Posted by psgels on 14 November 2013 with categories: Yozakura Quartet

You can really see that Yozakura Quartet is based on a manga that is quite old already: when people think of a high spot in the center of Tokyo, the thing that immediately comes to their mind is Tokyo Tower. Not the Tokyo Skytree. This also is a bit of an example of creators adhering a little too much to their source material. What difference would it have made to the story to update to the new highest building in Tokyo? And yet it would have added quite a bit to the immersion as a nice detail.

Also, you don’t need to foreshadow everything. If your character is like “Ha! I took your course of action into account and therefore I took the necessary precautions for it!”, then that’s awesome. When an old couple suddenly reveals that they’ve been holding onto this really incredible power for years that’s given to her just as she’s going to be beaten, then you really have to build that up well. You can’t just show a bunch of shots of that couple here and there. It indeed signifies that they were planning on something, but not that they were going to pull something so convenient for the plot out of their asses.

Now, this is nit-picking, so let me get to the point: I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a series great, and I’m pretty sure that the answer is balance: a harmony between every single part. And that’s not there for this series. On one hand you can see lots of attention spent on the animation, but not a lot on the script. The characters all have tragic backstories, but there’s not much variety in it. Everyone’s sortof vaguely bothered by “being a demon is annoying”, and lots of characters blend together because of weak characterization. The OVA was short, dynamic and to the point and therefore didn’t have that problem.

But I think a better comparison is with the second season of Birdy the Mighty Decode (not the first, because it didn’t have the incredible animation). Both series have a true master behind the action scenes, however Birdy uses this as a means, while Yozakura Quartet makes it an end. With Birdy the Mighty, you can mention a ton of other reasons to make it worth watching: the character-development, the incredibly dark turns, the way it brought its setting alive, the chemistry and much more. Yozakura quartet… eh… I mean the OVA is awesome due to the characters and the chemistry of the characters, but the TV-series doesn’t have that as much.

Sure, stuff happened in these two episodes, but I’m not really impressed to be honest. There was fighting… and more fighting, but I found the context of it to be rather weak. And it’s not like the conflict is too simple: Kill la Kill has that too. The difference, I think is that that series knows what it wants. It’s also deliberately paced, and knows where to add symbolism where it needs to. The episodes flow right and they know when to show action and when to show building up, instead of showing flashbacks right in the middle of a huge fight, or finding some weird excuse to have a pause in the middle of action (gee, it’s a good thing those monsters don’t attack us while we’re talking, being sentimental, and not keeping our eyes on them). I know, a lot of this is nitpicking, and alone these issues wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s the big picture I’m trying to sketch here.

Another interesting comparison with this series would be to White Album 2. Why? Because both series feature a director who previously was one of the best animation directors for TV-series out there. The big difference is that White Album specifically does not focus on its animation, but more on making the different parts work together. I haven’t completely caught up, but it seems to do a better job. Let me put it this way: if I had to pick one element of these two series that stands out the most, then it’s the animation of Yozakura Quartet. However in terms of the big picture, White Album has it beaten at this point.
Rating: 3,5/8 (Enjoyable)

7 Responses

  1. Deadlight says:

    Yeah, Yozakura has been disappointing these past three episodes. White Album has been amazing throughout

  2. Mazz says:

    I guess it’s disappointing because the first episode was so good. Sadly, the show is just average, if not a bit above average for me (I haven’t been as disappointed as you guys, but it isn’t the show I look forward to every week like Flamenco, KLK and Giga).

  3. ronbb says:

    “I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a series great, and I’m pretty sure that the answer is balance: a harmony between every single part.”

    Very well said and agreed with you. In my view, Kyousogiga, Uchouten Kazoku, Shin Sekai Yori, and Chihayafuru fall into the category of well-balanced and well-rounded shows. Yozakura Quartet is apparently lacking.

  4. TheUltimateReaper says:

    I’m not sure what the deal is. I really like Quartet. I think it’s pretty charming as it is. Sure I guess it could be better, but unlike Kyoukai no Kanata, I wouldn’t call it “wasted potential”.

  5. RABUJOI says:

    I was also miffed by the Sky Tree non-mention, but also with the fact that there was some decent set-up in episode 5 that made up for episode 4’s poolside awfulness, but the payoff in episode 6 turned out to be very underwhelming in general. It even evoked memories of the long, drawn-out, boring battles in BLEACH…definitely not something you want your quality anime evoking!

  6. Razors says:

    i never knew you would rate 3,5/8 as enjoyable.

  7. Yourdream says:

    I don’t see the problem. The anime is set in Tokyo when Tokyo Tower was the tallest building. Saying they should update the source material makes no sense. If native Americans in the 1700s want to go to a high place, you don’t update the source material so that they think of the Empire State Building or something. That’s ridiculous.

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:24 AM)
    I also find it easier to get an emotional response from a honest drama, live action film, largely due to the real people doing the acting. Sometimes you get an actor whose just that good too…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    I’ve gotten my odd emotional reaction here from anime and manga but a lot of the time it feels like the jump scare in a generic horror movie, I got shocked but I felt minipulated afterwards it wasn’t genuine, the same goes for some anime/manga drama when it takes a melodramatic turn instead of a bleak, honest one.

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