Weekly Digest – 04/20/13 – Ginga Kikotai Majestic Prince, Yahari, Karneval

Majestic Prince - 03-11 Yahari - 03-3 Karneval - 03-11

The Three-episode rule isn’t cutting it.

Ginga Kikotai Majestic Prince – 03

Majestic Prince - 03-1 Majestic Prince - 03-2 Majestic Prince - 03-3
Majestic Prince - 03-4 Majestic Prince - 03-5 Majestic Prince - 03-6
Majestic Prince - 03-7 Majestic Prince - 03-8 Majestic Prince - 03-9
Majestic Prince - 03-10 Majestic Prince - 03-12 Majestic Prince - 03-13
Majestic Prince - 03-14 Majestic Prince - 03-15 Majestic Prince - 03-16

To be brutally honest, part of me was hoping Majestic Prince would completely lose me this week and I’d be able to drop it – at least from blogging – with no reservations.  My weekends are looking crazy this season as is.  But while there are numerous issues that keep the show from being a standout, I confess I’m still more engaged with it than I expected to be.

Here’s the deal.  The oatmeal faces are a distraction.  The characters are shallow enough that I still can’t place the names to the faces.  The animation is nothing special.  The moralizing is pretty broad and simplistic.  Yet still, somehow, I sort of like the show.  The attitude of the adults exploiting the kids pisses me off.  Some of the gags make me laugh.  And I do feel empathy for the pilots being exploited.  Is all that enough to keep me blogging it?  I guess I can only say “We’ll see”.

The interesting thing is, it appears that the outrageously frivolous tone of the premiere was something of a feint.  GKMP still seems to be a satire of the child soldier-mecha genre, but with a bit more edge than it looked at first (and I say this even if Tamaki survives, as I expect her to).  The scenes with the five pilots getting their medical exam and going for the most depressing vacation ever were quite effective, because what they showed was how the kids have had all the joy sucked out of their lives by having adult responsibilities dumped on them and being relegated to tools in someone else’s arsenal.  In its way that’s a more powerful condemnation of the child soldier system than seeing them under brutal physical threat in battle.

I know none of this is really new and it’s certainly not subtle, but there’s an honesty and directness to the series’ POV that kind of works for me.  In many ways I’m reminded of Symphogear – both series are almost amateurish in some ways, but play almost like appreciations by enthusiastic fans of their respective genres.  I’m certainly going to give it another couple of weeks as a viewer at the very least.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come ga Machigatteiru – 03

Yahari - 03-1 Yahari - 03-2 Yahari - 03-4
Yahari - 03-5 Yahari - 03-6 Yahari - 03-7
Yahari - 03-8 Yahari - 03-9 Yahari - 03-10
Yahari - 03-11 Yahari - 03-12 Yahari - 03-13

In contrast to Majestic Prince, Yahari is a series I was really hoping would decisively pull me in and make me a believer.  I want to like this show more than I do – it’s Brains Base, has a certain depth to it, and seems to have an impulse to try and tell and do something meaningful.  But in the end I’m in just about the same place – interested, but possibly not enough to keep blogging it.

While self-deception is at the heart of Yahari, I confess I find Yukino’s brand of it rather unappealing.  That I’ve grown to really dislike her isn’t especially helpful in trying to connect to the show, but it’s not an insurmountable problem.  In contrast to Hachiman, I sense with Yukino that she could easily be popular if she wanted – she’s attractive and smart and erudite – but she’s so judgmental that no one can sufficiently meet her exacting standards to become her friend.  Where I find his isolation somewhat sympathetic, hers seems self-inflicted (well, his is too, to a lesser extent).  What they share, I suppose, is that in both cases there’s an element of wish-fulfillment.

As for this week’s episode, we seem to be going down the Haganai path in the introduction of a reverse trap in Totsuka Saika (Komatsu Mikako), the Tennis Club member who appeals to Hikki for help.  I suppose he could be a “straight” trap (the androgynous style of dress doesn’t help make it easier to tell) and actually male, but my initial reaction was the same as when I saw Yukimura – “There’s no way in hell that’s a dude.”  If Saika is indeed a boy that adds an interesting element to the story, as there seems to be genuine romantic interest towards Hachiman and genuine attraction going the other way.  The tennis plot itself is mostly notable for the role of Hayato (Kondou Takashi) who perhaps most among any of the characters we’ve met so far is a puzzle to figure out.  Is he really a peacemaker and a nice guy, or just an arrogant SOB who gets off on showing how “accepting” he is towards the social rejects?

