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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fall 2013 Anime Seventh Look:

Unbreakable Machine Doll is such a horrendous disappointment.  Everything is so cliche.  The girls are always 'I'm tsundere, I'm tsundere.'  And the boys are always 'I'm a badass, I'm a badass.'  It just wears you out.  There's nothing interesting or even believable about the characters in this story anymore.  They give me no reason to want to know what happens next, because I honestly don't care what happens to them anymore.

While I'm dropping shows, I may as well drop Arpeggio of Blue Steel.  For a variety of reasons -- I hated the CG from the very beginning.  It's filler and doesn't follow the manga, which I'm always opposed to even when I haven't, like in this case, even read the manga.  The 'ships' randomly falling in love with people they've barely met and immediately betraying their mission and their comrades makes no sense and is slightly disgusting.  From the very beginning the setting was so lopsided that only these random betrayals could even make the plot work, which is just a sign of bad writing pulling deus ex machinas after putting itself in a corner.

While I'm at it, I can drop Kyoukai no Kanata too.  It's beautiful, to be sure, but the characters are as lacking as ever.  Putting yourself into penury for the sake of bonzai trees is ridiculous.  Doesn't she realize that kind of poverty is a nuisance to the people around her as well as just herself?  That making other people look after her because she's so poor is inconsiderate when you're just blowing all their charity on more bonzai trees?  She may as well be snorting cocaine.

Plus I can't stand the boys constantly chattering on about their taste in girls right in front of the girls they are discussing.  It's so intolerably rude, it's just unbelievable that anyone could act that outrageously, and the girls just put up with it ep after ep.  No girl would actually put up with that crap, so the situation just becomes ridiculous as well as repulsive.

Galilei Donna is as beautiful as Kyoukai no Kanata, but it also has problems of believability.  Why did the pirates spare that guy they had caught over and over again, despite him shooting all those civilians right in front of them while they gaped about doing nothing?  It was just ridiculous how they kept sparing him even as he continuously tried to kill them.  There's no merit in their taking him a hostage and no possible benefit vs. the cost of what he's done to you and will do to you in the future now that he's gotten away.  I'm getting tired of the same groups clashing every episode and nothing ever coming to a lethal resolution no matter how often they fight.  So long as I'm purging everything, I may as well drop this series too.

1.  Monogatari Second Season 
2.  Outbreak Company
3.  Little Busters: Refrain
4.  Noucome
5.  Non Non Biyori
6.  Valvrave 2
7.  Hunter x Hunter 
8.  Naruto
9.  Doki Doki Precure
10.  One Piece
11.  Miss Monochrome

For the rest of this season, I'll restrict myself to watching just the shows that were good enough to qualify for my rankings, plus Miss Monochrome's silly fun 5-minute episodes.  The rest has as many irritating moments as rewarding moments, which adds up to just a giant waste of time.

Meanwhile, Monogatari and Outbreak Company have been truly splendid.  Anyone not watching these two series is a fool.  At this point, instead of watching these mediocre series like Galilei Donna, you'd be better off just rewatching an actually good series that you haven't seen in a while.  But the best thing you could do is watch Maria-sama ga Miteru instead.  The first season is the worst.  It probably has the best art, but it definitely has the worst plot of the four.  It's mainly about people we don't know or care about, because the story is told largely from the viewpoint of Yumi, a 1st year, and yet the story keeps talking about the 3rd year students in the student council who have virtually zero interaction with Yumi.  This leads to a really frustrating beginning, as your rare glimpses of the characters you actually care about, Yumi and her classmates Shimako and Yoshino, are continuously submerged by wild flashbacks into the past of people so non-memorable that they just go by their title instead of their names.

