12/29/2007

The 16th Day of Christmas - Ten Facepalm Moments

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"I have no idea if Hisui is saying anything relevant, but she looks angry...and hey, it's Hisui."

Now that the last fifteen days have convinced you that that the last year in anime has been nothing but pure awesome, let me bring some concepts slightly closer to Earth.

On the whole I'm still pretty optomistic about anime as a whole, for sure, but there never fail to be moments where I just wonder...what were they thinking?

And so, I've picked out a few of the moments over the course of the last year that deserved a nice hearty facepalm. Thankfully, it was a bit harder than coming up with enough moments to fill the twelve-best list.

Let me note that these moments of annoyance don't often reflect on an anime as a whole; as always, the greatest dissapointments come from the things you expect the most from, and as such many of these moments come from shows that are otherwise fantastic...except for one little pet peeve that gets to me every time.

(Spoilers: Tsukihime, School Days, Code-E, Tokimeki - oh, who I am I kidding - Memorial)

Lunar Legend Tsukihime
Nrvnsqrnasndflkahgodmykeyboard Fight (Or lack thereof)
Bad spelling aside, Nero's 'fight scene' in Tsukihime, the anime, was probably one of the first major signs that something was funny with the adaptation. There were other minor aspects that the anime got wrong, naturally, but the fact that they took a dramatic, drawn-out fight and condensed it into three minutes really got me.

I kept looking at the clock as the Nero fight started at the end of episode three (four?). Thinking, "OK, they'll cliffhang it here. No...here. Here. They can't possibly fit it all into the ending of one episode!?"

Well, they did, and all without animated a single attack by Shiki. I can almost understand WHY they did this, to show the raw power of Nanaya Shiki in belittleing a seemingly major villain, but, come on. We had plenty of proof with him going to town on Arcueid anyway. Nero deserves a bigger send-off.

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Random Kiri x Chii yuri
Kiri Komori was looking to be a pretty promising character. Maybe it's the geek's natural disposition towards others of their kind, but Kiri the beautiful hikikomori (shut-in), when introduced in episode two, looked to be an entertaining and interesting character.

But gradually, through the course of the show, her role faded out, to random cameo appearances, popping up in random places with that delightful "Sen-sei~". Eventually, she didn't even get that.

Along with Chii, the vaguely sane counselor, Kiri got demoted to 'random fanservice girl', breaking up other, apparently more important, scenes with spontaneous yuri action. It's demeaning to see such a good character go to waste.

Shugo Chara
"DO YOU HAAAAAAEEET ENGLIIIIISSHHHH?"
Yes, random X Egg character, yes I do. When you use it and draw it out like that, especially.

Engrish is probably one of the things that grates upon any English-speaking anime viewer (like how I imagine a Japanese speaker would react if they saw some of our fanbase talking), and Shugo Chara's monster-of-the-week fight with an X Egg centered around a personified fear of English takes the cake for most egregious abuse of English in recent memory.

Actually, the English isn't incredibly bad, but the squeaky, high-pitched voice that draws out each syllable to incredible length gets really grating, really fast. Luckily, it's a one-time deal.

School Days
Makoto knocks another one up
Somehow I have a feeling this one was done on purpose to make us gag, or at the least, roll our eyes...with contempt!

As I've probably said too many times, those of us who came into School Days with even the slightest hope that something would go right, were proven horribly, even hilariously, wrong again and again.

Perhaps most of us saw the progression from a pure romance to a complicated love-triangle; perhaps Setsuna joining the fight was acceptable. But near the end of the show, the writers just began to throw girls at Makoto left and right. There was Otome, the random childhood friend. Hikari, the one who seemed all for Taisuke at the beginning. Otome's wicked followers, all three of them at once!

It all seems rather tailored to put a final condeming note on Makoto, to make the audience go "gee, anyone who has sex this much MUST be a bad character" (if not out of pure disgust, maybe a little of jealousy as well), and for once, I'm happy to agree with the path the writers have put us down. School Days was ridiculous down to the last drop of black oil wrung from the characters, and I don't think it would work any other way.

Da Capo Second Season
Aisia will fix it with MAGIC!
Sure, Aisia, you tell yourself that. Da Capo seems to be a formula that has been fixed far too many times over the years - and it was never really broken in the first place.

The first season was outstanding - maybe not the best visual novel adaptation out there, but very solid in character development, conflict, and drama, enough to put it on par, or close to. with second-tier shows like Shuffle! and Myself;Yourself.

The second season featured more of the same, except with a bunch of new characters added in a futile attempt to mix up the show (imagine any recent corporation that tried to look 'kool' or 'x-treme' to capture the youth crowd). And the sequel, Da Capo II takes the whole thing and chucks it out the window.

But the fact is, the central conflict between Nemu, Kotori, and Sakura, three strong, well-rounded characters, has always been what has made Da Capo good, and Aisia, on the other hand, is one of the things that really threw the second season for a loop in the wrong direction.

A character doesn't have to be intensely dislikable at first to develop into an appealing character at the end; while it's true that Aisia got more palatable as the show went on, that's no excuse for her annoyingly dense mindset at the beginning of the show.

