Anime of Tomorrow
Tag Archives: historical fiction
Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – The Ambition of Oda Nobuna) (more info)
Oda Nobuna gives me this weird impression that some narcissistic Japanese history buff wrote himself into his own historical fan fiction and managed to pass it off as the script for an anime. Yet another of Japan’s idiosyncrasies is on full display—gender bending. Following in the footsteps of such anime as Sengoku Collection, Samurai Girls and Sengoku Paradox; as it turns out, most of Japan’s historical generals were actually women.
Finding himself 450 years in the past, protagonist and RTS aficionado Yoshiharu just rolls with his new circumstances—giving the impression that the time traveling rules in this series are, “if you go back in time, you were meant to so that you can shape the future.” It’s nothing new or exciting. And naturally hero and heroine have some hollow chemistry between them that just has to be there by default because they’re the main characters and it’s what people would expect. Pretty much all aspects of the premise can just be written off as playing mix and match with ideas that have already been done before and better by other anime.
So Oda Nobuna is a historical fiction that’s so crumblingly insubstantial I can’t think of anything more meaningful to say about it. If you’re into ridiculous anime that feature female warriors in classical Asian settings and watching them do battle I say stick with Koihime Musou so at least you can get a few good laughs and don’t have to put up with half-baked romance.
Probably the most outstanding aspect of Rinne no Lagrange is how it tells a story reminiscent of psychological trips with mecha backdrops similar to Evangelion or RahXephon. But very pleasingly it has managed to ditch the angsty boy pilot and replace him with a brave, cheerful young woman.
On the surface this does have a slight tendency to subvert the heavy atmosphere that naturally accompanies these types of anime, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I’m all for taking tried and true methods of storytelling that have produced some great anime and putting just enough twists on the formula to create a familiar, but fresh experience. And that’s what Rinne has accomplished at the halfway point in its two-part run.
Though it’s often silly and a little too lighthearted at times for its own good, the depth of the characters is really something to be appreciated. I think I started out hating every character other than Madoka at first. Her pushy cousin Youko, the halfhearted Lan, deceptive Muginami, annoyingly larger than life Vilajulio & Co. as well as the sickeningly bourgeoisie Astelia all rubbed me the wrong way to start off. But as a testament to the force of Madoka’s personality, they all started to shift ever so slightly as the story progressed and to my surprise, looking back I can’t indicate a specific turning point when they started to grow on me.
This anime has some unique, interesting flaws to point out—most notably being how it ungracefully tiptoes around how it wants to deal with the almost-fanservice moments that it seems to want to indulge in, but always backs off before doing anything too risqué. To its credit it has an elegant air about itself, but that kind of flirtatious attitude can only go so far before it starts to become a little too obvious.
All in all, Rinne has enough originality and depth in the cast to leave me looking forward to seeing where things pick up again this summer. But this break between the two halves got me thinking. Between Fate/Zero and Rinne no Lagrange and then Jormungand soon joining the team, there’s a theme developing where anime are doing two twelve episode seasons separated by a one season gap (about four months). How do you feel about that? Would you rather get it all done in one go or do you think there is a benefit to breaking up a two season series like this?
Initial impression – unoriginal, but not entirely mind-numbing (4/10)
Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (English title - Parallel World Samurai) (more info)
Genderbending ancient Japanese heroes into women is hardly new territory; but Samurai Girls proved that it’s possible to turn that premise into something cool. And while it falls far short of anything approaching what Samurai Girls accomplished, Sengoku Collection does a respectable job of telling a story of a young woman out of her era.
Where it fails, though is when it turns to the tired old plot device of having the main character travel around collecting pieces of some vague energy in order to have her wish granted. It’s so lacking in imagination and the main story is such an ordinary clash of cultures / boy meets girl story that I can foresee nothing promising on the horizon.
This suspicion is further confirmed in the credits where the other characters feature as a smorgasbord of moe stereotypes ranging from glasses to jailbait. I’ll fully admit my own weakness to moe, but I don’t like having it shoved in my face in such a painfully obvious manner. The spirit of Sengoku Collection can be summed up as regendered, fetishized historical figures transported to the modern era and trying to get home and that’s a bit too simple for me to lend it any more of my time.
What do you think? Is this kind of formula too weird? And is reimagining great men from Japan’s past as women something that piques anyone’s interest? How do you feel about the excessive exaggeration of the character’s appeal? Is it fun and goofy or offensively contrived and transparent?
Initial impression – significantly underwhelming
Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (Japanese title – Sakamichi no Apollon) (more info)
I know this is a weird, random thing to complain about, but I don’t think the people in Kids on the Slope are very good looking… When I think about the works of Shinichiro Watanabe I have an image of bursting out of the starting gates with something big, flashy and tone setting. So being left hanging on the easygoing pace set by the first episode is a bit of a letdown to say the least. But what really shocked me about the beginning of this series is the absence of any tone-defining music courtesy of Yoko Kanno. Aside from one teensy fight scene, there was absolutely no atmospheric mood that is typically indicative of her work (think Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell, RahXephon, and Macross Frontier). If the series lacks her strong music style I’m losing optimism fast and I can’t help but say aloud that the duo that made Cowboy Bebop one of the best anime of all time is not living up to their potential. Additionally this sort of “serious music” story that’s superficially reminiscent of snooze-inducing shows like Nodame Cantabile doesn’t thrill me whatsoever. Given the talent that lies with this anime’s staff I intend to continue watching for a while longer to see how it progresses, but I’ve not been wowed by the relaxed pace Kids on the Slope exhibits in its first episode.