Evil or Live Ep. 1 and more

Sorry for the mediocre post today. I got distracted by work-related stuff. Plus, I’m really craving black pepper pork buns now…

Evil or Live Ep. 1

Subtlety is overrated. I don’t mind at all that the anime is incredibly blunt and one-sided in its portrayal of youth “re-education” facilities. Hell, in our day and age, if a rehab program requires you to go live on some campus in the middle of nowhere, you should regard it with a heavy dose of skepticism. Nah, I’m being too nice. You should basically run as far away as you can. There’s a recent story in the US about men being sentenced to what is essentially slave labor at chicken plants. Ah, but y’see, it’s all part of an effort to rehabilitate these druggies (assuming they weren’t erroneously convicted)! So it’s totally okay if we force them to work without pay, then steal their worker’s comp when they inevitably injure themselves in horrible conditions. I don’t even wanna get into the camps that think they can “pray the gay away.” Anyways, I’m getting off-topic. The point is, I’ve heard enough horror stories about these places.

So again, the lack of subtlety doesn’t bother me. Internet addiction is a real thing, and I know it’s bad. The anime exaggerates it a bit, but anime exaggerates everything. I also know these youth programs are not always on the up and up. Nevertheless, lacking subtlety doesn’t necessarily mean you also have to lack complexity. It doesn’t mean an unsubtle story can’t also by intricately crafted. This is my biggest issue with Evil or Live thus far. It just seems very simple and straightforward in its execution from the plot all the way down to the individual characters. Look, there are these kids who have internet addictions. We’re going to throw them into an evil corrections facility, and beat the shit out of them. Okay… is there a bigger point to this or what? Well so far, I haven’t met a single character that makes me go, “Hm, what’s up with them?” Not even Shin even though he’s obviously up to something. Their personalities are just so generic and cookie-cutter.

It also bugs me every time these shows try to portray the parents in a sympathetic light. Aw, poor Hibiki’s mother. All he did was yell at her when she was trying to parent. No wonder she turned to a re-education program to try and save him from his internet addiction! Puh-leeze. She had 17 years to be a proper parent, and now that she’s failed, I guess it’s just time to throw your hands up in the air and give up your parental duties to someone else! The blame is not all on her, of course. But kids don’t just go rotten in a couple of days. The warning signs were probably there, and it’s likely she didn’t notice them or chose to do nothing. Sending your kid away is nothing short of monstrous. These kids obviously have issues. The people running these camps also have a sick lust for authoritarianism. But what about these shit parents? Sadly, this is an angle that often gets brushed aside in these stories.

Shokugeki no Soma S3 Ep. 2

Boring episode, so I don’t really have too much to say. We get to see Soma go through the motions of setting up his booth, figuring out what he’s going to make, so on and so forth. Some B-tier characters also do their own thing, and by the end of the episode, they all converge on the Moon Festival. The outrageously extravagant Moon Festival, mind you. Hopefully, they can wrap this part of the story up by next week’s episode. I’m already eager to move on. But remember, if Soma’s booth fails to make a profit, he’ll be expelled!

This is sadly such an empty threat, because why would Soma ever fail? As a cooking show, the anime can sometimes be amusing. But as a shounen, it has little to no tension, and thus none of the hype. How can I get excited for any of the showdowns? The stakes are technically high. These characters can technically get expelled. But has there ever been a moment in which I was actually scared for the characters? Or even nervous for them? No.

Also, I gotta say something about the “foodporn” in this anime. At this point, the over-the-top orgasmic reactions are whatever. Now that we’re onto the third season, I’m pretty desensitized by it. On the other hand, I’m still kinda grossed out every time I see buckets of meat juices fly out every time someone takes a bite. Soma cooks up a bunch of black pepper buns for his booth, and I love black pepper buns. But even then, I’d cringe at the idea of splattering my face in pork gravy. Ah well. I need to go find some black pepper buns in San Francisco.

