Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hitsugi no Chaika: You have angered me again.

well at least you got this right
Last Seen: Episode 9

Y'know, Chaika, you were keeping me happy for a good while, I was really enjoying the show. Why did you have to aggravate me again?

Look, see, I understand that you can't freely convert everything, and I always look and judge with that in mind, but now you've just pissed me off. You've shown your true colors, and honestly, you didn't need to, you could have avoided it and kept me happily in the dark. With how completely 'safe' the stupid story is, they didn't even need to bother animating the scene, they could have just had Tooru say the story aloud, and it would have been just as frivolously ineffectual at making us care as much as we should have.
OH! But then you wouldn't have been able to completely fabricate a new character with the scenes!
Tooru's 'Mentor' never existed anywhere in the original story. I smell an end-card.

So the show finally got around to putting in Tooru talking about his memory of Hasumin. Her name isn't even the same. The featured sentence is one of the very few pieces of her story that remain, of the original lesson it conveyed. Perhaps I should say emotion, but the story's purpose, in manga and anime, is to teach us an important facet of Tooru's life. The problem is that the anime's lesson is completely wrong. The anime version of the story is much more sterile and 'safe' than the manga's story, revealing that the studio behind this is balking at featuring such critical material.

Y'know what, just, go read it for yourself. It saves me trying to dance around spoilers, and since the anime has forged a completely different story for themselves, knowing the original isn't going to spoil you for anything either. To reassure you even further, I also mention that this story was told before they even went into the first hero's mansion. You're not going to spoil yourself on anything. 

The story takes place near the end of Chapter 4, page 30'ish, and continues into Chapter 5.
I say 30'ish, because it will vary based on translators credit page sizes, and whether the hosting site numbers them. Some websites also include fan-art, so the number may vary, but close to the end of Chapter 4.

A word of caution. I meant it when I said the anime made the story much more 'sterile' and 'safe'. This story is a wrenchingly painful memory for Tooru. I don't think I'm ever going to get a better example for why these changes in the anime are so irritating for me, but this will be the last time I talk about it. I'm completely disenchanted with the anime as a telling of the powerful story the manga contained, and I'm going to watch the rest of it from here on out keeping in mind that the studio has opted not to risk offending anyone. I doubt anything amazing is ever going to happen.
Well, anything amazing that hasn't already been done before.

So in short, I now understand why this show is aggravating me so much more than any other anime ever has, when changing the source material. It's one thing to change material to make it fit better. It's another matter altogether to change it because you're afraid of attracting controversy with polarized material. If you were going to chicken out, you shouldn't have accepted to do it in the first place.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei: Drowning in Technical Terms

I understand what those words mean individually...

Last Seen: Episode 8

There appears to be what I think is going to be a recurring problem in this show, to drown the viewer in technical terms. In this last episode especially, where they repeatedly talk about flying magic:
Personally, I could just barely keep up with the general concepts of what they were talking about. I could do this because,

A) I best absorb information through reading it, rather than hearing it
B) Subtitles cater to point A beautifully
C) I've always enjoyed gently exploring multiple fields of study, Chemistry, Math, Biology, etc
D) I'd encountered most of the technical terms they'd used parts.

I highly doubt these forces will easily align for most other people. Even with all of this, I only vaguely understood the concepts they were alluding to. I didn't have the daftest idea what they were explicitly talking about unless they explained it in a simpler manner.

So far, this doesn't present an impasse for the show, mostly because of what I think is self-awareness of this problem. I think the show is doing this intentionally to try and build world detail and immersion. They risk breaking that immersion by just confusing viewers, but I give them points for the courage to try. Specifically, they are taking the time aside to explain parts that are important in more detail when it is relevant to the immediate story or plot. For instance, when they showed a visual representation with the 'Moving an Egg with Magic' clip. I was only vaguely understanding why the problem the characters were talking about, was a problem, up until that point. I'd have had to pause the show, or rewind it, and think on it to finish my understanding without that clip.
I don't think most people would have my patience and interest in trying to understand.

Which brings me beautifully to my next point: I now see the draw backs of 'Modern Magic' as a theme for a show, and why Mahou Sensou so wonderfully coped out on it three steps in. 'Modernizing' magic for the purpose of intrigue and immersion, risks sacrificing one of the principle benefits of including magic in a story in the first place:
Question: "Why this, that, or the other?"

Magic School Irregular is making a visible effort to counter this, and to be frank, we didn't need to understand what they were talking about with flying magic throughout the episode, we just needed to absorb the fact that it was really complicated and hard to do. Particularly, the issue became a lot easier to visualize(for me) once they talked about Layering Magic.

