Subete ga F ni Naru – 05/06 Review
The marmalade is trying its hardest to look fashionable with a bold red in an ocean of grey and whites.
This time I review:
Subete ga F ni Naru 05/06: Confusion reigns supreme as everybody involved still reels from the double-homicide of Magata and her father. Even Nishinosono and Saikawa can’t help but argue about whether Magata should be considered evil or not. After all, she merely killed her parents. In her defense, she’s nuts. After the argument the two lead-characters decide to leave the crime-scene and visit all those other students who had the time of their lives having a party at the beach. Miraculously the two leads decide they really should investigate what the hell the deal is with these two deaths.
Oh, and Magata stabbed her mother because her lover was a pussy. And the father died swiftly after that as well… Ha, the things you do when you hit puberty, right, guys…?
So… she got drunk from drinking a lot of beer, she got a hangover – but somehow NO alcohol was involved. Consider my line for suspending disbelief crossed right here!
How much plot does a mystery-series need? A series like this one really challenges the audience to answer this question because this episode certainly strains itself to do anything of importance. You could easily tell the story of this series with four or five episodes but of course this is the series that clearly plans to commit even more time to this than that. So what do you fill the time with? And this episode makes me fear that the people behind this series don’t know what to do with all this extra-time.
Right now the series has two things to deal with: The mysterious death of Magata and the relationship between Saikawa and Nishinosono. Both topics are linked thematically which helps the storytelling to feel more organic. And yet there’s a sense of stillness holding this series in its grip ever since the rush of the appearance of Magata’s corpse had worn off. Even the death of the guy who piloted the helicopter did little to make the proceedings come alive. It’s just one repetitive “one or more persons with a white background talking”-shot after another. When stuff like four people eating toast with marmalade on it becomes something the “camera” focuses on, you know the situation is pretty stark. There’s a languid cloud hanging over this series and with a lack of plot there’s nothing to chase that cloud away.
It’s less the mystery that is a hot-button-topic in these episodes but more the relationship of Saikawa and Nishinosono with Magata being a bit of a rival in love (although “attention” may be the better word). In general I don’t feel like this series has offered a lot of terms of characterization. It’s one thing to treat Nishinosono’s past as something best kept secret for a future reveal but to just tease it for an entire episode and then not address it earnestly just feels like cheating storytelling-wise. There’s something very stiff and one-note about the dynamic between these two characters. I described it in the last review as an anti-romance because of how intellectual the whole affair is. It’s very hard to keep track of what each one of this pair expects of the other in this relationship. Sometimes they’re united in what they want to do and other times they argue over a miniscule point. But the whole thing never amounts to a coherent image.
One big topic is Magata, of course and the two leads have a big fight about whether Magata should be idolized for her life-choices or criticized. But it’s an incoherent discussion due to a lack of information and a lack of ending. Again the series already talks very directly about where the series is going with the mystery without any evidence supporting the characters’ suspiciously poignant insights. Rather than having this dialogue turn into a plot-device or tool for characterization, it kinda becomes a tool to prepare the audience for future revelations. It merely offers the angle with which you’re supposed to look at what the series will be sharing with the audience in the future.
Magata and her fate is a big part of this story-arc but the relationship between the two main-characters is just as important. In a version with less time great chemistry between these two characters would be pure luxury as far as expectations are concerned. But when you get an episode like these two which has time for VERY lengthy dialogues and then the big dramatic scene between the two main-characters in the 5th episode is just about Saiwaka being too rational and Nishinosono being too emotional, then you just end up disappointed. That confrontation between the two main-characters is so disappointing because of how both avoid confronting the actual problems in their relationship. They just talk at each other instead of with each other. And the result is a very stilted “dialogue” that is all about making you aware of the story-beats so far.
Unlike all those other teenagers who are selfless and follow very simplistic beliefs, of course. Naturally you need to hold it against a 14-year-old Magata that she didn’t already behave like a responsible adult. After all, children and teenagers should be nothing more than “little versions of adults”.
