A Heisei Democracy anime update: Mai Hime Mai Hime was originally billed as a “bishoujo gakuen action roman,” and with a trailer that showed happy shots of daily school life and flashes of fanservice I thought we were headed for a mild, formula-driven show with above average animation and designs that would make for a […]

A Heisei Democracy anime update:

Mai Hime

Mai Hime was originally billed as a “bishoujo gakuen action roman,” and with a trailer that showed happy shots of daily school life and flashes of fanservice I thought we were headed for a mild, formula-driven show with above average animation and designs that would make for a batch of great doujinshi, but otherwise be swiftly forgotten. For awhile this seemed to be the case, but following the abrupt closure of the Searss arc and the ensuing karaoke episode everything changed. I’m not convinced it was a change for the better. Certainly it was a change for the drama, a change that by episode 20 (I haven’t been able to force myself to watch the two most recent raws) is evoking more than passing flashbacks to Lord of the Flies/Battle Royale. It’s only a matter of time before boar’s-head-bedecked stakes begin busting out all over, much like cherry blossoms in spring. Cherry blossoms drenched in the blood and tears of the fallen. I feel a drinking game coming on, something having to do with death an insanity. It may be the only way I’ll make it through the rest of the series.

Mahoraba: Heartful Days

When I couldn’t stand watching any more Mai Hime I turned to Mahoraba for solace, and for about an episode it was a welcome reprieve. The multiple personalities are a cute gimmick, and the rest of the cast is amusing enough, though entirely by the book. After bathing in the warm and fuzzy heartfulness of the whole thing for awhile, though, the show’s flaws began to seem more glaring; namely, the male protagonist. He’s a limp-wristed female-voiced nancyboy who like so many of his brethren in the genre should have been culled at birth by the merciful hand of natural selection. Instead he is cruelly allowed to persist, a being who is capable of experiencing mental duress even in the most heartful of surroundings, a soft and pitiful creature entirely removed from the reality of human interaction. How he has managed to survive to the age of eighteen is a mystery. OH NO A GIRL IS YELLING AT ME I have no defense against this I will just curl into a ball and weep helplessly GAH YOU LITTLE FUCKING BITCH you make me sick, you and all your misbegotten ilk. If you can’t grow enough of a spine to deal with one hot-tempered female you might as well give up now, stop wasting my two-dimensional oxygen and go crawl off into a hole and die. Better yet, sacrifice yourself in the place of some minor Mai Hime character that despite getting only ten minutes of screen time has more depth of characterization than you will obtain in your entire insignificant life.

Beyond the Clouds (Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho)

As expected, Shinkai delivers a visually and stylistically stunning piece of work in Beyond the Clouds. You’ve seen the trailers, the screenshots, and the sub that made its way out over the past week, and no doubt everyone has their own slightly varying but generally laudatory opinion of his latest opus. I fall slightly on the detracting side of the spectrum in the final analysis, though. The emotional impact of his visual presentation is very strong, but I found the plot and characterizations to be lacking. The female lead was generically pleasant, but with no humanizing shortcomings or endearing quirks to make her memorable. The friends’ respective ennui and directionless passion seemed contrived, as did their conflict and its subsequent resolution. The central concept of the film is strong: two boys, a girl, and a promise – a promise of flight. The garbled pseudoscience is unnecessary, though, and takes time and focus away from the characters; the war as a backdrop tries, but is ultimately unable to add a sense of urgency to the pair’s quest. If Shinkai collaborated with a really good author he could produce a significant piece of art; as it is, Beyond the Clouds leaves this renaissance man still searching for his own real break into the stratosphere.