Parodies in the vein of Sunset Overdrive or the Scary Movie franchise are quite reflective of the internet age, aren’t they? As we all sit behind our computer screens, we find ourselves gravitating towards the extremes of human behavior thanks to the relative anonymity of the World-Wide Web. Comedy was a medium originally based upon subtlety and subverting cultural and societal norms. However, it has recently devolved into a combination of non-sequiturs and smarmy self-reference, falling into the dregs of the culture alongside foam-domes and Insane Clown Posse. Well whatever, as long as the stuff is funny, right? On that note, here’s Cute High Earth Defense Club-LOVE!, which isn’t particularly funny. Oh dear.
At an all-boy’s high school known as Binan Academy, there’s a group of rather attractive students who are contacted by an alien wombat and forced into the role of Battle Lovers, protectors of Earth and representatives of the universe’s most powerful non-corporeal concept: Love. Yes, it’s pretty clear what comedy camp this anime is pitching its tent in, isn’t it? At its core, the story’s premise is about as stereotypically mahou shojou as you can get, and the series constantly uses this as a springboard for some of the most poorly-handled parodization I’ve seen in a long while. Simply parroting the same type of tropes found in the genre a work is trying to mock and claiming to be “ironic” about them is already the absolute nadir of the comedic spectrum, but Cute High Earth Defense Club-LOVE! takes it a step further and removes the entirety of the “claiming to be ironic” element. Sure, battle scenes and character interactions are taken to the extremes of the mahou shojou genre, but this is a very fleeting kind of humor. There is something to be said about a show whose stated goal is to deconstruct a set of works simply by wallowing in excess cliché, but the anime at hand is as over-the-top in the first few episodes as it ever will be, so it just becomes repetitive, with all subsequent arcs losing any impact whatsoever. The ending is particularly guilty of this, and while it does conclude with the Battle Lovers squaring off against a giant, blowfish-shaped dirigible, it just isn’t ridiculous enough to provide the sort of punchy catharsis a show like this needs.
Cute High Earth Defense Club-LOVE! occasionally returns to life whenever a new trope is opened up, and there are glimpses of absolute genius in a remarkably well-executed episode that plays upon our implied yaoi ships, but the series never gains the cajones to push past its formulaic, circuitous nature. I’m not lying when I say that this series has more filler than Dragon Ball Z. Out of 12 episodes, you could honestly cut out six or seven of them and get exactly the same plot, and while this may be trying to take the piss out of the “monster of the week” formula, it is detrimental to the show’s structure. You could hack your legs off at the knees to emphasize some anecdote you’re trying to tell, but you’d probably be better off just not telling you story and keeping your tibias connected to your body.
The little-known Diomedéa Studio took over the job of animating this show, putting Shinji Takamatsu in the developer’s seat. While Takamatsu has been known for bringing us such startling drivel as Ixion Saga DT, the fact that he also produced the School Rumble of recent memory doesn’t rule out his abilities entirely. Sadly, whatever creative spark he had while adapting Jin Kobayashi’s work clearly wasn’t present while he was directing Cute High Earth Defense Club-LOVE!, and the anime feels dull and lifeless from a directorial standpoint, with some unrealistic dialogue and sub-par animation. Not helping this is a completely uninspired soundtrack, consisting of about three pop-rocks songs and a few generic piano pieces. Even the opening and ending tracks don’t elicit more than a “meh” response from most.
When taken as a whole, Cute High Earth Defense Club-LOVE! is a vapid, pointless anime that attempts to combine the gender-swap premise of Free! with the satirical soul of Space Dandy into a mahou shojou-styled package, completely disregarding the fact that nobody involved in the show’s production had a grasp of what makes the comedy genre tick. Although there are several genuinely funny moments, these are all dogpiled under mountainous piles of repetitive, obnoxious content. Unless one has the morbid desire to see what a studio produces when every story consultant in its employ loses their will to live, I see little reason as to why I should recommend this series.
