December 08, 2014

First Episode Writeup #2

Well!  The writeup for Black Lagoon's first episode certainly seemed to go well.  I'm encouraged... maybe this can be a thing.  Or maybe it was because Black Lagoon is such a good show and people are just reacting to that quality, as opposed to my digital scribblings. Well, there's only one way to find out, isn't there?  Actually, no, there's many more ways than one to find out... I could just ask my readers, the so-called Pond Scum, their opinion!  Or I could do another writeup and judge the response from that!.  See?  Two ways right there!.  In this case, I decided to go with Option #2, because asking after just one writeup seems... um... needy?  "Please, love me, love me," said the blogger, desperately clinging onto your pants leg.  "Tell me I'm a good blogger!"  Yeah, exactly like that.  Man, that flowed so naturally from my fingertips... nah, I haven't thought of that before, never ever!  So I went through my anime collection looking for the next series to write up.  There's some good candidates in there for sure, but one almost literally jumped off the shelf at me (it actually just fell off, but that was enough to convince me).  Let's just get right to it, shall we?  This should be surprising, I think.

A train races across a cold, snowy land.  Except there's no way in the world it should be able to do this because the pantographs on the motor units aren't actually contacting the catenary wires.  That means no electrical power, and that means our train goes nowhere.  The end.  Well.  That's anticlimactic.  Okay, let's pretend this could actually work and the train races across a cold, snowy land.  Shortly thereafter...

...a young man named Skippy sits on a bench in a cold, snowy land.  He hardly seems dressed well enough for the weather, what with no hat or scarf.  His internal monologue suggests he's been there a while.  The snow on his shoulders suggests the same.  The snow piled on his head suggests that the body heat radiating out of his uncovered pate has cooled substantially.  So apparently this young man is actually dying of exposure and his internal monologue are the final firings of tortured neurons  Terminal burrowing will soon occur, perhaps under the bench itself, bringing this show to a grim and sad end and turning this writeup into the shortest ever

As Skippy drifts off into the next world, his brain spasms one last time and imagines a young lady, showing care and concern.  She is someone that he knows, someone named Nayuki that he's not seen in seven years.  Surely she's only a hallucination, dressed as poorly for the weather as she is.  They smile at each other as she guides him towards the afterlife.

They walk off into a cold, snowy land.  Neither notices, as neither can feel the elements any longer.  She because she doesn't exist, and Skippy because he's actually huddled pathetically under a bench, the bonechilling cold freezing his body into a sad parody of life.

Or, y'know, not.  What really happens is exactly the same story, just without all the "Skippy freezes to death" bit.  Nayuki's just late, is all.  Still, my scenario does put a completely different spin on my second favorite anime of all time.

Just to clarify, this is the 2006 version of Kanon, produced by Kyoto Animation, not the 2002 Toei debacle version.  Longtime readers of The Pond know the way I feel about the series.  I watch it once a year without fail in December or January, I made an AMV using footage from the show (Jeff Lawson, where are you?), and on and on and on.  I'm quite familiar with it, is what I'm saying, which means doing a writeup for it is gonna be a snap!  Sure.  Believe that if you want.  Because I like it so much, it's going to be difficult to lampoon... like putting a pie in the face of the Mona Lisa.  Mmm.  Pie.  Actually, if you think about it, it'd be very easy to lampoon putting a pie in the face of the Mona Lisa.  Maybe I should rewrite that sentence... if I do, though, I'd have to delete this one, and everything gets all higgledy-piggledy.  Best I just leave it as is.  Right, the anime!

Skippy has been sent to this town where he used to visit before to stay with his cousin and her mother.  Wow, that's an ugly, ugly sentence... let's try that again.  "Skippy used to visit this town in his youth.  Now, he's been sent here to live with his cousin and her monther."  MUCH better.  It's been seven years since he was last back, and more than a few things have changed if you know what I mean and I think you do.  Yeah, uh-huh, you know what I mean.  On a related thought, I'm trying to remember if I was ever flexible enough to pull on my boots the way Nayuki is in that screenshot, and I'm pretty sure the answer is "I just tore my hamstring."  School starts tomorrow, but she's got to go in today... club activities; she's captain of the track team. 

The woman in pink is Akiko, Nayuki's mother and Skippy's Aunt.  She's just an all-around good egg.  In this particular case, she's attempting to kill her family by pouring hot water on the frozen metal lock of the gate.  What nobody is thinking about is that the water will freeze on the ground, leaving a puddle of frozen death behind.  Surely one of the two young'uns will fall prey to her diabolical schemes?  Once Nayuki comes back from her school duties, she'll show Skippy around town.  Until then...

