Precursor to a Legacy: My Thoughts on Dragon Ball

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Thought I might spice up the title of this post because this series is a special watch for me. It is, as the title implies, a precursor to the anime that got me into anime as a child, a lifelong passion that spanned between the anime, its movies, and countless video game adaptations. At one point in my life, I could perfectly describe every arc of every saga in vivid detail of Dragon Ball Z‘s course. Though I never christened it my favorite anime all this time, there would be no other title suited more to challenge the enthusiasm I had for the imagination present within a single series. Until a few years ago, when I got back into anime after a ten year hiatus or so, but that’s old news by now.

Notice, however, that I only mention Dragon Ball Z. I didn’t have the same experience with its previous entry, Dragon Ball, as I did with its successor—in fact, I hardly remember anything of it at all. It never seemed to air as much as Z, which may have been intentional seeing as the original seems to be a lot more, ahem, “risque.” It didn’t have that same serious or captivating mystique that Z had, and I think American networks realized this. I did catch a few episodes of the original Dragon Ball early on in my life, but never in any subsequent chains. It was always random episodes that made no sense to me. Because of this, I recalled a few moments from my recent trek of watching the series as scenes I’d seen way back when, but the moments were very limited. All I knew of the series going into it was what was described to me through the (limited) re-tellings in video game adaptations. I knew major plot points and various characters, but there was a lot of fluff I had to wade through to get to that familiarity.

I will also state now that this series took me nearly twenty-two months to finish. This timeline only included having me drop it soon after the twentieth episode or so, bringing it back about four months later, then putting it on-hold for the 2016 Summer of Anime. Adding that altogether, it still took roughly sixteen months to get through 153 episodes. Through that span of time, not only had the series grown from beginning to end, but I, myself, had seen a few self-transformations. This reflection of changing gave me a deeper appreciation for how long the series had gone while still trying to change the core of its essence or strategy for entertainment. In the beginning, it was fun and not-too-serious. By the end, the world was at stake about five times and hundreds of people died in battle. It was an encouraging strategy that felt like the story was moving at its own pace while simultaneously growing beyond its expectations. I suppose that change intimidated me to some degree. Though, more likely, the series was just weighed down by too many problems.

Believe me, this series has an avalanche of problems. Problems it never seemed to care to fix.

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I was taken off guard by how bad this series really is. The humor is so unbelievably juvenile that the age range for the comedy is somewhere between two and six, with a quick jump to thirteen or so with the “boobie puns.” There are two major comedy topics within the first arc or two of Dragon Ball: fan service and pissing. Lots and lots of pissing. Someone once described to me that Akira Toriyama had a pissing fetish. It seems they have some proper evidence to back it up based on how many times Goku had to take a piss before he set off for his journey. As for fan service, hello Bulma. Meet Master Roshi. Hope you like the shenanigans between these two because they never stop. The humor alone completely drains any serious tone the series could’ve had with its atrocious attempts at stirring laughter. Straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon. For babies. With fan service. A lot of this is also properly instigated by what is by far, BY FAR, the worst character in this entire series: Pilaf.

Pilaf is not a good villain. Pilaf is not a good character. Pilaf is not a good leader. Pilaf is not entertaining, funny, charming, good, or any other adjective pertaining to any semblance of positivity whatsoever. He is a scourge to this series and makes it more than a chore, but a pain to watch. I hate his voice. I hate his personality. I hate his stupid face. I hate how his henchmen obey his every order without giving into their common senses and dumping the little shit to fend for himself. And I hate that he keeps. Showing. Up. Why does Toriyama feel he needs to resort to having such a horrible, annoying, one-dimensional ball of abomination as a serious threat to Goku when it was apparent from the very beginning that Goku could destroy him by barely lifting a finger in his general direction while asleep at .000000001% of his power. It’s repetitive, annoying, a waste of time, and could be cut out completely for the sake of retaining my, and likely other’s, good graces.

Excuse me. I really had to let that out before it killed me.

