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September 26th, 2015
Anime Relations: Charlotte
Yesterday I finished watching charlotte. And I have to say, I was kind of disappointed, not because I expected more of it, but because it was every now and then really close to actually being better than I initially expected.
Of course, there will be spoilers ahead, continue reading at your own risk.

Now, as for the story, there's a lot of things I didn't like. First of all the main character; He is presented to the viewer as someone who has nothing better to do with his superpower than to use them to his own advantage, even endangering the life of other people by using his superpowers to get a date. At that point, no normal person should like this character, and that didn't changed until the next episode. And that is the next problem; it is OK to introduce a character and make them seem unlikeable, but they should get a chance to redeem themselves before the end of the next episode, at least if they are the only relevant character until now, or people might just decide to drop the anime, specially while it's airing and there is a week between each episodes release.

Then, after MCs personality does a 180 and he turns into generic main character number 3581, the story suddenly decides to do drama. But just for 10 minutes or so, then it goes back to comedy. Then it starts doing this "superpower of the week" thing, that would have made for an interesting anime if left that way, but that only lasted for 2 or 3 episodes until the show changes AGAIN, this time doing some more drama involving the more immediate surroundings of the main characters.
One last spoiler warning here, the sister of the main character dies. The story starts by hinting that she might have developed a superpower in such a way that makes it clear that that's how it is, only the characters aren't sure at that point. So, this superepower is called "collapse" (again, if I remember correctly) and the other characters start getting worried that it might be super dangerous and stuff, again, hinting that it probably IS, as there's no reason for the characters to be afraid of that ability of all things, after they have faced a lot of other highly dangerous abilities. So, again, we sit through some minutes of people doing stuff to develop a plot towards an end the writing had already hinted in a pretty obvious way.
And then it happens; stuff goes wrong, a building collapses (Who would have thought, right?) and I still think "Meh, the show is just trying to scare me and create a cliffhanger, first 5 minutes of the next episode and everything will probably be resolved", but no, the last thing we are told in the episode is that she is truly dead.
Now, if this wasn't key, I'd take this as a stunt meant to show the viewer that this is no fluffy slice of life anime where people don't die, no matter what happens; to clear a path for some more tension in the next episodes.

But no, this is key, key doesn't do bad endings, even if they have to bend the rules of physics to do so.
And so they did, a few episodes later, by introducing a time leap ability (At this point I paused the episode, got up, facepalmed and resumed watching).
The problem with this is that it takes a lot of credibility away, both from the anime and from keys works in general. I had watched clannad, I knew they'd bring her back some way, but this was worse than I expected. It rendered her death pointless in the first place, as it clearly showed that it was, in fact, a fluffy slice of life anime with superpowers where nobody died (well, it wasn't, as I later found out, but I'll come to that soon).

And then there was the time between MCs sisters death and the introduction of the time leap power. I really enjoyed that episode, actually. MC was really broken; he shut himself in his room and fed on instant ramen (He more or less lived my life for some time (that's a lie, I don't feed on instant ramen, and I do go out. Rarely. But I do.)) and kind of became how he was in the first episode; an egocentric kid with superpowers who didn't care about anybody else.
So, what does he do? He leaves. Yes, the anime gives some lazy explanation about his superpowers being found out, that makes absolutely no sense, as that would compromise the WHOLE DAMN SCHOOL OF SUPER POEWR USERS, but hey, it's an anime, who cares.
So, he starts to beat up "bad" people with his superpower, eventually one that carries drugs with him, and ends up taking them. At this point I had lost what little respect I had for this character, but okay, a key anime using drugs as a plot device, that is something new, so I was entertained while it lasted. Then, as he had the bright idea "Hey, I just found some drugs! I have never taken any and have NO IDEA AT ALL how much of this stuff would kill me, so I'll try it ouy ANYWAY! :)", and as he was about to do so, surprise surprise, that girl with the superpower to become invisiblewas following him the WHOLE TIME. This is absolutely impossible, as she can only become invisible to one person at a time, but again, don't question the plot. It probably made sense on the paper, but they didn't consider it while designing the scenes.
So, by the power of friendship and unicorns and rainbows she convinces him that fuck all and let's pretend this episode never happened. And so he did, at the start of the next episode he was back to normal. Yes, he still hadn't really gotten over his sisters death, but he was dealing with it in a completely normal way. Nice for him; in real life many people get this kind of second chance.