...Let's Shoveling!  Kyoto Animation is well-known for their scenery porn, but I love the less obvious ones like this shot even more, perhaps, than the big glitzy looks.  This scene is where we first discover that Akiko is actually a super-being, or perhaps a retired magical girl, as she shovels the entire block in the same time it takes Skippy to do three shovelfuls.  Either that, or Skippy is a typical teenaged male who doesn't know the meaning of effort.  I'm not sure which is true, and I'm glad I don't have to figure it out.

After Nayuki comes back, she begins to show Skippy around town.  He used to visit here often, but apparently snow is completely foreign to him.  She has to show him how to use either ashes or salt on snow/ice.  At least, I assume that's what's in the box.  Eventually...

...they come to the school.  It's relatively new; Skippy remembers it being a field of barley back in the day.  Well, that's the way of things, isn't it?  Stuff changes.  Cities expand, land is claimed, trees are cut down, barley is harvested and turned into malt products and feedstock, rocks fall everybody dies.  As they walk off...

...we meet two named characters, Mai and Sayuri.  Mai was petting the local stray doggie when Sayuri came up and frightened it away.  These two play a major part in the coming anime but don't get used to 'em though, as this is the only time we see them this episode.  Meanwhile...

...while our intrepid adventurers walk past the hospital, we get a drive-by character introduction.  Shiori up there in the shawl is not overly healthy, but plays a major part in the coming anime.  Don't get used to her though, as this is the only time we see her this episode.  Looking back at it, this introduction always makes me laugh.  If you're unfamiliar with the source material, you just assume that KyoAni put a little bit of money into animating a background character for literally one second here and that's that.  You don't realize Shiori's a real live girl.  Moving on...

...the Fellowship has moved into the shopping district, and who do they stumble upon but two more characters.  We've got Kaori on the right, and Buttmonkey on the left.  Both are Nayuki's classmates, and Kaori's her best friend.  Don't get used to them though, as this is the only time we see them this episode.  After establishing  his dominance over Buttmonkey with verbal jabs, the two move on.  On a hill outside of town...

....after talking about Skippy's memories of his childhood (few if any), and how much Nayuki loves the city, they are visited by a fox.  I've helpfully provided a guide on how to find said fox in the above screenshot.  Entranced by cute things, Nayuki blindly staggers towards it, only to discover that wild foxes aren't exactly shiba inu.  Back to the hospital we go for emergency surgery and rabies treatments.  She loses most of the use of her left hand, the fox is hunted down and killed.  Pity, as the fox is, in fact, a major character in the show.  Yes, really.  Okay, the whole "bitten by fox, yadda yadda" stuff doesn't actually happen, but the fox really is a character.  Don't get used to it though, as this is the only time we see it this episode.  Back in the city...

...Nayuki is picking up the fixings for tonight's dinner, making Skippy promise to stay right where he is on the sidewalk.  Of course he will!  Promise?  I do!  You sure?  YES already.  Moments later, Skippy is assaulted by a short girl wearing a backpack.  With all the precision of a linebacker hitting a defenseless quarterback, she simply nails him, driving Skippy into the pavement.  The hollow sound of a watermelon bursting on impact with concrete echoes off nearby buildings.  The girl runs off leaving an unconscious, concussed and brain-damaged Skippy behind.  Only two of these things are new to his condition.

No, no, no.  Instead, the panicked, nearly terrified, girl grabs him by the hand with an "~uguu!" and drags him into a panicked, nearly terrified sprint to the nearest cafe.  All this for a pumpkin spice latte?  Are they really that good?

It turns out she's being chased.  Chased by a kindly-looking old man in an apron.  Who runs a taiyaki stand.  That she accidentally stole a bag of fresh wonderfulness from.  See, she was getting a bag, and she couldn't find her wallet, and a kitty jumped up on the stand, and the old man did a scary thing, and the kitty was scared, and she was scared too, and the kitty ran away and she ran away and then she ran into Skippy and here we are now.  Oh, and did someone say 'pumpkin spice latte'?

Skippy immediately drags her back to the old man's taiyaki stand, makes her apologize, and in return the kindly old man gives her a fresh bag for free.  The old man watches them walk away, rolls up his awning, stores his equipment in his van, and finally gets inside.  Another day of no sales.  In fact, he's lost money all week.  What's another bagful of taiyaki when you've already lost so much money on wasted supplies and things?  As it is, he's lost everything he has.  And for what?  To follow his dream of being a taiyaki vendor.  His wife left him when he quit his job as a salaryman to make his dream a reality.  He hasn't seen his kids in months.  He doesn't even have enough money to get more ingredients once this batch runs out.  After that?  Well, there's still gas in the tank, and plenty of bridge abutments to be had...

