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Old 04-20-2014, 12:21 AM   #17
Talon87
Shenmue III, baby!
 
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Episode 01:

Spoiler: show
Characters: Shintarou is interesting enough to lead this program but ... he's not who I expected to be the main character of this franchise. In fact, he's not much of a "main character" period in a sense. He seems like an ordinary young man with no discernible talents. I had thought going into this that maybe he was an expert computer programmer and that Ene was his creation, but no: even Ene it seems fell into Shintarou's lap, the result of good fortune (and that depends on who you ask) rather than any real skill or talent on his part. But I like him so far and look forward to seeing more of him.

Ene annoys the ever-loving crap out of me. I really wish that she'd just shut the fuck up. ^^; Way too talkative, way too annoying, way too whiny, just ... ugh. Not my cup of tea. I do like the word play that they appear to be going with here though: the episode is called "Artificial Enemy" and her name is Ene, the first few syllables of the word "enemy". Is Ene an enemy? And if so, whose? It'll be interesting to see, I guess.

One problem I have with the Ene-Shintarou situation is this: if Shintarou is annoyed by Ene so much, why didn't he simply wipe his hard drive clean? And if that failed, replaced the entire computer with a brand new one? Perhaps future episodes will shine some light on this. Because either it's a gaping plot hole or else it's a hint that Shintarou isn't really bothered by Ene so much as he may want us to believe he is.

The girl with the long olive hair ... I originally thought was a dude. ^^; I swear, anime has ruined me on long-haired characters with hoodies. Anyway, she seems like she could be interesting. But we obviously don't know much about her yet. It could be a coincidence, but her eyes went from red to normal to red again along with her hood being on, then coming off, and then being put back on again. The exposed lower left leg could be a style choice of hers or it could be significant. Finally, the fact that she disappears pretty damn suddenly could be Shaft being weird or it could be important. Lots of little things that invite wild speculation but little in the way of concrete facts.

The talkative psychic is another one who is definitely intriguing. Hot on the heels of the hostage crisis, this guy's arrival helped to make the episode much more interesting. I'm curious to see if the red eyes that we see so many of the characters temporarily having is some sort of "PSYCHIC MODE: ACTIVATE" thing or not. Maybe each kid has a unique power. Or maybe they're all psychics. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Seto, the other psychic (?) nearby, I think is the character who I thought was the star of Kagerou Days. I forget if he's the one who's been in most of Yuki's fanart or not. Shintarou, when he has the red eyes, looks an awful lot like the guy. Then again, all of these boys with short black hair and red eyes look an awful lot like the guy. ^^; Anyway, for the simple reason alone that I thought Seto was the main character of this project, I'm interested to learn more about him -- especially since in this first episode he seemed like a supremely side side character.

The girl we see at the very beginning of the episode (in the clock gears area) doesn't even seem like she's from the same universe as these other characters. It'll be interesting to see who she is and what her relation is to them. One thing that stands out to me is her dress: it's a classic girls sailor uniform for school, one which you just don't see anymore in a Japan where every school tries to individualize and have their own unique uniforms. It makes me wonder if she's from an earlier time period or what. Shaft certainly isn't a stranger to such stories.


Animation: I didn't mind the art that much as far as technical merits go. Yes, it's simple, but I guess partly because I have so little emotional investment in this franchise going in and partly because I don't mind simple animation necessarily, it doesn't bother me too badly. That stated, I agree that it's nice to get the red carpet treatment from a studio like ufotable or Kyoto Animation when it comes to one's favorites -- and thus I do sympathize with Yuki that Shaft, despite being filthy rich from the success of Madoka, is being so stingy with their production values here.

However, what I did mind was the presentation. It's more of a directorial thing than an animation thing, but I'll mention it here because it's the animation which makes it most obvious of all. This anime feels like it is trying to be artistic for art's sake -- and I hate that. ^^; It's very distracting and it's not even very good in my opinion. All the crap with the clock works ... all the crap with the crows ... all the crap with the constantly cutting between still frames of scenery ... I hate it. Art should help to tell the story, not distract from it. I feel like Shaft doesn't agree with me on this point and that they instead prefer to use the story as an excuse to go ART EXHIBITION CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY! So many times during the hostage crisis scene, I kept thinking to myself, "While I'm on the edge of my seat plot-wise, I really wish that a better studio had gotten to do this project instead. :\ I'd much rather see the hostage crisis scene being animated in real time than see all of this artsy fartsy crap."


Plot: The first half of the episode was so utterly boring that it took all of my self-restraint to not hop out of bed, sit down at the computer, and tell Yuki that I am dropping this show. I kept telling myself, "Dude: Madoka didn't get really good until Episode 03 either. You need to give this show at least three episodes before you tell Yuki you're dropping it."

But once Shintarou ran into the girl with the long olive green hair, things began to inch forward; and once the hostage crisis began, the show came alive. I had not been spoiled on this going in. (Or if I had, ages ago by Yuki maybe describing the details behind some character song, I did not remember it.) So it came as a huge surprise to me that these kids all meet (well, some of them meet ^^; ) via this shared experience of being hostages at a shopping center. It instantly gave me vibes of 999 or Ever17. very good vibes. I was suddenly glad to be watching and on the edge of my seat to see what would happen next.

And then the one psychic boy whose name we don't know yet ... he let's all Hell break loose as he brings all of these HDTVs and flat-screen monitors raining down upon the hostage takers. Suddenly the show takes a turn for the paranormal and makes me more curious than ever to know what's going on.

And then the episode ends. Fuck.

But at least the OP credits (well, ED credits this week, but it looks like an OP to me) shows us Marry. And she looks even cuter than I imagined. Please be the best kagerou please be the best kagerou please be the best kagerou ... And at least the OP/ED is also courteous enough to allude to the fact that Shintarou will also be doing red things with his eyes and so too will a lot of the kids. Are they all psychics? Are they vampires? ;p Are they the Chosen Children? Only time will tell.
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