Hit the deck, just be careful what you grab on the way down…
|Well, the Kadokawa/Silver Link LN adaptation factory just keeps churning them out. So let’s see what they have for us this time.|
|Ah, another show where the protagonist is incapable of utilizing the same weapon as everyone else, so they have some other weapon that ends up being overpowered in some other way. But this one’s different. How so? Well, it doesn’t give me flashbacks to Absolute Duo for one. *shudders* Just the name alone makes me cringe.|
Grope, Grope, Bang, Bang
They begin with their strongest card…
skylion I’m a bit of a sucker for the show’s cold open. It subverts expectations, seeing a bit of gloom and doom right at the start. It’s a good way to establish a prevailing mood much better than the “this is who is who, and this is what they do” that so many shows start off with: to little if any fanfare. It’s not soon after we are given a proper introduction, but the previous feelings still go on, it hangs over the next scenes.
Now, I said, “this is what they do”, but in the case of the Small Fry Platoon it’s more about what they don’t. For a military group, they do look undisciplined, and pretty much keep to that flow. But it’s early days for the 35th so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. They aren’t completely unskilled. But for all that the Anti-Magic Academy, and it’s student Inquisitors, may be more than it’s simple mission statement; to protect society against ill-willed magic users.
For the most part our main characters are a good mix of merits and flaws, with the latter winning out in the long run. Kusunagi, the acting captain, is shown to be a sworn-sword-bearer; something about family tradition and carrying on an ancient and secret technique, lost and disrespected in the world of high-calibre weaponry. Usagi is not a bad sniper, she just sucks at locating the correct target (OK, that is a definition of bad…but she ain’t complete Maggie’s Drawers) Suginami is laid back, she’s perfect for mission control, but maybe a little to laid back; not to mention some eccentric modifications to standard field issue equipment, thanks for spelling that out for us newcomer. Said newcomer, the demoted Ootori, pretty much works the extremes; she’s not interested in teamwork, and doesn’t inspire it in the slightest; plus she’s sullen and standoffish, pushing the stereotypical tsun…
Hit ’em where they’re weakest…
Our first taste of their combat skills, or lack thereof, is also our first taste of this world at large. It was a pretty interesting set-up; them taking the initiative; contrast that with trouble typically looking for a group like this. But, for the relative success of the mission, the 35th, just has the task of fine tuning those skills. Get Usagi pointed in the right direction and she could be a murder-machine! She got those store dummies dead to rights with a head shot each. Kusunagi hesitates in a clinch, but he looks like he is uncertain of his abilities. It’s not that he can’t wield that sword, or that it’s not cut out for this line of work; the sword looks like it has a caveat, one big enough to need Suginami to talk him down. I’m smelling Cursed with Awesome. If she wasn’t overloaded by all the derp, I’m sure Suginami could do the job she’s assigned to. But, the biggest let down is Ootori. That isn’t a lack of skill, she’s a whirlwind of badass, but it’s clear that she has bigger fish to fry, which can be deadly to her team-mates mid-combat-and I’m kinda let down they toned her down from the manga.
Bet they team up with this mysterious girl later…
That bigger-fish leads us to the magical-world at large. We already have a few clues that things aren’t on the up and up. The headmaster of the school might be part of the illegal trafficking; he just feels too much the Crouching Moron, Hidden Arsehole. We have another mysterious LOLi magic-user in the mix with unknown motives. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We have a world where magic is heavily regulated and restricted. That ends up creating a black market in spells and magic items. We can also add that magic in this world is heavily lampshaded at being nothing but Black; but there is always more than meets the eye.
This adds a great deal of intrigue to the goings on of the Anti-Magic Academy and it’s Inquisitors. They do make it rather clear that killing perps is not an option, hence Ootori’s demotion; off-screen of course. But when the game might be rigged? That was old Inquisitor tech being summoned by magic, so Mari (the mysterious LOLi magic-user) is either a great thief or a collaborator or the Ant-Magic Squads are total bunk on purpose. The bigger-fish is starting to smell stinky. I rather do like these details. Fantasy style magic in most shows are pretty free-wheeling. If they can tell a good story within these limitations, it might be worth watching.
