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« Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou – 12

Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou – 13 (END)

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「太陽の微笑み」 (Taiyou no Hohoemi)
“The Sun’s Smile”

A fitting end to this series. Which is to say, it wasn’t very good.

Understanding One Another

Okay, to be fair, not everything was bad. One part I did like was how Fuyuna and Akari finally came to understand one another. (Well, dream Fuyuna – Fuyuna is still dead. But whatever. Don’t think about it too hard.) It actually made a lot of sense – Fuyuna couldn’t stand Akari’s brightness, so when she started to cloud over, Fuyuna could relate to her better, and they could finally talk. They flogged the whole humans-can’t-understand-one-another bit half to death – does anyone really think we can fully understand one another? – but at least that part fit.

But Seriously, Why Is This Happening?

Aaaaand then there was the rest. For one, Ginka’s return. Ginka apparently came back because she heard Akari’s voice because…reasons, which enabled her to beat her opposite because…don’t think about it too much. The arbitrary limiter that was on Etia and Ariel was also silly, because it cheapened how they shattered the Clessidra since they had all this power all along, and just couldn’t use it because the Leguzario are dicks or something. And what was that part where Akari’s hair helped her break through to kill Cerebrum? That doesn’t make any sense, was never foreshadowed, and also GAH how weird!

Tropes Are Not Bad

Let me state this up front – tropes are not bad (trope!). BUT! (beat for effect…) You have to use them properly. They’re tools, and a lot of them became tropes (and even cliches) because they work. When they’re tossed around willy-nilly, it’s a sign of lazy writing.

I’ll give two examples. First was Cerebrum’s transformation into a his monster (trope!) form. When done well this trope can really work, especially when the transformation comes out of anger or pure malevolence, such as how it usually works with one of the trope’s scions, Maleficent (see the trope page). When done out of desperation? That’s just asking to die. Contrast this with Priscilla & Meltina’s big damn heroes moment (trope!) when they saved Akari from Cerebrum’s cage thing. Sure, they didn’t end up really doing much, but it was unexpected and it made sense that they would only arrive then (they only got healed a little while ago), so it was fine. Unfortunately we had far more of the former than the latter.

Additional Thoughts

I’m still not sure if Cerebrum was Akari’s father, though he did have a vision about Hinata as he was dying, soooo ew. Just ew. Final impressions below, once I go take a shower. Forever uncleeeean!!

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Bad use of tropes + wonky logic = unsatisfying conclusion. That Fuyuna thing didn’t totally suck though. At least it’s over #geneitaiyou END

Random thoughts:

  • But hey, at least we got some symmetrical docking. Though the picture is zoomed out so far you can hardly tell. Hax!

For more from yours truly, check out my blog on writing, art, and the book I’m working on at stiltsoutloud.com.

Epilogue:

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Final Impressions

There was so much potential. There were many ways this show could have done that would have been better – as an exploration of protagonists-as-murderers, as a slow grinding down and breaking of each and every character, or as a tragedy where Akari’s flaws (preferably, more believable flaws than the ones they ended up giving her) drove everyone around her to their inevitable destructions. Hell, even in this last episode I was thinking how cool it would be if Akari went all Queen of Blades and became the twisted, mutant leader of the Daemonia. With what appears to be even more bastardly antagonists in the form of the Leguzario, it could have been fascinating to see Akari go up against her former friends…though that would have had to happen episodes ago, not during this last one. By this point, I just wanted it to end.

I think one of the major flaws was that Gen’ei never decided what it wanted to be. It strutted around like a grimdark tragedy, but it never committed, and ended up pulling its punches to give us a happy ending. More than any show since Guilty Crown, this show reeked of design-by-committee, which is a terrible way to write because it denies you the flawed brilliance of the singular artist. But even had the show committed to being a tragedy, Gen’ei wouldn’t have been a good one, and it’s instructive to examine why.

