Reviews

Jun 20, 2017
LIQfilms (All reviews)
If there is one trend I dislike more than anything over the past few years, it is the plethora and popularity of light novel adaptations. Now, of course, to clarify, I don't believe that just because an anime is adapted from a light novel, it is inherently bad. There have been plenty of light novel adaptations in the past that have actually been pretty good, but what I am referring to, in this case, are the light novel adaptations that feature some boring male protagonist with spiky hair that acts as a self insert for all of the filthy otaku, who goes to some random high school that is usually one in which the students have superpowers (and for some reason it's always magic) as he becomes stronger and stronger while all of the female cast gets wet at his complete awesomeness! Most of these light novel adaptations follow the same basic elements, character archetypes and plot threads, and, if you've seen as many as I have, all begin to blend into one gigantic, horrible mess. I hate these types of light novel adaptations, because they're so lazy and so god damn unoriginal, yet, they still become widely popular; undeservingly so! While I have seen a couple of them done decently well, such as Chivalry of a Failed Knight, which plays around and subverts some of the troupes found in these typical shows, Akashic Records is not decent... it's not even mediocre! It's terrible! Every one of these elements I have listed in this opening paragraph is present in this travesty, and the writing, characters, narrative and the world presented to us are so boring, generic and cookie-cutter that I feel like throwing up just thinking about them! While this is not the worst light novel adaptation I have ever seen (that honour would go to Absolute Duo or The Asterisk War) it baffles me why this show is receiving such praise from some people and why it has sat at a score of around seven on this website. As soon as I saw the words "light novel" and "LIDENFILMS" in the seasonal charts before the show started up, I think I died a little inside and, to this day, this studio still hasn't produced a single anime I would actually consider to be noteworthy with this being their minimus opus, if you will. With all that said and done, let's jump into the narrative (if you could even call it that) of this absolute train wreck!

To say that the story of Akashic Records is generic would be the understatement of the year. If anything, this narrative is incredibly linear and predictable every step of the way with glaring pacing issues while shoving down your throat as many stereotypically dull speeches about life as it can possibly muster in each episode. It's set in a world in which magic is a viable tool and is used often for war against other nations, and, of course, as typical of light novel stories, the teenagers in this world are able to use said magic and attend special high schools. Enter the Light Novel guy for this series; a lazy man with an indifferent attitude who also happens to be a shut-in, takes up a job teaching magic at some random magic high school after being forced to by the woman he lives with. This, however, is greeted by disdain by the students in the class he has to teach, in particular, by two female students, called Tsundere-chan (Sistine Febel) and Basic Bitch (Rumia Tingel). While this first greeting is met with hostility, this new teacher eventually warms up to the rest of the class and they begin to develop more of a bond with him over the course of the series! And that's it for a plot! If it sounds like I'm being incredibly vague with this plot synopsis, that's because nothing really happens in this show from a narrative standpoint. It feels like a sequence of events that just happen because the writer needed to fill in some time and they connect so loosely with each other and have no overall bearing or impact on the plot that the narrative feels weak and lacking emotion. None of the characters has any motivation or any clearly defined goals in this series and thus it is hard to actually get invested or engaged into this world at all, or to care for any of the characters. The narrative has no sense of direction, and a weak narrative isn't exactly a game breaker for me as long as the characters are good (which they're not, but I'll get into that in a bit) but I'd like to have some kind of story actually happening! There is an evil magic organisation of some sort but they barely play any part in the narrative and feel so tacked on and vague that half of the time I forget that they're even present or playing any part in this story. They do introduce a new villain in the show but it's WAY too late into the narrative in order to flesh him out and instead, they rush this character's introduction, his involvement and his back-story within only an episode or so.

