How to not use CGI: Cost cutting techniques when your characters are flying on a sofa through space. Or dragons.
Congratulations to the clever clogs from last episode’s comment section who correctly predicted the twist from this episode. Reality changes when someone goes bankrupt in the financial district. What happened because of their involvement in the financial district is no longer true and we get reverted to what life otherwise would have been like. Well, worse, because they’ve gambled away their future and what chance they had for this to happen. Now they’re left in the new world with only the memories of those with Financial District cards to remind them of what once was. Back when I read that comment, I thought it was a pretty cool answer to what on earth the show meant when it talked about the abstract notion of ones future. I still think it’s a fantastic twist to the show, but it had never dawned on me how utterly depressing bankruptcy in the financial district can be. Committing suicide, as heartless as this sounds, is awfully vague. Destroying the existence of your children, on the other hand, holds a bit more impact.
I believe it was the master Greek story-tellers of old, that created pretty much every single known story telling trope that ever existed, that said the greatest tragedy is the unwilling murdering of your own family. It’s the story of our good man Hercules. Mind you, Hercules just killed his wife and kids, not cause them to never exist and have to live as the one person who knows that they ever existed and that it was entirely his own fault that things have turned out this way and is now sterile as a result. I originally thought watching this episode that they had fucked up the big revelation that his teacher was in the financial district. In retrospect, that would have been a pretty lame twist to base an episode around. Instead, the episode held the disappearing kids and directed itself into my gut with such precision that I felt physical pain. That scene hurt, but was delivered without jamming it down our throats and letting us feel the emotion instead of the characters on screen doing all the crying for us. I felt far more sympathy for the blobby, Dr.Seass characters from Kaiba than anyone in Clannad for that exact reason.
The question now is ‘why hasn’t anime fandom grabbed their pitchforks and risen up in collective raise over Masakaki like they did for Kyubey’? Well, the boring answer is because more people cared about Madoka Magica than a mono alphabetic character’d titled cartoon with awkward CGI. Also because people feel more sympathy for cute girls with square heads than middle aged men. Which certainly isn’t the case for me. Nothing generates more sympathy from me than a man in his late 50’s working in a convenience store, admitting that he will probably never find another women interested in him. But at least Kyubey gives the girls a friggen choice! Masakaki just hopes in out of nowhere and forces them into the financial district where there is no way to win. You can’t say “well, I’ve won enough money now, time to retire”. Nope, you’re forced into Deals and will keep taking part in them until you’re bankrupt and forced out, where all you worked for promptly disappears and you’re now sterile. It’s fucking frightening, if you don’t mind me saying, so bravo to C for pulling that.
Right, enough praising C, time for the more fun part: Criticising it. More specifically, criticising the stupid fight scenes. There are 3 kinds of fight scenes in the anime world. I separate them into “like Break Blade”, “like Revolutionary Girl Utena” and “like Gundam Seed”. Break Blade fight scenes are ones in which there are Tactics. We can clearly see the moves and the results of each move. We can see the laws of the fight in place and make sense of events. The Revolutionary Girl Utena fights are the ones where the actual tactics are non-existent, but the moves in the fight are representing something else. The character falling down represents their fear, them beating the opponent represents a greater will, and other fan more complicated stuff than that. Then there’s the Gundam Seed fights, where you flash pretty colours across the screen for 10 minutes and then proclaim one of them the winner at the end.
“Ah”, I hear you say. “Isn’t [C] doing the Utena styled fights? You know, these are all representations of Economics and stuff”. No, Iwould retort, having a disembodied voice call out economic lingo during these flashy colours does not count. They’re certainly going for that, but very few instances in the fight have correlation to anything else. OK, when Mikuni buys stock, Kimimaro gets more powerful and can stand up again, representing how people buy stock provides capital to move your business to bigger and better places. But what does the rest of the fight mean? What the hell does the whole scene with the demon girl glowing red and the moth girl being born from the goat butlers chest got to do with anything? It’s just a bunch of pretty colours to look at to distract us from the lack of actual content. If after the disembodied voice declared OPEN DEAL, the two of them took out a calculator each and pushed various buttons on them repeatedly until one of them fell over, it would have had the same effect. They’re just making these battles up as they go along.
Littlekuriboh reference FTW. Also this was the first time I heard Thesis of a Cruel Angel. I am a failure as an otaku.