Oct 212012

The best gag in that Nintendo/Sega “Console War” anime, Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de, involves the Tetris equivalent character. The dude’s a total pervert, and equating Tetris with sex jokes makes way too much sense for it to work as an actual gag. But it does.

Tetris is pretty much a metaphor for foreplay, isn’t it? It’s all about building up blocks in order to slot in that straight line block to remove four lines from the screen. You slowly build up blocks in an intricate pattern, making sure you don’t prematurely “score” lines unless absolutely necessary. It’s all about teasing and playing around that narrow slot until the timing is perfect and then sliding it in to make a Tetris.

Really folks, this shit’s damn obvious. The gameplay is foreplay and the ultimate score is the climax.

So that’s why making this Tejilof guy into a groping, lecherous, “self pleasuring” bastard makes perfect sense. That’s the sort of reference that shows the writer actually gets the subject matter being parodied. It isn’t just some guy speaking Russian and dropping blocks from the sky like you’d expect from some show, anime or otherwise, that’s riffing off of old school video games. For a crude sex joke, it’s pretty damn sophisticated.

That’s what I’m digging about the first episode of this series. While that’s the most elaborate and elegant reference in the show thus far, the way the series is building its characters isn’t aping off of the most obvious imagery and tropes. When we’re introduced to the Mario equivalent, yeah, he’s riding on a dinosaur-like creature. There’s your Yoshi bit. But there’s no fireballs. No mushrooms. No “It’sa Me.” He looks more like Freddie Mercury or Haggar from Final Fight than he does the squat Italian dude we’re used to.

But how does he fight? He jumps on shit. He launches himself at some warships and simply lands on them to destroy them. No “pluck” sound accompanying it or anything, but he’s clearly doing the classic Mario jump attack. On a giant battleship. It’s pretty awesome.

The Link equivalent is the same. He looks nothing like Link, save for his blonde hair. But when he swings his sword he shoots lasers. That’s the only real hint as to which character he’s referencing, but it should be obvious to anyone who knows these games who he is.

The same goes for the main dude. His name’s Gear, and he’s Sonic the Hedgehog. He runs. He keeps talking about how he has to keep going forward– never stopping and never looking back. When he attacks someone, he crashes into them at top speed. He has no ring gimmick or anything like that, but everything about him reeks of that Hedgehog.

So we have two forms of referencing here. We either have relatively subtle but obvious references, or we have some relatively sophisticated bits that make perfect sense but might not be too obvious for those not in the know. While the actual show might not be all that– there’s some fanservice that’s downright lame, if anime-era-appropriate– it’s pretty clear that this is made by someone who gets this era of video gaming rather than someone just reminiscing about all the COOL STUFF he simply remembers.

I’d compare it to the difference between the references you’d hear in Family Guy versus those in Venture Bros. Family Guy hits you with the obvious shit, rubs it in your face, and then explains it, since it assumes you’re too stupid to understand shitty 80s sitcom references. Venture Bros is just as steeped in reference humor, but it’s far more sly about it and manages to craft genuinely funny dialogue and scenarios. Basically, the former thinks its clever to have Peter Griffith sing a B-52′s song and call that a joke while the latter turns David Bowie into a reoccurring villain who leads a clandestine organization akin to HYDRA or SPECTRE. One of these is funny, and there is a correct choice.

And yeah, the whole thing feels like an anime straight out of the mid-90s. Gotta give it props for that, too.

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