01/07/14 Odds & Ends: D-Frag!, Hamatora and more

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I’ll do a series of “Odds & Ends” for shows that I’m sort of interested in following, but there’s no way I could devote a post to each of them. So let’s begin.

D-Frag! Ep. 1

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Kazama Kenji fancies himself a delinquent, but he’s met his match with the girls in The Game Creation Club! The four eccentric girls — well, one of them’s a teacher — are so wacky and random that they’re more than Kenji can hope to handle. How will he navigate an entire school year with these troublemakers in tow!

…that’s what I would write if I thought this comedy was the funniest thing ever. But rather, I find the experience of watching D-Frag! akin to a visual embodiment of this:

hi every1 im new!!!!!!! holds up spork my name is katy but u can call me t3h PeNgU1N oF d00m!!!!!!!! lol…as u can see im very random!!!! thats why i came here, 2 meet random ppl like me _… im 13 years old (im mature 4 my age tho!!) i like 2 watch invader zim w/ my girlfreind (im bi if u dont like it deal w/it) its our favorite tv show!!! bcuz its SOOOO random!!!! shes random 2 of course but i want 2 meet more random ppl =) like they say the more the merrier!!!! lol…neways i hope 2 make alot of freinds here so give me lots of commentses!!!!

love and waffles,

t3h PeNgU1N oF d00m

Yeah, I’m pretty much not D-Frag!‘s target audience, and that’s okay. It’s just a matter of conflicting senses of humor. The thing is that I laugh when I cringe. To put it another way, I like my humor to be simultaneously uncomfortable. For example, my favorite fictional character in a comedy TV series is Michael Scott. And even though I think Dave Chappelle is one of the greatest stand-up comedians ever, his humor is really just a way to laugh at the racism in modern American society (amongst other things). Stephen Colbert’s deconstruction of contemporary news media is only funny because the target of his jokes are simultaneously incompetent and massively influential in shaping American politics. I laugh because if I didn’t, I’d be horribly depressed.

D-Frag!, on the other hand, is really happy, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it won’t make me laugh. I mean, if I really have to pick a recent anime that is cringe-inducing, something like WakaMote (even though I haven’t finished it) would be more up my alley. D-Frag! doesn’t really make me cringe; it’s not even cringingly horrible. It’s just… it’s watchable, I’ll admit. I’ll probably keep up with it to kill some time between the more interesting shows. There’s certainly nothing offensive about it, and I don’t want to give the impression that there’s a right way and a wrong way to be funny. I’m just trying to explain why it lacks appeal to me. Ultimately, I feel the show is just too safe and bland, full of le random moments and wacky hijinks totally absent of any sort of pathos. As such, D-Frag! feels so isolated from the real world; it’s just its own sterile bubble of anime-related gags and humor and I can’t relate to that.

Hamatora Ep. 1

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A bunch of cool guys with cool powers have set up shop in a cafe. Their business? Solving mysteries. Yes, they are called Minimum Holders, for they have, uh, Minimums, which are special X-Men-like powers, I guess. For example, one guy can shock people with electricity. As for our main character, you’d think he’d have the most awesome power of them all, but he simply listens to music, snaps his fingers, then knocks out the bad guy in one punch. Like the anime he’s in, it’s really, really nothing special. Hamatora‘s first episode, similar to D-Frag!, is watchable and mostly inoffensive, but oh so utterly forgettable. There are some odd attempts at humor that don’t work, uninspiring fight choreography (c’mon, one punch?), and a conspicuous but not-quite-unexpected lack of female Minimum Holders. I guess they could show up in later episodes, but right now, it’s like that elephant in the room.

Nobunagun Ep. 1

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This is the eminently more comprehensible of the two Nobunaga-inspired shows this season. Ogura Shio, a girl with a strange fascination with large guns, finds herself in trouble during a school field trip to Taiwan (fancy) when “Invasion Objects” attack. While most of her colleagues escaped to safety, Shio runs back into danger in an attempt to save her childhood crush Asao. She then comes into contact with a “Ball #13” which awakens the latent Nobunaga gene within her. Yes, she is a reincarnation of Nobunaga, and she’s not the only historical figure to be traipsing around… well, mostly Asia, it seems. There’s Jack the Ripper, Saint Germain, Gandhi and even Sir Issac fucking Newton. I’m guessing some mysterious being or organization could time travel, and thus decided to go back in time to recruit these legendary historical figures in the case that strange, insect-like aliens attack humanity. I could be wrong, but then again, we’re not exactly watching this for the plot now, are we?

