Subete ga F ni Naru – 09/10 Review
It’s a bit of a tragic tale, really… Nishinosono tries really hard to be a “Sherlock”-like figure to match the intellect of Saikawa but really just ends up being a “Watson”-like figure again and again.
This time I review:
Subete ga F ni Naru 09/10: A murderer is on the loose! But who is it…?! Turns out that the solution is more complicated than expected!
Also, Saikawa gives a lecture on Hexidecimals you couldn’t care less about.
For a series that had way more time than the live-action-version, it’s weird how much information it has been cramming into these two episodes. It leads to the fact that the resolution of a lot of tidbits is more tell than show.
It’s certainly a flaw that a lot of the story and the mystery-solutions end up in these two episodes but it certainly leads to more compelling moments than what the series has been offering before this. One of the series’ biggest strengths is certainly that the pay-off is more than worthy. There aren’t many mysteries like this one where the revelations at the end actually trump the anticipation that has been built up so far.
In retrospect this adaptation had a lot of room with its storytelling – but at the same time didn’t have enough material to fill that space. There’s A LOT you can cut out of this series and it wouldn’t impact the story in any way. Especially if you already know the story it becomes obvious how much the script is holding back. There’s a constant sense of figuratively failing to hit the nail on the head. And this wouldn’t be such a problem – except it’s all the characters are doing! Stuff like that dialogue between “Miki” and Saikawa or all these arguments Saikawa and Nishinosono had… It all ties to what the mystery-solution ends up being but it’s like you’re listening to a bunch of people talk about a Game-Of-Thrones-episode without spoiling anything. The whole thing never becomes substantial because the actual meat of the dialogue stays hidden. It’s never good to keep your drama going by purposefully keeping things from the audience. The audience should never feel like they’re at the mercy of the series’ writers. In the same way a show keeps the final truth hidden away from the audience for the sake of a plottwist, the series still has to find a way to convince the audience to get invested. And exactly that is a rather shaky deal in this adaptation.
The series’ story rests on three pillars: One, the mystery of Magata Shiki’s “death. Two, the relationship between Nishinosono and Saikawa. Three, math. The first one is obviously the plot-hook. The protagonists arrive at this lab of this famous genius and shit goes down. Someone’s dead and they’re trying to figure out what has happened. And that part of the story is certainly the strongest part of the three. The relationship-part struggles a bit because it sort-of exists in a twilight-realm between romantic relationship and simple mystery-solving camaraderie. As for the math and science in this series… Well, it’s really just flourish. There’s no reason to even pay attention when the series is throwing around its math-jargon because it’s just there as dress-up for other themes or issues.
But let’s first talk about what makes this the series’ two strongest episodes: Magata’s story. Her character’s story is certainly the most interesting element of the series. Even in this adaptation I don’t think the series has gotten a good handle on who Magata is and what had led her to that point. The storytelling-structure makes it already very compelling because the murder-victim ends up being an antagonistic figure. That alone already offers the reveals in these two episodes a certain surprise. Where things get even more interesting is when Magata indirectly reveals what her plan was supposed to be and how it failed.
It’s a bit sad that for all the space this series has time-wise, the series ends up glossing over a lot of story-bits in these two episodes. The live-action-version only had 90 minutes to begin with but even here the series found no better way than to just dump everything on the audience at the very end. It’s just another sign of how structurally this series is a total mess.
