Two moments today, since I missed last night’s due to travel! Today we enter into the current, soon-departed season and talk about Takuto’s fabulous transformation sequence in Star Driver, and the defiantly crude humor of Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt.
Like anything Yoji Enokido does, Star Driver is full of longing, adolescence, innuendo, and satire. In the case of this show, which I count as the best of the current season, he is not afraid to both celebrate and poke fun at fujoshi bait, of which Takuto’s incredibly, well, elaborate magical girl style transformation sequence is a prime example.
I should know. I first watched Star Driver at anime club, which has a healthy population of fangirls. I knew little about the show other than that it was about mecha and that it was by the writer of RahXephon, FLCL, and Utena. The squeeing, and laughter, that ensued when Takuto’s nude(?) silhouette appeared in the groin of Tauburn—not to mention the very translated name “Galactic Pretty Boy”—was truly epic. It was almost frightening. (I can only imagine the reaction if we ever show that scene where Takuto and Sugata do nothing but pant heavily…oh Lord.)
Almost against my will, I had to join in the appreciative laughter. It was so defiantly flamboyant, it demanded respect. It didn’t hurt that the action scenes were well-animated, and that Enokido’s skill at delivering small slice-of-life moments combined with convoluted plots fleshed out the show further. A great soundtrack on top (especially the insert songs) and we have an unconventional winner.
Enokido knows how ridiculous it is, which is why an entire episode’s battle ends up hinging on one woman’s inability to stop her fangirling over Takuto’s smooth moves. There are parts in the show that could seem very pretentious (the fish girl’s story, for instance), but it is moments like these that help us understand that we aren’t supposed to take Star Driver all that seriously. It’s deliberately chaotic and a bit out-of-order, and it’s supposed to a wild romp and mashup of genres, more FLCL than the rather serious RahXephon. And it’s the most fun anime of the season, and the best.
I did not expect to like Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt, but I and moritheil have explained, it wins points simply by being brazen and completely unrestrained. Much modern anime feels confined, locked into a few stock character designs, plots, and genres. Hiroyuki Imaishi and company—the list of Gainax luminaries and veterans is astonishing when you read the credits of many individual episodes—exploded all of it…
…literally, in the very first plot, which features potty humor the likes that has never been seen in late-night anime. There is excrement, and vomit, and other bodily fluids. It is willfully childish and vulgar, and not in the way that a lot of anime ends up being: it’s in your face. It’s downright American, really, with them swearing in English and the sound effects in English and the character designs. It feels so American that, despite the Japanese dialogue, it often doesn’t feel like anime at all, which was at first a bit of a turnoff. My initial impression was that if I wanted to see something like this, I’d just watch Adult Swim.
Something kept me going past the initial hump of an episode like this. The second story in the first episode, about the car chase, helped a lot: it was very well choreographed (many of the action scenes are incredibly well choreographed and exciting, backed by a hip, thumping soundtrack, the coolest this side of FLCL and Durarara!!). Experimental stories and even more daring humor impressed me with its sheer audacity. But this first story in the first episode set the tone. It declared: all bets were off, we are going to simply indulge in our animation id and release something as unrestrained as we know how. After years of releasing formula mediocrity (with one very large exception, of course), it cannot be said anymore that Gainax has forgotten how to take chances.
The “12 Days, 12 Moments” series is part of an aniblogosphere-wide project to blog about the most memorable moments in anime for the year in the 12 days before Christmas. It was started in 2007 by CCY of Mega Megane Moe. Others participating this year include Aorii, 8C, prototype27, Scamp, schneider, Borderline Hikkikomori, TWWK, Landon, Janette, digiboy, drmchsr0, doctordazza, Fawkes, FNSNA, super rats, Jubbz, RP, TheBigN, Jinx, mefloraine, Caraniel, glothelegend, Chii, Valence, dai1313, and bitmapchaos.