Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Anime Survivor: Spring '12 - Week 4.2

Let's cut to the chase. I feel guilty for showing Saki: Achiga-hen the door first, but it had to be done. More game strategy and less talky-talky, and I might have let it stick around longer. No one picked it to get dumped this early, but I'm sure at least half of you that cast your votes will be satisfied this week.

The sixth show to be escorted off the island in this season's Anime Survivor is...


Selling Point: From what I can gather, if H.P. Lovecraft were alive today and writing scripts for anime shows in Japan, he would either be the worst possible creative mind or on a level of horror too far above our horizon to comprehend.

His efforts would either be too squeamish and narcotic for the average viewer to stomach or an ash-colored ambrosia that would feel the starved anime fan. While I haven't read much of his stories, I did mull over his collaborative effort "The Crawling Chaos" and found it to be a stunning read; the narrator's visions of drug-induced anarchy and the eventual collapse of the world speak volumes about Lovecraft's own tortured state of mind within a society teetering between faith and science.

So...yeah! Let's make an anime about him!

Well, not about Lovecraft, per se, but about the entities that he created from that quagmire. See, those stories Lovecraft wrote a century ago were actually non-fiction—high-schooler Mahiro Yasaka discovers this the hard way when he is saved from a vicious alien menace by an ahoge-haired girl. She immediately destroys the fourth wall by declaring herself to be an alien and the same Nyarlathotep that Lovecraft wrote about. Vowing to protect Mahiro out of duty, the happy-go-crazy "Nyarko-san" ends up falling for him and crashing his residence.

And what show about a clingy alien girlfriend wouldn't be complete without the makings of a harem? Soon, the moochers triple in number, as Nyarko is joined by "Kuuko", a female Cthugha with a disturbing sexual attachment to Nyarko, and "Hasuta", an androgynous male version of Hastur who has adopted Mahiro as his "onii-chan". Throw in a bunch of incompetent space aliens and some complicated interstellar video-game conspiracy involving Mahiro's mother, and you have...something that looks awfully familiar.

Defense: Okay, so there's at least a little bit of decent comedy lurking in Nyarko-san's depths, and much of that comes from the slapstick efforts of Kana Asami. A little more caffeine, and her depiction of Nyarko could border on the frenzy that we saw from Kotono Mitsuishi's Excel. Her blithering idiocy brings out the best in Mahiro's straight-man role (Eri Kitamura in a rare male-lead role), and by themselves they could make a very solid tandem.

Perhaps the other measurable variable is that the series gets a boost in quality due to its past forms. The first two Nyarko-san shows were both flash-animation mini-productions, so by comparison the animation is miles better than expected. Probably a dastardly trick to make this series seem like gold, but it works.

Final Decision: I'll be blunt. Nyarko-san is a derivative of To-Love-Ru and therefore a double-derivative of Urusei Yatsura. Aliens come to Earth in some form (this time as Lovecraftian aliens instead of devils or oni), and the main heroine falls for the male lead while squatting at his home with her "friends". Boneheaded villains totter after them, and everything really doesn't matter, as long as Nyarko and Kuuko pull weaponry out of the hammerspace under their skirts.

It's this excuse of forming an alien harem that ends up making the show episodic and nonsensical. At one point, Nyarko escapes her situation without an explanation of how, bids adieu to Mahiro, then returns without much of an excuse why. The plot, perhaps intentionally, becomes a chaotic mess that Lovecraft himself may have seen when he envisioned the world blowing up under him.

Finally, it's Xebec! Were you expecting Shakespeare? (Maybe, if MacBeth came back to life as a nekomimi maid.)

Perhaps this is a reason why Crunchyroll passed on renewing the second season of Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka—the above picture really says it all. There's just not enough room in this world for two cute girls waving a chainsaw comically in the air. However, on this island there's no room for Nyarko-san, either.

Goodbye, My Lovecraft.

Next Week: the next two shows to hit the road in Anime Survivor!

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