning, it was clear why Akari would love him, because from the very beginning, at just age 5, he protected her from rain, cold, and shame by picking up her spilled schoolbooks and then exchanging his with hers, so she got to bring clean dry textbooks to class while he had to live with the consequences of her mistake.  Then there was that incredible episode in To Heart where the main character came over to study at Akari's place.  Originally, some other friends were supposed to be there, but they never showed up.  Instead of acting embarrassed or canceling the study session, they just went about their project cheerfully and seriously, eating when they got hungry, having fun when they got bored, and then sleeping when they got tired.  They were so natural together, so comfortable, so in tune with one another's thoughts and feelings, that it felt like they were one soul just sharing two different bodies.  The maturity of that relationship, the strength of that bond, felt like something legendary, beyond all comprehension by mortal man.  That is a romance story.  Mahoromatic should have learned a thing or two from To Heart when it had the chance.

In short, Mahoromatic is henceforth banished from the rankings.  It joins other series I remembered were good but when I rewatched were actually mediocre or even terrible like Saber Marionette and X.  But I don't have any good replacement for it right now.  Once the winter season begins, a few candidates will appear to take up Mahoromatic's slot, and Saint Tail's eternal placeholder slot.  Who has the chance to fill these two missing rankings?

Tamako Market?  Chihayafuru?  GJ-Bu?  Vividred Operation?  Yama no Susume?  Love Live?  There's a lot of good possibilities, so it's actually very nice that there's room in my rankings for more series, without having to kick out any of the good ones that are already resident.  The winter season is only a few heartbeats away.  There's like, one week more of fall anime shows, and then a break for Christmas and New Year's, and then the explosion of new content begins.  The winter anime season will join the final Wheel of Time book and the college bowl season for the greatest January ever.  Tanashinimi!

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