Review-Roundup: Absolute Duo 01, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! 01, Yuri Kuma Arashi 01

[Shinchiro] Yuri Kuma Arashi - 01 [Asenshi][720p].mkv - 00004All of Yuri-Kuma’s dialogue in its first episode is like this: Grandiose, not very deep and rather passive in how it just describes things that are happening. You really got more out of watching the background and what the characters were doing than listening to the dialogue.

This time I review:

Absolute Duo 01: A dude falls in love with a silver-haired loli who’s also into him because he’s special. After all, he has mastered techniques that a woman can’t learn since her frail woman-body can’t handle the whole thing.

Binan… 01: Some dudes meet an alien who turns them into magical “girls” who have to battle darkness. It’s funny because they are guys and really just don’t give a shit about the whole thing.

Yurikuma Arashi 01: Lesbians, bears and a ton of weirdness. The main-girl loses her lover but gains two bears in the process who want to “eat” her. Also it’s another anime where a post-apocalypse civilisation has to surround itself with a wall to ward off evil (you could fill a book with those at this point, I feel like).

Absolute Duo 01 Review:

[C12] Absolute Duo - 01.mp4 - 00001It’s weird that this didn’t sound like a complaint when she said that because it totally should have been one! Gory violence would’ve at least offered some little entertainment among all the dreary mediocrity of this episode.

Some dude is living together with a woman, a girl one might say or a little kid if you’re a stickler for details. There’s a reason why they’re in this situation. It’s a reason nobody can relate to and so the protagonist reacts rightly exasperated. He’s the only one to do that. The teacher who’s a woman, a girl one might say or a little kid if you’re a stickler for details, tells him that his new living-“situation” might lead to somewhat erotic moments. It does. Not on purpose, mind you. You see, the woman, a girl one might say or a little kid if you’re a stickler for details, behaves in fact like a little kid – a little kid minus all the parts that would make her anything other than a moe-like idealization of such, that is. Also the dude is special, has a special past too and no woman would be able to use his techniques because their bodies are too frail of course. And so begins the dude’s long journey to fuck a little kid and kick some ass.

Absolute Duo is a trash-series. Well, let’s put it this way: It’s a series that achieves every goal it has set itself but you quickly realize that those goals can hardly be called a challenge. This series is unbelievably mediocre. Its story has the depth of me telling you how I went to the supermarket and got ingredients for dinner. I bet the scriptwriters just rolled some dice and then used some tables in some book somewhere to cobble together this pitiful excuse of a story and setting this series has.

Its mediocre setup wouldn’t be as much of a problem if this show would actually have some heart. But all you get from this first episode is trivial worldbuilding and broadly written character-moments. The series never even tries to establish an identity. For example, when we get the flashbacks that show the character had some sort of traumatic past, the whole thing gets just dumped on the audience. I assume his parents died in that flashback…? But that’s the problem with such mediocre writing: These writers don’t understand this vital difference between fiction and reality. If a real person tells you that his parents got killed when he was 8 years old, you’re naturally shocked. But if a piece of fiction introduces a character who just bluntly states his parents were killed when he was 8, you just shrug and move on. In reality such a scenario is shocking but in fiction it’s normal. And this goes even further if you think about it. Nothing that seems typical will evoke a reaction from the audience if you don’t spice it up. After all, if you don’t do that, you simply wonder why the series would even bother to tell such a story.

You NEED to spice things up somehow if your basic story-conceit is mediocre. And the “spice” that this episode presents is actually just as mediocre as its basic story-conceit. This series is going the old battle-shounen-route of having some bullshit-fighting-system where teenagers can beat the crap out of each other. But hey, at least the series is aware of how its bullshit-fighting doesn’t hurt anybody. You see, these fancy weapons don’t hurt your body, they hurt your… SOUL. Of course, they do that, because the weapons come from your… SOUL. Someone should take all those shounen-series and replace every mention of the “soul” and replace it with “battery” because that’s what the soul is treated as. Either go batshit insane with this whole soul-bullshit and give it a ring of pathos à la Gurren Lagann or just don’t use the word. For that matter, don’t use a made-up word either. That’s just as stupid. I mean, this series has a bunch of those and those never left my short-term-memory since I just shoved them out of my brain as quickly as I heard them.