(Suddenly, I had a flash that I could change a few names and make this a rant about the Sonic games, and no one could tell the difference. But that's another story.)

Code-E
What, that's it?
Code-E really did nothing wrong. It was just the equivalent of a student's poorly-planned essay on a timed test. The intro was intriguing, the first body paragraph were well-developed, and right halfway through the second when things start getting explain, time runs out. So they rush to write a half-baked conclusion, and we're left with a piece of work that has incredible promise, but never gets around to acting on it.

Likewise, the ending to Code-E leaves more questions than it answers. Pretty much everything except the main relationship between Chinami and Kotaro is left unresolved, from the origin/purpose of the German spies, to the intentions behind Evil Pocketwatch Man, who I'm pretty sure never got a name, to even a fulfilling conclusion to the third side of the love triangle with Sonomi.

The saving grace of this is that there is a second season of the anime planned for Code-E - a drastic change from the original announcement of 'we're all done here, go read the manga', and thankfully so.

Shakugan no Shana II
It's always the green haired lolis that mess things up
The character that singlehandly killed thousand of viewers.

If I had one romance trope to get rid of, it would be the one that results in all the proclamations of "Oh look, some possessive girl has come onto my object of undying affection, time to call it quits". Because, honestly, it's really frustrating, when Shana and Kazumi had been fighting over Yuuji for a whole season, and one random girl who is not a plot object At All comes in and pretty much knocks them both for a loop? The least they could do it tag-team Konoe into the ground.

Konoe's character as a whole, actually, is kind of annoying, if only because really dense characters tend to grate on my nerves (except in comedy situations, usually).

To be fair, I never saw the first season of Shana outside of summary, and the second season is steadily improving, but the faulty start that Shana II had seems to have done quite a number on its fanbase.

Tokimeki Memorial ~only love~
Y'know I really have no idea that Sayuri has the hots for me, no, none at all
Did I say if I had one romance trope to get rid of? Scratch that, make that two.

An equally frustrating cliche used to drag out shows is "I'm entirely blind to the fact that the girl of my dreams is all over me". Riku actually manages to wield both this one and the above cliche from Shana II (oh no, some other guy is TALKING to Sayuri! I'm a loser tee-underscore-tee) to attempt to inject some drama into his relationship with the school idol, Sayuri.

This does have the positive benefit of giving Tsukasa and Mina an almost infintesimal chance of winning (which, as fans know, is more than enough chance to give an excuse to root for them), but...seriously, Riku, get a clue. As many shy, uncertain teenagers as you may attract to your side by being wishy-washy and unsure of yourself, it's just not very interesting to watch the same train of thought over and over, especially when love doesn't get more drop-dead connect-the-dots obvious than this.

KimiKiss
The frogs
Oh God, the frogs. You'd think the personification of some psuedo yuri relationship between two loli-looking (or at the least, imouto-style) girls would have people jumping all over them, but Romeo and Juliet aren't doing much better than their Shakespearean counterparts in earning lots of disdain (from the characters in the story of R&J, anyway).

It probably falls under the same category as the Shugo Chara! complaint in that the girls and their frogs are very loud and very squeaky, not to mention shoved in our faces all the time. KimiKiss likes to draw the viewer's focus in a blunt manner, as it does with the girl's lips all the time, something that's also kind of awkward, but given that two stuffed amphibians don't have a fraction of the appeal of Eriko Futami, it's obvious who the award has to go to here.

Also, the way in which 'oh my God the frogs are kissing and/or acting otherwise in a romantic manner' never fails to unsettle Kazuki and Kouichi is equally frustrating, in that 'oh so romantically tense' cliche manner.

Shuffle! Memories
Upon realizing it's all recap
I think this one speaks far, far too much for itself.

-CCY
(Episode 12 was totally worth it for Yandere II: Boxcutter Boogaloo and Mayumi's Haruhi parody, though.)

6 comments:

Heh, as far as Shana goes, Konoe is pretty damn annoying, but my big problem is how a) they keep dragging every little high school drama point over 2-3 episodes where one would suffice, and b) They hit the reset button on Shana's confession to Yuji at the end of Season 1. Konoe I can deal with. It's the dragging on and the retconning that annoy me.

Shana II feels like a timebomb waiting to explode and flood us with nonstop kick-ass actions that everyone loves. The only problem is, the fuse never seems to start burning.

At the end of the last few eps Shana II has been tempting us by lighting the fire and waving it near the fuse, but right at the start of the next ep we would find out that the bomb had never been lighted.

It's disappointing and frustrating to say the least, but I'm still having my fingers crossed DX

nekonron: That's an excellent way of putting it. Honestly, the action wasn't my thing (since there's not much substance to it, personally), but I do wish...something...would happen. I think, circa episode 12, we're beginning to almost get there...

jobrill: Hmm, I didn't know about the retcon, since I never saw season 1, that's an interesting thing to consider. I think your point about the dragging out of the drama is right on, though, and something that I've seen near-everyone complain about...for good reason, it seems so far. Hopefully, this is just padding for space, and won't result in the compressing of the rest of the actual story.

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