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First Impressions: Kyoukai no Kanata, Coppelion, Infinite Stratos 2

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Boo! Hiss! Get off the stage!

You know, I’m going to go against the grain of the aniblogging community and say that I like anime feeling like anime. Originality’s a nice thing and all, but I happen to like that feeling of familiarity that comes with a show being an exercise in anime tropes. The truth is that while this might feel generic to an anime fan, this is stuff you would rarely in any other medium and it’s what gives anime its exotic flavour to me.

Obviously, I’m talking about Infinite Stratos, but the other shows I’ve decided to cover in this post do fall into this as well. I’m not going to keep covering Kyoukai no Kanata and Coppelion beyond this – frankly, it gets difficult to find new things to say about one formulaic anime, let alone three of them, no matter how much of a fan I am of the formula.

Mind you, I’m happy to see that Infinite Stratos won my little poll of mine for the top show to blog. Still, since there were some readers who went out of their way to ask me to write opinions on some other shows, you’ll be seeing some impressions posts like this over the week.

Here were the results, in case you were curious.

Now onto my half-assed impressions which are already too late since I overslept this morning.

Kyoukai no Kanata

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This is funny because it’s true, but also sad because it’s true.

So… Kyoukai no Kanata. Despite the ostensible shift into DARK FANTASY territory, it plays out like your average urban fantasy light novel adaptation. In fact, it bears an eerie resemblance to one of Rikka’s fantasies in Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! I suppose that show was target practice for this one, as was Hyouka because there is apparently a literature club in this one too.

As you can imagine, discussing Kyoukai no Kanata on its own terms is difficult, since there’s always the temptation to analyse Kyoto Animation shows purely in light of the studio’s previous track record. But really, the overriding feeling that shows through this episode is the straight-faced ‘chuunibyou’ vibe from this. The story really is something that would appeal to middle schoolers. Like most well-executed urban fantasies, there’s a feeling of whimsy to the action, as if it really could play out in your own backyard. It’s grounded, despite the seeming lack of exposition.

So while the first episode doesn’t achieve an individual voice, it’s never anything less than competent. I feel as if others have been harsh denouncing KnK, but it’s to be expected. If you were expecting the studio to break new ground with this, you’d be sorely disappointed. As for me, I’m too neutral to flame this show on my twitter/blog, but you could also say I’m too apathetic. I wonder which is worse.

Infinite Stratos 2

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What classy dialogue this show has.

Infinite Stratos is an anime that makes me feel very happy on the inside. The novelist Graham Greene once wrote that happiness is a loss of individuality; it is only in our misery that we feel intellectually distinct from others. In the case of watching anime, that’s very true. I feel like a mindless zombie when I watch IS, but damn if it doesn’t feel good to watch.

I actually have really deep reasons for liking Infinite StratosI’m not even trolling. It’s deeply rooted in my personal values and experiences.

Let me tell you a story about my sex life, since mine is more interesting than Ichika’s. I’m celibate. This isn’t out of lack of opportunity – it’s a deliberate lifestyle choice. “But aren’t you always saying perverted things on this blog, Froggy?” you might say. That’s because you don’t know me out of my anime habits. Take anime out of the context and I am a grade A prude. No sex before marriage, family is first, always vote right wing, blah blah blah.

Fortunately for me and for others, having principles to guide my own actions doesn’t mean I think sex is EVIL. So watching ecchi anime (I’m not into the full-on H stuff) is a healthy outlet for me. It’s also nice that this kind of stuff does portray sexuality but it doesn’t portray sex; the characters are fundamentally innocent and pure. It matches my own mindset.

There’s also that story of me knowing someone very much like Ichika in real life. He was a bit of a tool but I got to know him pretty well, since I was part of his harem his childhood friend.

Oh, damn, I never realised how anime my life is! No wonder I eat this shit up.

(I never ended up actually talking about what happened in this Infinite Stratos episode, did I? Well, whatever, have some pouting Laura.)

