chaostangent

Posts from January 2012

3 Episode Taste Test: Nisemonogatari

You don't come to Nisemonogatari (lit. Impostory) for the plot or characters, you come to it to watch an art director take an LSD trip through modernist architecture and a paint-palette orgy. You come for the in-jokes and the riffs on other media. You come to listen to what few other series ever dare to try: banter. And what banter. This is not the banal monologues which often pass for conversation but a shotgun approach to dialogue: sometimes funny, sometimes racy, othertimes just oblique.

But nothing happens.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Bodacious Space Pirates

"What are you watching?" "It's about a rebellion and government sponsored mercenaries, but in space." "What's it called?" "Bodacious Space Pirates" "..." "..." "Want to watch a documentary on polar bears?"

These are not today's surly pirates who kidnap and extort or even those of yesteryear who rape and plunder but- well, in three episodes there hasn't been much of any kind of piracy. The assumption is that there will be pillaging and perhaps even looting at some point, it may even take place in space but whether these endeavours will be bodacious is the primary question.

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Working`!!

On the surface Working`!! has very little going for it. Sliding off the back of the first series the second introduces no major new jokes or any characters of substance, the animation is scrappy and there's no drama that isn't wholly manufactured. Telling then that the most exciting part is when Matsumoto - the eternal cameo - is gifted a voice and takes part, albeit in a small way, in the ongoing story. Against all of this, somehow everything clicks together and works.

often situations are resolved with a rare outbreak of sensibility but just as many are run unceremoniously into the ground

This is mostly thanks to a core set of characters which play off each other very well, making sure that no personality (foibles and all) is allowed to dominate. So the sparky Taneshima remains the most enjoyable character thanks to her indomitable good nature, but her clashes with Satou are kept spaced apart, providing brilliant but occasional visual humour. Likewise Takanashi, who exists on the knife-edge of creepy and eccentric, interacts more with Satou and Souma now and his baffling relationship with Inami is kept restrained.

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Un-Go

The adage of "always leave the audience wanting more" is becoming increasingly apt for Studio Bones. Like with Bounen no Xam'd before it, Un-Go's creativity and, most of all, possibilities make the run-time almost criminally short. Especially when the concept - a detective revealing the truth of disparate then intertwined mysteries - has enough meat to last twice the petite eleven episodes.

it deals with contemporary issues through a very old-fashioned character and plot

This isn't to say it's rushed. The bite-sized opening mysteries are but a taster for the underlying one which stretches the entire latter half; unfortunately the format doesn't lend itself well to brevity. All too often the audience has to take events on faith and ride the story out rather than attempt to unravel the intrigue for themselves. Evidence is often scattered conspicuously around however the question of what the mystery is, often eludes just as much as the answer.

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Ben-to

Ben-to is completely crackers. And, for a while, you can believe it knows how crackers it is. Then it runs out of steam and its concept can no longer sustain what is already pretty flimsy.

why the twins are fighting for discount food given their nouveau-rich status?

It's in good company with the likes of Tenjou Tenge and Ikkitousen which take a similarly flippant view to the high-school brawler genre, populating their casts with impossibly buxom ladies. Here proportions are fast and loose with one recurring character - charmingly known only as "Brunette" - only ever shown from the neck down and waist up.

Obnoxious, but typifies the opening episodes which trudge through the regular tropes of harem building and "must get stronger" mentality from the protagonist. The story of bored students fighting over discount bento boxes is completely absurd, likely borne from a creatively blocked writer witnessing a minor scuffle one evening in a convenience store and spinning it out. From there it's only a short mental hop to the grandiosely titled "wolves" who value guts and glory over smart thinking, through to the lesser dogs or the belligerent boars.

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