Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Figure 17 Review: In what form will your Soul Manifest?

Figure 17 is one of those anime that have been on my to-watch list for quite some time, but that I hadn't yet gotten around to actually checking out.  Having recently picked up a set of the DVDs for the show, I've finally been able to get around to correcting this situation.

I must admit, there was no real particularly grounded reason for why I initially decided that this should be a show that I would eventually watch.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I originally looked into it because the title had a similarity to Ever 17 by way of having the same number in the title.  After reading the description of the series, I figured that it didn't sound uninteresting, and that it was as good a choice as any for when I needed something new to watch.

The verdict?  After three episodes, while I can't picture this becoming one of my favorite shows ever, it's definitely something that could stand to be a little more well-known than it currently is.

Disc One in a Nutshell:

Our protagonist is a 4th grade girl with the name Shiina Tsubasa.  Tsubasa's mother has recently died; following this, she and her father moved from Tokyo to Hokkaido, trading the urban setting for the vacant expanses of the Japanese North.  As a result of losing her mother and then moving across the country, away from her old friends, Tsubasa is very shy and slow to fit in with her new classmates.

One night, Tsubasa observes a UFO that crash-lands out in a nearby forest.  Following her dog out to the crash site, she encounters the monster that damaged the spaceship.  In an attempt to flee from the monster's attempt to eat her, she hides within the ship, accidentally activating an unused set of battle-armour.  With the armour manifested around her, Tsubasa defeats the monster; The armour then detaches, reforming itself into the form of a girl with the exact appearance and memories of Tsubasa.

The starship pilot explains that he was transporting six dangerous eggs when one of them hatched, causing his ship to crash in Hokkaido.  He soon runs out of resources to fight the beasts that hatch from the subsequent eggs, leaving Tsubasa and her clone, Hikaru, as the only means of protecting the Earth until backup arrives.

Some Thoughts

I've seen Figure 17 described as a pseudo-"magical girl" show; right now, I'm wondering where the "pseudo" comes from.  Aside from having alien technology as the source of her power, Tsubasa's story seems to be like a textbook example of a magical girl plot.  At the beginning of the show, she lacks confidence in herself and is never assertive when it comes to letting her own opinion be known.  Suddenly, she finds herself in the company of a girl who looks just like her and has all of her memories, but who acts in the exact opposite manner: Hikaru is friendly, outgoing, and energetic.  While this is being written only three episodes in, I'd estimate that Tsubasa will learn from Hikaru to be more confident in herself, culminating in the finale where Hikaru will leave forever, leaving Tsubasa to handle herself.

I wasn't too sure about Figure 17's double-length episode format going into the show.  Now, I consider it a very good idea: the 44 minutes gives enough time for each episode to contain a aliens-attacking-us story and a Hikaru's-everyday-life story.  Some of the scenes might be considered by some to be overly drawn out, but I found the pacing to be more deliberate than slow.

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