Juuni Taisen Ep. 2

Way too much exposition, my man. Way, way too much. The previous episode was dominated by voiceovers, but I said to myself, “Okay, fine, it’s the first episode. They’re setting up the story. I hate it, but I’ll ignore it for now.” This week, we’re still inundated by voiceovers. Maybe even more. At one point, we get to hear Dog’s thoughts as Chicken is talking at him. How sweet is that?

I essentially sat through a 24 min episode about a battle royale in which — get this — there was no actual combat. Instead, I got one exposition dump one after the other. Backstories for terrible, unlikeable characters, and scouting reports detailing fighting abilities that I could’ve seen with my own two eyes. Seriously. I don’t wanna level the “show, not tell” criticism anymore. It’s so elementary at this point. A professional studio should know this very simple cardinal rule. Yes, some rules can be broken, but only if you already know how to craft a competent story in the first place. Sigh, what a failure of imagination.

Also, another chump dies in an all-too-chump way. That’s twice in a row now. Is anyone actually going to go down in a blaze of glory? Is anyone actually going to be defeated after a long and impressive duel? Probably. But I’ll also probably have run out of patience with the anime by then. Yeah, I think I’m gonna throw the towel in on this anime. I never expected it to be good, but I also expected action. If I’m going to get an exposition dump every episode, then I’ll have to pass.

7 thoughts on “Evil or Live Ep. 1 and more

  1. Anonymous

    Do you plan on blogging ‘Just Because!’? It’s no masterpiece, but I feel that the camerawork and plotting might give you something to talk about.

  2. Jay

    Welcome back! Glad to see you’re giving this whole anime thing another try; you were always one of my favorite reviewers.

    Are you going to watch either Houseki no Kuni or Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau? I’ve found them to be two of the more interesting premieres this season.

  3. Advaris

    -> Evil or Live: This story seems to be inspired by those Chinese military schools where Chinese parents send their problematic children to be re-educated and learn the importance of filial piety in order to make them become a proper human being and productive member of society. I personally don’t think this story exaggerates stuff if that stuff is its inspiration. I mean there is one Chinese doctor named Yang Yongxin who has a brilliant idea to cure internet and gaming addiction with electric shock therapy the same way that religious fundamentalists in America have the brilliant idea to cure gay by zapping the gays until the gay leaves their bodies. Good stuff.

    But I do wonder what the entire point of this story is. If this story is meant to criticize re-education facilities of this style, the story sure does spend quite a time pointing out the helplessness and desperation of the so-called parents in a vain attempt to make them sympathetic to me and justify their decisions to send their children to that shithole. If this story is meant to criticize the youths for being ungrateful, rebellious piece of shit, the story sure does spend a lot of time to make the re-education facilities as horrible as possible. I mean this is just internet addiction. It isn’t like these kids are a bunch of complete monsters or something like that. The only conclusion that I come to is that this story is just a sadporn/tortureporn that masquerades itself as a serious story with a serious social message. I do hope I’m wrong, though. This is a real and serious issue. And using this issue just as a cover to your sadporn/tortureporn or shock value isn’t just insensitive. I think it’s ethically reprehensible.

    And all the characters in this story are dull and boring so far. Damn, the more I think about it, the more I believe that this evil re-education facility is just a gimmick to cover up that the author cannot come up with an interesting character.

    -> Shokugeki no Soma: At this point it should be obvious that its author just stalling for time because he has no idea what to write next without disturbing the status quo, so he stretches everything as long as possible. He gotta milk this anime/manga as much as possible while it’s still popular!!!

    -> Juuni Taisen: Call me prejudiced if you want to, but I think I have read enough Nisio Isin stuff to be able to judge anything that he writes are all shallow and hollow shit without reading or watching them. People just don’t realize it because all of his works are covered and adorned with pseudo-intelligent babbling.

  4. Akeem

    Evil or live i feel has a great premise but that won’t be utilized it seems, what a waste.

    Juuni Taisen was real bad this week. I think the decision to not make the deaths of the characters flashy was to short of show that a battle royal could be more complicated and more strategic in it’s execution. Choosing to do that however when you aren’t competent just leads to a boring display. I really like the production in this show, i like the art, the music, atmosphere and the animation. I guess i was just impressed with the it the first episode but this time around that can’t really save the show.


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