In essence, my extreme disregard for Pilaf’s threat as a villain is a running theme within the show. Many times as the arcs play out, Goku shows that he can easily defeat just about everyone so long as they aren’t shooting lasers out of their eyes or grabbing onto his tail. It makes the action sequences listless and dull, with a simple punch or rushing combination to take out the bad guys. And when it comes to those who do pose a challenge, there is a lot of talking. Very few times I can recall where fights are just fights. Someone always has to stop to make a snarky comment such as “Hehehehe. You’re better than I thought. Hehehehehehehe. This should be fun. Hehehehehehehehehe.” (There is a lot of chuckling in this anime.) If not that, they make a bold proclamation then start screaming for three minutes as they charge up an ominous-looking attack, only to have it either not work and look surprised, or have it work and start chuckling again. I would much rather take the latter flaw than the former, as going through the adventures of Goku vs. normal humans was so boring that I always found myself counting down the episodes until a real threat showed up. Even so, the latter flaw still drags out the episodes far longer than they need to be, as well as any enjoyment one had with the fight at hand.

Excluding the first tournament arc, where Goku, Krillin, Yamcha, and Master Roshi participate in the world tournament, there are fifty-seven episodes that feature Goku going up against weak or relatively weak human villains. If I didn’t promise myself to finish this series before moving onto Z, I would’ve dropped it a second time prior to reaching “the good part.” There is no torture quite like subjecting oneself to nearly twenty hours’ worth of Goku fucking around with people who aren’t even capable of harming him for the sake of showing his “adventurous spirit.” It’s really, really not worth it, aside from showing his experiences outside of his humble beginnings. I’d almost recommend skipping all the way up to the Baba saga after the first world tournament arc, because all the time in-between could essentially be filler. Very few characters from that time reappear later on and Goku doesn’t seem to grow much from the experiences—his strength most debatably so. It just goes to show how long this series is and how much of it could’ve been cut to give it more of a focus; I suggested cutting nearly 40% of its mass.

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Even after the series gets to “the good part,” there are still problems. Along with the aforementioned “elongated battles via chatting,” there are many times where Goku is tasked with doing something imperative for the world’s safety, only to have him go to a random place guarded by a random evil monster to obtain a random powerful trinket to make him stronger or whatever else. Once again, random filler to further draw out the drama of the series that gives very little impact upon the viewer other than the fact that Goku is wasting his time treasure-hunting. There are occasionally times when he has someone with him that doesn’t make me want to kill myself (Yajirobe), while a majority of the time he does (Bulma). However, I can understand the point of these things, but also question why there are so many “dangerous quests and items” available for him to embark on/obtain when he could’ve been doing all of this from the beginning, instead of when the timing is most convenient. It feels like cheap writing to me.

If you’ve gotten to this point and are thinking to yourself, “Man, this guy is tearing this series to shreds! Is there anything about this series worth praising?” I have a confession to make: there isn’t much at all. Perhaps it’s because the series is outdated. Perhaps my standards are too high. Perhaps my disdain for shounen runs deep within anime’s lore and Dragon Ball is yet another example of everything I dislike of the genre. Whatever it is, my score is one I consider generous for its overall quality. But it’s not all subjective, there are a few things about the series that really impressed me.

First and foremost, its creativity. Now, don’t get me wrong, most of the characters are incredibly one-dimensional and uselessly bland, and the writing needs far more variety. What spurns my enthusiasm for the series is the world that Toriyama creates. The dragon balls, the eternal dragon, the number of creatures present within human society, the number of places to be explored and the denizens within them. Despite the relative unimportance of these places and people, to see that they exist and the care given to make them feel alive is commendable, even if most characters look similar to one another (especially girls/women). It at least attempts to create an atmosphere that employs the adventurous spirit of the series, and I applaud that.

While most characters are hopeless, there are a few who aren’t. Roshi, despite his perverted antics, displays a wide range of knowledge that suits his status. He’s a gross old man, but he’s also an accomplished fighter who always knows what’s at stake and when to be serious. Then there’s Tien, who has slowly become my favorite character of the entire series. I would have never guessed that Tien used to be such an apathetic asshole. I always assumed he was a no-nonsense, wise type of guy, but he’s a lot more of a snarky bastard than I anticipated. His arc was probably the most immersive one, both because I had little knowledge of it and I felt the series actually did something it never tried to do before that point: character development. Tien was pretty properly developed, along with giving some insight on Roshi and his past. Because of this, and the personality Tien embodied afterwards, there’s no doubt that he became the star of the series in terms of roundness of character.