Speaking of the pacing, holy crap is this broken! The show tries to squeeze so much into its short twelve episode frame that it feels like a chore to watch since they're constantly throwing more and more things at you at every passing episode. It's also another kick to the nuts to realise that everything that does happen in the show is so inconsequential and boring to boot as well, which is also present in the setting for the show. The world of Akashic Records is one of the laziest thought out worlds I have ever seen. It's a world in which magic, goddamn MAGIC, is a part of everyday life but we barely have seen any examples of how people coexist with magic in the narrative in their daily lives outside of high school nor is the magic they use themselves all too great either. The great thing about setting your world in which features magic is that it allows you to be as creative as you could possibly want in regards to how the world operates and how its people live, while excusing it with the pretence that magic is an in-depth and intricate system that makes sense to the characters that live in this world, but, instead, they do nothing with it. For the sake of argument, let's compare it to the series Little Witch Academia, which aired alongside this show. Aside from doing everything better than Akashic Records, the world of Little Witch Academia is built around this idea of magic and is used in creative ways which bring the world to life. The world is interesting and alluring. Not only that but each of the characters have clearly defined goals which help to push the story forward and keep the audience immersed in the story; two things that Akashic Records doesn't have.

A lot of the time the narrative is just simply tasteless, making light jokes and comedy from molestation and rape of all things, especially from the second episode. The tonal shifts from watching a girl almost get raped to then making a stupid joke is painful and is almost as bad as the tonal shifts from Drifters. Speaking of the comedy, it feels so damn forced and trite as well as predictable that every attempt at a joke falls flat on its face and isn't funny in the slightest! The show also throws an insane amount of blood at the audience in a petty, pathetic attempt at seeming hardcore and edgy since the writing isn't strong enough to hold up by itself. Not only that, but the insane amount of blood half the time just feels silly, such as in episode nine, where Basic is lying unconscious in the floor with an insane amount of blood plastered on the bed, floor and curtains (enough that would kill a person), but her only wound is a slight wound on her stomach! How? Why? Who knows!

There actually is a tournament arc in the show, but just like everything else, it is terrible. Again, since this is a world full of magic, the writer could have written some very interesting fight scenes or competitions around the use of magic but all of them are just so boring and the show glosses over this arc so quickly that it feels entirely pointless. Some may argue that the true meat of this arc was, in fact, Basic's relationship with the queen and everything surrounding that, but, again, it feels so boring to watch, this is never brought up later again in the series and this scene is one of the worst cases of melodrama and bad writing I have seen in a very long time. And much of the show is forced with melodrama too, which, doesn't feel emotional since I don't care for a single one of these characters and all of these situations I've seen to much better effect somewhere else before. There is even a beach scene, thrown in just for some silly fan service, scenes that could have been used for character development and growth instead, but, nope, CLEARLY, the most important thing to do is show the audience what each girl would look like if they were in bloody swimsuits! The narrative is just so boring, predictable and unfocused that it's hard not to fall asleep whilst watching it and every single element in the story has been done elsewhere before in a better capacity. Even for Light Novels this story is generic and they use every cheap writing technique in the book to try and make you feel sorry and sympathetic for these characters when they have not been built from the ground up from victimisation, to the loss of a loved one in the past; this crap has it all!

