This Week: Selections!
The most spot on featured image I may have ever had for a start of season entry, for my favorite posting time of the year.
I have other reasons too of course, but I always appreciate the alliteration I get to amuse myself with via “Autumn Anime.”
Summer season was seven weekly shows on deck for these posts, and it leaves me with no stragglers at all to carry on. A complete board clear. Or a haphazard roleplaying adventuring party getting thrashed by dungeon monsters, given how much I disliked several of what I had picked up to write about. After a while, it gets hard to tell who is beating up the other more.
If you are interested in what came of my episodic exploits from last season now that it is all said and done, here is a complete list:
This season, I will be drawing down a fair amount for writing selections.
There are some projects I want to be able to do on the side, things get more hectic heading into the later seasonal holidays, I randomly become more busy personally, and so on. I like the consistency of these posts, so a little smaller I feel is fine, and just because I am not writing about something does not itself mean I did not watch it. There are things I pick up only after they have more a backlog, like thrillers, for instance.
After heavy rounds of cuts, my airing anime for autumn writing comes out as such:
– Gundam Build Fighters Try
– Gundam: G no Reconguista (Gundam Reconguista in G)
– Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls (Sega Hard Girls)
– How We Became the Heroines [lol] (Konna Watashi-tachi ga Nariyuki de Heroine ni Natta Kekka www)
If the series in question seem to have set dance partners, that is an unintentional but welcome side effect.
I was always going to talk about the new Gundam shows, and I have lot of hopes pinned on SeHa Girls when or if you get to that entry. How We Became the Heroines [lol] is as of now still unlicensed, and has not been picked up for translation via alternative methods. But, it is also a 3D CGI comedy romp from a central figure of gdgd Fairies, and in fact the director of SeHa Girls is the same director for that series. I watched a raw of it, just to be sure I wanted to write about it, and I do. My Japanese is nowhere near good enough on its own to be able to walk away and discuss the series at length outside of broad points and terms though. So I will not make a longer comment on it this week. I hope it gets acquired soon however, after the larger property rush announcements pass.
For start of season purposes and retaining four writeups to launch for it however, I just swapped in Ai Tenchi Muyo! for the time being.
And allow me to reiterate: Oh, do I so dearly hope How We Became the Heroines [lol] tags in to replace Ai Tenchi Muyo!
All other things being equal then, even if I slashed down the number of airing shows I target here, after raising it for summer, ideally I have enough other interesting content elsewhere in the pipeline if none of these strike your fancy at the moment.
Welcome to autumn!
Ai Tenchi Muyo! (Tenchi Muyo! Love) [Episode one and two]
There is a borderline mathematical proof for the rapid decay of Tenchi particles past a certain half life of the entries in its franchise over the decades.
Let us see what this tourism advertising experiment has wrought.
Forgive me for far higher than average image use. This series did not sit well with me.
The school uniforms in this future Tenchi line and/or local Takahashi, Okayama academies seem to be of a rather generous standard.
Please ensure all are tongues stowed during school working hours with their safety lock on.
Given everything else surrounding him in the show, Tenchi just saying what his name is so proudly is borderline deadpan snark, given how far it has derailed since the original series. because I want to know what is going on too.
Because of course, when inducing someone as being Treasurer on the student council, the denotative band is has to be wrapped here and in turn demanding this is where the camera needs to go.
In case anyone forgot about panty shots. I’m pretty sure they intentionally designed it to look like the peach was a little stick figure head they wanted to have us watch, given how much this keeps happening. If I did not know “momo” as related to things like Momotarō from folklore, I would not know what character is being referred to here.
“What am I looking at?” you ask? A Nietzschean abyss of a show, ma’am.
The gentle tourism of Takahashi, Okayama, if the sales pitch synopsis of this show is to be trusted on any level, seems a lot like some clubs I know.
Fin. Roll credits. I assume the series has gained sentience, taken command of the situation at hand from its human creative overlords, and decided to conclude itself by force.
The first episode alone, I should point out, introduces us to no less than seven new girls. None of them from anywhere else in the spaghetti dinner continuity of this franchise.
