Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekly Digest: 10/22/12 – Btooom!, Zetsuen no Tempest, K

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.13_[2012.10.22_09.30.47] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.28_[2012.10.22_10.10.47] [NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_10.06_[2012.10.22_11.06.21]

Too many shows, too little time…


Btooom! – 03
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.55_[2012.10.22_09.32.29] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.14_[2012.10.22_09.32.48] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.23_[2012.10.22_09.35.57]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.09_[2012.10.22_09.38.43] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.07_[2012.10.22_09.41.41] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.21_[2012.10.22_09.44.55]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.49_[2012.10.22_09.45.23] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.00_[2012.10.22_09.46.34] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.55_[2012.10.22_09.48.29]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_22.53_[2012.10.22_09.49.04] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.49_[2012.10.22_09.50.00] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.56_[2012.10.22_09.50.08]

Btooom! is preposterous, but in an entertaining way.  It’s one of those shows where a lot of suspension of disbelief is necessary, because the plot is effectively an elaborate 2 AM bar conversation between a bunch of smart geeks with too much time on their hands and a bit of a dark side.

That said, I like it – and if circumstances were different I’d blog it for sure.  As is it seems like a good fit for digest posts, though with the weekends being as crazy as they are they’ll be a couple of days late.  Absurd as it is the premise of the game is a clever one, and it’s interesting to watch a hodge-podge of humanity deal with the insane reality thrust upon them.  It’s a bit of a twist on the stage of the Hunter exam where everyone needs to steal number tags, except this time it’s the embedded chips – and it requires eight to escape the island, the only way to obtain one being to kill an opponent. 

It appears that everyone represents some element of humanity’s dark side and most likely had someone suggest this as a punishment, so obviously the tone of the show is pretty dark and ruthless.  The new entry this week was salaryman Taira Kiyoshi (seiyuu titan Ohsawa Toru) who seems clever and decent and desperate to team up with the young and healthy Sakamoto, but presumably has some ugly secret he's hiding.  Teaming up is pregnant with risks, too, because you effectively need twice as many chips to win – and what’s to prevent you from stealing your partner’s as the last one you need?  One clever player, a tattooed man in his 20’s, uses the food drops as a clever means of obtaining a chip by using it as bait to lure and kill a competitor.  As for Himiko, she flees at the sight of Sakamoto and we don’t see much of her for the rest of the episode.  We do however get introduced to the next major player, and the prospect of a psychopath shota played by Sawashiro Miyuki should prove interesting at the very least.

Zetsuen no Tempest – 03

[HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.09_[2012.10.22_10.10.29] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.51_[2012.10.22_10.11.10] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.50_[2012.10.22_10.13.10]
[HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.40_[2012.10.22_10.15.59] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.40_[2012.10.22_10.17.59] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.46_[2012.10.22_10.21.06]
[HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.40_[2012.10.22_10.21.59] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.40_[2012.10.22_10.25.59] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.14_[2012.10.22_10.26.33]
[HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.40_[2012.10.22_10.28.00] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.05_[2012.10.22_10.28.24] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.32_[2012.10.22_10.28.52]
[HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.51_[2012.10.22_10.29.11] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_24.03_[2012.10.22_10.31.03] [HorribleSubs] Zetsuen no Tempest - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_24.22_[2012.10.22_10.31.22]
This show has a funny quality to it despite being one of the least funny shows of the season – I tend to like the second halves of the episodes much better than the first.  I chalk it up to the fact that it’s necessary to be caught up in the sweeping theatricality and shameless BONES/Okada over-writing for Zetsuen no Tempest to be effective – it’s a show that must be appreciated on a visceral level rather than an intellectual one.

To be blunt, I’m not all that interested in any of the main characters in Znt (so far the supporting characters Evangeline and Natsumura easily trump the three leads), or even the plot.  But there’s a grand, melodramatic quality to it that can be quite enthralling.  The beautiful animation, the old-school “stuntman” style special-effects, the sweeping classical soundtrack – this is not the kind of anime we see every day, and it’s to be appreciated almost on an operatic level.  So far it’s not a great show by any means, but it’s very unusual and in terms of pure style, of very high quality.

K – 03
[NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_01.55_[2012.10.22_10.59.43] [NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_02.25_[2012.10.22_11.00.13] [NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_08.12_[2012.10.22_11.04.28]
[NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_09.10_[2012.10.22_11.05.26] [NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_10.44_[2012.10.22_11.06.59] [NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_15.18_[2012.10.22_11.11.33]
[NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_17.22_[2012.10.22_11.13.38] [NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_21.33_[2012.10.22_11.17.48] [NWTC]_K_-_03.mkv_snapshot_22.34_[2012.10.22_11.18.49]

I think K is getting something of an unfairly bad rap – it seems to have become the series it’s mandatory to hate if you want to look cool.  Sure, it’s mostly empty calories – but sometimes empty calories taste good when you’re eating them.

