Another NisiOisiN’s light novel series adapted by Shaft?
Count me in as I admit that Monogatari series is one of my beloved shows. Well, certainly one of the shows that I spend the most time with. I always love the writing of NisiOisiN, and I understand that many of his trademarks are not for everyone: his long, rather meaningless chatter banter; his sexual overtones and his rather oblivious main boy protagonist could easily turn readers off; but the things I love the most about his writing is that he cares for his characters, they are flawed people but they’re always growing, and his arcs have a tendency to end strong, indicate that he understands his stories well (something quite frankly I have my doubts on the majority of anime out there). Zaregoto appears to be his first writing efforts back when he was… 21 years of age and we already encounter many of his usual quirks here. Shaft adapting this anime meaning that we have a lot of impressionist backgrounds, scenes that call attention to itself and the visual switches freely depending on the mood of the scenes and most noticeable of all heaps of frantic editing. To say all that I’m not here to compare this one with Monogatari series (even if they have the same overall feeling and that male protagonist is so far another version of Araragi-kun), so I will try my best to shut any of the comparison from now on and just talk about Zaregoto. Now, let’s begin:
Zaregoto presents the many settings in which an unnamed protagonist (I, or li-chan) has to encounter and the mysteries he eventually has to resolve. This OVA will focus on the first book of the LN series, titled The Beheading Cycle: The Blue Savant and the Nonsense Bearer which take place in an isolated island, owned by the lady Akagami (who is cursed with a disease that cause people want to kill; as a result she was exiled to that island). If I have to comment on the characters of Zaregoto in this first episode, I’d say that they are completely over the top. After all, they are all geniuses to begin with. And of course, genius people all talk like their heads are in the clouds. The show followed our MC interact with each of them through a one-on-one fashion. Through his eyes, we have encountered 4 of them so far and each of them have their own voices. With this episode’s main focus is to introduce the cast members, they already add something to the overall picture. But like one of the character already addressed, what they appear so far isn’t their true self, or rather, what his current impressions about them are all wrong.
I’m rather curious on the notion of “genius” because firstly the cast members are exceptional in varying fields: one is an engineer, the others range from academic, chief, artist to fortune teller. They don’t really have anything in common except they’re extraordinary in what they do. In relation to others, they don’t really see eyes to eyes in most of things as the academic girl and the artist girl hated each other guts (and I love the irony in naming as of course the 7 chosen people among the chosen have to be named The Seven Fools, right?). Another interesting point around that notion of genius is in many instances, the blue hair girl Tomo is addressed as Blue savant. Now, in contrast to prodigy, savant is actually a developmental disability and most of people who have savant syndrome suffer brain damages. The most distinguished features between those two often are by their IQ. People who have savant syndrome has low IQ overall but they possess exceptional skills in other areas. Also, the first part of our MC talking with some strange woman is about that very theme of being genius: because they are a prodigy, they unintentionally trample others without knowing the consequences of those actions. The theme of genius is set up nicely so far so I’m eager to see how they make use of its theme in later episodes.
Shaft’s styles in this anime have been solid as expected. I actually like the wide ranges of worlds/ territories settings in Zaregoto and this setting of an isolated mansion is overall impressive. In some parts of this episode, Shaft uses panning shots to both keep the conversations as its main focus, but slowly shifts our attention to other characters. For symbolisms though, while I’m pleased to see each female characters have their own coloring (you can see for yourself in those screenshots), I’m not so sure the use of variations of chess in this episode. We know that the academic girl talks about shogi, but in the beginning scene the boy and that strange woman are sitting in a ordinary chessboard. Hmmm. Maybe our MC’s just meant to be a pawn in that chess? His clock was stopped at one time by someone and I think it could be an important detail for later episodes. Anyway, the big event (the murder) is yet to come so this episode mainly introduces the cast to us. In that vein, I’m quite satisfied with the execution of this episode. The only downside would be we have to wait for another month to catch up, but I have my fingers crossed that the wait is worth it.