Final batch of first impressions for the season. Or second impressions? Or in some cases third impressions since various episode 3s have already started coming out. Damnit this is all your fault Big Order. Why you got to be so fashionably late? Who do you think you are, pre-Guilty Crown Noitamina?
(I kinda miss when Noitamina anime all aired last. It gave you this one cool thing to look forward to. It was the light at the end of the tunnel while all the other anime turned out crap. I’m pretty sure the real reason for Noitamina’s drop in quality is when they started airing at the same time as everything else.)
(That all said, Noitamina seem to be having a good 2016. Good for them! The anime world is a better place when Noitamina is doing well.)
I came into this with admittedly a huge amount of cynicism, which stuck around through the terrible character designs and irritating lead. But somewhere towards the end of the middle of the second episode I think I had been won over. Part of it was the character of Reinhard appearing and any anime with a Reinhard in it can’t be so bad. But there’s something endearing about it overall. The writing is just about good enough to make the characters appear human with fears and dreams. The main character’s genre-savviness starts out a little irritating, but it gives him a personality at the very least. Neither blank slate, perfect gamer, nor Mahouka-boy ideal. He’s a self-insert in that he’s doing what we would like to think we’d do in this situation but also normal enough to fuck up. I think the moment that helped me feel he was more human was when he killed himself by accidentally walking into a sword. That’s a pathetic way to die if there ever was one.
While technically the two types of stories Re Zero is jamming together are some of the oldest stories in the book, by mashing them together it gives it just enough of a new look that it feels somewhat fresh. Future lead uses new technology in past by convincing people it’s magic? Standard for these trapped in a fantasy world stories. Learns minor piece of information in previous timeline and uses that in future timeline? Again, standard operating procedure. But mix them together and you’ve got the main character remembering people thought his phone was a magic item called a Mietia and tries to flog it again. Plus since these are two story types that usually have weird little frustrations in them caused via plotholes, time travel paradoxes, or “why does he not just do this”, the level of genre-savviness displayed by the show so far makes me think the writer has a firm grip on these usual pitfalls and won’t make the same mistakes.
So yeah, it’s all right. But those character designs. The robber girl annoys me probably the most. The black boob band was pretty dumb when Flamie Speedraw had it, but at least it looked like it was strapping down some breasts. This girl simultaneously has no breasts to strap down, while somehow still having a cleavage and lines that make it look like there’s some giant boobies in there. It bothers me to no end.
Big Order and Future Diary are fairly similar. That’s neither a surprise nor an original observation. But there was one area that I feel I need to bring to attention that Future Diary did well that Big Order most definitely does not. They both start similarly with interesting premises about people with various powers who seem to be determined to kill each other. They’ve both got great, schlocky action scenes where people pull crazed facial expressions. The animation and visual directing in Big Order is possibly a touch better this time than it was in Future Diary.
But the writing. The events of Future Diary and Big Order are both ridiculous, not necessarily always making perfect logical sense but at the very least taking the path of most entertainment. However the dialogue in Future Diary was usually fine. It did the job when it came to getting events from point A to point B with minimal amount of fuss. It occasionally devolved into crappy high school romcom antics, but otherwise was perfectly fine. The dialogue and monologues in Big Order are terrible! People don’t talk like they’re humans. The most obvious of statements are read aloud like someone desperately needed to take a second pass at the script. When the laziest option of doing exposition appeared the script always took that path.
I don’t think it’s intentional either. It’s still reasonably entertaining for the events of the episode and I’m kinda into some of the visuals, but the dialogue made me laugh from how bad it was several times. This isn’t like Mayoiga where you can tell they’re doing it on purpose either. I know some people prefer it when the badness is unintentional but for me that gets old quickly. There’s only so many ways you can be bad until it gets tiring and boring. Mayoiga mixes up the kind of nonsense that comes out of their characters. I do have some faith in the author of Future Diary to write an entertaining thriller but on the basis of this first episode I’m not convinced the writing will be able to hold up.
The anime Humanity has Declined left a strong mark on me. We tend to think of the apocalypse being created by something like an experiment gone wrong, or a war that went too far. We pushed the earth to its limits and it collapsed under our weight, or we invented machines too powerful for us to control. The thing is each of these are caused by humanity pushing too far. By striving for better they crush themselves. In Humanity has Declined, humanity is not dying out through anything like that. They’re dying because they just stopped caring. No wars because nobody has anything they want to fight for. No education because there is nothing they feel like learning. They’re gradually forgetting everything and leaving it to the next race to take over because they’ve accepted their doomed fate.
That unsettled me somewhere deep inside. It speaks to a deep-seated fundamental, subconscious belief I have about humanity. I may understand on an intellectual level why one might stop caring about life or why humanity leaving could be a good thing for the survival of the planet. Plus it’s not like I exactly follow this rule for my own life. But this goes far deeper into my very being. A part of what makes humanity. The idea that as a collective species we stopped caring to move forward shakes me to my very core in a manner that goes beyond any higher level of thinking.
To bring this back around, I suppose this is why I find anime like Tanaka-kun or Hidamari Sketch or Kimi to Boku so terrifying. I’m living in my personal hell of nothingness. A void of progress through which nothing is achieved. Tanaka-kun goes further by embodying this trait in a single human, but it’s more than that. The anti-humour and anti-climax of many of the jokes, where they just cut the music and stare into space all feeds into this nothingness. I suppose on a technical level, Tanaka-kun achieves what it set out to do. But you could not pay me to watch this. Well, no you probably could, and probably not even that much. I’m cheap like that.
Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou
This looks like something that would have aired on MTV in the 90s. It’s got the odd good joke, and I liked the English droppin’ beats lines in episode 1. Plus it managed to make me want to go clubbing again, something I haven’t done in years. That’s a feeling I can honestly say an anime has never made me feel before. Other than that though, Tonkatsu DJ runs into the problem many shorts do, in that it’s very bad at giving jokes the room to breathe. Have some faith in yourself Tonkatsu DJ. Some of your jokes are funny. Better timing would be much appreciated. Take a note from Tonari no Seki-kun. That was a short but had fantastic comedic timing.
If only the rest of the anime was as good as the OP. I want Boom Boom Satellites to do more anime OPs, which is unlikely considering the lead vocalist has cancer. We only got this because he happened to have got briefly better and long may it last. It’s not quite as toe-tapping as their openings for Xam’d, but I like that Trigger got a bit wild with the visuals. It’s also especially welcome after how crap the OP for Kill la Kill was.
The anime itself? It’s nothing great. It’s a good counterpoint to Mayoiga though. Both series are written by Mari Okada and I personally think Mayoiga plays more to her strengths in that these characters don’t act like humans and can’t really communicate properly. In Mayoiga it’s because we’re on a bus full of weirdos and watching their collapse is incredibly entertaining. Kiznaiver on the other hand isn’t doing it for me because I don’t find these character internal struggles interesting. I’m particularly bothered by the male lead and the whole idea they’re trying to sell this show on. People hate you because they can’t see yourself in you? I can’t say it’s a line I agree with and they haven’t sold it particularly well yet. It’s some weird kind of victim blaming too. Gawd if you just showed how much your hurt maybe them bullies would leave you alone. Also stop dressing so slutty and then you won’t be sexually harassed gawd.
That said, I’m willing to give it time. It’s not terrible and it looks like Trigger are trying something with some depth, which is a nice change. I’m not sold on what it’s trying to say right now, but it’s early days yet and maybe it will win me over. Also I’ve sat through plenty of average anime because the OP made me tune in every week. I think that’s the main reason I watched all of Xam’d anyway.