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┬áno 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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Thoughts on Darling in the FranXX after episode 18

The best part of this show is how the ending song always starts just a bit ahead of the credits.

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Spring 2018 rankings: impressions

Wanted to just jot down my ranks for various anime this season, since I’m watching a ton of series. Not going to put much detail into any of these…

  1. Hinamatsuri (3 eps): 9/10
    Biased from my love for this series. I’m just as excited about the recently-announced US release of the manga, though!
  2. Hisone to Maso-tan (2 eps): 9/10
    This has been the shock of the season for me. What an amazing first two episodes. Bravo, Bones. Also, the best ED this season.
  3. Tadakoi (3 eps): 9/10
    Despite an overdone premise and characters that are far too over-the-top, it’s so creative with its storytelling, legitimately funny with its parodies and execution of even telegraphed jokes (Nyanko Big’s face gets me every time), and really sweet when it comes to romance.
  4. Saiki Kusuo S2 (14 eps): 9/10
  5. Megalo Box (3 eps): 8/10
    It’s been great so far, but only 1 cour for a sports anime is pretty rough.
  6. My Hero Academia S3 (3 eps): 8/10
    This is gonna go up. There’s no way this season can be bad with the content it’s going to cover.
  7. Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These – Encounter (3 eps): 7/10
  8. Wotakoi (2 eps): 6/10
  9. Golden Kamuy (3 eps): 6/10
    A 9/10 story meets a 1/10 animation studio. The worst part is seeing people defending the CG fire and bears. Go see your optometrist. Good lord.
  10. Izekaya Nobu (2 eps): 6/10
    Can’t tell if this is better in anime or manga form. Pretty average either way, though.
  11. Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory (2 eps): 5/10
    It’s been a long, long time. The whole feel of this show seems… retro and behind the times. It doesn’t seem like such an old formula will be able to stand with the heavy hitters this season.
  12. Darling in the FranXX (15 eps): 4/10
    The characters of this show piss me off to no end. It’s a crappy knock-off of Eureka Seven with unlikeable characters, uninteresting world building, and a feeling that everything that happens is utterly pointless. Just sticking with it because it’s the most popular thing right now.
  13. Mahou Shoujo Site (3 eps): 4/10 (dropped)
  14. Mahou Shoujo Ore (3 eps): 4/10 (dropped)

Still need to watch:

  • Steins;Gate 0
  • Gegege no Kitaro

Maybe:

  • Sword Art Online – Gun Gale Online
  • Lupin III: Part 5