Scamp: Gundam the Origin
I was considering writing about Iron Blooded Orphans, but instead decided to finally check out Gundam the Origin and that was pretty great too! It turns out that despite the fact I couldn’t get through Zeta Gundam and its absolutely terrible lead character, I am a fan of the original movie trilogy. Even bigger than I originally thought, given how much I fanboy over all the stuff in Origin. Ranba Ral continuing to be one of the coolest guys even in his younger years was particularly fun. Watching the first Zaku appear was like pumping pure fanboyism into my veins. Even dumb stuff like seeing a teenage Mirai or a young Amuro with his newly bought Haro toy got me. I only saw the bloody movies earlier this year and yet apparently they left a bigger impact on me than I thought. On top of that, Origin is good on its own. It has issues, and its cartoony over-dramatisation can be a bit silly, but it’s fun with memorable characters with distinct personalities, cool animation and a memorable story. I might even go so far as to suggest if you want to get into UC Gundam, just go with this since it’s fairly easy to understand by Gundam standards. If anything its only real problem is Char/Casval/Edouard as he’s not the most charismatic of leads right now and very difficult to relate to. It feels more like Sayla/Artesia’s story.
Shinmaru: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans
Getting excited about a Gundam series brings me some trepidation since the hit/miss ratio ain’t great (sorry, I like Gundam, but it’s true); that being said, the basic foundation of this series is so solid. The “downtrodden of society rising up against oppressors” angle isn’t unfamiliar to Gundam, but I like the spin on it here — these are all kids who joined the military because they had no other choice, either because they were contracted by force or because they’d otherwise die on the streets. They’re working class scrappers in the shittiest situation. They have shit robots — what they eke out of them is due to the skill they’ve had to hone. Even the cool mobile suit they have isn’t some super power hype as hell god robot. What advantages they have come more off like someone selling plasma to ease the burden of their college tuition rather than some rich, mysterious benefactor giving them cool toys.
Speaking of the rich benefactor, I like that she’s someone who has to confront her own privilege, assumptions, and naivete rather than some billionaire with a plan to change the universe. Kudelia is helping not out of a sanctimonious sense of obligation (at least not after she sees firsthand how limited her view of the world is), but because she truly wants to find the right way for herself and for other people. And the group of kids trying to make their Outer Heaven work are pretty appealing, even with the show making no bones about how they will do whatever it takes to survive (the stuff in episode 3 is pretty hardcore). I’m cautiously excited about this show.
Inushinde: Sakurako’s Bone Boner
There’s something relaxing about watching a girl and her pet milquetoast protagonist traipsing around Hokkaido in search of mysteries to solve, often veering on the side of the morbid. I won’t say that it’s a particularly good show, since the characters’ personalities are gratingly staid and the actual mysteries lack any sort of cohesion, but it has a wonderfully washed out aesthetic that gives every scene a fitting sense of melancholy. I guess the aesthetic is what makes the show a pleasant, if somewhat unengaging watch, ignoring the prismatic skeleton transformation sequences. Coupled with coherent writing, it’s a nice enough show to put on in the background while I think of more ways to associate the show’s title with sexing.
What’s not so Hot
Scamp: Concrete Revolutio
It’s funny how, in the season with a brand new Gundam, the anime with the awful Tomino-esque writing is coming from somewhere else. I hate the way the characters speak to each other in Concrete Revolutio so much. It’s like nobody ever talks to each other. Each line of dialogue feels like they skipped 8 previous lines so nobody seems like an actual person. These aren’t conversations, they’re just random babble spouted at each other while attempting to sound deep. I’m not even sure if the dialogue was coherent that I would like Concrete Revolutio anyway. Every time I got a grip on the storyline, I found myself thinking that the main dude in the story was a complete arse about everything and totally wrong about every solution he came up with. I had high hopes for this show and now I feel stupid. Goddamnit Bones.
Shinmaru: One Punch Man
This is more of a “what’s not” with a couple of caveats: 1) I’m watching few shows this season, so I guess I have to write about something I’m enjoying (and I AM liking One Punch Man), and 2) I guess this is more about expectation than One Punch Man being the actual worst show I’m watching? I like the premise of One Punch Man, simultaneously celebrating the inherent silliness of superheroes and using those building blocks for fun comedy and some super cool animation. My one problem with the series is that the actual Saitama character gets stretched thin at times.
The “regular guy who worked super hard and somehow became a hero” shtick is fun, but it’s when that character gets wacky that it ceases to work for me. I like Saitama more as the exclamation mark — the episode with the lab of genius clones creating violent super monsters is the perfect use of him. You have this absurd backstory that plays out over the course of the episode, but then Saitama steps in and trucks the monster after it’s “YOU HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN MY FINAL FORM” bit. Perfect. The Golgo 13 model is my ideal for this series: it’s about other characters playing out their shit before Golgo blasts someone/Saitama punches someone.
Inushinde: Concrete Revolutio
I don’t think it’d be too controversial a statement to say that, more often than not, good shows often spring from good ideas. And if there’s one show full of good ideas, it’s Concrete Revolutio. Pseudo-retro style reminiscent of when animation had more characters than frames? Awesome. Heroes who are immediately sympathetic being sought out by an organization straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon? Also awesome. Allegories for the failings of post-war Japan? Cool, I like it.
Unfortunately, where it falls down is everywhere else, with the show trying to coast off of the idea and aesthetic to make up for a near total lack of coherent short-term direction. It’s like somebody picked up a proof of concept and filled in the blanks on the fly, ignoring anything that might create investment. I found myself digging Concrete Revolutio a bit more after each of the three episodes that I managed to work through, but the operative word in that sentence is “work”. It’s the anime equivalent of reading Asimov that’s been wrung through Google Translate three or four times.