But after you’ve processed the information that’s getting dumped on you in these two episodes, it becomes clear just what a fucked up story Magata actually has. Since both adaptations did the same weird mistakes in some regard, I assume this is coming from the original novel but it’s a very weird idea how much this story is blaming Magata for what is happening. The way her uncle talks about Magata in the flashbacks and how Saikawa talks about Magata, you’d think they’re talking about the female version of Hannibal Lecter. Words like genius and purity get thrown around while more emotional people like Nishinosono rightly bring up her killing her parents. But the same way Hannibal Lecter is mostly a mystery as to why he is who he is (let’s just ignore the existence of that one particular novel…), the series is keeping its distance from Magata as well. It never really wants to get into Magata’s head or really make her relatable – which is a mistake, of course. Being this super-genius, starting an affair with her uncle at the age of 14, getting pregnant and delivering a child in a “prison-cell” essentially and then plotting a long-term-revenge-plan: That’s one hell of a journey. And her original plan is just as fucked up as what has ended up happening (meaning that the daughter actually killed herself before the fated day of her freedom). There’s so much rich story-material here but neither this version nor the live-action-one convinced me that they understood Magata’s character.
Of course, the alien nature of Magata is a big factor in the story. What Magata is doing from beginning to end in her story within this series isn’t reasonable at all! But both this version and the live-action-one have done little to even attempt to connect to Magata’s headspace. Even when the anime-version was using its extra-time for the flashback-sequences it just settled for letting us hear the most pathetic pedophile imaginable (an adult-man who actually got seduced by a 14-year-old who clearly was crazy). But her bizarre character creates a truly bizarre world. After all, as Saikawa said and Magata agreed with him, the laboratory-prison is what geniuses supposedly long for but Magata’s plan was all about escaping it. She got herself imprisoned and then she just invented some sort of mythology where the kid has to murder his or her parents to move on and in the end the kid would just continue the legacy of his/her parents. In Magata’s mind her daughter was supposed to escape one prison just to create another for herself by claiming to be her mother. It’s baffling how both versions are SO concerned with the murder-mystery-conceit while failing to realize how much depth is hiding beneath the surface of Magata’s storyline.
This kinda relates to how everyone is bewildered by her multiple personalities and can’t keep up with which personality signifies what for Magata. Well, with the exception of Saikawa. He’s the conduit for understanding her. He’s the only one who kinda gets Magata even if he isn’t on her side. But that’s also because the second big part of the series is the love-triangle between Magata, Nishinosono and Saikawa. As far as romance is concerned, though, the series is rather dry and straightforward. Except one third of the love-triangle is non-present which isn’t very helpful. I mean, whenever Nishinosono gets somewhat jealous of Saikawa’s empathy for Magata’s mindset the whole thing becomes an argument that goes nowhere.
At the end the hero gets the girl, of course… Well, two girls in this case, I imagine…
There’s nothing romantic about the relationship between Nishinosono and Saikawa because they’re way too busy to talk at each other instead of with each other. There’s really no development whatsoever in that regard. Sure, there’s little stuff like Saikawa acknowledging that Nishinosono is really smart or the latter getting REALLY jealous, like, all the time. But the whole thing never becomes a story-arc or something like that. Even here the series keeps the audience at a distance first as it turns Saikawa’s presence during Nishinosono’s darkest hour into some sort of “plottwist”. This series has such a desperate need for surprises that even essential story-elements are left in the dark until the time is right. Nishinosono is in love with the dude and we’re supposed to believe she would forget that he was there when her parents died…? And realizing that is pointless because we already knew that these two were in love with each other. In this adaptation the romance really is just a gimmick and nothing more. It’s a hook for scenes and filling the time with making Nishinosono jealous for no reason.
The whole math-aspect of the series is certainly Subete ga F ni Naru’s most obvious attempt to seem smart. And when the characters in this series talk about math, they certainly sound smart and are exhibiting knowledge usually inaccessible to the layman. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s either a lack of understanding on the author’s part or just plain bad writing that keeps the series from ever having smart discussions about math. Sure, they talk about it from time to time but you should watch it again and you’ll quickly realize that at no point the series cares that much about math and is more concerned with emotional storybeats and general ideas of humanity. The whole math-thing is just the series’ convoluted way to sound smart. Most striking is this sequence where Saikawa explains this hexadecimal theory for what “Everything becomes F” means and it kinda makes sense on the same level as if I were to ask “2+x=4” and x turning out to be 2 gets treated like some sort of smart revelation. If you’re talking on such a simplistic level the only ones who would be dazzled by my example are those who don’t understand addition. The usage of math is stylistically the same because math itself never is the topic and instead is either pointless or just a simple metaphor for other stuff.
