When Mystery and Psychology fail: Heads

unknown.png

Heads is a mystery and psychological manga heavily centered around the theme of insanity, multiple personalities and what makes us, “us”.

It was written by Higashino Keigo, who didn’t write a whole lot of manga, and most of what he wrote can be summed up as one-shots centered at the shoujo demographic. Heads is different in the sense that it targets a different demographic and is his longest manga with 4 volumes and 36 chapters.

Outside of his relatively small work in the manga department, Keigo Higashino according to this site:

“Is one of the most popular and biggest selling fiction authors in Japan—as well known as James Patterson, Dean Koontz or Tom Clancy are in the USA.

He won the Edogawa Rampo Prize, which is awarded annually to the finest mystery work, in 1985 for the novel Hōkago (After School) at age 27.

In 1999, he won the Mystery Writers of Japan Inc award for the novel Himitsu (The Secret), which was translated into English by Kerim Yasar and published by Vertical under the title of Naoko in 2004. In 2006, he won the 134th Naoki Prize for Yōgisha X no Kenshin.

The Devotion of Suspect X was the second highest selling book in all of Japan— fiction or nonfiction—the year it was published, with over 800,000 copies sold. It won the prestigious Naoki Prize for Best Novel— the Japanese equivalent of the National Book Award and the Man Booker Prize. Made into a motion picture in Japan, The Devotion of Suspect X spent 4 weeks at the top of the box office and was the third highest‐grossing film of the year.”

So as you can clearly see, Keigo is highly praised for his mystery writing skills in Japan, which came as a bit of a shock to me after I read the manga called Heads, which story he wrote. Because of the fact that the “mystery” aspect of Heads can only be described as highly predictable, obvious, generic and even bad.

The basic story is about a shy, weak and cowardly character called Jun Naruse, whose other primary traits include the fact that he likes to paint and is unable to disobey his superiors, he is generally a conformist person who doesn’t try to stick out like a sore thumb in the community he is in. Also despite being an overall Beta-male, Jun still has a girlfriend as well a job.

Everything seems to be going well for him, but then one day he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. A shooter arrives to rob the building he was in, and when the wannabe robber brandishes his gun at a little girl, Jun proceeds to jump in the way (contrary to his previously established cowardly personality, this is a drastically heroic act from him), the bullet hits him in the head and everything fades to black.

He awakens 4 weeks later from a comatose state only to learn that he is in a hospital and that they somehow managed to save him despite his injuries to the brain. At first the doctors tell him that his brain could be repaired because “science was on his side” and that he was very lucky. But it doesn’t even take a chapter for Jun to accidentally stumble across the freezer (talk about coincidence), which contained 2 damaged brains in a jar, one of them was labeled Host J.N. (Jun Naruse), while the other one was labeled the “Donor.”

random1

Naturally even our dumb protagonist manages to connect the dots and the next day he asks the doctor what really happened. The doctor proceeds to inform him that he is the first person to successfully receive a brain transplant. By brain transplant here I don’t mean full brain transplant, as only Jun’s left side of the brain was injured, they took the left side from the donor and did a “partial brain transplant.”

As you would expect, Jun immediately has worries about this alarming development, but the Doctor reassures him that everything is alright and that the operation went smoothly, so he has nothing to worry about (ha-ha). It becomes evident in the very next chapter that the partial brain matter from the Donor is influencing him anyway by “manifesting” the personality of the Donor.

Most of the “mystery” aspect of the manga is centered around this Donor as Jun tries to find the parents of the donor, learn about his personality and see how the changes in his persona are correlated to the persona of the donor, several important chapters are wasted on this.

random2

And I really mean wasted, because the identity of the donor was obvious to anyone who paid some attention in the first 3-4 chapters, where they mention that the shooter who shot Jun also died. It was honestly such an expected cliché move to fuse the shooter’s and victim’s brains together that anyone could see it coming the moment it was mentioned. Yet instead of averting this cliché, Mr. Keigo decided to play right into it.

This is arguably one of the worst mistakes made in this manga, because as I said Jun is sent on this wild goose chase where he chases after the donor and tries to rationalize his changes with what he finds. Only for him to eventually find out that the donor’s identity that the Doctor gave him was a fake who was actually a nice and friendly person, but they bribed his father to tell a complicated lie about how he was basically an unwanted devil child with a temper that no one liked.

Anyway, Jun only finds out about the “connection” with his brain and the shooter in the last 3/4 of the manga, which is in all honesty a waste of the reader’s time due to how obvious everything was.

The second worst mistake of the author was the fact that he didn’t restrict the narrative of the story to the protagonist’s perspective. What do I mean? Well many mystery maintain their mysterious atmosphere by only showing everything through the eye of the protagonist or what the protagonist sees, because of this, the reader knows only as much as the protagonist. This works quite well for any mystery series since the reader can figure out and notice things that the protagonist didn’t realize himself.

Meanwhile Heads is ruined by the fact that it makes use of two perspectives, the fact that it shows scenes without the protagonist being there, and most of these scenes are what lead to the ruin of the mystery. For example it becomes clear as early as chapter 4 that The Doctor and his two assistants are experimenting with Jun and toying with his life for their own benefit, we are shown this in scenes where they are talking to each other without the protagonist being present.

Again the whole “mystery” aspect is thrown out of the window as there is no anticipation, excitement or anything for the reader to uncover, we always know everything that the protagonist doesn’t, and this is a huge sin from a mystery writing standpoint. Jun Naruse only learns of The Doctor’s manipulation in the latter half of the manga. Once more the manga wastes a huge amount of time for things that the reader knows from the very beginning to be revealed to the protagonist via the story.

random3

Now that we thrashed the mystery lets turn our attention to the psychological aspect of the manga. If you expect some ground breaking or unique portrayal of character psyche change, then you will be in for a disappointment as Heads is very generic in this department.

All that really happens is that our protagonist Jun will start to suffer from paranoia and dual personality, the personality of his old self and the personality of the killer. And as you would expect it, the killer’s personality is the complete opposite of Jun’s, so our character that was previous gentle, shy and somebody who wouldn’t talk back no matter what, now became a character who would slit someone’s throat for the slightest insult.

He is the cliché 1 dimensionally evil second personality. I’m not even kidding, whenever the killer got “dominant” he always tried to kill someone to the point that he was willing to chase someone for several streets just so that he could light them on fire. There is nothing that would make the killer’s persona sympathetic since all we are shown is that he is arrogant, impatient and highly dangerous, a terrible combination of traits.

Well the manga tries to make him more sympathetic, but the word is really on the try here. They give him a bit of a back-story about how he was a victim of his father who abandoned him and his mother and all he did was just a revenge to get back on his father (by robbing his office). But none of that really makes him a better person.

Its hard to not see him as a psychotic killer as he:

  1. Attempted to shoot a little girl with a gun
  2. Attempted to light someone on fire for simply annoying him with loud talking
  3. Attempted to stab someone for being ungrateful to their parents
  4. Strangled the woman that comforted him because she lied to him.

The revenge on his father would have been relatively justified, but none of the things I mentioned had anything to do with that. So how is he not your average unrelatable killer who is devoid of empathy?

random4

The synopsis of the manga tried to make it seem as if the change in the protagonist’s character would be ambiguous, as if he was just potentially just imagining and deluding himself into being the shooter. So I logically expected something among those lines, but what I got was far worse.

There is no ambiguity here that the protagonist is going crazy, the manga makes it seem like its 100% certain that the brain is influencing him, this is all the more evident due to the fact that manga’s artist alters the eye design and switches to this “dramatic shading” whenever the two personas switch.

random5

The mere fact that the otherwise peaceful, quiet, cowardly protagonist turns into a complete maniac who is willing to kill someone for simply annoying him without any hesitation, makes the whole thing come off as cheap shock-factor.

What’s worse is that even though we have this obviously crazy protagonist present, the side characters do not react accordingly, meaning they do things that wouldn’t make sense in reality, which is a minus as the manga clearly tried to go for the “realistic appeal”.

What do I mean? For example: Jun Naruse frequently visits the hospital for checkups and regularly informs the doctors of his experiences and his mood and personality changes. Even when the changes become really drastic, the doctors still don’t do anything about it. They don’t give him any treatment, nor do they lock him up for his own safety, they just let him wander back into the city, where he might just murder someone at the given opportunity.

Or lets just look at the women. Jun Naruse has two love interests, one of them is the Doctor who the killer’s persona has fallen for, and the other is his old girlfriend before the accident. The doctor obviously knows about his unstable condition as she was one of the three doctors who were on his case, yet despite knowing about his condition, the female doctor still decides to feign a relationship with Jun and have sex with him on a regular basis in order to gain access to his diaries.

Needless to say, Jun eventually finds out and proceeds to strangle the female doctor, who honestly deserved it due to her stupidity. His other girlfriend, Megu, isn’t any better. She witnessed Jun’s deteriorating condition first hand (as they were living together), this escalated to the point where she left his home in fear of his behavior, up until this her actions were logical.

But then a few chapters later she decides to go back to him anyway. What happens you might ask? Well Jun’s condition has gotten to the point that he feels no remorse or shame whatsoever about telling her how he killed the Female Doctor and cut her up to tiny pieces (while presenting her with the bloody saw). Despite being told such a gruesome story and seeing the evidence, she barely shows any sign of shock and still decides to be with Jun Naruse.

In response Jun immediately proceeds to physically abuse her.

15.jpg

She manages to avoid being beaten to death by uttering the following cliché lines:

4444

Its hard for me to emphasize just how utterly stupid and illogical this whole situation is. I get it that its supposed to be a “muh love” type of message, but its still retarded when you think about it from a logical perspective. First off, these characters weren’t together for years, they have only been together for a few months. Their relationship and love wasn’t particularly deep to begin with. If anything it was just a casual relationship between two young adults and it has always been presented like that.

Both of them were still young and it was their first relationship. Due to the fact that the relationship wasn’t that long to begin with, Megu should have been able to get over Jun and break up with him when she noticed that he was no longer “him”. Yet as you could see, she decides to risk dying for being able to stay together with the man that is no longer Jun Naruse, but the shooter. The said shooter who had no problems whatsoever in almost stomping her head in. You can’t tell me that this is how a twenty whatsoever year old girl would act like in the same situation.

Hilariously even after this the killer almost chokes her to death like he did with the doctor, as she is only saved by a sudden deus ex machina of the original Jun Naruse personality returning for a moment and saving her by preventing the killer from killing her.Which is utter bullshit, as the whole thing that was going on since the beginning of the manga was how the killer’s brain matter was eroding and slowly taking over Jun’s personality, not the other way around. This is not the first time the killer tried to kill someone, yet coincidentally for the plot, this is the only time Jun decided to take over. Why didn’t he save the Female Doctor? Because it was convenient for the plot, as it was the Female Doctor’s death that set the events into motion that would end this shitty manga.

In the latter half of the manga it is suddenly stated that Jun’s brain operation was actually an experiment approved by the Illuminati. Okay it doesn’t say Illuminati, but it says a group of old and very rich people, so its still the same thing. Basically the old, rich people wanted to prolong their existence on Earth by brain transferring their consciousness and Jun was just the unfortunate victim of this experiment.

ran6.png

This wouldn’t even be such a bad plot twist, if everything else in the story were made to fit this narrative, but it doesn’t fit. As I said above, Jun was let to freely wander around and cause all kinds of havoc at his workplace, home and pretty much everywhere he goes. While it would have made much more sense for the Illuminati organization to just confine Jun to a hospital and don’t let him wander around freely.

They could have come up with a 1000 excuses to achieve this, yet they didn’t do this. Even though it would have allowed them to publicly notice any changes within his persona and experiment on him further accordingly to the abnormalities observed. Please note that the Female Doctor only died because Jun stopped coming to the hospital and the Illuminati ordered her to gather data from Jun personally. Her death obviously wouldn’t have happened if Jun was simply confined to the hospital.

Later the Illuminati tries to kill him after they learn of the Female Doctor’s death. But again why? Why would they want him dead? That is completely illogical from the men who apparently rule the world from the shadows. It was made quite clear by the old doctor in the initial chapters how much of a miracle the whole operation was and how lucky Jun was for coming out alive. Yet despite this, the Illuminati still tries to kill and eliminate their only successful and extremely rare sample, for simply killing an expendable doctor.

When they could have easily just kidnapped him and locked him up somewhere where escape was impossible. Jun was just one man, he couldn’t have possibly opposed a bunch of wealthy and powerful old men. Despite this the Illuminati still tries to kill him, but not even in a simple manner, but in the most contrived manner possible. First they kidnap him and knock him out, then they transport him to an abandoned warehouse, where they proceed to pour gasoline on him. After this they wake him up (????) just so the doctor can proceed to gloat about how he will kill him and what not in the most cliché manner possible.

And as you guessed, this cliché move is exactly what allows our protagonist to escape and survive this ordeal. After this the protagonist decides to finally end his life. (Because apparently burning to death wasn’t his preferred method of suicide.) He moves to the building where everything started, meaning the place that the killer originally tried to rob and where Jun was shot in the head.

He proceeds to rob the place, goes to the rooftop, scatters the money he stole, which the passing pedestrians immediately proceed to pick up. Then when the police arrive he proceeds to end his life in the most anti climactic suicide possible, by shooting himself in the head.

Rating: 5 Jekyll out of 10 Hyde

The Lost Art of Visual Storytelling

There are many sins that the medium of anime committed over the course of its lifespan, but today I’m going to talk about one that barely anyone seems to notice within the community and in the industry.

That is how 99% of anime utterly lacks what is known as Visual Story Telling.

What is Visual Story Telling? You might ask

Visual Story Telling is a method of story telling available to writers and creators that is used to tell a story with the usage of images, camera angles, colours, visual symbols and effects. Unlike the tool of narration, which tells the viewer the events and the story, visual storytelling shows the audience the story. This is an important point that I will return to multiple times in this article.

This is very relevant today because anime as a medium tells you everything, yet shows you nothing.

No matter what type of story, genre or demographic we are talking about, the primary method of telling a story to the viewer is done through directly feeding the information to him via the characters talking or having a narrator speak.