Ever since the 10th NOVA clash, the Chevalier had concluded that the NOVA have been appearing at a steadier rate and they are losing more Pandoras than they can produce. Their solution is the E-Pandora Project which involves normal humans being given the power to become Pandoras. Inviting Pandora from around the world to their Alaskan base witness the unveiling of their new project, Satellizer, Kazuya & Rana are among those who have been summoned. However, as time goes the E-Pandora Project starts to become fishier and the Pandoras start to grow more and more concerned. For those of you expecting it to follow the manga 100%, it does not. Some things were changed, like Julia groping Cassie instead of Roxanne groping Sattelizer. When they all first meet. There is fan service. The second season shows Pandoras on duty – there’s little place for girly fights and arguments, there is serious business going on. We have two groups – Pandoras and E-Pandoras. They are different, but they’re meant to cooperate. Of course, it won’t be easy, because E-Pandoras not only have to compete with original Pandoras, but they need to survive deadly experiments their makers are performing on them.
Lot of fights, lot of drama, but what about Yuri? Those who were watching first season already know that each Pandora has her male sidekick called a “Limiter.” To cooperate at full power, they need to perform a “Baptism.” (It amazes me how the Japanese creators use Christian terminology for what is simply sex). Our Untouchable Queen had problems with that and still has, but her Limiter was really the protagonist of the first season. Now he’s in the shadows; he rarely appears and hasn’t much to do. The second season is about girls. And this is good, especially if you’re Yuri fan. Almost since beginning of the story we can see tension between leaders of both groups – Elizabeth Mably and Amelia Evans. And, this is not the usual love-hate, but rather a much more complicated relationship between two strong women who holds responsibility for their people. Yes, Yuri fans could be happy, seeing Amelia in Elizabeth arms at the end of the fourth episode. Of course, we have lot of groping, boob touching and other fanservice moments in this anime as well. Boys are still there, but they’re merely tools, without much use in the plot.
I’m always curious if they make clothes from some kind of very frail materials in anime. RememberIkkitousen or any other series like that? Right, those anime where you can perform a punch and the girl’s blouse is ripping apart, often with bra as well. Freezing has same problem – in almost every battle, participants have to lose some of their clothes. Years ago I found this amusing, today I found it boing… I mean boring. Still, original Freezing had an annoying tendency to mix fanservice with gore.Freezing Vibration has lost some of gore.
As far as I am concerned Freezing has nothing praiseworthy to offer, which leaves me confused as to why I watched it all the way to the end. Season 2 pretty much reworks and reproduces the events of season 1, with one or two nuances, primarily the characters, new and old I might afford a compliment for Satelizer and the pseudo character development she achieved, but even the revelations of her past were more odd than intriguing, with a disturbed villain of a half brother that somehow managed to receive forgiveness and redemption at the end of the short arc. With Freezing Vibration, i would say, Why bother? Watching the series isn’t likely to affect you negatively, but you will not miss much if you never pick this up.
Louise the Zero and her familiar Saito are back for another round of chaotic magic and even more chaotic romance. With the Albion invasion put to a stop, it seems as if peace has finally returned to the Kingdom of Tristain. After Saito sacrifices his only chance to return to Tokyo in order to remain at Louise’s side, it seems like the relationship between this fiery mage and her familiar should finally find a little peace as well. Unfortunately, thanks to Saito’s wandering eye and Louise’s explosive temper, their relationship is more turbulent than ever. As Louise struggles between understanding her feelings for Saito and her powers as the only Void magic user in the world, the threat of war looms once again on the horizon with the appearance of a dangerous foe wielding a dark artifact. With Louise’s childhood friend Henrietta now crowned Queen of Tristain, Louise will have to learn to control her magic if she hopes to protect her friend and put an end to the conflict once and for all!
