Be honest, you want a hot and fresh cup of smug, don’t you?
|Smug is versatile, you can milk it for all it’s worth and it’s still gonna be sweet. But even after saying that, Akashic Record is probably something you’ve seen before – and if the truth is really to be told, something you’ve dismissed before. A cup runneth dry…|
Too Smug, No Cup
The show wears its sameness to other LN properties like a well-tailored, yet still ill fitting suit; ain’t no model ever gonna fit into these clothes, but more on uniforms later. So, here we have a samey sort of magical kingdom, and a samey sort of school life masquerading as the So Very Important World Shaping Awesome Magical Academy. Then we have the samey sort of set up with multiple female characters (Rumia and Sistine) arriving on stage, all cute and docile and just so in the moment, only to be followed by the awkward (yet still impartial, and you know an even more awkward reintroduction is coming later) introduction of the befuddled, idiotic, malcontented, yet still someone destiny changing, and doesn’t quite acknowledge his real awesomeness, only his fake awesomeness, jerkwad of a male (Glenn Radars – yes that is his name!) lead – phew! Sorry about that! The dude upstages the girls, who in turn, upstage his upstaging in a rapid succession of cartoon violence to the screams of “no ecchi!”. Lather that stuff up, rinse and repeat. You got 23 or so minutes of samey. And they really do repeat that stuff, “comedy” happens in multiples…
Wait! This isn’t a typical Trope!
So after saying all that, we come to the inevitable, “but, but, it’s different”, part of the review. In that respect, it kinda is. But only just kinda. The reaction animation is actually quite nice, with a well crafted layer of fluidity and timing. The comedic facial features sell the characters well, and I cannot fault it for that. In fact it’s a really good selling point, and lines up all the right numbers for the the farcical feel the show wants to groove on. The intent behind the females supporting cast, with Sistine taking the lead, is spot on – if not outright just the same as any other show that bills itself as an ecchi comedy. It’s a decent flipping of that script, with the male leading showing no real capacity on being the exceptionally talented yet idiotic wunderkind these long winded LN titles seem to want. He remains a belligerent, know-nothing, do-nothing, lazy, jerk from start to finish. They do hint that he is needed and necessary to the plot for some reason or other (and so what!), but for right now, he’s only motivated by self-preservation; his wrangler, Celicia, being a well designed, if not stereotypical, outlier of sorts, pushes him into the plot, despite some odd give and take with the school higher ups. With all that in mind, I can almost gleem, I can almost sense, that they’re trying to tell us something important in all this; that the fact of the matter is that girls are underestimated and have to work harder to get to the same relative level of success that guys get just by being guys. So there is some messaging.
Celicia is the stand-out character – the only one that seems competent
But, and this is the backlash, it’s in the wrong place, saying the wrong things. So in getting back to one point, I don’t object outright to the uniforms the girls wear – designs for exaggerated figures in anime space are not the same for designs in real human space – but I absolutely have to admit they are really regrettable, and they stand out just for the sake of standing out. While I do expect spectacle from anime, there is a standard of good and bad taste, and this stuff is Crossing Bad. Which is even more regrettable because I think there is some dinky well meaning behind it, that goes along with that messaging, that girls are coresetted and garter’d and all, but that restraint is their real strength or, being the power behind the power is where they belong, or some other such half-thought out nonsense. Costuming and hair are visual clues, only this one has a poked out eye. So, like the farcical elements the show intends to give us, it’s not being executed with honesty, only earnesty. Which takes me aback, as LindenFilms usually makes some good stuff (shush, I’m being generous, Airua being a long time favorite of mine) so perhaps they have some decent stuff on the back burner for Akashic Record? Well, I doubt that…
Sistine: What did I just watch? Can I please leave?