There’s no point in running these ‘no anime is dropped forever’ posts if I don’t actually watch the anime in question. Up this time is a duo of fantasy epics, Scrapped Princess and Moribito. Asides from the fantasy similarities and the fact these featured in the same post, the reason I featured these together will come apparent towards the end.
Why I picked these up again: For Moribito, it was because I loved Kenji Kamiyama’s work on both Eden of the East and Ghost in the Shell so it seemed stupid not to go back to Moribito and see if I liked it this time around. For Scrapped Princess, a combination of enthusiastic commenters and a confusion as to why I dropped it in the first place helped that decision, despite coming second by quite a large margin to Moribito in the poll.
Reviews: Let’s start with Moribito.
Moribito is not a bad show. The animation is beyond glorious, the characters are rational and well-defined, the pacing is generally steady and it takes time building its world without ever going down the painful route fantasy series can often head down of bombarding us with too many names. My critic side of my brain looks at this and is impressed. In fact, the only thing my critic side of my brain is complaining about is why is the rest of my brain getting bored and wandering off.
I just can’t bring myself to care. I just don’t care about whether Prince Chagum gets captured or what happened to Balsa in her past. Watching the episodes themselves isn’t half bad, albeit in a detached sort of way, but the real struggle is working up the enthusiasm to fire up another episode. Now if something fails to entertain or engage the viewer, then I deem it to have failed at something. So what is it exactly? The characters, for as well defined as they are, never succeed at being engaging people to watch. Perhaps being too rational and lacking character flaws takes away any interest I’d have in watching them? But I’d say the main problemis the story lacks a hook. Do you want to watch more of Chagum and Balsa? Nope, not particularly. They’re rather dull characters. Are you interested in what happens in the story? Again no, it’s rather inconsequential and, because the characters are so rational, lacks any sort of twists that you couldn’t see coming from a bizillion miles off anyway. They’re admirable, but I don’t really care about characters being strong willed and admirable. That doesn’t make for exciting or interesting viewing.
Scrapped Princess does the complete reverse. The story in Scrapped Princess is far and away its most interesting part. As whiny as she was, I really liked the character of Pacifica and her personal fight with whether she should live or not. In fact, I liked most of the characters in that show and their strange relationships with each other. That floating girl with the permanent frown and her strange bond she had with Shannon. The wannabe Knight and Pacifica’s reaction to his affection. At least, I liked the idea of these characters. When you got down to the bones of what drove each of them and what fueled their conflicts and relationships with each other, it was a very interesting show.
But when I say I like the idea, that doesn’t bring to fore the fact that actually watching them was painful sometimes. Who the fuck wrote the script for this thing? Sometimes I wanted to smash my head against the wall for some of the lines these characters spouted. Use a bit of subtlety for christ sake. Remember that I am the good prince, so now I must sprout a line about wanting to protect my people. Scrapped Princess needed better staff working on it because boy did those on it do some clunky directing.
Scrapped Princess had a really interesting story but was let down by miserable scripting and art direction. Moribito had both of those in abundance and was really well created, but lacked anything engaging about what was actually happening. If you could have taken the Moribito staff and stuck them on Scrapped Princess, you might have got a really great fantasy anime. Instead you’re left with two pretty average ones.
I did drop Moribito after about 12/13 episodes. This was partly because it was such a struggle to work up the enthusiasm to watch any further, but mainly because I was having exactly the same feelings towards the show as I had when I originally watched it. The same happened with Scrapped Princess. Despite having forgotten what my original misgivings towards these shows were, they came rushing back to me as I started to watch both of them. I did complete Scrapped Princess, but that’s because I had originally watched much further than the 6 episodes my MAL had claimed I watched. By the time I reached new material around episode 15, I was in too far to quit. Besides, I kinda wanted to see what would happen anyway. Plus, I think I had developed a bit of a crush on Pacifica…
The thing is, for ‘no anime is dropped forever’ to work, I need either a change in perspective or for the show itself to change in tone passed the spot I had originally reached. Neither of these had happened. Hence, they were doomed to getting the exact same reception they got when I originally watched them.
Were they worth picking up again: I probably should have waited a few more years before giving them another shot