The progression between episodes, I feel, is done really well. While it recognizes the difference between an episode without a major plot line and episodes with a major plot line, it’s still reassuring to know that the show sidetracks itself from events happening amongst the main characters to focus on other affairs that may be rising, so when the next episodes hit, you won’t be caught off-guard and question the writers about why they decided to skip an entire vital section. Don’t get me wrong, progression is almost always done wrong, and that did happen for Season 4, or Familiar of Zero F, especially at the end when they felt the need to tie up loose ends but ended up speeding things up too quickly; it wasn’t a mess, but I’d rather have more detail on the situation at hand. Hiraga Saito is the male protagonist who becomes the familiar spirit of Louise, the female protagonist. Saito may not be a perfect protagonist, but in terms of other characters faced within the same fighting position as him, Saito is one of the better protagonists in a series. As for Louise, I thought I knew what an excellent tsundere is, until I watched this series through and got a much better definition.
While there are other prominent roles in this series, I’d also like to point out that the important roles are mainly filled in by female characters, giving this anime the appearance and feel of a harem, which it most likely is. It was a bit unfortunate that the characters themselves seemed to be reproductions of very popular-and-easy-to-use character types, though the same can’t be said about the way the characters were presented since I was glad that they had a sense of depth that writers seem to have difficulty in creating. While generic character-types were present, the fact that they had their own distinctiveness about them convinced me to care less about their weaknesses. I did enjoy the fact that each important character did have a background to them, instead of throwing them into a blender and hoping they’d mix well together. It’s great that they did have depth and background, since integrating such a large cast makes it easy on us as viewers to forget about characters that aren’t seen as often or aren’t as memorable.
It’s a mix of fan service, slapstick humor, and memorable moments that are sure to make you laugh, cry, or tear with joy. Admittedly, there are times when it could do without the fan service, especially with Saito constantly cheating on Louise which I think is too much at times, but I’ve seen only one other anime that’s had me crying tears of laughter within the first two minutes of viewing an episode. Unlike other animes that will only try their luck at striking your funny bone within one episode, Familiar of Zero does this often, and never fails to hit. If you’re like me and are along those lines of having sufficient knowledge with weapons, whenever those times come around and some kind of military equipment from our world shows up in the series, you won’t be disappointed.
Noir is an anime set in the near future. Mireille Bouqet is a young girl who happens to be one of the most talented assassins in the underworld. One day she receives an e-mail with the name of her next target: Kirika Yumura. The e-mail has an attachment phrase, “Join me on a pilgrimage to the past.” and a melody that was playing from a music box (Mireille’s fathers watch) when Mireille’s parents were killed. Mireille, whose parents were killed by a mysterious assassin, and Kirika, a girl who has no memory of her past, eventually team up together as assassins. Noir is a remarkable anime. It has a lot of focus on the story, and the creators take their time to tell it. You don’t see any funny sequences in these series, you see the characters hold on to whatever small hope they have left in their life, and you see the two main characters do their job in cold blood and an empty look in the eye. After watching a couple of episodes, I found it hard to take a break away from Noir. It has so much atmosphere, and the feelings of the characters really got to me. The main story has some interesting twists and turns, and at some points it really surprised me, and I never really couldn’t be sure that the things I new wasn’t going to turn around on me.
Visually, dark reds hug deep blacks and melt inside thick sexy lines. From the first episode we see Catwomen like acrobatics and women pulling hand guns out of their purses. Noir is hot and enticing. Powerfully, the soundtrack back flips into your ear drums, with a Mission: Impossible inspired theme song that brings confidence and energy to help create a deep and exotic world. During the more intimate moments a music box will haunt your ear drums. I wish the personalities of the characters reflected the visual aura but unfortunately Noir suffers from content on all fronts. The story is solid, and the characters are mysterious but it all moves a bit slow. It’s contradictory to the epic world that Noir flamboyantly tries to sport. Lines like “go on Marielle do it!” and, “Noir is a servant of God” just don’t fit inside a very hollow and open script. There is a lot of fluff and big talk here, but thankfully it’s interesting enough that I still want to see some conflicts resolved.
