Thursday, April 4, 2013

Katanagatari: A Pleasant Surprise

So it was recently recommended that I watch Katanagatari, which aired once a month starting in 2010 (and is going to be re-aired during the spring 2013 season - in only a few days, actually, yay for my timing?).  I was quite hesitant to start watching it.  Fifty-minute long episodes?  What is this, white people TV?  After much inner debate, I decided to just suck it up and watch the first episode.
To be honest, I was initially unimpressed.  The stylized animation got on my nerves.  There was far too much static dialogue, and the ratio of "sitting around doing nothing" to "things actually happening" was terribly skewed.  But the last ten minutes of the show (featuring one of the fantastically nonsensical Maniwa Corps) had potential -so I decided to give it another go.

Episode 2 was significantly more interesting than the first, and by Episode 4 it had convinced me to keep watching until the end.  Blurring the lines between protagonists and antagonists is always a treat, and nothing makes you feel bad for the bumbling Maniwa Corps more than Shichika's sickly, soft-spoken sister beating the ever-loving shit out of and then violently murdering the entire Insect Corps in one episode.
SPLORCH (drip drip)
Goodbye, bee friend
Also, it was kind of fantastic that they had this huge lead-up to some great battle Shichika and Togame were off to fight, and that it happens completely off-screen and we only see them talking about how awesome it was.  Trolling win.  And quite frankly, I would much rather watch an episode of Nanami being fucking terrifying.
It becomes readily apparent that the Maniwani are, for the most part, quite incompetent (and often very sympathetic).  They remind me a bit of Team Rocket - but instead of just "blasting off again," they die violently, spewing blood every which way.

I just...really needed to use this gifset

Fortunately, there are twelve of them, so there is plenty of cannon fodder, although in-fighting reduces this number somewhat. Sorry, did I say in-fighting?  I meant the bit where Maniwa Houou kills his underling so he can rip off his fucking arm and re-appropriate it as his own.  Invariably, the viewer's reaction becomes "poor Maniwa, except Houou, he's kind of a dick."  Which is of course why I will be cosplaying him at Acen in May, because nobody enjoys cosplaying villains like I do.
Then somewhere along the line I decided that I actually really liked the art style.  It is vaguely reminiscent of Okami (the original one, I'll have none of this Wii bullshit, thank you very much), a sadly mostly-overlooked game for the PS2 that featured Japanese mythology and a unique ink wash painting art style.
Noooooo now I want to play Okami again damn you
The final tower of bosses ala every video game ever was actually much more entertaining than I expected it to be.  In video games, having to fight every boss over again is just a huge pain in the ass, but somehow Shichika's ascent up the boss tower managed to be really awesome.  And then it was compounded when turned out that Hitei was having all of these people killed for shits and giggles; if that's not Chaotic Evil, then I don't know what is.

The side-characters in this show were, as a whole, fantastic.  But the show suffers in that the main characters were fairly uninteresting- Togame especially.  She was just cliche on top of trite on top of I did not give a flying fuck.  So when the last episode rolled around and Togame acquired a gaping chest wound, I was actually quite pleased and surprised when she did not pull a Jesus card and resurrect by means of some inexplicable and unnecessary plot twist.
Yay she's dead!
Judging from posts on the MAL forums about the final episode, most people's reactions to Togame's death and Hitei's non-death went something like this:

While I'm sitting back here like this:
Insert mad Disney villain cackling here
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this show, despite the lackluster main characters.  Still, there was too much talking and not enough action (which I rarely ever complain about - they really did have too much dialogue in this show).  I also feel that some of the less interesting dialogue could have been used for fleshing out certain backstories that we know almost nothing about (cough Emonzaemon cough). But when they did have fight scenes, they were pretty damn cool.
More fighty, less talky

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