Spring Anime in Review Part 2 (FranXX, FMP:IV, and FLCL:P)

So finally here we are with finally ended or we are still waiting for. Those series being FLCL: Progressive, Darling in the FranXX, and Full Metal Panic Invisible. Two of these shows are series that I have strong opinions for in the most negative and positive ways possible. FLCL:P is just a show that aired on Toonami. It’s something to break up the monotony between my extreme opinions of the other two series. Yay breathers!  Ok, enough dilly dallying. I guess I should talk about these shows. I know that Full Metal Panic’s Last Few Episodes are airing later this month, but I couldn’t wait Besides, it’s not like anything is going to change my opinion of Invisible Victory right now anyway.

Completely Biased Love

-Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

The only flaws that Invisible Victory has are the production issues behind it all. This is the reason why it had two recap episodes, why the last two episodes are running late, and also why episode 10 looked as awful as it did. Other then that, I have no complaints. The characters are exactly how we remember them and their characterization couldn’t be better. Sousuke and Chidori feel like a couple and you see how in love they are with each other. The first four episodes were just a powerful way of saying “you guys need to earn your ending” because Amalgam struck Mithril harder then it ever has at that point. We got boat island base Hoth and the attack on Sousuke and Chidori in Tokyo. Both of these moments were just as emotionally powerful and thematically powerful as they could be with action amazing enough to solidify it all together. Everything afterward seems like they weren’t going anywhere at first, but ended up with the same powerful result. This is Full Metal Panic at its best. It’s that weekly punch to the gut that I demand more of.

I forgot another weakness that Invisible Victory has. You can’t watch this show without having seen the original series, the second raid, and maybe even Fumoffu. Invisible Victory has a character that we’ve only seen in Fumoffu before. That makes Fumoffu canon to my almost infinite delight. All of this is that high barrier of entry to cross, but totally worth it.

Definitely Worth Your Time

-FLCL: Progressive

I’ve always had some concerns with the FLCL sequels. The first one is always a question of quality. Whether or not the product that comes out is good or not. That’s my first M.O. with every new anime series that comes out so why would that be different here. The second one is very specific toward any series that has new installments. Is this series wasted potential from new comers that could have worked on something that didn’t have a name brand behind it already? Kind of like that Marvel Cinematic Universe thing where new directors come in and produce movies. They might get their name out of the door, but they are still going to be a component to a machine. Lastly, how does it compare to the original. For a six-episode series, FLCL has made a lot of waves around the anime community for years. Why else would be sequels for it suddenly appear out of nowhere? That means it better hold up, right?

I think the end result was something around the realm of “okay” to “watchable”. Why? Because I think more effort was put into writing the show then animating it. Since we have two main characters instead of one, a lot more time was establishing it’s plot, characters, and themes then showing them on a visual level like the original series did. I did like a lot of these characters and wanted to see them succeed, but their was almost no visual life to this show besides some of the amazing visual sequences  at the beginning of some of these episodes? It’s almost like Production I.G. didn’t give FLCL as much of a preference as they could on a production level. Also, while I love I.G., they aren’t studio Gainax. There are two episodes in Progressive that try to get the level of the original FLCL, but it never approaches the same level of insanity and expressiveness. I love you Production I.G., but stick to your science fiction series and cool spy stuff, ok? I’ve even been watching some of Gainax’s older works recently like Karekano and even if that show had virtually no budget or resources dedicated to it, the show had so much life and expression to it that made it have it’s own identity. FLCL is that but with nearly limitless resources behind it. Production I.G. shows are more straight forward in their world developments so maybe they should have spent more time producing the series the way they would do it rather then trying to be a mock Gainax show.

I know that I keep comparing this show to the original, because that’s because it constantly stands here as a comparison. I feel like if this was a world where FLCL never existed and Progressive appeared out of thin air, it would be an ova series that little to no one would care about. Maybe it does serve the purpose of getting more animator’s names out there into the open, but they really should have named this series something else. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any strengths of it’s own, because it does. I like a lot of the plot and it’s character. I found them relatable to what goes on in my life. Even if the visual spectacle isn’t there, that is something that Progressive can hold on it’s own shoulders with pride.

Speaking of Mock Studio Gainax Shows…

Why Does This Show Exist?

-Darling in the FranXX

I’ve been trying to not talk about this show on my blog as much as possible because I am not a view seeker that wants to get all the follows and views by talking about controversial shows, but I am going to talk quickly about this show and then I’m done with it. Is that ok with everyone? Hopefully yes. If no, then too bad. My blog and my rules.

I’m going to be honest here, I don’t like Darling in the FranXX at all. This is not an opinion that formed during its first episode or the sudden aliens twist, but something that came across around episode 15. I was very take it or leave until that point, but episode 15 showed how lacking of ambition and momentum Darling in the FranXX actually is. Why? Because the show was already riding a line of developing it’s plot and world while also keeping everything at the same level that it’s been. Every single feeling of plot development or world building is immediately beat down by the show trying to keep a status quo. I think I realized that beforehand, but the emotion that came off from episode 14 to be immediately resolved in episode 15 was the tip off that showed that the writers don’t know what they are doing. It’s hard to care about anything that happens in a series when you know that everything is going to come back to a status quo immediately after big things happen. Even things like memory wipes had no affect on the plot because nothing came from them. Can you see where I am coming from here? If this show’s characters and plots reset every time, then how is supposed to have any themes? Darling in the FranXX doesn’t commit to anything at all.