The 6th episode was much better in that regard, though. By giving the two leads the opportunity to talk about something else besides the mystery they (finally) showed some humanity discovered their motivation for wanting to solve the mystery. The roles the two play in this are still rather cheap. Saikawa is the rational one who’s more interested in how the crime happened while Nishinosono is the emotional one who wants to know why it happened. And their characterization still isn’t very coherent. In the previous episode Nishinosono seemed VERY certain that Magata’s an evil person but only now she gives a shit about the details. Meanwhile, Saikawa’s motivation is to protect Nishinosno and finding out how the crime happened but he hasn’t been the most active in putting two and two together as far as the mystery is concerned.
It’s a mistake how the series continues to play hide-and-seek with Nishinosono’s past and how it relates to Magata’s fate. Instead of sprinkling both Magata’s and Nishinosono’s past over the entire season it should’ve started with the latter, so that we could relate to the lead-characters’ motivation to solve this mystery. You don’t get a really good sense of who Nishinosono is in this series. There are just these broad strokes of a rich girl in love with some older dude. But because the series is holding both Magata’s and her story hostage, the real context of what the characters are talking about and how these stories are connected to each other are lost in weird, blunt hints. The argument between the two leads in the 5th episode perfectly encapsulates the problematic storytelling as it’s all about Saikawa trying to idolize Magata while Nishinosono somehow already knowing her connection to Magata is arguing that she’s evil. If the audience already knew the full story behind Magata and Nishinosono at that point, you’d actually be able to relate to this argument. But without this knowledge Nishinosono’s attitude seems overly emotional while you’d naturally agree with Saikawa as he offers the rational point-of-view (except if you know both the girls’ backstories, this dialogue makes Saikawa seem like a huge dick).
And what the sixth episode does with Magata in the flashback is exactly what I feared the series would do: This series wants Magata to be the villain. I assume, this idea must come from the original novel as the live-action-version had the same inclination but considering how fucked up Magata’s story is, I always kinda sympathized with her. On one hand this series’ story is listing all these reasons why Magata is a crazy, abnormal person: Multiple personalities, genius-level intelligence and being VERY sexually active for her age. But at the same time the story is giving her all this power as if to say “Yeah, it’s all her fault, of course!”. She isn’t suffering from a deranged perspective on sexuality, no, she’s just really pretty and seduces (read: mind-control) whomever she fancies. She isn’t suffering from multiple personalities, she’s just filling up her enormous intellect with other personalities as it’s too big for just one personality. She isn’t suffering from her super-intelligence as it just opened the door for a life in a sheltered super-lab. For some reason all of Magata’s character-flaws either get ignored or just interpreted as a sign of how great she is. Instead of humanizing her, the series is all about turning her into some sort of superhuman and with that excuse it ignores all the complicated moral quandaries of her story.
Since the story is so reliant on keeping things from the audience and since the plot is light as a feather, the series has a hard time saying anything meaningful or poignant. Actually, it occasionally says something poignant in each episode but it might as well be considered cheesy foreshadowing as it relates to something that only gets revealed in the future. The storytelling of this series simply doesn’t work with the extra time offered by a 1-cour-anime-format. As it stands, this is a series you need to watch AT LEAST two times to get anything out of it. But with the overly languid tone and monotone visual presentation I don’t think anybody would like to sit through the whole thing twice even.
- There’s a reason why I call Saikawa lazy in the review: The series has shared this tick of his (to check the time of his watch to be correct) and you may have noticed that he hasn’t done that in a while. Well, the reason is that a major clue is related to him checking the time again like he usually does. And of course, the series will save that moment for later while ignoring something that gets introduced as an obsessive habit.
- I still don’t know why we just don’t get the whole Nishinosono’s-parents-died-tragically-thingy over with.
- Saikawa’s being a real dick in this series. Despite Nishinosono quite obviously pining for him, he just continually throws all this overly rational bullshit at her like they’re competing for the #1-spot in a highschool-debate-club. Every time he opens his mouth he sounds like he’s talking at her instead of with her.