Advertisements

First Impressions: Noucome + Infinite Stratos 2 – 02

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru - 01 - Large 12

Nou Commento.

I seem to be writing a lot about light novels lately. This is partly because the current anime market is just so saturated with mass-produced light novels that even casual English-speaking fans can’t help but take notice of them, but it’s also partly because my own ambivalence about their writing quality drives me to learn more about them. Most of them are pretty crap, but at least once a season there comes along a light novel series that succeeds in what I think is the aim of this brand of literature in general: taking seemingly difficult literary ideas and synthesising them into something easily accessible to otaku readers. This year, we had Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo and Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru, to name just two.

All of that said, how do the latest anime measure up? Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga Gakuen Love Comedy wo Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru is yet another in a long list of light novels with absurdly long titles. And you know what? I think we have a winner.

See, the basic concept of Noucome is that choices define our lives. The idea that the main character has to pick between two equally stupid-sounding choices at certain points in his life both satirises the whole Visual Novel genre and actually says something clever about human nature, too. Unless we feel as if we are forced to make a choice, most of us take a passive role in our lives. If we see ourselves as the protagonists of our own lives and narrow down our choices, suddenly it’s easier to just live with all the crazy things we might do.

It’s no surprise that Noucome reminds me a lot of Baka and Test, another screwball school comedy that’s actually a lot cleverer and more insightful than you’d initially give it credit for. There are even similarities in the overall direction style, where both of them bombast the viewer with random and repetitive comedy. I do think Baka and Test had the better first episode, but both of them are very creative in using the visuals to enhance what might otherwise be jokes that are in poor taste. I didn’t laugh at every joke in Noucome, but when I did laugh, I laughed very hard. Like with Baka and Test, there might well come a point when the humour becomes relatively stale, but with only ten episodes, I don’t expect Noucome to run out of steam.

By the way, if you’re looking at critic reviews of these series, for the most part, it’s actually really easy to predict. For instance, Draggle liked it and Flawfinder didn’t. Flawfinder has this tag on his post that goes: “I play something straight and reference it. That means I’m funny right?” That is a pretty sarcastic thing to say, but let me just say, I do agree with that. The point of Noucome (and of light novels in general) isn’t to make fun of anime cliches but to fully embrace them. If you hate the entire aims of its genre, then don’t watch it. You won’t like it.

All that said, onto our next “shitty light novel” candidate – Infinite Stratos.

Infinite Stratos 2 – Episode 2

What is the difference between a swimsuit and regular underwear?

What is the difference between a swimsuit and regular underwear?

You know, there actually is an interesting idea at play in the world of Infinite Stratos. All the girls are meant to be the powerful ones in this society and, as we’ve seen in this episode, the one boy who can actually pilot an IS isn’t much of a hotshot compared to the strongest girl in the school. And in this episode, she’s the one who lords over him. She uses her physical power to justify taking a condescending, paternalistic approach to teaching him.

It’s pretty notable in my eyes, however, that Tatenashi is the only girl in the school who takes this attitude. The others are gaga over Ichika. Even if they are technically stronger than him, Charlotte pretty much sums up everyone’s attitudes when she tells him, “I think a boy who’s doing his best is cool”. The very fact that he’s romantically attractive to them makes them excuse him for his flaws. That’s actually pretty telling about how some girls think!

vlcsnap-2013-10-11-10h16m38s160

This is something that’s been shown time and time again in the first season, but in this episode in particular I’m struck by how objectified Ichika is in the eyes of all the girls. The girls express this common agreement that he’s theirs. They treat him like a piece of meat. It’s only when he’s alone with any one of the girls that they start to treat him like he’s human, but the general culture of the school doesn’t invite that. Then, of course, he gets physically abused every time he is so much as in the same room as another girl. I mean, it happened at least three times that I can remember in this episode alone.

Honestly speaking, if I were Ichika, I would actually not like the idea of being seen this way by all the girls. I think he’s pretty aware that it’s the fact that he’s the only boy in the school that he’s being treated this way. I think he even prefers how Tatenashi treats him because she measures him more by his skill than by his gender. She’s harsh, but he appreciates it, and even though he’s depressed at the end of the episode, it’s not her he’s mad at; it’s himself. Ichika does seem to show more character when the focus is on the IS part of the story and not the romance.

