Monday, May 26, 2014

Anime Review: World Conquest Zvezda Plot

This was another of my late winter pick-ups which I didn't even look at in the beginning but due to some good buzz I decided hey, I've got the time to add one more show to my lunchtime viewing rotation so why not?

World Conquest Zvezda Plot (Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda)

Jimon Asuta is fed up with home and decides to run away and live on the streets of Udogawa until he finds somewhere new to live. Through a weird series of events he finds that new home in the base of a sorta-kinda terrorist group who want to conquer the world, but have no real plans on how to do so, led by an elementary school aged girl and he just can't seem to escape them.

There are lots if tropes out there (think of them as patterns that stories follow), those that deal with humor, some that talk about romance, others describe various kinds of drama, etc. All stories have tropes in them and Zvezda spends it's first half using a lot of humor tropes (basically how the story is in a very weird setting and every time Jimon half starts to point this out he's made out to be the strange one) but starting around the halfway point it starts using more serious/dramatic tropes and yet doesn't change it's tone at all which I think is a real problem. It makes it's humorous tropes even more absurd than usual, mocking them a bit in the process, but then plays all the serious twists and turns completely straight, right next to those humorous tropes it's still hamming up. For me that was a huge dissonance and I went from sort of liking the show to just trying to get through to the end since I was only a few episodes away. I think this is a case where the writers felt like they had a clever idea ("hey let's make a bunch of over the top villains with a good cause and then make the world be completely messed up so they seem better than the good guys!") and then just failed to execute it right (like, not hinting that there really was something up with the setting, I thought all of the weird details were connected to Zvezda just being a weird bunch of people and didn't realize there was a completely different cause for it). I'll admit my preconceptions might not have helped, after the first episode or two I completely expected the show to go like Chunibyo did and that all of the stranger parts would be "delusions" that Kate was having and everyone else was going along with, not that they really did have magic powered by a vegetable and I think that since I was so completely misdirected completely by accident that something did go wrong in the writing.

I have also seen a number of people turned off by the show because of Kate's costume which I think is fair, I can totally see why the costumes in Kill la Kill turned people off and Kate's is just as revealing and she's 8 (or at least looks 8, frankly that doesn't make it any better nor does it ever). I will note that the show treats her near nudity a lot better than KLK does however, whenever she's wearing that outfit the focus is usually on another character and their actions and when the camera does focus on her it's usually of a close-up of her face which is much nicer than KLK's skeevy camera angles. And when she does get her 11th hour power-up her outfit suddenly covers a lot more of her which I think represents a lot of the show. While it never occurred to me on my own, I do think the show set out to tease a lot of common dramatic set-ups and then oh-so-cleverly use them a different way in the end but just so many combinations of tropes have already been done in anime that they weren't able to come up with anything special or new. It just fell flat in the end, a mixture of ideas that was just half baked and not really my thing. For those interested however it can be found streaming on crunchyroll and was licensed by Aniplex of America.

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