I had in mind that I might do lengthy first episode reviews again like in January, but the fact of the matter is that with a new Masaaki Yuasa show starting soon and Adventure Time starting last week, I really had a hard time sitting through cartoons that weren’t pushing my buttons. So here’s some I tried watching, but gave up before the end.
I did watch all of the first episodes Arakawa Under The Bridge and Giant Killing however, so I will give them their own posts eventually. It may take me watching a few more episodes of them first. With shows I like, I often find it takes two or three episodes before I can really vocalise what I love about them.
Whereas the hate comes straight from the gut. And here it comes now!
Ichiban Ushiro no Daimao
Why I gave up: Cheap animation, charmless character design, charmless performances. The weird shot of the lead turning his head from looking at the information board at the station.
Why I gave up: Character design by someone who clearly doesn’t have to try and make it move. Lack of weight to the animation. Plus the general Visual Novel aesthetic. Actual idea is perfectly fine, execution is execrable.
Mayoi Neko Overrun
Why I gave up: The non-stop incessant chatter of characters who sound like they are just imitating the cadence of umpteen other light novel based shows. It wasn’t funny. Occasional bits of nice movement in the animation were not enough to press on further.
Senkou no Night Raid
Why I gave up: A-1 doing their best/worst Production IG impression. Or possibly Bee Train impression. The sedative effect it had on me suggested the latter. Character design that doesn’t look like it was designed for A-1’s strengths, and stiff movement that suggested likewise.
Most importantly: too many hats that didn’t look like they were really being worn. My experience in watching cartoons and reading comics is that a Fedora or a Bowler is really hard to draw to make it look like they have the right weight & shape and appear to be firmly sitting on someone’s head from all angles. Sometimes they get it right here, but often it’s really distracting. Particularly as so many hats are being worn.
It’s the sort of uninspired, inoffensive middle ground stuff that filled ADVs catalogue for much of the 00s.
Fantastically odd manga gets a fantastically odd anime, which then gets a just plain odd English adaptation. In that they didn’t bother doing things like they normally do, like translating the opening credits. I have the feeling that for kids who grew up watching this in the US & UK, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo will be their Samurai Pizza Cats (except truer to the source material).
Yet more down to earth science fiction about space flight. What was in the water in 2003 that caused this trend?
Another show that had it come out in the 80s would likely have got some European co-production money behind it and would have aired on the BBC. Classy Madhouse/Telecom co-production for NHK about a school field trip that goes badly wrong, leaving a group school children stuck on an uninhabited planet. One of those shows that there is an audience for, but it’s a TV audience rather than a DVD audience. And I’m certain US TV execs aren’t seeing this as being the sort of thing kids would watch (even though they probably would). If Erin is a success on Crunchyroll, it might be worth looking at similar NHK shows from the last ten years like this for streaming too.
The first 13 episodes are a great TV show, and achieves the “Shoujo for boys” idea that was being bandied around at the time. It switches between being essentially a shoujo story show set in school and the British telefantasy & 80/90’s Hong Kong movie-inspired action of the Read or Die OAV. Episodes like They Shout and In A Grove could have had their plots ripped out of The Avengers and are all the better for it.
Those 13 episodes end on a superb rescue sequence and had it stopped there we’d probably be talking about it as being one of the great series of the decade.
However then the fans of the OAV and light novels got what they had been complaining about being missing from the those 13 episodes and, possibly coincidentally, the whole production went to hell. As broadcast those final 13 episodes were just a mess. While the production problems were fixed for DVD release, the writing, which had been exceptional up to then, was in just as much a mess as the animation, bogged down in exposition and characters on the run for much the time.
An ambiguous final scene (was that dog supposed to represent a Churchillian depression or a creature like Black Shuck?) suggested more was to come, but given the loose continuity between the various ROD projects I’m not sure if they were hoping for a follow up anime or if it was picked up in the light novels.
A show I certainly avoided due to its character design and general look. Having now read that it was based on an Shotaro Ishinomori manga my interest is piqued a little, but I still think that had it looked more like Ishinomori’s art (below) I’d have been all over this like a rash.