(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)
A bunch of kids, mecha, dark. Mari Okada at the helm. Neon Genesis Evangelion is a show about its characters, about their psychological make-up. The fights are an extra on top. Mari Okada is good at characters and relationships, even if she’s not the best at “convoluted plots”. I hope she focuses on her strengths. Her other show this season, the “Madoka Mari Okada” (Selector Infected WIXOSS) is less than impressing me currently.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) The Orderly World:
1) “Admonitions”, well, that’s a nice term. “The demons outside reflect the inner despair of humanity”. I’m not sure how I feel about the split yet, between shows that use that metaphorically and let you figure it out on your own, and those where it’s literally springing from humanity’s dark psyche. Emotional state in many mecha shows is important, to keep control and “synchronization” with the mecha. Here though, we could have people fighting consciously to keep their calm, and thus perhaps spiraling ever out of it. Might also work nicely with the setup, which is likely to have a lot of drama and melodrama, as Mari Okada is wont to do. And when jealousy can summon forth monsters…
2) The music and atmosphere remind me somewhat of westerners, with the abandoned town.
3) How orderly. We have a company, with licenses, and they must verify there aren’t civilians around before shooting, at the civilian-eating monsters :3 I guess this is what one could call “Bureaucracy gone wild.” A world where regulations rule supreme over common sense. Still, Boy-kun (probably the MC) seemed quite blasé about being outside at night, knowing the risks.
I thought of asking, “Why do the monsters come out at night? That’s so clichéd!” but considering they’re born out of fear and negative emotions, it makes sense.
4) “These Admonitions are a real pain in the ass,” along with the urban legends about them. Makes sense, in this world of bureaucracy. They’re part of life, they’re part of what is now considered “normal”. Admonitions appearing is normal. Makes you wonder what they’ll do to shake things up. Of course,relationships between teenagers, but I meant on the plot-side. The school being funded by IX is a big give-away.
5) “Can’t you go easier on me?” – “Our skills aren’t far apart.” – For those who don’t understand, to go easy on someone else and still have meaningful training/win, you need to be much better. Those who aren’t well-trained fight giving it their all. If you’re close to one another, you have to give it your all and perhaps even overshoot, because holding back is not an option. The answer makes sense, even if it needed to be unpacked. It’s not just about winning, but about control.
2) Darkness Approaches – A Shadowy Past:
1) A team of teenagers sent to investigate a shadowy realm. Persona 3/4, is this you? :D
2) “Can we enter the enemy territory and come back alive?” – “Someday everything will be inside. A meaningless question.” Yeah… that’s not how humans work.
3) “I thought I deleted the data.” “I have no interest in photos.” – Erasing the past. Forgetting the dead. Leaving them behind.
She appears to be an older sister or something, judging by the photo, “You came to a guy’s room alone, are you sexually frustrated or something?” – That line was so bad. There are no words. A caricature of a rebellious line? Taking shitty talkbacks and talking like that in real life? Doesn’t really make much sense for a real person, in this situation, to speak like that :-/
4) The creeping march of darkness, and the enemy. Like bugs skittering towards you. A scene filled with a sense of foreboding. A sense of foreboding, coupled with an urban legend of an impending death. Makes sense.
5) Ah, his late brother’s girlfriend. I wonder, did he hate himself, or his brother? Perhaps both. Did he hate his brother, or did his brother “deserve to die” for not saving their parents? I wonder. I’m sure we’ll be told exactly.
3) Audience, Meet Tropes:
1) Hazaki is… a baka.
2) So, the metallic particles are the enemy, “M3 The Dark Metal”. The admonitions are not the real enemy, but a byproduct.
4) So… they don’t think they’re ready to fight, but they send them on patrols because they’re unlikely to meet opposition. This makes no sense. Either you go on patrol to possibly fight and gain experience, or you don’t think they’ll fight. I wonder if it’s just to train them in actually piloting the Vess, that’s what makes the most sense, as we’ve seen Hakari fail to control hers earlier. But in that case, “patrol” during the day, when fights will not happen.
Yeah, mecha shows are all about the children saving humanity, but here everyone can pilot the Vess, apparently, so they need to lay on extra thick how ridiculous the teacher-adults are. The scientist earlier on without care for life and the “villain eyes” as well.
4) Info-dumping Protagonist-kun’s Personality:
1) “The monsters are people too! We can’t kill them!” Well, this was a quick jump to soul-searching and angst…
Not only is it human, but the protagonist can relate to it! It suffers from the same issue as he is. It’s a ghost, a remnant of the past, haunted by said past, just like him. Have to note, the music here was terrible.
We also had a weird voice all the kids heard, bringing them back to their memory/experience together in The Lightless Realm as children. And of course the mysterious boy with special understanding. Going by the book.
2) “It’s a lot easier to meet your end than to be trapped by the past.” Damn, episode 1 and we’re spilling all the beans. This is Akari’s arc, and also the one he has for his brother. He’d rather die than keep thinking of the past. This is also why he resents his brother, whom he feels went off to fight monsters and die, rather than face reality, face the past.
And that is why MC-kun can kill the enemies, even though they are “humans”. He’s liberating them. He knows it’s easier. He’s “setting them free”.
OP – The fade-in to the OP was quite good, and it even worked aesthetically. It had some nice still shots, but it was more or less the very epitome of “forgettable”.
ED – Better energy, prettier, focused more on the nice static shots. I liked it.
Next episode’s name, “Embraced by the Reaper”, with ghosts and Corpses, they really wish to evoke the feeling of a purgatory, of an underworld.
Post Episode Thoughts:
I’m going to be very blunt. Before this season I somewhat jokingly referred to Selector Infected WIXOSS as Mari Okada taking on Madoka, and M3: The Dark Metal as her taking on Neon Genesis Evangelion. It seems the comparison is not entirely without merit, but both just feel so tired. I wonder if Mari Okada had turned into a cynic, or perhaps if she’d been contracted to make a show after those luminaries and is feeling tired of it as well.
The writing in this show had all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. We’ve gone through enough revelations and explorations of the main character’s personality to last us through 4-6 episodes, easily, not to mention realizations about the enemy. I don’t think he’s immediately going to change, though that is possible, I think they’ll just keep hammering it in. Thing is, we’ve essentially been told already why he is as he is, so we’re just going to keep seeing how it makes him act, rather than showing us how he acts and slowly letting us realize not just why he’s this way, but what way he is exactly.
Imagery of death, children chosen seemingly arbitrary but connected by a past event, a child who seems to know more by some emphatic connection, useless and conniving adults, with some dose of ridiculous characters and some really silly fan-service. This feels old, and we’re on the first episode.
Yes, they could surprise us, but will they?