April 16th, 2016.
Half Mast For a Flat World:
Let’s start with the voice actors. I recently rewatched Mirai Nikki, and one thing that struck me about it was how most of the actors there weren’t very great, and even some of the good ones then didn’t get any roles in any show beyond it. Interestingly, the first time Hoshimiya Sena spoke up I thought, “Hey, that’s Hoshimiya Kate‘s voice actress from Sekai Seifuku – World Conquest Zvezda Plot!”, and sure enough, it’s Kuno Misaki, who’s doing an alright work.
But Hoshimiya Eiji, the main character, is voiced by Morita Masakazu, better known as Bleach’s Ichigo and Bunny (Barnaby) from Tiger & Bunny? I didn’t really recognize him until I checked, and he didn’t really perform all too well in the role. The part after Eiji ran from his apartment after stabbing Rin was especially badly-acted. Rin and Daisy weren’t doing an impressive work either, though Daisy was alright when she didn’t enter her “prophetic poetry” tone.
Now let us move onward, in case you don’t know, Mirai Nikki’s mangaka and Series Composer are both behind this series, but the Director is brand new, aside from working on a single Detective Conan film. So, how did he do? Well, mixed job. The music in this show is quite good on its own, but in some scenes, such as when Sena is stabbed, and we have that chill jazzy music? Ill-fitting. The constant cuts in music and the effect early on when he spoke with Daisy was great.
The art-style is good, both for character designs, backgrounds, and execution. All the big horrified eyes are very much a Mirai Nikki mainstay, so it looks the same. Also, that “military command” with all the weirdos? At least we have Zaraki Kenpachi’s voice actor joining the club as well, Tachiki Fumihiko is always great to have around.
So, where did the Director do a less than stellar job? It sort of fits into presentation, but it was less about content (which is the next section) and more about how the content was delivered, and it was delivered slowly. The pacing felt more slow than deliberate, as if the world is yawning and waiting for things to happen. When Rin came to Eiji’s house? I didn’t feel tension. And this is a bit surprising, how so much actually happened in this episode, yet it didn’t feel as if much happened, and not because I was engrossed, but because I wasn’t. Your mileage may vary, obviously.
Themes / Story:
I mentioned Sekai Seifuku before, and it’s relevant here as well. Someone setting out on conquering the world, eh? Someone who sets to conquer the world so everyone will be at peace. So why did he end up destroying the world to begin with? Well, we don’t know, but I guess it’s a way of stepping forward and dominating the world, he just forgot to step forward. But considering how powerful his power is, where is the tension going to come from? Or will it be more of a mad journey where we see all the crazies along the way instead?
In terms of tropes, especially ones attached to the Mirai Nikki name, we’ve had a bunch of silly characters and military commands, betrayals. I’m really curious how Eiji constantly losing consciousness and his sense of time and place will factor into things. We also see his detachment from the world, as after 10 years in the same class he hasn’t made a single friend, and they all mock him while knowing he can see it. That’s the world of Mirai Nikki. With nobody to trust.
Except his sister. Who’s into him in ways that seem unhealthy, but very anime-esque. And man, the anime sure did draw out the scene where she was being stabbed. And then, his power is a form of domination, of coercing people to do his will against theirs. A form of mind-rape. So did we need the sexual innuendo, and voices, and “Mother, father, don’t look at me!” as the screen we black afterwards, and just for the woman and not the men? I mean, there was a lot of nudity in Mirai Nikki, and most of it was just on screen without attention being drawn to it. And there was also quite a lot of sexual violence (sexual assaults, rapes) in the show. Yet none of it felt as out of place as this one scene, which we mostly only heard, because it just didn’t really make sense within the show and how his power worked.
“Daisy” and her sing-song declarations just read stilted and felt more as if they were “Ayanami Rei” or the equivalent from RahXephon, just spouting cryptic nonsense for the sake of it. Eiji felt solid, like a real person, who’s hiding from the world and from his past. The world felt properly dilapidated, but all the characters in it aside from Eiji felt immaterial, like the ghosts he sees. They are all specters he fears. It fits the mood of horror and isolation, but it doesn’t help engender the feel of a populated world that’s full of characters we’d like to see. Rin’s depiction was lacking as well.
In the end, the writing thus far is fine if unexciting, and it’s mostly the pacing and lack of some panache that leaves me a bit cold. I’ll give it an episode or two more to see whether they can kick things into gear. It’s surprising how non-climactic the final scene felt. Nothing like how the first episode of Code Geass ended. There were some theatrics, but they just didn’t carry through.
Also, if we speak of “scales”, it was obviously necessary to make Eiji weaker so there’d be conflict, but his power is still so overpowering, and he can make allies out of anyone he beats, that the show’s going to have to work hard to convince us there’s real tension involved. And if there’s no tension, it’ll need to find another way to make me interested. Spectacle is a good way, but the Director hasn’t sold me this episode that he can deliver it. He nailed the music and visuals, but they didn’t add up to a propulsive atmosphere, which is what they’re there for, no?