There’s No School Like Old School
Seeing as we’re a couple weeks from the start of the new season, I am going to jump the gun here and close out reviews on a couple shows I have reason to believe are going to end exactly as they started and ran through, leaving me free to review those that are keeping me on my seat for the end, like Symphogear. That and I figure it’s my weekly post since that’s about as often as I get to this lately.
“There’s no free ride in this Fujoshi World.”
I really sort of wrote most of the review for this show with this post, but for me it really comes down to the fact that “Old Genshiken” was simply better, and it’s not because of the lack of fujoshi, it was the fact that there were better character dynamics that made you feel like you were missing out on something genuinely fun about being part of a otaku group, the FEELS of being able to talk weeaboo shit with your friends in a club room or at someone’s house, and go to cons and not have to babysit them so that they won’t wander off into downtown Baltimore with some shady dudes. Genshiken should have stopped after they graduated. Nothing more. Because when the group parts and goes their separate ways, it’s not going to be the same when you get the band back together.
Nidaime did try to reconstruct that same vibe with the “New School”, but the only likable character was Ogiue, and that was because they softened her up from being Sue #2 into someone who actually had a reason to be there. Everyone else was a replacement for someone from the old generation to mimic the same style but maintain the fact that they were “rotten girls” and not guys. Then there was a trap, who I imagine was sort of a combination of Ogiue and Kousaka. Don’t get the wrong impression, I am not bothered by the fact that the characters in this show liked guy-on-guy sex, or that Hato liked crossdressing, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that feminism killed Genshiken. Look, I know weeaboo girls, and some indeed scream fujoshi from miles away, but not all of them do, and would it really be a pain for Genshiken to have one or two normal weeaboo girls? That’s all I’m asking here. I’m fine with ending Genshiken where it ended before this season. I don’t need Mada x Saki closure, we all knew that boat sailed long ago. It’s cute that you threw that in at the end to callback to it, but it was wasted time. Everything this season has ever done, was set up Hato for his/her revelation that he/she was doing what he/she did in order to impress a woman, regardless of his/her feelings for her.
If you’re a Genshiken fan and believe you need to see this story to complete the circle, I recommend reading the manga. The anime isn’t bad, but it’s essentially the same, and I found the manga to be slightly better in many ways.
Sub Group I Watched: Horrible
Rating (1-10): 7
“Does she wear anything but the black?”
Working! was a show that could only stand on itself if the characters were great. There is nothing interesting about a restaurant, I would know, I’ve worked in several. But the people you work with, so many stories to tell. SxS was built on the same premise. A welfare office isn’t anything special, nor should it be, you government slackers. But the characters in this show were an absolute blast to watch in action, even if that action was putting binders on shelves. Lucy is too damn cute for her own good, being cheerful and naive about everything. Hasabe is my occupational dream, I would very much like to be paid to hide around a building a slack off all day, which is why I should probably be a government employee. Things did get a little weird with the section chief in the rabbit gag, but it adds to the already dysfunctional cast of characters. The closest thing I could think of that fits this show in America would be 30 Rock, because if you imagine Tina Fey as Lucy, Tracy Morgan as Hasabe, and Alec Baldwin as the rabbit, it’s nearly a perfect fit. It really is situational comedy at its finest. Anime needs to have more of this sometimes and less overreaching plots for shows that just want to be funny.
Title: Servant x Service
Sub Group I Watched: Horrible
Rating (1-10): 8
“Not Dog Days. Not even by half.”
I’m not sure what I found more appalling about this show, the fact that it has the worst plot since Kampfer, or the most one-dimensional characters since Maken-ki, and both got second seasons. While I will concede that the art style throughout was pretty decent, it was just so lackluster. It kept leaving you with nuggets of maybe having something different happen the next week, but it just ended up being more “Encyclopedia Brown’s Case of the Week”. The characters themselves were also pretty devoid of anything interesting. It’s like they were trying to take Bakemonogatari’s characters and make some kind of romcom, only involving a dog with a dead kid’s soul in it. It just wasn’t good, and the only reason I didn’t drop it sooner was because I ignored it for weeks and then went and did a cram-catchup on it this week. Might watch the remaining episode, we’ll see.