Now, with that part of the story concluded, and the "superpower of the week" formula clearly thrown out of the window, the show needed to do something new.
At this point I was asking myself "Hey, why not just leave it at that?" had they just thrown in some more "superpower of the week" episodes to stretch it and have thee sister die at episode 10, MC beating up people and becoming almost becoming addicted to cocaine in episode 11 and use episode 12 to clean up the mess and tie up some loose ends of the plot, and it would have been a fairly good anime.

But no, again, this is key. They had to do more stuff, even if they themselves didn't know why. So, they did what every normal person who wants to sell a 13 episode anime but only has plot for about 6 would do; they forced MORE plot into it.

So, they introduced some forgettable side character voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki, which made that the best episode in the show (She actually had some importance, but a few episodes later this would be completely UNDONE by the time leap, but the anime never really cared about that). Then they introduce the time leap ability, some random time travel bullshit with memories of an alternative timeline that never happened, a secret organization run by kids with superpowers, among them the older brother of MC and his sister nobody knew about... Long story short, they had no idea what to do with the plot and threw in as many concepts that sounded cool on the paper as they could.

Then they also throw in some conspiracy, explain the super powers by magic meteor dust, add some "bad guys" who only last one episode and are then kind of forgotten, turns out MCs power is actually to steal superpowers from other people, so he is special, more special than neo and dovahkiin combined, so he has to save the world. From what? We don't know, but hell, viewers like main characters saving the world, don't they? I don't know, maybe they don't, but let's do it ANYWAY!
Yeah, I doubt anybody knew what they were doing at this point.

So, it all ends with the main character losing an eye (maybe to add "drama", maybe because one-eyed characters seem more badass, who knows) and with that his time leap ability, because for plot convenience that was the only ability that depended on eyesight for NO REASON AT ALL. They also scrap the concept that each superpower is flawed somewhere between these plot screwups and never again care about that pretty fundamental part of the first episodes.
Then MC has to save the world. Why? for a stupid reason, but hey, at least they came up with a reason at all, and at least it's not a meteor this time. So, long story short, he has to travel the world and steal ALL superpowers. This is the end of episode 12, and I even thought that was supposed to be an open end or something, but no, there was supposed to be a 13th episode. So, again, this was a very good episode that could have been way better.
Turns out, by absorbing so many superpowers, MC loses his memories and partly his sanity, cannot sleep because he starts to kill people while sleepwalking, and a lot of randomstuff.
He also gets the title one-eyed reaper, though I think it would have sounded better had they only half translated it as "one-eyed shinigami" (I think most anime fans know the word shinigami by now).
This was a perfect situation for an ending where the main character dies. He was completely messed up; he had no memories of himself, only of his mission to take all the superpowers in the world, and he had become the most overpowered being on the planet.
It would have been a nice way to end things to have MC just finish his mission and then be confronted with what he had become, and maybe even returning to japan just to realize that he was to dangerous for the world and end of either killing himself or being killed by some of the other characters (hey, why not have his brother kill him, if they wanted to go for drama anyway? That could have been the saddest scene this season).
But that's not how key works. They ended up having MC return and everything was okay after that, though he never got his memories back, but they didn't really care that much about that either.

