Falling down! Do you know how long it’s been since we had that trope?!
I’m having a difficult time deciding right now if Twintails is being self-aware, or plain old Pythonesque with its absurdity. I do enjoy myself an absurdist series, Baka to Test and InuHasa are my favorite anime comedies. And I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with just being goofy. For example, Yahtzee has often lamented that modern games are gritty-gritty, even in their concept if not art and game play, I believe the example he used was a game of a lasagna chef fighting giant frogs, or something. I dunno, I’m working off memory here. But you know how I know he’s right? There is a cute Smash Bros parody called Smash Kingdom, and at one point the villains are discussing adding new villains to the roster, when who comes in? The Eggplant Wizard. You know, the bad guy who fought Kid Icarus.
And just the idea of it is really, really off-putting. Media has been conditioned to be “real”. Because the closer you get to “live action doable”, the more “legitimate” you are, so the sentiment goes. We have this Pavlovian response to things now. How do you sell the idea of an Italian plumber fighting a giant turtle lizard thing to rescue a princess NOW? Frankly you just don’t. And the fact you have that gut reaction to the old chaotic days of the NES and it’s goofy games says a lot about where we’ve ended up.
Bringing this whole thing around to Twintails, this is what really informs my reasoning regarding this show. Call it flimsy justification if you like, but I do WANT to like this series, and it doesn’t bother me if the show is necessarily silly in its stakes. Now I don’t think it’s really EARNED that affection yet, as I said, because it often feels like its trying TOO hard. But this could be an effect of the pilot, growing pains perhaps, but on the whole it’s off to an okay-start.
Meet Soji, a kid with a fetish for the twintail hairstyle. It’s orientation day and he spends the first assembly looking around at all the girls of the appropriate hairstyle. His best friend, Aika, will be playing the role of twintail tsundere for this series. We get some “goofy” first day jitters gags, nothing really good. Scratch that, I do like the gag of how Aika and Soji “talk” to each other without talking. It’s good exposition on just how long this pair has been together that they anticipate each other’s thoughts, and rather cute in its delivery.
But going to Soji’s family restaurant is where the action begins, along with Soji’s mom trying to get him laid. Kind of tired, but, frankly, every time a mom tries to tell their kid to get hitched, you really SHOULD be replacing what they say with “get laid!”, if only in your head.
Here we meet Twirl, who will be playing the series Obi-Wan. She’s got a rather fish-out-of-water thing to her, which IMPLIES she is an alien, but doesn’t rely on a very tired “on this planet” joke to get the point across. Rather she has awkward social interactions that remind me quite a bit of Tom Baker’s Doctor Who. It feels more akin to “alien mannerism” than “goofy goofy laugh at the freak” stuff (difference being here, it is played for laughs, rather than atmosphere as in Doctor Who). This is handled rather well, all told.
This is where the “absurd” in “absurdity” comes in.
In lieu of trying to convince them of the secret magical war, she instead just instantly transports our heroes to the site of a raid, where the bad guys, “Elemenians”, are harvesting the “power of the twintails”.
First, props to the way Twirl handled this by dragging them along instantly. Structurally, we avoid expositing about something, and then SEEING the same something. Here we get it all out in a very tight, rather silly sequence.
Second, I am torn on the “big reveal”. Because the joke here is, that to harness the power of twintails, the aliens are posing the girls with cute things like stuffed animals. I kind of personally wish that they’d played it straight, that there was literally some earth-shattering power within and kept the villains relatively nefarious. We still sort of GET that, but their obsession with seeing the girls as cute, while a good gag in itself, guts the other half of the equation. It’s part of the “trying too hard” I mentioned, subduing the villains could have worked really well.
Twirl gives Soji a bracelet, the key to his power. He transforms into a twintail warrior, “Tailred” (I’m not sure if there should be differentiation between Tailred and Soji, so I won’t unless the series makes clear otherwise). There’s a little bit of fourth wall breaking in the back and forth as Aika and Twirl argue about WHY he has to be a girl to fight the monsters. Twirl uses dialogue that is just shy of saying “We’re keeping it vague for the big dramatic reveal later”.
So, I have to say, the action elements in Twintails are exquisite. Very Phantasy Star, like Sympho-Gear. I was really getting into the powers of Soji’s battle suit, and the added bonus is I think what Twirl keeps saying about it. “Wish”. Willpower and wishing causes the manifestations of this twintail power, and that itself can be insight into the characters.
After defeating the baddies, Soji meets with the student president, whom he had said in the introduction had “perfect” twintails, and she seems to be kind of maybe crushing on him (still in his Tailred form).
We end on the bad guys communing evilly, saying they will storm the Earth and take Tailred’s power. Kind of reminds me of Grimlord’s palace from VR Troopers (no dear god don’t ask me to name the original series).
So, it’s a decent beginning, but as I said, sometimes the series feels too forced, which doesn’t allow it to breathe. The jokes are piled on ALMOST too thick to break up the narrative speed. Scenes transition and the viewer has to take a double take ‘Wait what? When did we get to this?” Some more diligence and things will be fine, though, I’m sure.