Karneval – 03

Karneval - 03-1 Karneval - 03-2 Karneval - 03-3
Karneval - 03-4 Karneval - 03-5 Karneval - 03-6
Karneval - 03-7 Karneval - 03-8 Karneval - 03-9
Karneval - 03-10 Karneval - 03-12 Karneval - 03-13

Sigh…  Yet another fence-sitter for me, but I’m leaning against continuing with Karneval.  It definitely has its charms, but the style is so foppish and absurd that I really have a hard time taking anything that happens with even the admittedly modest level of seriousness we’re being asked to.  And while I hate to get so hung-up on casting that it can be a deal-breaker, Shimono Hiro sounds so utterly preposterous as Nai that I’m having a hard time getting past it.  To an extent I think he’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to – it just doesn’t work for me.

On the other hand, the plot isn’t half-bad.  The revelation that Nai is actually some sort of human/magical pixie-beast hybrid does explain a lot, and I’m not uninterested in finding out what the struggle between Circus and Kafka is really all about.  There are hints that the story could go a lot darker, which would make a welcome respite from the silliness and bishounen fetishizing.  What made shows like Pandora Hearts and D.Gray-man tolerable was that there was a cutting edge to the narrative, and a willingness to go to painful and uncomfortable places.

There’s a lot of talent involved with Karneval, but right now I’m not buying any of the performances unreservedly and none of the characters stands out as really compelling.  And with the cast as large as it already is and growing weekly, finding someone to really identify with isn’t going to get any easier.  Sadly – for this is another show I quite wanted to stick with – Karneval looks like a likely candidate for the chopping block.



  1. j

    With yahari, I dropped it because it wasn't unique enough for me to watch yet another high school anime.

    Karneval, like you, has an ok plot, but I can't say I'm enjoying the characters. It's not bad, but it's not for me.

    Oh well, got school to worry about anyways.

  2. r

    why all this bad comments about Majestic prince? I find the characters are interesting and funny especially Izuru and Asagi, and also I think that the animation is good. I believe that still many secrets about them will be revealed, so don't please say that it isn't good from just 3 episodes..

    And about karneval, the characters are good especially Nai and Gareki, maybe its still kinda boring but I feel the next episodes will be more interesting..

  3. A

    Admittedly my first thought on "Majestic Prince" was "Look at the conk on that bloke! Anime artists can draw big noses after all!" followed by the thought that maybe it was some kind of pastiche bordering on parody.
    But from the second episode and in the third there are hints that the show might have some hidden depths, so I'm sticking with it for now to see if that's the case.

    "Karneval" is still strange enough for me to like it, although I was unreasonably amused every time Gareki looked at or imagined Nai as a 'Niji'.

    'Yahari…' is nearest to my chopping block as it doesn't really have its own identity and just hasn't done anything to interest me so far.

  4. i

    After this episode it confirms my suspicions that Saika is a boy. For one even if he was a she and a cross dresser, why would he be in the boy's gym class. This isn't co-ed as we saw. I don't think Yukimura was even once seen in class during BokuHa so I think that part is just to confirm that Saika is a boy and not a girl wearing pants.

    I think Yahari pulled me in this week. Yukino is well annoying but Hachiman, I feel for him. In grade 4 I had no friends and to this day it was the worst year of my life. Watching him struggle alone and somewhat rewarded with the way he won the match feels weirdly nice. The most important thing to me in any anime, connection to characters, is complete. I'll stick with it.

    I'm going to be pretty bored after my last final so I think I might take a peek at Ginga again if it's starting to break mold a bit.

  5. K

    As for Karneval while the plot has its moments it never really rises to the occasion.

    I mainly enjoy the series for the characters (well the main 4) so if they aren't doing anything for you , I can't see Karneval being something you should stick with.

  6. H

    Karneval might be a show that I drop, because I really can't stand Nai at all, and Gareki acts idiotically mercurial. If they made it be a lot more about Tsukomo and Hirato, that'd be great, but Yogi, Nai, and Gareki can all take a long walk off a short pier.