Just look at the simple matter of how modern anime tend to start themselves. If its a fantasy or scifi world then the audience is given a quick narrative summary of the world and introduce some of its basic mechanics and concepts. Just look at any of the Gundam series, they are usually 50 episodes long each, and for like 25 episodes they keep retelling the premise of the story at the start of every goddamn episode, as if the audience just suddenly forgot about it.

And if its not a fantasy or a scifi anime, then it will most likely start with the protagonist introducing himself within the first 5 minutes of the story as the average student, telling us his likes, hobbies and maybe a few notable elements of his life. Or he can be introduced in a darkened room where he immediately explains to us that he is some kind of NEET teenager who likes to play video games and watch anime and how he is generally an useless member of society.

ruugayou.gif

But from a writing standpoint there is absolutely no reason to do this, as it only serves to break the immersion and the pacing of the story. The starting monologue of the protagonists make little no sense as they have no reason to suddenly start speaking and recount their lives so far, it is obviously done for the sake of filling the audience in, but the protagonist is obviously not aware of the audience, so he has no reason to tell us his life story.

Likewise it is highly annoying in series like Gundam how I have to skip the 5 minute long exposition and episodely recap each time I start watching a new episode, I can’t even imagine how annoying it would have been to watch that anime on Live Television.

All of these problems could easily be avoided if anime used visual storytelling rather than narrating and explaining everything.

H5ngGCX

In the live action movie ‘They Live‘ by John Carpenter the protagonist does not need to make a self introduction. For the first 5 or so minutes of the film we are just shown him silently walking the road, carrying a large bag on his back, looking for a job. No words need to be spoken, to tell the obvious that this man is a drifter, someone without a place. The audience can deduce his initial characters just from looking at him and from what he is doing on the screen. This is a much better method of introducing a character as it also makes the audience think about them rather than being told everything in the form of narration, which leaves no room for interpretations.

Likewise it would be much more sophisticated and also better if anime didn’t use any words for its introduction sequences when it is highly evident as to what the characters are just from their appearance and context within the show.  Like it is obvious when a character is a highschooler from their school uniform and age, and it is also equally obvious when someone is a NEET from their behavior and lifestyle, they are things that can be easily told via visual clues alone, so no need to involve words.

In Scifi and Fantasy anime, pretty much all the mystery, suspense, intrigue and the joy of discovery are lost if everything is just told to the audience, because it will end up feeling like a documentary rather than a form of entertainment, especially if the anime is infodump heavy. (And don’t be mistaken, I’m not saying that world building is bad here. In fact I love world building. All I’m saying is that there are right and sophisticated ways to do world building, and then there are bad and lazy ways of doing world building.)

Speaking of infodumping, anime generally makes use of it in a really retarded fashion. Like explaining what was already shown to the audience and was obvious even before the infodumping. Or when they have a character explain everything about their world to another character living in the same world as if it wasn’t common knowledge to them. Why the hell do you need to explain science and technology to someone living in a world of science and technology?  Why the hell do you need to explain fantasy and mystery to someone who is living in a world of fantasy and mystery?

It is really apparent and blatant when infodumping is done for the sake of the audience as it completely breaks the immersion as well as the pacing. Infodumps that start with words like “As you already know……” are a sign of bad writing.

Or lets just look at how almost every anime character in action shows either outright tells us what their attacks and techniques do while performing the said attack, or directly explain to their opponent right after finishing it. I’m sure everyone is already aware of this as its something that easily reached the levels of a cliché by now. Anime characters talk far too much during fights when they absolutely have no reason to.

Just think about how the entire combat slows down just so that a character can explain the method or logic behind their attack/power/technique etc. It breaks the pacing and adds absolutely nothing in return.They should just show the combat without any interruption, because what is simple can easily be understood with the viewer’s eye, and what is complicated and impossible does not need any explanation as it probably borders on the level of magic anyway. And there is no reason for magic to be explained, because no matter how much detail you put into it, it will always remain just that, magic.

Or lets just talk about how facial expressions and gestures in anime are either nonexistent or overly exaggerated. Facial expressions, body positioning and gestures are a very good way of showing us a characters current emotion, agendas, relationship to another character and what they are thinking about. Yet anime once more makes no use of any of this, everything is simply told to us. In anime we know that a character is angry not from the visuals but primarily from their change in the tone of their voice and the manner which they address the other character.

QO13uxe

By3hGS9

QO13uxe

Far too many modern anime use basically two frames in order to animate characters talking, one frame of the mouth open, one frame of the mouth closed. They repeat using these two frames until the character finishes talking. This was originally intended as a method of saving budget, since they can keep reusing those two frames for however long they want and they don’t need to bother animating complex facial expressions. But nowadays even high budget anime refuse to animated facial expressions and stick to the 2 frame method.

And when they actually do make use of facial expressions, they heavily exaggerate it to the point where it becomes over the top, obvious and because of that also blatantly bad.

1450554922-4dc4de5fad0ec602eede30cb6dbd7d0b

date-a-live-tokisaki-kurumi-yandere.png

Movies do it objectively much better, due to the fact that the facial expressions are there, but the emotions and thoughts that they show are not always completely obvious and thus the reader can actually start thinking about what the character could be thinking about. While in anime there is obviously no need to do that due to the exaggerated facial expressions, which will always tell you exactly how a character feels or what she is thinking about. There is unfortunately no elegance in the storytelling of anime.

Let me show you an example of how facial expressions and gestures can also be used to tell a story. For this example I have chosen the De Niro movie known as Taxi Driver.

temp-320-87085909.gif

There is this scene in the movie where De Niro’s character known as Travis goes to the adult movie theater to watch a pornographic movie and while watching it, the movie shows us how Travis constantly raises and lowers his finger before his eyes during this scene. He acts as if he doesn’t want to see the dirtiness of the movie, yet forces himself to watch anyway. This is a seemingly insignificant detail, while in reality it is highly symbolic to what Travis was doing throughout the entire course of the movie.

And the thing that he was doing, was forcing himself to look at the ugliness and the filth of the world everyday, which is exactly why he choose the job of a late night taxi driver, just so he can watch the scum of the world from an even better position. He hated this side of the world and the people that inhabited it. So naturally the viewer would come to question as to why he was doing it in the first place if he hated it so much. But that isn’t something directly told in the movie, instead it was shown via this subtle and short moment during the porno theater scene, using nothing but the tools of the visual storytelling.

VbZIMuo

Another usage of Visual Storytelling from the same movie occurs at the ending of Taxi Driver. It is when Travis looks into the mirror and sees his own eyes, only for him to turn the mirror away a second later and continue driving.

The character spent much of the movie in his cab, watching his dirty passengers from the mirror as if he was a 3rd party observer and he judged them as he did so. And so when in the ending he finally gazes upon himself through the mirror, he pushes it away because he does not like what he sees. He realized in a glimpse just how he was exactly the same as the scum that he hated. It is really subtle to the point you might not even notice while watching the movie. Anime in comparison never use subtlety in their storytelling, everything is exaggerated and openly told to the viewer.

(Which is why I find it hilarious that so many people still manage to get lost or confused when watching them.)

I will give a third example from another movie called Schindler’s List, which is a famous holocaust story. Schindler’s List was made in 1993, but despite being made in such a modern age, it was shot in almost entirely black and white. It was purposely made that way because it makes the few instances when colour appears on the screen all the more noticeable, striking and significant. One of the times when we see some actual colour in the movie is when the National Socialists are herding the Jews, a child in red coat being escorted along with them.

Schindler's List, Oliwia Dabrowska

This same red coat in a world of black and white reappears later in the film in such a manner as it is depicted below.

main-qimg-f719add26c9bae949c27d9005ef5c06a.jpg

No words need to be spoken, it is obvious what happened.

I highly dislike the movie itself, but even I have to admit that the usage of the few instances of colour and the general lack of colour was clever. In Live Action movies colour is a frequently used tool and device that is used to draw the viewer’s attention to a particular object/person or to evoke a certain emotions/feelings in them. Blue usually calms the viewer but it can also be a symbol of cold, red can be the colour of anger, passion and love etc. You might have already heard about this, so I’m not going to needlessly list everything. The point that I want to make is that anime, despite having far more liberty and freedom than live action shows, refuses to use them. Like out of the several hundred anime that I have watched, I can only think 1 or 2 shows that actually used colour in some way or another.

In the anime community there are a number of anime that are acknowledged to be visually “superior” or even the best amongst anime. These anime include Kotonoha no Niwa, 5cm per second and Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works, just to name a few. They are widely regarded by the average anime to be the best that anime has to offer in the visual department. I can only disagree with them unfortunately, for a variety of reasons.

they-met.jpg

I’m not going to deny that they look good, indeed they look far better than the average anime, I will give credits where it is due. But looking good is all that they are good for, even in these aesthetically beautiful anime, there is zero artistic talent and zero visual storytelling, they don’t use any of that stuff. The reason for that? They don’t want to use them nor do they need to make use of them.

Anime studios always think in terms of profit, mostly the matter of how to get the most possible amount of profit with the least possible amount of money and effort spent. They are about business first and foremost, their objective is to sell, not to make good anime. And unfortunately the two cannot be combined for good anime tend to sell very badly according to statistics.

Studios have found out quite early on that one of the easiest method to gain and keep viewers around is to have above average animation and art style. The logic behind this process is very simple, if a viewer finds something to be visually appealing or entertaining he is far less likely to stop watching as he is constantly entertained by all the pretty colours and effects. Similar to how in Hollywood blockbusters like Avatar and Transformer all the explosions and spectacular effects only exist to keep the audience glued to the screen and perpetually excited.

Art and animation in such works don’t actually exist to make the work better, it exists for the sake of reaping a profit. It isn’t connected to the work as a whole and does nothing to benefit it aside from wrapping it up like a nice present box. The difference is made all the more obvious when one watches a show that actually makes use of the full potential of visual storytelling and art direction.

Earlier I said that 99% of anime do not use visual storytelling in any form or manner. Well now it is finally time to take a look at the 1% that do make us of it.

gNGG09z

The first anime that I’m going to mention that makes use of Visual Storytelling is none other than Ef Tale of Melodies, second installment in the Ef series. Ef is an interesting series for a number of reasons like the fact that it tells 2 stories at once that are loosely connected in an achronological manner, but that isn’t what I want to talk about now. Instead I would like to focus on the Art and more importantly, the usage of Art in Ef.

The art by itself during the usual scenes is nothing special for its time, it may be a bit above average in visuals, but the real change comes when the characters start their dialogues and monologues, which are objectively the best parts of Ef. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Ef Tale of Melodies has some of the best monologues in the entire anime industry. Like very few come even close to it, and this is purely because of the usage of visual storytelling.

In this show when a character starts talking, it is not unusual for quick images to flash by that you might even notice if you aren’t paying attention, these can range from just showing a character’s eyes and nothing more, or showing batches of text and words. Things become surreal in the background and the visual distort as the characters keep talking in the dramatic moments of the show.

Their emotions, feelings, sanity and state of mind is reflected back to us from the change in their surroundings and from the usage of various visual effects. These look especially good and distinct in comparison to the usual art style that Ef has in its non dramatic, peaceful moments. It is really nice to see the art being used to its fullest potential in order to serve the anime as a whole.

Any words I would say on this matter would not do it real justice, so I would prefer if you could just watch them for yourself. I’ll provide a few links below, please check them out.

Ef Monologue 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwqHbasN3oM

Ef 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m_OJPdS8_U

Ef 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoLOXOkSqyk&nohtml5

I honestly think that these scenes speak for themselves. The Ef series didn’t have an extraordinary budget by any means. Imagine if these same scenes were done with the budget that was wasted on Unlimited Blade Works and similar anime, it could produce a spectacular artistic result.

There is another anime called Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei that uses the same techniques as effects that are found within Ef, which is hardly surprising considering they are both made by Studio Shaft. Zetsubou Sensei is a comedy while Ef is a romance-drama series, so the same techniques are used for vastly different purposes in these two works. In Zetsubou Sensei various texts would often flash quickly or be written onto the background (usually on the chalkboard) that frequently make sarcastic remarks regarding the anime industry, Japanese society or what is going on within the show itself.

Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei was made in 2007, while Ef Tale of Melodies was made in 2008. Now what has Studio Shaft done after these two works? Pretty much nothing of value. In 2009 Shaft released Bakemonogatari, which is a harem/fanservice show with supernatural elements. In Bakemonogatari they used the same effects and techniques that they used in Ef and Zetsubou Sensei….for fanservice. Talk about degradation.

Shaftjews.jpg

Bakemonogatari brought success to Shaft and made them famous, which is why they are still milking this fame while it lasts by pumping out more and more monogatari shows every year or so. Zetsubou and the Ef series never sold much on the other hand and as of 2016, pretty much no one talks about them. Remember earlier in the article when I said good anime don’t sell? Then consider it repeated just now.

Imagine if either Zetsubou or Ef were successful instead of Bakemonogatari. We would have more shows like them made by Shaft instead of cheap, pretentious harems that pander to the otaku audience.

The most hilarious thing about Bakemonogatari though, is how it managed to convince hundred-thousands of people that it is something more than a mere harem. Anyone who has ever interacted with the rabid fanbase of the Monogatari series knows what I’m talking about. They will go to extreme lengths just to argue that their favourite harem/fanservice is actually some deep and mature show that you just don’t get. No it isn’t, it is generic harem and everyone was deceived into thinking it is something more due to the usage of visual effects and techniques that are almost never used in anime. Like really, other than Shaft no one really seems to use it, thus they don’t have much in terms of competition. Still the current state of the Monogatari fanbase is only more evidence to the effectiveness of visual storytelling.

Ahem. Before this becomes a Shaft and Monogatari fanbase rant, allow me to re-divert myself back to the original topic. One more anime that I would like to talk about is Texhnolyze. (Mostly just so I can name a non Shaft example of visual storytelling being used in anime.) And no, I won’t be repeating myself, because Texhnolyze uses completely different visual storytelling methods compared to the anime made by Shaft.

