Kuzu no Honkai – 06

OK, the love-hate (well, like-hate) pendulum with Kuzu no Honkai is starting to tilt heavily to one side.

Kuzu no Honkai - 06 -1I’ve felt strongly that this was going to be the make-or-break week with Kuzu no Honkai (well, and Masamune-kun too, though that’s honestly not as consequential).  I felt like we were getting to the point where I either had to admit I could no longer overlook the things that annoy the hell out of me with this series, or simply accept them and deal with it.  And I was right – and about which is would probably end up being, truth be told.  But given that this is already my leanest anime season ever, you don’t want to jump into any decisions.

Kuzu no Honkai - 06 -2That said, I’m pretty much done here, I think.  And that should clue you in as to just how huge the problems I have with this show are, given the weak competition and the fact that Kuzu can certainly make me feel something far more than the average series.  Fact is, though, I’ve kind of come to hate everyone in the cast except Mugi (and seriously – I can’t be the only one who feels badly for him in all this, can I?).  And watching people you hate do things that annoy you has a limited shelf-life, at least for me.

Kuzu no Honkai - 06 -3Of the things that annoy me, Hanabi’s NON-FUCKING-STOP internal narrative is at the head of the list.  And Hanabi having slipped into the group of characters I hate is probably the tipping point for the series as a whole, because she’s plastered all over it.  Seriously, that inner voice never shuts the hell up – and it’s a constant prattle of self-absorbed adolescent pseudo-philosophy.  Not to mention (like most adolescents) she gets everything wrong most of the time.  The funny thing is we’ve reached a stage now where I can no longer tell if Kuzu no Honkai is showing me how stupid Hanabi is, or just being incredibly stupid and Hanabi is voicing what the show actually thinks.  Akane – full of self-worth?  Seriously?  Seriously?

Kuzu no Honkai - 06 -4There are lots of other problems too, of course.  The horrific Moka seems destined for screen time.  And in addition to the unpleasantness in the show itself, the tenor of the discussion around it (not here, just to be clear, but in other venues) is really sickening – it gives vent to the worst attributes in the modern anime audience, which I suppose is anything but coincidental. I’ve always said at its worst anime has a remarkable ability to be demeaning towards both sexes at the same time, and that’s what we’ve arrived at with Kuzu no Honkai.

Kuzu no Honkai - 06 -5There really just aren’t and straws to cling to here.  Moka – I don’t need to say anything there, I hope.  Ecchan is pretty vile, a predatory manipulator and one of the most selfish anime characters I’ve seen in years.  Akane is an awful character in every sense, a narrative crutch, and Narumi is a pathetic lap dog of a man who’s done nothing to make us believe Hanabi has good reason to be in love with him.  Mugi is really the only one in the cast who’s remotely sympathetic as far as I’m concerned, but it’s more clear with each passing episode that his role is the story’s punching bag, the caricature of male neediness and weakness.  Kuzu no Honkai is certainly not uninteresting, but ultimately I think it’s hollow and manipulative and has little respect for either the audience or its characters.  And even in a season like this, that makes it a little too unpleasant to spend time with.

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30 comments

  1. K

    What’s wrong with Narumi? I’m only about halfway through this episode, but he seems like a nice guy who’s simply oblivious to anything that’s going on around him because everyone’s hidden their real self/feelings from him.

  2. From the first episodes I could tell he’s the usual manchild who can’t do anything himself and thinks he needs a wife to take care of him. I don’t really want to dig into the source material to check, but I have a feeling he’d be willing to put up with Akane’s vileness as long as Akane, well, gets his life together. And we can all see where THAT relationship would go.

  3. s

    Like i and others have already been suggesting, watch some anime in your backlog, read a good book; go to a spa; something. Do not subject urself to mediocre anime for the sake of having something to right about. I mean hey, there’s always spring sea-………………………oh…………. that’s right……..

  4. R

    Now’s a good time to catch up on March Comes in like a Lion. No, seriously, it’s fantastic. If he could just see past the Shaftification of the adaptation.

  5. R

    Second that. I hated the Shaftisms for awhile but really the show’s actually getting better and better with more episodes. It still can get pretty distracting and lacks subtlety but it gets the strong emotional moments right most of the time.

  6. s

    Once Enzo’s made up his mind it’s usually pretty set. So I think there’s no chance there for March Lion.

    I can’t just see past the Shaft because The Shaft is the whole package of the anime. I actually think the March Lion anime still doesn’t get it right most of the time. But it’s gotten a lot more people into the series which is great!