Will I continue to blog K?  Probably intermittently, if anything, because of my severely limited time and the large list of decent shows this season.  And I won’t pretend this is profound material, but I continue to find it amusing most of the time.  I like the BGM, I like the animation and art style, and I think the action sequences are well done.  There’s no question the series tries to be self-consciously clever way too often, and that can be irritating – but it’s also funny a good chunk of the time.  I especially enjoy the “Show some respect!” cleaning robots, and the interplay between Kuroh and Yashiro (really hard to believe this is the same seiyuu as Hisoka) is starting to appeal to me as the classic Manzai pairing it is.  I also find the notion of Hayami Show’s voice on a tape recorder as the source of all wisdom to be a hilarious conceit.

As for the seven kings of many colors and the colorless king and all that, I find it to be pretentious hugger-mugger and I’m not taking it too seriously.  Happily I don’t think the many writers are either, as they seem to see it – as I do – as a pretense for the flash and preening that’s at the core of the series.  I don’t have much use for Neko either, as she seems little more than a shameless attempt to appeal to a certain audience (as does the goth-loli girl).  There’s a bit too much of the marketing department in the mix here generally, likely a result of having so many writers involved, and that’s going to limit the upside of K to a good degree.


13 comments:

  1. Are we sure about the tape recorder voice? Sounded more like Aizen (equally amusing imagery, in my opinion).

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    1. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's Hayami Sho(Tohsaka Tokiomi and Aizen).
      Enzo has been mixing up the two since Fate/Zero.

      Delete
  2. I'm liking Btooom! quite a bit, for one thing, it's evident that you need both brain and bronze to win the game, that is if you don't get trolled by whoever put you on the god-forsaken island in the first place. The interplay between the physical and psychological battle generates a lot of tension that's thrilling to watch.

    As for Zetsuen no Tempest, I think I have a higher opinion of it than you do, but that really comes down to personal taste. While it's not wow-inducing, I think there are a lot of things to like and lot of things that are interesting to think about, especially in terms of character dynamic between the duo leads. Even though Bones has a penchant for ambitious ideas, the character development in their shows tend to be quite subtle and believable. But this is not a studio original, with the source material as well as Okada's influence on script accounted for, I'm not sure how much creative input the folks over at Bones have. I'm just hoping this won't turn into something completely style over substance, and so far, the concerns are subdued but still very much exist.

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  3. Btoooom: I don't trust the new guy. As soon as he said he's in real estate I was yelling at the main character to give him a wide berth. Man I dislike realtors.

    Zetsuen no Tempest: I'm enjoying this one a lot, it's actually turning into one of my most anticipated shows every week. I really like the characters. Needs more Evangeline though.

    K: The BL vibes that I briefly caught in the first episode are back in this one. The main character blushes around his would be assassin a little too much. Also I agree about Neko, she seems completely worthless as a character so far. I really think this show has too many cooks in the kitchen, I feel like I'm watching 3 or 4 different shows that have been randomly smashed together into one 20 minute episode. Like the animation style, like the character design, but the show itself is too schizophrenic.

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  4. "Nakata Jouji’s voice on a tape recorder"

    That's Hayami Shou. The two have a similar voice but with some slight but important differences (that make Hayami effective in "evil" roles but not Nakata, and yet for some reason the latter keeps getting those roles). I'm very grateful that they got Hayami, even if for a minor role. I don't even remember the last time I've heard him.

    As for K's punching bag status, it's all the more weird because after ep 2-3 it's obvious that the show is not exactly taking itself very seriously, and it has its tongue firmly in its cheek, though I guess you had to stick around for eps 2 and 3 to be aware of that. And people keep complaining about things that wouldn't bother them in other anime - the show being "confusing" (I'm confused about why people think this show with its clear as day storytelling is confusing, lack of information doesn't seem to bother anyone in Zetsuen no Tempest or Shinsekai yori) or having "too many characters" (this is not even close to "too many," a number of popular shows have a similarly sized cast).

    The homophobic whining is getting on my nerves, though. Going by the internet you'd think K has explicit gay sex in every third minute or something, instead of the protagonist blushing twice in 3 episodes as a small fanservice, while the show gives you in-your-face shots of Seri's butt and Neko's boobs. (Strangely no-one seems to comment on the conversation between Munakata and Suou, I think that was more suggestive than anything Shiro had done so far.)

