Thursday, March 31, 2016

[Ended] Myriad Colors Phantom World: Shallow to the last

we already knew that...YOU told us several episodes ago. Thanks for the recap.

Pros: Like the title says, it is colorful
-The actions okay
-Several of the abilities and phantoms are quite interesting
-The core concepts of the World setting are quite good, in my opinion

Cons: Just about everything else
-The main cast especially, but everyone in general, is archetypical(I just made that up) and trope'y.
-The plot is full of holes
-They magic handwave for several of those holes. Poorly. (yes you can skillfully handwave things away)
-The individual stories are tiresomely done before, and the only time they're interesting is scaled directly to what amount the phantoms play a role

My Opinion: This kind of show has been bugging me for a long time. Not any of the genres it tries to fit, the setting, plot, or characters none of that. I mean how I feel about the show, the kind of feeling this show invokes that others have as well. This...brooding dissatisfaction. This lack of anyone one true flaw to point at and criticize, while also lacking any one true redeeming or remarkable feature to laud about.
I'm going to take a page out of a favorite critic of mines book, from Yahtzee's Zero Punctuation series, and imbibe unto myself a new way of 'ranking' shows that I watch and cover for Evil Cat's blog. Henceforth, in the My Opinion segment I will grant a show I watch my opinion crystallized into one of these four:
Great=Because some shows, even if they are completely outside of your tastes, will display quality above and beyond the norm. Shows worthy of being praised in pieces and parts, even if you hate the general sum.
Good=For shows that are quite nice, something worth enough to pass the time, to shut your brain off and laugh, mindlessly root for screaming teenagers to beat up bad guys in flashy fights with flashy powers, to brood, but not too deeply, Et Cetera. Possessed of flaws, but not held down by them.
Bad=Because some shows are just falling apart at the seams. Errors, mistakes, poor decisions. Completely unredeemable characters or story, or just so horribly contradictory or aimless that whatever they planned to do, it never comes across or falls apart.
Mediocre=For when a show truly aspired to nothing at all. A bad show at least tried to be more than its other peers, and if nothing else, is valuable to watch for other animators, authors, or studios to learn from on what not to do, or how great plans and materials can be brought to ruin. Some shows just find a rut, and not only sit in it, but take root and fossilize in it. For where the overwhelming majority of the show is drowning in the works of yesteryear, completely unchallenged, innovated on, or at all presenting any sign of effort to even just improve what things were already doing.
This one is overwhelmingly a

Mediocre show.
That first episode is still great. I went back and watched it again, and I still like it. But the rest of it? Gag me with a spoon, seen it, done it before, done it BETTER before. The show descends from its pedestal of interesting intelligent main character, a snarky joke on fan service that I rather liked, and an absolutely (still) wonderfully interesting concept for the World and powers...
and just shuffles its feet back onto the railroad tracks of tropes and standards. Fan Service, while not frequent, is still standard fair. The Main character goes on a harem'esque collection of girls for his party, all of the characters fit into a small pool of tropes that don't see any innovation for being smashed together, and the Phantoms seem to always take a backseat when push comes to shove against the oh-so-wonderfully bland main cast. 
Hey, maybe this is spoilers, but in case none of you had noticed, lets run down a summary and see if you can spot the trope's owner eh?
Spunky Athlete.
Cripplingly Shy becomes Permanently Courageous.
A Magical Girl sequence.

Big Eater.
Big Boobs-vs-Little Boobs.
The Chew Toy [L].
Punches when Touched.

