Those uniforms don't come cheap

Oh man, Blood-C is the BESTEST black comedy in animedom for 2011, but for all the wrong reasons. Hands down, no contest. And I don’t think anything in the fall season will find a way to surpass it. After all, what else could the C in the name stand for?

Heck, I would have suspected Miike Takashi was directing this if it wasn’t for an almost complete lack of humour in-universe (and what little surfaced was pretty lame). I’m sure there is a lot of familiarity with the DBZ Abridged series on Youtube. Well, this series makes it very easy to go in that direction for those with the same inclination as the DBZ.Ab creators, because I would never have thought CLAMP+Production I.G. would spend 12 episodes on what is essentially a glorified (loosest sense of the word here) trailer for the incoming Blood-C movie in 2012. There is so little plot content, and whatever twists the production team throws in is so elementary, most of the developments have long since been anticipated by the audience. Everyone is then forced to grind agonizingly through the rest of season waiting for Saya to figure things out on her lonesome. At least there is a saving grace….there is a good reason for how dense Saya is, no matter how ham-fisted the method with which the explanation was presented to us.

It’s very hard to discuss Blood-C without spoilers, and even harder to evaluate without the last 2 episodes, since that’s where the meat of the plot lies. The black farce aspects of the show was already in force during the second half of the series, but it really reaches its absolute peak in those 40 minutes. Although Blood-C is very different from Excel Saga, I had the feeling I was looking at a smoky mirror version of ep26 of that glorious show for it’s utter, utter over the top nature. You have the feeling the animators were just having twisted fun by pushing the boundaries as far as they could go without the otakus revolting. It was so ridiculous I wonder if all the obvious elements on display were really just simple shoutouts to several Western cult classics, if we stick with Occam’s Razor. It’ll be fasincating to be a fly on the wall during the production meetings, since nobody really knows who’s in the driver’s seat for this glorious mess, CLAMP, P.I.G. or the director, Mizushima Tsutomu, whose portfolio include such shows as Dokuro-chan, Azazel-san and Ika Musume. Judging from how a lot of CLAMP tropes and visual cues emerge, and how violence is used to underpin comedy in Dokuro-chan and Azazel, there’s a good chance that most of the blame (or credit, depending on how big a a connosieur of trainwreck fiction you are) belongs to him and CLAMP. P.I.G. might be more of a factor in the actual movie, but it’s still only speculation. Personally, I suspect it’s just CLAMP hubris at work. It’s not like they haven’t had history of royally screwing up recent shows such as Code Geass, xxxHolic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles.

What is NOT speculation is that many anime fans consider this the worst show of the season. You could argue back and forth, but I have to disagree with any hivemind decisions after watching the Kamisama Dolls ending. Gawds, that really made Blood-C look like Cowboy Bebop. One thing’s for sure, those Blu-Rays will probably sell really well to the guro fanatics, considering how egregious the censorship is. To be brutally honest though, for once I’m glad half the episodes suffer from that treatment, given how graphic the violence and how utterly surreal the non-action scenes are in contrast. I’m not sure how much the gore really helped to attract viewers, because the 2nd half of the show is very polarizing in its nature. We’ll just have to wait and see if the sales justify the risks taken. I guess if Japanse otakus want to stick up a figurative middle finger at the Tokyo Youth Ordinance Bill, there’s no better choice available. And even if Blood-C accomplishes nothing else, its status as the PERFECT option for a marathon viewing (complete with drinking game and hard liquor present…CHUG if Saya says, “I will protect everyone!”) is secure for the foreseeable future.

