I’m not sure where I stand with Golden Time at the moment, to be honest. Is demotion to a digest post a precursor to termination? Yeah, that’s possible – in all honesty it was a real struggle to avoid the fast-forward button for much of this episode.
In a nutshell, not much about this series is working for me at the moment. We’re like a late-stage relationship in the process of ending, where I find something to annoy me in everything it does. It’s not often I ever find my way back from that point (in any sort of relationship, anime included) and there comes a time where it might just be better to go our separate ways.
I don’t think this episode was terrible in its own terms, but I’ve never found GT to be good at comedy even when I was enjoying the show, so an episode that relies heavily on it is off to a rough start. It was nice getting some other characters back in the mix besides Kouko and Banri, but Kouko’s antics just aren’t funny to me, and she tends to overpower every scene she’s in like a woman wearing too much cheap perfume walking into an elevator. I get the pathos with Kouko, truly I do – but I just don’t find her pleasant to be around. I hope she finds some peace, but frankly, she’s one of the most annoying anime characters I’ve seen in a long time.
As for the headline, the development with Yana and Linda, part of me says that feels like drama for its own sake though I suppose on some level it was predictable (indeed, I mentioned that I thought Mitsuo was developing an interest). Banri dates Yana’s ex, Yana dates Banri’s ex (though in the latter case since they never dated Linda isn’t technically Banri’s ex, and she and Yana may not actually be dating formally). I want to care, but Yana has so completely disappeared from the story that when I see him now he seems like a total stranger to me.
More and more, GT is looking like a series where I watch the last episode because I’m curious to see how it all ends up, but not enjoying it enough to watch everything in-between. Next week is probably the fish-or-cut-bait ep for me – if it doesn’t reconnect with me then, it’s probably see you in March.
Wake Up, Girls – 02
Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
There are so many problems with Wake Up, Girls that it’s hard to know where to begin describing them. There are narrative problems, most obviously the way the return of the obnoxious Tange-san was glossed over and and she was allowed to resume control of everyone’s lives with nothing more than a rote apology after embezzling their money and gambling it away. There are practical problems – Yamakan was on Twitter this week with an open call for animators, indicating that Ordet is nowhere near ready to keep WUG on a production schedule. And there are problems with Yamakan himself – namely that so many of the people he needs to appeal to in order for WUG to succeed commercially despise him, and don’t want any part of making any enterprise he engages in a success.
Here’s the biggest problem, though – Wake Up, Girls is in its very existence a mass of contradictions. If it’s a series about the idol industry that doesn’t expose it for what it is, it’s part of the problem and mere exploitation. If it shines a light on the ugliness and greed, it’s doomed not just to fail commercially, but be utterly despised. The audience who buys anime is not generally fond of mirrors, and the overlap of that audience with the idol fanbase least of all. The entire enterprise is built on fantasy and lust, and they sure as hell don’t want to see anything that bursts their libido’s bubble.
I still don’t quite know where WUG’s goals are and what it intends to do to address that problem, but I’m pretty confident that if he could, Yamakan would like to flips the lights on and watch the cockroaches scatter. The first part of this episode is ugly, skeevy and uncomfortable as hell. And you know what? It damn well should be. Anyone who’s a supporter of the idol industry should be uncomfortable. They should be forced to watch scenes like the ugliness at the onsen and much worse, because they shouldn’t be able to pretend that the tiny, sanitized sliver of the idol exploitation trade they’re allowed to see is reflective of how things really are. They should be forced to get down into the sewage and truly feel how exploitative, twisted and venal this business is, and understand the poisonous impact it has on anime, music, the role of women and girls in Japan and Japanese society in general.
If it does nothing else in its run, the first half of this episode of WUG is probably enough of a reason for it to have existed. The rage exploding all over 2chan in its wake is predictable, and – as long as you don’t have any stake in this series actually succeeding – entirely welcome. But that’s the problem – WUG isn’t a public service message, it’s an anime trying to make money for a struggling new studio. And as such it has no choice but to be exploitive itself at the same time it’s exposing (in quite gentle terms compared to the reality) the horrors of the idol trade. I suspect in the end it’s going to try and split the difference, offering fanservice and a sanitized idea that the industry isn’t all bad while at the same time gingerly pushing the envelope. And that won’t work – it can’t possibly work, because it won’t satisfy those living in a dream world who don’t want anything but pandering to their fantasy, and it will undercut any reform-minded message it might be trying to convey. It’s too bad, really, but I don’t think a truly skeptical idol anime has any chance whatsoever to succeed.
And what of the series itself, in dramatic terms? As I said, it has major issues. Matsuda reveals himself to be nothing more than a complete pushover and something of an idiot, and the wholly detestable (and criminal) Tange waltzes back in and takes charge. Suda is the one element here I have no problems with, because he’s the most realistic character in the episode (his “resolve” is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what most girls pursuing this path must endure). In spite of everything else WUG still has an earnest charm to it, and as a show that’s actually about something it stands apart from most of the anime schedule this season. In the end, this show is going to be a spectacular failure for one reason or another and probably several, but that’s kind of a shame.