Weekly Digest 4/26/13 – Ginga Kikotai Majestic Prince, Yahari

Majestic Prince - 04-16 Yahari - 04-8

Four episodes in, I’ve reached a conclusion about Majestic Prince – I kind of like it.

Ginga Kikotai Majestic Prince – 04

Majestic Prince - 04-1 Majestic Prince - 04-2 Majestic Prince - 04-3
Majestic Prince - 04-4 Majestic Prince - 04-5 Majestic Prince - 04-6
Majestic Prince - 04-7 Majestic Prince - 04-8 Majestic Prince - 04-9
Majestic Prince - 04-10 Majestic Prince - 04-11 Majestic Prince - 04-12
Majestic Prince - 04-13 Majestic Prince - 04-14 Majestic Prince - 04-15
Majestic Prince - 04-17 Majestic Prince - 04-18 Majestic Prince - 04-19

I said in the Spring Check-in that the fourth episode was going to be very telling as to whether this series had the chops to pull off what it was trying to accomplish.  I think it responded well – this was a very solid episode that successfully upped the ante for pathos, and planted some seeds about both plot and character that seem to have the potential to bear fruit oer the next five months.

I also said in that check-in that GKMP was starting to remind me of Symphogear, and that’s more true now than ever.  It feels like this series is to mecha was that one was to mahou shoujo – a heartfelt, earnest, affectionate and often sloppy homage with all the subtlety of a kick in the teeth.  I liked the emotional honesty of Symphogear and I think Majestic Prince has something of that quality – this is clearly the work of people who know the genre well and love it.  There’s no secret about the themes at work here, but they still have a certain emotional tug when played straight like this.

I definitely pegged this series as being more farcical than it turned out to be, though in my defense I think that was the picture the first two episodes painted.  As the details have emerged about the process that led to the creation of Team Rabbit (and others like them) and the conflict with the Walguru, their situation doesn’t seem quite as comedic as it did.  Genetically engineered to fight, raised by military surrogates until old enough to enter military training, memories erased…  This is no picnic.  The exploration of the child-soldier morality play is as old as mecha anime itself – indeed, it underpins the entire genre – so it’s not really fair to expect much originality in this day age age.  But while the premise of the series on paper was so classic that it seemed it could only be at least part parody (and the first two episodes fed the impression) it now looks as if GKMP is going to try to inject something of value into the mythology with pure pathos.

I liked the direction this episode took in filling in the mythology with background on the adult characters, showing us what led them to the point where they are today.  Rin-Rin being the most prominent adult was of course most prominently featured, and she’s quite reminiscent of the adult figures like Genjurou in Symphogear who have a job to do, but still agonize over the cost it levies on their soul and on the lives of the children on the front lines.  Also of note: Saionji Reika is an heiress (the eerie Ginga e Kickoff parallels continue to build) and we meet a new combat team, Doberman – an all-male threesome who rescue Team Rabbits from their latest life-threatening peril.  We even got a little look at what seems to be the Walguru Princess, planting the seed of a potential resolution in the conflict – which could either be interesting or disastrous from a plot standpoint, depending on how it’s handled.

I think the strongest moment of this episode was when Ataru (ironically, probably the least serious character in the series so far) recollected one of his lost memories, a dream about being held and comforted as a child.  “Do you think when we’re killed, someone will tell those people who used to comfort us?”  Againm subtle as a sledgehammer but I think pretty effective – that’s a good summation of the cruelty of the situation these kids are facing.  Ulcers, repressed memories, constant worrying about death – is this any kind of adolescence?  In mecha anime, it is – and it seems just possible that GKMP in its fecklessly honest way may have something of value to offer on the subject.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 04

Yahari - 04-1 Yahari - 04-3 Yahari - 04-4
Yahari - 04-5 Yahari - 04-6 Yahari - 04-7
Yahari - 04-9 Yahari - 04-10 Yahari - 04-11

If the fourth episode was pivotal in getting me close to the point of officially sticking with Majestic Prince, it’s also got me pretty close to calling it a day with Yahari.

As much as any show this season I think this one has a split personality – the smart, sensitive story about adolescent isolation and loneliness it occasionally lets slip out, and the trite, cliched snoozefest it too often is.  There are shows like that in every season, of varying quality – Sakurasou and Oreshura are two recent examples.  As if we weren’t steeped in LN nonsense already, this week saw the addition of yet another annoying imouto – and even the fact that Komachi was played by Yuuki Aoi (one of my absolute favorites, too little heard of late) couldn’t save every scene she was in from being almost unwatchable.  I won’t put her impact on the show at the same disastrous level as what we saw with Sakurasou’s little sister character, but it wasn’t pretty.

