This Week: Upotte!!, Akikan!, and Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-Chan!!
As it is Summer, I figured I would try some sort of theme week. Since “Girls as [Noun]” has been a growing show theme in recent years, and it’s an area I don’t normally watch, I drilled through a few with… less than optimal results.
…I also only just realized they all end in exclamation points.
For a show about assault rifles, it sure didn’t seem to have any aim.
It wants to be a comedic slice of life series, but it throws in lots of gun battles. It maybe wants to be an action show, but the angles are such where it’s often difficult to have a sense of geography or proximity. It perhaps wants to be a pseudo-infotainment bit on assault weapons, but it generally does that via history info dumps than narrative. It perchance wants to be a fetish show, but it doesn’t know where to go with that outside references to “triggers” and the binder of lowest common denominator remarks and camera shots. It possibly wants to have a little love story between FNC and her teacher, but he’s so bland and poorly defined he doesn’t even have a name.
The actual positives I could draw were the history data dumps are accurate, and the character conversions are interesting enough. The M16A4 can only do things in short bursts of energy, as it lacks a full auto setting. The Steyr AUG has an adjustable barrel, so that character has different hairstyles for different personalities. The Galil AR was given a bottle opener in a little bit scene because she was going to destroy her teeth chewing a bottle cap off, while in real life the rifle really was given a bottle opener to combat the amount of Israeli military equipment being wrecked, etc.
I can appreciate the character design work and the applied research in finding assault weapons to fit various anime archetypes. But the show itself doesn’t really know what to do with those characters, so a large amount of design work is just going to waste here.
Given the amount of media that treats two characters sharing a soda can as an indirect kiss, cutting out the middleman and having the soda can actually be a magical girl is a reasonable enough gimmick concept.
In execution, this is the kind of show a computer would potentially produce after mining a database of anime tropes; it has absolutely zero soul in any aspect of it. It’s a struggle to find more than perhaps one sympathetic character to actually care about, as everyone is so painfully locked into their character archetypes that any given situation always warrants the same one dimensional dialogue responses. But it doesn’t know why certain types of characters say certain things, just that it feels they should, so everything the show does falls flat.
The art has a distinctly angular look, but it’s done less for stylistic purposes and more for allowing fairly extreme cost cutting to the animation, as it sheds frames and goes off model even at close angles. I was shocked to see this was made in 2009, as it honestly looks far, far older.
It was excruciatingly boring at the best of times. Otherwise I was remarking to my television about how absolutely dreadful this was to trudge through, as it lacks any kind of passion in every aspect of its production.
Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-Chan!! (Charger Girl Ju-den Chan)
This one was a bit of a stretch, but to be honest at this point I was just looking to see how far down the rabbit hole I could take the “Girls as (Noun)” concept. Here the girl’s names and personalities are based on electrical power concepts (So Arresta [Arrester] is the most grounded, etc). It’s never explicitly said the girls are those concepts, but, again, I was just tunneling down, and the implication was enough for me to justify watching it.
This is an Ecchi show. While the buckets of fanservice aren’t my thing, it’s difficult for me to dock it points for that given the genre it wants to park itself in. It does have a fascination with omorashi (Wiki it if you want; I’m just trying to stay work safe-ish here) though, which was… unexpected, to say the least.
Something I will take very serious issue with is the male lead. Sento is a character who, at the slightest perturbation, will beat women with a baseball bat. Surprise him unexpectedly? Beats women with a bat. Accidentally kick sand on him at the beach? Beats women with a bat. Have an argument in earshot that he isn’t even a part of? Beats women with a bat. Angrily and with intent to do serious harm. That’s a behavior one doesn’t just pick up because they start seeing interdimensional girls one afternoon.
I don’t at all mind physical comedy; I enjoy Excel Saga for instance, and Il Palazzo outright fires rockets into Excel’s face. I don’t mind FLCL’s Naota getting hit by guitars. But tone is very important for making the audience feel comfortable with those actions.
I rapidly dreaded whenever Sento came on screen, which completely screws with making me, as a viewer, care about a number of character goals and plot arcs in this show. I wanted to see as little of this guy as possible. He’s off screen for most of the middle episodes, which in turn makes those the best of the series.
Without him, the show would be a mindless fanservice show with some occasional attempt at heart as interdimensional electric power girls try to recharge depressed people. With him, the whole production gets dragged down into mud it doesn’t have the chops to write or wiggle itself out of.
Mothballs is a weekly write-up of already completed anime series I have either removed from my backlog or have recently revisited. A crash space for my immediate thoughts and personal processing, these are not intended as full reviews.