Throughout history, there had always been something about being part of The Big Three; to be considered that powerful or famous. There have been a lot of Big Threes in story and song (or Triple Alliances or Triumvirates or whatever fancy term you opt for.) When you talk the Big Three in automobiles, it’s Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. In sports, it would be the Miami Heat triad of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (who did a similar crash-and-burn like the auto makers did). And in history, the real, genuine Big Three came from WWII with Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt.
Anime has its own Big Three, and I refer to them as NOB: Naruto, One Piece and Bleach. But this is one NOB I won’t be turning.
Now, this is not a decision I reached without reason. I was never up to my pancreas in Naruto cosplayers at an anime convention, or unable to navigate the manga aisle at Borders, as all the One Piecers are there, reading, reading, reading. I gave these shows the full benefit of the doubt and I was treated shabby for my efforts (not even “Fantastic Children” was this rude to me and I barely made it to the closing credits for them).
Let’s start with “Naruto”. Whether it was his prison-issue orange jumpsuit or his catch-phrase that litters the show like so many empty beer cans in the parking lot of a football stadium, I just never got with the program. It’s not that I wholly detest the show. There were some wonderful individual episodes (“Kakashi’s Mask”, “Ninja Noodles”, “Naruto and the Postman”) but overall, it dragged for me. It was endless fighting, given over to more endless fighting, followed up with…you guessed it, still even more endless fighting. I even took a break and left one set of filler episodes for ANOTHER set of filler episodes. In the end, it got too much for me and I abandoned it around 35 or so episodes. And you can keep your sexy ninja jitsu as well.
“One Piece” had problems for me of a different caliber and that was the artwork (which is strange, as “Fairy Tail” has similar artwork and that doesn’t bother me at all). It just got too freakish to handle. Also, I violated one of my personal anime rules and came to the show late, so I always felt like I was playing catch-up with everything. Another concern is that the writing seemed to have come from the “What trouble can we get into this time?” school of scripting, so it got very tiresome, and they never got appreciably closer to their goal. I jumped ship after about 20 episodes. You guys fight it out amongst yourself and tell me how that works out.
“Bleach” lasted the longest, around 50 episodes. I had read the manga, but was not really impressed with things (action sequences play out so much better in film than on paper), so when I had a chance to see the show from Episode One, I grabbed it. But it ran hot and cold for my tastes and the relationship between Rukia and Ichigo was akin to “You stink as a soul reaper” and “Well, what kind of training did I get?” If I want that level of combativeness, I plop on my record of the “Battling Bickersons”. (Yes, I still have a turntable and a VCR. I liked the 80s).
What bothered me most were the members of the Soul Society. What a bunch of sanctimonious prigs! They were all egotistical, preening prats. None of them were worth a damn and loyalty was just a hard word to spell. I also got tired of Ichigo’s Five O’Clock Lightening. It looks like he is going to lose and lose badly but, from somewhere in the depths of his soul or his wallet or his left nostril, he forges a stunning comeback and turns his enemy into chopped brown paper. Again. Again. Again.
I took the show through most of the Rukia’s Rescue arc, but I was watching this through Comcast On Demand, so when they changed the line-up, I lost it, along with some other shows I was watching. I didn’t bother to chase after it. Time to go, Ichigo.
I know what it’s like to really be into a show and when someone else sees it and doesn’t like it, you are grandly disappointed. So, what happens if you think it’s a nine and I feel it’s a six? (“I know. I know. Let’s stand him on his head. You see, now it’s a nine!”). I just feel that these shows are much ado about nothing. Perhaps they were overblown and overhyped to the nth degree. I was expecting something like the Second Coming of Christ and all I got was some fat guy named Alf with miles of butt crack and piles of attitude bringing me an over-cooked burger on a greasy plate.
And, please, don’t try to rescue me on this. It is a lost cause. I will not openly detest these shows (I’ve got “Peach Girl” for that), but you will find no succor for that in this house. So if you decide that you are going to watch a Naruto Marathon (which should conclude sometime around 2020), there’s no need to save a seat for me. But do enjoy yourself. Believe it.