If your usual anime fan goes to watch Texhnolyze, then he will most likely feel bored out of his mind, eventually lose track of things, which will most likely result in him dropping the show. I’m not kidding, Texhnolyze is widely regarded as a sleep-fest by many who have attempted completing it.

This however is not because of Texhnolyze being bad or boring. It is because this show is vastly different from your average anime, which can cause some discomfort to the average anime fans who attempts to bite this piece. I would say that it is actually more similar to western movies like Taxi Driver.

The difference is that Texhnolyze does not care about entertaining its viewers, nor does it care about keeping the viewers attention, it is work that obviously exists for its own sake. Texhnolyze doesn’t hold your hand like most anime do, there is zero narration and even dialogues are rare. Indeed, if one watches the first episode of this anime, he will immediately notice a strange thing, that no words were uttered until the very end of the episode.

In your average anime, I would say that more than half of the words that are said only exists for the sake of the viewer, words for introducing the world to the viewer, words to introduce the characters, words to tell the plot, words to make sure the viewer does not get confused etc. Texhnolyze is what you get when you remove all those useless words.

This anime does not tell us about its world or characters, it simply shows us instead.

In the first few minutes we are shown our silent main character, Ichise as he is taking a shower with his bloodied fists, we see him fighting another man in a tournament in the form of a flashback, he has a sadistic smile on his face as he draws blood from his opponent. A bit later a woman enters the shower and tries to exploit Ichise, she takes him to bed and Ichise is unresponsive until the woman tries to pluck out his eye. Ichise beats the woman up, unknowingly starting a sequence of events with this.

147450

In these few minutes we get a glimpse into Ichise’s personality and we learn his characteristics without any words being uttered. Those characteristics being his fighting spirit, his will to life, blood lust, his inability to hold back, the fact that he flows with the events of the story (like how he let the woman to take advantage of him), but he does not like it when the events fuck with him (how the woman tried to pluck out his eye), Ichise generally beats everyone who fucks with him. These characteristics remain consistent for the rest of the anime.

Simultaneously we are shown another character called Yoshi, who is descending down on an incredibly lengthy set of stairs, wearing a gas mask and carrying a backpack on his shoulders. Through this, it becomes obvious that wherever this place called Lux is, it is deep below underground and it also established Yoshi’s character as the newcomer to Lux who will disturb the order of this place. It is also because of the fact of him being a newcomer and his curious nature that he is one of the most talkative characters in the first half of the anime, which is in stark contrast with the silent nature of our protagonist, Ichise.

And since the story mostly follows the character of Ichise, this anime isn’t really dialogue heavy, even when other characters are talking to him, Ichise rarely responds. He is a quite basic and simple character that some of the more intelligent people in the anime rightfully called a beast. It is always apparent what Ichise thinks and feels not based on what he says, but based on what he does. You will always know when Ichise does not like something or someone, since as I said, he isn’t the type to restrain himself.

Ichise’s behavior is in contrast with everyone else in the show, as they are habitual liars, schemers and manipulators. There are several conspiracy and scheme subplots going on in this anime, with characters constantly trying to backstab and screw each other, Ichise is one of the few, if not the only honest character in this anime, a beast does not need to lie after all. The liars are also great because the anime frequently makes use of facial expressions and gestures. A character might be saying one thing, but his emotions and body language might be saying something completely different. This is something rarely used in anime.

The anime does “ease up” on the silence and adds more dialogue starting the second half, but the show overall still maintains the “showing” over “telling” approach. The saying that goes “a single picture tells more than a hundred words” is completely applicable here.

One of the most frequent complaints regarding Texhnolyze is that the story is too “deep” or too “complicated”. While in reality Texhnolyze is actually really simple, it just seems complicated because the show does not explain itself to the viewer at all, it only shows things. There is no narrator to help you out here like most anime. You simply get what you are shown.

To understand the story of Texhnolyze the viewer must simply realize 2 facts regarding the show. The first thing to realize is that Texhnolyze is thematically about humanity’s end, a time and place where scientific, technological, cultural and evolutionary progress have come to a halt. The second thing is that each major character represents a particular concept or idea, that is bigger than themselves. And whenever these characters are killed or die, it is not only they themselves that perish as a person, but also the ideas and concepts that they represented.

texhnolyze.jpg

The concept behind each character is conveyed through their actions, through visual storytelling once more, no narrator comes along to tell you that X character represents Y.

For example Onishi who constantly tries to keep things under control, guess what, represents order. When he dies so does order cease to exist.

Ran who can see the future and hides her emotions behind a mask, represents humanity’s future. When she dies so does the future of humanity.

Ichise our protagonist represents humanity’s most basic and primal emotion, the will to live, which is exemplified by pretty much all of his actions and him surviving many fatal situations thanks to his willpower alone.

It’s all really simple.

Alright, I could write more and list even more examples, but I think you get my point by now, and if you still don’t, then no amount of examples would convince you otherwise, so its pointless to drag this on as I’m already at 4k words. Time to wrap this up.

Conclusion:

Anime as a whole fails to use one of the most basic and useful tools at its disposal. Anime is a visual medium, far more than live action movies are. Yet it completely fails in utilizing the tools of visual storytelling. There is no usage of symbolism, colour, proper facial expressions, body language etc. in your average anime. It relies too heavily on talking, whether in the form of the characters or the form of a narrator, there is always someone in anime who is just there to explain stuff to you.

Not only does this mean that anime treats its audience as if they were idiot who need to be spoonfed every minute, but it also makes it as bad as someone explaining their own joke. Anime don’t need to explain themselves, they shouldn’t do it, all they would need to do is to present themselves via showing things and let the viewer think and have his interpretations instead of forcing the information down his throat.

I’m not saying here that anime should be a medium where no one talks. Nor am I saying that every anime should be a symbolic and artistic masterpiece,  all I’m saying is that anime directors should really just fucking learn to use the tools that are available on them and stop solely relying on narration and dialogues to tell a goddamn story.

But of course none of that will ever happen as long as anime remains a profiting industry in its current format. As long as it keeps making money, there is no need for creators to be innovative and experimental and anime fans most certainly do not care about them not utilizing these tools. Unless the industry collapses, anime will remain a medium where visual storytelling remains unused.

The Opposer

I decided to write about and analyze the role of the Antagonists in various works of fiction due to the fact that having a well written antagonist can easily save your story, while having a badly written one can just as easily ruin it and make it boring.

Shadowy_Morgaine_Le_Fey

Antagonist comes from the greek word ἀνταγωνιστής, which means opponent, competitor, enemy or rival. The antagonist is the character within fiction who opposes and stands against the protagonist, his allies as well as his possible goals. Making a good protagonist is not that easy, but making a good antagonist is even harder, for it is very easy to overshoot the mark and get the opposite of the desired result when making them.

What do I mean by this? Many writers try to make their villains sympathetic and likeable to the audience by giving them goals, motivations and ideals, which is not inherently a bad idea as there is nothing less interesting than an one dimensionally evil antagonist who is evil for the sake of being evil. But more often than not, by doing this they end up creating an antagonist that is more sympathetic or likeable than the protagonist, which is rarely their desired result. Whenever I watch or read some kind of work, I find it hard not to agree agree or sympathize with the antagonist someway or another, as the only thing that separates them from the protagonist is how far they are willing to go for their goals and what methods they use.

And on a personal level, the thing that usually makes me like an antagonist is also whose absence makes me hate or dislike the protagonist, that quality is the willingness to go far for the achievement of one’s goals. Heroes usually want to save lives and protect the innocent, yet they rarely ever go to extreme’s in order to do this, in my opinion they simply lack the balls. Take for example Batman, or any other superhero that does not kill, Batman has been doing his vigilante job for decades, yet he still fails to realize that there is no redemption or possible cure for most of the psychos he captures and sends to Arkham Asylum. They are crazy, cannot be rehabilitated because of their craziness and will simply resume their heinous acts the moment they have a chance to break out, which they do have quite often.

rLX1hfE.png

Batman should have realized ages ago that he achieves virtually nothing by locking these guys up, as he is doing nothing more but stalling the inevitable, the fact that they  eventually will get out, set loose and start rampaging in Gotham once more. Yet he never eliminates or permanently neutralizes any of the villains on his own volition because of some sort of idiotic logic that if he kills he will become the same as them. In reality one wouldn’t be able to protect anyone with such a weak resolve.

It is usually the villains, the antagonists who dare to stake everything for the success of their goals and plans and by therefore, to me at least, are much more admirable than most of the protagonist characters. The protagonist are this “He who defends everything…” type of character many times in fiction, which is a dangerous position to hold in reality as the saying goes: “He who defends everything, defends nothing.” Yet fiction rarely every punishes the protagonist of such arrogance due to the fact that they are idealized rather than realistic.

But let’s not get too far off from the main topic, and that topic is:

What makes a good antagonist?

The easiest way to decide this is by showing you what types of antagonist the writers commonly use from worst to best.

1 – Evil for the sake of being evil: Characters with negative moral standards, those who do not feel any remorse after killing or harming someone, instead they delight on it. Or those who would not mind killing you for your mobile-phone or for your wallet. They can also be characters who revel in the chaos and mayhem they cause, such as your average pyromaniac. Making a character like this in fiction does not result in an interesting antagonist, even though many of the real life murderers and criminals fit into this exact category. But let’s be honest, it’s not like you ever found random street stabber X to be interesting or intriguing.

The reason for them being bad as characters, is that their characterization is halted or always brought back to the fact that their character is evil, that is their primary defining feature/trait. In fiction this is the laziest method one can use to justify the existence of an antagonist since by making them evil, you do not need to give any complicated reason for why they are opposing the protagonist, they are simply evil and everything ends with that.

At worst they are your average street thug.

At best they are your enigmatic killers like the Zodiac killer.

joker-comic

2 – The Insane: Little different from category 1, instead of opposing the protagonist due to being evil they do it due to their lack of sanity and overall craziness, which is just pretty much another way of justifying the actions of the antagonist and eliminates the need to write a proper character, seeing the author can make the crazy antagonist act however he wants to. It doesn’t matter what he does, he is crazy, no one will question it.

At worst they are your typical psycho.

At best their craziness have reached a level where they are no longer a mere crazy guy, they have become a walking embodiment of chaos and mayhem. (The Joker from Batman comics for example)

3 – The Monsters: With this category we are finally moving somewhere as monster antagonists do not oppose the protagonist out of being crazy or being evil. Instead they can do it to perpetuate their existence or because its natural of them to do so. But of course there are as many monsters in fictions and stories as there are trees in a forest, and some of them are little better than category 1 or 2. But again since they are monsters, the writer once more does not need justification for their actions as their existence itself is the justification, thus he can avoid proper characterization this way.

At worst: Zombies and other brainless human eaters.

At best: Monsters like Dracula who are intelligent enough to communicate, scheme and play with the protagonist before eating them.

vlcsnap-2012-01-28-11h59m52s237.png

4 – The Oppressors: In the last few decades, depicting authority and the government as something evil, oppressive and corrupt has been quite common across a multitude of media, which is obviously in relation with the real life progressive movements that keep springing up. In fiction the oppressor antagonist can be anyone who is in an authority or power above the protagonist characters, let’s say he is a prison guard and the protagonist is a prisoner, or if protagonist is perhaps a land owner and the antagonist is a politician who wants to take away his lands.

The roles of the antagonist in this category can greatly vary, but the common link is that he is always above the protagonist, who is subjected to his whims and power, making it easy for the protagonist to be exploited or otherwise be harmed. I personally loathe this category, for it is nothing more than cheap emotional manipulation, it is extremely easy to make us feel sorry for the protagonist and sympathize with him when such an antagonist is present, as it immediately casts the protagonist into the role of the underdog.

Due to the fact that such stories are usually told from the protagonist’s viewpoint and perspective, we do not get the side of the antagonist, all we see is that he is an oppressive asshole towards the protagonist for virtually no reason, so it becomes next to impossible to like or sympathize with him, leading him to become an 1 dimensionally evil villain, and once more the writer avoids proper characterization as the oppressor simply oppresses because he can.

At worst they are your dickish cops and prison guards.

At best they are your shrewd and corrupt politicians.

5 – The Corrupted: Now we finally arrived at the categories that we can consider to be decent and perhaps even good. Corrupted antagonists are characters who were once good and perhaps even a friend or ally to the protagonist, but due to events that happened in the story or due to the corrupting influence of another antagonist, the character goes over to the antagonist’s side and starts opposing the protagonist.

The quality here largely depends on how well the corruption is done, if the corruption is instant then its shit and makes it look like bullshit. Good corruption are all gradual that start somewhere in the story and reach their peak as it continues, the more foreshadowing and implications of the corruption we are shown the better it is. Characters who were already corrupted at the start of the fiction are much harder to care about, as we did not see them fall and thus it is harder to sympathize with them.

The Corrupted Antagonist is rarely ever the main antagonist is in the fiction, as his corruption is most of the time the result of another antagonist’s actions and scheming, he usually serves as a secondary antagonist due to this, but on rare occasions the Corrupted Antagonist eliminates the main antagonist and becomes the primary villain that the protagonist must face. The possibility of redemption is a common theme with this type of antagonist.

arthasx2b250_1777.jpg

6 – Conflicting Personalities with the Protagonist:

Some people simply cannot get along, this can very well be the relationship between several protagonists and antagonists. Maybe they hated each other the moment they met, maybe the protagonist realized the true personality of the antagonist with a single glance, and was naturally repulsed by him. Or maybe this antagonist was once a not so willing ally or companion of the protagonist who finally had enough of the hero’s personality that always ticked him off and finally decided to shut his mouth.

These antagonist are more often not closer to a rival rather than an outright villain as they rarely have the desire to kill the protagonist for real, they just want to make him lose or perhaps beat him up. But in rare cases when their personalities are polar opposites, such as honourable vs dishonorable, deceiver vs honest, one can expect blood to be spilled. In this case antagonist antagonizes the protagonist simply because he does not like him, which I believe to be a far better reason than simply being crazy or being evil.

