The main protagonist.
Since my last review was published about a month ago, many changes has been done on this blog. Two most notable changes are the theme switch and the change of URL to a shorter one. All your bookmarks etc will still work because of the magic of mod_rewrite. To commemorate this occasion, what else is better than a brand new spanking review of the two seasons of Asura Cryin’ (spelled like it is in ANN). Both were aired last year, therefore our newly-anointed ‘Anime of the Year 2009’ winner Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei will have its first challenge!
Our main male protagonist was haunted by a ghost of a pesky girl that harassed him every second of his life. Then his life make a turn for the worse when his brother sends him a mysterious steel suitcase that is wanted by many shady organizations. He was then attacked by a demon who also wanted the said suitcase, and after barely escaping alive, his rented house was then raided by those shady organizations. Hounded by a ghost, chased by a demon who will stop at nothing to get the suitcase and also by the organizations with the same aim; our hero finally snapped, called out the dark mecha from inside the suitcase and started to have his revenge!
Strictly speaking, the story in this series is typical of its shounen genre. Not the pinnacle of storywriting, but not too bad either. In the first season this series has done well when it comes to the progression of the story and pacing, although character developments are not done properly. Then the ending of the first season comes, setting up a link for the second season quite nicely. The second season then comes, and this series promptly started to fall apart.
The first thing I do when I finished watching this series is to check whether the director has changed for the second season. The answer is no, therefore I checked the director’s CV to see whether he has directed any other anime titles reviewed here in the past. One entry comes up; Inukami, in which I commented that he has done a very good job. He also directed Sekirei which is in my queue, of which I have only planned to watch after the second season was aired and the DVD comes out. This doesn’t explain one of the biggest directorial cock-ups since Armitage III though.
Right after the second season started, the director seems to feel that suspense is a bad thing and started to show all his cards a.k.a. telling the startled audience (that would be me at least) the key elements of the storyline. This alone make the series very predictable, allowing me to see how the ending will be 10 episodes from the end (more to come about this later). As the director does this in the first few episodes of the second season, this started to affect the pacing of the anime too, where the pacing can become suddenly fast in key scenes. With this, parts of the anime that is important storywise can be missed if you did not concentrate enough when watching the early parts of the second season.
In the second season, I also feels that the presentation of the storyline has become worse in the second season. It is kinda like what I have said in my review of Gosyusho-sama Ninomiya-kun. This is evident mostly on the plot twists that happened more frequently on second season than in the first. A good example is the scene where the main male protagonist’s brother finally appeared and spilled the beans (related to what I have said above); such a very important event doesn’t have any air of urgency when I watched it happening. Even with the fact that that scene heralds the time when the series enters a new phase, it feels that the said scene is no more important than, let say, the episode where the character roster went to a hot spring bath.
Another complaint of mine has to do with some serious scene transition problems throughout the series. This weakness also happened in the first season, but the worst case of this problem happened during the ending of this anime:-
Near the end of the penultimate episode….
Antagonist: I want the
! (said artifact is secure with the protagonist's team) I want to create A NEW WORLD!
Protagonist: I will not give it to you bla bla bla…. (as the protagonist spits out some self-righteous clichéd drivel)
Me: (cut down another point from the final evaluation).
Antagonist: So we see things differently…. (start ordering his mecha to attack)
Protagonist: WARGHHHHHH (his mecha joins the fray)
Ending credits rolls
Me: (Open up last episode in MPC-HC)
Final episode starts with a big explosion from the clash between two big bad-ass mechas. From the aftermath, comes out the antagonist, with
in his hand!
Protagonist: Eh? (surprised seeing the
taken away just like that).
Antagonist: You're unlucky! (imagine him saying that the way that enchanter in Torchlight does)
Me: (opening Mozilla Firefox to book a ticket to Japan so that I CAN GO POSTAL ON THE DIRECTOR'S ASS).
Attention Japan! Doing an important scene progression OFF-SCREEN is a big no-no! This make an already predictable cliché-laden ending worse. This series is really beyond help at this point.
As I say above, character development in the first season are not done properly, but at first I thought that this will be addressed in the second season. Guess what? It did not happen. Character development in this anime are done half-heartedly at best. For the characters that has plenty of airtime like the main protagonist, their development are done well but those who doesn’t get the airtime, the reverse happened. Example is the 2nd student council president, whose background are completely opaque until it was too late in the series. Her relationship with her sickly friend are not exposed until the ending, unlike the 1st student council president (best character in this series) who have far more detailed character development (has dedicated episodes for him too).
The dialogue that confirms his status as the main protagonist in an anime.
The character designs in this anime is good. There are quite a number of black-haired characters in this anime too, such as the main protagonist. Definitely a positive point for this anime.
Voice acting in this anime is decent enough, but there is no one standing out from the rest.
The OST is good, but from all the OP/ED themes, only the 2nd ED theme from the second season is worth mentioning here.
The animation quality in this series is excellent all around, even in fast-paced scenes. Choreography in action scenes are ordinary though; you won’t see any good battles in here. I have said plenty of things about the directing above, but hey, from the director’s CV, do you realize that Inukami, Sekirei and this series’ stories are basically the same in essence? Hint: The keyword is ‘contract’. Is this director a one-trick pony? Then again Inukami is a very good shounen anime.
6 out of 10. Awful directing is responsible for 2 penalty points. Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei passed its first test as the reigning ‘Anime of the Year 2009’ holder.
Our evil antagonist!