The cons… In most episodes the girls exterminate a myriad of similarly dressed, incompetent footsoldiers. The body counts range in the 50’s for each episode and seem only to act as filler – adding no real substance and making you want to fast forward each scene. It may be amusing to watch poorly detailed suits getting killed bloodlessly with a single bullet for the first few episodes but afterwards the thing really becomes repetitive and pointless. The mysterious organisation called Soldats – er…Soldiers? seems to forever be sending these clone boys. Secondly when everything is revealed in the last 5 episodes of the series you realize that the plot is indeed very shallow. You also start to wonder what the purpose of Noir is…. yes they are super assassins but why would a special ceremony cement their relationship? Where are the previous Noir girls? How are they trained to be so good? You almost expect something supernatural. The Manor is a location between Spain and France which is unknown to all but a few people in the world but why is that so and how can it be so? The Manor is nothing more than a ruin, a place that time forgot but it’s occupied by at least 2 people and who feeds them and sends them supplies? Do they have running water and toilets? Yeah this may all seem very trivial but if you like me thought that the Manor was a mystic place somewhere like maybe the alternative planet in Escaflowne or maybe a place on a different planet you will be disappointed that it’s just a Mediterranean climated location high in the mountains somewhere, where no-one bothers or cares to go. It also seems silly that a huge organization which runs the world secretly – would be preoccupied with two assassins – the preoccupation bringing the only clues for the two assassins in ultimately being able to penetrate the said secret organization – if only they left Noir alone – Noir would never find out anything.
None of this ruins what is the real point of Noir, and that is the relationship between Mireille and Kirika and their mystery, with the introduction of several other strong women characters along the way. There is no sex or even simple nudity anywhere in the plot, which is a shame because although the writers obviously thought it would either cheapen the production or perhaps distract the story, it would have given more opportunities to break up the repetition that drags on too long. Noir has great animation all the way, a good plot, some interesting side-stories, and a kick-ass sound track that I regularly listen to on my computer. People who like action-packed anime may get a little bored watching Noir, though.
This show is based off of a series of light novels (it covers the first 9 which make up their own larger arc) and when I was figuring out what fall shows to watch I came across the manga adaption and tried that out. I really liked the manga and blitzed through as many chapters as I could find but this did mean that the anime came off feeling a bit flat by comparison (probably because they’re adapting an entire book every two to four episodes which means you really have to compress the story). Once the anime got past that part the story grabbed me again but not as strongly, and then the return of a character from the very first arc (Suzuka) made me just toss up my hands and drop the show since it just wasn’t fun seeing her constantly mess with everything. Of course this means that the very next episode had a character go “hey can you knock this off and help us out with the fact that one of out friends is getting attacked every three episodes now and we don’t know by who?” “Well, it could be these guys….” And it certainly felt like the show became more enjoyable once that character dynamic was changed up and both the larger and smaller plots started making more progress.
There is one other reason I might have enjoyed the second half of the show more than the first half, I marathoned it and I’m realizing that I really do prefer that for some shows and, since this one was already spilt up into mini-arcs based on the novels, that also helped the pacing here for sure. Plus, the farther you get into the story the less exposition it has because holy cow, all three versions of this story suffer from having way too much exposition and the author feels the need to reintroduce every character and every idea every time there’s a new arc/book and I remember that driving me up the wall when I first watched the show. That is a major flaw for the show, it doesn’t understand that a lot of it’s world-building details just aren’t that useful or interesting and yet it doesn’t spend a lot of time on character-building details. I was surprised at how much I liked the extended main cast by the end of the show, they actually had gone through some rather nice growth, but they still felt a bit flat. Plus, one more detail that didn’t work for me is how the series as a whole had some trouble with pacing. Not in the actual arcs, again I can understand having trouble with compressing the books as much as they did (and this is another problem I’ve noticed while checking out the novels), but it’s really hard to get a grasp on the passage of time and I was amazed to see that the series actually covers over a year since it never felt like it and there weren’t any visual cues either. I can’t even recall the last time I had this particular problem with a show, usually they have at least a few filler shots of scenery to provide that context but it was all absent here!
