Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou – 13 (END)
「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.
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
- 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.
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.