Saturday, August 17, 2013

What's Up and Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: Suffering Sequel Symptoms

Last seen: Episode 4

Hey every anyone, Zetro here, with a bit of news in case you're out of the loop, (I know how that feels, I'm justly accused as Hermit for a reason). The Evil Cat's taking a full-blooded (hopefully temporary) retirement, and me and Mus Aragi are being handed the reins. Cat has bestowed upon us admin, and we're going to try and keep the show rolling while he's gone.

I'm going to start with saying that I enjoyed Senki Zesshou's first season. If there's anything an anime needs to use if it wants to get a judgement-free-pass to my attention, there are two things at the top of the list:
A plot or story that's just above the diagonal: weird but internally logical, or
The promise of a Berserk scene.
Delivering on both is just icing the cake twice. The idea of singing being formula'd into power is... was... awkward in my head, until I realized that it made more sense than screaming = power on a few levels. But, really now, this is the anime industry, who would we be kidding if the 'suspension of disbelief'' wasn't our strong suit? We rarely give special notice to the means of things in our shows, until/unless they're just so horrible they start to rot and stink up the place, or they contradict and clash internally with themselves.
Zesshou's setting was interesting and funny enough to me. I found the to call'm...still shots? Freeze frames? whatever-they-be-calleds where they stop the scene and flash fancy art borders and a crazy font name for the special-technique a character's using ... a tad... obnoxious, but nothing especially off-putting. I have to admit it's a great deal better than characters screaming out the name of the move they're doing (seriously, why does an enemy never just gtfo of the way when they start yelling the attacks name?). Of a similar note, the main heroines personality was a bit too pure-upbeat for my tastes, I usually find that kind of mentality very irritating, real life or story, but she was almost always very down-to-earth as well, so that balanced it out. It completely balanced out further when she lost it and went bat-shit-hits-the-fan crazy in a fight a few times. But that's just me, I love a good berserk scene.
[End prologue]

Now the impression I'd hope you got from that of my opinion towards Zesshou, was something around the domain of 'glowing'. I liked and felt that Zesshou's first season was very well put together and a good self-contained story. Maybe not for everyone, but a good potential for entertainment.
So self-contained in fact, that the second season blindsided me. When I saw it pop up on my screen in the listings of recently added shows to my secondary streaming site, I just stared at it for a few seconds...trying to figure out why it was there. "Zesshou's ending was sealed..they didn't leave loose ends lying about ... Where the hell did they pull a second season out of?" ... and then I committed what I consider an intellectual faceplant; I let my expectations rise to the level of my hopes.
If the way I said that wasn't hint enough, pro-tip: Never Do This
A cautioned approach is far better.

Now, I'm not accusing the show of smelling like arse just yet ... but the show is up to ... (checks website) episode seven, waiting subs, and I'm only on ... (checks list) ... episode four last watched, and not because of time restraints. Every time I've seen it on the front listing for what has now been three episodes, I've seen something else that garnered my attention more.
That's not a good sign when I watched every episode of season one as soon as it came out. It's not that the new season is bad ... it's just..underwhelming. Know how I just said the main heroines..I'm going to go with 'Chipper', attitude was balanced out by her being very down-to-earth, grounded in reality and what's happening around her? It made for interesting character development, watching her struggle to reconcile her positive beliefs with a harsh reality.
In this season she's become annoying because she's off in the clouds with her 'overly-positive-ness'.
There's a solid chance that this is intentional, since it sets her up to be marked out by an antagonist, which triggers an immediate grounding reaction from her. This does not detract from the original annoyance though, I feel there was just a bit too much of it, especially with her previous experiences..which I suppose they do briefly touch upon, in the same scene.
[End disclaimer]
Perhaps some of this is the other main heroines so far having had a great deal more screen time than last season, and being much more interesting up to this point. This brings me to another point though:
wtf is up with one of the antagonists equipment!? CircleSaw-throwing head-mounted ponytail-things? Every other character on screen is using a weapon and equipment that either makes sense internal to the worlds logic, or is at the least practical. But really, THIS:

Is just nonsense.
I will grant, however, that I like her singing. She also jumps into the action with her partner wielding a scythe, which just rubs me the right way, I think scythes are awesome. (historically impractical and surrounded in myths, but awesome rarely accounts for reality). So they get emotion points with me, while losing intellect points. Which is a losing trade, but it helps.

Nothing I've said is a breaker for me, in any way, but the cumulative feel of the second season up to this point, just isn't really pulling me like the first season did. Some of it may be the time gap between them. It wasn't until the fourth episode, the last one I've watched, that they explicitly state that the antagonist organizations name is a direct reference to last seasons main villain ... intentionally. That's something that would otherwise have been a great interest hook, if not for
A) The large time gap, and
B) The closed ending of the last season that makes the idea of the villains return a little bit of a disjoint with the worlds internal logic.
When you have a time gap like this working against you, the very least good practice should tell you to do, is have a character think to themselves something like, 'oh that's X's name, could it be...?'.
Simple enough to do right? So why didn't they. It took two episodes for them to make it explicit.
... Wow, and here I never thought I'd be petitioning for the dumbing down of something. Someone slap me.
[End Aside]

Summary: This stinks a bit too much of Sequel, and not 'continuation' to me. What's the difference you might ask? Sacrifices and purpose. The purpose of a continuation, is to finish a story or world that's incomplete no sacrifices required. A sequels purpose is to try and milk the cash cow of a few more dollars, and anythings on the blood altar to try and make it fit the biggest bill. A sequel usually develops when something gets more popularity than was assumed it would receive. Now, I'm a hermit, so don't think I'm reading off any sort of information or statistics, that's just how the trend I've observed fits. I'm sticking with this one a bit longer, the thumbnail on the latest episode looked like a scene that very much smells of 'potential reasons for a berserk happening' to me, but I keep getting the niggling doubt in the back of my head I have to beat down, that I might just be sticking this one out for riding the coat tails of its predecessor, rather than for its own merit. There's potential for everything to clean up nice, but the one true formula is still: High Hopes, Low Expectations.
Well, that and I like most of the music and singing.
...Ok it's officially a thing. My posts are way too long, far too critical, and not enough pure-hearted unedited rant. Whatever, I'm gonna make this my thing.
Anywho, what is up with the funky extra letters on anime names? This and the latest season of Index both did it ... is this becoming a trend over the pond? It doesn't make any sense to the hell are we suppose to know what the letter stands for? Does it even stand for anything? Why not just use a simple bloody number?
Then again I suppose it makes sense that a hermit wouldn't understand trends. Ah well.
Still bugs me though.
[End Aside]

EDITLast seen: Episode 6

That had to be the fastest tying up of loose ends I've ever seen.
Sometimes, suspicions are better than doubts. Particularly my deep reaching ones like assuming the front-loaded Chipper was to set up provoking the antagonists.

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