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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lost World Anime Second Look: (Part Three)

Next to be cut are -->

Ookiku Furikabutte.  I can't exactly place why I dislike this show, but if I narrow it down to one word it's 'unrealistic.'  By the time boys are in high school they are not easily impressionable by adults.  They are set in their ways and have decided virtually everything they will ever decide about themselves.  The idea that a coach, or a manager, or whatever, could just waltz in and transform every boy on the team into a completely different type of person is absurd.  Nor could that coach get all the boys on the team to become best friends overnight and sleep together, or hold hands, or whatever demented new plan the coach comes up with.  If you want a realistic portrayal of a high school boy, look at Oreki from Hyouka.  He hates changing, and only does it grudgingly when offered a great reward (the girl he loves) if he does so.  It takes months, years of erosion before his personality is visibly different in the least.  And he's way too stubborn to do anything just because an adult tells him to do so, the motivation to change had to come entirely from within.

I also have a feeling that this sports anime is pointless.  In Cross Game and Major, people were dying left and right.  It made baseball feel important, absolutely vital to the characters playing the game.  In this you can tell they're just doing it to have fun and waste time.  They're just kids being kids.  I get no sense of urgency or purpose from their play.  It's just them playing.  In Saki, the girls are so serious about winning at Mahjong they'll risk death for their team.  (I'm not kidding!  Watch Onjouji Touki's game!)  That's the only level of sports worth watching.  If your heart isn't in it, if you're just playing around, it's just a waste of time for anyone else to watch.  The gymnasts at the Olympics have all risked their lives to put on the performance they put on in London of 2012.  That's why we watch them.  Why on Earth should I be wasting my time with these guys?

Look how devastated Tomoka was when she thought of giving up basketball in Ro-Kyu-Bu.  She was in tears.  Look how hard Kouta or Shota or whoever worked to reform the Predators in Ginga E Kickoff because he wanted to continue playing soccer.  In Chihayafuru, people are passing out in the middle of games and breaking their fingers to win at Karuta.  No one in Ookiku Furikabutte cares 1/10 as much as those protagonists did.  If they don't care about baseball, why should I?

At the heart of what makes sports interesting is passion.  It's how people will drive themselves to their physical, mental, and emotional limits in order to win.  The competition is there to evince that level of effort.  Without competition, if it were just bowling, people could just half-ass their way through any sport.  But with the competition, Hikaru had to train endlessly if he wanted to even stand a chance against his rival Akira in Hikaru no Go.  But it isn't competition that defines a sport -- if both sides are playing half-assedly, it's still just playground fun -- sports begins when passion begins and not before.  I wanted to see more passion in Ookiku Furikabutte.  Instead I saw a lot of horseplay, pseudo-scientific psychobabble about dinner, and gossip about who is dating whom.  Maybe Ace of Diamond will be better.

Planetes.  I couldn't get through the second episode of this show.  The complete lack of professionalism at this workplace is just unacceptable.  First a bunch of guys are dancing around with their shirts off in the middle of work with the girls having to watch them, which is sexual harassment as well as clearly slacking off.  A few minutes later all the guys at the job are drinking and gambling.  Then halfway through the episode the guy gets into a brawl with men from another department, which would clearly be a firing offense in any other workplace.   I just can't take it anymore.  These people aren't fit to be dog walkers much less astronauts.  What were they thinking, making a show supposedly about work be the furthest thing from work I've ever seen?  On second look this show should have been canned from the beginning.

Shining Tears x Wind.  This isn't a terrible anime.  But the budget is really low.  It's less an anime and more a series of still frames.  In addition, it's really annoying to have a show about a swordsman who goes around cutting everything, and yet not a single drop of blood flows as a result of any of his strikes.  Even One Piece has blood, so this is really kiddy grade.  My next objection is that the pacing is way too fast.  Things happen in a jumble, one thing leads to the next way too suddenly, huge timeskips transpire even though the story just started, etc.  It was never really made clear why these two were fighting a war for a country they had just been teleported to a few days ago.  What's it to them who wins or loses?  Ultimately, when you can't understand the motivations of the people fighting, the fighting itself becomes extremely boring.  In fact, fighting when it isn't a clash of passionate wills is the exact same as sports when it isn't a clash of passionate wills -- boring and pointless.

Strawberry Panic.  Slowly but surely, this show revealed itself to be utterly bland and pointless.  If the girl would just kiss Etoile-sama already that would at least be something, but for their kisses to be constantly interrupted at the last second over and over is just so unrealistic.  It's just some dumb anime trope to always interrupt any plot development at the last second and make you watch the next episode in hopes of the plot continuing.  But there is no plot development in this series.  Hell, there aren't any problems to overcome in the first place.  These people are living idyllic lives with no issues at all, so there's no telling why there's a story about them in the first place.  With so little plot or characterization, and so many 'almost kiss' scenes, it feels more like porn than storytelling.  Too bad, because the art and voice acting is fine, but the story is just too weak to sustain interest any further.