To push this even further, this show’s cast needed another show. There are seeds of uniqueness in each of them, but aside from maybe Goro, nobody else develops as much as they could or is likeable at all. All of them never develop beyond clichés or develop in any sort of way until the plot wants them to do something for some reason. We still have that 02 and Hiro “I’m a monster” “Not you’re not” thing that never changes through out the series and always results in the needed power up for any moment or jam that the show is in. Should I mention the fat guy that is there to always be dunked on or only is there for the necessary fat jokes? (Why is every series associated with Studio Trigger in some way always use the same fat humor? It’s so annoying and becoming a cliché for them.) What does Trigger have against fat people? Not that it means anything because the other characters are just as flat, but this is something that needs to at least be talked about

Should I mention the elephants in the room more then giving it a glance? Yes, I think it’s about time. What the hell is with the aliens (VIRM) and the Klaxosaurs? Why do you need more species and complexities in a series that doesn’t know anything about pacing and world development? Why is magma being used as a power source as well? Who thought these were good ideas because I feel like every single person that has watched this show has thought of better ways to use its themes then the writers of Darling in the FranXX itself. If you wanted to have two separate species in the show, then the show should never have lolly gagged and everything should be kicked into a higher gear. Otherwise, there are easier ways to get FranXX’ message across by having the Klaxosaurs being a result of the FranXX development or FranXX mishaps. It’s a little cheap, but you still have the important parts and themes put right into our faces instead of half assing it. That’s what introducing different species and plot elements out of nowhere is like to me. They are an easy out of the current conflict that our characters are in to move everything else in a different direction forcefully. Not natural in anyway. Should I also mention the fact that I don’t like the fact that a youngster like Hiro is talking down to a being that’s been around for thousands of years? Besides all the space stuff, that is the worst thing that Darling in the FranXX has done for me.

Lastly, everything in space was a huge disappointment for me. If you have ever read anything from my blog, you know that I love space stuff. Space ships, space powers, random objects in space, and even aliens bring around plot elements that you can’t see in any other genre. FranXX wasn’t able to do any of that. The Virm remained one-dimensional aliens that didn’t want Hiro and 02 to reunited for some reason and that was it really. We didn’t even get any development from the Klaxosaurs, because they were just as bland and underdeveloped at the VIRM. There was some ok space action with some cool looking spaceships and fighter flying around, but they were more like a road block or bump then an actual force of villainy and threats. It was a true thematic end of a show that never aspired to do anything at all. Woo, so profound. *throws up*. That’s it. I don’t want to talk about this show until my least favorite shows of 2018 list at the end of the year. Let’s have some good, original mech shows to talk about now ok? That’s all I want. It’s not too hard, right?

(I didn’t want to talk about how it lifts imagery from Gainax shows without knowing what they are supposed to represent, so I will just leave that as an aside note here. )

—-

No closing remarks other then those weren’t quick thoughts for Darling in the FranXX, this turned to me completely fanboying over studio Gainax and how over studios aren’t them, and I hope that the summer season turns out ok. So far I do like a few things, but I don’t think many shows has had my level of investment in shows as I did in the spring. That’s a post for next Wednesday though.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Totally agree with your opinions on FranXX there. Maybe, just maybe, thinks would’ve worked out a tad better if the series kicked the pace up to 110 within those first 10 episodes. Even then, to tell such a huge story would need a much better developed cast, to which you’d need even MORE time. I want to just say “Oh well” and move on, but it really is sad since the show looks so dang good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      Yeah, FranXX has a lot of issues that are not easy to some. I don’t think the show ever picked out what it wanted to be so that’s why it might have been confused?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. WeekendOtaku says:

    Interesting roundup, Scott. I haven’t been able to check out FLCL:Progressive yet but I hope to catch up soon since I really liked the original 6-episode run.

    I’m having trouble with one part of this though. Can you please qualify this statement?

    “Why is every series associated with Studio Trigger in some way always use the same fat humor? It’s so annoying and becoming a cliché for them.) What does Trigger have against fat people? Not that it means anything because the other characters are just as flat, but this is something that needs to at least be talked about”

    Atsushi Nishigori directed “FranXX” and did the majority of the writing with Naotaka Hayashi. Neither of them wrote any other shows for Trigger as far as I can tell. Neither did the other writers Rino Yamaaki or Hiroshi Seko. Only Masahiko Otsuka has worked on prior Trigger shows, but he only wrote 2 episodes of “FranXX.”

    A lot of people who have done work for Trigger got their start in Gainax (no surprise considering Trigger’s origins), which you admit to fanboying over.

