Admittedly, I am a late arrival to anime, despite my background. I was just a wee sprite when I first saw Astro Boy on NBC in 1964 and I was not impressed. It took me another 40 years before I finally decided that I liked anime. Do keep in mind that I had numerous runs-in with it in the ensuing years, and treated badly most of the time.
Since 2004, I have been rather keen on it, watching almost everything I could lay my hands and eyes on. There have been some notable failures (“Fantastic Children”), total mistakes (“Gundam Seed Destiny”) and wonderful surprises (“Mahoromatic”), but with the latest crop of shows out there, I find myself playing the Frankenstein Game.
Two that really get to me are “C3” and “Maken-ki! Battling Venus”. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with the show, but I find myself seeing other shows in them.
“C3” (and the proper title should be “C-Cubed Cubed x Cursed x Curious), tells the story of Yachi Haruaki, whose father, Honatsu, is some kind of antiquities dealer. He is always (conveniently) away on these buying trips, so Haruaki is at home alone. One day, a very odd package shows up of a huge cube, to which he had no idea about it. Haruaki is shocked to see, later on, a naked girl, in his house, eating rice crackers. Where did she come from? (Three guesses, citizens ofGothamCity).
Her name is Fear and we learn that she is a Worse, a kind of entity that was used, in her case, to torture and kill thousands, perhaps millions, of poor souls. Added to the mix is Konoha Muramasa, a neighbor and good friend of Haruaki and, as we learn, she is also one of these entities.
I’m already seeing the bits and pieces. The set-up is similar to “Moonphase”, in the rather fractious relationship between Haruaki and Fear. The presentation of the show is again “Moonphase” and “Pani Poni Dash”, with that cut-away far shot, as things happen outside of their room. Konoha, the very busty neighbor and friend is akin to, oh, name it. Almost every romantic comedy has a busty neighbor or friend, but, for our purposes, we’ll select…..Miharu from “Yamada’s First Time” (I saw it recently). Oh, and the naked girl arrival smacks heavily of “This Ugly Yet Beautiful World”.
They have to do battle against Peavey Borowoi, who is a kind of demon assassin (and I’m seeing Margery Daw from “Shakugan no Shana”). When they do battle, Konoha turns into a weapon. (Can anyone say “Soul Eater”?) Is there anything original for this show? As it progresses, will more and more arrive for me to go “Gai-Rei:Zero!” or “Corpse Princess!” or “Peach Girl!” ? (And if I say that last one, it’s “Game Over”).
I had the same level of problems with “Maken-ki!” Takeru Ohyama, is transferring into a high school, where he meets an old neighborhood friend, but they haven’t seen each other in three year. And it has been a dramatic three years, as Haruko Amaya has grown a marvelous pair of boobies….I mean, become a beautiful girl. Takeru chose this high school, as they would take you in without an entrance exam, but, being your typical stupid anime dude, he did zero additional research. This is a battle school (although I immediately went to “Samurai Girl”, it was closer to “Freezing” with a dash of “Ikki Tousen”) and he is seen as an enemy by Kodama Himegami, who tries to kill Takeru on the first day.
Now, the school has been female-only and this is the first semester of co-ed….and we see why, as many of the students and most of the staff is rackalicious. The skirts of the uniforms are also designed to promote up-skirts shots whenever possible (and all the ladies wear the cutest panties!). Also, a few of the teachers bounce and bobble and are, I guess, too large to actually wear a bra (shades of “Sekirei”).
Our guy has the power, but doesn’t know it (“Nobari No Ou”), but is protected by Inaho Kushiya, who claims to be his fiancée (“Maburaho”), so everyone moves into the same dorm room (“Negima!”). And since both shows have swerved into the harem genre, you can add whatever other shows you wish to the list. (“Love Hina”, “Shuffle”, “Girls Bravo”, “Eiken”, etc., etc., etc.)
I’m not here to give an actual review of the show; I don’t do episode reviews, as I prefer to do a full series overview and will probably give one on both shows when they finish, but it’s the fact I could not enjoy them, because I am seeing the structure behind it.
As a writer (not just of reviews; I also do my fair share of fanfic), I know how hard it is to come up with something new and interesting when you are wrestling with the same 10 basic plot outlines, but when it is this naked (uh, the theft of plots from other locations, not the ladies, OK?) you question two things:
1) Are the writers that lazy? (Well, they can be, but to this level of a blatant sideswipe or an ‘homage’?)
2) Have I seen too much anime?
This second part bothers me. I know that romantic comedies are, on a nuts and bolts level, all the same, but it is handled in such a way that it is different, so you don’t see the purloining. But if someone who is as admittedly thick as I am (someone had to tell me that “Ghost in the Shell” could be seen as a reverse harem show) can pick up on this, what about other folks?
I used to post scripts at Zoetrope.com and when I gave reviews, I sometimes used this comment: “What is the difference between ‘Die Hard’, ‘Passenger 57’ and ‘Under Siege’? How it is handled, but all are the same plot of ‘Lone person must do battle against a group of terrorists.’” Can one expect anything different from anime?
So, what to do? Should I take some time off for awhile? Well, there is no guarantee things will appreciably change and there is just so much out there that needs to be seen. Stop being so critical? Not bloody likely. Reduce how much I see? Then I just delay running into these problems, but I will run into it. Things run in cycles, so perhaps I need to ride out the cycle and hope for a better future. Man, that sounded so much like a fortune cookie.
Am I expecting too much, for shows to have a bit more originality in them? Or, is this as good as it gets? I’m going to keep watching, but I may end up running away from anime for my EIGHTH time, as I was disappointed again.
PS. In regards to the image at the top, I think I have seen every show that is presented up there. Scary.