7 – Protagonist’s relation to the Antagonist

Not all antagonists appear out of random when the protagonist reached a certain point in his quest or goal. Indeed some of them may have come from the protagonist’s past or from his circle of acquaintances. Perhaps the protagonist have wronged them in the past, maybe the protagonist’s actions have caused some kind of misfortune to befall on the antagonist and his family members or anything that would make the antagonist hate or resent him and cause him to become his opposer.

And this is exactly why this is one of the best types of antagonist’s, because they have a proper reason for their antagonistic behaviour, or at the very least they themselves feel that they do, which immediately makes them a million times better than the psychotic characters who just delight in opposing our protagonist or the corrupted character who did not become the antagonist on his own will.

One of the best examples of this type of antagonist can be found within the Korean tragedy movie called Old Boy. In the film, the protagonist called Oh Dae Su is kidnapped at the start of the story, he spends 15 years in the antagonist’s captivity, not knowing the reasons or anything related to why he was kidnapped in the first place.

20lUoK1.png

Eventually Oh Dae Su is released and given a chance to find out why he was kidnapped. Throughout the course of the movie, our protagonist is forced to dig into his own past to find out the truth, while the antagonist is trying to make him remember as well as simultaneously torturing him. After a certain point he realizes that due to the fact that he started a nasty rumor in his highschool years, the antagonist’s sister had committed suicide, but because of the fact that he had transferred before the suicide he soon forgot about this rumor as it was completely trivial to him.

But it was certainly not trivial for our antagonist who was willing to plan and enact his revenge on our protagonist, even if it took decades of waiting and preparation to accomplish, as his revenge was quite complex, he did not simply want to kill Oh Dae Sue, no he had planned something far more sinister that I shall not spoil.

Another good example would be the Monster from Frankenstein as the Monster wasn’t something inherently evil, its original nature was actually quite good, but his good heart was corrupted by the treatment he received from humans and the rejection from his own creator, Doctor Frankenstein. The Monster’s revenge is highly justified yet also sad at the same time.

Giving the antagonist a proper and genuine reason is likely to set both characters into the grey area rather than dealing with everything as black and white, making them both sympathetic and somewhat relatable.

8 – Conflicting Ideals

The conflict between the antagonist and the protagonist can occur on the level of ideas, for example if the two of them represent fundamentally different and opposing ideals, it is only natural for them to eventually clash. The protagonist could be the living embodiment of progress and evolution, while the antagonist could embody backwardness and the past. There is a bit of a crossover with Category 6, but it is not the same as it deals far more with the characters ideals, goals and actions rather than just their personality.

HrT6Peb.png

A clash of ideologies can occur when the protagonist and another do not agree upon some action or event, for example a honourable protagonist having different ideas in war and battle than a Machiavellian manipulator, this will easily turn the previously neutral character into the antagonist. Such clashes can also occur between politicians trying to run a country or various merchants trying to profit and screw each other over.

Since the conflict occurs in the realm of ideas rather than just the realm of characters, it is far deeper and more meaningful than any other type of antagonist and protagonist relationship, therefore I shall place it on the top.

Special Type of Antagonists that I will not number:

Fate: Rather than have the antagonist be a concrete person, some works may make something intangible or transcendent the antagonist of the story, one of these things can be fate. For example the protagonist is cursed and fated to die if he does not do X or Y. Or something terrible happen if the protagonist fails to arrive at a certain location at a certain time. In Prince of Persia the Warrior Within, the Prince is running from his inevitable fate and trying to fight off the manifestation of the said fate in the form of the creature known as Dahaka. While other antagonist arise within the game, his overall goal still remains to change his fate, this is an example of Fate itself being the antagonist.

4614067-0231272885-96.jp.jpg

I have rather mixed feelings about this type of antagonist, since if Fate truly existed, then it is not something you could work against as a simple human being, it is not something you have power or control over. And many times because of these facts, such stories are usually revolved via the usage of Deus Ex Machina’s or something equally bullshit. On the other hand if the story is about the inevitability of Fate and how it is futile to try avoiding it, then it becomes an entirely different matter. Although very few stories ever go that way.

God: Yes, even God can be the antagonist, or any other godlike being in fiction. When God is the antagonist, he does not want to kill the protagonist, because if he wanted to do so, it would be very easy to just make him die with his omnipotent power. So instead what God does is test the protagonist and gives him challenges, if the protagonist can succeed, then he triumphed over god. Yet again, this scenario is bullshit because if God did not want the protagonist to win he would have simply designed an impossible challenge since due to his omniscience he would know what the protagonist can do and cannot do, therefore the protagonist only wins because God himself willed it so. And I don’t see much point in such a story.

Category 1, 2 and 3 make me seem like as if I hated horror stories, and that is actually very true but also highly unrelated to the matter at hand. Horror characters like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers have literally no character as far as I’m concerned. But that is actually fine since characters barely matter in horror movies, as most of them exist only to suffer and be killed. Rather than relying on characters horror flicks make use of suspense, terror and shock factor in order to chill the audience, for those purposes Category 1, 2 and 3 are probably the best choices for obvious reasons.

Likewise the Joker is a perfect villain for the usually idealized world of superheroes, as he reminds us that not all humans are worth saving or preserving, that people like the Joker who exist only to sew chaos will never stop being what they are no matter how many times one jails or beats them. It is instead the superheroes reaction, or in this case, their lack of reaction that I am dissatisfied with.

What type of antagonist you need hugely depends on the genre you are writing in, category 8 despite being the best of the bunch, obviously wouldn’t work with your standard horror movie as it would slow it down and make it boring, nor would it be a proper situation or premise to explore a clash of ideologies.

But the more sophisticated work you are aiming for, the more obligatory it becomes to use one of the antagonist types from the higher categories, as usage of the lower categories in a work that presents itself in an intelligent light only worsens your quality, yet too many writers still make this mistake, there are far too many works across multiple mediums that try to be seen in a serious and realistic light yet they keep having 1 dimensional villains and antagonists, that you can do nothing with but hate or dislike, as they are characters who are made to be hated.

One common mistake that the writers usually make is that they create antagonist that do not fit with the theme or the setting of their work, this comes as a result of trying to make an antagonist interesting, but backfires on them, as it makes him strange and out of place instead. For example a mad scientist obviously doesn’t belong anywhere in the dark ages, nor does a knight or an inquisitor belong in our modern times, yet I see them done all the time.

8c9dc5e2a74b2b34e04171facddc0fcd.jpg

And this isn’t the only mistake that authors commit by trying to make their antagonist interesting, the second most common one happens by giving the antagonist some kind of power, and accidentally turning them too powerful, far too powerful for our protagonist to actually defeat by his own power. The creators typically don’t realize this fact until its too late, and thus they are forced to use some kind of bullshit or Deus Ex Machina to defeat the villain, which is something that you should always try to avoid or it will end up looking this stupid.

If you are in such a situation I would honestly just recommend to let the villain win rather than resorting to the sin of using a Deus Ex Machina, sure it will be shocking and might be even disappointing to your audience, but it is still far better than being known as a hack writer. Besides I don’t really understand this whole taboo against downer endings, they have a possibility of being good, especially due to the fact that rarely anyone does downer endings.

Third mistake that stems from trying to make an antagonist interesting is that they often end up doing nothing, like really, many writers create an antagonist and put him to the sidelines, and refuse to use him until the very last moments of their work. This is bad because the greatness of any antagonist comes from their interaction with the protagonist and his allies, if he only does something at the very last moment of the story, then it is quite hard to care about him.

But it’s not like its impossible to understand their logic. Their logic goes that if the antagonist appears too often it will cause him to become stale and boring. While true to a certain extent, not appearing and interacting frequently enough causes way worse problems. A good antagonist has a sense for timing, making him appear when one least expects it is a good idea for a shocking introduction or memorable appearance. Also if the protagonist had multiple interactions with the antagonist prior to the ending, then it makes all the more sense that he defeats him due to learning from his past experiences.

Palpatine_disturbance

I would like to draw the conclusion that a good antagonist is a character who antagonizes the protagonist regularly but not too often, has a relationship of mutual dislike throughout the story and is driven by something more than simply being crazy or evil, likewise he should also be someone that can be defeated by the power and efforts of the protagonist, otherwise what’s the point to an impossible challenge?

Gate….Or how Anime ruin their own premise just so they can have a harem and pander to otakus.

Gate was one of those anime of recent season that many people followed whether they liked it or not, simply because they wanted to see how it would turn out. And the reason for that is that Gate has a premise that makes it very easy for the viewer to get hooked onto. I mean really, which one of us didn’t imagine a fantasy vs modern weapons scenario, at least once? It’s just something that by its nature would be interesting to see being played out, because the scenario itself has a lot of potential. The scenario of Gate is essentially that of Native Americans vs Conquering Europeans, expect instead of Native Americans we have a fantasy empire and the Europeans are replaced by the Japanese Self “Defense” Forces or JSDF. Either way, the cultural exchange alone would have made this series worth watching.

Clash1

But sadly Gate trashed its completely worthwhile premise just so it could pander to its viewers and have harem fanservice.

Let’s start off with the core of the problem, the main character.

Youji Itami is our main character, he is a 33 year old guy who likes anime and doujinshi and everything otaku related, except on top of that he is also a military officer, former member of the Delta Force and also a Ranger. Just from this short description alone it should be obvious that he is nothing more than a wish-fulfillment character for the otaku audience to self insert into. Not only it is highly unrealistic for a member of the armed forces to be such an oddball, but it is also bad from a writing standpoint as Itami is defined solely by the fact that he is an Otaku Soldier, that is his entire “character”. He is just like Kirito from Sword Art Online a typical self insert character who just flows with events of the story and responds to whatever he sees according to his arbitrary morality. In fact I would say that Itami is actually worse than Kirito, because at least Kirito had the goal of escaping his death game, while Itami has no goals at all, he is just riding with the wave that is the JSDF, but he doesn’t even like that ride as it distracts him from his hobby and free time activities, as a soldier’s life is obviously 24/7.  So why doesn’t he just quit? It’s not like there are no other jobs that he could take with his successful resume (jobs that would actually restrict his time far less than the current one). But yeah he remains because he is the self insert character of the story.

And this is where we arrive at the biggest blow to this anime, Gate sucks because it is centered and focuses on the shitty and uninteresting character that is Itami. In actuality the best parts of the show have to do with the moments where Itami is nowhere to be seen or is in the sidelines (Battle of Arnus, Ride of Valkyries, the Trial), because whenever Itami is on screen, the show is nothing more than a harem, a wishfullfilment story about an otaku with successful military career that everyone likes( despite the fact that he openly disobeys the orders of his superior, [And somehow never gets demoted or condemned]). Pretty much the entire “story” is about this character wandering around the fantasy world with his squad, saving everyone and building up his harem. And yes he indeed builds a fucking harem, he gets a Magician, an Elf and a powerful Demigod, all of them who want his dick someway or another. The fact that they are all so different (instead of just humans) is typical of harems, because it is basically doing a checklist of unique and exotic character archetypes, because who the fuck wants normal human girls? This point is further emphasized that Itami has a boring ex-wife at his home, who is portrayed in a much worse light than his new and exotic waifus. Gate is little different from typical harems like Rosario to Vampire in this regard.

rv13_end

Pretty much all of the problems of Gate can be traced back to the fact that our main character is Youji Itami, and that the story is told mostly from his perspective, and pretty much everything we see from his perspective is fucking boring, wish-fullfilment nonsense and fanserivce. Just think about it, if Itami wasn’t our main character then we wouldn’t have all these harem elements, we wouldn’t have to listen to boring black and white morality speeches where Itami and his group are always right, and we wouldn’t have our time wasted by watching the irrelevant and insignificant “plots” that Itami and his group deal with, because yes they are insignificant in the grand scale of things that are going behind the scene. In the first place Itami is a nobody, he is just a low ranking officer, not some interesting General or perhaps a Politican, no he is just a goddamn Otaku Ranger, why the fuck is he in the focus? Seriously? We have this huge war scenario and instead of focusing on some important character or having no character focus at all, it focuses on someone completely irrelevant and boring! Imagine if Legend of the Galactic Heroes had nobody else but Oliver Poplan as the center of focus, who would care about it? Who who would watch it? That’s right nobody. It would have been forgotten to the generations of the future, just like Gate will be.

HDmuY52

Okay I been actually bashing Gate quite hard, so I shall take this moment to be fair. It’s not like you cannot do interesting themes or stories from the perspective of a single soldier, they have been done before in anime after all, namely with Area 88 and Gundam MS Team, both of which are considered to be good anime. So why is it that Gate is a failure? Because those two shows I mentioned, actually did something with their themes and premises, something that actually benefited from having the perspective of a common soldier. Area 88 was about war’s effects on the minds of a pilot, while Gundam MS Team was about the horrors and cruelty of war and wishing to escape that situation, both of which are quite solid themes that can be explored meaningfully. Now look at how Gate has absolutely nothing like this, it would never have anything like this because Gate is a self insert story, and nothing bad can ever happen to the self insert character in a self insert story.Self Insert Stories are entirely about fulfilling the wishes and dreams of its audience, not their nightmares, so it is unthinkable that anything bad would happen to Itami and his co, instead the opposite happens in the form of consecutive successes.

Now that we discussed the primary evil, lets move onto the lesser ones.

1. That the JSDF have already won.

In case you didn’t notice, it happened in the first episodes, in episode one the Emperor’s personal forces were annihilated, then in the following battle of Arnus hill the forces of the empire were collectively destroyed and scattered. It wasn’t just some random scouting party or a small division, no in that battle of Arnus hill the entire might of an Empire was present, which is why people with ranks of a King were there, commanding the troops. The Empire put up all of its collective might and they were absolutely and brutally annihilated.

You might be thinking “Surely that can’t be it, right?”

