Subete ga F ni Naru – 07/08 Review
Magata: The perfect image of human pride!
This time I review:
Subete ga F ni Naru 07/08: Shimada tries to have some fun with Nishinosono but someone hijacks Nishinosono’s virtual funtimes to remind her of something that she has forgotten. After all, you’d naturally forget that the person you love was present in your darkest moment as emotional support. Meanwhile Saikawa is practising his English with Mikki, Magata’s sister. Later Saikawa realizes what the deal is with “Michiru” but just as he’s about to explain it, Nishinosono declares that she would try to deduce it herself first! So now we have to wait until Nishinosono figures out as well what the whole “Michiru”-thingy is about.
The sort of line any person would “LOVE” to hear from a soothsayer, of course…
The difference between stasis and change is something the series is constantly circling around. On one hand the murder is a big disturbance and a mystery but on the other hand one of the major concerns of the people of the facility is to keep up the illusion that nothing has changed. Even Nishinosono and Saikawa are kinda stuck in a certain pattern. Where Magata’s story is all about making bold and dangerous choices, all the other characters in the series are trying to establish patterns and hold true to those.
In a way the lack of plot is still one of the biggest flaws of the series. A lot of its storytelling is based on withholding stuff from the audience. And with this I don’t just mean the usual “the puzzle isn’t solved this episode”-stuff but it’s like when Nishinosono says in the 8th episode that she would rather reach the insight Saikawa has gained herself while preventing him from sharing his insight. It’s like the series is trying to stifle its natural plot-progression by using characterization as an excuse. And so while you may empathize with why Nishinosono may say this at that point, on another level it’s disappointing how she keeps Saikawa from revealing an important detail about the story.
It’s very frustrating as these two episodes didn’t have much to offer in terms of… anything really. A lot of it has to do with the fact that for example the dialogue between Mikki and Saikawa couldn’t be deeper because if it had been it would’ve spoiled future plottwists. Especially since I know where the story is going, it’s easy to see where the series is holding itself back from saying something too meaningful.
Still, the dialogue between Mikki and Saikawa is the highlight of the 7th episode considering how little it had to offer in terms of story- or character-development. Of course, the first thing you notice is two Japanese voice-actors trying their best to handle a very lengthy English dialogue. The Psycho-Pass-Movie did the same and I assume it’s there to gain international appeal. But even though, this isn’t the Engrish of the old days Animes usually had it’s still a noticeable step-down in terms of voice-acting-performance. It really is enough to just start the dialogue in English and then make some excuse for talking in Japanese or simply transition to Japanese without any explanation.
It’s here, though, where the series once again picks up this idea of the isolated lab-prison as the ideal environment for a genius. One of the previous episodes covered this idea in an argument between the two main-characters as Saikawa proposed the idea that Magata might be more pure than anybody else because of her genius and isolated lifestyle. As with many things in this story the discussion of this topic seems rather one-sided as neither the argument between Nishinosono and Saikawa nor the talk between Saikwa and Mikki truly said anything too deep about that idea. Within the story it takes a lot more knowledge than what the characters currently have to talk about this topic in a truly meaningful way. But as usual Nishinosono is there to give an instinctual response that isn’t based on any sort of hard evidence/proof.
Nishinosono’s approach to this mystery is a driving force for the story as she’s the one who’s invested in finding out the truth and forcing Saikawa to get involved, too. But her spontaneous responses to situations or her instinctual responses are oftentimes actually kind-of foreshadowing. It shows while Saikawa is usually the first one to find the rational answer, Nishinosono finds the emotional answer way before him.
