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Friday, September 13, 2013

Lost World Anime First Impressions: (Part Seven)

Magical Canan:  This show just doesn't measure up.  Magical girls are innately about youth and purity, so turning it into an ecchi-fest is distasteful.  Lyrical Nanoha pulled it off pretty well, but that's because Nanoha is amazing and can do anything.  Not just anyone can copy them.  The art isn't even good enough for the ecchi to be sensible.  Furthermore, the fight scenes are really uninspired and lack any sense of tension.  Even the lead heroine seems to have no shadow, possess no real character that would attract people to watch a TV show about her.  The comedy is lame, for instance, threatening to dissect an alien alive instead of uphold our laws against animal cruelty as a joke is just insulting.  Like Idol series, Mahou Shoujo are a great genre, but there are ways to mess up even this formula.  Fail.

Magikano:  This is supposed to be a comedy, but it isn't funny.  It just feels too unbelievable, sudden, and random to be funny.  Also, a lot of the 'comedic effects' are just annoying, not funny.  Yet again, a guy with zero qualities manages to attract a rich beautiful girl through stupid deus ex machinas.  "he's the only one who can lift my curse!"   Sometimes I wish I didn't have to watch the first episode all the way through and could just stop after five seconds.  I hated this episode from the very beginning but still had to suffer through it to the very end.  Fail.

Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto Natsu no Sora:  The art and animation of this series is so distracting that it's simply impossible to focus on the plot and characters.  I continuously simply stared at the screen trying to determine what was drawn and what was simply a live-action photo.  The two are clearly being used simultaneously, but there's some trick they are doing to blend the two art forms together.  It's dizzying to the eye watching two separate mediums simultaneously.  I struggled the whole time wondering if this was a revolutionary new improvement to anime, a train wreck that ruins the value of the medium, or avant garde experimentation that should only be used in critical times and places according to a genius art director's intuition.  90% of this show is just its presentation, which is distinct from anything else I've ever seen that still goes by the name of 'anime.'  As for the rest, there's some nice girl who lives in sleepy Hokkaido journeying to Tokyo for the first time to get a job as a mage there.  A completely harmless, uninteresting, and replaceable plot and characters that does nothing to grab you.  Maybe that's why they made the setting, ie, the art style, the main character of this series, so that everyone would be too busy looking at perfect tires, wheat, and other nonsense to even notice what the story is doing.

Apparently, this is the 2008 continuation of the 2003 anime that went by the name of 'Someday's Dreamers' in America.  This is one of the reasons I hate corporate involvement in anime.  The title in Japanese means 'What is precious to a magic user, summer skies.'  How on Earth does that translate to 'Someday's Dreamers?'  In any way, shape, or form?  The Americans just pulled a name out of a hat and slapped it onto the story because they didn't like the Japanese title.  Nevermind the author put that title to his story for a reason, and no one else has the right to change it and destroy that artistic vision.  Nevermind the confusion this causes when the story is referred to by its Japanese name, and no one in America has any idea they're talking about the same series.  The two don't seem much related except that they share the same magic system, so it's possible to watch one without the other.  I do recall moderately liking the original Someday's Dreamers as well though, and since they're both adaptations of the same manga, that bodes well for the rest of this series.  Pass.

Maria Holic:  This was released in 2009 by Shaft, so at the same time as they were doing Bakemonogatari.  It has the same artistic weirdness, but it doesn't have the same creative genius behind the writing.  As such, it's not really comparable to what genuinely good avant garde art has to offer.  The 'mature' themes of the story are also rather original.  A lesbian goes to an all-girls catholic school because that automatically doubles her chances of finding a girlfriend, but ends up meeting of all people a crossdressing guy, who abuses his powers as the grandson of the school's chairman to become her roommate.  Is this the story of a girl being 'converted' back to the good side?  Who knows, but I kind of doubt it.  The two don't get along at all, and I feel that the whole situation exists solely for the sake of comedy.  Also, the people here use bad language with each other rather freely, which really isn't in keeping with a Catholic school upbringing.  I wonder why they never learned the manners so well displayed in Maria-sama ga Miteru?  Oh well, it is what it is.  The art style is discombobulating, as is the plot, and the whole thing is just meant to surprise you into laughter because everything isn't what you expected and varies from the norm.  The pacing went well and the dialogue was well written, so there's no reason to object to the show.  It looks like something mediocre people can watch while waiting for the next Monogatari episode to come out in order to get the real deal.  Pass.

