I’m not too bothered that P.o.S. (let’s be kind and let that unfortunate acronym slide on by) didn’t do anything for me. I’m not the intended audience, for starters – this is an otome game adaptation, and I’ve yet to find one of those that interested me in the slightest.
It does kind of suck that Madhouse’s only new show this season is a throwaway like this, but it’s not the end of the world. These sort of shows are the toll that must be paid to produce stuff like Kiseijuu and Death Parade, and I’m fine with that. It’s usually pretty clear from the production values when Madhouse is mailing it in – the gap between the shows they care about and the ones they just want to make a few Yen on is almost always quite obvious.
The show itself isn’t the worst of its type, but there wasn’t anything that struck me as especially notable about it. This story of a Parkour-like sports called “Stride”, the boys who play it, and the audience-insert girl is pretty standard. The guys are all 100% stock character tropes and the girl a complete snooze, and all the big-name seiyuu are in roles they could (and perhaps are) do in their sleep. A bore, for me anyway – but Madhouse will make up for it sooner or later. They always do.
Musaigen no Phantom World – 01
Today just happened to end up as premiere day for three big-time studios in Madhouse, P.A. Works and Kyoto Animation, but what struck me about Musaigen no Phantom World is just how little hype there’s been for this show as opposed to the usual KyoAni series. And to be honest, after watching the premiere it’s easy to see why.
It’s not as though this show is terrible or anything, but it just doesn’t seem to be trying very hard. In that way it has a lot in common with Prince of Stride, and it’s about as forgettable. This is very safe, very textbook KyoAni material – the character designs, the music, the themes, the casting. If you’re a big fan that might be enough to satisfy, but as a KyoAni agnostic it doesn’t come close to doing so for me. KyoAni has a certain way of doing things – right down to the staff and usually the cast they use – and unless there’s a real spark of originality in the material things can get pretty same-y (as they do here).
If there’s anything that distinguishes Musaigen from most Kyoto Animation series, it’s that this one is a bit more transparent in the way it uses fanservice. But mostly we have the usual elements – the put-upon male lead, the small army of elfin yet usually busty genki harem girls, the fantasy element (in this case a future where illusion and reality are difficult to tell apart), the broad physical comedy. It’s a formula that’s been a proven commercial winner so I guess it’s easy to see why the studio rarely strays from it much – though there have been a few cracks in that successful facade in the last couple of years.
But even if the end result isn’t outstanding, KyoAni really needs to stretch their boundaries at least a little, as they did in Hibike! Euphonium, or the end result is really lifeless. Pretty, but lifeless – which is a pretty good description of Musaigen no Phantom World.