But that was pretty much it, in the Medieval Era if your main force was annihilated you effectively lost the war, there is no more men to rally and put into armour, because that’s all you had, you levied the armies of your vassals and told them to go to war, the vassals then raised the levies of their own vassals and told them to go to war and the vassals of the vassals did so as well, this is how you built an army in the Feudal army, and that army was now pretty much gone, meaning that the Empire already lost. You can either surrender, hire mercenaries or futilely struggle. But the Emperor isn’t doing any of that in Gate, he sits calmly on his throne as if he wasn’t in a major crisis, which is nonsensical. Either the Emperor is crazy or the creator doesn’t know how to write a ruler. And it’s not just the fucking Emperor, nobody seems to be panicking about the fact that entire army was pretty much wiped out in a single battle, while the remainder of the armies had gone rogue. Many of them are still pretending that they can somehow deal with the JSDF like the idiots they are.

Even if the JSDF doesn’t attack them, they are still in a major crisis. A. Because of the fact that the remainder of the armies have turned to a life of banditry and are now plundering their own cities (As even the anime has shown this obvious result) B. Pretty much all the major political figures other than the Emperor and his family are dead, the Kings that ruled the Kingdoms that made up the Emprie died in the Battle of Arnus. Instead of panicking once more The Emperor goes into “all according to plan mode” as if that was his goal all along. To that ,I say that bullshit, because you still just lost the majority of your army. Surely there would have been a more efficient way of doing this, no? Is assassination out of style?. And secondly, what do you think is going to happen after a ruler dies? That’s right, chaos and succession wars that can pretty much affect your own Empire, and now these crisis’s are bound to turn up in pretty much all of your vassal states due to your lack of Rulers and lack of order that comes from the lack of rulers. Good job Emperor.

The Empire is obviously on the verge of a collapse and they can’t do anything about it with the JSDF around the neck, yet the show still tries to pretend that there is still some kind of “validity” for the conflict. There is not much point to watching the events of the show when they are either pointless or when we know how they will end or turn out, and those are the only kind of events Gate does. If this was a more meaningful anime they would skip 90% of the events of GATE and switch to future where the fantasy realm is dominated by the JSDF , because anyone with a brain can see that is going to happen. Instead the show just wastes our time with pointless events and what is essentially filler (Dragons, Return to Human World arc etc)

2. That the Empire is laughably evil and one dimensional.

Any ruler with some brains would have surrendered under the aforementioned conditions in order to minimize his losses and keep the remainder of his power, but the Emperor in Gate doesn’t do it because he is depicted as the typical one dimensional evil villain as if he just popped straight out of Akame Ga Kill. He constantly fucks everyone over, refuses to heed reason or logic, pretends that he can still recover from this and is generally arrogant, one must really wonder how this Empire survived for so long with such a ruler.

And it’s not just the Emperor who is needlessly evil, pretty much everyone other than those who are willing to submit to the JSDF in some or another are portrayed as evil. Just look at the former soldiers who started raiding the villages, literally all of them were portrayed as psychopathic evil bastards for no reason other than that they were soldiers. They were presented as these battle hungry blood knights who were disappointed with the results of the Arnus battle so they went to raid innocent villages and cities in order to find their “true warfare”. Riiiiiiight~ You  couldn’t get any more stereotypical than this. It’s not like you couldn’t have had a logical reason for the behavior of the former soldiers, for example they could have just raided the villages in order to sustain their own existence with food and money, the life of a soldier was all they knew after all. But noooo, we cant have that because that would paint the JSDF in bad light for ruining their livelihood!

Currently at the writing of this article I am not up to date with Gate, meaning I have not watched the Second Season, but from what I heard they introduced the son of the Emperor who is a rapist, sadist, slave owner. I’m just glad to see that they keep sticking to this one dimensional evil empire cliché that that they have established for themselves. What’s next, an Empress who is also a dominatrix and tortures little boys?

Pretty much all of them just exist to play the part of the “Villain you love to hate” trope and feel good when the main characters beat them.

gate069e14

But of course this is nothing more than cheap appeal to the emotions in order to create drama and excitement, and barely works on those who refuse to self insert as Itami. Needless to say, you can’t make a conflict interesting by painting one side to be obviously evil, its as boring as Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. For any conflict to be interesting and deep, both sides need to be Grey, as that is how human conflicts are in reality.

3. That the JSDF is painted as morally superior and right.

Naturally if one side is demonized by the course of things that also implies that the other side is morally superior. And yes the show does its best to the depict the Japanese Army as the “good guys”, to the point that even in the opening sequence that plays each episode all you are shown is how the JSDF are helping the poor fantasy people.

ef8N3vw

The primary method they reinforce this image is by not showing us anything actually important that the JSDF does, this comes from the fact that I said before, meaning we see 90% of the story from Itami’s and co’s perspective, who are usually acting the role of the stereotypical good guys due to self insert reasons. There is undoubtedly some serious shit going on in the background, but nope, can’t let the viewer see that. The show also paints pretty much every other country other than Japan in a negative light due to their constant manipulations that we are shown (Despite the fact that the show barely even shows the Japanese leaders) and tries to tell us that other countries trying to take a piece of the specially designated area beyond the Gate is bad when Japan doesn’t have much legitimacy in meddling there either. At one point I was wondering if I was watching some kind of propaganda instead of a regular anime because it got so ridiculous with its Pro-Japanese bias.

And the show does nothing but help me reinforce that they were going for this bias since anyone who opposes the JSDF and by extension Japan is painted one-dimensionally evil as I have mentioned above, while those who think that they can’t fight the JSDF, meaning those who are willing to submit and cooperate them are the only fantasy characters portrayed in a positive light. In fact I think the show clearly tells us what the fantasy people are supposed to do before the mighty Japanese with the case of the Dark Elf and Itami.

aNO85IM

They exist for no other purpose than to be added to their harem and be exploited. Because lets face it, Exploitation is occurring everywhere behind screen, sure we see all these diplomats walking around trying to sugarcoat it, but in the end the same fate will befall on the Emprie that happened to China and most of the Far East.

Either way it is really hard to care for the characters when the show tries so hard to make them into the good guys and everyone else a hateable douchebag. What happened to ambiguous morality? Is that too complex for the modern anime fan?

4. Other Characters

I already touched upon Itami so I shall won’t bother with him in this section nor with anyone else who are so insignificant that they aren’t even worth a mention (meaning most soldiers).

A. The Emperor

He is evil, stupid and starts of the entire events of the anime. Those are the only things you can say about him.

B. Tuka Luna

Literally the generic blonde elf that is found in every fantasy. Has some ptsd/mental trauma due to her dad dying, but since this show is obviously a shitty harem, it is never explored or delved into.

C. Rori Mercury

Your stereotypical Kamidere and blood knight combined into one.

D. Lelei the Mage

She is the token Dandere/Ayanami Rei clone, or should I say Tabitha clone instead, since she is like a carbon copy of Tabitha, another Ayanami Rei clone who is also a mage. You could pretty much replace Lelei with Tabitha and you wouldn’t notice a single difference.

WFA52f4

E. Aoi Risa

Itami’s shitty and unappealing Ex-Wife, whose sole purpose is to highlight how much better the fantasy girls are compared to modern women. Also she has this disgusting Yaoi fetish that they like to shoehorn into anime so much, so I naturally hate her.

F. Duran

A king and the commander of the Empire’s forces during the battle of Arnus. Typical hotblooded general who refuses to retreat, his idiocy cost pretty much the entire army of the Empire. Compared to the other Empire characters at least he is not portrayed as evil, but he is still massively idiotic, which I do not like. It’s not as if everyone in the medieval ages were idiots, especially not nobles and those of high upbringing who have been taught in the art of warfare from their childhood. Sure they are not accustomed to modern warfare but at least they should have the sensibility to run away when the situation becomes hopeless. I can’t forgive the shitty creator for automatically assuming that medieval=idiot.

G. Shino Kuribyashi

Typical annoying girl character that was only included because feminism. Also an actual female soldier is highly unusual even in modern times, if the author were to look at any statistics where they accept female recruits, then he would know that they fail 99% of the time. The fact that in this show she effortlessly switches to melee( via her bayonet) and defeats males 2-3 times her size is nothing more but feminist wish-fulfillment that will never become reality. Especially when you notice that fact that she is very short and slender looking, you cannot see muscles on her arms (which would naturally form in an army life).

H. Pina Co Lada

From the name alone you should be able to tell how seriously this story and the author takes this character. She is the annoying female soldier/princess/knight character on the side of the Fantasy. (Whats with all these female soldiers?) At least this one makes more sense due to her being royalty and thus more free power, but I don’t see why the evil Emperor would let her play around as she pleases instead of just marrying her off. Either way, she has been a submissive character towards the JSDF from the moment she appeared, realizing that they cannot win against them quite early, after that she decided to prevent a possible war by all means available, even if she has to marry Itami (Because yes Wish-Fulfillment, gotta add the princess to that checklist). Even if what she is doing sensible I cannot tolerate nor like her for she is simply pathetic as a person. She is also into Yaoi after she went into our world and met Itami’s ex-wife, so yes more hate points from me. I will never understand why they force this girls love yaoi cliché, it is neither funny nor appealing, it is disgusting and will never be normal no matter how much you push it.

Gate - Jieitai Kanochi nite Kaku Tatakaeri - Episode 12 - Pina loves her BL

I. Yao Ha Ducy

Token Dark Elf.

That was all the character that were worth mentioning in Gate. I think it speaks for itself.

5. Magic exists in the fantasy world, yet nobody bothers researching it.

Seriously, even Lelei the wizard does more research on our tech than we on their magic despite the fact that we are supposed to be the scientific and technologically advanced civilization.

They really have no excuse for this as the Gate is connected to motherfucking Tokyo, which is one of the largest, busiest and most important cities in the world, you are telling me that they can’t just send a few scientist (from the universities) over for analyzation? Or send back samples of the fantasy creatures? Even if they did do it in the background, they never showed or mentioned it in the anime while bunch of harem and fanservice moments were shown instead, so naturally I won’t accept this. And speaking of gates….

6. The Gate

Why does it exist? We don’t know.

Will it ever be explained? Of course not

Why is it connected to Tokyo, Japan of all places? Plot Convenience

Why only Japan? Why only one gate? Plot Convenience

How did it materialize from thin air? Seriously it just appeared out of nowhere in Tokyo, that’s now how Gates are supposed to work, if one part exist on the other side then the exit should naturally be solid on Japan, otherwise it would lead to a vast nothingness. Whatever. Magic. Not gonna question it.

7. Maturity

lTz1Bao

In the above review, a pretty usual MAL reviewer says that it is courageous for an anime to have a 33 year old as a main character. Well if that counts as “courageous” these days then it proves how shitty the state of the modern anime industry is. Also I viewed this as a good opportunity to get to my 7th point, that none of the characters are mature in Gate. Like really, you cannot find a single character who acts mature. Itami may be 33 years old, but mentally he is like an infantile teenager who only cares about his hobby, he is no better than any of his squad mates, his yaoi loving ex-wife and the helicopter pilots who think its cool to play Wagner while murdering people, because yeah lets glorify murder in this anime while we are at it (I know it was a reference, but still). The Emperor and his son are little different, they are just cruel kids instead of the good kids. Pina Co Lada, the princess is likewise blinded by idealism and naivety, though in her case excused as she is an actual teenager. Tuka is over 100 years old, yet she failed to attain any spark of wisdom in that 100 years. The only character who ever expressed some levels of maturity in one way or another was Rori Mercury, but that is expected of a Kamidere.

Not only are the characters not mature, the show does not present itself in a mature manner either, it is written and narrated from the viewpoint of someone who just discovered Fanfiction.net

I cannot even say that the show takes itself seriously, there are only attempts at it, but they are miserably bad attempts. And if the show cannot take itself seriously and respect its premise, then why should I?

8. That Battles are no more than mere fanservice

Because lets say the truth, I already mentioned that the JDSF basically won a long time ago, yet even after the said decisive battle of Arnus, the show spends a lot of time playing out battles before our eyes. This is obviously done to entertain us, but in the end it is little more than fanservice. It already established that the JSDF is superior in every possible way due to modern technology and tactics, they defeated the might of the civilized world in the form of the Empire’s army and the might of the fantasy in the form of a dragon. Dragons, which are usually the pinnacle of fantasy settings as far as powers go. So it makes little difference if they fight another dragon or two, we already know the results, the same with the Empire’s army if they will magically pull a new army out of their ass then they will get defeated the same way as last time. Battles end up being nothing more than a tool to make our main characters and by extension the JSDF look awesome and powerful, thus appealing to the self inserts who imagine themselves as Itami.

They tried to spice this up in the second half by having Rori Mercury, the Demigod fight a bunch of assassins, but in the end that only made the situation worse. Because it was also a pointless fight, which would have been finished and dealt with even if she did not interfere with it. So even that fight was nothing more than fanservice, if our character actually came relatively close to being killed or endangered, then it would have been a much better and more intense fight, but due to that lack of danger the tension was missing.

9. Maids and Cosplay

Just no, another reason why I cannot take it seriously

gatemaids

Even before the JSDF got there, it seems that there is already a maid and cosplay tradition in this fantasy Empire. This comes in the form of Rori Mercury’s attire, which is obviously nothing more than fanservice once more (fuck your “priest outfit” excuse.) And in the form of various maids that seem to serve the noble houses, who actually have proper late era maid costumes. Need I remind you that from everything presented in the show so far implies that this is a medieval world? So why the hell are there relatively modern maid outfits in a medieval world? I know its a fantasy world, but its just immersion breaking. There must be some kind of logic to things, it would be just as out of place if someone in a black trench coat suddenly appeared in Attack on Titan or if full plate armoured knight showed up in Naruto.

10. That Gate is not the only anime that does this

No, in truth pretty much all Light Novel adaptations are entirely about this. They hook you with interesting premises then go down the way of fanserivce, it doesn’t matter if we are talking about Toaru Majutsu, Sword Art Online, Accel World or Zero no Tsukaima, for they all go down this path.

Light Novel adaptations are one of the prime reasons why Modern anime suck. And no you can’t call them a minor influence for 1/5 of every season is made up of light novel adaptations, so they make up a huge chunk of the market and are always sadly popular with the masses. Just like how many at this very moment praise Gate as a modern masterpiece of anime in the community for its “realistic” depiction of old vs new.

