Tuesday, April 12, 2011

F1RST IMPRESSIONS: We, Without Wings

We continue our look at the newest anime shows for Spring 2011 with Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai (We, Without Wings), an anime series animated by Nomad and based on the visual novel produced by NAVEL.

Storyline: 2

There aren't many visual-novel anime shows for this spring season, surprising considering the sheer volume of new shows. We do have Hoshizora e Kakeru Hashi to bookend the season on Crunchyroll, but it seems the season is meant to be headlined by Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai. The other surprising aspect of the show is that, to everyone's surprise, there's more than one guy in it!

The show seems to have been broken up into three distinct arcs, each dominated by its main male character. In the unheralded cafe known as Alexander, freeter Shûsuke is having fun spending his peaceful days with just a coffee and plans for mixers with girls, even if it involves his dull emo friend Kakeru. Meanwhile, in the streets of Yanagihara, Hayato finds doldrums from odd jobs and awkward conversations with the foreign populace. Takashi is your average student who attends the local high school with girls all wanting to get into his pants, but he seems to think he's some warrior from a far-off land.

While the common thread amongst these three appears to be the over-abundance of panty shots from the females, one has to wonder if Takashi is right, as the final montage involves him fighting off monsters with Shûsuke and Hayato by his side and his would-be lover Asuka as the "princess in another castle". All of this goes on while someone watches it all unfold from an analog television set and a radio DJ telling the audience he'd "see you next panties".

Huh? Already OreTsuba makes no sense at all. Points for trying to be inventive with its plot, but there just doesn't seem to be much for appeal.

Animation: 2

All that needs to be said is that Nomad is put in charge of animation duties for this show. They're the studio that gave us the pervtastic Kämpfer and have had their hand in the cookie jars for Yosuga no Sora and Mayoi Neko Overrun!, so suggested incest and panty shots are the norm for this company. The character designs are average at best, occasionally busting out superdeformity to shake up the scenery. However, the movement in the animation feels rough and cartoony, feathers falling like they were featured in a flip book.

Characters: 2

The best thing that the show Durarara!! had going for it was its large variety of seemingly unrelated characters and the resulting dust storm that came from their interactions. The writers were able to keep that show in check by maintaining a finite count on the roleplayers while introducing them through their actions.

OreTsuba tries to use that playbook, but makes a terrible error when it introduces the characters. We get names of almost every notable figure, as if we're meant to memorize them for a test in the end, but we don't learn about who they all are. What's the point of introducing everyone at the party if you're only going to talk to one or two people? True, you do get a playful character such as Shûsuke, but why must we know about Background Character A?

Track: 2

Random music and random acting, yet it all starts to sound the same from show to show. I swear that if there is an anime drinking game that involves the voice of Hiro Shimono, you're guaranteed to be drunk by the tenth minute of any anime show this season. He appears in so many shows with the same voice that I swear I'm starting to hear him in daily conversation.

"Hype": 2

Surprisingly, it seems that OreTsuba was being recognized for the upcoming season as a notable show, even if it registered more held breath than baited breath. The visual novel itself seems to have grabbed a following, and Novel pretty much stuck with a staff used to this sort of thing, employing Shinji Ushiro (Omamori Himari, Blessing of the Campanella) as its director and Kumi Ishii (Rozen Maiden) for character designs.

Overall: 10/25
Something has got to give. There must be a breaking point where the precarious balance struck by visual-novel anime shows gets pushed in a direction far enough to stop the stalemate. Someday there will be a galge adaption that's so awesome it revolutionizes the industry or so despondently despicable that it kills the genre forever.

The score alone ought to speak volumes; OreTsuba isn't going to reinvent the wheel, but it's not going to total the car in the process. It's really too early to determine just how all of these characters are going to end up meeting each other, but there's no hook to the plot to keep viewers interested until that day when they do. It's just a bunch of random scenes where skirts get flipped while "Keep Out!" police tape hides the naughty bits.

The TV makes for an appropriate symbol in this show; change the channel on this one.

(We, Without Wings is simulcast on Crunchyroll every Friday at 1:30 PM EDT.)

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