Every time I participate in the Anime Blogger Secret Santa project, I try to take on all three of the shows that I’m recommended at once and make a point to finish at least one of them. This year, I received three totally fascinating choices which had me anxious to check them out, but I also ended up with the least time that I’ve had in a while to afford to them and only ended up watching a little bit of each.
If you know much about me, then you probably know that I’m often a lot more interested in the meta side of anime consumption than I am in actually watching things. I like putting shows into a grand narrative or context and trying to uncover greater truths about anime via the things that I watch. The recommendations that I got this year were perfect in that only one of them was a show which I’d already been planning to watch because I thought I’d enjoy it, whereas the other two could lead to fascinating avenues of meta.
The first show on the list was Petite Princess Yucie–possibly the least-known of all the major GAINAX productions–which came out in 2002, and which is actually a spiritual adaptation of their Princess Maker series of PC games from the 90s. Learning about the history of this show was pretty interesting, and quickly led me into a huge project: to consume and eventually make a video about all of the lesser-known GAINAX productions, as well as the ones that aren’t usually associated with the studio’s style.
So, I only ended up watching two episodes of Yucie, and otherwise ended up watching like 5 OVAs, all of Oruchuban Ebichu, and four episodes of Mahoromatic. At that point I sort of got bored, and the writing I was doing about the history of these shows didn’t seem all that interesting, so I put the project on hold. From what little I watched of Yucie it seemed like a pretty cute show, but also like a very slow burn. It’ll be hard to tell for a long while if it’s the kind of show that feels like it pays off by the end, or if it’s just kind of middle of the road, but I’d for sure like to find out for myself.
Next up, the most totally baffling recommendation was for the 2006 Fate/Stay Night adaptation. For the eight or so years I’ve been hearing about this show, all I’ve heard is people ragging on it for being a weak adaptation, and for its godawful animation. I once watched about half of episode 15 so I could see the CGI dragon sex scene (holy shit), and I remember thinking it was the worst-looking show I’d ever seen in terms of animation. Not to mention there’s been a recent adaptation of Unlimited Blade Works that was way more praised and which is beautiful to look at, and absent from my anime list.
At first, I actually thought that I might like the 2006 version better than what I’ve seen of UBW. I definitely prefer the character designs from this series over what they’ve become in every other anime adaptation of the Fate series, especially the ugly shovel-faces of the UBW anime. It was also interesting that, in spite of the low animation quality, the show actually does a lot of interesting things with shot composition and is, if nothing else, very interesting to look at. I’d attribute this to having crazy man Yuuji Yamaguchi as director, given his track record of madness.
As interesting as it was to look at, though, I could only make it eight episodes into this series before giving up. I honestly just do not understand the appeal of the Fate series outside the character designs of Saber and Rin. I get that people really dig the mythology of it and all, but I just find it stupid and boring, and I think it handles the death game idea very poorly. I find myself struggling to care about anything in most iterations of this series, with Zero being the exception just because it bothered to have characters with pretty interesting ideals and motivations. Anyways, whatever hopes I had at first of watching this leading to me dissecting the differences in the Fate adaptations has evaporated, as I realize that I don’t care about any of them.
The last recommendation was Kiniro Mosaic, which is less of a show that I’ve been interested in on a meta level, and more just one that I’ve been meaning to watch. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of a lot of cute-girls-doing-cute-things shows, and that blonde lolis are my favorite category of character design in the known universe, so I had to get to this at some point. I think my biggest fears with this series were that the design of Alice would inevitably be a lot cuter in the cover/promo art than she is in the actual animation, and that the show would be kind of middle of the road and not leave much of an impression.
After three episodes, the show is cute as hell without a doubt, and definitely a bit more ambitious than Wakaba Girl, which came from the same author. It very much takes an approach where things being cute and dumb are more important than them being logical or realistic–which is fine, though not my preferred kind of show of this type. The characters are just a bit too dumb for me to really get invested in them or see them as much more than walking vessels of cuteness. It also does that thing where it ends each episode on an explosively saccharine moment which can be a bit much at times.
Still, the show is cute enough that I think I can finish it, and the animation has been more consistently nice than it seemed like it would be at first. I can’t say that I like it nearly as much as Gochiusa for cute loli girls du jeor, but it’s still a fun show full of all the adorable blond loli I could ever ask for.
Even though I didn’t end up watching a whole lot of any of these shows, I’m pretty happy with what I was recommended this year. If nothing else, it felt like whoever my santa was had a pretty good grasp of what I’d find interesting–or otherwise it was a fluke and they just happened to pick stuff I’d find cool for weird reasons. Either way, it was fun participating once again, and I’ll probably finish Kinmoza and Yucie some day in the future.