Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Saikano notes

(Originally 14 October 2006)

Recommended by a friend, I'm currently up to episode 11 (the last two aren't yet on YouTube). It's one of those series where the setting is during a war, but the relationship is supposed to be the focal point. Incidentally, GONZO Digimation is currently producing Pumpkin Scissors, set in a post-war setting.

I have probably zero credibility when it comes to judging a series, since I have completed so few of them, and I've been pretty nice and have yet to derisively pan any of them. Sure I've criticized elements as silly/stupid/dumb, but for the most part I've enjoyed the moments enough and just left it at that.

I can't say I'm really enjoying Saikano. I went into this with the premise that the fighting is not immediately what the series is about. So what I'm saying is, the relationship story sucks. Nagisa, lead character of Strawberry Panic, was a bit of a crybaby, but it didn't get on my nerves for the most part. And she was very apologetic, like a good Canadian. Or something.

Chise, female lead of Saikano, cries every single episode, apologies for just not any good (or bad) reason, but for no reason, and it gets on my nerves. A lot. It's really detracting from a character that the viewer is supposed to feel sympathy for. Here is the ultimate weapon torn, with human emotions and all of the questions that raises about war and such, and we should feel badly for her plight. I've stopped feeling badly and just wished she'd shut up. She could slit her wrists at any moment, and I really don't care.

Shuji, the male lead, seems to be as dumb as bricks. I suppose the one thing he's got going for him, as a character, is his "integrity". He's a straight shooter. Unfortunately, telling it like it is doesn't do anyone any good when you're just plain stupid. And when all you do is blab and hurt people in the process.

There are way too many foot-in-mouth moments. I'm a loser and even I don't say things that stupid. On the topic of integrity, I don't mean he's a good-hearted person. I mean, he cheats on Chise. But at least he's honest about it! As if that's a good thing. See what I mean? The king of losers.

His character foil, if you can call him that, is Lieutenant Tetsu. And by foil, he's exactly like Shuji, probably voiced by the same voice actor. Except where Shuji just calls people "dummy," Tetsu calls people "dummy" and kicks some ass in the war. He has zero foot-in-mouth moments, making him infinitely more intelligent. This comparison is so lopsided, and it seems his purpose in the series is just to demonstrate to the viewer how much of a loser Shuji is, as if we didn't know that already.

Episode 9 was the best one, which is to say that the secondary characters get quite a bit of screen time. Episode 9 also has the most poignant scenes of the series thus far, one of which is a broken swing with a declaration of love written underneath one of the seats.

It's a shame when the secondary characters are more competent than the leads, and then they die. That's right, by episode 11 everyone else is pretty much dead or in otherwise sorry shape.

The only other thing I have to note is that most of the characters are blushing. Permanently. The kind of comic/manga illustration where the cheaks have a cluster of vertical lines, and in the series the surrounding area is tinged with red. It was distracting, and it just caricatured those characters more. I thought it was terrible. Like the series.