Overrated and Overhyped Garbage: Madoka Magica

This post is not intended to be a review or an overview, what it is intended to be is a collection of negative points and elements that are found within the show called Madoka Magica, which in my opinion are enough to consider the anime to be bad or at the very least, mediocre.

Let’s start off from the very beginning.

The Hype

Even when Madoka was still just airing it was already praised and hyped by many across the anime community as a “deep and mature” take on the magical girl genre, which is complete bullshit.

But lets examine the underlying causes that led us here, why is Madoka considered to be something special or something unique? Western anime fans have always had the misconception that the magical girl genre is something that is meant for little girls, thus they did not have high opinions of it, leading to low expectations. Even though if one were to actually look at the statistics and the released magical girl anime, one would find out that most magical girls, like moe anime,  are actually primarily made for the male audience. While magical girl anime for little girls also exist, they are in a much smaller number, usually concentrated in long running series such as the Precure series.

Smile_Pretty_Cure_Cosmic

In fact, anime fans couldn’t be farther from the truth, as Magical Girls were one of the first genres in anime to explore such themes as bullying, parental abandonment, domestic violence, social exclusion, loneliness, drug abuse and etcetera as early as 1974! With Majokko Meg Chan, it was also one of the first anime of its time to let the main girl character lose and feature a really evil character. The subgenre known as the Dark Mahou Shoujo was one of the first subgenres to develop in the Mahou Shoujo genre, Dark Mahou Shoujo anime are usually just as dark if not darker than Madoka Magica. So why is it that western fans still have the misconception that magical girls are shows for little girls?

The answer to that couldn’t be any simpler. Because they don’t fucking watch magical girl anime!

Indeed most of the people who praised Madoka as the “brilliant new take on the magical girl genre” have never watched a single Mahou Shoujo aside from maybe Sailor Moon in their life, they were entirely working on the assumption that magical girl shows are for little girls, which is a delusion that the community shared and thus inflated. So yes, Madoka was hyped up as the best magical girl anime by the people who aren’t even experienced in the genre. Oh boy if we aren’t off to a good start already…..

3f30a8001ffa912aa799b5cf3b34160056b2c738_hq

Still the claim remains that Madoka is something unique within the genre, so I shall debunk that piece by piece.

A. The Art
Easily one of the first thing one notices about the show and also one of the usually praised categories, when they forget that it’s just typical SHAFT hijinks, literally every one of their anime past 2007 has these exact same damn art and animation techniques that they just keep reusing into everyone of their shows. SHAFT are just milking their own artstyle for the sake of profit and because of the fact that the same art-style is spread across multiple works, it is no longer unique to Madoka, thus their claim is bullshit.

adh1bLy

Funnily I always thought that these op’s from Zetsubou looked straight out like a scene from the witches world in Madoka.

B. The Philosophy
Literally nothing unique about it, as it has already been proven numerous times that Urobutchi just copied Goethe’s Faust for Madoka and didn’t add anything new to the already existing thoughts and viewpoints. The connection is all the more obvious from the number of references to Faust the creators have jammed into Madoka, I won’t bother listing them so you can go read them at: https://wiki.puella-magi.net/Speculah:Madoka_Magica_and_Faust

C. Characters
The characters of Madoka are often praised even though they deserve none, they don’t even feel like people much less regular little girls, which has to do with Urobutchers inability to write anything but male characters. Even if we put Urobutchi’s incompetence to the side, one still cannot excuse that none of the characters have any concrete character, they change however and whenever the creator feels like it. (I’m primarily referring to Kyouko suddenly deciding to consider Sayaka a friend, then barely after, abandoning her initially shown and established ideals just so she could die with Sayaka.) The biggest sin though is that none of them have any free will, they seemingly influence the story, but they actually only move according to the authors puppet strings.

D. The maturity of the series.
Blood and mindless shock factor don’t make a series mature, otherwise everyone would be right about Elfen Lied.
Even the “darkness” of madoka is nothing new as dark mahou shoujo as a subgenre is almost as old as the genre itself and Madoka is hardly the first dark mahou shoujo anime that is basically about torturing little girls.
Everyone just forgot or never watched those older shows.

E. Story
Once more nothing new, it takes from Faust as I have already said as well as from other preexisting mahou shoujo shows such as Sailor Moon, Nanoha, Mai Hime and Princess Tutu. Additionally Gen Urobutchi has admitted to taking several elements and high inspiration from the Japanese Sentai Show called Kamen Rider Ryuki.
So I went ahead and watched a few dozen episodes of Kamen Rider Ryuki and the similarities were striking.
In both show the witches/monsters function exactly the same way, the main characters also usually eliminate then by going into their world and destroying them. In Kamen Rider the Riders are also competing against each other for a wish that the winner will gain.

“All over the city, innocent people are being mysteriously abducted, never to be seen again. During his investigations of these incidents, Shinji Kido – an intern at the online news service ORE Journal – discovers one of the Advent Card decks at an apartment where every reflective surface has been covered by newspaper. He is soon sucked into the Mirror World, discovering the terrifying truth behind the disappearances: people are literally being pulled through mirrors by the monsters of the Mirror World so that they may feed. He is about to be killed by a powerful dragon named Dragredder when he is saved by Kamen Rider Knight: Ren Akiyama. Ren seeks to win the Rider War at all costs. He works with a young woman named Yui Kanzaki, who seeks her missing brother: the master of the Rider War, Shiro Kanzaki. Seeing Ren’s strength, Shinji enters the Rider War not for the prize, but so that he may protect innocent people from the threat of the Mirror World, and stop the senseless fighting between the Kamen Riders. With Dragredder as his Contract Monster, he becomes Kamen Rider Ryuki”

Just replace Rider with Magical Girl and its almost the same show.
(Also from what I watched of Kamen Rider, it was better than Madoka in every aspect with the exception of graphics [if we count the Movie quality for Madoka of course])

See? There is literally nothing original or new that came with Madoka, it is a work that is praised for its originality when in fact it just copied from all over the place! The only thing unique about Madoka is how overrated and overhyped it is for such a mediocrity.

Next Major Problem: The Characters
I already touched upon them in the first section, but now I’m going to obliterate them.

The biggest and most general problem with the characters in Madoka is that they are all plot devices that literally only exist to fulfill a certain role in the story whenever the writer demands, which is why they usually die or get beaten after fulfilling their roles. Their role as a plot device is far more defining to them than their characteristics, for most Madoka characters receive little to no development and feel highly 1 dimensional. Let’s examine just how the characters of Madoka Magica are plot devices.

1. Mami Tomoe – Plot Device of Exposition

Mami is only there to serve as the role of the mentor figure for our heroines, be their senior magical girl if you will. Most of the initial information about Magical Girls came from her and thus she was used for the purpose of world building as well as enticing our characters to be Magical girls like some kind of devil. Devil isn’t really that far off as a metaphor, because let’s be honest, Mami is a fucking bitch who wants Madoka and Sayaka to become Magical Girls just so she won’t have to be alone anymore. Talk about selfishness. Needless to say after Mami has fulfilled her purpose of exposition, Urobutcher decided that it was time for her to die, and she indeed dies by being turned into an idiot for the show’s convenience. Instead of just shooting the damn thing she stares dumbly at the newly emerged witch and lets it devour her, because its convenient for the plot to just forget that Mami was initially shown to be a competent and experienced fighter. I still don’t get why some people actually cried for her death, she was a terrible person who deserved it anyway.Her 3 episode death is meant to serve as cheap shock factor and the hook for the rest of the show, Urobutcher wanted you to continue watching just because she died! And Urobutcher succeeded as usual.

Untitled14

2. Homura Akemi – The Walking Plot Convenience

Homura Akemi has the power of Time ( and by extension Space) Manipulation as well as knowledge of the future due to her repeated time resets. Just think about this for a second, Homura knows everything that can happen and what will happen in the entire time span of Madoka Magica, so by extension everything that happens in the show only happens because Homura allows it to happen, this puts her in a rather strange position the moment one becomes aware of both her powers and her goals. It is hard to ignore it, like really after thinking about it one will wonder, wait why didn’t she appear then? Why didn’t she save X? Why didn’t she stop time at moment Y? And those questions are justified as Homura makes completely arbitrary decisions despite knowledge and powers.

Let’s start off with the very beginning of Madoka Magica, we see QB limping around while bleeding, it was revealed not so later that it was Homura who attacked him. The fact that Madoka and Sayaka came across QB while he was injured essentially sparks the whole show, yet it doesn’t make sense due to the fact that Homura Akemi can control time, something which was not revealed at this point, but because of our viewing we know this truth. Why the fuck was QB able to survive with just a wound if he was chased by the time stopping Homura? If a time stopper wants you dead, you don’t fucking escape, you fucking die, which is why this is either a plot hole or it means that Homura wanted QB to survive and limp away to Madoka and Sayaka for unknown reasons, which again doesn’t make any sense because Homura is trying to prevent Madoka from becoming a magical girl, yet this the very moment that eventually led to Sayaka and Madoka becoming Magical Girls in the later episodes.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica - 01 - Large 33

Also note that Homura wants to protect Madoka, which she conveniently does by randomly appearing from nowhere. While at other times, whenever the plot demands it, she doesn’t appear even when Madoka is in clear danger such as the case with the episode where Madoka had to be saved by the newly Magical Girl turned Sayaka.

Homura is a walking plot convenience that the writer can summon whenever he pleases and needs, he can summon her whenever another character is in danger, he can summon her whenever QB needs to be shot, he can summon whenever he needs someone to play the role of an antagonist (other than QB), he can summon her whenever he wants to intensify the mystery and the tension etc. Homura going by her repeated loops should be about the age of 25-30 mentally speaking, yet even with her multitude of experience and retries she doesn’t realizes the most obvious solutions to many of the problems found within the show. Literally all the characters in the show can only die because Homura lets them die. She is supposedly portrayed as an intelligent character, while in reality she has no free will and none of her actions matter in the course of the story because  she is merely a puppet of the writer.

3. Kyuubey – Plot Device of Infodumping

You want to feed info to the audience? No problem just grab this cute white looking fox creature and have him feed the audience whatever you want them to know. Whenever QB talks it is usually another form of exposition and cheap, lazily done world building. He is supposed to be an emotionless alien, yet they failed in making him truly emotionless, just like the characters of another anime called Death Parade, which likewise was supposed to have emotionless characters. A character that openly demonstrated the ability to feel annoyance and curiosity cannot by any means be called an emotionless creature. The truth behind QB is worse than one might expect, as Kyuubey is literally the self insert character of the Author, Gen Urobutchi, he speaks whatever he wants and cannot be removed from the story, his only goal is to lead the characters astray and into corruption, he thus serves little more than the mouthpiece of the writer.

He is supposed to be honest and not-manipulative due to lack of emotions, but that’s clearly a false statement as he purposely didn’t mention effects that would come with the Magical Girl contract as if he was some bad terms of service notification on your computer, while at other times he states 1 thing (YOU CAN WISH FOR ANYTHING) then states the complete opposite in a later episode ( NUH UH YOU CANT WISH FOR ANYTHING, YOU DONT HAVE ENOUGH MAHOU POWER).

Fans of the show excuse this bullshit by saying “the girls didn’t ask him that X very specific detail that they couldn’t have known, so its not QB’s fault”.

And my answer to that is: fuck you! Kyuubey regularly appeared out of nowhere throughout the entire series just to infodump about totally irrelevant crap that no one asked about, so he could have easily told all the things that come with being a Magical Girl to our main characters. But he didn’t do it, because he is Urobutchi personified and thus he wants the girls to suffer.

4r6ehFF

4. Sayaka – Plot Device of Shock Factor and Drama

After Mami died Urobutcher needed another girl to torture and let the shock factor continue, so his hands fell onto poor, little Sayaka.

It is of little surprise that Urobutcher choose Sayaka, for one of his famous quotes is “Good and nice characters don’t deserve happy endings.” And as Sayaka is arguably the nicest and most helpful in the cast from the beginning, it was inevitable that she would suffer in this show, which immediately begins after she becomes a magical girl (how unexpected). It would not be inaccurate to say that Sayaka’s role in the show is to literally suffer, that’s why she exists after all, she is someone with a strong sense of justice and ideals, that will get broken down as the show progresses.

And I would argue that this is actually the best part of Madoka, due to the fact that Sayaka is the only decent(quality-wise) character in the entire show. Within the cast of Madoka Magica, only 2 characters have regular lives(reality) and interactions outside of being a magical girl(fantasy), these two characters are Sayaka and Madoka. But since Madoka is a passive observer who doesn’t do anything until the ending, nobody cares about her. Unlike Sayaka who is the opposite of Madoka in that she is very proactive and is constantly doing something. We see her interactions with characters (Hitomi, Kyousuke) who are not part of this whole magical girl nonsense, therefore she gives off a completely different air than Homura who is surrounded by mystery and doesn’t feel like a human anymore or Kyouko/Mami who are loner magical girls defined solely by their interactions in the realm of fantasy and magic. Sayaka actually feels like a real character more than just her assigned role and its what makes her more sympathetic and relatable than any other member of the cast. Still it isn’t a big accomplishment considering she is the only character in the show who received 3 episodes of development.

But is all ruined by shitty pacing and poor execution. The change in Sayaka seems to happen almost instantly the moment she realizes the truth of the grief seed, instead of the change being gradual. Her being distraught over it is never truly explained or delved into. You are not human? So fucking what? Life is not over just because you lost your humanity (besides its not like her soul was taken, it was still in the grief seed after all and thus within her possession). This stupid reason was what pushed her into “despair mode” but even at this stage Homura could have literally saved her ANY time she wanted to by stopping time and just refilling her goddamned soul gem. But NOPE, instead Homura decides to kill Sayaka in order to prevent Madoka see her fall and be saddened, which totally not makes sense, because it’s not like Madoka wouldn’t be saddened just from the fact that Homura killed her best friend. Flawless logic and flawless writing.

quote-i-have-nothing-but-contempt-for-the-deceitful-thing-men-call-happiness-and-find-myself-gen-urobuchi-80-53-26

5. Kyouko – Foil to Sayaka

First off I would like to say that I will completely ignore and not comment on the fact that Kyouko is the carbon copy of a magical girl from another mahou shoujo anime.

