Catching up with some dubbed anime

This week’s usual post on Juuni Taisen and Kekkai Sensen will be pushed back to Friday morning to include Ousama Game. I might do this for the rest of the season, but I haven’t decided. In the meantime, lemme talk about the dubbed shows I’ve been watching. Even though I’ve gotten back into blogging pretty regularly nowadays, I still play games every night. And when I do, subtitles aren’t very convenient. Thankfully, we have dubs.

Little Witch Academia

I… I kinda like this show. My affection for Little Witch Academia resembles a bell curve, though. I love the episode where Akko accidentally loses Professor Pisces, so she turns herself into a merman to go after the fishy philosopher. The animation style and humor almost reminds me of Western cartoons. I also love the episode where she enters Sucy’s subconsciousness and sees all the weird versions of her sleepy-eyed friend. Little Witch Academia has moments that can make me genuinely laugh. When the anime embraces its reality-defying nature, it’s a real treat. I wouldn’t mind seeing Akko and her two friends go on more silly adventures. The beginning and the end, though, are kinda uninspired.

Well, they definitely don’t suck — and nothing about Little Witch Academia really sucks — but they do feel like a chore to get through. Akko is borderline incompetent when it comes to magic, but man, she’s got spirit! She screws up 99% of the time, but boy, does she really deliver in those rare moments. In other words, Akko’s your standard underdog. Diana is the prim and proper rich British girl that serves as Akko’s foil. She’s tailed by two underlings who bully Akko every chance they get. There’s a mean teacher who always wants to expel the heroine. There’s a super nice teacher who is really more special than she lets on. So on and so forth, the show feels like a retread of everything before it. The only difference is that it’s received a shiny Trigger coating.

So you can imagine why I’m also not a big fan of the ending and the episodes leading up to it. Akko has an almost fanatical love for Shiny Chariot, so we have to subvert it in order to create conflict. Professor Ursula warns the girl not to climb the Wagandea, but the latter does it anyway. The power of friendship prevails in the end as the girls band together to prevent a tragedy and war from breaking out. But wait, people still need to lend Akko and Diana their powers for the Spirit Bom–… er, just believe in the witches. Every single plot point can be seen from a mile away. Little Witch Academia falls into the trap of being anime comfort food. I mean, we’ve all enjoyed these same beats before. Let’s just remix them a tiny bit and apply a new coat of paint.

At the end of the day, however, I would still recommend Little Witch Academia to my friends, because it’s… alright. Lots of popular movies and shows are pretty cliche, but they’re still mega popular. It’s in most of our nature to like the same chord progression over and over, and I’m really no different. Every so often, I’ll rewatch The Office even though I’ve probably seen the entire series more than ten times. It’s my security blanket. And y’know what? If anyone ever created an anime version of The Office, I bet I would like it too. Lovable, slacker hero struggles through a boring job, an uncontrollable boss, and an unbearable coworker just to win the cute receptionist’s heart? Sign me up! “B-b-but wouldn’t that be unoriginal?” Hell yeah it would. But that’s why it’s my security blanket. And who knows? Maybe Little Witch Academia’s premise can be someone’s security blanket. If you’re looking for one, you could do a whole lot worse.

One Punch Man

I prefer Saitama’s English VA to his Japanese counterpart. I also prefer Genos’s English VA to his Japanese counterpart. Is that blasphemy? Anyway, those two are great together no matter what language they’re speaking. As you can probably guess, I enjoyed the first half of One Punch Man a lot. The second half was, however, an odd viewing experience. I thought the anime wanted to lampoon shows afflicted with power creep. The concept goes out the window when Saitama can demolish anyone without even trying. When played for laughs, the premise works. But for some reason, certain arcs want to revert the anime back to being a run-of-the-mill shounen series. Take the conflict with the Deep Sea King, for instance. It’s like waiting for Goku to return from Heaven to battle Vegeta and Nappa. In the meantime, the good guys are going down left and right to the big, bad baddie. It’s tense in DBZ because even when Goku does shows up, it’s going to be a struggle. You could argue that Goku was always going to prevail against Vegeta, but as a kid back then, you didn’t know how he would win. Therein lies the tension. But in One Punch Man, I know it’s over when Saitama shows up, so I’m not really sure what I’m waiting for. With crying children clinging to their parents, and Genos half-dead on the ground, these episodes definitely aren’t funny. But because Saitama is practically all-powerful, they aren’t exciting either. So what are they? What am I missing?

My Hero Academia S2

I really wanted to love this show. Everyone I know seems to. But I just can’t get past two major issue. First, Bakugo is just an incredibly annoying character. Izuku gets on my nerves enough with all his self-doubt and sniveling, but I get it. He was born without a quirk, he’s been relentlessly made fun of, blah blah blah. The overall story is about the death of Superm-… I mean, All Might, and young Deku’s coming-of-age, so we need to see Izuku grow from being a loser to one of the world’s greatest heroes. Fine.

On the other hand, Bakugo is just a raging fucking asshole in every single episode. And it’s not like he has a compelling reason or an interesting backstory to justify his attitude. He’s just like that. I’m told he’ll eventually change and grow. I’m told he’ll eventually mend his friendship with Izuku. That’s great, but in the meantime, we have to deal with the raging asshole for two whole seasons. Yeah, I know that shounen timelines are slow and stretched out. As a result, character development in this genre will take an inordinate amount of time. But this still doesn’t change the fact that I literally enjoy the show less whenever he shows up.

The show’s bigger problem, however, is the same issue that plagued the original Dragon Ball Z series (I haven’t followed any of the newer Dragon Ball related works). In terms of female fighters that could honestly compete with the guys, you had Eighteen and… and…? Videl? C’mon. Well, we still have the same problem nearly three decades later. Yes, I know there are female heroes. But I found myself incredibly bored and disengaged during the Tournament Arc, especially when it came time for Ochako to finally battle Bakugo. I already knew who was going to win: Bakugo. “But it’s not about who wins! It’s about Ochako putting up a good fight and defying expectations!” Seriously? All we can get in 2017 is a moral victory? I don’t need the girl to defy expectations. I just want to see female heroes doing some cool shit.

Then you fast forward to the arc involving Stain. Finally, a conflict where something is actually on the line. The Tournament Arc didn’t really interest me anyway, because I don’t care who’s stronger than who in such a safe and controlled environment. I want to see good vs evil, and we finally get that chance! And I won’t deny that I really enjoyed these episodes. It’s only when I look back that I realized, “Hey, wait a minute, the only heroes involved were Tenya, Izuku, and Shoto.” “It’s just one arc,” you might say, “It’s no big deal if the girls are on the sidelines for one arc.” Sure, except for the fact that the final tournament showdown was also between two dudes (Shoto and Bakugo). Even the semifinals only involved male heroes!

Froppy gets… what? A concession episode where she sends an SOS message so that the seal dude could save the day? Great. In the Final Exams arc, Momo proves to both Shoto and herself that she’s not as useless as she thinks she is. Wow. Whenever the world really needed a hero, the girls were conspicuously absent in the second season. I can ignore this odd discrepancy for one arc, but it’s really not just one arc. It’s really not just one show either. Sadly, lots of shounen series are like this.

Hajimete no Gal

The actual show is trash, but the dub makes up for it. I wanted to find a good clip on Youtube to show what I’m talking about, but all I can find are people getting pissy about SJWs ruining their precious harem shit. Anyway, I just really enjoyed the voice acting, especially the ridiculous valley girl accents for the gals. It felt like every damn sentence they uttered had vocal fry. I’m not saying that the dub is as good as Ghost Stories or anything, but I was entertained.

10 Replies to “Catching up with some dubbed anime”

  1. That moment when you realize that LWA is just anime Harry Potter… Didn’t really occur to me until you boiled the characters down as you did.

  2. (Oops, didn’t realize there wasn’t an edit button) I can see where you are coming from with BnH, but there was no feasible way for Ochako to beat Bakugo (aside from maybe touching him and applying anti-gravity, but even then it’s been shown that Bakugo’s instincts and tactics are pretty good unless he’s facing Izuku)… the difference between them is just too great. I agree about Bakugo being a completely unlikable character though. I feel like when it came time to decide on abilities for the females they did a few fetish characters and then ran out of ideas. (Giantess, Dominatrix with sleep skin, Frog girl, etc)

    The main thing I’ve liked is the major characterization for Izuku besides his low self-esteem: his penchant for analyzing and identifying strengths/weaknesses is pretty cool, almost like this story is to eventually create a Superman/Batman hybrid.

  3. >I just wanted to see a cute female kicking ass

    Which is why you should have rewatched Shakugan no Shana season III. She is my waifu for laifu!

  4. >I just want to see female heroes doing some cool shit.
    It’s not like there is any shortage of female heroes in anime. Not every show should be all inclusive.

  5. About Bakugo, I agree with most of your assessment regarding his character. He can be a bit much sometimes; and while i dont think he’s a compelling character to watch, I disagree that he’s that way just because. There are some intriguing aspects of Bakugo’s character; and while i do think the show could have explored them in more cogent ways, I still think there is some merit to these aspects, especially when you view them from a socio-psychological perspective. When Katsuki was being inspired by All might’s ability to win against the odds, that should have translated into him being inspired to overcome difficult obstacles and challenges in your life, no matter how debilitating they may be physically, psychologically, or emotionally. I mean, that’s the idea that All might wants to convey as a hero: to smile in the face of adversity and do everything one can to rise to the challenge. Bakugo, while subconsciously becoming transfixed by that message, consciously perceives it on a superficial level as just being the best. This, in conjunction with the inflation of his ego throughout his childhood by his classmates, has transformed him into an egomaniac who thinks he’s only worth something if he is best because that’s how he can prove that he is special. He thinks that if he loses, he’s not special; and in a society where being special means your’re successful, katsuki must perceive not being special as not mattering; as being a weak-link within society (and considering Japanese societal perceptions, that’s major). Katsuki is a deluded person; a byproduct of his environment when he was growing up; an environment in which the narrative as presented to us a few times when highlighting Bakugo’s past. Perhaps you can argue that Bakugo’s motivations are only interesting when presented as a thought experiment, which is why i do think that the character could be written a bit better. I just wanted to give to give you some food for thought

  6. No one talk about or like One Punch Man in the comments? That is just sad. The anime and the manga is good and enjoyable.

    On a more serious note, if you feel like you’re missing something in the second part, it’s because you were. It isn’t your fault. It’s because the second part is incomplete. That fish king arc is just a small part in the second part. The arc is complete, but not the actual second part. It’s like a joke without a punchline. It’s just incomplete.

    Before I elaborate further, I want to explain why I use second part above instead of second half. It’s because OPM is a story with two parts that sometimes take turn or move at the same time. The first part is the lampooning of shows afflicted with power creep. The second part is a commentary and sometimes a soft jab towards at least three popular character archetypes in anime and anime-related media.

    1) The anti-heroish character: You know this one. He is the one who have never cared what the people around him though of him. He just do what he wants to do. As long as he was satisfied with himself, nothing else mattered. Or, you know, a selfish douchebag. There is goody-two-shoes and then there is this self-important dude.
    2) The overpowered gary stu: I think that I don’t need to explain anything about this one. I’m pretty sure that anyone know about Kirito, Tatsuya, or any of your standard light novel protag.
    3) The nihilistic, bored edgelord: This is the dude who is so good at something that he trained himself to be good at, and then find life so boring after that, so he destroy stuff and kill fools to feel alive if he is a villain or he becomes another self-important douchebag if he is not.

    In other words, misanthropic characters that just seem to come out of the mind of a pretentious, edgelord teenager.

    Those events in the second part is a set-up for various events where the side characters admonish Saitama who has a small part of each of those three archetypes. I’ll give you an example of one of those events where a side character basically told Saitama this: “You say you’re bored, but you don’t even try to take action to change anything. You seek some sort of stimulus, and yet you don’t even attempt to challenge new things.”

    Is it good? To be honest, I do find the first part more enjoyable than the second part, but I don’t hate the second part. I also like it just not as much, and there are also times when I wish the author would go deeper and to be more incisive as he can be too soft I think, but it’s better than nothing I guess. If you like OPM, I think you would also like Mob Psycho as well. It’s from the same author, and I think his second part there is dealt with by him better there.

    I would comment on the other three anime on this post later.

  7. Little Witch Academia – Too cliched for my taste. The fact that it isn’t my security blanket also contribute to my indifference towards this anime. This isn’t a bad anime, though. It’s just not my thing. For this kind of anime, there are only two things that can mitigate how cliche it is for me, animation and dialogue. Considering this isn’t an action-heavy anime, action is out. So, dialogue is the only one left and the dialogue in this anime is just not witty or interesting enough for me.

    My Hero Academia S2 – I think it’s just a decent shonen. The way people talk about it make it feels like the best shonen ever or at least for this generation, but I think it was just decent. I want to be able to say it also feels earnest because there are times that I feel that when I read/watch it first. However, after I analyze it more carefully, I find that it isn’t that earnest in the first place. It just feels earnest, so I drop it because time is too precious to read/watch a decent shonen. The author just merely pay lip-service to the problems that plagued shonen stories, and then proceed to play those problems straight. Of course, because he at least pay a lip-service to those problems, this anime is automatically better than other shonen anime. Yeah, no.

    Hajimete no Gal – This anime is trash even among its own kind. My friend whose guilty pleasure is this kind of stuff even said it was lame as f*ck. Its fans are probably only defending and liking this anime as a statement to the SJWs.

    1. Little Witch Academia (both the OVA’s and the show) is beautifully animated. Action sequences are kinetic and full of movement without feeling cluttered or disjointed. Akko’s facial expressions are expressive. The way they squash and stretch her face is reminiscent of American cartoons of the 1940s golden age, and they show a willingness to draw off-model for artistic or dramatic effect. Something you don’t see done often, because usually when characters are off-model it’s a sign of jank.

      It is plotted simplistically. It does take a number of well worn tropes and play them straight, without any attempt at subverting or averting them. There are pacing issues. But the animation, character designs, and background art are just so damned charming. It’s very easy to love this show, warts and all.

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