Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou – 04
「これは絵なのだろうか？」 (Kore wa Ena Nodarou ka?)
“Is This a Painting?”
We learn more about how the Daemonia came into being, but the story doesn’t progress much aside from snips of foreshadowing.
Monster of the Week
This week’s episode was eight minutes of necessary exposition plus a Daemonia-of-the-week plot that will probably end up being pretty meaningless in the end. On my latter charge, you could argue that Luna being able to hear the Daemonia and the widening rift between Akari and Seira will be sufficiently important, but all that didn’t seem to have quite enough oompfh for all the time we spent watching Okakura Kiyone’s (Hayami Saori) fall to darkness. I may be wrong about that, but it felt like, counter to some of the earlier episodes, this week we didn’t have enough going on, instead of far too much.
As for the necessary exposition/foreshadowing itself, they did introduce one of the agents of Cerebrum, a shadowy organization that collects human souls and is working with some politician who is undoubtedly going to regret his deal with the devil (makers) at some point. That’s about as obvious as realizing that things wouldn’t end will for the mean girl at the ~30 second mark of this episode. I think the really important part will be the talk of the Tree of Life, and the controlling thereof. I’m not a super tarot buff by any means, but combine that with the final scene from the ED, and trying to control the Tree of Life – and probably not just at an individual level, but on a much larger scale – is bound to be a central plot point later on.
Darkness, Atmosphere, Descent, Visuals
As I watched an episode that centered around the fall of what will probably end up being an unimportant character, I was thinking about what Gen’ei does really well. The visuals, for one. That’s what first drew me to this show, and they have not faltered, especially when they get abstract and darkly creative. What they do even better than that though, is evoke pain, madness, and atmosphere. The show never really gets happy-go-lucky, and is always mired in this low-grade horror that permeates everything, but it’s when they’re showing a character’s descent into madness that it really works. Art and art direction really are its greatest strengths, and while it’s not always as subtle as it could be, it gets me in the mood it wants me to be in every time.
Seeing as this was an episode about art, this is a good time to opine on what the central flaw of this show might end up being. I feel like it has all of the elements to be truly great, but it lacks one thing: the purity of vision gained through having a single, passionate artist driving the entire story. Stories cannot be made by committee, because if you try, you’ll end up with Guilty Crown. This series is already much better than that travesty – in fact, referencing Guilty Crown in a Gen’ei post does Gen’ei a great disservice – but I don’t get the sense of passionate vision that I get from stories like Mahou Shouto Madoka Magica or my favored Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. Those are works of genius – flawed genius, perhaps, but genius nonetheless – where I could feel Shinobu and Kamoshida-sensei’s personality and vision in every single scene, every single thing that happened. Gen’ei strikes me as a story where a few writers sat down and worked together to try to make the best story they could. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great way to make an anime; it’s just not the best way to make the story underlying it. It lacks heart, simplicity, vision, and above all, the flaws that give a story character.
Another thought: Some people have said that this is too much like Madoka, which shows a lack of awareness of the many other stories that Gen’ei echoes (and Madoka did before it). Still, I can definitely see how Gen’ei could have come about because some executive saw how popular (and profitable) Madoka was and said, “Hey, we can do that too.” I have no problem with that – part of being an artist is taking ideas you like from other stories and fashioning them into something new – but without that singular artistic vision, it starts to seem exploitative. If it works, all is forgiven. If it’s merely okay…well, we’ll see. There’s still a lot of the season left to go.
Note: None of this is to say that I’m not enjoying Gen’ei! It’s just, if Gen’ei doesn’t live up to its potential, I bet these will be the reasons. As I said before, we’ll see.
Looking Ahead – A Clash of Opinions
Akari and Seira aren’t getting along because they both have deeply held beliefs, but it looks like the next episode will (probably) be about Ginka, who is self-aware enough to know that she doesn’t have anything of the sort. She’s the one who has gotten the least development so far, so I’ll be excited to see what her major malfunction ends up being.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Necessary exposition & foreshadowing combined with a largely unimportant monster of the week #geneitaiyou
- One thing I really enjoy about this show is that it presents all these different philosophies, but doesn’t really pass judgement one way or the other. At best, it shows which ones will drive you into darkness. Sometimes the antagonists are even right! Ex: when the daemonia accused Akari of “just trying to make yourself feel better!” Exactly, unequivocally right.
- Another example: “Anyone can change the future to their liking, depending on their outlook.” That’s true, just not the way this guy meant it. Outlook matters a lot. I suggest a positive one, myself.
- Another example was when Seira was talking about how weak people don’t matter, and should just be eliminated. Even if you’re strong, even if others are weak, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to exist. We’re better than that. Modern humanity can do better than a barbaric survival of the fittest.
- Two innocents dead and a building on fire before they finally get the alarm. They really need a better detection system.
- NOTE: I’ll be out of town next weekend, so Zephyr is going to be covering episode five. Though to be honest, he’s been helping with this show all season so far, so be sure to thank him an extra lot! Zephy saikyou!
For more from yours truly, check out my blog on writing, art, and the book I’m working on at stiltsoutloud.com.
Full-length images: 20.