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Dragon Ball has some okay art design, as well as some pretty-colored canvases. While I don’t much care for Toriyama’s design of women, I think his characters earn high praise for uniqueness… on a part of the major characters. A lot of the background characters have similar body structures and faces, humans in particular. Even so, they’re easily distinguishable and bring a little flair to an already flashy series. Despite the pointless adventures of Goku overpowering every obstacle, the characters stand out for their design alone. Animation-wise, there are many points throughout where they re-use animation to draw out fight scenes and scurries. It makes all the more time-consuming and easy to pick out from the batch. Sure, it was the mid to late ’80s and anime wasn’t as big a presence as it is now, but sometimes it was so jarring that it was repeated over and over like it was no one’s business. Some fight scenes were good, while others depended a lot on those repeated motions to simulate a lot going on. It was better later on when, y’know, people were actually fighting instead of Goku kicking someone once and that was it. Still, one will likely leave disappointed by the moderately low emphasis on action in earlier segments. Have to save time for the piss jokes.

It’s bad, putting it bluntly. Dragon Ball is not a series that has aged well, but has spawned a legacy that has surpassed three decades. It’d be hard to find anyone under the age of fifty who doesn’t know who Goku or the Kamehameha wave is. Though the popularity and fan attention has focused primarily on Z, the original still gets tremendous fan support for setting the foundation for future adventures—ones that span greater lengths than Toriyama could’ve imagined when writing his fledgling series. While I find the series a tremendous hassle to watch and ultimately not worth watching at all, I can acknowledge the impact it had on anime and the hearts of millions throughout time and place. Perhaps if not for it, we wouldn’t have as big a selection of anime as we do now, as well as the accessibility we westerners cherish when indulging in our eastern cartoon desires. Thank you, Dragon Ball. You horrible, amazing thing.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

I’m (Really) Done with the NFL

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post documenting my frustration with the inadequacy of the NFL’s referees. In a fit of rage, I made an oath not to watch the NFL for an undetermined amount of time, so long as the NFL didn’t take responsibility for their employers. I cracked under pressure and watched the AFC-NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl soon after. It was almost akin to a child throwing a tantrum because they weren’t getting their way.

Fast forward to present time and with two weeks of action, I haven’t found anything particularly troubling about the state of the refs (though that may depend on what game I’m watching). Even so, there’s something unsatisfying about the entire game in its current state. Perhaps its the media overblowing everything. Norman vs. Beckham. Gurley is the second-coming of Christ. Kaepernick sat during the national anthem and now everyone’s joining in on the fun. It seems the game has become less of a game and more of a circus, a gladiatorial type conglomerate that soothes itself on embellishing itself in drama and glory. It’s too much sometimes, and how I’ve been able to stand it for this long amazes me. I love football as a sport that much, it seems. But it’s getting to the point where it’s not worth the time.

I spend a lot of my free time on football. Not just watching football games, but looking up football history, football stats, watching the NFL Network, playing Madden 12, and researching for my occasional NFL Top 10’s. And this is only with the NFL. I also watch College Football, Canadian Football, Arena Football, and had I the chance to, High School and Indoor Football. The only thing I don’t watch is Lingerie Football! That’s ten hours on Saturdays and Sundays, and an additional three and a half on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. That’s thirty hours a week! I don’t even work that much in a week!

I don’t even get much out of football. Just three hours of raw enjoyment and nothing more. I can’t really critique it (outwardly) or make anything out of it as a writer (They want things called “degrees.” Pfft!), and the NFL is pretty strict on their copyrights. It’s something one can only watch and appreciate, assuming the game is actually good. In the long run, I’ve wasted so much time watching games when I could’ve been, ahem, “productive” doing something else. The time when I was writing my picks for weekly games was the least productive my blog had ever been. I was constantly burned out by the pressure of writing long, complicated posts and doing so within a self-reserved deadline. Ever since I stopped doing so, my passion for blogging has increased exponentially. My writing has been more fruitful and my desire to do so at an even pace has (almost) never faltered. I was content watching football on my own time and blogging whenever it was done. But whenever football was concerned, something always took a backseat.

