Friday, June 8, 2007

Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora - the first third

I might as well have titled this post, "Why I keep hurting myself."

(Originally 29 January 2007)

So I've seen the fourth episode of the twelve episode series, and I have to admit to myself at this point that I'm really only watching it for Chikane and Himeko. I mean to say, Kaon and Himiko. I do feel a bit shallow, but not too badly since it seems a lot of people are just watching it for those two as well.

I like the OP and ED, although I've yet to hear the full length version of the ED track. Both don't really match well to the show, since there aren't any weighty themes (or themes being given any weight/screentime) thus far, but they do hold up pretty well on their own.

I'm in a sentimental mood at the moment, so I'm eschewing the faster and upbeat OP for the moderate-tempo ballad that is the ED. And I'm all for declarations of love and longing in a strong chorus line.

But on to the series itself. Basically there's not much happening, which is not that good a sign. Yes, KnM only picked things up in a serious way starting around the halfway marker, and the same thing might happen. This does not mean that this lack of development is a good thing, though, and lessons should have been learned from KnM. If the animators (hell, or the manga team from which the series is based on) could have evened out the pace a bit more, it would have been a vast improvement. It's disappointing that thus far they've reserved all episodes for moments of randomness and heavy-handed explanations in the form of idiot lectures.

I see some people thoroughly enjoying the randomness as unintentional comedy and blatant fan service. I don't really notice the randomness until it's pointed out, but I do recognize when time is being wasted. Fan service, I don't really care for, particularly when it's Kuu, and yes this character grates on my soul.

There is not much of a plot to speak of, the most powerful moment thus far being Kaon getting "tempered" much like a blacksmith strikes a sword on top of an anvil. So here's a run down of some characters.

Kyoshiro — the series' namesake. As of episode four he's established himself as a tool, or an asshat, or both. Nothing out of the ordinary with his motivations since it's the typical avenge a loved one who may or may not be dead because of some giant explosion. He's an asshat, though, because he's initially set up to be the nice guy hero, and then that's arbitrarily turned on its head and now he might be some anti-hero, although at this point it's hard to tell if we should even root for him. I'm going to go out on a limb and say no, because you can't be an anti-hero and a hero at the same time.

Setsuna — Kyoshiro's tool. Literally does all the bitch work. Somewhat stiff and robotic. Causes Kuu much teenage angst. Seems at a slight disadvantage when fighting Tarurotte.

Tarurotte — Magical neko (cat). 'nuff said. Oh, and is Sojiro's tool, but you wouldn't know it by the way she beats him down in episode 3.

Sojiro — Kyoshiro's brother. Not a tool, yet. Also not a main character, yet.

Jin — Souma clone, talks less, therefore thumbs up from me. Although why he has teal hair (and blue-ish eyes) and doesn't talk more and do stuff is beyond me. The blue ones are always the trouble-makers.

Kozue — has like two lines, then gets hit by a car. Oops, wrong series, but the effect is about the same.

Himiko — Himeko clone, talks less, emos less, therefore thumbs up from me. If she develops a backbone later on in the series, two thumbs way up. It's only fair. I mean, Chikane has always carried the team, and a sense of confidence would be a nice continuation from the ending of KnM.

Kaon — Chikane clone, not focus of series, therefore thumbs down! I like her dark blue eyes (they're closer to her hair shade), in contrast to those who prefer the lighter marine ones in KnM. I don't have a preference, and upon closer inspection the differences aren't that great. Inconsistent character design/animation in KnM is mostly responsible for the differences. Currently waiting for her to snap again and kick everyone's ass, because c'mon, it's Chikane, and Chikane is no one's tool. Speaking of which...

Mika — apparently Kyoshiro's sister? This hasn't been borne out in the series yet, but I read it on Wikipedia/the internet, so it must be true. Time for a family feud, huh? It seems everyone has their own tool (until Chikane flips out and kills things with real ultimate power), and they're all related. In my view she's the most interesting character because she actually does stuff, and lets her actions speak as opposed to rambling on and on. Possessive, radiates the eeevill, a straight-up no-nonsense (or shades of grey) villain.

Kuu — save the worst for last! I read the claim that she's an awesome character, but wouldn't work at all in real life. I agree with the latter, but maybe since I like a bit of realism so I can buy in to a series, I fail to understand how she can be an awesome character. Maybe it's because I want to slap her around so badly that it rips me away from the suspension of disbelief (and there's a lot required). Even her character design is beginning to get on my nerves. It crossed my mind somewhere during episode four that her face is a very irritating cross between moe and emo. There might be some merit in accomplishing such a feat, such as best rage-inducing figure.

Some complain that Himeko was spineless, but Kuu puts Shinji Ikari to shame. I was hoping for a bit of trope subversion in a scene where Kuu stands over a possibly dying (but it's a shoujo series, no one ever dies! Or something) tool Kyoshiro, crying out his name over and over again. That sounded dirty, but it's not. I half-expected Kyoshiro to wake up and smack her upside the head, and scream, Get me a (censored) medic! Alas, it did not happen. How disappointing. Shell-shocked people might experience bouts of paralysis, but if there are any people who stand around calling out someone's name hoping they'll wake up, they ought to be smacked silly for being totally incompetent. Or being a Kuu.

When she's not being extremely emo (she needs a boxcutter. A box of them, ho ho ho), she's narrating to her imaginary friend (although signs point to this friend being dead) in the form of a letter. Writing imaginary letters on sites can be pretty funny, and even more amusing if they're sent and a reply comes back, but it requires a minimal amount of effort to write a good letter. Writing a letter detailing your emo thoughts and activities does not make for a good letter. It makes for a pretty terrible, fast forward moment, though. Like I said, it seems quite a few people are enjoying the unintentional hilarity in it all. I find it pretty pathetic, and I've seen enough pathetic people (i.e. Shinji) that it's as if they're filler. Time wasting not only has filler moments, but filler characters. The irony is that Kuu's name translates into empty or shell. There are situations where time-wasting is acceptable, usually if it goes unnoticed because the writers are marginally clever about it. Active time-wasting deserves some kind of penalty, like in sports.

Probably the worst that could happen is if Kuu fails to grow a freaking spine, and gets entrusted with a giant phase-shifting robot, since it's pretty much guaranteed she has that power. Anime would then bear witness to the creation of a female Shinji, no Shinji trascended, like a version negative 2.0, and then a trainwreck of epic proportions. Who wouldn't want to watch an emo girl with a giant robot getting beaten down by Chikane Kaon?