Sangatsu no Lion – 02
Sometimes it’s best to just cut your losses and walk away, and that’s where I am with Sangatsu no Lion. I have too much affection for the manga to be able to cope with what Shaft has done to it. It’s just so wrong on every level – as usual, this is a studio that has only trickery and sound and fury signifying nothing to try and cover up their inability to convey real emotion and deliver quality art and animation. It’s a shame, but if this is what Umino-sensei wanted (I’m not convinced of that, personally) I hope she at least is happy with it.
Girlish Number – 02
Girlish Number asks some very interesting though not necessarily comfortable questions of the audience. The balancing act it’s trying to pull off here is by no means an easy one, but it’s kind of fascinating to watch it try and do so.
I’m probably not going too far out on a limb by suggesting that I’m someone who’s been fairly critical of some of the directions the anime industry is headed, so it’s fair to say I’m a pretty receptive audience for what Girlish Number is selling. But I wonder – while a bunch of annoying people making an awful anime marks a reasonably timely satire of the industry, is it something an audience will actually enjoy watching? For this audience member anyway, the jury is still out.
I can say this much – I haven’t found anyone in the cast I like yet, and some of them (like “Kuzu-P”) are truly awful. In effect, if Shirobako romanticized anime production Girlish Number is anti-romanticizing it – making it that much more craven and driven by incompetence for effect. What seems to be happening is a major trainwreck – three newbie seiyuu being dragged along on their star debut without a clue as to what they’re doing, as their star vehicle seems headed towards a fiery conflagration. The author is unhappy, the schedule is behind before the first episode even starts production, and the source material is hideous to begin with. What could possibly go wrong?
I do like the interplay between the newbie seiyuu (is Kotou faking that Kansai accent for professional gain?) and the veterans, and the matter-of-fact acknowledgement of the silliness of this exercise – stuff like actors going out to pimp a series they haven’t recorded a line for yet. And let’s be honest – most of the creative staff for series like the one being depicted here can’t possibly take it seriously – they know it’s crap, but they’re just trying to hang on in an industry that isn’t what they thought it was when they were dreaming of joining it. That’s a morbidly fascinating thing to watch – but is it entertainment?
Shuumatsu no Izetta – 03
That was a pretty amazing episode for about 15 minutes. Then it turned into an anime…
There’s a lot to be said for Shuumatsu no Izetta. It’s pretty rare for anime to depict the grit and gore of war as methodically as this show does. And it’s even more rare for a series to make no attempt whatsoever to blur the divides of World War II – to re-cast it as a general tragedy with victims on all sides or an ideologically neutered chess match between dispassionate chessmasters on both sides. Shuumatsu no Izetta makes no effort to hide what it’s truly depicting, and who the evil ones are in this scenario.
Frankly, I think the weakest part of this series is all the stuff surrounding Izetta, because every time the focus turns to her the anime conventions start pouring out and obscuring what makes the show distinctive. Fine’ is about as generic as they come, too, though at least she’s allowed to maintain her dignity most of the time. Really – would it be so hard for Izetta to just be wearing a conventional military uniform?
On balance I really do like Shuumatsu no Izetta, and I might keep blogging it for a while at least. But the show is just good enough to strike a raw nerve with me, because the need for series to fall back on tired tropes is incredibly frustrating, The pure, messianic blonde princess who the filthy men in the trenches and the bland officers (except the one hunky young one) revere as a spiritual waifu? Check. The hotpants slightly-underage redhead dojikko magical girl? Check. I wish we could have more series like the one Shuumatsu no Izetta was in the A-Part this week, but that’s not the path of least resistance. Sometimes I think it would be less painful if shows like this one didn’t even get my hopes up…