This could have been so much more.
I genuinely dug the first story arc. Dude meets a chick. Chick has some strange personal issues that manifest in monster form. Dude has to enlist the aid of a mysterious guy to help her. Dude and chick form an interesting relationship as they battle her literal personal demons. It ends in a pretty satisfying way.
You’d think that’d be some sort of jumping off point where we expand upon this world. Maybe we find out what these creatures are that can latch onto your personal problems and bring you down. Maybe the characters run off into some demon world and go adventuring. Maybe they do shit.
Nope. Instead of expanding upon this premise, they repeat it. Same dude meets a little girl. Little girl is a ghost with personal problems. Dude repeats the same formula with the little girl, except insert creepy lolita fetish crap. Then they repeat it again with a girl who may be a lesbian and has a monkey arm. Then repeat it again with a girl with an admittedly snazzy hat. Then repeat it again with a cat girl. They might repeat it again in the second season, but I didn’t make it past the first episode because of how awful it was.
It’s a shame because there’s so much this story could do it if just tried. It gave us a compelling personal story with Senjougahara, but instead of using that as something to build upon the series decides we need more girls with issues who need saving. It’s the epitome of the white knight fetish you see in so many similar series, and it’s made all the worse because it didn’t have to go in that direction.
A Certain Scientific Railgun
So you have this cool world with magic and super science and battles and shit. What do you do with it?
You use that cool world to do generic cute girl antics while shunting all of the genuinely interesting stuff off to the side as if it were a distraction getting in your way.
Railgun isn’t the only series that pulls this off, but the way everything played out it really did feel like the writers were burdened by the world. All they wanted to do was have some vaguely homoerotic stuff between the lead and her roommate while interspersing a couple of other girls who ran around with flowers in their hair. It was as if the creators were embarrassed by the fact that half the characters had super powers. “Do we really have to have a girl who teleports? We just want her to grope girls!”
Yeah, wasted potential pisses me off more than something that starts and remains lame.
Whoever wrote this series has no idea what makes the X-Men work. No clue. The dude probably played that Konami game from the early 90s, saw a couple of comic covers, and left it at that.
X-Men is about a lot of things. It’s about metaphors for civil rights. It’s about melodrama. It’s about strange alien worlds and alternate realities.
It isn’t about a generic school girl talking about healing with the heart.
I’ll give the X-Men anime this: it’s pretty damn good to look at. But other than that it’s a mess of a series that just plain doesn’t get what makes the X-Men appealing. By having Armor and White Queen spouting the sort of lines you expect from your typical light novel protagonist, neither of whom come remotely close to that sort of characterization in the comics, these writers show they don’t understand the characters. The series also largely ignores the entire history of the team, with the only X-Men villain present being Mastermind. That’d be cool if they were retelling the Dark Phoenix Saga, but this anime takes place right after that happens. So we spend the entire series in the aftermath of one of the best X-Men stories rather than actually telling said story.
Yeah, these guys had no idea what they were doing.
RahXephon was the first anime series that clued me in on how so many anime series masquerade at being intelligent.
RahXephon thinks it’s being clever with its storyline. It’s one of these post-Evangelion giant robot shows that uses the platform of “guy pilots a mecha” to tell some seemingly deep, thoughtful, personal story. And I hated it because it was more concerned with what came off as some guy being overly angsty and whiny than the seemingly cool robot stuff. With Evangelion we got some surreal, creepy, elaborate robot fight set pieces. Each one was unique. With RahXephon I got a series that seemed to rush through its fights to get back to a guy droning on and on about… well… I honestly forget what his deal was in this thing. I didn’t care enough to retain that information.
RahXephon is just an example of this sort of series. It was the first in a series of anime, many of which were made by BONES, that annoyed me in the same way. This slot could easily be filled with Wolf’s Rain, Fullmetal Alchemist, or Eureka Seven– all series with neat premises that focus on all the wrong things.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Anyone who’s been reading this blog long enough should realize by now that I’m not much for Miyazaki. He has his biases. He has his fetishes. Those biases and fetishes aren’t in my realm of interest, so I’m rarely enthused when I hear he has a new movie coming out. Instead of seeing another film in the vein of Princess Mononoke or some gentle family fantasy dramedy like Ponyo, I’d rather see some action-adventure movie like Castle of Cagliostro.
But Howl’s Moving Castle is everything I dislike about Miyazaki without any of the charm or excitement that makes even those movies I don’t really dig worthwhile. I’m not in love with Mononoke or Spirited Away, but they’re well-crafted movies, technically speaking, and I can respect them. I can’t say the same thing about Howl’s. It’s an ugly, disjointed mess that doesn’t really seem to know where it’s going. It has all of the trappings of a Miyazaki movie, with the stereotypically plucky heroine and overt anti-war sentiments and all that, but none of those bits seem to mesh into anything resembling a cohesive whole.
Basically, it’s everything that I find off-putting about Miyazaki.