[Spoilers End]
Look, I'm not saying tropes are bad. Tropes are building blocks, you start with them, and should rise up from them. This show just stacks the blocks together into a square and calls it done. Here, let me quote myself from the Comet Lucifer end post:
"If you have no rules to restrict you and make you innovate, then you could pull a magic mc'guffin out of a hat at every turn to fix all your problems. The show does that. All the time. It's really annoying, because they could have done the exact same things, but if they hadn't just magically pulled them out of thin air, and had actually taken some time to do some setup and foreshadowing, or even just a brief explanation, it all wouldn't have left behind such a sour taste."
Literally the only thing they don't magic Mc'guffin is the remote that gives them access to the Big-Brother-Gov'ner baddies servers, and still they have to magic Mc'guffin TWO MORE THINGS from thin air to make it work. Why? Because they left it alone until the LAST episode. I'm serious. The main character pokes it a few times at random disconnected flashes in the show, but never actually makes more than that single bit of progress that throws a big foreshadow in our faces and then...quietly poofs from existence. I had serious hopes for that remote redeeming this show, and it just ended up getting beaten down by everything around it.
Finally, I want to just point out that the Main Characters great power-up at the end is a complete contradiction to everything around it, as the show portrays it. They totally could have made it legit in a good handful of ways, I'm sure, for I can think of at least two, but the way they actually explain it? As far as I understood it, it contradicted itself.
[Spoilers]They say he can recover his power(s?) by basically taking it/them from Ruru because she's some kind of early highly-connected locus of his power and memories, and has been growing with him all this time because he >summoned< her so early in his life. Bullshit. So if he had just kept his other two summons around all the time, (in fact why does he ever unsummon them), then they too wouldn't have disappeared when he had his power(s) taken? If they tried to say that she was some kind of external informational backup of all his memories because he shares them all with her, that would have made some sense. ESPECIALLY since she starts acting like Haruhiko after his power(s?) are taken. Another matter. The hell was taken from him? Solomon's Finger? The ability to draw things to seal them? The general ability to summon things? All of the above? It's implied that she takes everything. When the other people had their powers taken, most especially the one with the water staff, the act of taking unsummoned the power. So, if Haruhiko created/summoned Ruru with his power, ostensibly inspired by the old book his mother had, why wasn't she unsummoned? Her just having her personality cleaved makes no sense. How everything plays out seems to imply that all Enigma was really doing was draining some of peoples powers off the top down to a level so weak they couldn't manifest, and then Haruhiko just uses Ruru as an external battery to recharge that little bit that was left. But that's not how the rest of the context says it. If they wanted to play this out, they shouldn't have brought that stupid book in, or at the very least, made it not pertain or suggest it was the source of Ruru. If they wanted her to be an external backup/battery of his memories/abilities, then they should have pushed the idea that he was either born with her, or that shortly after his birth/gaining his ability, he randomly and unknowingly created her before he understood anything at all. It still falls under my criticism that Ruru should have been unsummoned, but at least it has a slightly more tenable reason why she might be a strong enough force unto herself to exist without Haruhikos power feeding into her. Hell, just underlining a difference like that between her and his other two summons would have been good. In general, just not saying that she was summoned by him like the other two, just she was done when he was really young, would have been better. At least then it could have at least tried to hand wave it away with, "oh she's a force unto herself because Haruhiko never really bound her to him, because he created her unintentionally, so she exists on her own power, and was just still feeding off of some of his." See? It at least is a little harder to immediately tear into than "he summoned her from a books inspiration when he was really young, so she's different."
[Spoilers End]

Impartial Opinion: Too Shallow.
That first episode? Great. Should have kept rolling like that. Instead, the show seems to reel from how amazing it just was, and decides to dial everything back five notches. If the show had tried to push the boundaries of even a handful of the wonderful potential gems they had, it would have been great.
On the risk of spoilers, here's some examples of things I think were really well done, or at least worthy of mention, but are examples of things that never really developed as much as they could have:
Connecting Reina's appetite versus fit figure to her Ability, and then also having her able to heal with her mouth. Was that scene clearly fan service? Yes. Was it still fluent with the world and story? Absolutely. I'm quite amazed they never used this healing power of hers ever again in the show. They did a good job of focusing all of her ability around her mouth, and then finding an interesting innovation for it.