The whole thing certainly sounds better in theory, though, because the dynamic between Nishinosono and Saikawa is a very dry one because of that. They’re polar opposites and despite Nishinosono’s advances Saikawa is keeping his distance. At the same time the series has already establishes on multiple occasions that Saikawa is as interested in Nishinosono as she’s interested in him but he holds back his feelings (unlike that uncle of Magata who gives in). And of course Nishinosono never tires of pursuing Saikawa and getting jealous while Saikawa can just keep being cool and not really getting invested that much in their relationship. It’s an unbalanced relationship as it clearly only exists because of Nishinosono at this point while Saikawa is just “sort-of also there”. In terms of chemistry this imbalance has created a lot of problems so far as the characters tend to talk more at each other than with each other. Usually it’s either because one of them isn’t absolutely honest or because Saikawa is trying his best to put some distance between himself and Nishinosono emotionally.
Where you get hints of what could be some sort of chemistry is when Nishinosono talks about how she fell in love with Saikawa and remembers that he was at her side when her parents died suddenly. It’s very striking how the Saikawa from those stories seems kinda wry and ironic tonally in how he approaches Nishinosono. And her being a bit of a genius herself responds to that which ultimately leads to her falling in love with Saikawa. But the Saikawa in this show seems very robotic most of the time. After all from what you’ve seen of that character in this show it’s hard to imagine him talk about “catching goldfish” if asked about the meaning of life.
It isn’t surprising that the show used that girl as some sort of story-device for levity. I’m pretty sure that’s something the anime-version invented as the original story is a somewhat dour affair. But the anime does the right thing by introducing some levity. Except Shimada as a flirtatious girl who kinda flirts with both Saikawa AND Nishinosono (which is a character-trait the series hasn’t established before AT ALL) isn’t that great of a character. It would be stretching it too far to even call her a comic relief as she doesn’t do anything outright funny. All she does it change the tone of the narrative slightly whenever she’s on-screen in these two episodes. The writing for her character never quite finds any punchlines in the interactions with other characters. When for example Shimada is flirting with Saikwa by saying that he has beautiful fingers, Saikawa merely responds: “Thank you. No one has ever commented on my fingers before – positively or negatively.” There’s nothing funny about that! The best the series can do is just empathizing how Nishinosono is getting jealous despite the obvious cold response from Saikawa and pushing Shimada out of the room. This isn’t a comedy-bit at all! You can see the series trying to be sort-of funny with how Nishonosono banishes Shimada to her room but it’s an absolutely superfluous gesture.
So that’s why Nishinosono never manages to hit the nail on the head when it comes to murder-mysteries…!
Of course that only leaves the whole Magata-thing left to talk about. The series is dropping clues left and right about some aspects of the mystery. But it’s kinda in the same category as Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders In The Rue Morgue hinted at its solution early on. This is a mystery with so many outlandish story-parts that despite some clues logically hinting at those, your mind just won’t go there. You’ll need to suspend your disbelief in some sense for what humans are capable of in regards to how the Magata-story turns out. That shit gets SO bizarre and so far I still don’t think either of the two adaptations in existence has sold Magata as a character.
But to elaborate on that would spoil what’s to come and I don’t want to do that. Knowing the story and wanting to talk about it I constantly realize in this anime-adaptation just how much the storytelling and drama relies on withholding stuff from the audience. It’s a practice I absolutely despise! I certainly know that I already kinda disliked having to trudge through the whole story in this adaptation. Therefore I can’t imagine anyone watching this series again or at least until so much time has passed that they have entirely forgotten the story of the series. There’s so much stalling in this series and throwing clues at the audience without the characters ever turning those into discoveries in a timely manner that it makes it a rather tortuous show for anyone who doesn’t care for the resolution of the mystery (either because they frankly don’t give a shit or, like me, already know the solution to the mystery).
- It’s SO frustrating that is all about withholding the true story from the audience as long as possible while actually already knowing what the answer is…!
- Ending the 8th episode with Saikawa not telling what the deal with “Michiru” is because Nishinosono wants to find out for herself is such a cheap tease for keeping people to watch this series. He knows what’s going on – but he isn’t gonna tell us because this other character would like to “catch up”.
- Forcing Japanese voice-actors to have lengthy scenes in English isn’t a great idea.