Like, were this just some neato tourism gag videos for Takahashi, Okayama (which is what I was under the assumption this series had been greenlit for), I could see a place for that. Roll out the same cast, do some new costumes or altered designs, and run them through some sightseeing. Days out as a group in some local park having shenanigans, maybe they crash land near enough to something like the Raikyū-ji temple or Bitchū Matsuyama Castle and make a romp of it. Simple enough, easy to execute in four minutes, minimal fuss even if one did not know the usual characters. Heck, even the student teaching angle would give Tenchi an excuse to be in the show for minimal franchise advertising purposes, and he could go places with the class via field trips or teach things to humorous bit comedy effect.
So… what in the hell were these eight minutes or so?
For as much as the original series can be sniped as the progenitor for thousands of harem series ships to come later, it was never this, well, mind numbingly dumb. It was a science fiction fantasy run about with a harem mechanic and generic enough central dude, but it also had not been able to be utterly consumed by the tropes it would go on to codify. Other series went and later ran with its ideas and archetypes, and the Tenchi line would in turn try to mimic them back, and we just have this entirely dangerous feedback loop over years. And here we are, in 2014, ramming ever more exclusionary otaku bait in here than any time prior.
This series is a void.
A black hole created by an anime particle accelerator.
I have no idea how the tourism promotion angle is supposed to tie into this, or even be helpful to the municipality in any fashion. Most audiences watching this would turn it off, switch channels, or look away.
Honest, I have zero clues as to how I would motivate myself to cover this for another forty eight episodes in the coming weeks. Maybe, I could return after another dozen or so have dropped, but even then this is a series that would be a harsh grind to write about at length.
Stranger things have happened, but I can not see myself having much positive to say about this production.
Gundam Build Fighters Try [Episode one]
Please set your GP base. Again.
This time last year, Gundam Build Fighters came out for what many assumed to be the logical and cynical conclusion of the evolutionary course of a robot franchise with multiple lines of model kits (many quite expensive at that). A television show, marketed to younger audiences, featuring the characters playing with said self built storebought figures in an action battle game to show the fun of Gunpla. One of the lead characters of the series is the child of a family who own a Gunpla shop, and the boxes look just as they do in real life.
The number of ways this could have gone so very, very wrong as a creative endeavor should be very apparent.
It had an uphill climb given the setup and general feelings of it, but that many Gundam fans came to rather enjoy and indeed celebrate the series and considered it good even far beyond its younger demographics I think is to its credit. It was a fun weekly ride, and a key benefit of using Gundam model kits in an action series (which is to say, no human cost of life, unlike if were they genuine mobile suit wars) was explored quite a lot. One can have any given fight turn into a series finale level brawl. Limbs destroyed, weapons smashed, armor crumpled in all manner of ways. And a character would either have another powerful suit on hand for later, or be able to fix it with new parts or alterations after not to long without seeming ludicrous.
It was like a King of Fighters game during a Dream Match year; nothing off limits, regardless of if certain entities were destroyed in their original storylines.
But as a television show about Gundam.
A neat thing about Try Fighters, for our return trip, is our central lead here is a young woman.
We are at the same school as before, but seven years in the future. Long enough to where, while Sei and Reiji had their accomplishments last season, their old Gunpla battle extracurricular club is down to one member. The aforementioned Fumina Hoshino. She is a welcome change, as while the first series had young women in it playing Gunpla, building Gunpla, and even a Gunpla idol, a central lead character space by way of being a regular school student is crucial. No shadowy ace institute or program, no being a nominal love interest, and so on. China was a normal girl in the original series of course, and given a fair amount of screen time. But her role rarely extended too far past Sweet Childhood Friend Who Encourages The Lead She Has A Crush On.
As Fumina needs to build her team with two additional recruits, and with the most longstanding inner fire for Gunpla battle of the three, her development and characterization as a carrying force for the series will be interesting to see unfold. Sekai may as well be Reiji’s younger brother for how much he has no understanding of Gunpla but likes the battle aspect once he sees it in person, and Yuuma should literally be that for China given his name and some of Mr. Ral’s comments.
So for now, we have more than enough little hooks to launch from. Why Sekai is alarmingly like Reiji is almost every way. Whatever happened to folks like China and the rest of the cast over the near decade since the conclusion point of the first show. Why did the World Championship trophy have a Dom hidden inside of it which did itself also contain a Build Burning Gundam. With what magical mustache powers can Mr. Ral continue to show up out of seemingly nowhere at the most opportune of times to observe the choicest Gunpla battle.
All this and more I will be looking forward to seeing addressed in one way or another, as we establish what has happened in the world of Gunpla since we last left it.