For a tragedy to really work, the tragic character(s) are required to take part in their own downfall. It is some flaw of theirs or some choice they make that leads to their destruction, and that’s precisely what makes it tragic – when the world just conspires against someone heartlessly, it’s not tragic, it’s just unfortunate. An old literature professor of mine once explained it like this: a child being hit by a car is not a tragedy, whereas that same child being hit by a car because her father, who was holding her hand until he became so overcome by lust for a beautiful woman walking by that he let his daughter run out into traffic… Now that would be a tragedy. It’s not the dead child that’s tragic, but the father’s flaw/decision that will eat at him for the rest of his miserable life.

Compare Gen’ei’s attempt at tragedy to the show it so clearly wanted to be, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. The characters in Madoka had flaws and made decisions that led directly to their downfalls, but the ones in Gen’ei did not. They never really chose to fight, they just accepted that they had to. Without choice and believable flaws, the story does not resonate, and without that, the tragedy falters. And yes, you can argue that Madoka wasn’t a tragedy either, but (spoiler alert) its character fell much further, and it took a literal miracle to give us something like a happy ending, though even that fit within the story. Gen’ei had none of that.

I could go on and on about where this show failed, and the storytelling lessons I learned from it – primarily in the area of what not to do – but I don’t want to bore you. While I applaud AIC for taking a risk and trying something new, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily work. Gen’ei was a failed experiment, a badly told story, and it earns the dubious distinction of being the show I most regret having blogged in my time writing for RandomC so far. Better luck next time AIC, just learn from your mistakes. You have plenty to choose from.

End Card

Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou   13   End Card
September 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm
37 comments »
  • September 28, 2013 at 4:30 pmJibun

    Well, I was hoping to enjoy this series, then that it would redeem itself but in the end the only thing I kinda liked was Luna. That’s too bad it had potential and style.

  • September 28, 2013 at 4:32 pmAnanas

    This show in a nutshell.

    http://i.imgur.com/3wCf8SG.jpg

    • September 29, 2013 at 10:47 amSmokex365

      I admit, I lol’d out loud at that.

      This could’ve been one of those great shows, but it fell apart in the middle and not amount of duck tape could repair it.

    • September 29, 2013 at 2:54 pmStilts

      Hahaha, nice one!

  • September 28, 2013 at 4:37 pmGoodwill Wright

    Well… at least it will make good AMV material…

  • September 28, 2013 at 4:45 pmSteelman

    Not much to say here: excellent start, horrible execution.

    If there is a lesson that I wish RC would take out of it, is that a bit more flexibility in the blogging schedule would not be a bad idea. You guys seem to always fix the blogging schedule by the first-second episode of each season. The result is that sometimes shows go to hell around the 4th-5th episode (like this one) and you are stuck blogging something very subpar – while other times, a show that didn’t catch your fancy during season preview later explodes in popularity and still receives no coverage (Jojo would likely be the best example in the past year).

    I understand that this is the way things have always worked at RC since Omni’s time (I’ve been reading the blog since 2007), but I don’t think that changing this one policy would be a bad idea…

    • September 30, 2013 at 7:40 amboki

      Heh, looks like I’m not the only one who’s having this thought.

      That was my only criticism for RC since 2007 but it seems like they won’t change it the sooner or later.

    • September 30, 2013 at 10:53 amStilts

      It’s not that we can’t drop shows (Omni and Div have both done that a lot) or even pick up new ones (Hunter x Hunter just got that a season ago), it’s just that we prefer not to. We consider it a sign of professionalism to take things from the beginning, and we’ll try to finish a show if we have the time. If, for example, I suddenly got super busy IRL then I would have dropped this like a bad dream, but since I had the time I finished it out. That’s just my/our warped pride ^^

  • September 28, 2013 at 4:57 pmzztop

    At leat the OP was nice to listen to. I really liked the guitar track in LiSA’s song.