I suppose I harbor somewhat of a novelty-like interest in Nobunagun. I just want to see how ridiculously they’ll portray the reincarnations of these historical figures. More importantly, it’ll be fascinating to see how horribly the narrative attempts to clue the Japanese viewers in on people they likely know very little about. Case in point, St. Germain’s awkward spiel on Jack the Ripper: “Perhaps they fear Jack the Ripper, just like the unfortunate citizens of London did. They’ve seen what he can do.” This prompts a reply from the weird, old lady beside him: “Spare me your indiscretions, Saint-Germain!” I seriously had to laugh at that. It was so forced and awkward. I can’t wait till they get to the more obscure people like Eugène François Vidocq.

Nobunaga the Fool Ep. 1

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Kawamori pls…


7 Replies to “01/07/14 Odds & Ends: D-Frag!, Hamatora and more”

  1. Very detailed and introspective look into Nobunaga the Fool. It’s given me such a new perspective that quite frankly I don’t think I’ll ever be the same.

    On a serious note: I can’t help but chuckle at the mention of The Office and Watamote in the same paragraph. I just get this concept of Michael Scott trying to teach Tomoko Kuroki about proper workplace etiquette.
    I get what you mean about the humor. Though I can dig happy-fun humor, you can’t help but enjoy the hilarity of awkwardness. Though to be honest the anime does take some liberties and infuse some genuine heart into the story whereas the manga is somewhat more like an elongated (though very funny) 4koma (you know, those things where it’s a build up to a grand pun).

    As much as I laughed at the anime, I couldn’t help but feel sad at times. I’ll admit I almost got teary eyed at a couple of points, though maybe that’s just because I was rather like Tomoko as a kid. Maybe that relatability and the awkward humor is why Watamote’s become such a sensation. It was all over the place at Comic Con recently.
    If you ever want to do a post-season reflection post on the anime I’d be interested to read it.

    1. If you ever want to do a post-season reflection post on the anime I’d be interested to read it.

      Maybe. On days where there isn’t anything compelling to watch — which looks to be tomorrow from the looks of things — I plan on finishing where I left off with some old shows. For example, BTOOM, Zetsuen no Tempest, Psycho-Pass, etc.

  2. Hamatora, to me, felt like a mixed bag of cliched anime characters and anime settings. The cafe with its mysterious “Boss” and the little girl sitting at the counter reminded me of the anime K. Could they not come up with a better name than “Minimum” for a group of mutant-like characters with superpowers? The characters were not memorable and I really didn’t get what “seeing music” had to do with a super speed KO attack. And of course, for some reason, I cannot stomach the word “stress” after watching Bakemonogatari. Hearing the word “storessu” gets me stressed! The mystery of the first episode basically boiled down to “ecchi old man who slept around and whose most worldly possessions were some dirty mags which could would have burned anyway if the person who tried to open the safe failed anyway, leaving the audience to wonder why he would get so stroress-ed about it to begin with.”

    As far as D-Frag! goes, as much as I love the boke and straight man routine, I couldn’t laugh at most of the jokes. And the whole torturing scene didn’t do much to help make this show palatable. So, the MC comes in to save the girls (and a teacher) and he gets a bag over his head and nearly falls to his death… and in the end, he still joins the club instead of high tailing the heck outta there?

    Your reviews are very candid and a pleasure to read. Keep up the good work!

    1. Hamatora, to me, felt like a mixed bag of cliched anime characters and anime settings.

      Yeah, it’s borrowed but I guess there’s no better spot in Tokyo for kids to hang out at. Bars are a little too adult (and expensive).

  3. From what you say Nobunagun looks like the better (more interesting) show…. and I will watch it…mainly because for Sir Isaac f*cking Newton…plus the main character is a girl and this is not a shoujo. How novel!

    1. I should have probably clarified that it’s more like Lady Isaac Newton, but then again, Nobunaga is a girl (again) so maybe you’ve already made the connection.

      1. I I didn’t make the connection but I watched and found out… also you Wrote “Sir” Isaac Newton so that didn’t help.

        They made Gandhi into a playboy, Newton into a (seems) sexy lady and Jack the ripper into a tsundere guy with knives…and most strange of it all I am okay with it.

        This show doesn’t take itself seriously but is engaging enough and I kind of like the characters, I hope to see you write more about it as the series progresses as I’ll probably be following it.

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