Mermaid's Forest:  I'm loathe to diss anything made by Rumiko Takahashi, but Mermaid's Forest sucks.  I have a huge number of problems with this series, but let's start at the beginning -- why on Earth would someone view eternal youth as a curse?  Eternal youth is the dream of all living beings.  The people aren't immortal, whenever they want to die, they just have to cut their heads off.  They simply have been granted the blessing of choosing when they die, because nothing short of that will kill them and they'll never age again.  This is what all our medical science has been attempting to achieve since the dawn of time.  To call that a curse and have a protagonist who wants to 'age and die normally' is absurd.  He's the exact reverse of reality.  Everyone dreams to become him, and he dreams to become us?  That's just stupid.  Then we have this stupidly contrived moral dilemma that makes no sense.  First off, eating mermaid flesh is risky.  Around 9 times in 10, you either die or become a mutant beast instead of achieving immortality.  But these odds are no problem at all.  Just think of it this way, once the initial culling is done, 100% of the human population will be immortal for the rest of time.  The unfortunate ones are only unfortunate for a split second, but the fortunate ones are fortunate forever.  The deal is amazingly in our favor. 

Next up, there's an additional problem that you must eat mermaid flesh (and mermaids must eat humans who eat mermaids), when mermaids are sentient and so this is a no-no.  However, I don't get how this can possibly be an issue.  The anime showed the girl eating just a tiny morsel of mermaid flesh and it was plenty to work its magic.  Therefore, why must you kill a mermaid to get a meal?  We have right now doctors who do surgeries on people just to cut away their excess belly fat.  We could fatten a mermaid up, cut off a bunch of flab, and give the whole world immortality without killing anyone, so the moral dilemma is totally unnecessary.  Or if you don't want to fatten a mermaid up, just make a tiny incision and cut away a bite sized piece of flesh that will heal itself.  I just don't see the issue here.  Furthermore, killing someone reduces their lifespan by, say, 50 years, but one corpse could feed hundreds of people the immortality elixir, each of which extends their lifespan by infinity.  Therefore simple math dictates that we must kill mermaids because the benefit far outweighs the cost. 

It's not just that life will gain more total years of existence this way, they will be years of eternal youth, eternal health, and eternal peace of mind.  Immortality is such a great advantage to life because it removes childhood and old age from the formula.  Old people are ugly, stupid and weak.  They're often in pain.  The years of old age are practically worthless.  The same for young people, they're stupid, weak, emotionally unstable and worst of all helpless and alone.  Middle aged people who have an arsenal of job skills, wealth, spouses, friends, good looks, a fully developed brain, an education and understanding of the world, so on and so forth are infinitely better off than children, who hate their childhood the whole way through development and are always looking forward to the day they'll be grown-ups.  Now, childhood and old age are currently half of people's lifespans -- but for people with eternal youth, we could make those segments of life infinitesimally small.  All the pain associated with being too young or too old would be erased from the human experience.  From here on there would only be the happiness of always being in your prime.

Just think how easily we could abolish poverty once we have eternal youth.  No more dependents, no more health care or social security, no more schools or daycare, all spending could be on ourselves alone.  We would be insanely rich.  Every child in the world is born penniless, but people of eternal youth could gradually accumulate savings for life.  They'd eventually all be billionaires and want for nothing.

The point is, eternal youth is our goal.  It has boundless benefits.  If there were a magic shortcut we should take it, no price is too small.  Saying 'we'd have to murder someone for it' is meaningless.  We murder people for far less than this all the time.  We murder people in order to have the convenience of driving places instead of walking there.  We murder people when our wars produce 'collateral damage' all the time.  We murder babies in abortion clinics every day.  Murder is no big deal.  Life is no big deal.  What's a big deal is eternal youth and happiness for all.  But the whole issue is moot because the universe doesn't work that way.  There's no particular reason why sinning would give us special abilities, so the moral dilemma never comes up in reality.  It's just a silly hypothetical that's totally irrelevant to the real world we live in.  The true path to eternal youth isn't sacrificing virgins or whatever, it's researching stem cells until we figure out how they work.  It's creating computer backups of our brains.  It's doing completely harmless, but technically difficult things that have nothing to do with morality.  Even talking about a subject so silly as the pros and cons of murdering mermaids is a complete waste of time.  Stories should be about some actual decision that people will actually face in their lives, something they can relate to and learn from.  Something as stupid as getting a magic power by sinning against a fantasy creature doesn't help anyone decide anything at all.  Fail.

