Anime Review 14: Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Last Exile, and Bokurano
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Sayonara Zatsubou Sensei
Meaning "Goodbye, Mr. Despair", this show is a darkly funny satire made by a studio famous for well, making stuff that looks like it was made on drugs. The SZS's OVA's opening theme song is a magnificent example.
The show's plot as far as I saw it revolves around a suicidal, extremely pessimistic (but I found him darkly funny and even a little bit cute!) teacher who basically teaches a group of crazy girls with their own unique mental and social problems. One is insanely optimistic and always argues with him when he says depressing and negative things. One is a hikikimori, a Japanese term for someone suffering from extreme agoraphobia and social withdrawal, who is coaxed out of her home but then hides in the school counselor's office . Another is a stalker who goes from stalking a boy to stalking the teacher, going as far as to wear a kimono instead of a regular school uniform, in imitation of Sensei. Yet another girl is too shy to even talk or read aloud in class. And one has two separate personalities, one who's Japanese and another who's a foreigner. The class is a big old batch of crazy! The humor in this show is mostly satire, aimed at modern Japanese society, through the lens of a depressed but often truth-speaking realistic person, sort of like an eastern version of the humor in Daria.
I really enjoyed this show and would love to see more because it was very funny in a really intelligent and sophisticated way, and every character that was introduced was fascinating and you just get this urge to figure everything out about their pasts and what led them to become who they are now.
I'm a big fan of the Steampunk genre. To me, it's cool to merge modern or futuristic technology with the sophisticated style of a past era. My problem with this show, while it delivers a unique and interesting Steampunk story, I didn't like all the computer generated animation. It seemed like almost everything that wasn't a person or a small object was a CGI, and it made me nervous thinking that the future of anime might mean the CG stuff will completely take over. I've seen 3-D anime characters on shows like Code Lyoko, and they definitely look better in 2-D. I have no idea why that is, it just is. I understand that it's hard to animate the detailed airplanes and other machines, but I have a question for you, Studio Gonzo: how come Miyazaki had no problem doing it in Porco Rosso? Huh?
Ok... moving on, sorry about the rant. So Last Exile also kind of suffers from some of the problems I had with 'Blame!' in a previous review, that is, it had a lot of action and not enough there to get me interested in it. It was entertaining, but in the first five episodes I felt like I didn't see enough about what was going on in the characters' heads or learn enough about their personal history. Of course, it's nowhere near as bad of an offender as 'Blame!'. (Although I honestly can't see how anything else could be as bad as that.)
Last Exile had some good to it. The two main characters are very good-natured and hard working children, with a lot of determination. They are independent but suffer from being caught up in a war. The mysterious society called the Guild, who is behind the war, interested me. However, the word I'd choose to describe this show, so far anyway, is just mediocre.
Bokurano, which means 'Ours', is a cute coming-of-age story about an adorably fluffy talking stuffed animal who helps 14 kids learn of their heroic destiny, and teaches them that they can do anything with the power of teamwork and believing in themselves....
Haha, just kidding. Bokurano is basically Evangelion, if you had more kids going through even more intense psychological torture. And they're a little younger even. Every time one of them is selected by mysterious forces to be the next pilot of a giant mecha and fight a mechanical monster from space, that child dies at the end of the battle. The robot works by draining the pilot's life force. I know an additional dark secret about this show from TV Tropes spoilers that I will not reveal here. Needless to say, this show is dark, depressing, and outright horrifying. It's like combining a fighting mech show like Gundam with a horror movie like Battle Royale or the Ring, where each main character is slowly going to get picked off and all of them know they could be next.
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