    I like OregaIru, and will definitely stick with it, but I do tend to favor high school LN type shows anyway.

  7. W

    Aww, I love Yogi! I think of him as Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club transplated into the Karneval universe haha–his reactions are so spot on.

  8. B

    I haven't watched a single episode of majestic prince. When I saw the screenshots of the anime, I didn't find the character designs appealing. I've heard people like it for its old-school fashion of bad guys vs good guys, its cheesiness and humor.

    As for Yahari, the female MC, while condescending to people for own her entertainment, remains my only problem child in this series. Even though Erino claims that she is in the Service Club and wants to help people, I keep finding her persona contradicting to her motive because she continues to bad-mouth Hachiman. Every second and moment she does that to Hachiman, I just hate that onna more. Honestly give this guy a break. I like Hachiman and how he's trying to make up with people, such as the big boob girl; however, the "trap" episode seems unnecessary for the episode to the point like GE says that the guy/girl is left out throughout the entire episode. In the end, I'm only watching the series for Hachiman and that alone for this series.

    With Karneval, I still like it. The scene when Hirato was laughing at the old man's "joke," and the old man was annoyed for Hirato's rudeness was funny. Even in the beginning when Gareki and Tsukumo were about to enter to the door, and Yogi came flying out brought out the "foppish and absurd" for me. I'm glad Manglobe can handle humour with easiness.
    I like the series for its oddity and innocence…? The oddity in the form of the characters. We get a bright yellow-haired guy who acts like a genki girl, a guy who comes out the sane one but can't help loving cute nijis and a runt who's an animal? Ha, we even have a doctor with pink hair?!? It's crying out loud insane and weird, but I find it entertaining. It comes through with its title: karneval. A real carnival for its wacky characters and flamboyant aesthetics. Even the plot for this one is interesting, we keep finding out that Karoku isn't someone Nai should trust, but Nai's naivety isn't helping himself and Gareki. As far as Gareki's need in the story, I like Gareki's tough exterior is breaking down and forcing him to see the pure things in life as Gareki describes it because of Nai. Guess this solid rock can feel compassion from a cute, fluffy rodent? I find the anime amusing but just as you say not taking the seriousness with the story true to the heart, but I see this a solid series for its wackiness and fujoshi appeal.
    With the innocence part, I can only say the manga touches about that.

  9. J

    In regards to Oregairu:

    Sai is a boy, and I doubt any significant romance from him. Stop comparing this with Haganai, it's just not working. He's just straight up feminine boy, and that's it.
    Yukinon remains to be having interpersonal problem. Yes she could be popular IF she bothered to sympathise with others, but her main trait is that she has no empathy towards others whatsoever, and just blurt out the most cynical words possible. The thing is, she knows it as well, which is why she withdraws from most people unless she's needed. She doesn't go around provoking others unless being initiated on first. Whether or not that makes a compelling character is still to be seen. It all depends on whether she will show signs or improvement or not. She's a problem child from the very beginning, which is why the teacher wanted to help her by associating her with another fellow cynical problem student. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and I truly hope that by the end of this series we see some signs that it does.

    Though I do find it funny how the second half of the story has nothing to do with the tennis club, but more of Hikki's self-absorbed pride on being a loner. Just like the chuunibyou arc last episode, he finds solace in those negative traits. Hayato's 'invasion' is a funny scenario, since it draws Hikki out of his own comfort zone.

    As for the show itself. This is not a drama, romance, nor comedy. So far if i have to define a genre for it, it would be Slice of Life in the most literal sense. All we see are some disjointed snapshots of his highschool life, and his sarcastic way of looking at it.

  10. S

    Yahari was super boring this week. It pulled me in already from the first episode, but if I was on the fence now I would have dropped it. Very stereotypical and predictive episode. I guess his playing-baseball-alone serve was the high point (badum-tisch) of this week's episode. It was the only time you needed to think a little bit extra, instead of being spoon-fed formula.

    I'm really not a fan of bringing in another love interest, and these cliché traps are boring-as-shit characters. Unless Hachiman realises he's actually homosexual (that just might be interesting), I won't have any enjoyment of this new character. None.

    I just marathoned Oreshura too and totally regret the decision, that's probably why I'm so bitter now. God damn f*ing harems.

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