Moetan:  Yukari Tamura is amazing.  She can make even this series worth watching.  She did the same for Muromi-san for that matter.  A magical girl comedy which includes Yukari Tamura lapsing into long English sentences is as good as it gets.  Yukari Tamura is, of course, the voice of Takamachi Nanoha, the most famous mahou shoujo of all time.   So for her to be playing Magical Teacher Pastel Ink is basically just a tribute to her previous role.  Ink even looks somewhat similar to Nanoha.  The art is good and the plot, well, it can just be ignored.  Just sit back and look at moe girls while listening to the divine voice of the world's greatest, Yukari Tamura.  What more could you ask for in life?  (Except for Yukari Tamura's eternal youth so she can play many more roles into the future, and your eternal youth so that you can listen to them all?)  Pass.

Mokke:  Ayako Kawasumi and Nana Mizuki voice the two sisters in this show, always a strong start.  This show is about Japanese folklore, which is really some messed up, weird stuff.  Japan has way too much folkore.  Even after watching Nurarihyon and Inuyasha, I had no idea what crazy spirits were shown in this series.  As far as I can tell there is more Japanese folklore than all the rest of the world's mythological creatures combined.  Natsume Yuujin-chou was also about folklore, but his kill a monster a week formula got really boring really fast.  Will this show be any better?  Well, it has better voice acting, better art, and better main characters, so that's a  start.  I think it too will founder upon the essential boring-ness of supernatural phenomena and all the stupid myths surrounding them, but for now it was a solid starting episode.  The two sisters caring for each other always strikes a chord (reminds me of Binbou Shimai).  Also, that lineup of seven types of flowers in seven vases was strikingly beautiful.  Japanese have such a wonderful sense of aesthetics.  I've heard of flower arrangements before where seven different flowers were elegantly displayed together, but I've never heard of seven vases lined up of just their own flower in order to compliment each other.  Homogeneity and diversity all at once.  For just that scene alone the episode was worthwhile.  Pass.

Muteki Kanban Musumi:  Another story that thinks simply labeling itself a comedy excuses it from having to uphold any standards in any way.  The art quality is bad.  The animation is bad.  The scenes are either offensive, stupid, or unbelievable.  The occasional laugh can't possibly make up for all the annoying, cliched, failed jokes that litter the battlefield like the French at Verdun.  Fail.

Nagasarete Airantou:  A guy falls off a boat and drifts away onto an island composed solely of ninja women.  Even though the island is composed solely of women, the women there still vary in age from childhood on up, like any normal population pyramid, so it's currently unknown how they've managed to reproduce themselves.  In addition, all these women are still straight, which makes it even weirder that they're still having kids, and all of them want this guy because he's the only man in the universe.  Furthermore it's impossible to leave the island so the guy literally has no competition.  The guy, who's just a complete nobody of no worth, is pursued by girls of infinite beauty and talent, in infinite numbers, such that he has a dream life similar to ancient Chinese emperors or Ottoman sultans.  However, because the show is 'for kids,' instead of becoming the master of a harem and having sex all day every day, he inscrutably turns them all down and avoids girls like they're some sort of curse.  Even though he's attracted to them, he randomly avoids them out of some sort of generalized wussy fear of women.  What a loser.  The show's premise is already ridiculous, but for the guy to turn down the blessing he's been given is even more unforgivable.  It's like turning down eternal youth and calling it some sort of curse.  How stupid can you get?  This is every guy's dream, wasted on the one man who isn't willing to follow through on it.  Why not punch a hole in a Monet painting while you're at it?  Fail.

Nanatsuiro Drops:  By accident, a guy drinks a magic potion that transforms him into a fairy.  He must now pair with a magical girl to collect seven star drops which will undo his curse.  The problem isn't the plot, or the art, it's the characters.  The main lead is really boring, a guy with no decisions because all he can do is try to escape his curse.  Meanwhile, the magical girl is terminally retarded.  Even though she's a high schooler, she acts like a three year old, calling everything amazing like it's the first time she's ever seen it, hopping up and down, drawing out and elongating all her words, crying whenever anything happens, so on and so forth.  This behavior is cute and fitting to a three year old, but is absolutely unacceptable and unappealing when transplanted onto the body of a high schooler.  Girls are supposed to mature over time, not just remain retards for life.  Not that her body has seemingly developed any either, but oh well.  This girl would be great competition for the heroine of Lamune in who could get out of bed or dress faster.  Since they're both gardeners, it would also be exciting to see who took longer tending to a crop, given that they both absolutely suck at it.  Do boys in Japan really want retarded wives who struggle to complete sentences over two words in length?  This is based off a visual novel, so the entire series is supposed to be about enjoying getting intimate with these girls.  And yet she's one of the least attractive girls in history. . . Oh well, I don't think this anime or this visual novel was very popular so I shouldn't condemn Japan too much for it.  Fail.

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