"Huh? Where did the school festival go? ...Ah well."
SCANDAL's dozen one minute episodes are by nature quite restrictive, but this is a series that knows how to make the most of what it has! ...is what I would like to say, but unfortunately when the question of how to utilize a handful of 60 second segments was posed, SCANDAL had trouble finding an answer. Luckily, it's not without its charms.
SCANDAL's brief duration doesn't give it a lot of room to develop much of a plot, and I came into it with low expectations accordingly. After all, semi-plotlessness can be fun too! Sadly, SCANDAL failed to get within even a stone's throw of my already low expectations. The vignettes are sparse, with very little to connect them and no semblance of segue from one to the next. Just when it seems they've found something to focus on, the episode will end and the next opens with something entirely different; the dawning realization that the new topic introduced will be dropped just as quickly is a frustrating one. The closest SCANDAL has to an overarching storyline is the girls' intent to put together a band so they can perform at their school festival. After the first episode this purpose is touched on only twice in the entire duration of the series: first when one girl comments they need to be sure to return home in time for the school festival, and then the last line in the series, quoted above. The entire purpose is almost immediately lost in the series' "free association" style plot, and it's not creative or entertaining. It's simply poor storytelling.
This would be much less damning if the series was character-driven, but it falls flat in that respect as well. The girls are not developed; I'm hard pressed to say they're even established to begin with. They are generic to the point of being interchangeable. They're stylish, trendy, allegedly musically talented, and entirely forgettable to the point that I can't even remember their names. At least the one personality they all seem to share is a cute one...
SCANDAL doesn't have a lot to brag about aesthetically, but my expectations were low there as well and I'd say they were pretty much met. The cute, oversimplified style works nicely with the sparse plot and characterization but in a substantially less troublesome manner. The animation itself is choppy and somewhat awkward, but again, it just seems to work somehow.
The audio aspect is split down the middle, unfortunately, with the half falling flat being the voice work. As the characters are voiced by the girls they represent and these girls are obviously not voice actors I was not expecting much, but they delivered so little I had to wonder if they were even trying. Their collective tendency to slur and mumble becomes grating quickly; even though they are meant to represent themselves, it seems they gave no consideration to the requirements of the animated medium or the benefits of enunciation. Perhaps fittingly, though, the music is pretty good, although the episode lengths limit exposure to it.
I think the overall problem with SCANDAL is that it's geared toward existing fans of the band, and I am simply not in that demographic. If you're looking to become a fan and are thinking of this as a place to start, do reconsider. That said, existing fans will probably derive much more enjoyment from these brief, random episodes that I did, so they shouldn't let my criticisms dampen their enthusiasm. And heck, I wouldn't watch the series a second time, but I certainly don't regret watching it through once, and I doubt it would hurt anyone to sacrifice the 12 minutes required to give it a try themselves. After all, it's not without its charms.read more