    I see this sort of thing all the time. People holding an entire animation studio responsible for everything they liked or disliked about a show. It makes things like this happen:

    1995: (Eva airs) Gainax is awesome!
    2012: (SAO airs) A-1 Pictures is awesome!
    2013: (Kill la Kill airs) Gainax is dead, Trigger is the future!
    2014: (Oreimo airs) A-1 Pictures sucks!
    2018: (FranXX) Trigger sucks, despite A-1 pictures help. Gainax is awesome!

    Of course, I didn’t get all these statements from one single source, but I hope you see my point. There is a lot of Twitter echo chamber mentality around these sorts of things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      I look, I know that FranXX is an A1 pictures show that has Studio Trigger helping them (not so happy with either studio), but the fat problem is something that is in a lot of Trigger works.

      You watch Little Witch Academia, there is a fat, witch character that only eats. Then there is Kiznaiver where a skinny character that used to be fat is made of by one of the other characters by being presented food. It doesn’t matter if Darling in the FranXX didn’t have a lot of Studio Trigger staff, the problem is a production studio thing at some level.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. WeekendOtaku says:

    I can point out dozens of other anime that have nothing to do with Trigger that have fat characters who seem to do nothing but eat. It’s not a Trigger/A-1/any studio specific problem.

    I pointed out the writing staff for Franxx because they’re the ones who decide to write a fat character and/or fat jokes, and it’s different for each and every show. Do you think that no matter who is directing or writing a show, or where the source material is adapted from, that there is a “Mr Trigger” standing over their shoulder and telling them to put fat jokes in, just because Trigger, as an animation studio, is working on it? Writers work across companies all the time in the anime industry.

    The average weight for an adult male in Japan is like 150 lbs. And even then it’s among the older generation. Under 20 years old they’re more around 140. That’s the real reason that fat people/characters are made fun of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WeekendOtaku says:

      And… I typed this under the wrong box. Sorry!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Scott says:

      You say that, but I’ve been watching anime for quite a while and I haven’t seen “humor” on this level from anyone except trigger. I could even throw in Stocking from you know where that had the same humor before they existed.

      I don’t think there is a big Mr Trigger thing, but they do have some biases. As a still over weight person person who is working in changing that, maybe I am a little over sensitive in the topic? I have my biases.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. WeekendOtaku says:

        I don’t know what Stocking refers to, but if you’re talking about Panty and Stocking that’s adapted from a manga, so any insensitivity toward weight is probably the manga author’s fault and not the studio’s.

        It’s easy to see what I’m talking about. Look at even the most well known popular anime. The fat character, Omaeda, in Bleach gets insulted by super skinny Soi Fon every chance she gets. Chouji’s/Chouja’s entire gimmick in Naruto/Boruto is eating. Every fat character in One Piece is an indolent buffoon.

        You said in your reply that “they have some biases.” Who is “they” ? That’s why I asked sarcastically about a Mr. Trigger big boss. The people who are responsible for character design and script can be different for every show they do. They don’t all exclusively work for Trigger, and there isn’t any studio mandate to make fun of weight.

        I don’t fault you for any sensitivity you have about weight. It’s something a lot of people struggle with and I agree 100% it’s disheartening to see “humor” about that struggle.

        You can like or dislike a show for any reason you want, but in most cases of studio bashing I see it’s not for a reason that makes sense. My favorite is anything about “A-1’s writers.” A company where nearly the entire creative staff is inconstant from one show to the next cannot have any trends when it comes to writing. This isn’t just you, and I don’t know why I decided to make a point about it here, but I hope you don’t feel like I’m picking on you about this. I’m just trying to encourage people not to think of animation studios like a single-minded entity.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Scott says:

        Yes, that one and fine. So I can’t blame those people for stocking.

        See, that’s why I don’t remember anything else. I have much larger complaints about Bleach and I haven’t watched the other two.

        Sarcasm doesn’t work over text so you confused me too.

        I’m right there with you with A1 and I think that Trigger’s works aren’t as smart as other people think they are. That might a post for another time. Also, don’t worry about commenting too much.

        Like

  4. Karandi says:

    I’m just glad Franxx is done. From episode 7 when they hit the beach I was detached and like you, by the time episode 15 rolled around I was more or less over it and just waiting for the series to come to an end. There are some good things in the show, but none of them get used for anything of note in the end and the story really does meander along before falling apart.
    That said we did get FMP:IV and I really did love that even if it felt totally unready and unfinished in the end. The characters were fantastic (and I’m really looking forward to getting to watch the last episodes later today).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      I’m so glad too. The best birthday present that anime gave me was not having a new episode of FranXX the day after it.

      And yes, exactly! I’m worried about getting more from this studio because they had such huge production issues. This post was written a couple weeks ago, but I think everything I said still applies with episode 11 and 12.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m starting to think that I am the only person who liked Darling in the Franxx. Most of the reviews I have read are negative. Sad to hear of FMP’s production woes because I have loved the previous seasons. Two recap episodes feels like a waste of content, after waiting so long for new material.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott says:

      I’ve seen some other positive opinions for FranXX.

      And yes, the recap episodes hurt but we also had to wait for the final two. Maybe the Yamato reboot took all of Xebec’s time?

      Liked by 1 person

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