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So yeah, Charlotte and Laura engaged in some lesbian foreplay. It was a pretty good episode.

Coppelion

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Oh, yeah, this show also existed, didn’t it? A post-apocalyptic story about schoolgirls and there’s not even any panty shots. Eh, not much to say about this. It was a pretty stupid, to be honest.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t accept the premise of schoolgirls in a post-apocalyptic setting. In fact, I do think the schoolgirls are there to give off this vibe of disconnect between what an ideal Tokyo is like and what it actually is and it makes for an interesting artistic statement, at least in theory. But the execution here was dodgy. Stylistic aspects, like the thick outlines of the characters and everything about the character voiced by Kanazawa Hana, broke the bleak atmosphere rather than helped sustain it. While the artwork was meticulous, the direction was unfocused, and what we got was a rather meandering episode that had no overall point it was trying to establish. I can see it’s got some ideas, like the girls being “dolls”, but without solid characterisations, their philosophising comes off as being shoehorned into the narrative.

Overall, there was nothing overtly “bad” about this anime. But the details just didn’t add up to the overall picture. I am interested in seeing how this plays out, though, at least in the short term. There’s plenty more anime yet to come out this season, so we’ll see how the rest of the season measures up.

I had fun with these three samples – I look forward to seeing more. From the looks of the schedule, my next First Impressions post will be out in the wee hours of Tuesday next week. I’ll probably crank out an editorial before then. ‘Till next time, I guess.

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Posted on October 4, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Unfortunately, I have to agree with what you’ve written regarding Coppelion. I say unfortunately because this sounded like one of the most promising anime of the fall season purely in terms of storyline, and yet I felt pretty let down by what I got in this first episode. I’d like to give it at least another episode, maybe two, before I decide whether to drop it or not, but I have to say I was surprised at the utter lack of punch it’s delivered so far – especially given that it’s only slated to be 13 episodes in total. As you pointed out, there was nothing overtly bad about it per se… it didn’t leave a particularly terrible impression. Rather, it was more like it failed to leave much of any impression at all.

  2. When Coppelion makes me dislike a KanaHana character, something has gone clearly, severely wrong. I’m holding out a bit of hope in the show since it’s giving me a Madoka-style ‘something’s about to go down here’ vibe, but the tackiness and blandness of some of the story elements dulls that hope a little.

    I’m glad to see that your readerbase came to their collective senses and chose IS2 for you to blog. (Blogging serious shows? Pah!) Char for life.

    • In general, I much prefer KanaHana’s kuudere voice over her genki one, and the latter was just completely out-of-place in this setting.

      I was surprised at what a massive comeback IS2 made, actually. As for Char, I’m somehow doubting she’ll get as many moments with Ichika as she did in the first season, but if we see more interaction with her and Laura, I’ll be stoked.

  3. I think with both Coppelion and KnK they were trying to establish characters and their relationships both to one another and their situation before really giving us the full scope of what their situation is, I felt like they were both fairly successful at that. I suppose that won’t mean much if you are already bored, but that approach works well for character driven drama.

    It’s a lot harder to humanize a character if you start them off in a dramatic situation I think. The preview for Coppelion episode two makes me think that it will get heavy handed fast. The mood for KnK is kind of up in the air, but so long as the show becomes darker than it’s first episode their disarming start will only work in the shows favor I think. I’m still hoping for the best with both of those at the moment.

    I have something of a love hate relationship with IS. I love Laura and Charlotte and hate everyone else. You can probably guess how I felt about this episode. I wasn’t planning to keep up with IS S2, hell I didn’t even finish S1, but If Laura and Charlotte are going to be getting this much screen time I might have to stick around. Also, as far as I’m concerned I would rather have Laura and Charlotte spending time with each other than Ichika anyway.

    • Hmmm… good points. Makes for some food for thought. KnK does have the headstart over Coppelion with the character development, even if the characterisation has been pretty typical in both series so far. I do feel it has better potential to grow because of the setup.

      As for IS, I have to agree that it was way more fun watching Charlotte and Laura hang out together than ineffectually flirting with Ichika. I think with this episode IS finally passed the Bechdel Test? Not sure if that’s a cause for celebration or just sad…

  4. While it’s fair to say that one shouldn’t expect something drastically different as Free is basically that rare chance that Kyoani stepped out of the box, despite my mixed feelings about the main female character, it was still fairly enjoyable for what it is. Who knows, perhaps it will get more exciting when we see some more action with cute girls beating the crap out of demons with some drama.

    • I would argue that Free was a pretty calculated move and KyoAni didn’t really change up their essential formula with that show at all, despite how different it seems on the surface. As for the girl in KnK, I didn’t feel one way or another about her, which probably says a lot about how unremarkable a character she ended up being. Next episode does look like it’ll be a blast, though.

  5. INFINITE STRATOS WAS THE BEST. CHARLOTTE x LAURA ALL DAY EVERY DAY.

    The mixed berry crepes were just too good. TOO GOOD I TELL YOU.

  6. Ha ha, So Infinite Stratos won after all. I didn’t watch Coppelion, didn’t like it from first glance, but I must say I enjoyed Kyoukai no Kanata a fair bit. As for IS, it was fun. Ichika was being Ichika as usual, and sometimes I just want to punch him for his density and insensitiveness, but fanservice will always be fanservice. And Infinite Stratos is excellent at fanservice, thanks to Charlotte and Laura (the other girls don’t even come close……my favorite is Cecilia, but she’s like a million miles away from both Charlotte and Laura in terms of popularity).

    I guess you can see most guys watch Infinite Stratos for the heroines more than anything. All pretense of a deep plot, originality, groundbreaking formula, emotional connection is gone, leaving the anime to serve us a large dose of heroine grandeur and stuff. We consume the heroines rather than the series itself. The series serve only as a platform for the heroines to exist in, but a lot of viewers aren’t interested in the platform, the setting, the world. They only want to see the heroines, like Charlotte, come to life. Maybe.

    • Funny you mention that. I was actually very interested in the setting and this idea of inverting gender roles (seeing as only the girls can pilot an IS). Which, of course, means that a GUY in this universe who can do the same thing really would be extraordinary, girls would willingly lower themselves for him, and so on. To an extent, I think it actually reflects how sexism works (and continues to work) in real life. Despite the advent of feminism, sexism towards women is appropriated just as much by females as it is by males. The fact that the author himself seems unaware of this shows how deeply ingrained our ideas of gender roles are in society. I was even going to write a whole article on that, and then realised that no one cares about the setting in IS and are only watching the show for the cute girls in it. (oh the irony~)

      I quite like Cecilia myself, by the way. She’s adorable.

      • Actually, that’s an interesting point you brought up there. I think the reason why the setting had the IS being piloted by only girls is this: the author is aiming for a guy otaku audience. It’s not that guys don’t want to watch guys pilot mecha (Gundam comes to mind), but if you basically change all the guys to girls, and put a seemingly self-insert, blank and bland male protagonist within all those girls, you get the perfect recipe for a male fantasies of being the only guy surrounded by beautiful girls, and all those beautiful girls in love with him. Ichika being incredibly dense, stupid and bland is so that the male audience finds it easier to project themselves onto him, thus being able to live that fantasies of theirs.

        That’s just a hypothesis, and by no means true or factual, by the way.

        So as you said, sexism is seemingly abound. The author himself is actually treating the girls as a commodity to be consumed, objectifying them as…um, objects of desire. The greatest irony is about how the girls are supposed to have risen in power, stature and status over men in the story, but in reality they are just being objectified as beautiful heroines to be consumed by the male audience. Subtextual irony at its greatest.

  1. Pingback: Fall 2013: First Impressions and Stuff | Chromatic Aberration Everywhere

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