For the record, “hi no saiketsu” should mean “Judgment Day”, but I may have the wrong noun there at the end. Anyway, here we are– let’s get this trainwreck a-rollin’.
Key, The Metal Idol: (Studio Pierrot, 1994-1997; Viz Video/Pioneer, 2000)
Ah, nothing like a cryptic conspiracy to start things off. Despite being an early dub, the work is remarkably smooth, without a lot of the common problems that plagued releases of that sort. The only real technical problem is that the DVDs aren’t in anamorphic widescreen– they’re locked to 4:3 with reverse-letterboxing. Key herself is remarkably flat as a character, and most of what she does is just reacting to the circumstances around her. Fortunately, the show makes a distinction between “naive” and “too stupid to live” in her case, though she straddles that line. The bigger problem is that this style of show makes it really, really difficult to get a bead on things after just one episode. Its job was to get people to want to watch more, and in that regard, it’s succeeded… but it’s not terribly strong after just the one.
Revolutionary Girl Utena: (J.C. Staff, 1997; Nozomi Entertainment, 2011)
From what I can tell, this is a series entirely about getting more than you bargained for, and whether or not that’s exactly a good thing. Again, like Key, it’s locked to 4:3, but that’s again excusable considering the age of the show. However, Utena’s cast characterization is far stronger in this first episode than Key’s was, making the show immediately more interesting. I read a few spoilers here and there already, but not much could prepare me for the fact that there’s more here going on than is apparent on the surface. I have to wonder, though, about a school that could be so cavalier as to ignore gender differences in both the dress code and the sports teams… and about a heroine who plays basketball. Really, Utena has more class than to play basketball; she strikes me more as a rugby kind of girl.
Strike Witches: (Gonzo, 2007; Funimation, 2010)
I understand that the first episode usually means “give the people what they want”, but…. No. Just no. Not interested.
Nerima Daikon Brothers: (Aniplex, 2006; ADV, 2008)
The show has the subtitle “The Freshly Grated Musical”, but from the opening theme, “grating” is more like it. I can’t fathom what possessed ADV to continually cast people who can’t sing in musical roles. On the plus side, at least nobody here has any inclination to take this show seriously. Including me. And apparently this was made after Chris Patton decided to give up voice acting, ’cause he sure as hell ain’t doing it here. I can’t be entirely certain how much of this insanity is ADV’s fault, because at the bottom of this is Shinichi Watanabe. I’ll at least give it credit for not going for the panty-shot madness of Strike Witches.
GaoGaiGar: (Sunrise, 1997; Media Blasters, 2008)
If Evangelion was a deconstruction of the kind of old-school giant robot show I watched when I was very, very little, then GaoGaiGar is a loving restoration of that kind of show. It may be that having watched through most of a recent Super Sentai series (Gokaiger) has given me a renewed appreciation for the tropes that GGG relies entirely on, but there’s a real sense of honesty in how hard they’re playing literally every aspect of them. In terms of plot, it’s your bog-standard “alien invaders want Earth for nebulously defined reasons, and a secret organization is working to protect us”, but again, when your cover is blown, you play it all the harder to get by. GGG is shameless, unabashed, unafraid… and completely awesome for it.
That’s it for today; three winners so far, one dud, and one thing to cash in at The Exchange. Tomorrow’s set should be less varied, with pretty much all of them coming highly recommended.