Rule of Three Review, Caps Lock Digest: TERRAFORMARS, DENKI-GAI – Episodes 2-3

Trimming the watchlist, one censored mess at a time.

The first pair in our Fall Rule of Three Reviews were both shows that were on my radar going into the season, but which proved less noteworthy than I’d originally hoped. One is more of a tastes thing, while the other is pretty much just awful. Which is which, and how do they affect the watchlist for the rest of the season? Hit the jump to find out.

TERRAFORMARS

Wow. But in, like, a bad way.

Take Attack on Titan and put it on Mars. Then remove the dynamic animation, the ongoing mysteries, and the (I can’t believe I’m saying this) character development, because even though AoT’s main cast was fairly one-note, at least they had a note. Here, we get so many different people thrown at us all at once, without even AoT’s attempts to give them at least that one distinguishing character trait, that our protagonists are pretty much interchangeable. Which is a shame, given the potential packed in the first episode (both in terms of world and character arcs).

Really, though, all of that might be forgivable if this were a full-tilt mindless action series that actually bothered to, you know, animate its action. But the vast majority of the fight scenes are either animated way too slowly or are just straight-up still frames, and the “ultraviolence” is so heavily censored with black bars and circles that you can barely tell what’s happening. I hate this new censorship trend, because it’s basically a ploy to get people to buy the DVDs just so they can see what the hell is going on. (Note that Crunchyroll will be airing the uncensored version at a later date, but the original Japanese audience is still screwed.) If you know your show is going to air in a slot/on a station where you can’t show certain things, then plan your damn storyboards accordingly.

To conclude: Your anime is bad and you should feel bad. Dropped like a hot potato. Moving on.

DENKI-GAI

Trainwreck averted, but…

The second episode of this was so unpleasant (particularly the creeper vibes from Sommelier) that I didn’t even finish it. But I promised to give this the three-episode rule, so I came back for another one. And sure enough, the series shifted back into a cute and (mostly) harmless geeky sitcom. The characters are likable enough, if not a little broadly drawn, and the scenes in the bookstore continue to work best for me, with my only real chuckle coming from the “warzone” of a busy release day.

That said, I don’t think I’ll be coming back for more. I still find the uber-young female character designs rather off-putting, and the humor continues to have that “in-joke” feel that means I don’t find myself laughing or even smiling very often. I think it was an intentional and somewhat bold decision to have this series pick up in medias res, with all of the employees knowing each other and already firmly a part of the otaku subculture, but it does give the series an insular, “club”-like quality that makes it feel like it’s very much for that subculture and no one else. An “outsider” or “newcomer” character would have gone a long way toward making the world and humor more inclusive.

Again, though, I think the creator was very much gearing this towards the Japanese otaku subculture, and wasn’t much interested in appealing to anyone else. And while there’s nothing particularly wrong with writing for a niche market, it does make it hard for me to get involved or invested in these characters’ lives (and as an avid anime/manga fan, I’m even more aware of the otaku culture than most). All of which is a sort of roundabout way of saying that if this show works for you, then bully!, but it isn’t my cup of tea. And with as busy as my Thursdays are looking to be, I highly doubt I’ll be back for more.

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