Paying the Bills
Queue the music! ARE YOU READY FOR THIS!
Kyon// So, what do we have? For starters, that soundtrack, good guacamole that soundtrack. I had to go back and rewatch certain parts, because it stood out to me so much I wasn’t paying attention to anything else. It was partly because of being well done and varied to begin with, but it also managed to fit each particular scene exceptionally well. What? I should talk about some other stuff besides the soundtrack? Okay…
It was either this or the local cobini…
Kusanagi has pretty simple motivations. He became an inquisitor to pay the bills (was this really the only option that paid enough or was it just the easiest?) and doesn’t seem to really have much of a vested interest in what they actually try to do. This is fine as he’ll clearly find some reason to make it personal; it isn’t too often that the protagonist carries through with complete indifference (maybe Izayoi from Mondaiji as an example, I only remember him caring about fun).
They know how to party, just not when to…
Still, I’m not sure if he (and Ikaruga if she could really find a mission that easily) lacks the desire to move the Platoon forward, or there wasn’t much they could do anyway with only two members in the field (three total, two of which simply provide support), which would’ve held them back anyway even if that wasn’t the reason.The nail is repeatedly hit on the head when Kusanagi is scolded for being a failure of a captain, because he really doesn’t show any signs otherwise, and even he acknowledges that.
Not pictured: Aplomb?
Usagi lacks any aplomb. As being the only Platoon member that shows an amount of drive, when it comes to the moment of truth she ends up falling short (I swear I don’t make these height jokes on purpose). She celebrates when she thinks she’s done well, which shows that she is capable and knows that fact, but her stage fright isn’t doing anyone any favors, especially Kusanagi.
..Ikaruga knows surville, weapons mods, and the power of siscon…
Ikaruga we didn’t really see a whole lot of, but she’s amusing in her own way. There really isn’t a whole lot else to say since we never got to see her handiwork in action either; at least, the pistols Ootori was using seemed normal to me. Maybe she knows Kusanagi’s sister since she’s able to impersonate her voice so well. Maybe she’s just scary good at taking random guesses of what people sound like.
She does have a tendency of not respecting people’s personal space…
I really, really don’t like Ootori. Most of the time she’s fine, but the revenge motif aggravates me to no end. It reads as: “A witch killed my family, so now I’m going to kill everyone and everything related to witches even though I already got in trouble for that, and eventually it’ll become such a big problem that I could get kicked out or tried, but it’s okay, because that wouldn’t happen anyway I have to avenge them.” To me it seems less like revenge and more like a targeted blind rage. In the grand scope of things becoming consumed by your hatred and risking your own way of life isn’t the best way to do it.
Kusunagi: You’re totally high on tropes, aren’t you? Ootori: Totally high, man….
This destructive force doesn’t last long either, because due to some interaction that character often ends up becoming relatively docile by letting someone else take some, or all, the responsibility of revenge, and while it isn’t the greatest thing in the world to be over-zealously vindictive, I’d argue it’s even worse for them to lose their fire outright. Also, wacky principals are wacky.
Magic! Now available in both horrible AND terrible!
It’s nice to see that the material isn’t afraid to show the nasty side of the what the Platoon tries to stop. Many shows like to dance around any serious consequences to their systems, which isn’t wrong to keep things on the lighthearted side, but it makes getting into the dark underbelly all the more enticing. Maybe I’m just a little disappointed when shows have characters flinging fireballs at each other, and no one gets burnt to a crisp. I’ll be lenient since it’s the first episode, but for an “anti-magic platoon” they don’t seem to be doing a whole lot of combating magic.
