There always seems to be at least one spectacular Madhouse show on the air that goes totally under-the-radar. It will get subbed late every episode if it gets subbed at all, and only a handful of people will remember it. The last one that just ended was the epic and amazing Souten Kouro, which has about 12 of 26 episodes subbed currently. Before that was Casshern Sins, which actually managed to get subbed (probably because the dialog was incredibly simple) and more miraculously got licensed for release next February. Before that, we had the show that most resembles Aoi Bungaku, which was the totally amazing Mouryou no Hako (sporting what I consider the greatest first episode ever made) that was apparently subbed through 12 of it’s 13 episodes (anyone know why that is?) It took over a week for Aoi Bungaku 1 to get subbed, which is not that bad, but we’ll have to pray the trend keeps up.
Aoi Bungaku is pretty trippy – it’s a psychological mindfuck that has no intention of showing it’s hand to the viewer. The series is set to adapt four separate novels done with four different character designers and directors. I knew beforehand that the character designs for the first segment were done by the superb Takeshi Obata (Death Note, Bakuman, Hikaru no Go), but I only just found out that the first segment is also done by one of my all-time favorite directors (!!!) Morio Asaka (CardCaptors Sakura, Chobits, Galaxy Angel, Gunslinger Girl, Nana) who, as usual, is storyboarding and directing. You can’t go wrong with that combo!
Of previous Madhouse shows, Aoi Bungaku feels like a combo between one part Mouryou no Hako, one part Texhnolyze, with a little bit of Paranoia Agent tossed in for good measure. It’s got the artistic strangeness and completely confusing plot of Hako – to be honest, I can’t talk much about the events of the episode unless I were to give you an exact summary. The show isn’t really too keen on throwing any bones and is largely just hoping we’ll be enraptured by the mystery and see where it takes us – which it is very successful in! I’m extremely interested!
I also started feeling the Texhnolyze connection after my favorite scene in the episode, which was, of course, the stylish sex scene. I love to see sex scenes in anime, possibly because I have an incredibly perverse mind, and probably because I see sex as the most important thing to humankind. I find it incredibly silly to leave sex out of any kind of human tale, and like Texhnolyze (which also had a very stylish sex scene in the first episode – with similar consequences!!!) this is a tale that really gets into the characters head without so much telling us what kind of person the character is so much as letting us try and tie the strings together ourselves. Which is difficult when the strings all seem to be from totally tangled yarn.
This show has the third Paku Romi role of the season (which is the second good one. But the good ones more than make up for the bad one.) I’m not sure how much she’ll be around, though, considering her fate in this episode. Apparently Mamiko Noto is going to show up as well, and I pray that she is going to be a soft-spoken character because, as proven by Kimi ni Todoke, I can’t take her in large doses! Nana Mizuki will be there, too. I’m not sure who played the main guy because I’m not sure what his name was, but I found his voice really unsettling. It just made my skin crawl.
Anywho, this show looks amazing, and could very well be one of the best shows of the season. It could also be the most disappointing show of the season if the inclusion of other artists and directors drag it down. We shall see.