I’ve recently been getting back into video games (Partly due to my own ambition and partly due to my desire to do video game reviews on Youtube). This typically conflicts with a number of things, as video games aren’t something to be enjoyed for short periods of time. Usually, football would always take precedence. In the long run, video games would take less time to indulge in than football, and let’s face it, video games don’t have commercials to hog up that time, too. It’s more beneficial to me, too, as a control-freak and as a reviewer to be able to control the game at my pace and rely on my own to make something out of it. The NFL is big business. It’s controlled like a corporation and advertised like a carnival. After five years of watching, I think I’ve finally gotten over the desire to keep up with it.

This isn’t to say I will never watch (or keep up with) the NFL again. I wouldn’t mind sitting down and watching a game or two every so often, but I’m not going to let it take up nearly as much time as it did in the past. The same can be said for College (Though I care less about College than the NFL). To be “done” with the NFL is slightly exaggerating the point of this entry, but I like harking back to my old, embarrassing posts every once in a while. The point is, I’m not going to be known as “the football fanatic” in my household anymore. I’m moving past that. I may look back sometimes, but I’ll keep moving forward in the meantime.

Quick Thoughts on Senyuu. (Full Series)

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It’s not often that I willingly decide to take up anime shorts. OVAs aside, I think the only other one I’ve seen was Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken, and that was nearly a year ago. Senyuu became intriguing to me after I found a gif of the male “lead” accidentally throwing a dagger into the skull of a passerby, which I found rather humorous. Much to my surprise, Senyuu is one of the more popular anime shorts as voted on by MyAnimeList’s population, with an average score for both seasons reaching higher than the likes of Midori no HibiNabari no Ou, and Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, to name a few. After watching the series in its entirety, I think I can understand why the masses would like this series. But as the story goes, I am not like the masses.

In terms of the style of comedy, its similar to that of Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu. It’s off-the-wall, it’s harsh, and it bends the reality of the world it creates by breaking the fourth wall and making everything less important as it goes on… until a certain point. I wouldn’t necessarily say this anime is “funny,” but it has a lot more going for it humor-wise than most other gag anime. A few of the jokes are clever and made me smirk, while the rest range between not funny and slightly amusing. Had they continued this sort of path all the way to the end, I’d probably be speaking of this series in a better light, but almost like following a guidebook, it decides to take the already absurd story and focuses it in a serious light near the end. This is a gag anime, full of parody and goofy antics and not taking anything seriously. After all that’s been introduced, why try and take it seriously? The characters aren’t serious, the story isn’t serious, nothing really makes any sense, so why try and make any sense of it? It makes the entertainment drag. Though, the series wasn’t really worth the build-up in the first place.

The series is, as I’ve said already, a gag anime. It doesn’t make any sense, the characters are goofy, the plot is goofy. Everything’s a joke. That being said, that’s really all it has going for it. If the comedy doesn’t do it for you, there’s nothing else here for you. No character development, no noticeable sub-plots. It’s a straight line from beginning to end with no sides to indulge in. It’s a series that’ll either work for you or won’t. It really all depends on how tolerant you are.

Lastly, the animation for a short is pretty on-point. For a gag anime, the exaggerated expressions and actions help make the series (the first season specifically) funnier. Designs are weird (they even make fun of it in the anime), and match well with the tone of the series, even if it isn’t always that way. I think animation would be the shining point here, aside from the comedy, but it leaves a lot to be desired by the end.

The series didn’t have a lot of impact on me as a viewer. I like things with a point, even in gag anime. This particular gag anime didn’t provide me with such, so it’s not something I would immediately recommend. But as a time-waster, Senyuu will do wonders, and maybe provide a smile or three throughout the first season. But that’s all I can really say. It’s a good time-waster.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Commencing the 2016 Summer of Anime

The time has come.

From this point forward, future posts will be primarily about anime, only they will be adorned with their corresponding list number and have a personal and critical score rating (Traditional grading scale of A-F) placed at the bottom of each page. Also, seeing as I’m trying to race to a certain time period, I would expect posts to become rather regular—likely every two to three days, depending on the length of the series.

I will begin with Tamako Market, so be sure to tune in for my final thoughts on that sometime soon, and feel free to keep up with my archive to see which titles I’ll be doing in the future and my scores for every title thus far.

Wish me luck! Have a great summer, everyone.