Psychoanalysing him even further, I’d say this is rooted in his older sister complex. As we learned in the first season, it’s Chifuyu who had to protect him, and how unquestioning he is of her shows in pretty much every scene he has with her. In fact, he doesn’t seem to question anything a girl says. I think he likes being treated like he’s younger, but at the same time, he wants to be strong enough to protect the people he cares about. Looking at it in that way, it’s probably no surprise that Houki is his pick from his harem. It also explains why, despite this late stage, Tatenashi actually makes a decent bid for his heart. She’s certainly going the right way about it.

vlcsnap-2013-10-11-10h29m30s178

Personally, I like Tatenashi’s teasing attitude. I always like the first stage whenever a new girl is introduced in a harem, because the conquest is generally more fun than what comes after, plus it’s fun seeing how the harem dynamics shift to fit the new girl. Will Tatenashi come down to the rest of Ichika’s harem or will she remain forever aloof and teasing? I would personally prefer her to be the latter, but as we’ve seen with Laura, dere overdose is never a bad thing. That scene where Laura kept trying to keep her bedhead down? Too cute.

All in all, a pretty good episode for a pretty good new girl. Can’t wait for Charlotte in a maid outfit next episode. HRRNNNNNGGGGGHHHHH

Advertisements

Posted on October 11, 2013, in Reviews and Impressions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. The reason I made that tag is because either too many LN adaptations seem to take inspiration from Family Guy or Duke Nukem Forever in terms of humor when most people claim they’re above that sort of thing yet eat it up, or because they literally just point it out as an excuse to get away with it as a sort of self-deprecation. Kinda like some of my old stuff (heehee).

    And as I said on my post, I only watched Noucome because many people, including psgels, said it was funny.

    • I think what you’re pointing out is more a problem with the critics of LN anime because I also think it’s incorrect to claim that LN anime are above any of the cliches they’re pointing out.

      I didn’t direct the “don’t watch it” comment towards you, by the way, but to people who haven’t seen Noucome yet and are undecided. It’s pretty unfair if you disliked something to be asked, “So why did you even watch it?” as if that question invalidates all of your criticisms. I personally thought what you wrote was insightful, which was why I linked to it.

  2. I actually didn’t like Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga Gakuen Love Comedy wo Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru, it wasn’t really to my taste. I didn’t find the jokes funny, I felt more sorry for the poor protagonist who was forced between ridiculous choices (take the top half or bottom half off, or either touch someone’s boobs or have them touch his), and especially when he had to choose between “hold me” and “hold me and do stuff to me”, I was…er… very turned off. But hey, to each their own. I’ll probably continue watching because as you said, the idea is pretty profound when you think about it, what with life being a game of choices. That and the heroine (they left the beautiful heroine falling out of the sky to the end, and I’m interested in her origins and stuff).

    Funnily, the whole falling out of the sky reminded me of Hidan no Aria, with Aria falling out of the sky on Kinji. I like Hidan no Aria, so I guess I should give this a shot.

    As for Infinite Stratos……no comment. It’s meant to be brainless (as in brainlessly entertaining) so I have trouble forming an opinion of it. As I pointed out in a previous post of yours, the funny thing about the girls objectifying Ichika is that they themselves are being objectified and consumed by the viewers. Since I’ve already written that in the other Infinite Stratos post, I’ll abstain from repeating myself here. :)

    • I agree that some of those jokes were in pretty terrible taste and overall it’s pretty immature, but I thought there was enough energy in the execution to make up for some of that. I definitely wouldn’t watch it for just the ideas, though. I say if it’s not funny, may as well not watch it, eh?

  3. That IS analysis was awesome. I think I’ve just gained a lot more respect for the show :D

    Also, that “Nou Commento” absolutely killed me. Completely burst out laughing, especially coupled with that Einstein pic.

  4. Stop making me think intelligent thoughts about the society of IS! In all seriousness IS suddenly seems a bit smarter than it did before reading this blog.

    I hadn’t considered the way Ichika is treated. I think especially with anime I am only halfway invested in like IS it’s easy to overlook a characters situation and just think of them like an object for the story to revolve around. I guess I’m just as bad as the girls in this story.

    If Ichika were just a bit smarter than he is I might really get into IS. He wouldn’t need to be a good mech pilot, but his lack of common sense makes his shoes incredibly hard for me to wear.

  1. Pingback: Fall 2013: First Impressions Round Three | Chromatic Aberration Everywhere

  2. Pingback: 12 Days of Anime Day 4: The Current Status of Light Novel Adaptations (and Outbreak Company Fanboying) | Chromatic Aberration Everywhere

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: