Hello, and welcome to the first Otaku Mind of 2017. 2016 was an alright year for anime but if you’re like me you noticed that a lot of anime that you were expecting to be great turned out to be meh and anime that you thought were going to be meh turned out to be great and some of the best anime of the year. Why is that? How does an anime like Konosuba wind up being better and more enjoyable than an anime like Dimension W and how does an anime like Sakamoto desu ga wind up getting more views and recognition than an anime like Joker Game? The answer to all of this is execution. Just because you have a great idea for an anime or light novel, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a hit. It’ll help make it a hit but it also comes down to the execution of your story, ideas, and characters. Let’s talk about this shall we.
Animes that were supposed to be great but wound up being meh
Let’s talk about animes that had a lot of hype put in to them but wound up being meh. One of the first animes that comes to mind is Dimension W. Funimation put a lot of promotion into this series. They were showing behind the scene videos, interviews, production videos, the works. You can tell this was a series they were very proud to promote and really wanted it to be a success. When it finished airing, everyone thought it was meh. It wasn’t awful, personally I liked it but it didn’t live up to what we were expecting. The idea of a future where we live in a world of unlimited energy is interesting, we have a badass main character who reminds us of Mugen, a cute robotic girl who is his partner and is competent for the most part, good use of CGI, and it’s original, so where did this anime go wrong with its execution or rather why didn’t it get the amount of praise and attention it deserved? The problem was with the execution of its story. While the characters and setting are good, the story can be a bit choppy at sometimes. Some arcs are rushed through, some arcs just don’t have the right amount of build-up to them, and for some parts it feels like the anime is more concerned with establishing the world as opposed to exploring it and interacting with it. Also, a lot of character’s stories are done in flashbacks instead of them opening up and talking to others to show a hint of trust in the other. The anime also seems confused on where it wants to go with its story. While the anime is episodic the story just seems content with going from one arc to the next without really explaining or showing how significant this series of events was and leaving us a little confused on exactly where the anime is taking us. Even at the end of the anime it seems like the show is confused on where it wants to go. The execution of the story felt choppy and misdirected which really hurt the viewership.
Now let’s take a look at another anime that a lot of people are torn about, Joker Game. This was a very promising anime. It had an interesting story, a good cast of voice actors, very nice animation, and the studio producing this was Production I.G a studio that is very well known for producing good anime. This anime seemed to have all the makings for being one of the best animes of the year, but after the first two episodes the series slowly started to fall a part due to a number of poor executions that mostly stem from the characters themselves. First off, we never get a chance to really get to know any of these spies. In fact, they all look alike except some are taller than the others. They all have the same personality, they all act alike and talk the same. I was hoping to get a little more variety with them like one spy is more talkative than the others, one is good at reconnaissance, one’s a flirt, one likes to bird watch, etc. but we never get that. Each episode is dedicated to one spy on a mission and we never learn anything about them outside of what they’re doing. It’s a little disappointing to be honest. The execution of addressing the audience’s intelligence is also done horribly. In the first episode the characters are playing their version of poker. Instead of showing the game play out and have us piece together what’s going on, the anime just flat out tells us how the game is played. Basically, saying that the anime doesn’t have much faith in the intelligence of the audience and straight up insulting us. But probably the biggest execution fault is in its story. This one is up for debate and depending on where you stand with the anime it’s either a positive or negative. Like I said before, after the second episode the anime just follows each spy on a mission throughout WWII. They take place at different times and years and unconnected to each other. Some people were hoping for more of the story they got in the first two episodes which followed a soldier who was forced to join the group as a liaison between the spies and the army. He thinks all spies are cowards but by the end of the second episode he starts to see how valuable and dangerous their work is. Everybody was kind of hoping we could continue to follow this soldier as he slowly starts to gain a new appreciation for spies and slowly transitions into becoming a spy himself to better take part in their joker game, not be the joker and in the process we would get a chance to learn more about each spy and see how their personalities play off each other. Would this have been a better execution of story? Maybe. While some people made do with what they got in the anime, a vast majority of people were hoping for something along the lines of the first two episodes instead of the story we got giving the series that meh feeling.
Animes that were supposed to meh but wound up being great
Now let’s take a look at a few animes that everyone underestimated and thought wouldn’t be a big hit but turned out to be a big hit. Probably the biggest surprise for me was Sakamoto desu ga, an anime about the coolest high school student of all time. This was a series I didn’t think was going to be popular, if anything I thought it was going to fail but instead it wound up being a fan favorite of the year because of the way the story is executed. Sakamoto has a lot of personality to his character. Whatever he does he does it in an over the top way that you can’t help but find it cool and funny. The whole anime is basically making fun of the whole shounen genre about how people always want to follow a cool MC who has no faults and that’s what this series does, it has us follow this cool MC who honestly has no faults and is just a laugh all the way through to the end. The anime could have just made Sakamoto a cool guy and nothing else but he’s funny, over the top, kind, and quick on his feet. That’s what makes this series such a hit with people.
What about animes that everyone was going to like but wound up liking more than they thought? Two animes that come to mind are Konosuba and Re: Zero. On its surface these two animes have the same setup as say every other fantasy world anime out there. A boy gets transported to an alternate world and goes on a quest to defeat the demon lord because he is the chosen one with amazing power. For Konosuba we don’t get that. Kazuma isn’t some chosen hero he’s just a guy who died and chose to go to an alternate world with a goddess instead of choosing a weapon. While it’s true Aqua is OP in her own way that doesn’t change the fact that she causes more trouble for Kazuma than she actually helps out. Konosuba’s execution is to make fun of the fantasy world genre saying that if we ever were to go to an alternate world chances are everything we would like to happen such as having a harem and becoming a hero wouldn’t happen. Instead, it would be similar to what Kazuma is going through. He’s not the strongest, he’s starting at the bottom, he has some of the worst party members out there, yet despite all of this Kazuma still presses on believing that if he works hard enough he can make this work out in the end when everything around him keeps pushing him down and when he seems like he has a chance to get ahead, reality comes to push him down. It’s a long shot but he has to believe that it can work.
Re: Zero was another fantasy anime that executed itself differently from past fantasy world anime. While it’s true the main character gets an amazing power he has no idea why he’s in this world or why he has this power and instead of the power being his strength for a majority of the anime it’s actually his curse. We see how his power slowly drives him insane and at times has even clouded his judgement and actions. Instead of this fantasy world being bright and colorful it’s dark, cruel, brutal, and at times disturbing. The anime never shies away from its original setting it established and executed in the first episode, if anything it kept going into a more darker direction adding a new perspective to the fantasy world genre and showing us that fantasy worlds can be dark and disturbing like Re: Zero or they can be funny and light-hearted like Konosuba. Another factor is that we see all the bad choices the main character does in the anime. Usually, the main character will make the right choice but here we see him make constant bad choices and see the consequences of his bad choices play out.
What about animes that have silly ideas, is the execution of these animes important as well
Yes. Just because an idea for an anime is silly doesn’t mean it deserves less attention in its execution like say a serious anime like 91 Days. Even if an idea is silly it can still become a great anime that will be talked about for years to come. Take Assassination Classroom for example, it’s one of the wackiest animes I’ve ever seen but the way it’s executed makes it so entertaining and enjoyable to watch. Rather than the series be about a group of students trying to kill their teacher the series uses his assassination as a way to teach the characters life lessons that make them better people. We got invested into the characters and cried along with them at the end because of how invested we got into Koro-Sensei. He wasn’t just their teacher he was like a mentor to these characters. Characters who were labeled failures by the world and those around them, but became something great that they never thought possible. Or how about Keijo, an anime about butts, breasts, and girls in swimsuits. The idea for this anime was nothing short of just pandering fanservice but the way the anime is executed, you feel the intensity and excitement as if you were watching an anime about your favorite sport or watching your favorite sport in real life. Let’s not forget Food Wars. Never in my life did I think I would get invested into an anime about cooking but low and behold I have become invested in an anime about cooking and it’s all thanks to the execution of the series. The main character isn’t some cocky brat, he’s very relatable, the other characters all have their unique cooking styles, and when the main character wins or loses it’s believable because he earned it. How about Nanbaka? An anime about a bunch of silly prisoners wound up being a hit because of the execution of its characters and the people around them. Every character gets a laugh out of you and they work off each other perfectly.
Is effort important
Hell yeah! You’ve always got to put effort into something if you want it to be successful. Look at Asterisk Wars, if you read my blog you would know I thought it was one of the most poorly done animes in 2015. It was lazy, poorly executed, and there was no effort put it to it whatsoever. Same can be said about Sailor Moon Crystal but both animes made a return last year and they were honestly better than their first seasons because they actually put effort into their execution of the anime. Why they didn’t do this the first time is beyond me. Even when I’m working on a blog I approach it from the viewpoint of a reader and ask myself is this something I would find entertaining to read and walk away from it learning something new. Even the execution of my blog is different from other bloggers. I don’t write my blogs like an actual blog I write my blogs like a script for a video or a light novel to make it feel different and make it seem more personal. If I chose to write it like an actual blog I feel that I would be no different than other bloggers and I would lose all that personality that comes with reading my blogs. When people read my blogs I want to give them a different experience and something that they can remember long after reading my blog.
So as you can see, execution in an anime is a major factor. It’s the one thing that can make or break an anime in terms of being something great to something meh or worse. Whether it be something that on paper sounds like a great idea to something that sounds pretty meh to something that sounds silly, if it’s executed correctly it can be a big hit. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.
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