And there's another problem with this anime, but it didn't fit in any particular point of the story, so I am adding it here:
It was too obvious. The tricks they used to get the viewer immersed were just too simple. First of all, superpowers. Everybody wants superpowers, so that's a nice way to have the viewer want to be the main character. Then we throw in some female characters, covering all stereotypes we think the viewer might like, and some best friend side character who behaves in a silly way to make some contrast and have MC look even cooler. Next, everything that happens will get the main character into the centre of whatever is happening at the moment; he is important; he is dovahkiin.
Then we add some drama. Nobody knows why, nobody cares anyway, they just know it will probably sell better. So, they open the dictionery, maybe the wikipedia article, and find out that killing characters is a good coice, because watching people die makes most human beings sad. Probably after googling for an online random numbers generator it is decided who dies: the sister of the main character. A good choice little sisters make for specially sad death scenes, that will probably get the viewer to cry. Then they realize they want a happy end. And the sister of the main character being dead doesn't fit into that end. So they decide to plotdevice some way to save her. It ended up being time travel, but it might as well have been a nutella-powered, unicorn-shaped Goa'uld sarcophagus. I really don't like it when shows do that kind of thing; it just makes me take it less serious, and care less about the characters, as their world heavily inconsistent anyway.
Posted by DarkWiiPlayer | Sep 26, 2015 9:55 PM | 0 comments
August 26th, 2015
I'm not quite sure how to describe kill la kill... "one hell of a ride" doesn't really describe it... maybe "one hell of a NAKED ride" is more... fitting... he he he...

In this post I will probably be comparing it to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann a lot, since most people expected it to be a second gurren lagann, and it has a lot of similarities.
This also means there will be some GURREN LAGANN SPOILERS. Read at your own risk.

The main problem I have with kill la kill is it's exaggeratedly cartoony style. It's just not possible to take an anime even remotely serious if in the middle of a battle half of the people watching get blown away by an attack. In comparison, gurren lagann always drew a line there, and never used the implication of people dying, or getting badly hurt just to make an attack seem stronger, and then act like nothing serious happened at all. This is not a bad thing by itself, but it distances the anime from reality. When I started watching it, I immediately thought "okay, so it's going to be one of those animes" and never even started taking anything seriously.
Think of Kaminas death: if someone died at the beginning of kill la kill, it would have seemed completely out of place.
Why would I really care about any characters, if I know their actions don't have any consequences except for the main plot line? Why SHOULD I care about some random characters that can get blown through a wall and just stand back up because nothing has any consequences and is just there to be over the top and look cool?
Gurren Lagann did this over the top stuff too, but whenever things got serious, the possibility of stuff going wrong was always there. And I am not talking about knowing that the characters are plot-armoured, that is completely fine and doesn't really destroy the tension if the story is good enough, and has some plausible reasons WHY the main characters always survive somehow, but if the entire universe of the anime is set up as a safety net, where you can get shot, stabbed, slashed, blown through a wall and shot with money and still stand up like nothing happened, it really takes away the tension behind the action.