    I suppose part of the unsatisfaction is that the show never really tells the backstory and what the villian’s plans were.

    Like, what kind of arrangement did Cerebrum and the politician have? What arrangement did the Leguizario even have with Cerebrum?
    What is the Leguzario’s true goal, and why were they pitting the girls and Cerebrum against each other?
    Who leads the Leguizario, and why are they so mean?
    Is Cerebrum even Akari’s father? If not, how does he know her mother?

    ED. I heard there is to be a bonus 14th episode in December, although I am unsure if this ep intends to fill in all the missing backstory.

    • September 28, 2013 at 8:38 pmsealouse

      Whatever happened with that politician anyways? What was the whole point of that character? Man talk about a loose thread.

  • September 28, 2013 at 5:55 pmdaikama

    Somehow the ending wasn’t as bad as I expected, though TBH by now my expectations are at abyssmal levels.

    I’ve never watched an anime that imploded to the extent this one did (for the record I have not watched Guilty Crown, but my impression is that it wasn’t as bad). In terms of what qualifies as “tragic”, the shear amount of potential wasted by this show makes a strong argument IMO of being just that.

    At this point, I’m simply worn out on the show. Besides, everything has pretty much been said (often more than once). If there’s positive to be drawn I think it’s that when watching good, quality shows, I’ll be more appreciative.

    @Stilts: IMO you did a great job with the reviews – especially given the material to cover. If you want to apply to RC for hazard pay, I’ll be happy to back you up.

    • September 29, 2013 at 2:59 pmStilts

      Ahaha, thank you! And I actually thought about mentioning that the only thing tragic about this show was how badly it turned out (which did spring from AIC’s flaws and/or choices, after all!), but after using the dead child example, it didn’t seem tragic enough!

  • September 28, 2013 at 6:29 pmBear

    The sad part is that the early part of the show had great potential, but it was squandered by trying to throw too much into the mix. Just the whole “having to kill people who may have had a weakness and regret their actions” was enough of a storyline to fill a one cour show. They can’t even blame it on source material, since it’s an original instead of manga or LN derived.

    Cerebrum’s connection to the Leguzario was never explained nor why Etia and Ariel are “locked” nor why they seem to just accept that or at least tell the girls when everything falls apart. My guess is that Cerebrum is not “dead” and would come back if the show ever got another cour (shudder). The Leguzario seems like a group of Greek gods who toy with humanity, “just because”. No rationale as to their actions just sadistic curiosity. Of course we get the tag ending where they’re off around the world giving them a hook for another cour (I hate that btw).

    @Stilts: I second diakama’s praise for hanging in there. Given that you’re a writer it must have been doubly hard to keep from pounding on the screen as you watched this train go off the rails.

    • September 29, 2013 at 3:02 pmStilts

      It was hard to not rage at times, though like I said in my final impressions, I took it as one long lesson in how not to do it, and those are quite possibly more valuable to a storyteller than the good shows. They made a ton of mistakes that I now (hopefully!) won’t have to repeat!

  • September 28, 2013 at 6:54 pmBloodshoteveryday

    Admittedly, even I can not deny the flaws this anime had; one of the primary flaws this anime had can be elaborated on through means of another anime which aired earlier this year; which was vastly better, and more entertaining than this one; Vividred Operation. (Admittedly, I did like this anime quite a bit; I just enjoyed Vividred quite a bit more than average.)
    This anime, from the start was going to be a dark, sinister anime; and certainly did have that effect; not anywhere near as good as the heart rending Madoka; however still an entertaining and amusing take on the mahou shoujo genre. To continue with the Vividred comparison, Vividred clearly marketed itself as something that was not supposed to be fully taken seriously, it was a fun, amusing ride filled with color and loli bottom shots. If one did take that anime seriously, they’d have tons; and tooons of questions for it; even beyond the whole “friendship = logic doesn’t matter” card they pulled. However, you could easily just enjoy it for what it was; an amusing and silly ride, even if it did have dark themes.
    Gen’ei by comparison, is something that actually pulled way more of the cards Vividred pulled; however they couldn’t get away with it. It is a series meant to be taken seriously, a world where fate essentially decides who gets to live what life they lead, a world where schoolgirls are essentially forced to murder people due to those people’s weakness and inability to shake coercion. A world where despair is pretty much everywhere; this anime took a few wrong turns, and while it did manage to retain it’s air of amusement one can feel through watching it, and was by no means terrible; it still couldn’t get away with the countless tropes, plot-holes and lack of elaboration it suffered through. An anime with a plot like this can not get away with doing this half-assedly, it was a hit or miss; and in most regards, this was a miss.

