After my review of Fate/Zero‘s opening episodes over at UK-A I was a bit shocked at how opinion on Google+ was so critical of the storytelling approach, to the point where I felt I was in the minority who didn’t mind it. I know it doesn’t appeal to everyone: squinting at reams of subtitled dialogue in an infodump opener and wading through thick waves of exposition from that point on isn’t everyone’s grail of mead, but still.
It’s just that this is closer to how I’d imagine a Nasu adaptation to be (yes, I know Urobuchi did the legwork) so quite frankly the idiosyncracies go with the territory. Introducing a cast of this size, especially considering the relationships and connections involved, was never going to be a painless exercise for the viewer, in any case.
I listened to the ANNCast with the editorial team of Colony Drop recently and found it to be an interesting listen. The interview used the site’s noteriety as a springboard for questions on a number of relevant issues from conventions to Danny Choo but it clarified a few things I’d been wanting to say about their approach to blogging and the fan community as a whole.
My personal opinion is coloured slightly by a personal run-in I had with them a while back but before saying anything else I need to point out that my opinion on the site is more complicated than simple approval or disapproval of what they do.
Imagine walking up a high, steep hill on a hot summer’s day to reach a bar or restaurant: the journey’s long, dry and arduous but if what’s on the menu is your thing, the hard slog is worth it in the end. Reading Loups-Garous is a lot like that. I’m reluctant to recommend it despite how effective it is in depicting the themes and ideas it addresses, because in all honesty it’s a book that’s easy to admire but perhaps hard to like.
I foolishly chose to read it in a crowded room full of other people talking, which gave me that annoying experience of repeatedly losing your place and reading the same line(s) over and over. The problem with Loups-Garous is that it isn’t very accommodating towards the reader in terms of making its food-for-thought easy to digest so that was probably the worst way for me to approach it.
Maybe I’m stating the glaringly obvious here, but since it wasn’t obvious to me until recently I might as well set out my thoughts on it. I’m not saying that the Unlimited Blade Works is a great movie but it’s worth stopping to think about the broader context or what the movie itself is trying to accomplish. Similarly, there are a few things I could say about the Yukikaze OAV but now I’ve read the original novel I feel a bit different about it. Feelings concerning the motives behind, and effects of, adapting stories from one medium to another mostly.
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An extreme example of the importance of context that I stumbled on is William Gibson’s Neuromancer. It’s an enjoyable enough cyberpunk novel but not as enjoyable for me as I expected: I’m finding it tedious in places but when I remind myself that it was written before any of that stuff related to the internet, VR and even the cyberpunk genre itself were commonplace, I admire it more. Not that it makes the book itself more fun, but it makes its limitations at least understandable.
My interest in this show was twofold. Firstly, I enjoy vampire fiction (apart from that Twilight bollocks, obviously). Secondly, the NoitaminA slot has hosted some innovative and flat-out excellent animated TV that’s in a different league from everything else, so for that reason alone I decided it would be worth watching. For the first half-dozen episodes though, I thought the schedulers had picked up a dud.
The sluggish pacing doesn’t do it any favours. Because the premise is based around an epidemic of vampirism-induced deaths spreading through an entire town, the cast is also fairly large so requires a lot of screen time to keep track of them all. The narrative’s refusal to move from one area to another within each episode means you frequently go for a full week or two before returning to a certain character or household, which makes an already broad-focused story even harder to follow.
Considering the challenges in the ‘feature-length retelling of the TV show’ concept, I sometimes wonder why the studios bother. They need a keen eye for what to retain and what to leave out in order to condense the storyline effectively, it has to entertain the viewers on its own merits so we can momentarily forget the old version but at the same time it has to remain true to what made the original good enough to be worth retelling.
RahXephon for example suffered greatly from the condensed plotline issue and Eureka Seven lost a lot of the spirit of the TV show, so both were disappointing to me. The Evangelion rebuild in particular is an undertaking I personally wouldn’t enjoy being responsible for since it’ll piss off a significant proportion of the fanbase regardless of what the production team do. Over the past decade and a half it’s bred so many conflicting opinions that whatever approach is taken, it’ll hit somebody’s sore spot square-on.