Currently I’m rehabilitating a neck injury that I may have been walking around with for years – so I’ve a load of half written posts that are taking ages to finish due to keyboards not being my idea of fun at the moment. Here’s a post that was two thirds finished (I was going to discuss one other show about an orphan) but will tide you over until I’m back in the swing of things.
In part four of Past My Bedtime, I briefly ran down TV Tokyo’s 1:30AM slot for the past six year. In order to have some fairness behind my mean one line synopses, I watched the first episodes a few of the shows I’d not seen before. And in some cases I do have a little more to say beyond what I wrote there.
Given that this is probably the most successful of the shows airing in this slot, I was shocked how half-arsed it is. It even apologises in the opening for it. I got through the first half of the episode and gave up out of boredom. Limp gags and visually uninteresting, it’s an utterly inoffensive empty space.
Worth noting that this is the first show I will be discussing in this post that involves orphans. I’ve noted before about how the moe fad owes something to the Victorian cult of the child, and the other day I described modern anime as the inbred descendants of Space Battleship Yamato and World Masterpiece Theatre. Orphantainment is alive and well, but without the justification of being classic literature.
Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!
While not quite as frustrating as ufotable’s Futakoi Alternative, as it doesn’t have such a promising first episode, Manabi Straight is still infuriating.
Ignoring for a moment the elephant in the room that is Manabi Straight’s aesthetics, the problem watching this is it frequently feels like it’s been made by people who desperately want to animate awesome action and comedy, and are stuck animating material whose main aim is to be cute. There’s some really great action in the first episode, and outside of the poor background painting, the animation is exceptional throughout.
But it’s in the service of a story that while it makes vague gestures towards social commentary, is overshadowed by the elephantine house invader that is the character design. And that character design is basically going to be the huge sticking point for most viewers.
The bulk of the characters are in the second year of high school. They are sixteen or seventeen years old. Just like the main characters in Urusei Yatsura.
Unlike the cast of Urusei Yatsura, none of them appear to have gone through puberty.
Given that there are adults in the show too, and they look like they’ve stepped out of another show, it adds to the creepiness in that rather than just being a result of style – drawing them to look like 10 year olds was a deliberate choice. And for me that’s a big distraction from the merits it has in the animation department.
The story has a nugget of a clever idea, in that it’s supposedly a projection on Japan’s aging population and declining birth rates. But beyond exposition, there’s little social commentary in episode one, instead focusing on lead character Manabi’s whirlwind personality arriving at her new school. The entire first episode could work in modern times with a few cosmetic adjustments.
Of course, the lead in this show appears to be an orphan too.