Title: Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou
Sub Group I Watched: Horrible
Rating (1-10): 5
“Shingeki did not save the anime industry from anything. It has only saved yourself from the rest of the anime industry you’ve dismissed.” @tldranimu
Let’s just get one thing out here first before I write this review.
I like Shingeki no Kyojin. It involves characters and a story rooted in an old-world-like atmosphere where humanity is faced with survival at the hands of large similarly-looking beings whose sole purpose is the consumption of said humanity. It’s the polar opposite of a future-world where aliens threaten humanity. But above all, the weapons used are sophisticated pressure-based hooks used to scale three-dimensional spaces and maneuver around that space while wielding swords used to inflict damage on the titans. It appeals to my technological fancy as well as my historical fancy.
What I don’t like is Attack on Titan, the show that every person who has tangentially touched anime in the last ten years, has chosen to represent them to their online friends and circles in an effort to prove that they’re still, in fact, involved in anime. The cockier ones even choose to go so far as to state that it represents anime and is instrumental in battling “moeshit”, or what some refer to as the “cancer killing anime”, because, you know, they know what they’re talking about.
Now, let’s not confuse this with a show being “popular”. I’ve seen the argument many times that we hipsters hate on Shingeki and its fanbase because the show is popular. Sure, Shingeki is very popular in Japan, but so it a lot of shows. Anyone who is familiar with Anime Saimoe Tournament knows how popular shows are, and the thing is, what is popular now will diminish over time. All the plebs who think Shingeki is the greatest thing ever and won’t stop attaching the OP to everything on the planet, will find a new show to pine over in less than six months. Madoka was all over the circuit in 2011, now it’s a fourth of what it was. No, this isn’t about popularity, it’s about the fanbase that surrounds popularity, that needs popularity to survive. It’s like you never grew out of that high school “clique” mentality, and can only like what the cool kids like.
But let’s not dwell on the fanbase aspect of this show. Shingeki no Kyojin is truly a very good show with a good plot, variable characters, and the framework for a world that many possibilities could ride on. I am not a writer, or at least a professional writer, but it’s my firm belief that the success of something hinges on the world in which you place your characters. You can make A-san and B-chan interact with C-kun and D,E,F, and G all day long, but that only gives you a show that depends on the characters to drive the story. A properly constructed world, or universe, can handle anything you drop into it. Take Raildex for example. Academy City is a place where technology meets magic. You don’t need Index, Misaka, or TouMAN to still have a story in that universe. Star Trek, Star Wars, Game of Thrones. These are all universes where even if all the characters were killed in one episode, many more can come in and still play a part in the universe. I truly believe this is the essential step to sustaining a good series. Why else has Gundam gone on so long, other than the sales of plastic models?
What really crimps Shingeki’s ability to be an SSS-class show is the characters, pacing, and animation. There are really only three characters you’re allowed to care about in Shingeki, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin. They’re present in almost every episode, central to all plots and sub-plots, and pretty much drive other characters directly or in-directly. That’s kind of a problem. The minute someone else tries to step in and take us a different direction, Eren and his annoying-ass GONNA KILL EM ALL banter steps back in and re-takes control of the show again. What we do see that doesn’t involve Eren ends up being mostly side-scenes or boring filler setting up for the next Eren scene. Mikasa, sadly, is on permanent “Mashiro Duty”, always having to pull him out of whatever jam he is in. In turn, she has little character development and basically attributes her entire life to Eren on the account of him rescuing her from bad men as a child. Armin, on the other hand, probably has more development than either two thanks to being smart enough to place himself outside of some of the shit that surrounds Eren and Mikasa, and having enough tactical ability to get everyone out of the jam instead of just themselves. But he too is linked to Eren’s tomfoolery, and it’s amazing he hasn’t died from it. Everyone else in the show has mixed personalities, from being simplefolk who are there to serve, people who want to fight, people who don’t want to fight, and people who like potatoes. There are a few of those that actually would be more interesting to see in this universe away from Eren and Co., such as Levi and Zoe, but the problem is, in a show where almost everyone you meet dies either by being eaten or smashed by a titan, you condition yourself to believe that anyone on the screen is pretty much marked for death, especially those who talk more than others. It’s like having an entire starship crew of Red Shirts on Star Trek.