Back in the city, it appears that JJ Abrams and Michael Bay have decided to make an anime together!  Or, y'know, the sun is setting when Skippy points out that the weird girl has angel wings on her backpack, thus giving us one of the classic character-defining scenes of all time.  And then the two of them are incinerated by the force of the explosion occurring just down the street from them.  Guess my "Abrams/Bay" thought was right the first time around.  Finally, as the two of them are about to part, they exchange names.  He doesn't react to hearing that she's called "Ayu." She, however, definitely reacts to the name "Skippy."  Curiouser and curiouser.  They finally part, Ayu running into the setting sun and bonking her head on it.  Skippy just watches her go until he remembers something: Nayuki.  Oh hell.

Her only word to him in the marketplace is "liar."  Yep, doomed.  He apologizes all the way home, and after that as wel... is she wearing kittyslippers?  D'awwwwww, that's so cute!  Er... Skippy keeps apologizing, Naiyuki keeps being pissed, until Akiko puts a stop to it.  Well, Naiyuki was late yesterday, so they're even.

Just before bed, she loans him an alarm clock.  No, she doesn't collect them, why do you ask?  No, really.  She doesn't collect them. 

Hiroshima, August 6, 1945
That night, he dreams of a time when he was a child where he abandoned Nayuki in front of a grocery store to help a crying girl named "Ayu"... kinda like today, in fact.  How odd is that?  Fade to black, roll credits.

There's nothing I can say about this episode that won't sound like gushing.  I mean, we're talking about my second-favorite series of all time here; there's a few episodes in it that aren't as good as the others, but this isn't one of 'em.  It's very effective at introducing us to the characters (even if we don't know it at the time), the setting, and pointing us in the direction of the story as well.  There are some shows that take four or five times as long to accomplish the same task that Kanon '06 accomplishes in one, and provides us with a more entertaining episode to boot.  I completely forgot that I referenced Ayu in the Ep05 writeup for Vividred Operation... my mind, it goes round in circles.  I miss Johnny Carson, and that's a helluva performance right there!  Oh.  Um.  Back to the episode... it ain't perfect, but I can't tell you how I'd improve it.

Unless it's by freezing Skippy to death in the first few moments of the show, and making it all be a pre-death hallucination, that is.  That really makes the show something special, considering what the rest of it is about. 

Having said all that, there's no way I'd contemplate doing a full writeup for Kanon '06.  For one thing, it's 26 episodes: that's a good 100 hours of time minimum just for the writeups, time that could just as easily be spent watching the show what?  Eight times?  I suspect I'd hate the thing by the time I was done, and I don't want that.  Also, there's waaaaay too much exposition involved: it'd devolve into "he said this, she said that, then he said something else" to get the story across, and why not just watch the show instead?  Except for my so-called wit, of course.  Heh... Kanon '06 given the MST3K treatment by me would be a bad idea.

So yeah, there we go.  Next episode: more zombies!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:43 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
Post contains 2520 words, total size 18 kb.

1 Oh man. Endlessly twirling Ayu is good for what ails the soul.

Posted by: GreyDuck at December 08, 2014 08:24 AM (AQ0bN)

2 Consider your soul totally healed, then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at December 08, 2014 12:05 PM (jGQR+)

3 If you wanted to hate-watch something, Kanon '02 fits the bill.  But then, you'd have to *watch* it, I think I only got three episodes into that series, and then only by inventing serial-killing backstories for Skippy and his harem.  

Posted by: Mitch H. at December 08, 2014 02:23 PM (jwKxK)

4 Mitch, I couldn't do it.  The art is too horrible for words.

Posted by: Wonderduck at December 08, 2014 03:59 PM (jGQR+)

5 Maybe you could get someone else to watch that version, and just blog about their decline and eventual death.

The trick would be finding the right people to use for Kanon fodder.

Posted by: Mauser at December 09, 2014 05:00 AM (TJ7ih)

6 That's an interesting idea, Mauser.

"Day One:  The subject watched the opening credits to :30, and began gibbering wildly while waving his arms.  The program was stopped, and tranquilizers were administered.
Day Two:  The subject completed the opening credits, although he had to be restrained by a nurse at 1:01; a very interesting reaction.  However, the final music sting caused sudden, severe convulsions which could only be alleviated by a My Little Pony marathon."

Posted by: Ben at December 09, 2014 01:21 PM (DRaH+)

7 It's all you, Mauser.  I'll be looking forward to the results eagerly.

Posted by: Wonderduck at December 09, 2014 06:42 PM (jGQR+)

8 I lasted 4 episodes of that one, and the biggest problem was that I didn't like any of the characters. Ayu and her thievery were the worst, they did not provide any hint of the circumstances. But the rest weren't any good either.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at December 10, 2014 07:59 PM (RqRa5)

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