This kind of changes during the final third of the show, where things start to get serious, and human lives actually start to matter. That was the moment when I really got to enjoy the anime, because the safety net was gone. Yeah, the main characters were still plot-armoured, but at least the situations where truly dangerous, even if everybody knew they'd survive it because the plot demanded them to. They COULD have killed of some of the main characters to show that there is no plot armour, but after the first two thirds that would have been taking it too far.
As for senketsus death in the end, what the hell??? That was completely unneeded. They just killed off a character to wrap up the story, because it would have been inconvenient to leave this overpowered thing lying around after the clearing the end boss, but come on, just having him burn up in the atmosphere? They could have at least let him die in battle, or sacrifice himself to save humanity or something that would make it seem more relevant, but instead they just had the last-episode-garbage-collection take care of all the supernatural stuff and didn't care at all about their characters.
If the story treats its characters with respect, the fans will respect the characters, and that's how you create long lasting fandoms. That's why Kill la Kill will never be a second Gurren Lagann, and why it won't "save anime". It's a cheap attempt to fuse anime with a more western and cartoony style, in a way that just doesn't hold together.
The art style further increased this effect; there was no attempt to create a coherent universe, the visual style constantly tried to create a distance from reality, using unnatural colours, perspectives, cartoony movement patterns, etc.
Again, let's have a look at gurren lagann: there was a lot of unrealistic transformations, but there always was something behind it. A large mecha regenerating and moving some mechanical-looking parts to transform into a cooler mecha is kind of plausible, because there's this impression of a lot of inner mechanical stuff going on behind the scenes, but a scissor blade undergoing the same mechanical-looking transformation and get WAY smaller is jut ridiculous, as there is no illusion of complex technological stuff going on.
As for the soundtrack, I think they went over the top. again. what a surprise.
Yes, it sounds absolutely awesome, but kill la kill is not an awesome anime, it's just cartoony, funny and over the top. To me it felt like a clowns performance with Mozarts dies irae as the background soundtrack. It just doesn't fit.
Also, if you think engrish is funny, you have NO IDEA how weird it feels to me to listen to "blumenkranz", which is supposedly sung in German. It really sounds like the singer hadn't ever read the lyrics before singing them.
As always, I am not saying kill la kill is a bad anime; if it was I wouldn't bother to write about it, it just bothers me a gerat deal to see all this wasted potential, and how people love it for what it is not, and it is definitely not an epic masterpiece.
Posted by DarkWiiPlayer | Aug 26, 2015 7:51 AM | 0 comments
July 23rd, 2015
Anime Relations: Death Note
So, I saw a review on death note today...
After watching it, and thinking about it for some time, I have to say that it is not at all good. It is enjoyable, and I highly recommend watching it, but it is by no means good.

Let's start with the characters. Pretty much all the characters in the anime have the same motivation: to catch Light. Well, except for Light, who has an equally simple motivation: kill bad people to make a better world. Guess who is the only character who has a (slightly) more complex motivation... yes, Misa, the one character everybody hates.

But okay, I understand death note is not about characters themselves, but about their interaction. And If I wanted to write down everything wrong with the characters, I'd be sitting here for a long time.

Now, for the character interactions:
The main focus of most of the anime is the interaction between Light and L, and some other people who want to catch Kira.
Well, except for the fact that Light acts so randomly one could think he wants to get caught. This is probably because, from the very moment he finds the death note, he wants to play god. This one mistake is what makes his character terribly flawed as an "evil genius", while at the same time, leading to an actual story, as if he took his shit seriously, he would never have been caught.
But let me explain what I mean:
From the moment Light came up with the plan to create a better world, he thought of himself as the god of this new world. (first hint that he's a bad character, when comparing him to the "bad" guy from the firefly movie, for example)

His motivations were to strike fear in the people, to taunt those who wanted to catch him, to punish those who defy him; which is why L even knew where he lived, because Light instantly wanted to get rid of L in the most flashy way possible; to kill him on stage, as a sign that nobody could ever challenge him and get away with it. Had he just waited 2 weeks, and have him run over by a car, it would seem like a third party assasination, or even just a mere accident. Had he not shown everybody he could kill however he wanted, only deaths by heart attack would have been related to him. Had he not killed a person an hour when he found out they were analyzing his killing schedule, he could have used the fact that they thought he could only kill while not working or in school to trick them, like maintaining his schedule on a local holiday, but killing all the day during national holidays, etc.
In the end, L wasn't as big a genius as the anime presented him as; he was just smart enough to piece together all the information Light gave him.

Now for the morale of the story.
Does death note present you any philosophical thoughts at all?
"Is it good to kill bad people?"
At first glance this is what death note wants to ask the viewer, but if you think about it, these people end up just being numbers. Yes, we hear about them here and there, but the anime never cares to show us how the world actually is a better place or not. This could have been done so easily; just show the viewer some random dialogue of tho people walking on the street; one saying how nice it is to not have to fear being robbed while being outside late at night and how much better a life without fear is, and the other one explaining how much it sucks to know that someone can kill you because of doing just the slightest thing wrong, or just because they want you to die.

