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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? April 2017

May 2, 2017

(This article will be spoiler-free!)

皆、おっす! It’s that time again.
Something which comes up when you sometimes least expect it is real world product placement in anime or games. Some series have fun with their attempts at creating off-brand facsimiles of existing brands, with Toradora’s silly non-Starbucks Sudoh-Bucks coffee shop instantly coming to mind, but it’s a tough line to walk, because one of the primary allures of anime and games is the escapism they provide, and nothing is more jarring and distracting than sinking into a creative world or chuckling along with a band of amusing characters than to have reality smash into your face. Having scenes from a series feature real world products does damage to immersion when it feels as though those scenes could easily be reedited into broadcast-ready advertisements for the products in question.
April was short and sweet, and so is the list of anime series I finished up during it:
 

Ghost In The Shell-
In a future in which cybernetic enhancements are commonplace, technological advancements have allowed humans to house their consciousnesses like a fly in a jar within augmented bodies.
This consciousness, known as a Ghost, can be transferred freely between synthetic bodies, allowing for greatly prolonged lifespans and the ability to avoid otherwise fatal injuries or conditions. While this means wonders for society as a whole, it also ratchets the bar in armed conflict, and this melding of consciousness and technology poses new threats in cyber-terrorism.
Kusanagi Motoko is a member of a branch of public security known as Section 9, and had her consciousness transferred into a synthetic body at a young age. Ghost in the Shell follows Motoko as she and Section 9 hunt down a hacker who goes under the moniker Puppet Master.

What I thought-
When it comes to creating a believable world, great care needs to be done to give the viewer the sense that the world in question has a history, and while it’s very easy to “Well, as you know, Tom…” your way through explaining that history to the viewer in a super contrived exposition-laden way, Ghost in the Shell is a wonderful example of throwing the viewer into a world and letting them absorb as much of it as they can through osmosis rather than being spoon-fed the minor details through unnatural dialogue. This has the drawback of having complicated terms and names of factions whizzing over your head, but given the choice between the two styles, this is of course what I prefer.
It’s a dense film; proper nouns are leisurely tossed about with the pace of a rabbit procreating, notably early on, and the environments are thick with signs of life, enunciated  by wonderful art design and shot composition throughout – but the narrative told in this film, in broad terms, is simple.
Having seen a few episodes of Stand Alone Complex here or there when I was younger, I wasn’t prepared for how mellow this film can be, though to be frank, I think the tone here makes for a more immersive film. There are aspects to the production which are quite dated (the most notable to me being some of the high pitched whirs and pops of technology in motion), though the choice of music throughout was perfectly suited and holds up well today, with some scenes foregoing music altogether to bring weight to the scene in question a move I’m always pleased to see.
It’s a smart two hours; when it comes to sci-fi, it’s tough to know what you’re getting yourself into, but it’s clear to see that much effort was spent on each and every inch of this one.
Ghost in the Shell is a methodically paced techno-futuristic marvel filled to the brim with beautiful visuals and heavy themes, and while its somber pacing might be a killing blow to some, it is a film rich with detail, and its dense visuals and narrative beg for repeated viewings.


 

Koe de Oshigoto!-
Koe de Oshigoto! tells the brief yet titillating tale of Aoyagi Kanna, who upon reaching her sixteenth birthday is approached by her older sister with a job at an eroge production company who asks her to come work as a voice actor.
The idea of a girl her age voicing characters in ecchi video games is absurd and unacceptable to Kanna, but after considering how much her older sister has done for her, she reluctantly agrees.
Will the job of voicing characters in the throes of intimacy prove to be nothing more than a bitter, embarrassing memory for Kanna’s future, or could this perhaps be her true calling?

What I thought-
Here’s a quick lesson in naiveté… I first learned of this series after seeing a humorous gif floating around on social media, and after reading the synopsis for the series I thought the concept was very interesting and might offer a insightful look into a segment of voice acting that you don’t think a lot about.
And… well, sure, it does serve up opportunity to consider the sorts of mental quandaries which ero-game seiyuus might face, but the efforts really stop at the concept.
I find it difficult to understand this series, as from a narrative or conceptual standpoint, it does have a very strong idea behind it; an idea which I feel could very easily make for a very entertaining and very successful series, but aspects of the production and especially the presentation don’t meet the idea in a satisfying way.
The character designs are a bit generic, and the environmental art is a bit plain, but I do think there’s a nice look here with nice thick outlines and its inclusion of manga-esque visual sound effects; and speaking of sound, one of my favorite gags throughout was the manner in which certain words were censored. But for a series revolving around an aspiring voice actor, the performance by Kanna’s seiyuu was rather lacking, and was a distraction in scenes even outside of the voice booth.
Then there’s the matter of the ecchi content. This is not pornography – at least, that doesn’t seem to have been the focus here – but there are a number of quite explicit scenes in this series, so should you choose to check it out, discretion is highly advised. These scenes are intelligently placed, in that, they do not come and go out of seeming random as you’d expect from a more vulgar series, and I’m confident that if there were only but maybe one of these, the series could have retained its (let’s call it dignity), but due to how explicit they are, they’re immensely distracting, and they somewhat derail the scenes in which they’re featured.
It’s a short series, requiring only about an hour of your time to see it through to its non-conclusion, but it feels like an odd sort of experiment which is admittedly not without its moments, but falls short at practically every turn.
Koe de Oshigoto! is a series with a wonderful concept and an execution which fails to live up to that concept. As an insightful series about its topic it falls short. As an ecchi series it falls short. It isn’t without its funny moments, but that alone isn’t enough to recommend this series, even when it runs at a mere two episodes in length.


 

The Spring anime season is trucking along and has already produced a few winners in my book, between the excellently produced Alice to Zouroku and the hilarious Ero Manga Sensei. I’ve already fallen behind on a few of the other series I’ve chosen, but those two have been an unshakable treat to sit down and watch each week, and I’m wholly curious to see how they pan out over the course of the season.
That’s all for now from this guy.
また読んでね。
(Last year this month.)

From → Anime

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  1. Spitz’s Year End Wrap Up 2017 | Spitz's Soapbox

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