The characters are just as bad and are essentially just all archetypes of previous anime character personality traits. Not a single one is interesting and none develop at all during the entire duration of the show; they're all stagnant. Glenn, as the main character of a light novel series, is a little bit more interesting than what I am accustomed to, however, not only in physical appearance but also in personality. He is an adult character, makes fun of people, is lazy and is just all around a twat. He doesn't get flustered when he sees girls naked (instead he actively tries to) like most light novel main guys either. Does this make his character good? No... not really. The main problem with Glenn as a character is that he is inconsistent and his back-story is both generic as hell and is very heavily underdeveloped to boot. He is made to be, at first, to be an incompetent idiot with no speciality for magic, but after episode three, he pretty much can do anything the plot demands from him because B U L L S H I T. While, at times, I did enjoy his random hijinks and ass-hole nature, I found him to be extremely boring and lacking when compared to the series Great Teacher Onozuka. The other main characters include Tsundere-chan, who begins to develop a crush on Glenn as the series goes along and GOD I wanted to smack this character in the face. She is constantly complaining, whining and nagging at every little thing and her character design, and personality has been done so much at this point, that every time I see a Tsundere character I want to slam my face into a wall. Basic Bitch, otherwise known as Rumia, is the only character with some emotional weight to her as her back-story is decently explored but is nothing to write home about. I refer to her as Basic Bitch because that is exactly what she is: basic. She acts as the good morale, angel type character which sickens me to death with how boring she is. The only other character who is given somewhat of a back-story is a character called Re-L, who assumes the deadpan loli archetype that has been done so many times up to this point, that every time she was on screen my mind sort of hazed out and lost interest straight away. While, sure, we do learn things about her character, it's, again, nothing all too great, boring and after her mini-arc is completed she is pretty much pushed to the sidelines afterwards and plays hardly any factor in the rest of the show.

The rest of the cast is equally as generic, boring and underdeveloped, and it's giving me a migraine trying to refresh my memory of them. The only character who is SOMEWHAT likeable, and I stress that "somewhat" greatly is Celica, mainly because of her personality but this character is given so little screen time that I forgot about her entirely. When she is on screen, she is fairly interesting but is not enough to save the anime.

The overall aesthetic and quality of the artwork were just fine, but the animation was just pretty lazy since they reuse the same shot of Tsundere-chan punching Glenn into the sky about twenty times, three within one episode sometimes. It's not the worst I have seen, and I do like some of the palettes as well, but it's overall just a very bland looking show. However, the character designs are some of the worst I have ever seen! While the boy's school uniform is fine and conventional, I have no clue what the hell happened to the girl's outfits. It looks like something you'd find straight out of a porno for god's sake! The skirt is about five millimetres in length, covering barely any flesh and they have these short tops, which exposes their stomachs, complete with garter belts and straps around from their skirts to their stomachs. How, in the holy mother of hell, was this allowed in a high school is way beyond me, and, as a result, it pretty much ruins every dramatic moment in the show since the uniforms are so silly, they end up distracting me from the emotional scenes. As for the music, it's perhaps the most stock and dull soundtrack I've heard in a while. Not a single one is memorable or even decently composed, and the opening and ending tracks are just generic pop music that you'll forget as soon as you listen to something else. The opening, in keeping up with the traditions set by the Gun Gale Arc from SAO, also spoils who the main villain is going to be!

If you've seen any light novel adaptation about a group of kids with magic powers inside a high school then you've seen Akashic Records, because each one of these shows is fundamentally the exact same thing with only slight variations, and I'm done with this shit forever. Each one of these boring, insipid, shallow, vacuous light novel series can seriously just go fuck themselves for their insulting storytelling, awful characters and terrible pandering. These series are essentially the anime equivalence of the films made by Illumination Animation; they're both produced with no soul or intent at creating a piece of art or telling a story with a message that can resonate with an audience. I love both the medium of film, and the animation medium very much since they have provided some of the most heartfelt, and most impactful pieces of fiction I have seen. Film and animation can make you cry, make you laugh, they help shape you as a person, especially at a young age, and I honestly don't know where I'll be without them, for as corny as that sounds. But, these light novel adaptations offer nothing at all; no emotion, other than genuine anger and irritation, and hence, I am done forever with these boring shows. I'd rather digest cyanide than sit through another show like Hundred or Absolute Duo, and, especially Akashic Records ever again. Of course, if you like these shows, then that is completely fine. I'm glad you're able to enjoy something that I don't. After all the world would be a boring place if we all liked the exact same thing. But, to me, this show is awful in every sense of the word. It has nothing. I'd rather watch Hand Shakers on repeat than watch one of these shows ever again. Now, that's saying something...