Some Sweet Moe Nerd Girls!
Some Salt Left In the FRIDGE!
By: Head Writer – J.R Tafoya
Hello again, my Giga-Landers! I hope you’re ready for another sweet yet sour season review in anime!
Summer has just ended, like so many childrens’ breaks, and with it goes a great season in anime. If you’re one of the people that likes to wait for shows to end and then wait for people to tell which ones were good, or which ones you might like, then look no further! I have, with all the loving intent in the world, watched a load of anime this season just so I could tell you which ones were amazing and which ones you should avoid! If you’re one to “Netflix and Chill” (am I using that phrase right?) on weekends to marathon anime in a single night, then your savior has arrived!
Last time I talked about a lot of the things I liked, and one which I didn’t. This time, I went with the opposites . . . sort of. I talk about one thing I really liked because yuri, one think I was disappointed in, and one thing that made me rage so hard I had to take a break from writing for a day or two. It won’t be hard to guess which one is which, but the yuri topping on the sour dessert with a load of salt on the bottom made me feel all kinds of ways. All of which are manly, I assure you.
You can definitely tell which ones I like, but I’ve opted for a different style of review this time, not too long, not too short, but just the right size for this editorial porridge. Man, I must be hungry.
As the wind beneath your wings, and the blood in your veins, I welcome you with open arms into an epoch the likes of which you’ve only seen since Shakespeare’s day!
Verdict: Yuri is, As Yuri Does –
Despite having the line, “Stupid is, as stupid does” from Forrest Gump stuck in my head, I think that about sums up a large portion of this show. I mean, the yuri part. Not the stupid part. Without using too much space here, you can get a good idea of what the anime is like from my amazing, and totally un-shamelessly plugged, article here.
Suzukaze Aoba had started working for Eagle Jump who created her favorite game of all time, “Fairies Story”. Driven by the determination to work on that same game, Aoba devoted her life to becoming a VG artist to try and move people the way she was when she was younger. A side note: Being head-hunted out of high school really helps with your dreams, guys. Make sure to do that! Aoba gets picked up out of high school, which I’m assuming only works in Japan, to work on none other than “Fairies Story 3”. What’s more, the artist who had so deeply touched her with the first game in the series, Yagami Kou, was her direct boss. Also, yuri joke definitely intended.
New Game! Seems to be a show in the same vein as Shirobako or Bakuman in that it’s a show about creating -something-. The largest difference here is that this is a comedy and a slice-of-life. The show takes a cute (and yuri-like) approach at what creating a game is really like, sort of. Aoba tries her hardest to do right by her Senpai, who won’t notice her, all while trying to work the characters she’s created around the different departments of the gaming industry. If only it was as easy as drawing a picture and scanning it in, right developer people? Yeah, I have the lingo down. Aoba soon finds out that just drawing isn’t enough. She needs to give her characters appeal, emotion, and something to set them apart . . . oh, and she needs to be able to draw it in the computer program without making it crash the -actual- programmers’ computers.
But, as a comedy, this show is a lot less about how painstaking it is to create a game on a budget and budgeting time, and more about the character interactions. In most cases, a SoL anime lives and dies by its characters and, boy, are these characters quirky. Not strange in a sense that they’re terribly original, just different in a sense that we can differentiate them so we can pick our “Best Girl”. But, as I’m a grown-ass man, I don’t pick a best “girl”. . .
I pick a best WOMAN! And that woman is the director! BOOM! Officially called. Maturity Intensifies.
What’s best about the show is how it portrays the comedy, though. Usually you can expect most comedies to just be terrible gags or tsukkomi/boke set-ups. New Game! Intertwines a lot of the comedy through it’s game dev roots. I mean, besides the lead artist sleeping around the office in her underwear because she works overnight, which is there for an obvious reason; they usually find a unique “tongue-in-cheek” way to poke fun at themselves but also teach about the industry. One of the charming points of the show is how it never really takes itself too seriously, so it doesn’t really drag you down with all the seriousness of 48-hour shifts, living off of coffee and energy drinks, and crippling anxiety. But, it does take a certain delicate approach to the character relationships and development which brings together a cute finale.
All in all, there really isn’t much to be said about the show other than: It was cute, it was funny, and
I like yuri . . . something. A lot of the show is yuri-bait, which I could care less about, but you can tell how obvious it is as there are literally ZERO men in this show. Not that I’m complaining. In the end, I really enjoyed the show for what it had to offer. I laughed, I learned, and I grew. I suggest checking the show out if you like nerdy girls too. Because that is the ultimate moe. Also, yuri. That’s the ultimate moe too . . .
. . . and cat ears . . .
. . . and. . .
Verdict: Like Reverse “Les Misérables” But During 20’s-Era Prohibition –
I’m not sure I could think of an accurate way to (personally) describe this show. I’ve often stated that Les Misérables can be summed up as, “It isn’t about the beginning or the ending, it’s about the journey getting there”, and I believe that’s accurate to some degree. 91 Days, however, seems to have flipped that around in a rather . . . boring way.