Kyouko was introduced right after Sayaka became a magical girl and died when Sayaka became a witch. This is not a coincidence, for Kyouko’s character literally existed only for Sayaka, as they are two sides of the same coin that complimented and built each other. While Sayaka was outwardly friendly and selfless, inwardly she wished for a selfish happiness ( love with Kyosuke), while Kyouko was externally selfish and inwardly she wished for companionship. Kyouko exists solely for the sake of torturing Sayaka as the moment they met each other they were fated to clash due to their opposing ideals, Sayaka did not understand how Kyouko could be so selfish and thus it gnawed on her from episode 5.

Kyouko herself doesn’t have any character, as she is sorely defined by the contrast between herself and Sayaka. And her supposed “development” was way too rushed to count for anything, one episodes she wants to kill our characters, the next episode she wants to be friends. And for what reason? Because she felt sorry for Sayaka? Complete bullshit writing. Her choosing to die with Sayaka instead of just safely defeating the newly born witch also doesn’t make any sense as she was presented as a selfish character from the beginning, and no change or event occurred that would have been sufficient to change this selfish trait of hers. Thus I conclude that she was just killed off because now that Sayaka was gone, Urobutcher no longer needed her.

aa57ceb54e65d1e32dcb5d3fdd7ef1bd

6. Madoka – Final Ex Machina

The sole purpose Madoka exist for is to solve the conflict at the end of the show with her wish, that is her entire purpose. She can essentially wish for anything due to her “magic potential” giving her the possibility to be God, which she actually does become (even though that’s not what she wished for). Throughout the rest of the series she is just a passive observer who doesn’t do anything relevant besides crying and getting in the way of other characters, which happens due to the fact that seeing she is the namesake of the show, they had to carry Madoka around into dangerous Witch Lair’s even though she could never help the other characters. Her presented “personality” makes absolutely zero sense, she feels as if she was several years younger than Sayaka, Mami, Hitomi and the other characters. She is naive and unrealistically innocent, there is literally nothing about her that would make her interesting as a character, yet everything revolves around her. You can’t make a decent anime like this.

A good portion of the show is spent trying to convince Madoka to become a Mahou Shoujo (Mami, QB) while others try to stop this process (Homura and Later Sayaka). Yet at the end of the show she makes the resolution of choosing to make a wish anyway. What led her to make a wish? We don’t fucking know, because Madoka never has any deep monologues or introspection that would have led us know her thought process or made the character interesting in some way.

She is easily the worst character in the entire series, yet it still baffles me that the whole thing is named after her.

7. Madoka’s Mom

Madoka’s Mom was presented as strong female, businesswomen who often offered her daughter various advice whenever she was feeling uncertain. She was shown to be a caring mother, yet at the end of the show she chooses to willingly let her daughter go outside a dangerous hurricane for no clear reason, despite the possibility that her daughter might endanger herself with this. Yeah. BestMomoftheYear2012

Picture25

8. Hitomi and Kyosuke

They exist for the sole purpose of making Sayaka suffer and thus lose all their relevance when she dies.

9. Walpurgishnacht

The supposed main bad is just a completely mindless monster as all previous witches, how boring~ Considering she is the whole reason Homura is having a hard time one would think that they would have at least attempted to make it more interesting, but no.

Section C: That Wish/Magic Reset Endings are the worst type of ending a show can have

The ending to a good show is supposed to be like cream to the cake, it is the finalizer and resolver of everything that has happened so far in the show, it is supposed to give us a lasting impression that will etch the show into our hearts and memories. Yet in Madoka all it does is make things worse than they already were. What’s the point of a suffering train if the ending resets everything, magically resurrects all the characters and basically negates everything that happened in the whole show?

What did the characters suffer for?

What did Homura loop a decade for?

What was the point of it all if it ends with a meaningless bullshit reset ending?

It is just another form of deus ex machina, a way for characters to continue on with their leaves as if nothing happened for the sole sake of pleasing the audience who were saddened with their deaths.

Though the reason why this type of ending happened in Madoka is even worse, Madoka was made to have such an ending so that more Madoka could be made in the format of movies and thus it could bring even more money to the table. It is nothing but shameless milking! Fuck you Urobutcher.

Section D: That Symbolism for the Sake of Symbolism is meaningless

People often praise how good the symbolism in Madoka is. I say bullshit. Because the symbolism in Madoka is completely independent and sometimes even out of place from with what is going at the show. Symbolism is only good when it serves a specific purpose or if it is in a direct connection with the themes and messages of the anime, thus contributing to the greater whole (See Evangelion). Symbolism in Madoka is only there so pretentious anime fags can pretend that this is a deep and mature anime, thus validating their own taste.

Section E: That the Art was originally crap

The TV series version of Madoka, which was the version I watched was atrocious and unfinished, to the point that an entire parody series called Meguca Magica was produced based on how bad everything looked. This was however fixed in later versions and movie releases, where everything looked pretty and crystal clear. But the release of the newer versions is clearly not enough to erase the pain of having watched the original.

Section F: That Madoka would have needed 24 episodes

Seriously, most of the problems that deal with the characters being horrible and 1 dimensional could have been solved easily if the series had 24 episodes for its leisure. The deaths and the drama would also spread out with the increased number of episodes, making them less shock-factor material. If the show spent like 3-5 episodes on every girl (like it did on Sayaka), then this could actually be a decent anime.

Section G: That losing when you have the power to stop Time never makes sense

It just doesn’t, it is such an almighty power, especially Homura’s version with rewind and seemingly minute long time stops, that in a logical scenario she should have won after the first few tries. Dio Brando losing in Jojo was bullshit and so is Homura Akemi losing, espcially when Homura is far more powerful than Dio Brando ever was.

No matter what you do, a time manipulator losing always looks stupid.

But to be fair, if they had actually let Homura win, Madoka would have remained useless the whole show, but it would have at least saved us of the whole magic bullshit reset ending.

Section H: On the fights in Madoka Magica

Up until Episode 5 of Madoka Magica, I was utterly bored watching this show. Why is that you might ask? That is because while even the episodes prior to that had action segments, it was meaningless and uninteresting to me for the opponents of the girls were witches, witches are basically mindless and unthinking monsters. If something is an unthinking monster it is not interesting to watch that fight, the same way many mecha anime become boring when they choose to make opponents full of bug-like alien monsters instead of other humans or humanoid aliens (I’m looking at you Macross). The only way to compensate for this is to make the monsters really scary or striking, something which Attack on Titan succeeded in the first few episodes by making the Titans both creepy (Smiling Titan) and terrifying (Armoured Titan). Madoka does not succeeds in this, nor do I think it ever attempted to make witches scary. They are just creepy weird creatures that generally do their own thing instead of actually caring about battles. Even when they are shot and being fought by the Magical Girls they don’t seem to react or care, it is an absolutely one sided fight where only the Magical Girl has something to win. And if the witches don’t care that they are getting killed, why should I? It’s impossible for me to get pumped up by such boring opponents.

This all changed with episode 5, when Kyouko was introduced and she started fighting Sayaka. Finally, instead of mindless monsters we were having human vs human conflict, which was actually interesting due to the conflicting ideals that were between Sayaka and Kyouko. But after this good period, we are once more returned to Witches vs Magical Girls with Walpugrishnacht that I couldn’t give a fuck about, as all Walpurgishnacht was doing, was floating in the air and laughing like a maniac, it’s hard to take an opponent like that even seriously or care for, which is a damn shame as the fight was really well animated and had overall good quality.

Section I: On the Pacing

The first half of Madoka Magica was okay in terms of pacing, so I shall not comment on that. But about the 8th episode the show realizes that it just spent the last 5 episodes on Kyouko and Sayaka alone, all the while not giving any attention or development to other characters (much less to the main character, Madoka). The show goes “oh shit” mode and immediately starts rushing things, which is why the 9th episode has QB do some obligatory infodumping after Kyouko and Sayaka collectively removed themselves from the story. The following episode is the backstory of Homura, which is obviously a lazy attempt to make us care about her as she will be the center of focus in episode 11 and 12, but it does nothing due to the fact that Kyouko’s and Sayaka’s collecitve segment was 5 episodes, Homura’s just feels incredibly rushed in comparison, and honestly just telling us about her backstory is such a lazy way of doing it. But it is still better than what happened to Madoka, who never received any real development, fleshening or detailing until the end of the show.

The pacing then goes complete shit as the next episodes feel completely worn and unnecessarily dragged out.

Once more I must mention that Madoka Magica should have had 24 episodes for its completion, in order to tell a story of this scope in an effective manner.

Section J: That Pseudo-Science does not make for a good plot

Hoohoo big revelations in episode 9, QB is actually an alien, and they are trying to save the world from entropy!…..by sacrificing the emotions of magical girls…… You just got tricked into thinking this is a fantasy show! Tt is actually a sci-fi lololol. Pretty much a big fuck you to the entire audience, although hardly the first time a Magical Girl show had done this, it is mostly just Urobutchi’s attempts at trying to deepen the story, not realizing he only made it worse. First off, the whole disappearing energy problem is completely unrealistic as energy never ceases to be, it only changes, therefore the universe should not be able to run out of energy, making the goal of the incubators completely redundant. Secondly, why the fuck would you even bring this to an universal scale? When all the events and story up until now centered around the events of a town/city. It doesn’t make sense nor does it fit the theme at all, it is hard to give a fuck about the universe when the whole anime is set in a city/mirror worlds with girls trying to solve their local supernatural problems.

This was simply a lazy way that Urobutcher attempted to connect all the pieces together, but at this point it would honestly have been better if everything was just left unexplained, I mean seriously this is pretty much the laziest and the worst explanation you can come up with in a fantasy story. If you would have chosen not to explain it, nobody would have really cared, because it would have boiled down to the classic”lol magic who cares”, but you just had to make things worse, didn’t you?

Gg9h8Vh

You talentless butcher

Section K: Plethora of plot holes.

Because Madoka is full of them, I already mentioned some earlier, but its time to list them together.

  1. QB escaping and surviving Homura attack ep 1
  2. The entire death of Mami, how did a newborn witch kill an expert Mahou Shoujo?
  3. Sayaka, how did a complete rookie easily dispatch a witch, right after her first transformation?
  4. Episode four, Madoka is captured by a witch after she foolishly went out, strangely no Homura rescue in sight. It is Sayaka who comes and helps her, question is, how did Sayaka know where she was?
  5. Why did Kyouko want to become friends with the girls she just tried to kill the episode earlier? It is never explained.
  6. Magical girls eventually turn into witches, we know that familiars also turn into witches, Sayaka immediately turns into a witch upon despair, so how does the familiars come into the picture of evolution?
  7. Sayaka transforms into a witch, despite being experienced and powerful, Kyouko decides to suicide for virtually no reason. Also Homura once more refused to help even though it would have been easy for her.
  8. That QB revealed his entire plan despite the fact that nobody asked him to.
  9. Why doesn’t Homura just take Madoka away to another city? She could easily do it, she could even drag some of the others if she really wanted to, as her time powers make her into the most powerful character in the series, yet she doesn’t abuse this power for some inexplicable reason. Walpurgishnacht as they state it in the show, is not trying to destroy the entire earth or the universe, just THAT one city that they live in. So why not fucking leave if you can’t kill it? Jesus Christ
  10. Why does Madoka’s power increases every time Homura loops? It is something that is never explained, yet it is what causes Madoka to become god.
  11. The 10,000 year work of the incubators was about to be destroyed, so why couldn’t just QB say no to Madoka’s wish? He is proclaimed to be logical, if I realized this fact, then so should he have. He is emotionless but clearly not without free will, yet chooses to take the illogical action of granting Madoka’s wish. Shows you just how much wills the characters actually have in this story.
  12. QB not just coercing a girl into wishing the universe to have unlimited energy. The entire claim of limited wishes is clearly bullshit seeing Madoka was turned into a god anyway.

So why did people hype up this mediocrity in the first place? Well it was a magical girl anime, animated by SHAFT of all things and written by the already infamous Gen Urobuchi, had these 2 names not come together, nobody would have cared about Madoka at all. Episode 3 only cemented the hype.

Still the most hilarious thing about Madoka, is probably how Urobutcher trolled his entire crew and staff.

1509

Review Breakapart 1: Fate/Zero

I’m tired and I have a fever. With nothing else to do, I decided to break down Fate/Zero negative reviews, since they usually have trash reasons for hating it. Unfortunately it seems that most of the reviews that I remember have been deleted ( as expected from MAL as usual). Leaving literally only one negative review that is long enough to be broken apart. And this is that review:

kkAfoFz.png

“For the love of Holy Grail, if you have never watched anything from Fate/Stay Night franchise under any circumstances DO NOT watch Fate/Zero first! I’ll hold an even stronger statement – don’t watch it at all. I’ve just made this grievous mistake, because I had listened to advice given on youtube by several self-proclaimed anime gurus. And now how pissed I am! Sheesh!”

Just from this first paragraph, it is already obvious enough that the writer of this review is the typical idiot who lets himself be hyped up by the anime community, youtubers in this case. He went into Fate/Zero with unnecessary expectations and got disappointed as a result. My words on expectation and disappointment strike true as always.

“I am aware this warning and review will probably fall on deaf ears, because of the way unfavorable reviews are treated by MAL users.”

At least he is right about the shitty treatment of Mal and their crappy moderation system, so I can sympathize with him on some level, but I cannot forgive him the fact that his entire review lacks critical thinking and is done from an entirely subjective and biased perspective of someone who was hyped up for this show.

“Let me elaborate on my background – when I started to watch this series I knew only that Fate/Zero is prequel, supposedly much superior to its successor. And that it was written by the same guy who wrote Madoka Magica. I knew nothing about characters, basic premises and how this story ends. So it will be easier for creators to impress me, immerse me in their fantastical world and make me care for what happens. Or so I thought. Oh boy, how I was wrong.”

