Posted on 1 August 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Grand Blue

At this point I think I know enough to see how this will all turn out for this show. The three episode rule may not be an ironclad measure of a shows worth but here I can see that without a big change in direction or animation this show isn’t going to live up to the manga. The director definitely seems to be using the philosophy of Illumination animation of making animation as cheap as possible. Case in point, the titan faces of the manga were often used for exaggerated outburst but in the anime it’s definitely not used out of loyalty but instead as an animation saving technique as just pulling a still image from the manga is easier than animating it. We even have this show pulling the removal of the background and replacing it with a gradient colour. The animation in these episodes is parse and once again I am reminded of Wotakoi which was hampered by its production values too. But the direction of the jokes also has me confused as the pacing is just wrong and jokes are changed to less funny versions.

As an example there is a joke with Iori planning to play strip rock paper scissors with the newcomer Azusa but has to play with some other guys first. Ten minutes later he comes back to Azusa posing dramatically ready to play but he’s got nothing left to strip. In the anime however, rather than have Iori go away for ten minutes, they just jump straight to the punchline and before it has even time to land the anime moves on. They also cut out Asuza laughing her ass off and saying to the other guys about how Iori was the best.

Same with the more lighter jokes like the guys trying to figure out how a girls school uniform could have to do with diving and Kouhei just casually dressing up a hug pillow in it. The punchline is there but the anime never lingers on it enough for it to make an impact and it just passes without much notice. This is part of the process of adaptionas with manga you have time to linger on any panel for how long you want and the sudden page turns make jokes hit you right in the gut. An anime needs to put extra effort in presentation to make the jokes land. You can’t just put the manga on a screen and call it a day, it needs work for the joke to land the same. The problem I see here is that the anime has the same punchlines of the manga but none of the build up to make them as funny as they were. Of course this problem doesn’t quite seem to be affecting first time viewers from what I see so it could be just that I know the jokes and hearing them a second time isn’t as funny as the first. Like a meme that gets repeated ad nauseam with slightly altered context to the point where it loses any humor it once had and just becomes a reference that people point at and say they get. Quite a number of Grand Blue jokes got ruined in this manner, like the lighter and water joke or the Grand Blue is a Diving anime joke.

Posted on 24 July 2018 with categories: Grand Blue

When picking series to cover for an anime season I admit that there are certain series that I pick up solely due to my familiarity/love with the source and as such little thought goes into the choice itself besides the desire to cover it because there is no one else on the team that know this story better than you do. Grand Blue was one of those series for me and the minute it was announced to have anime adaption I pretty much decided to cover it then and there. The reason I bring this up now is to try to justify what I about about to say next as when I sat down to do a write up of this week’s episode, I immediately realized that I effectively decided to fight a dragon with a wooden shield and a toothpick. I likey mentioned this before but allow me to mention it again, out of all genres of anime, comedy is undoubtedly the hardest to blog. For while personal opinion of anime is highly subjective, comedy is situationally subjective. To clarify let me say that I think Team America is a pretty funny movie, I mean the America Fuck Yeah has pretty much become synonymous with overzealous ridiculous American patriotism and the puppetry tech on display was truly impressive.

But one night in college myself and a large group of people decided we were going to watch Team America and when we did not one person so much as chuckled. The movies jokes were met with deadening silence and I truly believe that regardless of what comedy was on screen it would have died in that atmosphere. Likewise once upon a time I found Mel Brooks Men in Tights and the first Austin Powers hilarious but in my later years I went back and rewatched them only to wonder just what I found so amusing about these movies in the first place. The point of this long rambling session is that I have effectively taken the position of trying to explain to you lot just why this show is funny which is a factor that can change drastically very easily. Besides, if you have to explain the joke, then it’s not funny anymore.

So let me procrastinate by talking about the adaptation itself. So far I would say the adaption of Grand Blue is serviceable but there is a definite feeling that the jokes are working in spite of the animation direction rather than because of it. This feels like a budget effort as this is the first show of a budding studio and perhaps I should have considered that the Director has done Gintama so naturally he would know how to do comedy within a budget. After all how many bloody episodes of that show are out? Willing to bet that the show is far from an animation showcase. The big offender her is the titan face moments were they effectively use still frames instead of actually animating it which results in Iori and crew turning into cardboard cutouts of attack on Titan rejects at times. This is one of the strengths of manga that the artstyle can change so drastically for comedic effect without feeling jarring and the change can really hyper exaggerate the characters feelings, hence upping the comedic effect. In anime however this change is basically watching a animated character briefly turn into a still image and break a viewer’s immersion. What worked in manga does not always work in animation and therefore the purpose of an adaptation is to make the story work within the medium. Adaptation decay is often an inevitability but the anime should bring something to the table to make it a viable or preferable alternative to just reading the manga.

So rambling segways aside, what happened in todays episode of Grand Blue? We have three main parts here, one is Iori attempting to convince Nanaka that he is a grown adult so he can go out drinking with the guys who are meeting up with a woman’s university He is attempting to do this by decorating his room which of course has disastrous results. The second part is Teaching Iori to get used to being underwater with equally disastrous results. Finally we have a trip to the Aquarium which Chisa set up for Iori to understand the appeal of diving. The last part was a more serious aspect of Grand Blue which admittedly does feel rather hollow, almost as though going through the motions because we need Iori to get interesting in diving so that he stays in the club and has more wacky hijinks. Sadly a scene was cut during the water training where Iori and crew proceed to suplex each other into the water titan faced while Iori thinks “Fuck diving”. Not sure why they cut that out, makes me smile just thinking of it. Some jokes hit like Nanaka bringing up to Iori that despite living there for three days he still didn’t know where his room is because he’s getting plastered every night. Others sadly feel a bit flat as I remember grining harder when Nanaka congratulated Iori for wearing clothes for once. I feel like more of an effort should be put into presenting the punchlines as in the manga they were very snappy and caught you off guard but in the anime the build up is too obvious and the payoff too drawn out. So far this adaption is proving okay but not circumventing the counterargument of “Why not read the manga instead?”

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