91 Days started with an exclamation point when it introduced the characters. We had a young 10-year old Angelo whose family had been murdered by the mafia and his narrow escape. Soon after, we’re introduced to his best friend Corteo who had attempted to take him in after the incident. Next, Angelo infiltrates the mafia to begin exacting his revenge, and exact he did. So, the show starts strong by giving us relatable characters, an MC with a purpose, and by showing that it isn’t afraid to kill off parts of the main cast. Even more, part of the main cast consist of the people Angelo is trying to kill which makes it that much harder for us, and for him, to watch them go. It was beautifully orchestrated and a strong lead in for something that would become much less . . . exciting.
A few episodes in 91 Days takes a more business-like approach to the mafia scene: Concocting moonshine literally underground, finding the best trade routes, building relationships with other families, and business tactics for drug/alcohol running. It slowed to a crawl and while events certainly . . . happened, they were easier to foresee than a watermelon’s future at a Gallagher show. The show sets up a lot of plot points, but seems a bit overly proud of how many things it touches upon. But, within those 8 or so middle episodes, those “many things” lose a lot of impact both by being pushed along too quickly, and by being predictable. One episode really wasn’t enough to make me care about the schmuck who’d literally been trying to sell his sister off earlier in the show. Being big and bad comes with the territory in a show like this, you don’t need to go out trying to prove yourself at every turn. Putting on big-boy pants and over-sized shoes doesn’t make you a badass, it makes you a kid with a point to prove, and that’s kind of how I saw the middle of the show in a nutshell.
One big personal gripe I had was near the end when Angelo had to get out of town, for “safety reasons”. So, he returns to the place he lived after his familys’ passing. Together with Corteo, the scene was set perfectly for some much needed character development. Instead, they chose to spend over half the episode showing the two going around town like an old married couple doing terribly menial tasks. As if the yaoi-bait wasn’t strong enough already, it decided it needed to poke and prod (and yes, like that) us just to make sure every guy and girl could get their jollies on that one episode. Juxtaposition isn’t meant as a negative term in writing, but using it to shove in some fan-service and, worse yet, showing a murderer happily buying groceries with his best friend isn’t a good use of the style. A drama/thriller show like this shouldn’t be putting me to sleep, but it did just that. I really wish I was lying too.
With all my griping, though, I do have to say that I truly enjoyed the last two episodes. The entire show is about Angelo and his revenge, and how terribly he needed to feel vindicated through the murderers he committed, so we know things are going to get serious at some point. But, without spoiling anything, the finale was uncharacteristically poetic in a good way. It played out a friendship between two characters, one perhaps they wished they could have lived out, and ended on a note that leaves almost no question about the ending. Angelo’s revenge was the core plot of the show, but the finale dug a little deeper and showed a side of him, and some other characters, that really made it hit hard. Had the rest of the show been up to par, I could have told you how great this show was. Instead, all I can say is that it had a great beginning, a great ending, but the meat in the sandwich was all filler.
Speakeasy, but carry a big stick, I suppose. (har har)
Verdict: Down the FRIDGE-Hole and Back Again –
As a forewarning, I
may will spoil some of the major plot points of this show. Uncharacteristic of my style, I know, but this needs to be said, and you’ll understand why if you read through. That, or just skip the final two paragraphs, I’ll make a note for people who want to skip the salt. Also, I apologize for the swearing and perhaps the over-complaining.
Anyone familiar with anime and it’s many styles may already know what “fridging” is, and if you do, you already know where I’m going with this. If you don’t? Well, just get ready for a shit show. Qualidea Code was another show that started off strong this season, but ended up falling flat on its face, in the yellow snow, sliding down hill, into the middle of a busy intersection.
At first, we’re treated with a glimpse of humanity fighting back an alien invasion. Our hero, Suzaku, cursing the demons who had invaded his planet and killed his family in the ensuing assault. It then skips ahead several years to a much brighter and high school-ier(?) future in which Suzaku has some kind of magic powers. So, the falling flat on its face part happened maybe five minutes in compared to 91 Days two to three full episodes.
So, magic powers right? Right.
Explanation? . . . Not so much.
Apparently, after the alien invasion, the kids were put into some kind of stasis, and any children woken up suddenly had magic powers! For instance, Suzaku’s girlfriend, Canaria, could sing and power everyone up! . . . Which definitely doesn’t take any roots from Macross or Ar Tonelico. Now, as the foremost superpower on the planet, Suzaku and his friends are (apparently) the only thing standing in the way of total alien take-overs and freedom. Also, they go to high school. Suzaku and Canaria have a bit of a tsundere relationship, Suzaku being the overly angsty and hormonally angry teenager, Canaria being the sweet love-love girl *danger*. Suzaku, also one of the heads of their (high school) army, believes that working with other cities is tantamount to losing a battle, because having a raging teenager in charge of your army makes you fucking intelligent. Anyway, the schools finally decide to work together to in an “epic battle” against a goliath of an alien that had been pressuring the front lines of the resistance. At the end of this fight, and I can’t stress this point enough, the final blow came in the shape of several still-frame shots lasting about 10 seconds each, and a fade to white. To remind you, not only was this the first real fight in the show (four episodes in), it was thrown in our face how terribly important this fight was. So why not phone in some choppy animation and call it a day, right!?