The animation is a mixed bag. I like the art style, but the animation can veer into lazy territory at times and an abundance of out-of-place CGI doesn’t help matters. The battles are pretty cool, if a bit random since the rules of this magic system are so poorly defined. I think it basically boils down to, “throw some talismans around and spout of bunch of random Japanese words and magical stuff will happen!”. But still, it looks pretty cool when the shit hits the fan.
The music is actually a standout feature. It’s really good, a lot of techno-vibes with an eastern flair. The first OP is one of the best OPs I’ve heard in ages and the second ED is fantastic as well. Though the music doesn’t stand out much outside of fight sequences. Lazy directorial decisions regarding this adaptation make it an average watching experience, with some high points. But I am genuinely interested to see where it goes so I hope another season is eventually made. It’s hard to recommend because it is a bit generic and it does drag itself down at times but all in all, I don’t regret following it through to the end
What could go wrong with a show involving Catholics, witches, and Frenchmen, all blended together with the spice of romantic comedy and the wrath of God? Well, I would think quite a lot, actually. However, you won’t find any of those potential problems here. The winter anime season has always been a sort of birthing chamber for a variety of risky new titles, and the trend continues in 2015 with Maria the Virgin Witch. Detailing the exploits of a group of characters during a pivotal time period during Hundred Years War, the series grapples with religious ethics, the nature of humanity, and the question of how many strips of fabric are needed to turn a sex aid into a wearable garment.
The titular virgin witch, Maria, is a free-spirited sorceress who spends her time making medicines, defending the village she lives nearby, and doing all she can to stop the seemingly perpetual battles that continuously rage on throughout France. Her meddling in these situations has led to the Catholic Church branding her as a heretic, but it isn’t just the institutions of the divine on Earth who have taken notice. Initiated by Maria attempting to resolve a minor fracas, The Archangel Michael descended from the Heavens, and forbids Maria from interfering any further, casting a spell that would break her connection with the supernatural in the event of her losing her virginity.
Watching most 12 or 13 episode series is like taking a glass-bottom boat viewing of another world. While everything clearly visible, we are always separated by the glass, unable to truly involve ourselves with the events at hand. It is said that every creative endeavor begins with some starry-eyed developer bursting with new ideas, and most short anime seem like that person refused to budge a single inch on the content in order to accommodate for the lack of space. While having nothing occur in a series is usually the mark of a bad show(unless it’s a slice of life), jamming too many concepts into too tight of an area is also detrimental to an anime’s quality. The only time I’ve ever seen idea-packing work is in Baccano!, but that benefited from a unique narrative structure, while most linear series would end up exploding if they attempted to follow in that show’s footsteps. Maria the Virgin Witch understands this; it refuses to give up too many of its ideas but remains tightly focused upon a core group of highly interesting individuals while building up to a tear-jerking, pulse-pounding resolution. So while I was still engaged with the plot, the anime eases off enough at certain moments in order for me to sit back and digest enough of the deeper ethical and philosophical questions brought up by the series for them to have an actual impact.
Going back to an earlier analogy, Maria the Virgin Witch is more like a scuba-diving trip than a glass-bottom boat viewing. While it would have been perfectly convenient for the show to take the route that a lot of other “deep” or “philosophical” series have gone and mistake symbolism and ambiguity as automatic indicators of complexity, the anime manages to skirt this pitfall. The events that occur within the series are neither deliberately blurred nor dripping with forced, caked-on symbolism. What happens happens, and it’s what comes out of these points, not what actually occurs within these scenes that matters. It feels as if the show isn’t trying to involve itself with the metaphysical at all, leaving the audience to choose their own level of involvement. Every viewer will take something different away from the series, no matter what intellectual level they wish to function on.
The illustrious Production I.G. took responsibility of animating this work, with Gorō Taniguchi of Code Geass fame in the directors chair, and it appears as if neither of the two held anything back while producing the show. Besides several jarring uses of 3-D, the animation is clean and very smooth, blending well with the unique art style present. Aesthetically, the designers showed admirable restraint in regards to the setting, avoiding the typical “high-tech magic” style that many series seem to have gone for recently. Beyond the clothing of Maria and her counterparts that dabble in the supernatural, effort has been put into historically accurate weapons, clothing, and backgrounds. Even Maria’s magical abilities reflect this, being more in the classical style of floating cauldrons and puffs of multicolored smoke rather than the laser light show that seems to be quite endemic to the fantasy genre in Japan. Soundtrack-wise, the series is nothing too special. Besides a great opening and ending, most of the music fades into the background more than augmenting the scene. While it is never irritatingly bad or incongruous, I would be hard pressed to even remember a specific track.
Maria the Virgin Witch is one of those pleasant surprises that come along now and then, a show that recognizes its limits but doesn’t feel restricted by them. It’s both delightfully funny and unexpectedly deep, all packaged together into a succinct but nonetheless impactful 12 episodes. By far and away the best series to air this season, Maria the Virgin Witch deserves a spot alongside Steins;Gate and Baccano! as a modern show worthy of being regarded amongst the classics.
Based on the manga written and illustrated by Sayori Ochiai, Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods follows the everyday life of Makoto Saeki, who is the 15th successor to her family’s shrine. As a result, Makoto is able to see Gintaro, a messenger of the gods who is the spirit of a sacred silver fox and has lived at the shrine for over 350 years. As a messenger of the gods, Gintaro has the ability to see into the future, and uses it to help Makoto only when she is truly in need. This is the story of friendship between a delicate teenager and a shy and stubborn messenger of the gods. This anime revolves around a “slice of life” atmosphere. Many episodes involve the little events and situations between the characters, all while relaying the importance of tradition, family and friendship. So it’s nothing new, essentially. However, that doesn’t mean this anime should be skipped. Many of the characters, although they are based around some traditional Japanese token characters, still have a sense of likability, and are still very interesting. Haru, for as obnoxious as he is, still has some things to offer in his character, such as his relationship with Satoru. You can really see this in episode 5, just keep in mind that Haru starts to lose his likability after that episode, but its just my opinion. I also have never really seen this “slice-of-life” story done around a setting that blooms with Japanese and Shinto culture. Even though you may disagree with the religion (like me *cough*), you can still be sucked in by the history aspect (you got to learn something, kids). Be warned, there are also aspects of different lover relationships, lets just say.
Since its defeat in the Second World War, Japan has done something nearly unique — arranged things so that its traditional religions can live comfortably with its rationalist economics, education, and politics. Such an accomplishment is worth trying to understand, and this anime helped me to achieve that. I could see how the Shinto shrines in the story, and the people in them, fit into the society, and brought a sense of purpose and belonging to the everyday people around them. The characters all likable, and the main characters (girl and messenger fox) have a sweet friendship. Their relationship is depicted quietly, but with artistry that conveys clearly how much feeling they have for each other. The slice of life form allows the shrine life to be depicted clearly because there is no necessity to distort motivations and causation to bring about flashy events.
From my own perspective; I noticed each episode being packed to the brim with as much story as possible, which is a welcome sight in my opinion. The animation isn’t lazy, but it isn’t hyper realistic either, kind of a comfortable medium; the depth of the characters makes up for areas of the animation that would seem lacking. It might not look real, but it certainly feels real, I like that (Note: The backgrounds and other art is gorgeous). The comedy is spread evenly throughout and works to complement rather than as a detriment to the story. And at the end of every episode, you’re left with a feeling of wanting more, but no real appreciable cliffhangers to make you wonder “what’s next” and to angrily await next week’s episode (results may vary, I was enamored to the point of anger in having to wait a week).
At the end of it all, the series is short but has so much entertainment value to keep you beaming happily with whomever you watch it with. And I think the focus on being a slice of life show, emphasising the little things in life, really brings the show to a new level among series I have seen in the past. I would highly recommend anyone sitting on the fence to give it a watch. The result is an effective depiction of a society where people feel a sense of belonging that some of us who live elsewhere can only envy. Idealized though it may be, this show can make you feel welcome too, if you’re willing to accept the basic premise of all slice of life shows: Everyday life is routine, and the important and intense stuff happens inside.
Japan has discovered a supernatural spacial rift that allows access to a different world filled with numerous humanoid races of magical ability. Their world is still working on a feudal class system, which presents interesting complications for the company involved in trying to expand their otaku culture to this new world. Our protagonist was hired as a representative to achieve that goal, who is a full blown otaku with questionable social skills. He meets up with his half-elf maid, the human queen (16 years old), and Japanese assistant, then the chaos commences. A very interesting series that looks to have something for just about everyone. Plenty of fan service, romance potential, magic, comedy, fighting, and even social/philosophical forays. I found this to be more than your average fan service show with a surprising level of character and environmental development.
What sets Outbreak Company apart and raises it above most series is the political undertone which undermines the silliness. I feel the writers were making a political point about otaku culture and political trends. I won’t say more to not spoil the plot. In the end this was a heartwarming show that can also make you mad. Animation quality is not fantastic but it is more fitting than it is elegant. Due to this being a comical look at otaku culture, the series doesn’t warrant the animation quality of 5 centimeters per second or even Sword Art Online. I would compare it the anime Log Horizon. While the quality is not Attack on Titan, the animation does what it is asked and is able to tell the story nicely because better animation would seem almost overdoing it. Soundtrack is kind of generic though there is one track that will be remembered from this, the “Awkward moment da-da-da” track, and if you have watched this series already you know which track I am speaking of. The opening, I personally, feel is the best track of this show and fits with the comical feel of this series. The ending also holds up well in comparison though animation I feel is somewhat lacking in terms of content. Character development can be lacking though the show knows what it wants to do and be(a parody of otaku culture) and executes it well most of the time. And while the ending does leave the possibility for more, it gives a satisfying conclusion that can be appreciated by most, if not all.
If I have one complaint about this series, it’s that it seems almost too well written and conceived for the fluffy and frequently cliche harem rom-com that it is. The premise is clever and requires only a bit of suspension of belief, the characters are mostly realistic, and the setting is coherent and consistent. The protagonist is only mostly clueless, and the affection of the girls who surround him seems based on a genuine regard for his qualities; qualities that are demonstrated in ways that feel natural and not forced. Most of all, there seems to be a valid and intelligent story that is being told. Alas, that story really only covers three or four episodes, with the rest of the show focusing on somewhat-ironic otaku tropes and clever industry self-references. Still, while I can bemoan how much more they could have done with this, there’s no real sense of waste…it’s a fun anime on every level.
he plot is not over-arching but rather the plot serves to create various situations that give referenced and comical looks at various stereotypes, tropes, and cliches of many other anime and anime genres to date. While it does have its moments of series story and tone, the majority of the series consists of situations that help show the various preconceptions and obligatory-s of anime that we have all come to know and love. Outbreak Company is what it tries to be, a parody of otaku culture. While it does have some blunders here and there, it tells a nice story of comical otaku parody and heart that true anime fans will most certainly enjoy. Give it a watch and you will most certainly agree.
