FAIL Anime 2016
I’m FAIL-ey Certain I didn’t Misspell “Fall”
By: Head Writer – J.R Tafoya
Hello Giga-Landers and welcome to another acclaimed(?) anime review by Yours Truly! This time covering a couple of anime that might have flown under the radar for a most of you!
Despite the title name, not all of it was terrible! Just one and . . . like, three-quarters? I hope one of you is good at math! Once again, I have painstakingly watched all the anime I could this season in an attempt to bring you a review that may lead you to, or away from, some anime that was probably a little less popular this season. Things like Drifters definitely doesn’t need my help being hyped as it was in a league of its own. Other things like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure or Hibike!!Euphonium! already had prior seasons despite how absolutely amazing they both were.
This season was a little less good in terms of overall quality for original series, but I did my best to wade through everything to find something worth watching. If you’re one to wait for the season end reviews to pop up so you can marathon an entire series in one sitting, first of all: that’s impressive. Secondly, I bring you good tidings, young Giga-Friends! Look no further than this spectacularly written (lie) and well edited (by me) piece of art (made with crayons)!
And, just because I got tired of using standard verdict descriptions like, “watch” or “avoid”, I decided to take something from the show completely out of context to explain exactly how I feel. Good luck figuring out this enigma!
As the wind beneath your wings and the air in your lungs, you’re welcome! -J.R
Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku
(Magical Girl Raising Project)
Verdict: A Girl Picks a Fight With a Cellphone and Loses –
It’s difficult for me to swallow my words and tell you how wrong I was about this show. Oh, wait. No it’s not! That happens literally EVERY season! Boy, wow. That would have been embarrassing!
If you read my previous Initial Review, which I know you did, you’ll know that I had pretty high expectations for this particular show. The keyword there is “had”. I had high expectations that went down every single episode at an alarming rate. Why, pray tell, did I even bother to finish this show? Because, younglings, it’s almost like watching a train crash. You can’t just turn away. Well, that, and I love to watch things crash and burn. . . I may be a pyromaniac.
Raising Project (hereafter: RP), was about young Snow White, a magical girl with wide and starry-eyed views of the Magical Girls that she’d long pined over and how those views were instantly turned on their head as she was quickly forced to fight for her own survival against the other magical girls of her city. Things like this usually start slow and we can forgive them for that because that’s just how suspense works. Hell, Madoka Magica took 2-9/10’s episodes to hit its stride! So we can often forgive something like this for starting out slowly. For RP, the problem lies with how the situation is dealt with after the big twist.
The 16 magical girls are locked in a fight where they must beat each other in a game every week order to keep their magical girl powers. Under the guise of “collecting more candy (aka good deeds)” than the other magical girls, they find out almost instantly that the losing your powers means much more than just losing your right to be a magical girl. What accompanies that realization is the constant change of rules the girls are given by their a-hole of a mascot, Fav. Tacking on rules almost every other day to force the girls to physically fight and kill each other was one of the few things this show did right. However, along with those deaths and/or murders came a formula of sorts and it was extremely easy to figure out, even for me, after the 3rd death:
A girl would randomly get a lot more screen time, large portions of exposition, and back story out of left field, and then “unexpectedly” die in the same episode. This became (one of) the bane of this show’s existence. Shows like Madoka Magica or Suisei no Gargantia did well because of the surprise factor. When something went wrong, there wasn’t some kind of epic lead-up to it and there certainly wasn’t some kind of formula used for every episode. RP, however, decided that using the same formula for 14 different girls was a great idea! Because humans are too stupid to figure out patterns!
That aside, this definitely gets compared to Madoka Magica a lot for obvious reasons. The use of “girly” tropes to push a dark and mature theme, unexpected plot twists, and retroactive main characters to name a few. The biggest difference between Madoka and Snow White was that, despite being a character who retroactively reacts to the plot, Madoka actually added an element of suspense and mystery to the core storyline of the show. Snow White cried, ran, and did almost nothing. If she was removed from the story, almost nothing would change barring some very minor details. Hell, even the final episode, she her power allows her to hear about the final antagonist’s weakness, but despite knowing this she never mentions it until the final moments of the antagonist’s life! Even if she wasn’t there, the character that killed them would have done the EXACT same thing!
I guess you can tell at this point that I was not thrilled by this show at all. There were a few deaths that caught me off guard and I can definitely give it some points for that. But, the majority of them felt compulsory and forced. Just because a girl dies, doesn’t mean I should care. I should care because that character was deep, relatable, and they added something to the story. But, aside from one or two antagonists, that was not the case for any of these girls and I could probably have cared less when they died.