  7. K

    “Once Enzo’s made up his mind it’s usually pretty set.”

    Agreed, though I’d take out the words ‘usually’ and ‘pretty.’

  8. I agree with what Enzo thinks of March Lion, and no. SHAFT really tore the source to shreds. You only need to contrast it to Honey and Clover to know just how terrible an adaptation SHAFT is doing. Yes, it looks stunning (it’s SHAFT) and the story is brilliant (it’s Umino Chika), but once you’ve witnessed how Umino’s source materials can be done right, you won’t be able to stomach how they’re done wrong.

    March Lion is irredeemable as an anime, hopefully the live action adaptation will fall in good hands.

  9. S

    I loved JC Staff’s interpretation of Honey and Clover, and I love what Shaft is doing with Sangatsu no Lion. What shall my punishment be?

  10. Well – I’d say “cursed to be sanctimonious and snarky” but that’s obviously already happened…

  11. S

    I’d argue that declaring an anime irredeemable, and telling somone that they wouldn’t be able to stomach it if only they knew better, is a bit more sanctimonious than what I posted. You got me on the snarkiness, though.

  12. Really? I dropped if after two episodes and haven’t talked about it since. It’s not like I go around harassing people for watching it (as some people do with shows they don’t like). I don’t think I’m the one with the problem here.

  13. F

    I concur. This season (except of course Rakugo) is so devoid of substance that I feel that it’s not even worth it to try and engage in meaningful conversation about the shows airing now. Like the last thing that reminded me of intelligent rumination was about the discrepancy of magic and technology in Little Witch Academia, though it was also cut short since LWA is also pretty empty of ideas. (Maybe ACCA also counts as a kind of mature show, but I think it’s a lot more about style than substance.)

    As for watching shows on the backlog (or rewatching ones), I’d be so glad if somewhere down the line we could get a post about Toradora. I know there’s a short article about the OVA on this blog, but since this season seems to offer a fair number of (mediocre/horrible/generic) romance shows, I often reminiscence about Toradora as an example of how to write and execute skillfully a fun, yet surprisingly deep romance anime. (Also the mentioning of Ami in the current Yowapeda post just fueled even more my nostalgia for Toradora)

  14. Honestly, if I were to go to the backlog of Stuff I’d actually watched, there’d be other shows I’d write about before Todarora. I liked that show a lot, but it was way too tropey for me to really embrace it. It’s a historically significant anime romance and way above average, but not among my creme de la creme.

  15. F

    Yeah, wasn’t actually expecting it, since I’m quite sure that if this trend continues in the following seasons and eventually there will be episodic review posts about “Enzo’s Favourites”, then it will be Seirei no Moribito, FLCL, NGE (and probably twenty or more other titles) before Toradora gets it. Funny thing is, the anime adaptation of Toradora is not even amongst MY favourites, I just have a sweet spot for it since it was the first LN series that I’ve read and back then it was a whole new literary expereience for my teenager self. After finishing the LN, the anime itself was kind of a let down since I felt that it was too rushed and didn’t give the characters enough space to actually develop, though the much more serious letdown or I should say shock was the realization that the LN landscape is so barren that that the likes of Toradora count as an irregularity. Since then I haven’t found anything worth reading since the better ones like Kino no Tabi or Hyouka have a pretty faithful anime adaptations which actually improve over the source material. (The only exception is probably Hakomari, which was a quite suspenseful psychological thriller and it hasn’t received an adaptation yet.)

  16. Well, the thing is I’ve already done posts on FLCL and Moribito. I could blog the Moribito live-action I suppose… But if I’m going to write about old stuff I’d sooner it be stuff I haven’t covered. As for NGE… I hardly know where I would start – what a can of worms that would be. I don’t think there’s any question that’s the most important series in my formative years as an anime writer, but my relationship with it is rather complicated.

    Again, I’m not dissing Toradora – it’s damn good, and one of the best LN adaptations ever. It’s just not on my top shelf.

  17. S

    Moribito live action?!?

    brb downloading

  18. R

    Which sites in specific do you refer to when you talk about other venues.
    I assume you’re looking at the episode discussions on myanimelist, reddit, twitter, and perhaps randomc.

  19. Among other places. Mostly ASF.

  20. F

    Well, the quirks of not being a native English speaker: seeing ASF in the comment, I initially thought that it refers to another anime community site, so I started to look for it, but after an unsuccessful 5 minutes while encountering the Anime Shounen Forum, Anime Super Fetish, Apache Software Foundation and Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation I settled for the abbreviation of “And So Forth” (though that still doesn’t make sense, so if somebody knows feel free to enlighten me)

    As for the show itself, I dropped it after last week, since I became utterly fed up with it, and it seems that it was the right decision. And yeah, fan reactions are also irritating when everybody blabbering about how sophisticated and life-like these characters are.

