As a follow up to my reviews of the previous 2 years of Young Animator Training Projects, here’s my reviews of 2 of the newly branded Anime Mirai pieces. ZEXCS piece Arve Rezzle and the much anticipated piece by Trigger: Little Witch Academia. I did want to review Death Billiards, but that’s been sitting there unloved and unsubbed for the past 2 weeks.
The previous Young Animator Training Projects have had a very family friendly sort of tone with well told stories and universal themes. Arve Rezzle then comes along and says “fuck that, let’s do some light novel bullshit about a teenager who wants to bang his sister!” and we get this mess.
OK there’s a little more to it than that. It’s a sci-fi story based around this social network which you upload your mind to, except one day suddenly everyone’s minds get temporarily separated from their bodies and they lose all their memories. The idea here is that you don’t know whether the body you’ve returned to is actually yours, which is a fascinating concept. Unfortunately in Arve Rezzle it is just that. A concept. I gather this was supposed to originally be a much longer TV series or OVA. Instead we get this hacked together story that barely has any characterisation, hasn’t got enough time to explain its technobabble, introduces villains whose motives are seemingly non-existent, and ends by solving absolutely nothing about the central focus of the story.
Then there’s it’s very light novel approach to characterisation, in that the male character has no personality beyond wanting to bone his sister, and the female character’s first appearance is totally naked. The camera has some serious male gaze going on, looking up her skirt and around her tits, to the point you can practically hear the heavy mouth-breather behind the camera muttering “yes imouto-chan, just lift that *huurrrrrrr* skirt a little bit *hhuuurrrrrrr* higher please”. The animation is also kinda bad, which is surprising considering the incredibly high quality all the other YATP had. It’s just all round a poorly thought out, poorly put together package that has no right existing in this form.
Little Witch Academia
Ah, much better! Little Witch Academia has had a bit of underground hype building for it because it’s by the newly formed Studio Trigger, Hiroyuki Imaishi’s studio he formed after he left Gainax. Little Witch Academia really amplifies the Saturday morning cartoon feel their previous works had with its bouncy animation style and cartoony visuals. The plot feeds into this too, being basically an animated version of the early Harry Potter books. This was particularly apparent during the broom flying lesson scene. I did get a laugh from Draco Malfoy being recast as a posh stuck-up ojou-sama because it allowed me to imagine Malfoy doing the ojou-sama laugh where he puts the back of his hand against his chin and goes “ooooohhh hoh hoh hoh hoh~!”
The whole thing is very colourful and joyous with a real childlike energy to it. The animation and artwork is bloody great, and feed into this bouncy energy it all has. If I feel like being nitpicky, it’s very shallow. The attempts at having a larger theme about believing in yourself are not well worked in at all, particularly since there’s a better theme there about childish wonder that they didn’t tap into as well as I think they could have. If I were to compare it to the other YATP, it doesn’t have quite the same IMPACTO~! as Wasurenagumo because the story is so rote. But for what it’s trying to achieve in being this energetic Saturday morning cartoon, it does that perfectly.