This week in Anime: Character arcs out of nowhere, squirrel-on-squirrel ultra-violence, and we wave goodbye to Zetsuen no Tempest and Sasami-san.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure 25
I could spend every week dissecting which parts of Jojo’s work, which parts don’t, and why, but I feel there’s one core reason Jojo’s is compelling to me. It’s a shounen with its imagination limiter removed, so to speak. Jojo’s doesn’t care about being cool, it doesn’t care about making sense, it only cares about being as imaginative and fun as possible. Everything is sacrificed to this end, and David Production is doing everything it can to enhance this with their adaptation. Shounen shows often feature mid-battle cut aways to bystanders gasping in shock, or making key observations. Why not randomly swap the colour palette so everything is purple and orange? Is that not more entertaining to watch?
Zetsuen no Tempest 24
Christ, this show and its red herrings. There was literally no point to that cliffhanger at the end of last week’s episode except to be a cliffhanger. Not gonna lie, not really happy with that finale. Well, not really happy with that whole 2nd half, to be exact. I’m gonna assume the anime doesn’t deviate from the manga in any significant way, so I’m gonna blame the writing issues mainly on the Mangaka. If this assumption is wrong, please correct me down in the comments section.
So, I’m gonna assume Kyō Shirodaira was pretty much making this up as he went along. Plot elements were just thrown in then chucked out as was convenient, like the aforementioned red herring cliff hanger. Remember all that intrigue over who the hell Junichiro actually is and what his powers are? Well, apparently Shirodaira doesn’t. Do we know any more about Evangeline at the end than we did at the end of episode 1? I don’t really feel like I do. Remember how the Tree of Genesis was meant to be a test to humanity? What the hell kind of test was that? Hanemura is getting his ass kicked, the Deus ex Tree comes along with the big fuck-off sword and BAM, it’s all over. I fail to see what exactly that tested about humanity and civilisation in general.
Talking about egregious, poorly fleshed out plot points, why the hell did Shirodaira think it was a good idea to throw in such a crucial a character as Hanemura more than halfway through? For that matter, what thematic purpose did Hanemura even serve in the narrative? What did he bring that making Mahiro or Yoshino the Mage of Exodus wouldn’t have? Talking about which, what was all that garbage about the “heart of Exodus”? Another red herring? Arrrgggghhhh, the sloppiness of the writing is infuriating.
You know what, I could sit here and pick apart the plot all day, let’s move on from that. Before we do though, again, if I’ve missed anything crucial here, please let me know down in the comments. I really feel like I must be missing something, because I honestly have no clue what the final thematic message was, and I’m not entirely sure it’s Tempest’s fault, and that I’m not just being thick, though it probably is Tempest’s fault.
Ok, quickly onto the part of the show I’ve most enjoyed before leaving Tempest behind forever. Yoshino and Mahiro remained interesting throughout, but they barely developed or grew over the series’ two cours. Besides them both being extremely cold and logical for the most part, I’m left about as clueless about what really makes them tick as I was at the start. So they’ve both overcome their grief through the whole saving the world business, and even the show says this is the beginning of their story, not the end. Isn’t this just a bit of a cop-out, though? So they spent an entire series getting over their grief, but in all of that, what really insightful or interesting was ever show or discussed about grief? So they were being too logical and should have left their feelings out more? That’s about it as far as I can tell.
So, Yoshino and Mahiro, competently executed elements but neither ever really rose above competent in terms of complexity or interest. Meanwhile, every other character was either uninteresting throughout, interesting but with no development, or actually devolved throughout (looking at you, Hakaze). Aika remained charming and enigmatic, but most of her quirks were just put down to being the Mage of Exodus, which is kind of boring, explaining away a whole character with one element. Like Yoshino and Mahiro, Aika remained largely an enigma right through to the end.
You know, I’ve been pretty positive about Sasami-san for the past few weeks in spite of how widely it seems have been either ignored or disliked. I’d go so far as to consider myself an apologist for the show. I really do think the cultural cacophony it throws at the viewer is intentional and meant to provoke thought, but I can only take so much before it just feels god-damn incoherent. A whole heap of vital last minute plot elements were introduced, there was a big twist that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, there were a bunch of unresolved plot threads. As far as a finale goes, this just felt like the definition of an incoherent mess to me.
And again, I know I’ve been harping on this a lot, but the finale has now come and gone and I still don’t see how this whole arc really tied into the Ganbaranai theme besides that short hand-wavey piece of dialogue right towards the end. That wasn’t a meaningful link, though. The light novels this is based off of are still going, so maybe a second season will give the show better closure, but to be honest I don’t really see this series selling that well, so who knows if a second season will ever actually happen.
All in all, the finale doesn’t ruin the rest of the show for me. In fact, I’d recommend Sasami-san. It’s pretty slow to get going, but it’s weird and wonderful and it’s one of the more interesting takes on NEET culture I’ve seen in recent years. I’m still a SHAFT fan, for now at least.
Little Busters 25
More and more I feel that the issues with Little Busters may be more with the direction than the writing… Ok, that’s a lie, there’s a lot wrong with the writing, but the point stands. The start of this week’s ep brought Riki’s narcolepsy back into the picture, as far as I can tell, for no better reason than to remind us Riki has that, which is nice of them, because with its current lack of relevance and infrequent occurrence I honestly do forget about it quite often. Anyway, there’s this really nice visual affect of darkness closing in on Riki, but as this is happening Riki narrates about how it disconnected him from the world. Ummm, the visuals got that across quite nicely Little Busters (so did the audio, for that matter), by going ahead and saying it as well you just ruined the nuance of the scene. What the hell is the point of telling a story in a visual medium if you’re not gonna rely on your visuals to actually tell the story a little.
I feel like adapting from a Visual Novel is where it’s most direly necessary to take some liberties with the source material. Kyoto Animation did it with Clannad, not enough so in my opinion, but they undoubtedly turned out something that worked a lot better as an anime than had they adhered really strictly to the visual novel. I assume sticking too close to the source is why we have this really obtrusive narration, maybe J.C. STAFF just threw that in themselves because they’re a bunch of pillocks.
I could nitpick about how Kengo’s arc came out of nowhere, and how the eyepatch girl was a one-off plot mcguffin with the character depth of a wet sponge, but to be honest the pretty music comes on, a bunch of people say a bunch of feel-good stuff, and I kind of go into a trance. Apart from that, Kyousuke’s still a fun character, and everyone else is only interesting when interacting with each other, preferably in some kind of silly, escalating logic ping-pong or dumb antics in general.
Tamako Market 2
I have a theory about Tamako Market. I think it’s a clever attempt by Kyoto Animation to make their older works look better retrospectively to cynical, unpleasable bastards like me. I’m taking another shot at watching Hyouka and it looks fantastic by comparison, so mission success, I guess.
In all seriousness, this is the anime equivalent of valium. It’s not even particularly nice to look at, by Kyoto Animation standards. It’s not as soul-wrenchingly boring as K-On, but the asshole bird is probably the only thing keeping it ahead. I could espouse my views on gormless slice-of-life, but I’ll let the wonderful Robert McKee do it for me:
Regarding this episode in particular,I think Day did a pretty good run-down of it.
I can’t take this amount of vacuous wholesomeness. Dropped.