Gurren Lagann 4 and Jigoku Shoujo Futagomori

This is one awesome kid’s show.

Watched Gurren Lagann episode 4 again, and I do have to say that the character animation was pretty dismal. I do appreciate that there is a degree of artistic merit and style in the work, but it’s just totally unappealing to me. This kind of work only works in context. Basically, keep the Studio 4c in Studio 4c, please. Not in my Sunday morning cartoons. Work like this really has no place in mainstream works in general, especially coming out of the blue like it did here. I can understand the desire to experiment, but when you’ve already set a standard, something like this is totally off putting.

The mechanical animation was fairly ok though. Still on the cheap side, but on the whole looked quite good. They really cut back on the battle sequence, which only leads me to believe that this style change was more budget influenced than it was intentional. I did really like some parts of this episode though. The opening shot of Simon’s legs was good, I really liked how that worked. In general I enjoyed the kind of natural flow of the episode. It felt more like a natural day than an episode of a TV show. Of course, don’t especially want all episodes to be like this, but it was a nice change in pace.

Oh, and if you haven’t heard, something big went down regarding all the drama around this episode.

This kid’s life sucks.

The second season of Jigoku Shoujo recently ended in Japan, and the fansubbers have more or less caught up, and only have one episode to go. The first Jigoku Shoujo was an ok show. Pretty bad writing, but entertaining enough for me to tune in. If the show had just been revenge of the week, I would have gotten sick of it; but I think the inclusion of Hajime and Tsugumi gave the show a nice reoccurring element that tied it all together nicely. The second series started off strong, with a lot of real good meaty stories that didn’t feel half-hearted or lazy like in the previous series. After a certain point, the show started relying on shock value. It became a game of “let’s see if we can make these guys more fucked up than the guys in the last episode!” The stories became weaker, to the point where the actually revisited an earlier case and decided to build an arc around that– one that would end the season.

I think because the show kept trying to top itself, it ended up creating a very sad world. A world where people have no feelings, have no brains and are only filled with the desire to wrong others. Caught in the middle of it all is one little kid, who didn’t do anything at all. I’m trying not to spoil it, but what they’ve come up with is really dumb, but it’s such a wonderful train wreck. Over the past two episodes, I kept thinking “oh, they wouldn’t do that” and well… they did that. Numerous times. I think it’s really something you have to watch for yourself, as I’m sure my words don’t do it any justice. Over the last 51 episodes, the world of Jigoku Shoujo has gone from a somewhat dark grey to pure black. It’s a blood bath. With children.

The sad thing about Jigoku Shoujo is that its aesthetics lend itself to a more refined kind of work. The striking design of Enma Ai isn’t one that should be featured in a trashy cartoon, but in a well written series of beautiful tales. I believe this what we were all expecting when we saw the promotional art and the website design, but what we got was some trashy pop fiction. Sure, it’s entertaining and, I like it, but it’s a guilty pleasure. It bothers me that they didn’t do more with the kind of look and feel it established initially. And that soundtrack. That wonderfully creepy soundtrack! Those awesome openings! Those beautiful endings! Wasted.

Well, at least Ai is hot. And I suppose that’s all that really matters.