Then the second season begins and something wonderful happens -- the third year students all graduate and leave, and a new crop of first year students appear to replace them, all of whom are pivotal to Yumi and her classmate's lives and constantly interacting with Yumi, Yoshino, and Shimako.  Kanako, Noriko, and Touko are all memorable, wonderful characters that not only are fun in themselves, but also help characterize our protagonists better than ever before.  The second season is the first time we really get to know our true heroines in the story.  In the third season, Yumi and Sachiko get the spotlight, which is always fine because they get along so well together it's just a joy to watch like a spider in the corner of the room.  But the best season is the fourth and final one, which is why I suddenly polevaulted the series up to 60th after finishing watching it.  The story comes to rest on Yumi and Touko, who began their relationship in season two, and now get to bring that relationship to a fruition at the climax of the series.  There are so many episodes in this season that just bring tears to your eyes.  It's like Da Capo II, in that you're practically on the point of tears every episode an entire exhausting half-season long. 

I confess even now that I don't understand Touko's character, which is fine, because it's a complaint all the other characters in the series share, as they all constantly wonder what could be going through her head to act like she does.  But that's okay.  There are probably lots of people like Touko, who never make any sense, whose actions are never what their true intentions were meant to be, and who clumsily go through life always doing the wrong thing despite themselves.  What's so great is Yumi's forgiving heart, which breaks through all of those barriers and eventually saves Touko anyway.  Even Touko complains in the last episode what an unstoppable force Yumi was, despite all of her efforts to push Yumi away.

When you combine this with the fact that Yumi is played by Kana Ueda and Touko by Rie Kugimiya, it becomes clear how the season ended up being so very emotionally telling.  These seiyuu simply hit their performances out of the ballpark.  It may well be the best acting they've ever done.  When they were emotional you could feel their passion, when they were conflicted you could feel their hesitation, when they were putting on a strong front you could feel their phoniness, it was just an auditory tour de force.

My only complaint with Maria-sama ga Miteru is that the story isn't over in the least.  The anime should have a 5th season, and probably more seasons after that as well.  But at least it should have another season, because the light novels it is sourced from have enough material for one.  Until Yumi graduates -- or even until Touko graduates, because at this point I'd be totally fine with her becoming the protagonist and the story continuing from her point of view -- the story simply isn't done yet.  There are still so many precious moments that haven't been unboxed from these maiden's hearts.  Shimako, Yoshino, and Yumi are so beautiful, so different, and yet so loving one to another, that you just went to bask in their radiance forever.  Their trip to Italy together was so beautiful.  I want to keep watching moments like those.  They still have a whole nother year together!

I'll also point out that the constant advertising of Pizza Hut in season four makes you want to stab your eyes out, but if that's what's necessary to fund the next anime season well just keep throwing pizza into my face all day, I'll accept that as a sacrifice that just has to be made.  It's a shame that such an artistic masterpiece, something of such overwhelming aesthetic beauty both visually and auditorily, is defiled by something so earthly as product placement advertising though.

The fact that all of these girls can have such strong feelings for each other, and such powerful bonds that tie them together, without ever resorting to sexual attraction, (except for one third year student who promptly graduates and rids us of her presence) is a liberating feeling.  It gives you hope in mankind, that truly we're better than the animals, and more like the angels above.  These girls feel more like angels than men, and yet they are still troubled, full of doubts, worries, fears, jealousy, anger, impetuousness, etc, just like us.  They are perfect despite their imperfections.  They are better than the angels.  They're what we could aspire to be.

With Maria-sama ga Miteru going so far up, I balanced it out by dropping Jigoku Shoujo all the way down to 111th.  The episodic nature of the series really works against it, but even worse is the intercession of these completely useless outsiders, this reporter and daughter who constantly try to interfere with the story while never achieving any results.  Hopefully they'll go away after the first season, but the damage is already done.  I'm so sick of them and the time they take up which could have been spent inside the heads of the characters seeking revenge instead.  That's what the story was supposed to be about, the people who have grievances.  Outsiders should just stay out of it.  Like channeling the One Power through the taint of the Dark One, Jigoku Shoujo is a wonderful revenge story scooped through the vomit-inducing pointlessness of a wannabe hero meddler.  The resulting compromise place is 111th, for a series I once thought was the best of my Lost World collection.  It's quite the disappointment, but it doesn't matter anymore, because now I have Maria-sama.

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