1/3rd of the review gone, and you only talked about your own expectation and disappointment so far, good job. The fact that it was written by the same person who wrote Madoka Magica only hyped him up more, due to the fact that the said anime is one of his favorites, so it would be highly unusual for him to not raise some expectations towards a work that was made by the same person. (I also seriously have to question his taste and his credibility on whats a good anime if he rated the convoluted mess that is Madoka with a score of 10). Either way he says that “it will be easier for the creators to impress me”, which is bullshit since he already made that harder for himself by having expectations!

“This anime has massive flaws in its narrative. And it is not even the main story itself – it’s of course ridiculous but it would eventually do. However the pacing of it is atrocious.”

The guy makes Claim A: “There are Massive Flaws in the narrative.” A good reviewer would proceed to immediately back up his claim by presenting facts and evidence that support his claims, like pointing out how the narrative has massive flaws in this case, but not him, he immediately moves onto another claim instead of developing his earlier one, which is how we arrive at Claim B: “The Pacing of Fate/Zero is atrocious.”

“The anime disguises itself as interesting in its first 5 episodes

How would an anime disguise itself as interesting? Interest doesn’t come directly from the anime, it comes from within you, interest is one of your possible reactions to a show, if you felt interested in the first 5 episodes, it wasn’t because the show “cheated” somehow and pretended to be interesting, no it was because you actually found it to be interesting, even if it was only for the first 5 episodes. Boredom, Entertainment, Interest, Excitement, Arousal etc. Are just emotions that a show can try to invoke within its audience, but it won’t necessarily succeed as it entirely depends on the viewers tastes, mood and experiences, which are factors that can greatly vary.

“There is some introduction, then almost right off the bat we hop into a duel between characters.”

What some introduction? Was 5 episodes, perhaps not enough for you? It was already 1/5 of the show, especially since the first episode was 40 minutes long! This is way more introduction than what most anime have. Also you can’t claim “right off the bat” if the said duel only happens at episode 5, you would say that at episode 1 or maybe at episode 2, but it is no longer valid starting episode 3, because its not right off the bat, 136 minutes have already passed! That is 2 hours, which is more than sufficient for a series to start off a conflict.

“And then… then almost nothing happens for the next 8 episodes.”

You first complain about the action being too fast, then you complain about the action being too slow. Make up your mind, please. Also “nothing” is a gross exaggeration, the premise for the drama that was used in the second part of the series was built up here, characters were fleshed out, characters were allowed to form relationships with each other and express their ideals and views, you can’t call it useless or nothing. Or what did you expect this to be some mindless action series, or did you expect it to have some episodely battles like Madoka had?

“Ok, maybe I’m somewhat unfair, there were some skirmishes, though utterly insignificant. “

I guess he finds any battle where the characters don’t die to be utterly insignificant, as expected of a fan of Madoka Magica. It was exactly these early skirmishes that built up the relationship between Rider and Waver, Rider and Saber, Lancer and Saber (Hell their entire relationship is about wanting to settle their fight honorably, which turned into friendship in the second part) It was also here when we were shown the fragments of personality from various characters, as it has been said before, “A Person’s true nature can be deduced based on how he approaches the battlefield and how he acts in combat.” It was here where we learned that Lancer’s and Saber’s master were both willing to discard honour in order to win, it was here where the arrogance of Gilgamesh shined, it was here where it was first hinted that Berserker was Sir Lancelot, due to his fixation on Arthuria. It was also here that Gilgameshes’ “interest” in Berserker began.

“Then around second half something indeed started to happen – but it was still interrupted by All Talk episodes.”

The characters have lengthy dialogues in a fucking drama!!?? Jesus Christ, how horrifying.

“(I still get shivers remembering an episode containing conversation between certain priest and Gilgamesh)”

Another evidence that he was only watching this show for the action and the pretty colours, seeing he gets PTSD episodes from the parts containing dialogue.

“And, don’t you have wrong impression – I’m not some action junkie.”

That’s pretty much what you made yourself to be so far, and I’m 2/4 finished of your review.

“I was annoyed simply because discussion and character development episodes were just criminally uninteresting. It’s beyond describable how one doesn’t care for virtually any of the characters in this story. Given how much time the anime spends on exposing their back-stories and motivations it is fail of epic proportions.”

He cannot describe it because he is just talking from his own subjective perspective. The reason he doesn’t say anything is because he most likely knows that whatever he would say would be completely subjective and wouldn’t have any merit outside of his own personal viewpoint, so he avoids making this mistake by simply calling it “beyond describable”.  He isn’t even arguing that the characters are bad, he is just arguing that they are uninteresting, which is something that is completely subjective to the person watching the show, like a critic, a reviewer should try to approach any material from the most possible objective viewpoint, yet this guy doesn’t even try that. Also notice how he takes this tone, as if he was speaking for everyone or for a large group of people when he is saying his sentences instead of just his own opinions, which makes him seem arrogant and conceited.

“It is partially because this whole exposition is handled very poorly.”

Just because you didn’t like it, doesn’t mean it is handled poorly. If you want to bash the exposition then find objective reasons to do so. Here let me illustrate: One of the major flaws of Fate/Zero’s exposition is that it focuses too much on certain characters (Emiya and Kotomine) while it focuses too little on others (Kayneth, Kariya), making it predictable who will stay until the end of the show and leading to uneven character development. Was that so hard? No it wasn’t, you are just incompetent.

“After the whole show I still don’t understand e. g. what is the actual cause of intense rivalry between main protagonist and main antagonist.”

Either you were fully asleep at this point or you just didn’t care to pay attention as it was quite evident and simple that Kiritsugu Emiya and Kotomine Kirei are two sides of the same coin. Both are pragmatic killers who do anything to achieve their goals, the only difference in the beginning is that Kiritsugu has ideals while Kotomine lacks them, Kotomine immediately notices the similarity between him and Kiritsugu but also can’t understand him due to his lack of ideals, which is why he is frustrated. It is not until Kirei is corrupted by Gilgamesh (You know the part you said that was fucking boring to the point of sending you shivers) that Kirei becomes the polar opposite of Kiritsugu. Emiya is the killer who fights for “good”, someone who is willing to sacrifice others in order to save the world, while Kotomine wishes to bring death and suffering upon the world as he learned to enjoy it thanks to Gilgamesh. But these feelings weren’t just suddenly pulled out of nowhere by Gilgamesh, no they were always inside Kirei, he just tried to suppress and deny them to his religious beliefs. Naturally these two cannot coexist so it was inevitable that they would face off with each other.

Kirei is the villain or “monster” to Kiritsugu’s “superhero”.

k05kqX8

“Additionally narrative is prone to raise some significantly-looking issue (or character) and then to drop it for long or even forever. “

Once more the reviewer makes a claim yet doesn’t gives any explanation or example as to what it is. What issue or character was raised? We will never know because the reviewer doesn’t know how to review.

“And there is this most important issue, which even one character in the story (Gilgamesh I suppose) noticed – how abysmally dull are most of these characters’ motivations. It makes you automatically yawn at the mere sight of them.”

Gilgamesh is literally a demigod who has seen everything that the world has to offer, of course he wouldn’t be amused by our boring modern times and people that came after him. What I find strange here though is that you have the same boredom as the said demigod. In Fate/Zero we have almost a dozen “player characters” that take an important role in the story and each have their own motivations and reasons for fighting, so I find it odd that you cannot find at least one character that you can identify with, relate to or otherwise sympathize with. We have save the world (Kiritsugu), redeeming the mistakes of the past (Saber), saving someone dear to you (Kariya), chivalry and honour (Lancer), personal redemption (Berserker), Conquest (Iskandar), Self Growth and proving oneself to be worthy in the society they belong to (Waver Velvet) etc. I especially find it weird that you couldn’t find Kariya to be interesting seeing he is essentially the same as Homura Akemi from Madoka Magica, a character that you have on your goddamned favourite list( even though she is literally just a plot device character). Both Kariya and Homura sacrifice their own well being in order to save the one that they care about Madoka/Sakura and that is what defines them as characters, but I guess the fact that Kariya wasn’t a loli made him unappealing to you.

” There are some events which simulate plot twists, but there are all so boring and the reasons for them so contrived they are not something to speak of. “

Once more the writer refuses to elaborate and delve into what these events are, so there is nothing to break down for me.

“In other words – it’s impossible for a viewer to care if character X treacherously kills character Y, when you couldn’t care less neither for X nor for Y.”

Sounds like a personal problem rather than anything else. Sure you can say that it is the show’s fault for failing to make you care, but then I can just grab any of the thousand fate fanboys who will say the opposite of your words. They watched the same series as you did, and unlike with you, the show has managed to make them care about its characters. And due to your subjectivistic viewpoint you won’t be able to deny them since their opinion will worth the same as yours. Another example of why subjectivist reviewers are cancer, they can’t even defend or validate their opinions.

“Ok, so maybe at least fight scenes redeem the show? No! Most of them are astonishingly anti-climactic, including two of the three final ones.”

I actually agree with this one as many fights are actually anti climactic, especially Kiritsugu vs Kotomine and Gilgamesh for simply being overpowered. But the show redeems itself by resolving other conflicts through scheming, stealth and assassinations rather than mandatory direct conflicts that many anime tend to favour.

“BTW not only fights are anti-climactic. So is the ending, concluded thanks to idiotic Diabolus ex Machina. “

It’s not a true Machina if its existence was previously hinted to or otherwise foreshadowed to. But I agree that the ending is anti-climactic and that comes from the fact and the necessity that this was a prequel to Stay/Night. But I can appreciate it due to the fact that it focused on Kiritsugu losing pretty much everything he fought for and believed in, thus a great tragedy occurred. Kiritsugu couldn’t have been deconstructed as he had been if the show was not bound by the laws of a prequel.

“And after having watched this I saw juvenile shounen-like Fate/Stay Night anime series from 2006.”

Fate/Stay Night is a seinen not a shounen, not only you lack critical thinking but you can’t even do basic research. I expected this much from a MALtard as they don’t even know what is shounen/seinen etc. And I doubt that this guy is any different.

26tiaIk

“Yes, 2006 anime is cliched. “

Not only it is clichéd, and it has terrible execution, production values but it also butchered the original source material. Though even with that, it still isn’t as bad as 2015 Ufotable version.

“Its stereotypical high-school protagonist whines too much.”

The fact that he gave you such an impression proves that Studio DEEN completely failed at adapting his character.

“Hell, the whole coming-of-mage plot is ultra generic.”

Not even the plot or anything important in Stay/Night.

“And yes, it’s more light-hearted. But still I liked it more, even though I was spoiled by prequel. The creators of F/Zero failed to notice that it’s not enough to be “darker and edgier” to have a good plot and interesting characters.

It’s called consistency, something which Stay/Night lacked as it mixed romantic and harem elements with all that was going on. (While completely leaving out the fact that originally it was also supposed to be under the mystery genre oops, nobody cares about that, harem elements and light hearted comedy are clearly more important.) Fate/Zero unlike Stay Night stayed true to its mood, atmosphere and story throughout the whole show.

“The art part of the anime is only thing in which creators didn’t fail. “

Wrong. Ufotable noticeably ran out of budget in the first half of the show as they spent it all on animating the more costly effects (ionian hetarioi for example), the animation and art became worse after even to the average viewer’s eye, especially when it came to the characters. Ufotable repeated this mistake in the Fate Stay Night 2015 as well.

“Although the story deserves clear zero points, animation, sound and the fact that Saber is always fully-clothed wind up the total score to 4/10 (or 3/10 for first season alone). “

And this is where it is shown that our reviewer has no idea about how scoring works or how he is supposed to score as a critic. Scores are meant to be comparative. Comparative to what? You might ask. To other fucking anime. You look at every anime and decide what the average anime is like before beginning any scoring. Naruto is an average battle-shounen, Slayers is an average shlock adventure, To Aru no Majutsu is an average light novel shit, all 5. Now that you got the average, you look at whether the show is below or above average. After you are done with that you look at how much farther it is from the average anime, and thus push it closer towards either 10 or 0 based upon your judgement. It is quite obvious that Fate/Zero cannot be below a score of 6/10 as a minimum due to the fact that its nothing like the average fucking anime. And no characters, story and plot also have to be done comparatively as well, look at the average anime once more, then look at the cast of the average anime. Surely even you must see that Fate/Zero has a better cast and story than let’s say Naruto. Thus it should naturally be higher on the list, somewhere on 7/10 or so.

My personal addition to this scoring system is that the average is always shit , it is my firm and unshakable belief that 95% of everything is shit, 95% of books, movies, cartoons, anime, manga, visual novels, music, drawings are simply shit. Therefore if I score something below 5 it means that its below shit, which is exactly how we arrive at scoring the review of this guy.

Presentation: As it should be clear from the picture below our writer here wasted 1/3 of the review (marked with a blue) by telling us about his expectation and disappointment and what mindset he went into watching Fate/Zero with, it doesn’t have much to do with actual reviewing, but it helps us understand his viewpoint on why he hates this show so much. The section encircled by red marks how much sentences are actually spent on reviewing Fate/Zero, as you can see only 1/3 of review is actually about reviewing, Jesus Christ. The last third is one half comparison to Fate Stay Night (yellow) and one half Conclusion (pink). 3/10

coloured

Writing: Not really exciting or humorous to read, nor is it informative, the reviewer is below average in terms of writing skills but average as far as the reviewers on MAL are concerned as most of them are equally bad, he also had a few grammatical mistakes, so this makes a score of 5/10

Reasoning: His entire reasoning can be summed up as “I did not enjoy it=its shit.” It’s not like he says anything actually worthwhile as all of his reasoning are based on something subjective rather than something factual or concrete that can be properly analyzed. 0/10

Tone: He has a slightly noticeable arrogant and condescending tone, probably meant towards those who like the series. He also likes to emphasize multiple times that you should stay away and not watch the show most likely due to his personal disappointments, but that is once more not objective, so that makes a score of 3/10.

Review: Doesn’t even go into detail enough to be called an actual review. 0/10

And with this I give this shitty review a generous score of 3/10. What a complete waste of time.