Then how about this; the question itself isn't the center of the anime, but the way L and Light find their own answers to this.
Not really. From the beginning Light and L don't ever change their opinions. Light pretty much decides in one episode that he can kill bad people to make the world better, and L is even introduced already knowing that he wants to catch kira because he's the bad guy who kills people.
Neither of them ever tries to re-evaluate their own opinion based on new facts. What is even more ironic, is the fact that they don't care about each others motivation at all, after all the times they pretty much read each others mind while playing cat and mouse.
Even when they had the perfect chance to have kiras identity revealed to L, and light in a position to kill him, where they could have added an awesome debate where the two defend their opinions and ideals, they just went with the cheap way, and had L die just before he could find out. Congratulations, death note! You just let pass the opportunity to create one of the best dialogues EVER in an anime.

Then what the hell is this anime about?
As far as my opinion goes, this anime is about two pseudo-genius characters fighting on an intelectual level, in a way that is scripted recursively to end up in a certain way, with plot devices everywhere that you don't notice until a month or so after watching it, because it is just so damn thrilling that you don't even care if it makes sense or not.

But if there is one think to take from this anime; though I don't think this is intentional, it's that no opinion should ever be final.
Here's a funny story that I don't care to confirm, but I think it's probably true:
It just so happens, that hitler was once shot (way before the NSDAP even existed), and was saved by a Jewish family. If, at that point, Hitler had spent some time to think about that, he might have come to the conclusion that Jews aren't bad, and probably no other race either. The entire holocaust might not have happened.
And it's the same thing with death note, the characters never even once thought about themselves being wrong, and pretty much everybody ended up dying.
And if the anime actually explored that concept a bit more, it might have been a master piece, but instead they just went the cheap way.

0xC / 0xF - Definitely worth watching, great anime to recommend to people, but if you hate wasted potential, it is just as awful as plastic memories.
Posted by DarkWiiPlayer | Jul 23, 2015 5:37 AM | 1 comments
June 14th, 2015
Anime Relations: Plastic Memories
(as of episode 11)

When, in a romance anime, a male and a female character get put in the same team, it's clear from the start that they are going to end up together.
If one of said characters is a robot with a limited lifespan, it is also clear, that this is going to be the main source of drama in the relationship of said characters.
This is the problem I have with this anime; it is just too predictable.
Plastic Memories combines an overarching storyline with episodic side-stories, which isn't a bad thing to do in general, but I feel like in this case the side-stories kind of got in the way of the development of the main storyline.
On the other hand, the anime used these side-stories to explain things about the setting, and, in a way, set the stage for the main story-line, telling us exactly why we should even care, and what exactly happens to these androids once their lifespan expires.
The problem with this is that the setting makes no sense, once you think about it. A word where androids are built that are self-aware, have emotions, and coexist with mankind there would be a lot of problems.
First of all, these androids have a limited lifespan, and nobody seems to complain about it. In such a world, there should be a lot of people in favor and against androids having human rights, debates about computers actually being lifeforms, deserving rights. Problems with ownership, as they seem to be bought, though the anime never really tells us about that.
A setting like this could be used to explore a variety of concepts, ones that have been used a lot, others that have not been seen that much, specially in anime. The possibilities seem endless. One could make all kinds of animes, including romance animes, that actually used these possibilities to include these topics in the story.
Instead, plastic memories plays it safe and, in the end, the existance of these androids are in no way necessary to the story. One could PERFECTLY just use an uncurable illnes, like so many other shows have done before.

In the end, plastic memories is not bad by any means, but the moment one thinks about the flaws with the settings and all the things it could have done but never did, it becomes hard to appreciate it for what it is and be okay with that.
Posted by DarkWiiPlayer | Jun 14, 2015 8:42 AM | 0 comments