Zvezda’s Magical Realism

I had to think long and hard about Zvezda episode 1 because it’s all I had to go with until yesterday, and I had to write something about episode 1 of Zvezda. I sort of understood what the “problem” was but only now can I put it into words. Let me just preface that Zvezda’s problem is not so much of a problem but a matter of perceiving certain visual/thematic signals and tuning into it. I have no problems with Zvezda’s first episode as far as its sort of whacky sense of world-building or its revealing outfits for our two pettanko groupies. In fact I really enjoyed the show, especially now with episode 2 down the optical nerve hatch.

Episode 2

The problem is more about what we ought to expect from looking at the visual cues about the world depicted in Zvezda. We begin with a flash-forward to see a desolate future, populated with ruined buildings and crumbled remains of a civilization. What stands is a Kate statute of yay tall, and a narrator. Then we see a mostly-mundane present with an anime girl holding exaggerated grocery bags and a curfew with silly purchase mechanics. The armored vehicles. Then we see Kate on a bike for children. The gas mask. Then it starts to slip right around there I guess.

But by that point we’re about half way through episode one. The rest of the episode is a magical beat-down of SDF forces. This isn’t Bombshells from Cat Planet but we’re operating on the same level, in some ways. Except Zvezda didn’t say a bleep. Aliens? Magic? Espers? Time travelers? Haruhi? This is the key information they withhold, and they hold it to your face.

For those of us who aren’t primed to look for that in episode one, I suspect you might have a better time than I. I wouldn’t know, however, because I was spending equal times mulling over how to explain this, versus looking at silly ANN links about how certain reviewer said it was selling something. Must have been a slow week at work?

Anyway, compare this sort of world building with, say, Shinsekai Yori, which is more about not knowing what you don’t know. Zvezda is kind of like you actually know you don’t know, so you actively look for things to fill in that gap in your mind, except of circle or square pegs it’s giving you half naked loli-shaped pegs. Not that I am complaining or anything.

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