Thoughts on Yasashii Sekai no Tsukurikata

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Prior to reading this, I had heard a tremendous amount of good things about Yasashii Sekai no Tsukurikata, or Gentle World, as I will now on refer to it. As skeptical as I am to praise, I went into this manga with an extra focus on asserting its flaws. However, the focus wasn’t necessary, as the most flawed aspect of this manga was front and center from the first couple of chapters, along with the reason it’s probably so adored.

Gentle World is a manga about a guy. This guy is no ordinary guy, but a genius, capable of working various scientific and mathematical algorithms with ease. He was originally working on unnamed theoretical research when funding was suddenly cut, forcing him to take up a teaching job at an all-girls high school by the request of an old friend. Within this school houses a number of female characters that will impact the guy’s life and teach him things about himself, others, and what he truly wants to do, even if it means sacrificing other priorities.

Aside from the side chapters, Gentle World is 31 chapters, with each chapter being roughly thirty to thirty-five pages long. With this in mind, do you believe this manga would be capable of developing and giving meaning to five different characters? If you guessed “No,” you’d be half-right. The characters within this manga are given sporadic amounts of importance and development, but not all at once and not all in one particular arc. This is where Gentle World is most effective as a story. A number of different things happen in each particular chapter, especially later on in the manga. It isn’t much like a one-road character arc where the plot only focuses on a single girl and their relationship with the male lead, but rather the characters are woven into a variety of mini-conflicts that are comfortably wedged into a large, overarching story. However, the more the manga continues, the more the overall story becomes less important. By story’s end, the original premise is just a blip in a chameleon-like plot that’s always transforming to suit the conflict surrounding certain characters.

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While the way the story is told is refreshing, the plot development itself is comfortably stale. To clarify, the conflicts themselves are rather uncommon. Teacher-student relationships, dealing with being a gifted student in a normal high school; a number of different themes that are not entirely present in most stories involving high school. However, most of these plots are progressed in a cliché way. Just be honest. Just stay strong. Just go with your heart. Just let go. It’s almost disappointing to see how simply a lot of these conflicts can be settled, but the problems continue to linger due to a character’s inability to speak or think logically. At this point, this is nothing new, but it’s tiring to see things turn out so melodramatically all the time.

The cast that makes up Gentle World is as diverse as anyone would expect from a form of Japanese entertainment media. We have the quiet, smart girl, the fun-loving, playful girl, the innocent romantic, and the male lead. Of course, there is another important male lead later on in the story, and the story has a large array of characters with varying importance, but they’re hardly worth mentioning. Almost like the way the sun will forever rise upon the horizon, each (major) female character is, at one point, interested in the male lead. Color me shocked, golly gee. It’s almost like the male lead is the male lead. Sprinkle in a few acts of residual shounen kindness, and the male lead is one step closer to becoming the king of his own harem. But wait! He’s a teacher! Relationships with students is strictly forbidden! How incredibly erotic!

Before I write an entry purely on how much I hate how easily female characters fall in love in Japanese media, the way the characters are dragged through the story only highlight their strengths or their flaws—most commonly their flaws. After finishing it, the only character I found myself liking was Touko, the aforementioned playful girl. That may or may not attribute to the fact that I like my fictional women feisty and witty. Even so, the characters don’t differentiate themselves from anyone else from any other story. Their personalities are copied and pasted from other characters of their type, even if their backstories and underlying motivations can sometimes be unique. It would seem that no matter how hard I think about it, the only thing really worth highlighting is the storytelling. Oh well.

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The artwork, following the recently formed trend set earlier in this entry, is pretty standard stuff. Characters provide a wide arrangement of emotions and blank stares, but that’s basically it. I was never wowed by any one panel in this manga, but that’s not to say the manga doesn’t look good. I would say I was satisfied more than unsatisfied with the general look of Gentle World, but I was unimpressed with how little it tried to be, I don’t know, out-of-the-box? It’s almost like what one would expect from a military brigade: controlled, clean, and and uniform. It gets the job done, but it never does anything outside of orders. It’s a safe, stagnant look that, when all things considered, ends up becoming unmemorable the more experience one has to their credit. I’ll say this though: the fan service looked odd. There wasn’t a lot of fan service to begin with, but there were two occasions, in the beginning and the end of the manga, where a girl’s skirt is lifted by the wind (ugh), exposing her underwear. It looked… not sexual. There was no accentuation, no shading, no excessive use of lines. It could serve as the subject of “How Not to Draw a Female Panty-Shot.”