    I can't help but find it baffling that something like Psycho-Pass that's just as pretentious and without subtlety as K's first episode was, is basically a collection of dystopia and anime clichés, *and* advertised itself with shirtless images of the male cast, plus the Vicious look-alike stroking the Spike look-alike's hair, is halied as the show of the season... ^^;;

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    1. Shin Sekai Yori > Psycho-Pass > Zetsuen no Tempest > K

      I'm sorry but Psycho-Pass and K are in completely different leagues.

      Delete
    2. Oh sure: one is enjoyable and the other isn't. :P Or rather, different strokes for different folks. Me, I enjoy K for the harmless and self-aware fluff it is, while Psycho-Pass made me roll my eyes so hard I thought they'd fall out of their sockets, and that was *before* I read all that pretentious crap from the creators. Episode 2 did absolutely nothing to change my impressions of the show. So, dropped.

      The funny thing I was trying to point out was that ep 1 of Psycho-Pass was just as pretentious and full of itself as K's first ep, and while it didn't have any blushing it had the history of those promo images AND the Fated Meeting between the two guys right in the first minute. And yet while people lambasted K for being pretentious, full of itself and "eeeww gay" (pfft), Psycho-Pass got zero comment on being pretentious and full of itself, and I saw no complaints about the "eeeww gay" even though the two characters presented as being fixated on each other had been pictured stroking each others' hair in a well-circulated promo pic. But I suppose here's where pretending to be "deep" helps.

      Delete
    3. "Psycho-Pass got zero comment on being pretentious and full of itself"

      Probably because Psycho-Pass isn't pretentious.

      Delete
  5. Well, I must disagree with you Enzo here. As a person who absolutely hated K the moment it debuted, it's very amusing to be accused of "trying to look cool" by hating a show that is ALL ABOUT trying to look cool with all the bishie posing (to me). oh ha ha ha. I hate this bloody show because it sucks and is self-eye-gouging inducing; it's simple as that. There is no need to have other ulterior motives for hating this show, m'okay?

    And look, I understand that people's taste is different and how a McRib can be a mixture of an oldman's vomit and horse manure to one person while a tasty meal to a next guy. So we can shake our hands and agree to disagree on that front. About 70-80% of the times it seems like we tend to agree on shows' worth anyway. ...And I gotta hand to ya, you defend a show to the bitter end, once you take a liking.

    As for the other two shows, Btooom! and Zetsuen, I don't think anyone is pretending that these are "great" shows. But I find them decent enough and continue to watch them.

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    1. I just think sometimes opposition to a show takes on a mind of its own, especially one as relentlessly promoted as K was. There's no question this is a pretty shallow enterprise, but I also don't think the writers are trying to do anything except have fun with it and they know how silly the show is. Some of the criticism I see is stuff that others show do equally, and worse.

      Of course there's also a reflexive backlash among a lot of fans against any show that has any suggestion of shounen-ai in it - there are countless examples of that happening - and that hasn't helped K either. Put it together and it appears to me that K is the show that's fashionable to hate. That doesn't mean there aren't valid reasons to dislike it - I wouldn't rank it among the best shows of the season by any stretch - but it's being treated worse than it deserves to be by the community as a whole, in my opinion.

      Delete
    2. The biggest problem with K is that the writers seem to be having too much fun, to the point of being a little whimsical. Because how heavily marketed it was, there was so much, perhaps too much expectation going into the show, and when it didn't deliver, the backlash is more violent than what it would have been if the promotion was more modest. Having fun perfectly okay, but it shouldn't be an excuse for the lack of direction, especially when you consider how short the series is.
      I'm not too bothered by shonen-ai element as long as it serves a purpose in character development, but so far K seems to be flashing it for fan service, which produces an entirely different effect.
      To be honest, if we deconstruct what's played out so far and evaluate each aspect independently - the music, the characters, the mystery, it's not all that bad. But it fails to weave everything together. The sum of its parts is all we get, nothing more nothing less.

      Delete
  6. I think Zetsuen no Tempest is the prefect BONES show. Just enough over-the-top aspects to pull off a Shakespeare send up, yet fluid animation, good music and a solid touch of class to the story at hand. It's my favorite of the "okay" series this season.

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  7. I think one good thing about K is that it's not an adaptation, so there are some good speculation topics, and turns out that these topics are quite fun to follow. Maybe it's not as good as MPD, but some people pointed out there are lots of hidden meaning from things that happened/shown in this anime.

    Anyway, we already know the plot, so maybe next episode will follow this plot (though judging from preview, I'm a bit pessimistic for that...)

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