This series isn’t bad actually – since it’s banal. Someone took a lot of boring ideas and made a boring series out of it apparently. This episode is like a salami-pizza: It has enough ingredients to count as a pizza but it lacks individuality and character. Whoever made that pizza just did the minimal amount of work to create a pizza. This episode really is just like that.

Also, animes… get over that fucking loli-fetish. Now teenagers have to fuck grade-schoolers (or at least girls who look and behave like those) because I guess, highschool-girls are too old as well now. Sure, Gyaru-culture ruined the fantasy somewhat but is that really the appropriate response to that?

Episode-Rating: 4.0/10

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! 01 Review:

[C12] Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! - 01.mp4 - 00001I think someone should say this to every script-writer for battle-shounen-series and generic mahou-shoujo-series.

Whichever series created the idea that characters talking at length about food are funny should be written out of history. Even if you build in a subtext or try to create a comparison between the food and some other topic, it’s a bit whose virtue should be brevity. These scenes always go sort-of like this: Character A walks into a room, he says something to Character B, Character B says “Isn’t that like Food-Item 1?”, then Character A says “No, not at all, more like Food-Item 2.”, to which Character B says “Now I’m really hungry.”, after which Character A asks “So what will it be, Food-Item 1 or 2?” but then Character B says “Actually… Food-Item 3.”, Character A responds “Then why did we have this discussion in the first place…?!”. It’s a lame joke that only barely works with the help of good voice-actors. Basically it’s the characters selling this joke and not the joke selling itself. And such a thing shouldn’t turn into a whole scene.

Anyway, this series tries to be a comedy-series that parodies mahou-shoujo-series. The joke begins with having a predominantly male cast who get turned into mahou-shoujos that have to battle people who get turned into monsters due to their bad feelings (and some villain injecting them with bad stuff). It’s what Sailor Moon did, it’s what Precure has been doing until now, it’s what every generic Mahou-Shoujo-anime has done. The magical girl is seen as an avatar of love and compassion who helps people with problems by beating the shit out of the dark monsters they have become because of some villain. But this time around guys are the ones to slip into the roles of the magical girls.

You would think that such a story-idea would have a lot to say about how magical-girl-shows depict girls and how those shows portray teenage-problems but as far as this first episode is concerned, this series doesn’t seem to aim very high with its parody. A lot of the jokes in this first episode relied on absurdity. Stuff like the guys using a clubroom with a sign saying “Earth Defense Club”, the teacher being controlled by the pink wombat and the wombat landing in the bath suddenly. But the episode does have some mahou-shoujo-jokes as well which were the highlight of the episode, I feel like. Things like no guy (except the manic one) being able to come up with a good name for their magical attacks or that they already did the team-attack and the healing-the-cursed-person-thingy without any drama or talking about it.

In general this episode seemed very laid-back. The tone, mood and the way the characters behaved, it was all a very dry affair. Except the manic one nobody had a big reaction or even seemed to care that they got dragged into this magical-girl-thing. It gives the episode a nice sense of cohesion but the character’s lack of inquisitiveness kept this episode from being really self-aware. The episode never really went so far as make jokes about the mahou-shoujo-genre. The joke was the blasé-reactions from most of the characters to the situation. But there just isn’t enough self-awareness to actually say something about what they’re making fun of.

I really wouldn’t like it if the series were to continue with this direction. The series still can be enjoyable, don’t get me wrong. But this series could do SO much more with its story-conceit that it would be a waste to just make a lighthearted comedy with it. I’m not expecting this series to deconstruct the mahou-shoujo-genre but I certainly don’t want this series to be SO laid-back that it barely even acknowledges its connection to the mahou-shoujo-genre.