Overall, I enjoyed this manga more than I probably should have. There was something about how different it presented itself that got me interested in continuing each chapter that not a lot of manga are capable of. Despite an uninteresting cast of characters and some predictable moral resolutions, Gentle World manages to be entertaining enough to be worth a read, if only for the way it tackles its subject matter. It’s certainly not worth the praise that it receives in some corners of the internet, but there are some good things in place. I only wish that it tried to be more creative with its characters and its art.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Thoughts on Bungaku Shoujo: Memoire

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This entry won’t be long because there’s not much to say with this three-part OVA. I will say this, though: I’m not sure if I was supposed to watch this or the movie version first. It’s considered a prequel to the movie, according to MyAnimeList, but the way it’s shown makes me believe it might’ve been more worthwhile to watch after the movie. Regardless, I watched this with a friend and we decided to watch this first.

The episodes play out like this:

  • A girl is introduced.
  • Said girl shows her ambitions, goals, quirks, past, etc.
  • The story shows how each of the three girls (three episodes, mind you) are connected to a certain boy.

And that’s basically it. It’s almost like a one-shot character study while also trying to thread a string of fate between these three girls and the boy. My initial reaction to the end of this three-part OVA was “That’s it?” Otherwise, I couldn’t help but feel that this OVA series was nothing but fan service. Not the type of fan service one would normally think of upon seeing the term, but fan service in the form of “Get to know these characters better before the big show!” It’s essentially a teaser trailer for an upcoming production.

Since the subject of “character study” has shown up twice now, it’s fair to assume that this OVA series doesn’t really have any sort of plot. That assumption would be both right and wrong. The plot differs with each episode, but the plot is predicated by the characters’ actions and desires, rather than having an overlaying plot. What is the plot to Bungaku Shoujo: Memoire? Depends on which episode you’re viewing.

The characters themselves are predictably underwhelming. They each have their degree of initial likability (aside from girl number two), but the lack of any time to develop them only allows for face-value relatability. Each episode is the standard 24-minute-long airing with the inclusion of an OP and ED, so roughly twenty minutes per episode to showcase a single girl. The first girl eats books (not explained) and is wildly curious and romantic. The second girl has a bad home life and is controlling and clingy and dark. And the third girl is shy and incredibly self-conscious. Do those sound like tropes? Because they are. With little time to do anything with them, they’re nothing but that: tropes.

Animation is something that looked well enough to carry the series, but the character design felt a little rigid. The characters’ faces are somewhat scrunched up to a limited area on their face, resulting in a very large forehead covered by vast amounts of hair. Their chins are also very pointed, almost to a tip. If not for eye color and hair style, it might be a tad difficult to differentiate the female characters—hell, even the male character! With what is shown, I liked the characters appearance overall, but the male character left much to be desired. But hey, it’s an implied harem, so the male lead is guaranteed to be bland and uninteresting.

It’s not something I’d personally recommend. My tune might change if I watch the movie and it explains nothing of the three female characters, but for now, it’s time not worth investing. There’s just not enough meat to fill oneself with this OVA series. Though, others may prefer an appetizer before the main course.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Thoughts on Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch

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I thought of making this entry longer, but seeing as the “first season” is more akin to a first half of a larger story that leaves its ending wide open, I decided to leave some of the more detailed criticisms for when I finish the second half. After all, there are a lot of unexplained plot points by the end of this season. There’s the entire history behind C.C., along with her connection with Geass and the origin of Geass itself; the fate of Nunnally and all those that Lelouch left behind to pursue his goal, and the answers to Lelouch’s hidden past. Henceforth, I’ve decided to only cover the necessities of what this particular season offers on its own accord.

