Anime roundup 10/2/2014: Brain Drain

In this week’s viewing: Terror in Resonance wraps up, and humanity is repeatedly under threat… from bad TV shows!

Terror-Resonance-11 Terror in Resonance finale – At the end, it feels like when someone realizes they’ve digressed too far and scrambles back to their point. “But anyway,” the show says, “what I really wanted to say was, right-wing nationalism is bad and the US presence here isn’t helpful.” There are some threads that were dropped and never really picked up, like Lisa’s family backstory and what the Athena project needed nuclear scientists for, but it did make the overall point very clear.

Though it’s speaking out against the right wing which would like to see a more assertive Japan, no one can say the show doesn’t have its own form of national pride. In any other sf story, an electromagnetic pulse strong enough to knock out all the civilian infrastructure in an entire country would be followed by an immediate descent into post-apocalyptic chaos. Here, the entire Japanese nation reports to its emergency shelters and then gets busy replacing all the fried electronics, so that a year later, life is back to more or less normal. Out of all the countries in the world, I could almost believe that Japan could manage this.

The story of Nine, Twelve, and Lisa ends up where it had to. Nine and Twelve were going to be dead one way or another, and it feels inevitable that Lisa would come out of the experience much stronger. I wish we’d found out a little more about how her domestic situation is resolved.

Overall, I’d call this a very well-made show, with a few niggling annoyances.

Terraformars-1 TERRAFORMARS premiere – Once upon a time, humanity tried to terraform Mars by sending exactly two species over: algae and cockroaches. The cockroaches became giant man-eating mutants, and somehow a plague evolved which has made its way back to Earth. The virus magically stops working when observed in a lab, so a new mission must be sent to Mars to gather samples of the flora and fauna to learn more about its origin.

Naturally, the person the leaders of this mission most want to recruit to handle this delicate scientific work is prizefighter Akari Hizamaru, who is uniquely qualified due to his unusual genetic heritage and his burning inner rage. Although the necessary physical attributes can also be produced by some kind of surgery, so the leaders make it clear the thing they’re really interested in is the rage.

So yeah, just about everything the buzz said about terrible writing is spot-on. I can’t make a definitive ruling on the racism complaints on the basis of this episode, but the story does look set to be mostly about mindless cockroach-stomping action, because the cockroaches and Akari’s abilities are the only things that appear to have had any actual thought put into them. (Need I even mention that, even though it’s 6 centuries in the future, there’s been practically no change in technology, lifestyles, fashion, national borders, etc.?) Even if you love a good monster-squishing story, this is at the dumb end of the scale.

International streams: Crunchyroll (Worldwide except Japan), ADN (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco)

Karen-Senki-1 Karen Senki premiere – Yes, this wasn’t in the preview, as it’s not technically anime. Karen Senki is a computer-animated joint Taiwanese/Japanese production, but it takes its cues (and some of its production staff) from anime, and besides, the column needs a bit of padding out this week.

The setting is some unsepcified point in the future during a robot uprising. Karen, who lost her sister Tōka at some point in the war, is now a resistance leader. Well, that’s what the synopsis says. The practical reality of Karen’s life as presented in this episode is that she’s just minding her own business, but those darn robots keep showing up to attack her. She goes shopping in the local market, robot shows up, she shoots it and leaves it lying there in a pool of red robot blood as she finishes her chat with a merchant and goes home. Back in her palatial apartment, she tries making spaghetti, but more robots punch a hole in the wall and have to be killed. This time she calls her geek friend to come clean them up and gets back to dinner.

Everyone so far just treats the robot problems as an irritant. The extras hardly notice it. Karen’s friend has plenty of spare time to indulge his robot sex hobby, leading to a scene which exists mainly to say, “Look! We don’t have to worry about toplessness as long as it’s a robot!” Okay, there’s only so much worldbuilding you can fit into an 11-minute episode, but I think it’s already safe at this point to say that this show is going nowhere good.

And the animation is… terrible. Well, mostly. The robots come out okay. But for lifelike human movement, it compares unfavorably with what you can find in now in major video game franchises. In fact, the background characters look like they are straight out of an early Grand Theft Auto game or somesuch, clashing with the anime-styled main characters.

International stream: Crunchyroll (Worldwide)

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