    All things considered I did enjoy it, it was one of the anime that during the first half I looked forward to every week; it went downhill from there, I used to be able to defend it from the people who pretty much just spewed the whole “uh… dis iz just madoka copy hurhur.” argument, but unfortunately I can’t defend it from actual critics anymore. I was hoping this would be a lot better than it was, but it was at the very least a decent anime thankfully.

    • September 29, 2013 at 3:04 pmStilts

      You have a good point. Because this took itself so seriously, it had to execute well, whereas shows that don’t take themselves seriously can get away with some things because they’re unabashedly focusing on making it fun. Higher risk, higher potential reward…but in this case, they did not get the latter. Oh well.

  • September 28, 2013 at 8:19 pmewok40k

    I was torn between epic soundtrack of the final battle, a graphic style I generally liked (Akari charging with her solar sword, Luna using her newly-found offensive powers) – and horribly, horribly inconsistent storytelling. I seriously suspect design-by-committee, as Stilts-aniki does… Cerebrum especially going “I just will kill you all/One winged angel” was pitiful. I expected better of such supposedly smart enemy… to quote my favorite villain of all times, an epic Magnificent Bastard (T) himself:
    “You were expecting, perhaps, an all-out attack? That I should seek to cover our defeat in a frenzy of false and futile heroics? We haven’t been defeated, merely slowed down a bit.”
    (+100 Ewok points for whomever will name my idol!)
    For more anime-centric comparison, look at Lune from TWOGK at the end of the Goddesses arc. She slips out into shadows, even with most of her subordinates captured, she remains a threat at large.

    • September 29, 2013 at 3:07 pmStilts

      Admiral Thrawn.

      Hello, Stilts’ childhood…

      • September 29, 2013 at 11:23 pmewok40k

        Bingo! Stilts-aniki knows it all… or maybe quite much :)
        I am quite a fan of a strategist-type character as compared to the usual action aces. This made me happy to await incoming Valvrave season 2 and more L-11, and the Arpeggio of the Blue Steel that looks like entire fleets clashing at sea…

      • September 30, 2013 at 12:30 amStilts

        I don’t know everything, I just know what I know ; )

  • September 28, 2013 at 8:45 pmDigitalFowl

    I will admit that once again, there was at least a small glimmer of a ‘not total shit’ moment in the episode. That back and forth Akari had with Not-Fuyuna was really good and had I not been on lunch break while watching the episode, would likely have brought me to borderline crying.

    And then Akari Deus Ex Machina’d her way out of everything… Just like what happened for Ginka (Like the writers would have actually come up with some deep, meaningful and philosophical explanation for her survival) and the use of Etia and… Whatever her name was powers.

    And it’s not like Cerebrum could have had some real deep aspiration other than being evil and turning into a big monster, but that’s what they go with (Like the writers would actually come up with some deep, meaningful and phi- Wait a minute…) and the like the whole entire show, we end up with the finale being another squandered mess.