It isn’t so much Komachi herself – irritating as she was – that’s the problem, but that she’s yet another example of how series like this seem to have certain boxes they need to check off at all costs.  Imouto?  check.  Physically abuse the male lead?  Check.  Smug, self-aware dialogue?  Check.  That and the fact that I find Yukino to be utterly unlikeable and Yui quite tiresome are the biggest problems I have with Yahari – although the fact that the visuals are shockingly sloppy and unattractive for a Brains Base series doesn’t help.  There were elements I genuinely liked – there have been every week – and they generally involved peeling away the layers of Hikki’s painful self-deception and revealing the lonely and bright kid underneath.  The intrigue with Hayato is interesting too – just what is he, really?  But at this point it just isn’t enough to cut through all the nonsense.



  1. S

    I'm surprised. I actually liked #Oregairu a great deal because of this episode and I thought you would too.
    (Though admittedly its because of the possibility of a Hikki X Saika ship)
    It seems pretty fresh, rather than being a snoozefest in my eyes, what with the lack of a stereotypical romance and a delusional yet somehow self-aware snarky protagonist.
    Still, what was it particularly did you disliked about this?

  2. Seriously, do you see even the tiniest possibility of a Hikki x Saika relationship? At best, the lack of one won't be played for laughs at Saika's expense.

    I admit that a lot of the problem with this specific ep was the cringeworthy imouto, but it's really the same problem I've had with this series from the beginning. It's too clever by half, too self-refential, the dialogue is too mannered and eager to call attention to how clever it is. Call it "LN-byou" or whatever you like, there's so much of this show that doesn't ring true. Plus, the animation is really mediocre and I absolutely can't stand Yukino (though she wasn't omnipresent this week, at least).

    As I've said many times, I think there's a core of something honest and smart in Yahari, but I only rarely see it in any given episode. For me this is a show that's constantly at war with itself, and the wrong side is winning far too often.

  3. S

    Well, it could happen. But it was hilarious, what with the "I want you to cook miso soup for me everyday." (AKA Will you marry me?)

    I guess I can stand the self-referentiality, probably because I also see that core of something honest and smart hidden and want to see it burst out. Plus, his demeanor of being bitter but hiding a hopeful but incredibly lonesome self seems to have great potential for development and catharsis.

    Besides, the imouto thing was all but two and a half minutes. I really hope you give it another chance, because I really feel that this show has a great potential to surprise all of us.

  4. J

    I think GE failed to spot the satire behind all those uses of plot devices. Yes Hachiman has an imouto, but she's one highly annoying one in his eyes. Yes Hachiman sees a trap in Saika, but it's more about he lamenting that in his eyes Saika is the only beautiful being that takes a favourable stance to him. There's a lot of backstabbing behind what are seemingly tired cliches, which is why I really like what Oregairu is doing at the moment. Just because there's an imouto doesn't mean the story will go into the familiar territory. People do have little sisters in real life.

    I wouldn't say that it's clever, more like too realistic in my opinion. Yukino doesn't really bothers me though since she's presented to be one with extremely low level of empathy to begin with, and turned out to be the voice of reason in most of her scenes.

  5. S

    Plus, Hayato being a genuinely nice guy and good person while not being an airhead or turning out to be an asshole is a great sign that this show is not simply following cliches or norms.

  6. c

    In general I like the portrayal of the "popular kids" in this show. It would have been way too easy to turn them all into bullies or make them incredibly shallow but they didn't didn't. Hayato is a genuinely nice guy, and despite being introduced as a cliche Alpha Bitch even Yumiko has her nice side and dislikes gossiping behind people's backs. She just has a short temper. Heck, she's apparently completely forgiven Yui for whatever "betrayal" you might think had occurred.

    I can't say I approve of the way the show seems utterly determined to surround Hikki with the standard eccentric archetypes, including Yukino, but the other half of it, as a story about Hikki getting to actually know his classmates instead of just judging them, I think it works quite well.

  7. i

    I too think Yukino is a bit annoying. I mean she's the incarnation of what so many Otaku think they want – a beautiful girl who doesn't judge people by looks, intelligence, athleticism, commendable achievement or any other things that most Otaku don't have and treats everyone the same, badly. But aside from her its not so bad. Yui is a bit well boring but the Hikki is good fun and Hayato is a genuinely nice guy whose popular. I like it for the same reason you like Valvrave – choice.

  8. f

    whoa…matrix revolutions flashback

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