Saturday, 27 November 2010

Anime Review - Asura Cryin

Tomoharu thought Shuri's choice of evening
wear was a little daring

Sometimes flicking through my anime hard drive, I have no recollection whatsoever of what a series is, let alone why I downloaded it. Asura Cryin’ falls into this bracket and the Russian roulette game of
 picking the next title to watch loaded this bullet into the chamber.

Gently breaking in the viewer with what initially seems like a generic highschool RomCom, Tomoharu is a cliché male protagonist who rebuts the advances of all interested female parties, including his ghostly sidekick that lives with him. Yup, things soon take a turn for the weird as a supernatural element is introduced. It is roughly at the end of the first episode that things rapidly take a nosedive. Cue the appearance of a stunning, yet brutal brunette with an impressive arsenal (and breasts), then add a shy yet determined fire-starting demon and things are already getting a little crazy. But when has plot ever got in the way for anime writers? Certainly not for the writers of Asura Cryin’, who instead throw a giant mech, mafia-style gangs, cyborgs and ghosts into the mix for good measure.

Thank you for flying Anime Airways - if you look to the left,
you may be lucky enough to see two giant mecha
It is a shame really, as the show rapidly falls into the same trap as To Aru Majutsu no Index. Enticing viewers in with an exciting premise and delectable mix of science, the style in which the genres arrive is just too hard and fast. A prime example of this is the poorly choreographed mecha fight scenes: warming up with the promise of greatness, the narrative frequently skips ahead in time, only to retell the battle in a series of flashbacks. Not only is this a total anticlimax, but it completely ruins the flow of the series.

Trying to invoke multiple emotions, Asura Cryin’ fails miserably instead causing the viewer to sit scratching their head in bewilderment. Action falls flat, the ecchi results in a damp squib and the romance couldn’t be more predictable if it tried. There is a glimmer of hope towards the final scenes, but this is cut short as the credits begin to roll. I can only hope that the second season answers all of the questions posed and subsequently forgotten about throughout the first 13 episodes.

Thats right, I said "weird haircut"
To start with the excellent, the computer generated elements are extremely impressive; the giant mech take to battle with ease and gracefully saunter across the screen. The stunning use of bright colours for the casting of magical spells is also a definite plus and is beautifully suited to HD. Sadly, the rest of the animation is a disappointment, especially given the age of the show. Weird haircuts and uninspired facial features give the characters a look of something dredged up from the turn of the century, whilst the backgrounds are nothing to write home about. Luckily, Kanade has a nice “boing” to her chest that is frequently exploited throughout.

Stepping up to the lead role, Miyu Irino takes a moment away from voicing Tsubasa Chronicle’s Syaoran to give an emotional performance to Tomoharu. Kanade is appropriately shy and girlish, whilst her polar opposite Misao is perpetually annoying, upbeat and spunky. The essential tsundere role is completed with the arrival of Ania, who gripes and complains whilst retaining an element of sweet innocence.

The opening and closing tracks are performed by an artist named only Angela. I can’t say I’ve heard of her before, nor will I go hunting for any of her work, as her nasal tones just didn’t fit into my usually eclectic choice of music. Although the fast beats used throughout the series suit the occasional battles, the soundtrack became more of a miss for me than an overall hit.

As a not-so-dazzling lead, Tomoharu becomes an increasingly clueless dolt thrown into a strange situation. Blessed with a half-hearted back story, season one doesn’t really explain the how’s or why’s of his acquisition of his servant, Kurogane, occurred. His live in ghost, Misao, is often the focus of numerous ecchi shots, including the prerequisite swimsuit episode. Luckily, she is given quite a succinct backstory, and despite being gratingly enthused throughout, Misao is probably one of the best fleshed out (excuse the pun) characters.

Neato party trick!

Regrettably relegated to a role as a reasonably minor character, the student council president Touru is the ultimate in bad-ass, sword wielding females. With only the subtlest sniff of her history, it seems that she held an infinite amount of promise (and would look awesome in a bikini), but this has not been capitalised on. As a bad turned good guy, Shiro-kun is also a somewhat underused personality. Considering his overall contribution to the plot, I can’t help but feel he had a lot more to offer.

Trying to blend so many genres, flesh out characters and adding a sprinkling of ecchi into such a small space of time, season one of Asura Cryin is a train-wreck. Strangely enough, I *will* be watching the next thirteen episodes. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for punishment, or perhaps it’s due to a firm groundwork being set with the promise of a darker finale, but I’m living in hope that the mediocrity of the opening show will be dwarfed by the brilliance of its successor.

No comments:

Post a Comment