Personally I'm still really enjoying the show, and looking forward to it, week to week.
I can understand why someone would want to drop it at this point though, despite it not actually being a problem yet. It's the kind of thing that could easily become annoying.

No Game No Life: You have no right to ignore this show. None. It has been revoked.

Last Seen: Episode 8

I have, hereby from this date, revoked your right to ignore this show. If you have not yet begun to watch this show, it is now a criminal offense. Your right to ignore it will not be restored until a future point designated at this time as the termination of the show's story.

Get out of here, and go watch it. Right now.

I normally keep a broad spectrum of viewer interest when I watch anime, well before I started substituting for Evil Cat here on his blog. That is to say, I don't just watch for my own enjoyment, I also watch with the intent to be aware of what other people would like, that I don't. This started because I have to work extraordinarily hard where I live, to get anyone to so much as listen to the rest of the sentence when I mention anime, let alone listening to me talk about it, Consider watching it, and putting up with subtitles.
I got even better at it when I was exposed, via Extra Creditz(now based on youtube), to the idea of 'Playing from a Developer's Perspective' when playing a video game. When I started writing in earnest here on the blog, my brain clicked the two into a unified entity, plus one: 'Watching from an Anime Studio's Perspective', and 'Watching from Someone Else's Perspective'.
I vaguely alluded to this when I briefly mentioned that writing for the blog has made me watch anime in a new way, and that I was enjoying it.

I'm going to get to the point now. No Game No Life is a beautifully woven masterpiece. There's a plethora of things on display, and a great deal of quality being crammed into each part. Is there something for everyone in here? No. Is what's there so powerfully woven that everyone should appreciate it? Yes.
I want to step back a moment and point out the should in that sentence. I haven't sacrificed my awareness on the altar of enthusiasm just yet. People are prone to obsession over tiny details. We all have likely met, or know, at least one of these people.
The "What?! Her hair is pink?! Fuck this show, I have better things to do" kind of people.
The people that inflate a microbial element and make it the defining element, and then judge by it. My example is simple, the most insufferable part is when they seize on an element that is relatively significant, but not a core element.
To place a fitting example: when I mentioned that I hadn't placed much interest in this show from reading summaries, because it mentioned the main characters being NEET shut-ins. No one is immune to this kind of discrimination against things and people, myself included. Being self-aware is the only counter measure, such as my policy these days to never judge by the shitty summaries, and give every show at least a one episode chance if I have the time.

If someone proves to me at any point that this show is not a result of the story creator fully planning it out before they started writing it, I will put my right foot in my mouth and leave it there for a full minute. This shows tendency to drop tiny hints/clues/foreshadowing and then bring it fully to bare to smack us upside the head with it is absoballylutely redonkulous. I've only profited trying to match wits with it once so far, when the show revealed how Sora contacted the Eastern Ambassador. That's the only time I saw it coming. Eight episodes in, I've won only once. This is not a world I would want to compete in, I'd be a slave in two games.

The only thing that will knock this show off its high-seat from here on out for me, is whether or not the anime gets cut short when the actual story continues. That's about all I can think of that would ruin it. Well, that and some people may find the shows art style hard to put up with. I personally got to liking it by episode 2, after thinking it was really weird throughout episode 1.

I hereby Redact from Brynhildr and grant to No Game no Life:

Zetro's Must Watch of the Season Award

and to underline it, I wish to point out that the website I read Brynhildr's manga from suddenly surged in about 50 translated chapters, putting the Manga's story well ahead of the anime. I literally know how Brynhildr will end, and have no clue how No Game No Life will end, but I am still granting this Award to it.
The two (I believe)share the same methodology for their plots, having them fully constructed from the start and then filling in details as they go. Brynhildr opened the manga with a foreshadow scene from the future, that the anime (intelligently)had to cut.
(there was no way to render that scene in motion and sound that wouldn't ruin it).
I recognize between them similar methodologies for bringing the plot to bare in the story. With that assessment in my mind, I have judged No Game No Life's plot-weaving to be even tighter than Brynhildr's. Mostly because Brynhildr is much more...blatant with its humanity element. When it wants to make a point about humanity, it just bludgeons you over the head with it. No Game No Life is a fair deal more subtle, or inspiring, when it works with humanity.
Actually, there's a nice summary for why I'm moving the Award:

Brynhildr is an emotional roller-coaster.
No Game No Life is just a roller-coaster, Period.