Tokyo Underground.  It's like E's Otherwise or Kurokami.  I've developed a sudden complete lack of interest in these chuunibyou type shows.  Villain A reveals power B that our hero has to overcome with flashy move z.  However, even though he won this time, Villain C with power D is just around the corner.  Can you really win next time, shonen?  There's simply no interesting characterization here.  Everything is so simple and direct.  Save the damsel in distress.  If anything goes wrong, get brought back to life by magic.  Fight the obviously evil villains in front of you, who all conveniently come to your house one at a time so as not to disrupt your normal school life in modern Japan.  It's just so dumb.  Basically, it's boys fantasizing about their life suddenly turning into the subject of a novel.  Take a normal guy, and suddenly be given super powers, a girlfriend falls from the sky (or in this case digs her way up to the surface), and you get to be a hero by pounding various villains one after the next.  Tokyo Underground is 100% a chuunibyou fantasy, it could've come straight out of the diary in Oreshura it's so unoriginal and silly.  Compared to this, to think there are shows like Kin-iro Mosaic and Kitakubu, where every second of dialogue is scintillating and unique. . .

The point is, why watch bad shonen stories when we already have good ones?  In good shonen action stories, people live in a fantasy setting much different from the world of today.  These people live in a world where super powers are systematic, where one person having them is no big deal because many others do as well.  If you want your super power to get you anywhere, you have to train hard all your life to develop it to a level beyond your rivals.  Then, it's those who most intelligently fight by using the system of magic and resource management best who prevail in the end.  Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, Bleach, Naruto, Dragonball and One Piece all fall into these rules.  E's Otherwise, Kurokami and Tokyo Underground do not.

Uta Kata.  It's just too boring to watch through the second episode.  Everyone and everything seems so lifeless, phony, and pointless.  No one seems serious about anything they're doing.  In which case, why do it?  Or more importantly, why watch?

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Alternatively, on the passing side, Okusama wa Joshi Kosei was sweet and emotional, but I do worry they're concentrating too much on the ecchi aspects.  Well, if Ro-Kyu-Bu can get away with it so can Okusama. 

Polyphonica continues to excel due to Coatie's great personality.  It might also be due to the fact that Coatie is played by Haruka Tomatsu.  What a lovely voice.  In addition, the rest of the cast is also stellar, with the male lead being Hiroshi Kamiya, and Coatie's coworkers being Ayako Kawasumi and Nana Mizuki.  It's hard to go wrong when you gather together this much talent in one place, even if the show is basically about work.

Rocket Girls is amazing!  At this rate, it's a definite include in my rankings.  To think she would meet her long-lost father in just the second episode, and that the beautiful Solomon Islander is actually her half-Japanese half-sister.  Ah, man, these developments couldn't get any better.  I love the pacing, I love the characters, and the girls are so pretty.  This is what anime can be when its full potential is brought out, not just 'cute' like Puchi Puri, but wonder-inducing like the descent of angels.

Saiunkoku Monogatari is very solid.  The second episode was a perfect blend of carrot and stick to get the emperor to stop wasting his time seeking pleasure when there was much more he could do to prevent the people's pain.  She gave him a firm lesson in utilitarianism there, if I don't say so myself.  This looks like a great series, but my only worry is that the anime ends in 2008, whereas the light novels the anime is based off of ended in 2011.  Unless the anime is clairvoyant, this means it comes up with an anime-original ending, like the awful filler of Soul Eater, or just fades away into nothingness in the middle of its plot.  Neither option seems very attractive, so you just know that this whole series will crash and burn eventually, just like Gakuen Alice, because all it can do is introduce plot elements without ever resolving a single one of them.  How many good anime series end up like this?  It's the same as Full Metal Panic.  The light novel series is done, so there's nothing stopping the anime from giving a satisfying conclusion as well, but the anime just doesn't happen.  Why?  Oreimo got to be animated all the way to its conclusion.  Shinsekai Yori was animated to the very end.  So why not Saiunkoku Monogatari?  Such a waste.

Puchi Puri Yuushi is cute, so it's fine.

Sky Girls is cute, so it's fine.

Hit o Narae has a decent plot, despite all the ecchi nonsense, so it's fine.

Sola is pretty, so it's fine.

Tales of Eternia has good voice acting, so it's fine.

 W Wish is cute, so it's fine.

I already finished watching Kimi ga Nozomi Eien, Hani Hani Operation Sanctuary, Tsukuyomi, Tayutama and Tsuyokiss so they're obviously watchable shows.

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And that's it.  Finally done.  Since I liked the second episode of all of these series, I'll surely enjoy the third episodes too.  In which case, all of the series that survived my second cut can join my compiled anime list, at which point they'll be eligible for my rankings list.  That's 40 shows, or 74% of the shows which passed my first impressions, or in other words, 30% of my original Lost World anime list will actually reach my compiled anime list.  Pulling from that compiled anime list, only the top 1/3 actually reach my anime rankings list.  That's a pretty deadly survival rate, if I say so myself.  High standards lead to good results.  It's because I've cut so much that I can be so confident that every series in my rankings is beyond excellence.

This Lost World hunt for old anime was also a complete survey of every possible good series I had missed in the past.  Which means if a show doesn't appear on my rankings now, it isn't because I haven't seen it or don't know about it -- it's because it simply wasn't good enough.  I've now seen and know about every possible good anime in existence, and judged every single one of those series for myself.  As such, these rankings are the final word in good anime, irrefutable and absolute.  Mwahahahahahahahaha!

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