(Interestingly, if we take a big picture view, Blood+ also was way too long for the plot content it had. This seems to be a recurring trait for TV Blood-related franchises. Worse of all, Blood+ simply didn’t contain enough B-grade fail to increase the viewer’s enjoyment from the meta perspective, so it was in many words the runt of the series. It also doesn’t help that Blood-C seems to return to the Blood:The Last Vampire roots, which was pretty much where the vast majority Blood fandom cut their teeth on, making the middle series completely pointless except vaguely using the titular character in some alternative Elseworlds scenario. There’s some amusing irony in the fact that a lot of viewers complain about the character development of Saya in Blood-C, considering how completely devoid of that original Saya was in B:TLV. She came, she kicked ass, roll credits. In many ways, B:TLV is the Blood concept distilled down to its bare essence, with no distractions and a central enigma of a character. Blood-C tries to do something to make Saya less of a awesome cardboard cutout, and assuming the movie is a direct continuation of Blood-C, we might have to reserve judgement on how well that approach holds out.)

(These are just 5 of the new shows. Others might be commented upon as we get to it, or deemed uninteresting or suffer from such quality issues it’s unlikely they will be have time wasted on them. Mileage varies etc)

Dystopian future kids huff drugs with the best of them

This is what happens when you don’t pay attention in class

No 6

I’m going into this show with no preconceptions or foreknowledge, so I was kind of surprised by the yaoi-ish content level. In any case this show is one of those “your world/universe is not as it seems” sci-fi thrillers, and it seems not to be revealing all its premise cards yet, so I have to reserve judgement until things develop further. However two seasons ago I also said the same about Fractale, which ultimately was a disappointment, so hopefully this isn’t an omen. No 6…..fans of the Prisoner will be familiar with what that means, so it remains to be seen whether this is a deliberate homage/reference or if it’s a coincidence.

Saya says nahahya

Yes, this is the fall line of lens we have here

Blood-C

What a weird Frankenstein’s monster of a show this is. In many ways it seems to be a middling school drama stitched to some violent fights typical of the Blood franchise using a loose episodic framework. The discordance between the halves is made even more stark by some odd usage of “dead air” moments, especially when Saya is alone and “in transition” between the two stages, so to speak. I have no idea how this show will pan out, or if they will gradually mesh the two halves of the show as the plot progresses. It’s a storytelling gimmick that might deliver if done well. Then again, they can also just ramp up the oddness and go for atmosphere. About the only definitive thing we can conclude is that the show loves its XXXHolic-ish character designs. The fight in this opening episode is decent, but nothing special in terms of animation. Considering the core of any Blood show is still the visceral fighting, more needs to be done to raise this show above average.

This is not the Lady Gaga concert

Just wait till you see my transformable ride

 

Mawaru Penguin Drum

It’s Utena’s director back with Utena-esque antics. Needless to say, first impressions are almost worthless, but fans of Utena can be assured that it’ll be chock full of visual oddities and motifs. Still infinitely more entertaining than Mr Hopper’s Penguins.

character traits

I’m going to CALIFORNIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA~

Yuru Yuri

This show is definitely a mile up from K-On in terms of comedic quality in the “slackers in a club with an activity that is only tangentially related to what we see on screen most of the time” department. At least it tries to mix things up, whereas K-On’s Plan A, B and C for viewers was moe, more moe and “did I mention moeisms?” Still, the first half is liberally dosed with a ton of the standard cliches and behaviour we expect from such shows, but the 2nd more than made up for it with a huge dollop of meta-humour. There also doesn’t seem to be any Y chromosomes in sight, as befits the title.

Rin's run into the future

Awwwwwww

 

Usagi Drop

My pick of the lot, definitely. It’s a straight Noitamina drama with a lot of small naunces, that’s really all that’s needed to right the ship after the mess C made the previous season. You get the kind of family situation that, while left field, has happened again and again since time immemorial. Our protaganist is saddled with a tot, which makes this another entry in Japan’s ever popular “adult/high school kid taking care of much younger children” sub-genre. Put it simply, this is a non 4-koma version of Yotsuba that’s generally serious in tone. I have high hopes for the show, assuming it can avoid the lolita fetish minefield that seems to inflict a lot of shows in Japan that follow the same basic plotline.

EDIT: It has come to my attention that the show is josei. Heh, that scratches that last issue.