Forcing people to feel things is much different than leading them to feel it. I can forgive a lot in a show because I have a guilty pleasure with weird crap like that. But, having an absolutely useless main character and using a formulaic approach to death isn’t something you can use to drive a plot. But, that didn’t stop RP from trying!
If you really need a dark magical girl show to watch, I’d recommend watching Madoka Magica again, then watching the movies, then watching more of Gen “The Butcher”’s work. If you’ve already seen them about five times apiece, I can maybe, kinda, almost give this a slight push of tiniest degree in your direction, if you have nothing else to watch. It definitely hits a crescendo at a certain point, and some of the actions scenes are intense, but the music, dialogue, and characters all hit the same, sour note. That is to say, they are all dark, drab, and bland and nothing I’d look at twice.
But, hey, if you want to raise a magical girl, it’s probably more about personal taste than anything else. . . I’m calling you a lolicon, by the way.
Udon no Kuni no Kinirio Kemari
(Poco’s Udon World)
Verdict: You Should Catch a Tanuki Because They’re Actually Wish-Granting Leprechauns –
As I am now a self-proclaimed lover of the slice-of-life genre, it would personally shame me if I didn’t at least mention this show! That’s right, it’s out in the open now and I can’t help myself!
Udon no Kuni is about a man named Souta who had finally come back to his hometown of Kagawa, a place further out in the sticks than he’d like to admit. Compared to his rushed and bustling life in Tokyo, Souta found a unique change of pace in the peaceful town he’d grown up in. If only he hadn’t come back to take care of the house after his father’s death, it would have been that much more peaceful.
Souta had recently lost his father and had come back to clean out his old house, but along the way he finds a lot of memories – both good and bad – that bring back more than Souta ever wanted to admit he’d forgotten. Along with those sour memories, Souta also finds a young boy hiding away in his father’s old kitchen where he’d made udon all his life. The child, dressed in nothing but scraps, would eventually (and obviously) be taken in by Souta and be named, “Poco”. Soon after this adoption, Poco would reveal himself to be a magical tanuki thing with anthro-morphing abilities! Also, magic!. . . Well, you take what you can get with the ol’ SoL (slice of life) genre!
This show, rather than being about who or what Poco is most of the time, focuses more on the adorable antics child-like hijinks as Souta adopts a baby whom he raises on his own. Since I’m sure I have the most dedicated fanbase out there (terrible lie), you’ll know that I’m a sucker for stories like this. An estranged group bringing each other closer together through man-made family ties. It’s beautiful and it speaks volumes for the kind nature of humans. So beautiful that this show basically wrote itself at certain points.
Udon no Kuni really brought together a good show on the “It Takes a Village” kind of mentality. Souta obviously wasn’t ready to take in a child. He had a successful career, a nice home back in Tokyo, and (most importantly) he was still single. But, the friends that surrounded Souta really helped fill the gaps in his adolescent (and also 30 year old) mind and it gave him the strength and intelligence to raise a lonely tanuki-child on the brink of starvation.
But the show wasn’t all hearts and rainbows. The show takes on a very bittersweet tone as it reminds us every episode about Souta’s father. Souta had left his home because of a fight with his father. He’d decided to become a web developer instead of taking over his father’s restaurant and after that day he never looked back. So hearing of his father’s death only brings bad memories back to Souta. Every time he recalls from their time together, it always leads back to that final quarrell and the malicious insults that they’d exchanged. It was a true tale of how not every relationship is perfect and it proved that not everybody gets to say goodbye or apologize for the terrible things they’ve done in the past. . . Until the final episode, which I’ll leave unmentioned for salt- , -er, spoiler purposes.
But, therein lies the problem. Udon no Kuni tries terribly hard to be a light-hearted SoL that dips its feet into the drama territory far too often. The juxtaposition that went from happy-go-lucky to painful regret really stalled a lot of the best parts of the show. Sweetness and Lightning did this at a water-drip’s pace that provided a small look into Kouhei’s life prior to his wife’s passing. It never made you feel terrible for wanting to feel happy, but it let you know that there was a much deeper and metaphorical meaning to not only Kouhei’s actions, but the story as a whole. Udon no Kuni felt like it needed to throw the bittersweet emotions in your face at every chance it got which made the entire backstory got stale by the end of the show.