The manga isn’t very long, currently 46 chapters, and this season will probably end around chapter 35 or 36. The first half of the season stuck fairly close to the first 19-20 chapters, opening up the second season for the events after that, but between chapters 20 to now is a lot of smaller skirmishes and some plot developments within the universe. Inevitably this meant fluffing some of the episodes of the show to make what skirmishes they did have hold impact on the screen. While I applaud that effort, for a series that is still being published, this presents a problem for the author, to now make subsequent chapters sort of “live up” the the expectations set forth by the anime adaptation previously. I know this is probably common, but I feel that has contributed to shows flailing in the past. Hayate no Gotoku is one example, having been animated halfway through its run, and each new “season” just seems horribly disjointed and irrelevant to past seasons. TWGOK is another, though they’ve done somewhat a better job in compartmentalizing it, removing some manga references to preserve others within the animation adaptation. What I don’t want to see is for them to run ahead of the manga and just try to make shit up. Dragonball GT tried that, and I guess it depends on who you talk to for how that went. Some fans actually like GT for not being Z. Interesting.
Finally, the animation. The very thick outlines bothered me, all throughout the show. It felt very rushed in many places, almost like they blew the entire budget on the OP animation and the first six episodes, so when it came down to the slower sections of the series, they just took markers to the damn thing and filled in the rest later. I’m not an expert at animation or drawing, but I feel a show that has such a high standing and especially the sales to back up its popularity, Production IG could afford to bring in the A-Team and really make this show shine. It’s not as if they have to go deep with it either, the manga certainly isn’t super-detailed or anything, just make characters a little less QUALITY and blend in a little with their surroundings.
TLDR, Shingeki no Kyojin is a well-rounded show featuring a decent cast and great battles with a pretty awesome soundtrack. That said, if I hear Guren no Yumiya over another anime OP animation one more fucking time, I will break your goddamn fingers. You’re not cool anymore, you’re an asshole.
Title: Shingeki no Kyojin
Sub Group I Watched: gg
Rating (1-10): 8
I am such a stinker, But you know, CHALLENGEACCEPTED.PNG, everyday. :3
Post-Series-Ending Edit: By now, everyone has seen the final episode of SnK, or at least they have if they weren’t attached to their American counterpart, Breaking Bad. Even Shitkaku jumped on the bandwagon with the ending pointing out the very obvious fact that there won’t be another season immediately because there isn’t enough manga to work with.
Please, for the love of god, all of you plebs who are orgasming over this show, do not force them to pump out more shit without enough source material to work with. We’ve seen how this worked out for other series in the past. It’s a terrible idea.
For the record though, I still haven’t watched the final five episodes. I’m fairly confident that I am not missing much that I haven’t already read.
(I do want that Mikasa Ackerman FIGMA though. I am a consumer whore.)
I should note, that I don’t normally write such long reviews, and it should not be taken as OMG HE WROTE A LONG REVIEW IT MUST BE THE BEST it just so happened I had a small bone to pick with Shingeki plebs. I am a hipster, I don’t apologize for this, and I don’t give a fuck what you think about it, but I also appreciate even the shittiest of moeshit that plays each season, and I also give zero fucks what you think about that. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, and I certainly welcome it here, on Twitter, or Facebook. I happen to think I have watched enough anime over the past fifteen or so years that qualifies me to have a few opinions about the fanbase and how incredibly shitty it can get when it comes to THE SHOW ALL MY FRIENDS LIKE. I’m sort of like /a/, except I am not /a/. Not even I can be that pointlessly cruel.
Anyway, next week has a few shows ending, and I’m sure I’ll have more SYMPHOGEAR TALK for you soon, so stick around. Fall is almost here, and I can taste Saki’s vampire tears already.