I mean, they did try to get that magical tome and all, but I don’t think that even counts. I guess it does. I might be too literal here. It’s probably because right now the 35th Platoon isn’t quite cut out to be dealing in that serious business, but the connection between Valhalla and the yakuza thugs isn’t made known yet either, so it looks more like they’re policing goons that Valhalla seems rather fond of than actually trying to stop some seriously dark black magic mumbo jumbo from going down.
Pictured: Useless schmucks…
This also brings up the nature of the students at the anti-magic academy. Since I can only assume that the academy trains the students the combat skills necessary, is that only limited to guns? As in, Kusanagi having a sword isn’t important in this regard, the main differentiator is that he can use magic. Does the academy train students for magic as well as guns, or is Kusanagi the only one (of the majority of normal students at least) that does use magic? Ootori was an official inquisitor, but does she know any magic as well or is she just that good with typical combat?
Kusanagi didn’t learn that magic from the academy (considering it’s the “Kusanagi” art, it must be the type that’s passed down in the family), and since no one else utilizes any, I’m inclined to say no, the academy doesn’t teach magic, but again, we’ve only met the Platoon members and no other official inquisitors of the academy or anyone else that might have that ability. If this is the case, then I’m even more interested in how inquisitors fight witches with no magic. Usually, a series will approach this by fighting fire with fire, use magic to counter magic, but without that the students must be ridiculously good at devising counter-witch methods to overcome that gap. Or Kusanagi will be the only one who accomplishes anything 99% of the time since he can use magic.
A Few Extra Rounds
This is Silver Link’s third show this Fall season, and their sixth Animation Work proper this year. If the production has any fault, it’s that it tries to do maybe a little bit too much, too hard at times. But that’s a far cry better than last season’s Wizard Buggistars, that took it so easy it was somnambulent.
This one is a bit of a mixed-bag going in. I would have liked to have seen more of a clear cut line between the anti-magic and magic sides. As it stands we got good-guys are good (with qualifiers), bad-guys are bad (with qualifiers) and a big chunk of gray area in between. I wanted more crunch than this, but it serves the basic introductions fine.
I love most of the character design, but honestly that military drab is taking points away. If it weren’t for the flair in our LOLi magic-users, I would call it terrible. I do like the personalities, such as they are, a bit to much in the try-hard department. I like the mix of magic and modern tech in the combat scenes, but the animation is a bit too clunky here and there to call it well done. The story and characterization, given that we are in early days, leans way to heavy on standard tropes.
Try not to muck it up you two….
In addition to Kusunagi’s Cursed with Awesome (and potential Siscon Tendencies), we have a very heavy handed ladling of Ootori’s double whammy of Family Killed by Plot Device coloring the magic situation, and both her and her male lead are falling into I Must Save You From Yourself syndrome. If there is something that I did notice that I do like, it’s the diminishing of those overplayed Instant Runes. So the show can do good by omission; let’ see if they can make the lousier choices better in the long run. We’ve already seen these supposed failures in waiting a few times this season in Calvary, and Aria AA, so perhaps this crew can fail upwards!? They’ve got to buy off that cold open…
List of things I want to see: 1) Kusanagi cut someone in half. 2) More Usagi. Huh. I guess I’m easily pleased. Okay, I really want to see what becomes of Kusanagi himself getting cut in half in the opening scene. If you couldn’t tell he was cut in half, go rewatch it. I picked it up right away after the camera intentionally obscured his bottom half three separate times, and then I went back and realized you could literally see the rest of him right there.
Not pictured evar: lower half…
That’s really not a good way to go. It’s even more alluring when it’s not only Kusanagi that’s been beat to a pulp, but Ootori as well. This must be that serious mumbo jumbo I was talking about before. Overall though, I felt pretty positive about Taimadou’s premiere and remain cautiously optimistic that everything won’t devolve into a magical mess. There’s always that possibility, and if that does turn out to be the case, well, I’ll still deny it, because swords are cool, even if only one person has one.
skylion// I’ll be seeing you!