We now live in the brave new year of 2010. Do the cartoons dropping this year have the bravery to match, though? As of right now, not really!
Cobra the Animation: Rokunin no Yuushi
Upon learning that this new Cobra series was still in the hands of Magic Bus and not MadHouse–as some sources had stated–I was overcome by an unrelenting feeling of despair. The Psycho Gun and Time Drive OVAs weren’t bad per se, they just lacked the pizazz of the original TV series from the early 1980s. Part of this was due to some really cheap looking animation, and the other part was due to the fact that it lacked the same flourish as the old TV series. This can probably be attributed to the direction by original manga author Terasawa Buichi. Comic book artists should stick to writing comics, you know?
However, once this first episode of Cobra the Animation: Rokunin no Yuushi cut to a famous Dezaki “postcard memories” still shot, I knew everything was going to be okay. Yes, there’s PSX-level CG that looks like it fell out of Groove Jigoku 5 (Hat tip to Sub for that one.), the colouring looks like a digital production from the turn of the century at times, and the character animation is kind of stiff. But who the fuck cares (aside from snobby sakuga nerds, that is) this is Cobra, motherfucker, and this time they mean business. Dezaki may not be directing the thing–he’s on storyboard duty–but that alone makes all the difference. Now, if only they could switch out that generic orchestral score for the smooth disco background music from the original, things would be perfect. Well, they could fix the animation, too.
So Ra No Wo To
That W is silent, ok? That’s just an FYI to all those anime podcasters out there who can’t pronounce easy-to-pronounce Japanese words.
So Ra No Wo To, premiering in a block of TV called “The Power of Anime” is meant to show people what Japanese animation can really do. If that’s the case, it’s sad that what Japanese animation can really do is limited to some girl getting lost a lot. But I’m being cynical. It’s not as if the first episode of So Ra No Wo To is bad–it’s fairly typical and entertaining, but it’s not really living up to that Anime no Chikara claim right off the bat. We have some archetypal cute girls who do archetypal cute things against an unorthodox setting with a fairly interesting backstory, but nothing of interest really happens in this first episode to pull one in. This is par for the course with a lot of things, but when you’re touting the label THE POWER OF ANIME, I except to see that power.
Right now this show only really shines animation wise, and even then it’s something of a let down. I’m not one of those naysayers of the blobby K-ON! style, but it doesn’t really work well here. Loose forms such as these work in something like Gurren Lagann, or in something laid back like K-ON!, but they don’t really fit with the setting they’re trying to push here. All that said, I bet the second episode is going to be wonderful and great.
Now, if there was ever a show truly deserving of that Anime no Chikara slot, Chu-Bra! is it. After all, it takes a powerful show to tackle the concept of a first-year middle-school girl who is an underwear enthusiast/tester. Honestly, this shit is creative. Some prudes have been creeped out by this show, but I honestly don’t think it’s dirty enough. But that’s just me, you know?
This first episode managed to satisfy my very low expectations, but I don’t know if it’ll be able to keep it up. It also has some random animal humour that I don’t get. Animation wise it’s nothing special, and the character designs go into weird places at times as far as face-shapes go.
I don’t have much hope that this will become the kind of silly show I can admire like, say, Sora no Otoshimono, but hopefully it can take charge and do something deliciously dirty and hilarious with its concept.