When he was young, Kyon wanted to live in a world full of aliens, time travelers, and espers. Like all children though, he eventually grew up, and reality slowly began to chip away at his dreams. By the time he entered high school he had given up on his hopes, and became ready to live a completely mundane, normal life. It was at this point that Haruhi Suzumiya came into his life. Haruhi was completely different than anyone Kyon had met before, a near-hyperactive eccentric completely fed up with the monotony of the world. Before he knows what hit him, Haruhi has forced Kyon to become a member of the SOS Brigade, a new club she created to combat the mundanity of reality. As time goes along and the SOS Brigade grows, Kyon slowly begins to realize that Haruhi is at the center of a situation far bigger than she is aware of. One by one, his club-mates reveal to him their secret: They were all sent by various entities to monitor Haruhi, for she is in fact God. Apparently, Haruhi unknowingly possesses the ability to manipulate the very fabric of the universe, changing it to her will. Alarmed by her growing ennui, Kyon and the rest of the SOS Brigade set out to keep Haruhi occupied, lest she destroy the universe and rebuild it to her own desires. So goes the plot of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and fittingly for a show centrally about growing up and changing one’s worldview, the series completely encapsulates a single stage of the process of maturing: The insufferable chuunibyou phase.
What makes me describe The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya as a show suffering from chuunibyou is that it thinks it’s a lot smarter than it actually is. Basically, the series is a high school comedy with a single supernatural element that the anime believes to be a golden ticket allowing it to throw out deepisms right and left like some sort of pretentious Easter Bunny. It pridefully self-identifies as a “deconstruction,” a term that has crept into common parlance due to series such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The original definition of a “deconstruction” pertained to works that subvert the typical tropes of a genre or utilize certain themes in order to satirize or criticize the constraints of a medium, such as with titles like Neon Genesis Evangelion. Sadly, many recent anime that are considered to be such fall into the same trap that various parodies have been caught by, and end up just repeating the same clichés as the works they intend to satirize. The meta-fictional narrative of Princess Tutu or the sheer unconstrained madness of Me! Me! Me! are truly deconstructive, while just giving a wink to camera or juxtaposing a familiar concept with an unfamiliar tone isn’t. For instance, one of the members of the SOS Brigade is Mikuru Asahina, who is an out-and-out moe blob stock character. While this would typically earn the scorn from viewers, it’s considered okay simply because Haruhi references the fact that she’s moe. Oh, that’s just fine then! As long as we’re sacrificing a good plot for cheap laughs, then I’m down for it! My point is, was it really worth sticking the readers with a character as flimsy as her just to make a quick joke? According to the series apparently so, because they pull the same crap with our protagonist as well. Kyon’s the classic put-upon everyman, complete with the bewildered demeanor and occasional snarky comments. His character is nothing we haven’t seen a thousand times before. Yes, I understand that’s the joke, but it was neither funny for me nor beneficial to the show. This isn’t helped by the anachronistic fashion in which the series is presented, which pile-drives any sense of coherent character development into a vat of sublimating chlorine. However, I’ve fallen in love with shows with many more flaws than this. What really boils my piss about the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is that it attempts to sell off all of these flaws as positive qualities, then regards those who see through this cheap veneer with utter contempt. It’s when the series gets away from its beloved (and badly handled) satire and actually embraces its more archetypal aspects that it becomes halfway hilarious, but sadly these moments come and go depressingly quickly. For every “Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya” arc there are three “Endless Eights;” it’s almost as if the show takes perverse pleasure in letting the leash out then yanking on the audience’s choke chain.
The only aspect in which the show’s irritating smugness may actually be justified is in its production. Kyoto Animation truly outdid itself with the series, exhibiting some of the smoothest, cleanest animation ever. The zenith is the now-famous concert scene from episode 12, which seamlessly blends 3-D CGI with traditional styles. However, it should be noted that there is a noticeable shift in style between the first and second seasons. On the auditory side of things, it would be remiss of me to not mention the show’s English dub. Crispin Freeman demonstrates his mind-boggling range as Kyon, while Wendee Lee of Cowboy Bebop fame nails Haruhi’s eccentricities.
Overall, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is an unnecessarily well-presented dramatic comedy that contains a single good idea that the rest of series grabbed entirely wrong end of. Somewhere under the caked-on layers of pretentious excess lies a great concept of attempting to appease an unaware God, but it’s so woefully mishandled in this anime that I can’t recommend it.