Episode-Rating: 6.0/10

Yuri Kuma Arashi 01 Review:

[Shinchiro] Yuri Kuma Arashi - 01 [Asenshi][720p].mkv - 00007Don’t get me wrong, this episode had a great visual style. But moments like this one had a rather obvious subtext and didn’t really add to a cohesive message that connected moments like this one to the rest of the episode. I guess, this whole thing was just fanservice and nothing more.

Kunihiko Ikuhara is at it again. The director of Mawaru Penguindrum and Revolutionary Girl Utena has created a new series that is about lesbians and bears… I guess. What I can say is that this is certainly more something in the vein of Penguindrum rather than Utena. Penguindrum was great but I’m not sure it convinced me that its storytelling-style should be applied to every series he’s working on. This first episode… I’m just not feeling it. There’s a lot of stuff in this episode but it never really comes together to become an introduction to that world and more importantly draw me into it.

With someone like Ikuhara as the brains of the production you already know that this series will have more creative freedom than your typical shounen-series and it shows. This episode is stylized to the point of being surreal in a lot of scenes and it’s a rather overwhelming experience to take all that in while also figuring out what the series is driving at. On its surface this series is so stylized and detailed that you just wonder ‘Why?’. Naturally wondering that is a distraction and I don’t think it’s good when you’re more interested in what’s going on beneath the surface than what is going on above the surface.

In this instance it’s understandable, though, to be more interested in finding out what this series is hopefully REALLY about than following the plot of this episode. This episode feels so emotionally cold and detached that it’s hard to take an interest in the fate of the main-girl losing her lover to the bears and the bears taking an unhealthy interest in the girl. This episode is more interested in its background than its characters, it feels like. The background literally upstages the drama in a couple scenes!

It’s the dialogue where the episode fails to grab me. Nearly every line is a declaration or a statement of intent. Characters talk at each other but not with each other. The characters seem stiff and not very expressive due to how they’re limited to those two forms of expression. Stuff like whether bears hate humans, love them or just see them as food. You don’t get any of those subtle signs to hint at a deeper truth. What you get are characters that are as stylized as the backgrounds.

Most of this episode really feels like some fever-dream, except it’s the fever-dream of a sociopath. There’s no warmth to this episode despite how often the episode actually tackles the subject of love. What you’re watching isn’t characters struggling with love but rather just these thin stick-figures that clearly just move according to some allegory-clockwork. There’s no life present in these characters and the world they live in.

It has to be said that at this point I have no idea what the series’ allegorical message will be. I can certainly tell you that I didn’t know what Penguindrum was about after the first episode (also, I can’t imagine anyone who had just seen the first episode predicting where that series would go with its premise). So, who knows whether this show will be great or not…? Clearly this isn’t a series you can judge by its first episode.

But that first episode is all I have for now and this first episode just wasn’t good. You really feel like the series is high-concept but this episode doesn’t really reveal anything of that sort. It’s just weird, surreal and stilted. At this level where the story doesn’t want to reveal too much of what it has in store for the audience, it’s the characters that have to carry the action but those are paperthin in this first episode and feel more like props than real people.

What makes this series is interesting are its ambiguities. There are a couple elements in this first episode that are a bit vague. The disappearance of glasses-girl, the nature of the bears and that court-scene to name a few are all clearly part of this larger picture this episode hasn’t revealed yet. I guess, it all comes down to whether you’re interested in finding out what that picture is. I can’t say that this episode made a strong case for watching the whole thing but it’s Kunihiko Ikuhara, so I guess, I’ll give this series the benefit of doubt for now.

Episode-Rating: 6.5/10

About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on January 7, 2015, in Absolute Duo, Anime, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!, Reviews, Yuri Kuma Arashi and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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