Tragedy of Incompletion

When people talk about shows that are based on on-going manga series and ends when the manga has no end in sight, what do they say?

The classic example in my mind is Karekano. I’m too wussy to read the manga because I just can’t stand that kind of writing and shoujo-y nonsense that tend to gush out like quasars and black holes. The monologues really killed it for me. On the other hand I love the anime and I think it’s one of Gainax’s best shows ever. Well, until it ran into problems in staffing and pacing and how it explodes into a mess. But even so.

Just how would you honestly rate it? Karekano TV is really just too unique to be objectively graded (meaning given an assigned numerical or alphabetical rank). It’s not saying you can’t, but it is quite misleading. And as a result, how do you recommend it to a potential viewer? It seems to be the type of show where it’s easy to pick out who will hate it and who will like it, but why? And when I mean unique, I don’t mean it in a good way…

I’m at a similar place now. Marathoning shounen anime is really the only way to do shounen anime. I love cliffhangers and I enjoy them for the suspense and the emotional ride that pushes you to anticipate the next episode. At the same time I love ending cliffhangers by grabbing the next episode! And coincidentally if a shounen anime can’t stand up to a marathon it probably sucks, or is made for the whole family.

But with marathons, things end before you can really appreciate the whole length of the journey. As I approach the end of Ookiku Furikabutte, I’m forced to reflect on what has happened the last 20 some odd episodes. And here’s why it’s sad that it is going to end the way I think it does:

1. Foreshadowing and laying the foundation for a shounen series. If you’ve been watching and reading shounen crap for a while you would realize that a well-planned series starts out with a simple plot and a straightforward narrative without giving a lot of the full setting at first. My favorite part of the series is not just the baseball (which is well-covered, and really the heart of the show IMO), but Momokan. It has nothing to do with her obnoxiously large boobs which projects the logo of her uniform very well. It has everything to do with the mystique behind her. Repeatedly the show makes a point to lift her out of the large cast (we have a baseball team after all) and say “hey she’s a woman in a man’s world” or “why’s she so young and spending her own money and not a teacher” or “how did she hit that ball” or “when did she get there”? I want to know her past, her motivation, and all that juicy flashback material. I guess that’s being saved up for later. For that matter, how about Shinoouka? Or Ruri?

2. The baseball. It’s actually refreshing to watch a sports anime about the sport that is totally focused on the sport. It’s not “sports coated yaoibait” but “character driven sports drama.” Such a fresh breath of air. Even if at the end it’s still the same old thing. The mangaka’s meticulous research shows off.

3. The show is just gorgeous looking. I wish stuff like Princess Nine was even a fraction as good looking as Oofuri. The direction is good. So is attention to detail in general. Granted the fansubs floating out there is pretty crappily encoded it doesn’t do enough to hide the quality behind the production. Solid footwork by this crew.

But it’s going to end! After their first big game! What the hell! It makes me approach the last few episodes with a lot of reservation. If I was going to turn what has transpired in the first 21 or so episodes of Oofuri into a Hollywood movie it’d be only an hour and 30 minutes long, as it hasn’t reached its primary climax yet. That’s what happens when each episode averages to about 6 outs when they’re actually covering a game. And a game has an average of 57 outs. Ugh.

It also doesn’t help that these kids are all first-year (10th graders) and they have full careers ahead of them, let alone the current school year that they started off in.

Despair!

Well, maybe I will check out the manga after all.


9 Responses to “Tragedy of Incompletion”

  • issa-sa

    Ah… despair indeed that the OoFuri anime has to end *sniffs* I suppose it’s one of those shows that is forced to ‘end’ at a point which seems conclusive enough but just entices you that much to pick up the original source material (a clever marketing ploy at work?). At any rate it doesn’t taper off as badly as KareKano did and there MAY be hope yet of a second season… Just not too soon… Damn, now you’ve made me want to check out the manga!

  • tako

    It’s really very similar to Slam Dunk. The final match in Slam Dunk lasts several volumes and it’s also the underdog vs. the previous winner of the tournament playing in the first round.

  • Owen S

    I’ve learned to roll with the punches. It used to be an intensely personal affair where I would curse the animation studio/production house for failing massively at adapting masterpieces but I just take it nowadays as a cue to pick up the source material and shut up. Whining never did a fan good.

    Of course, there’s the occasional show where ignorance is bliss. Bokurano according to newcomers like me was excellent and underrated (read: drowned in the cacophony of manga fans whining about the treatment), and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • omo

    More people needs your punchrolling attitude Owen. Bless you sir.

    I’ve always rolled with the punches, but when the type of enjoyment I get out of a show is mostly an emotional one, dreading the biggest cliffhanger of them all dims the excitement.

    @ issa-sa
    I don’t think it’s like Karekano only because by the time it ended, well, it should have ended because they’ve lost the ability to produce the same show that it was for the first 10 episodes. But yeah.

  • digitalboy

    Indeed, my biggest reservation about getting the KareKano manga is that it probably won’t be the same without the awesome direction and positively amazing animation styles. I plan to flip through a volume and if it does that FUCKING cramped art thing that accomadates most shoujo I’m not touching it. That’s the biggest reason I don’t read much shoujo.

  • prajantr

    I’m of the roll with it school myself. But then, I’ve always enjoyed the anime or movie (when considering outside of anime) as a separate stand alone entity from the manga or originating book. Most often with anime, I have the advantageous bliss of ignorance anyway and end up reading the manga just to see what was different and where else the story may have gone. that way, if there was an cliffhanger, the manga provides a small salve to the need to know what happened next.
    btw, you’ve been tagged: http://nighttrekkersguild.org/prajantr/?p=532

  • dreamshade

    ZETSUBOU SHITA

    How does a woman like that manage to swing a baseball bat with those two, uh, volleyballs getting in the way?

  • omo

    It adds to the mystique. She is also an all-around player capable of pitching pretty well and does the 90′ run with respectable speed.

    As far as a designed catch, it was pretty obvious. Without Momokan and the other cheerleaders (mostly male, I might add) this is very much BL raw material. You gotta have something to keep the guys distracted.

    Lololna: if you want to tag me, this is not the blog to do it at. I’ll ping you with the right page later.

  • wildarmsheero

    >>2. The baseball. It’s actually refreshing to watch a sports anime about the sport that is totally focused on the sport. It’s not “sports coated yaoibait” but “character driven sports drama.” Such a fresh breath of air. Even if at the end it’s still the same old thing. The mangaka’s meticulous research shows off.

    So basically it’s not this.

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