Mai's ability. No. Really. This was clearly thought up as fan service, but the idea itself was really interesting. Unfortunately, Mai and Koito are the only two who never saw any kind of innovation with their abilities. Maybe because they were already stronger than the others on the starting line, but that's just making excuses. They literally never used Reina's new ability again, so clearly they had the means and precedent to at least have them develop a little bit.
Ruru's build up. No, not the character herself, nor the eventual unveiling of her...(well sort of hers?) great power, because those are respectively the-most-annoying-thing-since-I-can-remember, and the most overwhelmingly obvious reveal ever. They spent so long teasing and hinting at her being super relevant to Haruhiko, that I was lead to expect a hell of a lot more then literally the most obvious part of it being the big power itself. The actual build up though? Amazing. Mostly because every ounce of my organic matter wanted to end her.

[Spoilers End]
Now. About whether you should watch this. Sure. There is a whole bunch of really shiny gems scattered about in the show, it's just...they never really make a lovely piece of jewelry out of it. Heck, they just barely super glue all of it into a big gooey rock pile by those last two episodes. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, but I get the strong impression that I set too high of expectations, and then was let down. If you approach with moderate-to-zero expectations, this would probably be quite enjoyable.

On the whole though, I feel like so much of this was rushed, and like there really should have been not only more to ...everything, but also a slower and more intricate build up for everything. Honestly I'm not inspired enough to see if/what source material exists, but if it is out there, I get the feeling it might be better. Or the most depressing thing ever if it's exactly the same.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Myriad Colors Phantom World: Just...not going anywhere.

Last Seen: Episode 11

I waited it out to give it a chance, but really, I think I give things too much leeway a lot of the time. Certainly now that I'm spending more time around people I keep getting complimented on my patience for putting up with really stupid shit.

This show had a really promising first episode, and I still think that. It was really well laid-out and executed but...that was about it. After that, the show just gets so...un-amazing. I mean that there isn't anything particularly bad about the show, it's just there isn't anything spectacular or amazing, or even just interesting about it after that one great introduction. I suppose I kept holding out, because they keep waving these shiny things in front of the audience, promising that they may just do something amazing, but then they don't. The stupid remote, Haruhiko's ability never going anywhere, the harem'esque collection of new girls for the party...hell the general atmosphere of the show feels like a slice of life all the time, instead of what I thought it was promising with a really interesting surreal world to explore. For crying out loud, they didn't even use that really neat animation they had at the start of the episode when Haruhiko is waking up EVER again and I really thought that it had some kind of meaning about how Haruhiko perceives the world.

Hell, I think the only thing I truly enjoyed every episode was the one thing the show constantly seems to feel ashamed of, the opening sequence when Haruhiko just sits down with the audience and talks really deeply about some random piece of trivial knowledge. Ostensibly, that piece of knowledge is suppose to be relevant to that episode, but only ever so tangentially.
By all that is unholy and evil, that stupid floating elf is more annoying than any character I have ever seen yet. She constantly interrupts whenever something really intelligent is being said, even in the part of the show devoted to talking that way, evidencing that the studio behind this really was afraid we are all to stupid to pay attention if we aren't flashed a pair of tits every other minute. She contributes nothing to the story despite her constantly being around Haruhiko for no explicable reason, and she is just always doing something stupid. Having a prat-fall character in a show for comedic effect is fine, but having one that never amounts to anything but prat-falls is just annoying.

Don't get me wrong, the show's by no means completely terrible or a waste of time. In fact, it's a pretty good time killer. But that's all it is. There isn't anything deep about the show, at all. Not the characters, not the world, not the story. I'm not even sure there is a plot anymore outside that remote which gets shown maybe once every 3 episodes.

I waited till this long because I'm not sure how long this anime is running. If it's the short-season anime that I feel like it's going to be, they only have 1-2 episodes left to wrap things up. On the other hand, if this runs it out twice the current length, maybe they have some room to impress me, but I doubt it. At this point, I'm at about 90% certainty that everything about the show that I thought was really promising, was just me reading too deeply into things. The stupid fairy, that opening animation, and a few other things that I'm just going to go ahead and write-off as wastes of my time and attention.

In short? If you picked this show up because of my recommendation, I'm sorry, but really I only ever did recommend just that first episode, even in the post itself. Maybe I had my misgivings even back then...ah well, hind-sight 20/20 eh?
If you haven't picked this show up, know that there really isn't any reason for you to do so unless you just want to turn your brain off for a while, laugh, and kill some time.