Sunday, December 8, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Forty-two - Chrome Shelled Regios: Episodes 1-4, "I... I have no idea what's going on."

I try and give every anime that shows up on Netflix a chance.

If you've been following Couchbound for a while, you've probably noticed that there are precious few titles of any quality. I've covered a few, but most of them are stinkers and they're pretty much all courtesy of Funimation. I think I could count on my hands the ones that are actually worth it.

Still, you have to give a series and/or movie the benefit of the doubt. There's no such thing as "once burned, twice shy" when it comes to media. One day an author/director/producer is making crap, the next it's genius or vice versa, see Michael Bay for the latter.

Anyways, I think I must sadly report that Chrome Shelled Regios isn't a sterling example of anything. I'm pretty sure it's not the worst title available on the Instant Stream, but it's not that great.

For one thing, I don't think the author (or adapters) know how to tell a compelling story. I could be very wrong, considering that the light novel series that the anime is based of off is a moderate success with over 20 volumes and 4.5 million copies sold. Would that I had those numbers. Still, just looking at the first four episodes of the series, I have absolutely NO idea what is really going on and find nothing all that nifty about the main characters... or the side characters... or the flashback characters.

Yeah... there are a LOT of characters.

Take, for instance, the nominal leads... there's Layton, Nina, and Felli. They're all major archetypes, particularly connected to manga culture. Layton is the wandering hero trying to escape his past through gentleness, Nina is the weak child trying to become a strong (but, ultimately, brittle) adult, and Felli is the silver-haired silent Hime (princess) with no emotional affect. It's a role I've seen dozens of times before and done much better elsewhere: Rei in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Nagato Yuki in The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi.

Then there are the side characters... the over protective brother, the ladies' man rake, the trio of energetic girls (one of whom has a doomed crush on the lead). Bleh. Each and every one of them is an obvious trip down character creation lane (Yay, Central Casting!) and each and every one of them is boring as hell.

Finally, there are the flashback characters... who only start showing up in episode 3 for random bits of poorly voice acted drama/action. That means something, coming from me, just how bad the voice acting is... because it's all in English (while the dystopia scenes are all in Japanese with English subtitles). Really, really BAD English. I can't tell if it's just the way of things, that they'll never cast actual native speakers... or if Japanese audiences just wouldn't believe the sounds coming out of our mouths are true language and prefer to hear the gargling emanations of non-fluent pronunciations.

Speaking of the flashbacks, they're confusing as hell. So far they seem to hint that they're happening in our modern day or perhaps the not too distant future, but certainly not the post-apocalyptic deserts of the main storyline where everyone lives in mobile cities and train to skirmish with competing cities for the dwindling resources of the planet. The flashbacks are all black and white (well, purple and white) and horrible.

There are just too many stories going on at once for you to keep track of. Is it a martial drama about Layton's new platoon and how he fits in as a hidden prodigy? Is it a survival story about humanity defeating genetically mutated fiends? What the heck is going on with Layton's girlfriend from his previous town and why is a perverted sexy-gal archetype so interested in her. For that matter, why is the sexy-gal type forcing a devoted follower to hold her throne in her absence?

WHAT IS GOING ON?

I think I would've dropped the series already if I didn't find the occasional gags from Felli to be amusing. There are moments where the art style of her scenes goes into chibi dimensions and it's moe as hell (if you don't know, google). Still, those little moments of awkward humanity and cuteness aren't enough to pull me in, I think, and I'll probably bow out soon... if not right now.

The series has a very steep climb if it's going to survive in my queue... and very little time to do it in. I might give it one more chance, but if it doesn't get any better, I'm out.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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