    Stilts, already commented on what the show potentially could have been had the show focused on the ‘Saviors or Executioners?’ theme present in the first half. The guy who suggested the entire show should have focused on that is spot on for a good direction the show could have taken. Seeing the characters driven to debate, argue and potentially even FIGHT one another would have made for an INCREDIBLY engaging show concerning the ethics on this role the characters are given. Hell, Seira’s apathy in the beginning had me pegging her as being the sole survivor (or the last to be killed off) at the end of the series and sort of taking what she learned from the experience with her into the future.

    This ‘grimdark magical girl’ genre (if we can call it that) has pitched something I don’t see done very well in most anime series and that is the futility of mankind’s desire to improve itself or ‘do the right thing’. But shows like Madoka, Gargantia, From the New World and many more (Not all of them have to have magical girls) present incredibly interesting outlooks on it even if it is all purely fictional. The fact that these shows give its MC’s powers beyond their wildest dreams and they STILL can’t make the impact on the world that they want OR that they have to make sacrifices in order to get what they want send a very strong message to its viewers.

    And to see Daybreak Illusion come so very close to latching onto that plight of humanity sub plot and COMPLETELY abandon it in favor for doing things by the book was what made this show experience so painful. And it’s not like Guilty Crown where you’re disappointed but happy with the time you spent on the show… No, I’m ashamed of the time I invested (Albeit not much) on this show. Even if the committee walks away having learned something, there’s no guarantee that this won’t be a bad mark on their permanent records so to speak.

    For a show who’s title could have had such an influence on the overall experience, the sun did extremely little to penetrate the illusion of it being anything more than a mediocre cash in on the times.

    And I am not sorry in any way whatsoever for that long winded pun at the end.

    • September 29, 2013 at 3:11 pmStilts

      If there’s anything heartening about this show, it’s the quality of the comments criticizing it (this one, and most of the ones on this post, absolutely included). No mindless hating here, but real, substantive reasons why it came out no good. I appreciate that at least!

  • September 28, 2013 at 10:46 pmpetitorenji

    Horrible endings (or non-existent ones) has been a repetitive pattern in storytelling these days for both J-dramas and anime. Do writers there have a workshop where they’re given multiple story beginnings to write adequate endings to?

  • September 28, 2013 at 11:51 pmthedarktower

    so much potential from first episodes..good conflicts that didn’t execute well..for example about whether the “good guys(oops girls)” are some sort of soldiers manipulated to kill enemy which maybe become that way against their will..there was also the conflict between akari and seira which solved too easily and quickly…and many more.
    eventually from the second half..things started to drag out too much. even if akari somehow would gone berserk as evil…it was also somehow expected.
    I think the series really abandoned its potential. plus, any compare to Madoka will be wrong. obviously it’s not Madoka. characters and their own conflicts and resolve is different. and we knew from the very beginning about the cat and crow hiding something, in complete contrast to QB.
    eventually…it was disappointment. with much more question and bizarre explanations (ahem Ginka ahem)..

    I wonder about s2. basically it is indeed needed from the plot and stuff..but I don’t think the show did succeeded or will succeed in sales.

  • September 29, 2013 at 2:15 amStiltzkin

    Best thing about this show was the OP song (Träumerei by LiSA).

    • September 29, 2013 at 2:20 amewok40k

      generally soundtrack was probably the brightest spot of the whole series… fights got properly epic BGM too!

  • September 29, 2013 at 7:21 amflamerounin

    sigh, this could have been a rather intriguing mix of mahou shoujou and horror, but the producers seem too fixated in trying to outdo madoka in all the wrong areas (to be honest, i only watched madoka midway into this).

    they already had a good start with the whole conflict about killing people who turn into daemonia and akari’s inner turmoil about fuyuna, which could have seamlessly led into the latter conflict with luna and the finale. but no, they just have to shoehorn that twist about the counterpart cards which really came out of nowhere. and then, just as quickly as they do that, they undo the impact of it by showing ginka alive for no apparent reason. really, this is definitely this year’s prime candidate for how you ruin what could have been a good series.

