Index III Episode 10

Nothing about this episode makes any sense. This is total shit.

  • Touma sees blood and gets pinned down by… a FLIGHT ATTENDANT?
  • Then he gets shoved into the bloody, gory room??
  • Captain says “I need to protect the passengers” and then goes back to doing not a goddamn thing while a terrorist is strangling a girl RIGHT NEXT TO WHERE HE STABBED A CREW MEMBER???
  • Terrorist manages to get away and HIDE ON A FUCKING PLANE??? How the fuck do you hide on a plane?
  • Terrorist threatens to kill EVERY PASSENGER, ONE BY ONE!!! And all he has is a bone knife?
  • Normal high school student defeats terrorist with one punch…

I don’t usually get angry after watching anime, but this was atrocious. At least it wasn’t as bad as episode 6, though…

Also, they forgot to draw the rest of Stiyl Magnus’s cigarette.

This series is sitting at 3/10 right now. I have to finish it, though, or I’ll be betraying Mikotoism forever.


Spirit of Wonder – Scientific Boys Club

I got around to watching all the anime adaptations of Spirit of Wonder (by Kenji Tsuruta of Emanon fame) this week, and I have to say… MAL reviews and scores for these are really low. At first, I thought this was just a matter of taste. The stories can be super slow (think Aria), and it’s not really your typical sci-fi fare.

But after reading reviews for the Scientific Boys Club OVA, I think people are just missing the point. I wrote my own review about it (giving it an 8/10), but I want to write down a few more notes on it here.

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On physics in Bunny Girl Senpai

I’m at episode 5 of Bunny Girl Senpai, and it has been the distillation of everything I liked about the Monogatari series. The conversations between the characters in Bunny Girl Senpai aren’t just filler phrases like in your standard rom-com. I wouldn’t call the conversations clever, but they’re interesting, and often unpredictable. At the same time, there isn’t any of the artistic bullshit that SHAFT likes to pull with Monogatari. I thought I liked that stuff, but now that I’ve seen it removed, it feels so distracting and detracts from the actual content.

wrong show kiddo

I can’t give the series full points, though, because the science-y explanations for the supernatural stuff are so long and boring.

As someone who works in physics, hearing an explanation of Schrodinger’s cat is like hearing grandpa’s favorite war story for the hundredth time. I don’t want to sit through a poorly translated version of what an anime character has to say about this thing I know far too well. But what’s worse is how it appeals to the (dumb) view of science as this strange, esoteric thing that could almost be supernatural. When Futaba talks, I get that the point is to lend an air of mystery and intrigue, not credibility. But when I listen to this stuff, it carries none of that connotation because it’s simply not exotic to me.

On the flip side, I have to give the series props for drawing inspiration from physics concepts. Even though they muck up the explanations, at the core there’s definitely a connection. For example, Schrodinger’s cat and the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics say that nothing is determined or “real” (there’s a double meaning here, I think) until it is measured. I think it’s cool how they translated that into Mai disappearing unless people remember her. It’s very sci-fi, and more interesting to me than the more symbolic stuff from Monogatari.

The problem is that despite their own disclaimers, they use the physics stuff as a straight-up explanation of the plot points, which is totally wrong. It feels a little demeaning to be told that a basic concept that I’ve learned explains some mumbo jumbo in an anime.


Darling in the FranXX: an autopsy

(it was shit)

Today, I happened to look at the MAL page for the show, and the four top reviews give it 3/10, 1/10, 1/10, and 1/10. I don’t want to say “look, told you so” because there’s no point to that – everybody already knew it. The thing that confused me for the longest time, though, was how the weekly episode threads on reddit had so many supportive and optimistic comments.

I feel like the lesson to be learned here isn’t that DitF was a great show with a bad ending, but rather that the opinions on reddit threads are totally biased towards the most ardent fans. After all, what could a critic say except “wow, that was shit again.” The only “valuable” discussion around such weak, shitty writing would come from people who think it actually means something.

The popularity of DitF itself is bizarre, actually. Originally, people saw that Studio Trigger was making it and expected a Gurren Lagann or Kill la Kill. But… it was made by basically everybody who didn’t work on that stuff. The F team. Nobody really cared about that, though, because it was TRIGGER + MECHA. In a season with no big name shows besides Violet Evergarden (which was also carried solely by studio name), the masses needed something to fanboy about – and more importantly, characters to make waifus.

Darling in the FranXX reminds me of Guilty Crown, back in Fall 2011. That wasn’t mecha, but it was… mecha-lite in its sci-fi vibe. But it was mysterious waifu girl meets boy and blah blah the world, just like DitF. Back then, it was stupidly popular too, but got its fair share of hate from the start. I can’t imagine how bad the senseless fanboying could have gotten if Guilty Crown didn’t have three giant series in Fate/Zero, Hunter X Hunter, and Future Diary looming over its head.

…actually, I guess I now can.


Welcome to the NHK: Satou in the bushes with a camera

This was originally part of a “top 10 manga” post (like my top 20 anime post), but it got too long and sort of off-topic so I’m making it a standalone post.

Welcome to the NHK is a franchise that started with a depressing novel in 2002, a raw story written by a hikikomori for hikikomori. A manga adaptation followed in 2003, and the anime was made in 2006. While the anime is in my top 5 and the novel is a phenomenal read, I consider the manga the definitive version of the story.

The novel is just too dark. While Takimoto clearly tried to make the humor stand out, it just doesn’t work when the novel is in first person. Satou’s thoughts make me cringe and feel worse and worse as more and more depressing things happen until there’s nothing left to laugh about. On the other hand, the anime isn’t dark enough, straying a bit too far away from controversial subjects. The manga isn’t as faithful to the novel’s plot as the anime is, but has a much better blend of black comedy.

The differences are best shown in the most iconic scene of the series: Satou hiding in the bushes outside an elementary school, camera in hand. Takimoto talks about this scene in the postscript to the manga:

But the more realistically you write about a hikikomori, the more you lose the image of a hero. […] Back then, I spent a good two or three weeks straight worrying about it on my futon. Suddenly, a scene of Yamazaki and Satou snapping peeping shots of grade schoolers flashed before my eyes. I’d found my suffering hero, crying and disgusted at himself while simultaneously getting off on those photos. With that vivid image in my head, the images of Yamazaki and Misaki gradually began to take shape…

This scene was clearly central to Takimoto’s novel and subsequent adaptations, so I think it’s worth taking a look at how it turned out. It also happens to illustrate exactly what I like about each version.

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