Gundam: G no Reconguista (Gundam Reconguista in G) [Episode one and two]
This has been a test of the Emergency Tomino Broadcasting System.
It is in fact the same as a live fire exercise, except newer recruits to Gundam are allowed to eject if they do not fancy what it is doing.
This show is a bit of a stress test on multiple fronts. The most championed aspect, of course, is this is Mobile Suit Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino’s return to his franchise with a brand new television series, after by and large stepping aside after Turn A Gundam’s conclusion just before the turn of the millenium. Tomino is seventy two years old, as of this writing, and will turn seventy three before Gundam: G no Reconguista is over. It is a vast professional history he brings with him, and one would hope that if he has taken such a long time away from doing a main Gundam production anything this series contains has been gestating with him and planned out for a long time.
I would hate to see it collapse on a directorial level due to too many last minute production issues or alterations and it draining his ability to steer this ship home.
Which brings us to the other matter: Tomino’s personal directing style.
Tomino has a lot of ideas for his shows, and he tends to have them spill out all over the place and all at the same time. Remember: the original Mobile Suit Gundam was only successful after the television series was canceled, and having been later recut into three theatrical films. Every auteur has their eccentricities, and in Tomino’s case his set of quirks tend to be the sort of thing where general audiences start flipping over sofa cushions in the hope they find an editor. He tells essential storyline information, but not necessarily in what many would consider the “right” order. With an added penchant for dropping us in with the characters and they go through their motions while we need to pick up on the world and universe they exist in as we go along. Then toss in further allowances for things like Tomino’s shot timing and angular cuts in chaotic situations (of which there are many in a given Gundam war), where characters have enough time to make it from one location to another in the time since they were last on screen and yet can still feel like they teleported at random if one is not fully immersed in the effort of viewing.
Things are no different here, so in that respect Tomino is as he has often been.
A notable move would be that G-Reco follows the Turn A Gundam school of thematic thought.
For now it is seemingly a highly upbeat and positive affair, even with the robot fights and some deaths. This is important, as Turn A Gundam was in many respects Tomino’s grand sendup to the human spirit after finally beating back years of deep rooted battles with personal depression (hence things like his “Kill ‘Em All Tomino” nickname years ago, as his productions became various shades of grim and grimmer). When things are more “random” in a serious series however, it often takes a longer boil before the consumer may catch on. By which point, they have already caught a lot of the initial groundwork Tomino’s redirecting rulebook deploys. With a more positive and energetic show however (our robot pilots have cheerleaders! In multiple scenes, at that!), I feel folks are a lot quicker to bring down a critical hammer on him rather than go with the flow.
That said: Turn A Gundam went on to be become what many legions of fans since consider to be the crowning achievement of the entire Gundam franchise. The most hopeful and sincerely positive of any of the primary series.
This bodes well for G-Reco, in that it takes place after the Universal Century of the original series has already ended. It has some of the trappings, and the universe has the knowledge of those past days of trauma, but there is also this forward motion this series must place to get away and move on ahead. The present ending credits have characters doing line dances together, for goodness sake!
We have space elevators and umbilical cord terminology. Pirates stealing high grade industrial batteries, and whose primary geopolitical concern at this time seem to be towards wanting massive solar panel arrays. Conspicuously high levels of religious iconography, which seems to also bleed into political leadership classes.
There are numerous characters to juggle, and those who know each other act accordingly with little but the most basic world or relationship information to hang on to. Those who do not know each other yet and need to figure each other out, like it will seem Aida and Bellri will have to, could come off even more confused for the time being.
I think that having two episodes come out back to back, so as to at least head off a little anti-Tomino sentiments given his usual storytelling style, is a spectacular move. The man has more than earned his opportunity to direct the show however he wants, though there is also the implicit acknowledgement that they can not seem to drag things out too long lest viewers just sampling the series and seeing if they want to get into Gundam drop it.
I am fine for now just mainly talking about production matters for these first two episodes, as I have here. With just some hint of the light shining in of what overall themes the series may be looking to carry forward. Things will click after a while. I just hope it does not scare too many folks away for whom this may be their first Gundam experience, as this was certainly quite a lot to take in at once.
By the by, as an aside, be on the lookout for butterflies. Some have already shown up, both as a creature and on certain costumes.
