Posted in Review Thing

Soul Eater NOT!… like, really. Do Not.

Where do I even begin with this 12 episode trash heap?

Well, let’s start with this: if you care about plot and about the Soul Eater universe in general, you only need to watch maybe the last 3 episodes. If you want a little more, throw episodes 1 and 7 into the mix. But that’s really it.

A summary: Tsugumi Harudori is a weapon who enrolls in the DWMA NOT, or Normally Overcome Target, class. Meme Tatane is a ditzy, well-endowed meister also in the NOT class. Anya Hepburn is a prissy, pouty, tsundere princess meister who is also in the NOT class. Meme and Anya, upon befriending Tsugumi, both want to be her meisters. The series follows this trio’s shenanigans around Death City and the DWMA, while they dodge the conspiracy of a witch taking over under their noses until the last episode.

Now that you know what it is, lemme give you a breakdown of why I think it’s trash:

  1. THE STORY is… almost non-existent. It’s a slice of life anime with a dark-ish subplot to keep it connected to the source material. And even then subplot is really basic and is pretty predictable, and ends so quickly at the end you’re left thinking, “That’s it? That’s all it took?” And I do mean at the end, the bad guy is literally defeated within the last 5 minutes of the last episode. The wrap up was the three main characters on their way to class after a timeskip where everything is resolved while the credits roll… the last minute and a half-ish of the whole series.
  2. THE ANIMATION is pretty standard. Nothing really stands out. The character designs aren’t that unique; just the usual cute moe style typical of slice-of-life anime in this day and age. I think the only thing that caught my attention was how much the girls blushed and how much it stood out against their skin. Anya the most; her lips are probably permanently puckered by the end, and her cheeks red simply from how much she pouted combined with how easily embarrassed she got. Meme could literally blink and her breasts would jiggle. It got annoying really, really fast.
  3. THE SOUND is mostly forgettable. The soundtrack didn’t leave any impressions, and I watched the dub so the voice acting was pretty mediocre. At least I didn’t have to listen to the probably disgustingly high-pitched voices of the Japanese version, considering the majority of the cast is female and ooze moe. The opening theme is pretty catchy, but it wears out pretty quickly.
  4. THE CHARACTERS are, by far, what made me unable to even look at the TV while I watched it for the majority of the series. They are just so damn cliche and so predicable. The busty one is a ditz and basically made for fanservice, but somehow can fight perfectly in her sleep (you know, when she’s wearing the least amount of clothes). The princess is a textbook tsundere who finds interest in ‘peasant culture’, but mocks it every time she learns something new about it. The main character is the single most indecisive character I’ve ever had the misfortune of watching. She doesn’t want to pick between two meisters because she’s afraid of hurting the other’s feelings. There is seriously no other reason. She didn’t even stop to weigh the benefits between the two, she just didn’t want to make someone feel bad for a day and move on. Well, sorry, but you’re a WEAPON, so it’s kinda hypocritical for you to think that. Furthermore, the backstory between Jacqueline and Kim made no sense. It seemed like it was just something the creators threw in there to take some screentime off of the main characters. But since they also appeared in the original series as EAT class students with a good partnership, that little sideplot just made no sense at all. I’m sure it was explained in the manga, but for the anime-only audience, it was really unnecessary. The only characters that were mildly interesting were the two undercover dudes and Sid, who were uncovering the actual plot. The majority of the other characters were very flat, and virtually served no real purpose. Even the main bad guy’s motives were obscure; at least Medusa, Arachne, and Ashura from the main series had clear motivations that encouraged them to do what they did. Oh also, don’t expect much in the way of main series cameos in this; Stein, Maka, and Soul are there occasionally, and Black Star, Tsubaki, and Kid make maybe one appearance. Sid, Liz, Patty are the only ones that make a regular appearances, but only for the main characters’ benefit of keeping them attached to the main series in some way.

“So, was anything good, then?” you may ask. Well, if you had any questions on how normal life for students of the DWMA between missions was, most of them are answered here. We also get to see just how Sid died, and how some of the official operations of the school worked out, from undercover operations to how Death City is secured. Just some little things that make the setting feel a little more complete, but in no way make up for all the time lost watching 12 episodes of this moe crap.

I probably shouldn’t have expected much from it, to be honest. It seemed like a bad idea the moment I started seeing huggy-blushy fanart of the main characters popping up everywhere. I just really wanted to give it a chance because I really liked the original Soul Eater anime. But I regretted it after the second episode, and it just kept building up until I literally had to distract myself during non-plot related stuff just to stay level-headed. It’s pretty obvious to me that it was just made for the male otakus that have the money to by all the sexualized merchandise of these underage characters so the studio could make some money. I thought about trying the manga, but I haven’t heard anything remarkably different from the anime, so I’ll pass in favor of content that won’t make me angry. Overall, I really hated it, and I never ever again want to see anything of it on any of my social media sites ever again.

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Posted in Review Thing

Madoka Magica: Dark and Edgy Magical Girls

This is just focusing on the 12 episode anime series and nothing else, so please keep that in mind while reading.

Here’s a basic pre-reading TL;DR: it was not made to be a ‘deconstruction of an old and tired genre’ but rather a relatively bland and ‘edgy’ idea that magical girls dealing with real-life trauma can’t be happy even if they make sacrifices to try and get it. The lack of themes common in magical girl anime make it an ‘anime with magical girls’ rather than a ‘magical girl anime.’