    the only thing that was good, as stilts and ewok40k said, was the OP and the overalll soundtrack. sign -_-’

  • September 29, 2013 at 8:22 amPringlesXD

    The anime was tragic just by the studio’s flawed decision to make everything go downhill. xD

  • September 29, 2013 at 11:23 amleatherhead333

    Was i the only one who thought that the soundtrack was nothing amazing? Seriously Tatsuya Kato is so underrated. The man is a genius and prints out music like money. He composed for 3 different shows this season (this show, Free and Fate/Illya) and each of them had their own feel/stlye and were a joy to listen too. Out of all 3 i’d say this one had the best OST of them all. It’s one the reasons i continued to watch this crap pile. It’s such a shame that this is a Aniplex production though. First OST won’t be released till Christmas and the next OST won’t come till February. I hate it when publishers do that…….

    Btw the 14th episode is supposed to be released on the 25th of December (CHRISTMAS TIME!). Not sure if it will be an OVA or a continuation for the story but either way it won’t redeem this series one bit. Like it’s been said before this series had a promising start but failed on all crucial points that would have made it truly unique and compelling.

    • September 29, 2013 at 3:14 pmStilts

      No, I agree, the soundtrack was good. Soundtracks just work best for me when they punctuate great scenes (which Prisma Illya did, & Kyoukaisen is still my reigning king of), and there were too few of those here. I’m afraid his amazing work on this OST will be mostly poisoned by association with such a bad story.

  • September 29, 2013 at 11:24 amleatherhead333

    Ooops i meant to say
    *nothing short of amazing?

  • September 30, 2013 at 6:58 amUrizithar

    I really don’t know what to say now. First episodes weren’t great but they had potential and half a way through it could still be a very good show. I honestly don’t know what happened then. Lose ends, a lot of unexplained messy ideas, forced drama and weak characters development suddenly poped out and destroyed what was good in this show. It’s shame cause I’m a huge sucker for alternative words/through the glass/etc. premise and I really liked it at the begining. The hell, I still like characters disignes and I think animation, OST and some ideas used throughout were good. But at the same time I wasn’t so disappointed this year yet.

    Lose ends = Second season? I would like to get more of this concept but definitely not in the way they made it, so… No, no thanks. Make something good to deserve the second cour not force it on us thinking it will somehow manage! Someone really should be fired for this.

  • September 30, 2013 at 8:54 amkatsudon

    I just wished this show was better… I kinda hate the fact that I stuck with it and was able to convince myself that it was going to get better week after week. -_-

  • September 30, 2013 at 10:43 amLord of flies

    Madoka Magika is not about Magical girls dammit!.

    This show really tries to be Madoka, without the proper understanding of the “source” material.

  • October 1, 2013 at 1:28 amCorin

    Final impression:

    Pretty Cure doing a very bad Madoka Magica impression.

    No, wait. That’s probably an insult to Pretty Cure – it’s probably written better. But as I commented before, the comparison still applies – it pulls bog-standard magical girl trope after trope in a setting that said tropes are simply dissonant with, and then doesn’t even do them well.

    Hanging plot threads? Check.

    Inconsistent villain who (at the end at least) gets hit with the idiot stick? Check.

    Cheesy ‘power of friendship’ motivations and hail marys? Check.

    All of the above and more shoehorned into a overloaded narrative that gives new meaning to ‘telling instead of showing’? Check.

    Kind of reminds me of Rinne no Lagrange’s second season, except that only began to show obvious writing weaknesses near the end. In this, it was evident almost throughout.

  • October 1, 2013 at 12:55 pmAni_BEE

    Cerebrum was Akari’s father… no just no but I can total see how it looks like that. >_< I think Cerebrum just wanted and chased after Hinata for her sun power but since she died he was stalking Akari instead.

  • November 17, 2013 at 3:26 ammac65

    I watched it ’till the end.
    Could have been better, and spot on with your assessment Stilts!