Especially be mindful of any related to moonlight.
Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls [Sega Hard Girls]
Allow me to level with you:
Of every possible show airing this autumn anime season, this one is the series I was most excited about on a personal amusement level.
I had this prematurely pegged as something I would expect to be putting on a “Favorite Anime of 2014” list when the time comes. I was on the Sega side of the home console equation until they bowed out of such hardware, and this series comes courtesy of Sōta Suguhara directing and doing the screenplay (character designer for gdgd Fairies, then later director of the second season, which was in my favorites for 2013).
Maybe I have something of an expectation about this series. Maybe some would think I have terrible taste for holding out such hope for a corporate branding gag comedy, and thus I must be disqualified from any Serious Anime Opinions League.
But I had a big doofy grin on my face the whole time, so that is fine by me.
I had fun, at any rate, haha!
The basis of this series then is Sega’s video game hardware of old are anthropomorphized girls (hence “hard[ware] girls”), and they are attending the SeHaGaga Academy. Which amounts to what is in essence a funhouse dorm building of Sega memorabilia, from the floor, walls, and ceiling. Following the gdgd format, we have three girls of vastly different personalities.
Dreamcast as the well meaning, energetic, willing to try anything once but kind of falls on its face a lot archetchye. Mega Drive operates as our academic glasses pusher, with a last library at its fingertips as well as being the one most prone to deadpan their way through a scene. Saturn is the middle ground between the two, sporting and sure of themselves but needs to steer conversation back on track if it goes off course lest they get frustrated. While everyone has costumes based on their console and history, she has heterochromia of the eyes for their parallel processors (part of why the Saturn was so hard to program for in its day), which is neat as a subtle move.
As we have gdgd staff on hand, the immediate poking and prodding is to see how and where SeHa may break up its segments. The former would go through three as a general rule, between initial tea time discussions, the Room of Spirit and Time, and either the Magical Dubbing Lake or its audio scene creation equivalent. The natural inclination would be to see the episode as it progressed this week (Lobby, JoyJoy Room, Video Game of the Week), and assume the same.
At the moment though, I do not think one may be able to do the same division for SeHa, as this episode ends on a “To Be Continued” note while they are still in Virtua Fighter and they should picking up there next time given the preview. So it is possible they may play the segments out in reverse next time. I can not imagine they would drop the Lobby segment entirely, as that is a whole set with a lot of references built into it. Though I could see it being less prominent than the general chats on tree stumps were in gdgd, depending on how this show wants to balance hardware and history humor through casual dialogue around the set versus doing so via in-game shenanigans.
To wit then, I did find their discussions greatly amusing, though there is probably a case to be made for me understanding the jokes they are going for. Dreamcast being very excited to look something up on the internet via their dial-up modem, only to abort the operation when they realized it was not Toll Free calling hours yet and because their parents are not well off financially? Sega’s five year net income between the Dreamcast’s lifespan of 1998 and 2002 was, to put it lightly and as an understatement of their entire history, non existent. So to me, that whole exchange is funny to see played out and adapting such things into the fabric of the show as a sitcom bit.
Would other audiences find it as laugh worthy in its humor content? It is hard to judge. I would like to think that the conversations flow well even if there is some reference being made, because the interaction itself is fun to watch and flows well in context. Rather that than the humor being entirely reliant on “getting” some bit of obscura, and then one would just have dead air if they didn’t get the nod. I think the series leans more towards the former than the latter, as I do not feel it has ample dead air space where it is left hanging. Though this is also an introduction episode.
Even the modem and Toll Free calls parts of that conversation still perhaps require one to have an internal basis for what is even being talked about there in this age of always on broadband, setting any Sega specific history aside.
That the JoyJoy room segment, where the cast goes to be transported into the magical world of Sega video games, provides at least some light historical context I feel is appropriate. Verbally mentioning for a few sentences how Virtua Fighter was the first full 3D polygon fighting game, flipping through the character select screen, that establishes why the destination is significant and some of its variety without drowning the show in overblown laborious company lore. That is important, especially for what amounts to maybe a ten minute show without the credits, so timing is going to be everything. Both not overstay its welcome, and to be snappy without feeling rushed. And I consider Suguhara to have good eyes for that, especially with his previous projects under his belt.
Nintendo may have launched the newest Smash Bros. just a few days ago, but I am more than content having this series as my Sega equivalent.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.