I’m going to have to drop Last Exile from my blogging schedule. It’s an all right anime and it’s not like there’s a lack of things to talk about. I liked how the third episode introduced the fact that the so-called ‘heroes’ of this story are a bunch of religious fanatic pirates, charging into a ‘holy’ land to use up its dwindling resources and severely piss off the locals. Sound familiar? But the subs for it are slow enough that it has ended up clashing with Future Diary. Hence my blogging duo for this season are this and Guilty Crown. You might ask “Guilty Crown? Surely not that crapfest over the glorious Last Exile!?!”, in which case you would be one of the many people who apparently totally ignored what I wrote in my episode 3 post. It was a bit disconcerting to see almost every comment write what appeared to be a rousing agreement with my declaration of its awfulness, even though the post I wrote was largely positive.
Since I’ve had to keep with Future Diary instead of Last Exile, I’m feeling mean and in the mood for incessant nitpicking. The CGI seems like a good place to start, since we’re comparing with Last Exile here. The CGI cars here were bad enough, but what made the scene doubly hilarious were the incredibly awkward CGI hills. It’s a goddam hill, it’s hardly something that’s difficult to portray accurately in hand drawn animation. CGI Norio Wakamoto is also in CGI and therefore also looks awkward and out-of-place compared to the hand-drawn characters around him and moves in an unnaturally smooth fashion. However he was meant to look out-of-place. I don’t think those hills were meant to look like they came from another dimension. It’s extra jarring when this is the season where I think anime has finally realised how to use CGI well. The mind-blowing beautiful fight sequence in Fate/Zero 5 was a great example of this, as is the entirety of Last Exile. I suppose I should amend that statement to say ‘big budget anime know how to use CGI well’ because even the Dues scenes, where the CGI fits, look cheap.
Even the regular animation in Future Diary isn’t very free-flowing, but it does make up for it with rather imaginative art direction. Between the various types of lighting and imaginative camera angle, subtle changes in facial expression and lighting up the characters eyes at the right times, Future Diary is incredibly well-directed. Good art direction is timeless and can make anime that are several decades old like Rose of Versailles look more interesting than, say, Gundam Age. Future Diary may not have the budget of Guilty Crown or Fate/Zero, but better art direction means it looks more interesting than those two put together, and next to Gundam Age looks like a Ghibli film next to Mashiro-Iro Symphony and…oh dear, I was supposed to be nitpicking but ended up just praising the show.
Lets pick something else to nitpick on. The hypnosis seems like a safe target. I did mention in the last episode that I didn’t think we had a particularly accurate depiction of hypnosis here, but on reflection it wasn’t far off. I’ve been hypnotised before…well, actually I haven’t. I went to a stage show with a hypnotist and, when he asked for volunteers, I could not run up to that stage quickly enough. There was about 10 of us up there but, disappointingly enough, I was one of the few who couldn’t be hypnotised. This may be because my brain is so large that it couldn’t be fooled by measly mind tricks. Although I suspect the real reason is because the hypnotist had a thick Scottish accent, so when he said “when I snap my fingers you will fall asleep”, all I heard was “when I snap my fingers you will herpy derpy derpy doo”. I did stay on the stage for a while and I can assure you the looks of terror on the other participants faces when the hypnotist rendered himself invisible and dangled a hankie in front of their faces was genuine. Convincing someone that a block of wood is their phone isn’t much of a leap of faith.
On the other hand, convincing a horde of people that they are zombies and to start murdering each other is a bit of a stretch. Future Diary did set a precedent for this thought by introducing the hypnosis in the episode before. It wasn’t like the army of hypnotised zombies came out of nowhere. Plus the whole hypnosis thing falls quite neatly into the themes of the show. Hypnosis takes away control of your own actions, which is exactly what Yuuki’s life is all about now. Zombies fall into this category too, albeit a bit more loosely. You are now a mindless creature who can only charge mindlessly towards your targets.
I should probably call out Future Diary on the naked eyeless chick being tied up in a dungeon as being creepy, misogynistic and exploitative or something, but honestly the scene didn’t bother me at all. If anything, I’m surprised Future Diary doesn’t have more boobage. The show is campy and pulpy enough to get away with more sex-fueled material, but it seems like the creators are more keen on focusing on the horror aspect. I guess most people would prefer that, but I honestly have no preference between gore or boobs. In fact, I’d probably say I prefer boobs, because at least boobs for boobs sake is arousing, while gore for gores sake is just kinda off-putting.
I do seem to be using the pulpy ridiculousness as a fall back criticism shield for Future Diary, but there are some things this tone doesn’t gel with. Genuine heartwarming or heart-wrenching drama and melodrama do not fit and come off as fake or forced. This is partly why I didn’t like the flashback sequence in the ferris wheel in episode 3. I didn’t mention it at the time though, because it didn’t tell the full story. I have a feeling Yuno’s extra reason for liking Yuuki will be something ridiculous, like she ate his mum. But what this tone does allow for is sleazy fanservice, of which Future Diary has surprisingly little off. All we’ve had so far have been Yuno loosing her top in the swimming pool (a fairly tame affair all things considered), and the above scene, which I’m pretty sure I only found arousing because I’m weird and creepy and into BDSM.