What makes these two episodes great is that the revelation of Magata’s storyline is a powerful moment as it reveals a truly alien character. The series has often distinguished between logic and sentimentality but what Magata is doing goes beyond logical. It’s why characters like Hannibal Lecter, Batman, the Joker or Michael Myers become figures that resonate with the audience despite their larger-than-life personality. You don’t exactly want to explain every detail of these characters but you at least want to understand what the cliffnotes are. And both adaptations have copped out by just trying to put as much distance between the viewer and Magata as possible. But the reason why I have been hoping for a different portrayal was that Magata was just a kid when she was set on this path and no adult around her even tried to divert her from that path. The story isolates Magata WAY before she even enters that lab-prison and nobody acknowledges that. Also, the series shies away from delving too much into the grotesqueness of the whole Michiru-thing. Both in what Magata wanted Michiru to be and how she was isolated to the point where she ended up killing herself probably, you’d also got a fucked up storyline here. It almost feels like this series doesn’t want its audience to dwell too long on how fucked up Magata’s storyline is.
This adaptation has tried to change things up a little here and there but overall, it really hasn’t done enough to solve the inherent problems of the pacing and story-structure. Also, the reluctance to actually get into Magata’s headspace has once again reduced her to an antagonistic role without spending too much time on exploring her motivations and beliefs. The strengths remain all the same, though, as the grotesqueness of Magata’s storyline offers plenty of juicy revelations for these two episodes that offer some much-needed forward-momentum to this series. It’s only sad that the series has been written in a way where it had to wait until the last moment to tap into that potential.
Okay, let’s talk about changes this adaptation made:
- The glasses-guy that has been the contact-person for protagonists got killed in the live-action-version. As he investigated “Deborah” (or “Red Magic” as the anime calls it) he ran a check and based on it he changed to a new OS (which also gets mentioned offhandedly in this series) but before the whole thing reaches completion Magata kills him.
- A big blunder of the live-action-version was ignoring Miki, the so-called sister of Magata but the live-action-version at least acknowledged that the existence of her sister wasn’t official knowledge which makes her a suspicious figure right from the beginning. In this adaptation, though, Saikawa has a very earnest dialogue with “Miki” that makes it already kinda obvious what is going on – and does little else besides that.
- When Magata is talking about how a doll killed her parents, what she originally meant was how she just impulsively stabbed her mother but then her uncle/lover controlled her hands which held the knife to kill her father. She was a doll because while she may have started getting violent, it was her uncle who really got on board with the idea of killing them. But as they got discovered Magata took the blame onto herself. It certainly would give the uncle a much more active role and explain better why he needed to die in the end.
- This version rightfully gave more credence to the whole “Michiru killed herself”-bit by suggesting Nishinosono influenced her. But once again Michiru was kept from having a deep conversation with Nishinosono because she had to pretend to be Magata.
- It’s kinda weird, though, that everyone just accepts that VR-technology at that lab. It kinda pushes the series into sci-fi-territory.
- Also, doesn’t it really seem like in this adaptation nearly every woman wanted to fuck Saikawa…? He himself does little to earn that much romantic attention and still most female characters react to his presence as if they had to fuck him as soon as possible. A part of it is certainly trying to create joke-bits involving Nishinosono’s jealousy but overall, it’s a very silly affair.
- I really look forward to seeing what this adaptation does with the epilogue. It certainly could fix some issues regarding Magata’s characterization but we’ll see…
Posted on December 12, 2015, in Anime, Reviews, Subete Ga F Ni Naru and tagged Anime, すべてがFになる, Everything Becomes F: The Perfect Insider, review, Subete ga F ni Naru. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.