  21. ROFL – sorry! AnimeSuki Forum.

  22. F

    Thanks! I should probably blame Google (and myself) since in hindsight it is quite obvious (I even browsed a thread on AnimeSuki sometime last year so I should have caught that abbreviation).

  23. H

    I thought you were exaggerating when you previously mentioned how fan reactions to the show were pretty bad and telling, so I went to read them myself. What I saw left me with an even worse feeling than any episode of this show could hope to.

    1. Many commenters agreed that Moka has true feeligs for Mugi and is the only good person in the show, despite the fact that the show directly confirmed where it stands at the end of the episode with what Mugi said about her. I guess anime fans don’t understand that obsession doesn’t equal love.

    2. Yuri fans suggested that Ecchan should continue sexually assaulting Hanabi. Apparently they want to see more girl-on-girl action or something.

    3. Other commenters suggested that Hanabi was unfair to the guy she went on a date with, and he should’ve just forced her to have sex with him as apparently it was what she really wanted, but really didn’t want to admit.

    So I completely understand why this show disgusts you, but I can’t deny it is still executed very strongly and I find it fascinating how it resonates with certain parts of the fandom. I guess the mangaka knows their audience probably too well, and it is as condemning of its audience than any show could hope to be.

    And no, I don’t think the show agrees with Mugi that Akane is full of self-worth, but it is a conclusion I’d expect a character like her to come to. Kuzu No Honkai is extremely cynical at its core, it laughs at its characters and wants to destroy their lives. There’s no compassion here, and I can see the author just writing this to provoke the audience as much as possible instead of meaningfully exploring the relationships, but I guess that would require a much stronger writing.

    Overall, what a shame, anime industry has more than enough talented directors now, but their skills are wasted on poor writers most of the time.

  24. S

    I’m still extremely fascinated, since romance/drama is my favourite drama, and Kuzu no Honkai is feels like what you would get if Gen Urobuchi wrote romance. I would hope that you keep up with it, since despite how twisted and cynical this show is, it does have value, even if it is in the viewer recognizing how far they would go / not go in a relationship, as well as exposing to the more naive how twisted the world is and childish/damaging this (Hanabi’s) sort of thinking is.

    Or maybe I’m too cynical and broken that I don’t hate the characters, and see parts of myself in them had I gone down the dark path.

  25. d

    After the first three episodes, I thought this show was going to say something interesting about discovering one’s sexuality and even after episode 4 I had some hope ( or at least hoped for a nice guilty pleasure), but yeah, you’re totally right about this show; it’s not well written and everything is overwrought and everyone is nasty. Oh, well.

  26. E

    Have you tried watching saga of tanya the evil? its actually a really fun war drama. grim, decent characters and good action. also the MC is fucking great, sure, shes a loli because anime, but the show actually does a pretty good job of selling it, to the point that the only thing your going to have a hard time digesting is the fact that a 9-yr old does not have the strength to hold a gun. im especially impressed with it because its this studios first work. this week was a recap episode (production issues, last weeks ep came a few hours late) so now would be a good time to catch up

  27. F

    Maybe I’m a bit overzealous here (though I don’t expect that Enzo will reply to your comment) so let me take up the role of editor and point out that there’s a similar thread about “Youjou Senki” in the “Winter 2017 Check-in” post: search for a comment made by ‘Tanya’. In case you’d like a short answer, this were Enzo’s replies: ” Watched two eps. Hated it. […] I hated the premise and the characters designs and the tone and the characters. And frankly, I think anime is doing entirely too much humanizing of Nazis.”

  28. E

    oh thanks didnt know, also its WW1 not WWII so they arent nazis.

  29. C

    I have to agree with other comments that the back catalog would be a better investment of time (by a blogger or a viewer) than this season, with a few very honorable exceptions like Shouwa Rakugo. The proportion of gold to dross in the past isn’t necessarily better than it is today. Rather, the back catalog is so much larger than what’s available in a given season that it’s always possible to find interesting things to watch. I’m particularly partial to shows that got marooned on VHS or Laserdisc and thus remain largely unknown to the anime viewing community, but that’s just a personal preference.

  30. R

    Give it up. Life is too short to waste it on terrible anime.

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