Thought about writing something Olympics-related, but that fell through, so have some more boring mini-reviews instead.
In regards to my weekly reviews, I have a condition that (with some exceptions) I won’t write about an anime or whatever unless I can get at least a thousand words out of it. There are other conditions as well, but they all relate to that one, so it’s pointless to relate them to you guys. Also, if I have something I really want to say about a product, but don’t have enough words to reach my minimal limit, I’ll combine it with another product. However, last season was an utter wasteland in regards to material, and it doesn’t help that I’ve been losing tolerance regarding what I want to review as of late, so more than half of what I finished ended up being a lost cause. That is, until I decided to just give my short final impressions on them like a lot of other summary posts that blogs do.
So here we are. And just for future reference, only three products on one of these posts at a time. Got to keep the title as short as possible, plus three seems like a good limit anyways.
Ushio & Tora S2
Ushio & Tora has always had a bit of a problem in regards to the source material’s age, back when shonen action was more Fist of the North Star and less Dragonball Z. The main characters are simplistic in their ideologies and whilst said ideologies do get challenged over time, it’s never done in a way that’s particularly complex. Ushio never loses his wide-eyed kiddy ideology and Tora…yeah who does he think he’s fooling with that “I’m the only one who can eat him” schtick by this point? And it’s not just them either. Without spoiling anything too specific, one of the characters ends up betraying the good guys to side with Hakumen no Mono and his “I want to kill everybody” ways out of nowhere, and when you discover his reasons, let’s just say I hope you’re a big shonen nerd, because anyone who isn’t will roll their eyes.
In terms of the “action” part of the shonen action genre that Ushio & Tora belongs to, this series mostly delivers in the circumstances surrounding the action, but the actual action is still a mixed bag. There’s still very little in the ways of actually seeing the moves hitting something, and when they do, they tend to be too overblown for my taste. Most of the good visuals went into the psychological aspects of the show and for what it’s worth, they are the main reason to watch it in my opinion, because if I just wanted to watch campy action, I’d still be keeping up with Jojo. One of the big problems I had with the first season of Ushio & Tora (as well as Concrete Revolutio: The Last Song and, according to my friends, Diamond is Unbreakable) is that the main villainous force that our leads had to face was only vaguely defined and there wasn’t much urgency in regards to dealing with him. I know a lot of people don’t mind that as long as the individual servants of the force are entertaining on their own – and it’s not an inherently bad formula, although I really think Zelda fans give it too much of a pass – but I prefer Hakumen no Mono finally getting off his ass and causing endless despair to humanity from the very start of this season thank you very much.
All in all, Ushio & Tora S2 delivered on what was promised at the end of its first season, but no more than that. Its scope was grand, its characters were mostly likable, and the animation was mostly good but I find the faults of its time period to be too much of a detriment to ever revisit. Also, what was up with that ending? I like to pretend it was all in Ushio’s head, but I’m 90% sure that’s not the case.
My Name is Sakamoto?
I’ve been seeing a lot of “Deen saving anime” memes in regards to their recent shows, and whilst I’ll give you guys Rakugo, Konosuba and Sakamoto can suck my unwashed ass. Yeah yeah, I hate Japanese humor, so obviously I wouldn’t like any of these shows, but how can anyone seriously say to me that Sakamoto is funny with a straight face? It only has one joke, and assuming you think a guy who’s perfect at everything is humorous, the show has absolutely no variety in regards to that punchline, so it gets old really fast. Even if you tried telling me about the importance of repetition in humor, I don’t think thirty-six times in the span of twelve episodes is a good length for any joke in the history of the world.
Also, this was directed by one of the Gintama guys, and aside from School Rumble, I don’t think I’ve ever liked the comedic timing in any of his shows. All the jokes drag way too long, and too much of it is spent on characters pointing out the absurdity of the situation rather than just let the joke play out naturally. Why why why is Japan (and a lot of crappy American cartoons) so in love with self-aware humor? What the fuck is funny about humor that’s in on the joke? And if you have to be in on the joke (which is almost impossible really, because if the writer comes up with a joke, usually he’s trying to make it funny on purpose, so he’s always going to be in on it to some extent), why do you got yell that fact out like it’s the greatest thing ever?
Finally, there’s that “comic” style to the humor that these guys tend to bring with them. I won’t comment on it too much, but let’s just say I think these guys need to watch The Loud House if they want to see how that stuff can be done naturally, without making the viewer think you’re just watching the manga only with some movement and color to it.
According to what I’ve heard, this season of Preacher is supposed to be the prologue to the original comics where the title character first gets his powers and discovers that God is missing. And whilst certainly more action-packed than most “prologues” I can name off the top of my head, that doesn’t change the fact that Seth Rogen and his buddies shouldn’t have tried to go the Berserk route in regards to this source material, because Preacher ended up feeling like nothing more than an eight-hour sneak preview to a much better show that I’m not sure if I’ll watch. Like I said, I’m not keeping up with Jojo, but I’m pretty sure Preacher is pretty much the live-action version of how that’d play out if it was adapted for more mainstream TV. The whole thing was just character moments and action set pieces without any good context for why anything is happening other than a vague mission to find God or something to that effect, and without a clearly defined direction, my mind wandered aimlessly even when people’s heads were exploding. Not sure why’d anyone want to find God either, because he is as much an asshole here as he is in South Park.
I’m really wondering why people like this energetic, yet ultimately momentum-less, approach to fiction so much. Those Marvel films have pretty much cemented it as their money-making formula, and more and more movies in general (as well as anime) are using it as well. Sure it works fine for a time, but if the critical backlashes the majority of this summer movie season’s crop are anything to go by, it’s not a very permanent formula. Instant gratification is just as important as any other element to a story, don’t get me wrong, but not when you overdose on it. And to my mind, the maximum dosage in regards to that sort of entertainment is like ten, maybe fifteen, percent of a normal product. Fifty percent if it’s a martial arts movie. 200% if it’s the live-action Speed Racer.
- I haven’t actually watched any of the Rio Olympics, but I’m sure the swimming competitions were breath-taking.
- On a bright note, there’s a lot of “special” anime that came out this season, so my review queue continues to remain packed.