Posts from May 2013

Fighting fanservice

The recent airing of the second series of Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls poses the question of why the stylish but lacklustre first season was deemed worthy of a sequel, but also conjures up the spirit of genre stalwarts such as the long running Sekirei and Ikkitousen franchises - each series with a more ridiculous alliterative subtitle than the last - as well as one-offs such as Tenjho Tenge. The specific taxonomy of these series is usually spread between "fantasy", "martial arts" and the all-encompassing "fan service" categories, but works equally well as just "fighting fanservice" (FF).

smutty, double-X chromosome fighting still sells

With a few exceptions, the entire point of these series is to group voluptuous girls together so they can beat seven shades of tar out of one another, usually with disastrous consequences for their clothing and decency. Twice tickling the lizard brain for those who are titillated by such things then: violence and sex. Tweak the variables from breasts to blood though and you have horror (see Blood-C, Elfen Lied, Ga-Rei Zero etc.). Catering to base desires though doesn't leave a lot of room for story or character development with many of the plot lines and episodic stories simplistic even if they were in a children's Saturday morning cartoon and utterly worthless for anything other than hurtling the cast from one arena to the next.

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Brave new world

A review of the Shinsekai Yori anime

Trying to encapsulate what Shinsekai Yori (From The New World)  is "about" is tricky task. It's no more about a future where everyone has psychic powers than it is about human relationships with those weaker than themselves. That it is about so many big concepts is its greatest strength; its greatest weakness however is implementation. The three-volume source work is carved up and thrown together with the best of intentions, but the sheer scale and boldness of its ideas, story and direction means that the end result demands a lot of faith from the viewer.

a very private catastrophe
That faith is rewarded though with a superb atmosphere, heartfelt character-led drama and, most of all, a supreme amount of imagination. That the series succeeds overall despite of its numerous flaws is testament to how far a good story and a great cast can make up for scrappy animation and haphazard delivery.

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