A summary: Middle school student Madoka Kaname and her friend Sayaka Miki encounter a small mammal-like creature named Kyubey who encourages them to make a contract with it and become a magical girl and fight witches. In exchange, they may have any one wish granted. They meet Mami Tomoe and Kyoko Sakura, veteran magical girls, and their class’ mysterious exchange student, Homura Akemi, as a magical girl, who wants to keep Madoka from accepting the contract at all costs. As they contemplate the exchange, they witness them fighting witches, which is a lot more dangerous than Kyubey had let on.

  1. THE STORY is decent. It’s interesting compared to a lot of other anime out there, but I find it pretty lacking for a magical girl anime. The idea that a magical girl can become the monster they are trying to defeat is interesting enough, but the way that it goes about it here feels very wrong. Furthermore, all of the girls have their own agenda and it kinda makes things very complicated when shit starts getting real. It also seems to have a weird thing about making the main characters’ lives a living hell from backstory to present, which makes the ending very unsatisfying. Everything just gets undone by the magical girl god and everything is fine. They don’t even get to try to resolve their own issues. Also, the whole ‘can’t have a wish or a dream come true without suffering all of the pain and emotional/mental trauma for it’ is very off-putting, especially for a magical girl anime. Portraying sweet, young girls with hopes and dreams as not interesting enough unless you have something lie and manipulate them to make them mentally unstable is pretty darned messed up, and in some cases really lazy and boring.
  2. THE ANIMATION is pretty nice, actually. It’s kinda stylized in a consistent way, and the witches’ labyrinths follow up on that style in a very creepy way that sets the mood for those scenes. The fight scenes are interesting to watch, although sometimes a bit hard to follow. The transformations, one of the main sequences that make magical girl anime interesting and draw in viewers, are very dull and don’t flow well here. Furthermore, visual themes and designs common in other magical girl anime aren’t here. Aside from the soul gems, the magical girl outfits have no common elements in their design, and when they are seen together they don’t look like they could even have had the potential to look like a proper team. The witches and their lairs seem to just have random elements that hold no real significance as well.
  3. THE SOUND is good enough. The characters have decent voices in both the sub and the dub, with nothing over-cutesy and high pitched to milk the moe, or under-emotional to make the dark atmosphere feel flat. The background music is very good, and fits the overall darker themes of the show very well. I don’t remember the opening or ending themes, so that says a bit about that.
  4. THE CHARACTERS is where things kind start to fall apart in a big way. All of the girls are flawed, which is good, but some of them are more flawed than others, and those really bad flaws are framed in such a way to make them appeal more to audiences. Homura is the biggest example of this. Her dedication to Madoka is commendable, but she loses site of the other people around her and hardly ever acknowledges them. It makes sense after everything she’s been through to try and stop all the bad things from happening, but it honestly makes her come off as very creepy and narrow-minded, compared to Madoka’s open-mindedness. Also, Homura’s ‘love’ for Madoka is never explicitly stated, but very heavily implied, leaving fans looking for that kind of representation disappointed, mostly because of how unhealthy the relationship they would have developed if it did go anywhere. Sayaka’s one-sided crush on her childhood friend and former musician is what sends her spiraling into despair, because she thought if she wished him better he would like her back, which is honestly really immature of a middle school girl as confident and just as her. Mami’s death early into the series that set the tone for the rest of it was due to her being reckless because she was so incredibly happy after Madoka said she would join her; this goes completely against what makes a magical girl anime, as friendship is supposed to make them stronger. This sudden early death at the peak of her happiness really reinforces the idea that these girls can’t and shouldn’t be happy even if they sacrifice so much, even if someone makes the ultimate sacrifice to save them. Demonizing mental illness, and to a larger extent, negative emotions in general, is extremely hurtful. Negative emotions are a part of life, and portraying them as straight up evil and have them taint their Soul Gems (literally their actual souls) really hurts the potential for these girls to actually grow as characters. Like, seriously, the idea that negative emotions like jealousy, anger, sadness, doubt, and frustration actually corrupt someone’s soul is such bullshit. Not only that, but what kind of message does that send to the more impressionable audiences dealing with emotional struggles?

Don’t get me wrong, this anime was pretty decent compared to other, modern magical girl anime, but it’s very hard to call it a deconstruction, and it’s far off from being perfect. A better way to deconstruct the magical girl genre would be something like a magical girl dealing with emotional and mental trauma in a way that doesn’t make a clear ‘good vs. evil’ line between positive and negative emotions, and comes to terms with the negatives in life, and grows as a person because of it. The vilification of negative emotions through the Grief Seeds and the way trauma is piled upon the characters after experiencing a little bit of happiness is very hurtful. The way Homura’s love comes of as crazy obsessive is really creepy, and her emotional trauma doesn’t quite justify it. And it’s really just lazy making characters that have wishes and aspirations, having them make a big sacrifice to have one of their dreams come true, and then breaking them emotionally and mentally because of their wish without making them grow from it in the end.

I guess to conclude, it’s… okay for a magical girl anime, even if it lacks a lot of things magical girl anime have, but it is by no means a deconstruction or as good as it has been hyped up to be, especially if you like more traditional magical girl anime like Sailor Moon, Princess Tutu, or Cardcaptor Sakura. If you’d like to see something that is more of a deconstruction of magical girl anime, I’d recommend Ojamajo Doremi or Revolutionary Girl Utena. Other good magical girl anime include any of the Precure series, Magic Knight Rayearth, Sugar Sugar Rune, and Wish Upon the Pleiades. Furthermore, I have heard about the Rebellion movies (and about what happens in them, and it sounds way worse than the series, honestly), but given how unsatisfying I have found this series to be, I have no desire to continue further with this franchise.