I Hope Nippon-Sempai Notices Me: Kurokami and Capitalizing on Great First Episodes
Nothing feels worse than a great beginning leading only to at best a mediocre story. As I’m keen to point out one of the things I review every season regarding anime is the first episode. Now I know that generally a good solid series may have a lackluster first episode, but you see that’s not true at all. Many people would say that you can’t judge an anime by episode one, or a book by it’s first chapter, or a movie by the first 15 minutes.
That’s simply a load of shit.
Have no idea what’s going on? Start with the intro post.
In truth when something is great, when something will keep you week by week wanting more and nothing else – you already knew that. Often in the first 5 minutes. It’s by nature – every writer, producer, director knows this. You only get a single first impression – that’s why we have cold openings, it’s why often the first things you see or hear can be right in the middle of the action. How often are you told 5 minutes in – hey let’s go back to where it actually started.
There’s nothing wrong with this though, and it’s certainly not the focus of what I think anime needs to fix this week. No I’m talking about the dark side of this type of work, when the beginning often has little to do with the rest, or none at all.
Not to say such an effect is not often enjoyable – the mental jarring of a murderer going about killing people, where the first few minutes shows him discussing his suit and his business card is not an effect that doesn’t produce results. No what I’m on about is more when you build something up, and then kind of peter out into drivel.
A wonderful example of this is Eragon, a series I quite liked at first, but that towards the end of the book, and the sequels that followed – you feel as if you’re coming down from a contact high. Things that are great tend to have a sense of pace, and often one that ramps up constantly.
Which brings me to this weeks offender – Kurokami. I’ve mentioned this before and it’s almost become a rule for me (One which Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou this season is certainly following in the footsteps of) The first episode had an enigmatic girl, it had fight scenes in a ramen booth with some steel pipe action. The stinger being that the ending shows the protagonist’s sister getting run over by a truck.
That is not a bad start, you set up for great fighting, some mystery, the sense of very real deaths. Especially including infant/kid mortality which is often very censored in media, and hard to overcome.
The series then devolves into some old religion/magic clan shit, a big gay brother taking over the world, and them coming together with the power of love, but not really – to stop him.
The series as a whole felt like it was trying too hard to be Shakugan no Shana, but failing miserably. It was boring, and even the fighting – which is a cornerstone of something like this – just felt bland. It’s wasn’t trying to be all spirit and magic fights, but it wasn’t rocking guitars either. It was aiming at the middle of the bowl and pissing over the floor.
Even the ending here felt like they were simply blowing past some more boring shit in order to reach a climax, which frankly wasn’t climatic in any sense. This was an adaptation of a manga, and I’m told it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. That doesn’t excuse the plot which even if done at a better pace would still kinda be vanilla. The path to excel would have been the fighting, and it did not deliver.
So how could this have been avoided? Easy make an anime where the fight scenes are as cool as the first, don’t waste your budget on magic and transformation effects, just have some bitchin fight scenes and be awesome. Continue to set them around food as well, and often times throw a moving object at a character or two.
I just described Ben-to didn’t I? Fuck. Well just go watch that you kids.
Seriously though, as a suggestion.
If you can’t afford to have a large anime where you have killer fighting all the way through, pick one of 2 options. Have a shorter tighter episodes that count – having 6 killer episodes far outweighs 20 meh ones. Or simply make the other shit, aka the dumb romance, the eh fanservice, the destiny bullshit – simply more tolerable. Make it about the characters actual struggle, and not just have them be whiny bitches.
Think about it. This was a series about fighting a god, and look how little I care.
So this weeks wish for how to improve anime – make a series about fighting gods. Seriously have an anime where it’s basically the god fighter game, but instead he/she fights all the gods, Christian god, Buddha, Allah, Zeus, Odin, just punching out every god every with his/her fists. I mean you can even see this as a shounen can’t you. Think of it – like a Greek god, and Egyptian god arcs where he/she has to go fight all of those gods. Have him/her take on smaller gods as fodder. Make it so gods like Loki do some backstab and deception shit (as much as a shounen can really do.) Not sure about you but I’d watch/read the shit out of that. (Then again this may or may not part of an idea I had for a comic a while back.)
Well that’s all for this week, hopefully sempai will notice me and make GodPuncher.
Last Week: Kickoff Article
Next Week: Breaking Bad and The Empire Motivation
The Buffalo is Nerdfit's longest active content contributor. Having helmed various podcasts (What's Nu in Animu, WritersCast), columns (I Hope Nippon Sempai Notices Me, Advanced Game Theory, Booze Reviews, Anime Season Previews, etc) - currently he writes a weekly article column of 'Buffalo's Shit to Think About'