Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekend Anime Review: OreImo and Index

Strictly speaking, this was something I originally intended to be posted last weekend, when it would have covered Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai and the first half of To Aru Majutsu no Index, but the delays have expanded it to be a much longer post that will also include more of Index (up to halfway through the second season), as well as To Aru Kagaku no Railgun.

Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister can't be this Cute)

I tried reading a bit of the OreImo manga around the time that the announcement for the anime was made, but never really got into it.  Similarly, when the series came out, I watched the first episode but never really pursued it any further.  I was aware that it was one of those series that grabs the attention of enough of the anime fan collective that it seems like everybody is talking about, and knew that I would have to get around to watching it eventually, I managed to put it off for a good period of time.  So, now that I've established how my prior experiences with this series have all resulted in a firm, resounding "meh", I'll go on to talk about how I can't see what managed to catch everybody's attention, right?

 I rather liked it, actually.

I still stand by my impression of the beginning.  The first few episodes are a little slow from what I was expecting, although in this case I was expecting to be instantly grabbed by the series, so it really works out to being an opening which doesn't particularly grab you, but also doesn't fail to entertain.  I think it was episodes 4 or so that I was really grabbed (I'm pretty sure this is where the second novel starts, but I haven't read them and can't say for sure).

I think the only real complaint I would have with the series from that point would be episode 8 ("My Little Sister Can't be Animated").  I'd be a little wary of a random "character suddenly becomes a famous novelist" plot development under normal circumstances, but the timeframe in which this is supposedly happening.  One month to get serialized and build enough of a fanbase to get an animated adaptation?  Okay, so they admitted that the "adaptation" was an excuse to hijack an existing fanbase for what would essentially be an original production, but even after that I feel that the series would have been better off retreading its old "Pop'lar girl is secret otaku, must stay secret to everybody" ground (Not necessarily saying that anime series should never try to do new things, just that I think that this particular "new direction" was a bit of a poor choice).  Maybe I was also a bit annoyed because the end of the whole "Kirino and her friend have a falling out" arc seemed a little rushed (and incomplete, even.  They end with Ayase thinking that Kyousuke is some kind of perverted incestuous freak, only to completely forget about it in every other scene involving those two for the rest of the anime), or because episode six ("My Childhood Friend can't be this Cute") made it seem like there would be some additional development for Manami, which promptly failed to materialize.

Could the show have benefited from more "Normal" cast members interacting with the otaku?  I could see a potential source of humour in that, but that's something that's already been used in Lucky Star and Genshiken, so there's nothing really wrong with limiting most of the things to otaku talking amongst themselves.

The "message" of the show also feels a little odd to me.  I'm not usually one who goes around looking for "Aesops" in every piece of fiction, and I especially don't like the "Characters did X in this show and things turned out nice for them, so this show must be advocating X" line of thinking that leads to people finding truly ridiculous objections to works of fiction </tangent>, but with OreImo, especially in the parts that looked to me as though they were based off of the first two books (episodes 1-3 and 4-5) seemed to have a definite message of "Anime/Games/etc are just a hobby like any other".  It's a wonderful message, but it seems odd to have it in such a manner that the show seems to be trying to teach it, because it's doubtful that OreImo will ever really have an audience outside of the people who are already firmly into that kind of hobby.

On the topic of "Just another Hobby-ness", I liked the decision to make Kirino a girl who likes both anime and fashion, rather than being another "Pretends to like popular thing even though it's clear people who like popular thing are shallow and won't like her if they knew she likes unpopular thing".  I can't remember if Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu was that way or not, although I think I remember it being along the lines of "High-class girl doesn't like high-class things but has to pretend that she does."  Maybe I'll give that series another go, although in the 4 years since it aired it seems that it's been more or less completely forgotten.

To Aru Majutsu no Index/To Aru Kagaku no Railgun

I'm not really sure what happened with my interest in To Aru Majutsu no Index.  Four years ago, around the first time that I actually tried to watch an anime series as it was coming out instead of just watching series that had already finished airing, Index was one of the shows that I had intended to start watching (the others being Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu and Blade of the Immortal).  Unfortunately, business at the time prevented me from starting the series, and it's remained tentatively on my "Watch this, eventually" list ever since.  It wasn't really even interest in the show that finally got me to watch it: It was because To Aru Kagaku no Railgun sounded interesting, and I wasn't sure how much I'd miss out on if I were to have jumped straight into that one.
It wasn't bad, really.  The arcs might have been a little short for my taste... or maybe there wasn't enough downtime between them.  As generic as the "Male High School Student becomes involved in plots involving Many Supernatural Women" idea may be, it seems even more like it was just thrown together for the sake of doing what everybody else is doing when the High Schooler doesn't seem to do any Schooling (This desire for the blending of slice-of-life moments with world-saving adventures is one of the reasons I like Railgun better than Index).  There was a nice expansive cast of characters, but it felt small because the only one who was central to the plot with any amount of regularity was Touma (To continue contrasts with the spin-off, Railgun had a central cast of 4 girls).  The plots were never straightforward "Good guy, Bad guy" affairs, but after a while it became too predictable because you could always tell that any overview of the plot given in the first few episodes would turn out to be wrong or incomplete somehow.

Not much to say about Index II, aside from the observation that somebody on the writing staff must have really liked the whole "Main Character accidentally sees a female character naked" gag/situation, because it shows up a lot in that season.  Then again, at least they start playing around with it a bit, and it does fit in with Touma's whole "Such Misfortune!" outlook on life.

Some other observations:
  • Given how much the writer seems to love the cliche, I'm somewhat surprised that Touma hasn't walked in on Misaka in some state of undress yet.  Usually, you'd think of her kind of personality as being a magnet for that sort of thing happening.
  • Misaka really brings to mind Inami from Working!! (yeah, Index was released first, but this is the order I saw them in).  Weird, in that one of the frequent conversations I've had with meatspace friends is how, despite having the superficial trappings (Keeps feelings a secret, lots of punching, easily embarrassed) of a Tsundere, Inami really isn't one, while Misaka is.
  • At the end of Railgun, when the villain reveals her weapon which is based off of Misaka's signature move, my immediate response was "What, you mean like a Railgun?"
  • The Misaka clones really bring to mind HK-47.  I was waiting the entire series for one of them to refer to somebody as a meatbag, and severely disappointed when they never did.
  • Misaka 20001 is the most moe HK-47 I've ever seen.
  • Upotte!! would be greatly improved if Misaka was in it.
  • Poor Saten-san, the writers apparently forgot she existed when they were making Index II.  (Granted, she's not a member of Judgement like Shirai and Uiharu are, but Uiharu's one appearance that I've seen so far (walking around the city with Shirai) isn't exactly something that would have necessarily excluded Saten).
  • When they said that Index couldn't live two years with only 15% of her memory available, I immediately thought "That doesn't add up".  I love when writers trick me into thinking that they screwed up the math, only for it to later turn out to be important (see also: Last Exile)
  • Uiharu and Saten have what are quite possibly the longest uniform skirts I've seen in anime that weren't on a Yankii.
  • Speaking of teleportations, Index II has reinforced my belief that fights between two teleporters are indeed awesome.
This season's anime has pretty much reached it's three-episodes mark, so expect some detailed reviews on those soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment