Watching this series, one thought enters my brain over and over again.
Welp, that’s definitely Trigger.
I mean this in good and bad ways. Take Arms, for example, whom we last met in Gokukoku no Brynhildr. They have an identity, inescapable and universally recognized. The theme is tits. Or examine Gainax, who struck gold with Evangelion and have spent the last 20 years desperately trying to recreate that notoriety.
Trigger hits a note in…okay what the hell, we’ll do the full title for the bookends, Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de. Much like The Doctor regenerating, there is enough similarity here to see the identity beneath, but enough has changed to make it feel like you’re not just watching KILL la KILL again. There’s a definite form emerging.
Unfortunately, that form is kind of the worst aspects of the last series.
For example: Still frames. These work for small numbers of characters, one or two, because usually they’re talking and we’re focused on their expressions, reactions, whatever. In large crowd scenes, we, as an audience, give it a pass because it’s less about the detail so much as conveying the concept of “many people”. We don’t think less because the stadium is full of colored ovals with smaller colored ovals on top, because that isn’t the point. The point is to express 10,000 people just died when the demon fired eye lasers into the stadium.
Inou-Battle hits the uncanny valley as far as still-frames go. A crowd of 5-6 people is too many to animate in a life-like manner without breaking the budget, but too few to accept that everyone is background scenery.
There are generally minor points for me, but they stick out here because Inou-Battle is just so…slow.
Episode 1 begins with establishing our male lead, July, as an attention seeking, insufferable jackass. He’s like Mako from KILL la KILL without any of the charm, expressing how serious the smallest things are. We’re met with…ostensibly our viewpoint character, Tomoyo, who will be playing your tsundere this series, but the lead role seems to be extending to our harem protagonist as the series moves on.
The other characters enter one by one, the soft, gentle Hatoko, the adorably loli yet subtly terrifying Chifuyu, and the overtly terrifying Sayumi, who will be playing the role of “girl who reads”. In the literature club. Let’s pause and think about that for a moment.
Naturally, only Chifuyu and Sayumi are really funny. Naturally the series will generally ignore them in favor of the least interesting characters.
If I sound bitter and sarcastic already, it’s only because I am.
We then see the kids unlocking their powers, and a cut away later we’re at six months later, with the kids testing their powers in a monthly check up. Nothing’s really changed in their lives, which is of course the premise. We get to see all their powers, which is nice, and well done choreography.
So far the comedy…it’s weak. Not totally un-funny, just uninspiring slice of life cliche.
Enter Mirei, student council president. She appears to be a mutant as well, and is outed by Jurai in a moment of oddly-specific-coincidence. Not a great gag. We find she’s like Rogue, capable of taking other people’s powers.
Question, how does one find out they have these powers if they don’t MEET any other mutants? At least with Rogue she takes someone’s life force, so it’s noticeable on normal Humans, just with benefits on mutants. Odd.
Well unfortunately she “fights” July first, stealing his ‘Dark and Dark’ flame, which isn’t actually flame. It’s actually not anything that we’ve been able to determine yet.
Hey, does it have the power to turn high school girls into pants-on-head-retarded Stepford Wives? It must.
The “battle” ends when the four useful girls realize their powers can only be taken if they show them off first, so with it reduced to a fistfight, Sayumi is in her natural element. So, amicable friend friending ensues.
Episode 2 revolves around July trying to absorb Mirei into their clique, which she misinterprets as a love letter. She ends up being very clingy and totally for it, which is understandable in her situation of not really having anyone to open up to about being a mutant.
This ultimately leads to all four girls to be extremely jealous and possessive of July, whom they all profess to loathe his presence, because women, am I right?
And then we have a bad Aesop. July and Tomoyo sit down discussing the whole situation. The big reveal is that July feels bad because, “as a man”, he should be more sensitive to women’s lady problems.
Now, first thing’s first, this totally fits in with Trigger’s morality tales. We, as Human beings now, not just as a society, have proven time and time again that trusting men to treat women with respect is just way too much to expect of them. So approaching them from the angle of their machismo to be responsible might end up being the only way you can nail it into some of their thick heads.
On the other, naturally, this pandering just encourages the notion that women are so emotional they can’t help themselves, and can’t be trusted with their own feelings, far better for men to dictate where those should be directed.
…Fuck am I coming down ON the side of letting the harem girl beg a guy for his dick? I guess I am…so be it. …Damnit.
One thing done right here is July’s position as the “heart” of the literature club. Though the girls have been drawn in broad strokes, they certainly seem like the kind who won’t exactly go out of their way to be inclusive. Not out of malice, but just because they all have their own issues going on, even Tomoyo, the most “normal” of the bunch. She just seems like the girl in school who doesn’t have time to give a shit about what her not-friends are doing, as most high schoolers are. But July does, and this is established quite well.
So he tries to set the record straight with Mirei, who tells him it’s totally cool, men shouldn’t worry about women’s feelings.
…siiiiigh *rubs forehead*
You know this show is deserving of its own spot on Harem Hill at this point.
Right now the biggest weakness in Inou-Battle is the superpowers. Specifically, the fact they don’t fucking matter.
Don’t get me wrong, I know the premise is that this isn’t SUPPOSED to be a tournament fighter. But, these powers are so absent, it seems wholly divorced from its world. Not even the barest amount of thought went into the consequences of kids having these powers. I’m not asking for anything major. But with Chifuyu having the ability to materialize literally ANYTHING into reality with her mind, why doesn’t she use this? She seems quite impulsive and innocent towards serious consequences, you can’t tell me she wouldn’t use it, especially when angry.
The biggest flaw in speculative fiction is the phrase “it is just like our world, but.” The “but” is the entire point. I hope Inou-Battle learns that soon.
Or maybe I don’t, then we can just enjoy a series worse than Machine Doll.