The opening of Big Order is, far and away, its biggest redeeming element. I say this not because it’s exceptional, but compared to every other aspect of the show, it’s the epitome of artistic expression. As Big Order collapsed into the realm of inanity, the decent OP remained its only consistent feature, setting expectations to middling heights that the show refused to even attempt to reach. So thank you for at least trying, Disorder. I just wish that Big Order put half the effort into everything else.
The unfortunate thing is that being unabashedly ridiculous, devoid of themes beyond the superficial, isn’t necessarily bad; Future Diary—Big Order’s handsome, successful, somehow more psychotic older sibling—manages to go full-tilt into the angle of unhinged individuals controlling the world through their cell phones in a bid to kill each other. It embraces a single concept of suddenly being given control and explores it from a myriad of angles, which makes every diary holder unique and memorable, even the one who decies to just use it for the sake of being a serial killer. Future Diary treats both its content and the audience with enough respect that it crafts genuinely tense, unnerving moments, and deftly highlights how parasitic/symbiotic (parasymbiotic?) the relationship between Yuuki and Yuno is. For how ludicrous the show is, it manages to be incredibly compelling throughout by virtue of its singlemindedness.
I can’t comment on Big Order’s source material, or on how loyal an adaptation the anime has been, but most of its problems seem to stem from the self-imposed condition of being as different from Future Diary as possible. But in the effort to distinguish itself, Big Order does away with the coherence that made Future Diary’s world of serial killers, cultists, and eyeball-themed sentai heroes such a blast. As the show carries on, it becomes progressively difficult to place what, why, how, or sometimes even where things are happening. No matter how much I love inherent silliness, the chaos of Big Order’s presentation undermines anything that might work.
Ironically, Big Order not throwing itself wholeheartedly into a single irredeemable plot point makes its attempts at schlock fall flat—when “protagonist’s sister is actually related to him and they fuck” is a huge improvement over the current state of affairs, it shows how dire the plotting is. Within the span of ten episodes, Big Order stumbles drunkenly from a half-baked retread of the Yuuki/Yuno dynamic, to a quarter-baked plot to take over Japan from Kyushu, to one-eighth-baked incest, to an abomination so deflated and doughy that it couldn’t even be accused of being near an oven. It’s a case of something that should be simple in theory being hamstrung by an absolutely terrible sense of direction.
To add insult to injury, the lack of focus feels more like a result of incompetence than a symptom of having too many ideas to fit into a single cour’s runtime. Around the nougat of dangling plot nubs (calling them threads is too generous), is an unsettlingly sticky shell of plain ol’ aesthetic awfulness. To Big Order, there seem to only be two colors for environments: Grey, and Mountain Dew, inhabited by washed out color pallets given flesh, and accompanied by a soundtrack that will never in the history of mankind be appropriate for anything. The whole show looks and sounds like a low-budget OVA from the early 2000’s, rather than something released by actual people in the Year of Our Lord 2016. But what makes it worse is that what little enthusiasm was present at the beginning was clearly dried up by the time Eiji and Iyo, the shrine maiden who gets pregnant when the bow on her head is touched, played a ball game with spirits for tenuous reasons.
The thing is that the enthusiasm that Big Order was devoid of can make up for a lot of a show’s shortcomings. For how much Mayoiga lost me toward the end, I can at least respect the kind of Baby’s First Physical Manifestation and Reconciliation with Traumatic Memories that it attempted. It may have given up on what little horror it had and didn’t live up to the promise of having a character named Soy Latte, but it did so with an admirable enthusiasm. There was a method to Mayoiga’s madness, a clear desire to tell a story a certain way, which made its more questionable aspects a little easier to swallow. The disparate elements of Big Order make it impossible to place any method to its madness, and its near-complete lack of cohesion makes it even harder to wholly enjoy it as pure, dumb entertainment. Worst of all, everything is compounded by a pervasive feeling of cynicism that makes even the goofiest moments infinitely less enjoyable.
Simultaneously incompetent and unambitious, Big Order is easily the worst show of the Spring Season, and will probably end up being one of the worst this year. There were other shows with shoddy presentations and even shoddier writing (Mayoiga again, Joker Game, Kiznaiver), but none of them felt as ultimately hollow as Big Order.