Mike’s “Real Life Sideswiped Me” Catchup Roundup

I may have been busy reading and grading homeworks last week, but I actually did watch some anime too. Here’s a roundup of everything I saw last week.

Liability is what you get when LOLCENSOR isn’t around. Janet Jackson, take note.

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 3

The Lolcensor is…nowhere to be found? Maybe they’re not trying to satisfy Standards and Practices after all!

The cornucopia of mentally ill girls continues to grow (at least in part on the part of Kaede) and the harem aspect of this show continues to become clearer. Because that is, in the end, what this is–a harem comedy featuring some disturbed and mentally unstable girls following an equally mentally unstable guy. They all want him. They all adore him. Even the OCD girl wants to marry him. And now there are panty shots: the conventions are complete.

I’m beginning to wonder what exactly the point of this show is, though. It’s clever and funny and inventive, but it also seems pointlessly random at times. (Case in point: the final scene after the credits, aside from the lawsuit. Is this yet another reference I’m missing?) It seems to be a fractured perspective–not unlike that of Franz Kafka, who has a namesake in this show!–but from no one particular point of view.

Still, there’s way too little originality in the anime world and it’s refreshing to see something different.

It ain’t you, babe.

Hayate no Gotoku 17

Man, I haven’t written about this show in a good long while. I’ve read a number of people who are either giving up on the show or are getting bored of it, and I can sort of see why. The show could potentially become one of those endless sitcoms, like Ranma, where the concept is milked for all its worth long after it ceases to be funny.

This has not happened to the show for me. I still like it a lot, even if it’s no longer the star of the season. (Any season that contains Higurashi has that spot taken. Sorry!)

Some of it is the tsundere power of Rie Kugiyama, though in this show, she’s definitely more on the dere end of things. Some of it is Hayate’s indefatiguable desire to please and now, increasingly, protect his young manga nerd charge. Some of it is seeing Maria-san’s angry face scare the crap out of Hayate…

I understand that this particular episode was an anime original. I was able to tell the last time that happened–it was frustratingly random and directionless. I wasn’t able to tell with this one. It wasn’t as great as the immediately prior episodes, where Hayate fights other combat butlers, but it was more than passable.

I guess this was foreshadowing.

And I see the next episode is a swimsuit episode. Do they need one when they have the new closing credits anyway?

You mean losing its scariness?

Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai 4

What’s interesting in the current arc is how much more subdued it is. By this time in season 1, Keiichi was in full blown frantic paranoia mode and the creepy factor had been turned up to 11. There was no humor by then, whereas there are still silly and chibi scenes in this one at the beginning–though things of course are beginning to shift with Satoko suspecting a stalker. And, as they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

I’ve come to realize that this is what the show excels at showing: how the bonds of trust and friendship can be slowly undermined and eventually broken by fear, suspicion, and ultimately hate. In each arc, there is always a scapegoat, a person who is left out of the community and must suffer the consequences–either as a victim or as the one who lashes out. In the previous arc, we saw a move toward forgiveness and restoration of those bonds at the end, though it seemed a little forced. In the current arc, Rika’s heavy sense of fatalistic foreboding seems to portend something bad again. If anything, Rika’s attitude is getting…how can I say this…annoying? Over and over, we hear “there’s nothing that can be done.”

Still, I’m eager to see what this most intelligent of thrillers will continue to offer up. The arc appears to be in its final stages and I want to see how it all ties together in the end.

Cyrano de Bergerac was more subtle than this, you know.

School Days 2-3

Everybody hates Makoto, it seems. Me, I just find him clueless in the way I was at that age, though he’s more blatant and indiscreet than I was. This is a show where the awkwardness between the principal three characters gives me that familiar shiver of recognition up the spine. You really can’t expect high schoolers to be emotionally astute. Makoto might be especially insensitive–people have rightly hammered him for ignoring Kotonoha on their first date, one part that I did find unrealistic (a guy like that doesn’t seem like he gets lots of dates, and considering how he was squealing like a girl about what he was going to wear, you’d think he’d be stupidly enraptured by his girl). He’s especially dense to miss the signal that Sekai did with that kiss in episode 1. But it’s only an exaggeration of reality, I think–I know plenty of guys who have missed signals the girl thought was patently obvious.

I did find the fanservice in episode 3 to be rather gratuitous, though. It’s one thing in the context of Makoto feeling lust; it’s another thing when it’s so we can simply find out that Sekai wears striped underwear. It actually doesn’t fit the tone of the show, either, which is subdued and generally believable.

The general lack of music actually helps a lot; it actually ratchets up the tension a bit in the more awkward scenes. Especially when you know a bad end is probably coming. (The last line of episode 3 is telling, and it’s all too easy to relate to for anyone who’s inexperienced with the way infatuation and teenage relationships work. That boredom is a test, and it is one that they will almost certainly fail, given how immature almost all these characters, especially Makoto, are.)

If this keeps up, School Days will definitely steal the crown from Kimi Ga Nozumo Eien as “best soap operatic drama based on an H-game” anime. It’s far less histrionic and lurid so far.

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at mike.huang@animediet.net. You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.