I’ll admit right now: the last five episodes or so are a lot more enjoyable and immersive than the rest of the season. Its focus becomes a lot more straightforward and one no longer has to worry about trivial banter between meager characters or events surrounding said characters. It also puts a heavier emphasis on the weight of Lelouch’s actions throughout the series and an even bigger strain on his conscience. There are a lot of interesting, thought-provoking themes that arise near the end of the series, and aside from a few useless characters acting like psychopaths for no reason, I think the characters behave in a realistic and respectable manner. It is through this chain of episodes that Code Geass‘s strengths are most highlighted, but also hide some of its flaws as well.

Before this point, I felt the series had struggled with attaining a consistent pace throughout. There are segments where Lelouch is organizing things behind the scenes as his alter ego and working towards his goal. However, as he tries to maintain a stable home life along with this, it is here where the anime begins to drag along the surface. Lelouch as a character has no chemistry with his classmates. Only with Suzaku and Kallen, the two characters present in the school that mean something by the end of 25 episodes, does Lelouch show any emotional attachment towards. But that doesn’t mean the series tried, heavens no. There are constantly little breaks with Lelouch’s culture-changing antics to focus on the artificial lives of the students he interacts with on a daily basis, whether they come off as shallow (always) or not (never). They spend an entire episode chasing a cat. They spend an entire episode trying to develop C.C. and her relationship with Lelouch by bringing in some insane asshole who means next to nothing but vague foreshadowing. They spend an entire episode pretending Euphemia isn’t a princess so Suzaku can have a love interest. This series tries, but it hardly succeeds. Only the major characters left an impact on me by season’s end. Seriously, fuck that red-head. It left me wishing to continue with the war between Britannians and Elevens.

The art is an interesting specimen. In some cases, it’s unique in a sense that it doesn’t look like any other series. In others, it’s odd and makes some scenes unintentionally hilarious. Honestly, who hasn’t seen that contorted picture of a crazed Nina? Their body types in particular are also very perplexing. Lelouch and Suzaku are almost like walking skeletons. Their jaw lines are very “v” like. They’re sharp, almost like my tongue. I, personally, wouldn’t necessitate this art style as “bad,” but I certainly wouldn’t compliment its superiority compared to other series. It’s just another style of representation. It didn’t bother me to any extent, but I would hesitate to praise it. It’s serviceable. Nothing more.

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Characters are very hit and miss. Off the top of my head, Lelouch, Suzaku, Kallen, and Euphemia are the only characters I would consider “Strong,” but even then, Kallen and Euphemia’s development rested solely on a single event or philosophy. Honestly, Kallen’s “development” was contained within half an episode, and felt so forced it almost becomes a detriment. This is furthered evidenced by the fact that her mother, the key catalyst in her development, never appears again beyond this episode. It was episode… ten? I believe. Still, there weren’t many characters I found dislikable (except maybe Mao), only characters that felt more like tools to a means. I really use this analogy a lot, don’t I? Suzaku and Lelouch alone are enough to carry the weight of the show’s heavy themes. With the relationship that these two share (which feels genuine), I feel the series becomes stronger when they’re either working together or working against one another. It helps when their morals and means of justice seem to clash on every occasion. C.C. is somewhat of a thing, but I’d rather save more talk of her for the sequel entry.

The enjoyability of this anime shifted up and down throughout the course of the season. I found the more light-hearted or character-developmental episodes weaker than not, but adequate enough to hold my interest. Fortunately, those focused on “Zero” (What a non-cliché name) served the series well, especially near the end when things began to unravel. I’m hesitant about the use of Geass and the otherwise unmentioned consequences that arise from its overuse, but that’s more to be discussed in the sequel entry. However, I’m satisfied with the foundation currently present with how the Geass functions and its conditions. I was worried early on that Lelouch would become an ancient One Punch Man. The power acts more like an upper-hand than a God Mode function, and has drawbacks as well. Whether or not the timing of those drawbacks occurring within the anime makes sense or not… is yet to be seen.

Code Geass is an anime I held a grudge against for a long time. I likely would’ve watched this anime sooner had it not been for my internalized disdain of its (perceived) unwarranted popularity. I don’t regret watching it, though, as it turned out to be better than I expected it to. Then again, I half-expected it to be garbage. Nevertheless, there are a lot of unanswered questions that need to be confronted before I mark this a series as anything worth spending time on. But as a starting place, Code Geass‘s first season proves to be an entertaining, albeit inconsistent, platform for the weight of human justice and its impact on society as a whole.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.