There’s something to be said about it of course, but you’ve got to realize what exactly it’s going towards eventually.
It’s been explained to me that the disappointment of ERASED when it came time to actually wrap up its plot increases the more into the show you were, so I guess my “it’s not bad, but…” attitude towards the thing really saved me, huh? I wasn’t exactly immune to the execution, but in no way was I blind to the fact that its actual story was lacking. Ignoring the fact that “time travel thriller” is in no way a new concept, ERASED always came off to me as a product where the writer imagined the characters and tone first, and then wrote the story around them regardless of whether or not they were actually important to it. When you devote so much screen time to little kids bonding with each other over any of the actual social analysis that made Life is Strange so fun, that’s a pretty good indicator that you don’t know how to write proper characterization, let alone a goddamn story. I can’t even remember when Satoru’s personal background as a struggling manga artist with regrets ever came into focus after the first episode (and it wasn’t even important to learn in said episode either), and don’t think I didn’t notice that all the other future murder victims like Aya Nakanishi just had their plotlines dropped after “that episode” whilst having absolutely no storyline significance whatsoever.
As this interview flat-out admits, the creators were more concerned with having the show resemble a Western thriller and showing off Kayo’s cuteness rather than being like Sho Aikawa when he stated he wanted to create a Watchmen-like story about superheroes and the government. They never once said in that interview what the story would actually be about, and whilst it’s possible to not care for a story if the the way it’s told (aka the plot) is too paper-thin, just because exploitation is my favorite genre doesn’t mean I enjoy simplistic stories told in an “entertaining style” by themselves. The good exploitation stuff – whether they be pure sweetness like Drive or pure madness like Meet the Feebles – still have to make me think, make me laugh, or make me feel like total shit like almost all fiction I interact with (only with violence and nudity). And sure I don’t mind putting mindless entertainment like Tokyo Tribe on once in a while, and it’s fun to watch Vinyl just to see Bobby Cannavale rip into people, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re quality stuff.
But of course, the creators’ intentions worked for the most part. ERASED became super popular to the point that it nearly took a spot in MAL’s top three anime of all-time, and people still to this day claim to me that the first four episodes were perfect (they weren’t) and the rest of Kayo’s arc was great too (what, that arc that was just kids hiding in a bus for the most part and getting resolved by a deus ex grandma?). Even though there wasn’t much in the way of intelligence or laughs, and I can’t imagine any of the drama making you feel like total shit when the evil characters act that cartoonish, people still loved the shit out of it because they just loved the presentation too much (or in Bobduh’s case, liked the small community themes a lot more than I do) due to its ability to make them feel. It was only when the presentation didn’t have feels to hone in on that things unravelled. And it wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it was just ERASED since like I said, I kinda enjoyed myself as well (those arcs I just slammed were okay in my opinion). But remember the initial response to Rolling Girls, Blood Blockade Battlefront, and Dimension W before people started realizing they were shit? I still don’t understand how people didn’t get they were going to be awful right away.
Sure they “looked” cool at first, but how much “looking cool” am I supposed to let a show get away with before it has to start actually being cool, fanboys (answer: two minutes at max)? Rage of Bahamut: Genesis “looked cool”, but it also ground its “style as substance” into characters that actually have arcs within the first episode – something very important to a big “character” dude like me. Ushio & Tora took longer to get to that point than I would have liked, but it still got there relatively quick as well. And Rakugo didn’t just become the big elitist hit of the season for its visuals you know. What the fuck did Rolling Girls have? What did Dimension W and BBB have? Hell, what did the second season of Daredevil – a sequel to one of my favorite TV shows of all-time mind you – have? And whilst it did actually have plot within its premiere, what did ERASED have in terms of character? Kayo wasn’t introduced until the second episode and Satoru never “once” in the premiere showcased any real character flaws or gave me any sort of hint that he would come out of his time travel experience a changed man because of how much plot he had to handle. Did the cinematography really blind people to the fact that the main characters from Mind Game and Paprika run circles around him in the character department?
I guess it particularly annoys me when I see that because I used to be a part of that “presentation and fun and everything else Robert Rodriguez’s actions films exemplify are the most important thing to have in your product” hive mind myself, and people who’ve been a part of it way longer than I have and have continuously gotten burned by it are still falling for it. How many times can you get punched in the balls by a visual novel writer trying to go anime-original before you start taking the hint that only Urobuchi has been able to do it, and he’s only hit-and-miss at best? Too many as far as I’m concerned (incidentally, try defending Romeo Tanaka when Rewrite inevitably sucks given he’s actually writing for the anime). And how many times can you watch Marvel’s stuff before you realize they’re the same witless, story-less, tension-less, character porn about a hero defeating some random villain that you nevertheless accept because they’re so “fun”? Well there is a backlash going on in regards to that right now, but if the reaction to Deadpool is any indicator, people are still onboard that train despite the fact that nothing has really changed in regards to Marvel’s movies since the first Iron Man. And that was almost a decade ago.
Speaking of superhero stuff, I’ve recently been informed that the upcoming Suicide Squad film is going through a few reshoots in order to make the movie more “fun” due to the critical backlash that Batman v Superman got for being so dour. Apparently, everything that was shown in the trailers were all the funny moments that were going to be in the film. I was never really hyped for Suicide Squad because it’s David Ayer directing and I don’t even like his good films like Training Day or Fury – although they’re not bad – but whilst I’ll reserve judgment until I see the movie, I’m sort of against the idea behind this practice.
Of all the criticisms I’ve seen regarding Batman v Superman, saying it took itself too seriously and lacked joy/levity is by far the worst one I’ve ever read. For starters, are you going to deny everything about the film just because it’s not presented in a joyous way, the same way people initially accepted everything about Rolling Girls just because it was the opposite? Are you going to ignore the fact that Batman and Superman’s conflict was based on powerful differences in ideologies despite their similar personalities because it was based on a misunderstanding that seemed easy to clear up? Is having a sense of humor just a requirement to find a character interesting these days? This article isn’t exactly the right place for me to defend Batman v Superman and why I think Zack Snyder’s/David Goyer’s seemingly utter hatred for the comic book fans is a good thing, but let me tell you something I’ve learned throughout my years of blogging: if you have to (and I can’t exaggerate enough that you should only do this if it’s a requirement) sacrifice “fun” in order to convey a story properly, you fucking do it! Because “fun execution” cannot carry a product if there’s nothing actually fun to execute. Leave that sort of stuff to the plotless comedies and tell a story for god’s sake.
But of course, I don’t know what Suicide Squad’s story is like. Maybe the more “fun” tone will blend into it well and not interfere with the original intent – assuming the original intent is good I mean. Maybe said tone change actually will turn shit into gold. Certainly can’t be worse than Kat Dennings not being funny in Thor. However, if the final product ends up being just another flavor-of-the-week superhero…er…villain film that sacrifices meaningful storytelling in order to portray the characters faithfully whilst having them do meaningless shit that the fans will eat up because “at least this film gets it”, I will not be kind to it. I like Harley Quinn as much as the next person and all, but I like her even better when she’s in a story that has the weight and “status quo”-breaking power of Arkham City rather than a story where Superman is evil (again) in a parallel universe (again), thus ensuring that the status quo of the Justice League’s original world will never be threatened.
- Seriously guys, Injustice’s plot was retarded.
- Also, I could take or leave Satoru’s mother despite the love she gets from the community. Kayo was the (only) one who actually had an arc in that show, and thus is my personal favorite.
- Really? These “funny” scenes from the trailers were all the comedy we could originally expect from the Suicide Squad film?