After said fight, Suzaku realizes that working together is a great idea because people don’t die and it changes his outlook on life. When he finally comes to terms with his tsundere nature and tries to confess to his girlfriend, guess what happens my friends!? Did you guess that maybe, just maybe, a flying fucking boulder shot from beyond the horizon would accurately pinpoint her location and obliterate every fucking particle of her being? Because it did. You see, we can’t have an anime about high schoolers if they’re working together, especially if the problem child takes a turn for the better. Fridging was the only obvious answer to force Suzaku to drastically change his attitude and, again I need to highly stress this point, seeing a pool of her blood rise from the water changed him yet again. From there, Suzaku is sent to the back of the class with the rest of the rejects, and no longer carries the role of “main character”. Or, if he does, he does it terribly.
After raging about, the rest of the kids are forced to fight in an all out war against the aliens who are apparently much stronger. Two other main characters, and leaders from a different city, face an entire battalion by themselves. To be fair, it was actually a good scene, watching one make her Last Stand, and the other racing to fight by her side. But, at the end, they realize that they can win the fight! . . . Then they stand still and get hit by a kamikaze alien. Rinse and repeat once more with this cycle. Here’s the heaviest spoiler: The third main character, after much digging, finds out that the aliens are actually human adults and that all the awoken children are under some kind of suggestion. He then takes his sister and Suzaku and finds refuge with the humans. After returning to the real human adults they find out that none-other than . . . you guessed it, EVERYONE is alive. The boulder-smashed one whose blood we saw, the kamikaze-d ones, everyone.
What pisses me off more than actually fridging someone, is not having the balls the keep it that way. Fridging already shows a lack in ability to write a halfway decent plot or characters, but pulling punches to re-change the changed main character goes beyond just awful writing, it’s unacceptable. To me, you’re just proving you aren’t capable of producing a coherent story and should probably put that pen/pencil/computer/writing utensil away.
My last point of the show is, ironically, the final episode. Everyone mounts an attack against the evil alien invaders in one huge final “epic battle”. Yes, that term again. But, rather than using still shots in this episode, they literally cut 90% of the fighting and all you see is a previously shown landscape shots with fighting sounds in the background. This is the -final- episode, the climax, the be all, end all of their world! And we don’t even get to see it! Not only are the writers lazy, so are the animators! It’s insulting to be treated stupidly, but its an affront to your watchers when you cock-block them during what is supposed to be the most important episode. What’s more, the absolutely worst character in this show, a girl who betrays the humans because “the aliens were nice to us once!”, somehow develops overpowered fighting skills and abilities because the plot said so. Know that prior to this episode, not a single person acknowledged her skills, abilities, or even her character in any way that would justify this engagement. Hell, before this she was the most useless person on the team and constantly had to be covered for because she lacked any kind of skill or . . . personality.
All the negatives aside, I did find one or two things I liked. The brother/sister combo, or in this case, the third set of main characters. Their interactions were actually how I saw myself talking to my sibling until, you know, the whole incest thing decided to rear its ugly head. It’s a turnoff for me, but that’s a personal bias. The brother, in fact, had a good relationship with Suzaku and most of his dialogue was actually enjoyable and funny. I liked the idea of this world as well and I really wanted something to grab at me in this show. Instead, they show us trope after trope and pull some kind of pseudo-Matrix stuff on us, pretending like we’re too stupid to see the inconsistencies. It’s assumed that these adults beat these kids who could literally raze cities within seconds, where the fuck were they during the finale!? And what in the hell did they use to fight them!? And how, in all of five to ten years, did the humans get technology that advanced!?
I could go on for days about how absolutely awful this show is, I really could. But, David already took the brunt of that for you guys, so you should thank him for that.
You’re now thinking, “If this anime was so bad, why did you keep watching it?”, and that’s hard to answer. I have a guilty pleasure of watching bad shows that are “too anime” for their own good, or things that are purely shounen. I don’t go in with any expectations, but this anime blew me away in all the wrong senses. The animation was choppy and lazy, the music – sans for Canaria’s song – was lackluster and indistinguishable from most other noise in the anime, and the plot was rife with enough writing taboos that you couldn’t fit them all in a bad fanfiction. What’s worse, the voice acting was nearly unacceptable and most characters were just downright bad. The siblings, whom I liked as characters, felt like they were trying their first time at deadpan acting. Rather than performing on par though, it felt like a monotone race to get all their lines out which made it fall flat. To be fair, most others were pretty terrible as well.
In a nutshell, please don’t watch this show. I’ve already stated how bad this is, and it is undeserving of your attention in every way. I can usually make a joke out of terrible anime, I’ve done so in the past, but this show is bad in a different way. One that makes me more angry than hopeful for some kind of comedic content. If you’re looking for a high-powered action anime that involves high schoolers, you can always watch JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
If you watch this show, to quote the great Sans, “You’re gonna have a bad time!”.