But, all in all, the show was cute and its wondrous take on “tanuki magic” within an extremely normal world really made it fun for the most part. Hell, it even had me in stitches at certain points. It definitely doesn’t compare to last season’s Sweetness and Lightning, but it can scratch the itch if you need a little diabetes in your life. I wouldn’t wholly recommend it unless you were a die-hard fan of the Slice-of-Life genre, but I wouldn’t tell you to avoid it either. It was funny, it was heart-warming, and it was overwhelmingly O.K!
Verdict: Two Chicks Make a Lot of Bad Decisions That Almost Destroy the World –
If you read my initial review article, or just about any other article on this, you probably realise that this show is a little . . . out of the ordinary. As it is such, so shall I be with this review. Get ready, losers.
So, there’s these things called Amorphous, right? They’re things that you can gather to grant a wish. Cool.
But, these things only appear in this weird place called “Pure Illusion”, right? So, our heroines have to travel to this crazy place to gather those things to get the thing.
But, some bad dudes are also trying to get the things to make a wish, so they’re fighting our heroines.
Ok, so, I guess I’m not as good at being random as Flip Flappers is. You can’t say I didn’t try. Either way, our hero Cocona, was a girl estranged from her birth parents who was picked up by another girl named Papika to travel to Pure Illusion, all because of some power she had. But, Pure Illusion was a wondrous world that was always a mixture of vibrant colors, bizarre-looking monsters, and wondrous sights never before seen on Earth. In fact, most of the show is about the two going to Pure Illusion to see weird things or fight people to get those special stones and . . . It never really gets much deeper than that until the last two episodes.
Flip Flapper’s story takes a strange turn at several points in its run. The overarching goal stays the same, but the episode-to-episode stories try to tell something just a little bit different . . . “try” being the keyword there. There are a few arcs that bring up a lot of really good plot points, and they can even capitalize on those points, but the ending of every single one of them is kicked to the wayside as if they’d never happened. One, for instance, brought up an Upperclassmen of Cocona’s, someone she’d had an affinity with. In Pure Illusion, they somehow find a way to not only look into her past, but relive it. It was terribly sad watching a child go through so much pain, and it was a very strong story . . . until the final moments when they decided to ask her about it. In which the response was something along the lines of a shrug and quick smile as it’s never brought up again.
But, we all know that most of this isn’t about some “story” or “characters”. This is all about the
“looks”, and boy-howdy does it “looks” good. This has got to be one of the best looking and well animated shows I’ve ever come across, barring anime movies in general. Every movement, every footfall, and every joint is given so much attention that it’s difficult not to be enthralled by this show, just because of how jaw-droppingly beautiful it looks. That, of course, doesn’t exclude the fight scenes! The amount of imagination this show brings into its entirety really plays a strong role in how the fights play out. Every strange object and weapon used throws out another distinct instance in every fight and it was a thrill just to watch them. This show didn’t have the emotional strength pushing the fights like certain scenes from, say, Mob Psycho 100, but the pure amount of work, effort, and beauty put into each scene really made up for that.
My biggest gripe with the show is how good it COULD have been had there been a decent writer among the A-list animators. The character arcs had potential, the development of the two heroines was ready to be used in a gratifying way, and the ending had the strength to be emotionally powerful, but it missed on just about every mark. Cocona’s feelings of betrayal especially had the strength to keep me interested in what was going to happen next, even if I knew it was going to suck. I think the worst part of it, though, was how they painted a man named Salt (yes, that’s actually his name) to be the cold antagonist who still worked for the good guys. But, having two chicks, one being your lover, lie to you about their intentions then running off with your child would put me in a pretty crappy mood too! So I felt closer to the jerk than I did the rest of the cast and I think that was highly unintentional. I should also mention how awful the dialogue in this show is, because it is just that bad. If you’ve ever seen something like Inuyasha where about 25% of the speech is Kagome and Inuyasha shouting each others’ names, this is about 300% worse, and that’s 100% truth.
But, it’s weaknesses aside, this show was just damn fun to watch. I think that shows like this, that is to say: shows that present a wondrous world with strange beings that don’t expound upon any of what is going on in the world, or why it is the way it is, really need relatable and loveable characters to make them great. Flip Flappers lacked that like the deserts lack rain. But, I think it bears to mention that this may be the best looking anime this year, and it deserves at least one pass on your anime list just for that alone.
Gorgeous, kinda funny, and a little stupid, I would give this a slight recommendation if you asked me outright. If you can turn your brain off and just let them take you to a marvelous world full of miracles and bunnies that fight giant robots, you’ll have a damn good time!