Random Curiosity

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Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~ – 01

「人類皆征服」 (Jinrui Kai Seifuku)
“Conquer All Humans”

Boy meets little girl. Little girl wants to conquer the world. Boy joins little girl. Tanks get blown the $@&% up. This show is ridiculous and interesting, I’m just not sure whether the crazy setup works with the quasi-serious tone.

The World Exists To Be Conquered

The premise of this one is certainly original, for a certain value of original. Some of the characters are tropes, chief among them ordinary high school student (trope!) Jimon “Dva” Asuta (Hanae Natsuki), but the central premise – that an organization centered around a little girl is out to conquer the world with, seemingly, strange technology and powerful magic is, if nothing else, fresh. What most surprised me though, coming from someone who researched this show for the season preview, was the story proclaiming that the world will be conquered by Zvezda at the very beginning. I’m not sure that truly means it’s a foregone conclusion, but that did pique my interest.

Explain Yourself!

Storytelling is an art if nothing else is, and it’s one your can liken to fishing. (Only without getting up so early in the morning, and with either more or less beer. Depends on how you do it.) By this I mean there’s an art to giving your audience enough information to make them interested without giving it all away at the get-go. You’ve got to reel them in until you’ve got them seriously invested and, preferably, up on your boat and filleted for frying. I think I lost the metaphor there.

My point is that often storytellers tease us with information to get us interested, and they did that here. It started with Asuta’s meeting with Hoshimiya Kate (Kuno Misaki), also known as the leader of Zvezda, Venera-sama. No, let’s go further back–it was when it was so casually mentioned that martial law was in effect that they really started to reel me in, something which was furthered when alien-like squid monsters started blowing up in the background.

Where I think they faltered was in not explaining enough. I felt like they were deliberately holding back information to doll it out later on, and that kind of parsimony is something an audience notices. I prefer stories like Mirai Nikki, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, or Shingeki no Kyojin (at least at the beginning), who always seemed in a hurry to show us as much as possible because they had so much story to tell. This combined with Kate’s dodgy reasoning for wanting to conquer the world made it seem like they’re holding things back when they don’t need to, which is irksome.

A counter example: Them not explaining how their magi-technology(?) or whatever that was works is totally fine. That’s the kind of thing that makes me go “I want to know how they did that” (even as I realize this wasn’t the time to spout exposition). It’s more the broad questions about why the characters are doing what they’re doing that I wanted more clarity about.

Art, Movement, Music, Tone

The art and animation in this show is great so far. Mainly hand-drawn save for the military equipment and the bouncing demon tribbles (or whatever those were), it was appealing to watch, there was a lot of movement from all the characters, and the character designs are nice and distinctive. It appears that A-1 Pictures isn’t holding back the budget for this project, which is good.

Its tone is odd, though. That’s kind of nice in a way, and it’s something that the soundtrack backs up – something is wrong with this world, this is an evil organization we’re following, and that shows everywhere from the alien-like background music to the darkness that permeates the entire episode. It’s the combination of a ridiculous secret society and a semi-serious plot that made it all feel very…off. I’m unsure whether this is good or bad yet. Probably I’ll need a few more episodes to absorb the atmosphere before judgement can be rendered.

Looking Ahead

What I’m looking for going forward are some answers to what Zvezda is up to, which Asuta’s newbie status should be perfect for forcing some exposition. I don’t plan to cover this one weekly, but I will be following it, so I’m sure I’ll speak about it again as the season progresses. Until then!

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Ridiculous and interesting, but the tone & the tightness with information are points of concern. Still plenty of potential #sekaiseifuku 01

Random thoughts:

  • Some of the dialogue in this is good, specifically “If you swear fealty to me, I shall share my snacks and the world with you” and “Lincoln had potential. However, his weakness was he couldn’t handle bullets.” I don’t know why they would bring up Lincoln of all people when talking about conquest (unless they’re implying some kind of civil war situation), but I can’t argue with the latter point.
  • Hanazawa Kana really is in everything this season. Her agent/manager is doing some serious work this season, sheesh.
  • This is no time to play Tank Man, kid! Historically that hasn’t worked out well for the person in question. We think. We’re still a bit unclear on that point.
  • I’ll give Kate this, only the truly confident try to sway the soldiers sent to kill her. That takes balls. Huge, throbbing girl-balls. I made this weird again. I’m going to shut up.

Check out my blog about storytelling and the fantasy novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: Don’t break the chain, Nerds & the miracle of human consciousness, Urgency & the rush to come, and Explain yourself. My current combo counter: Writing chain, 1 day long. Editing chain, 1 day long.

Full-length images: 01.

 

OP Sequence

OP: 「Be mine!」 by Sakamoto Maaya

Preview

January 12, 2014 at 12:56 pm
82 comments »
  • January 12, 2014 at 1:02 pmckuri

    I for myself welcome our new loli overlord.

    Flat is justice!

    The light of Zvezda will shine upon the whole world!

    • January 12, 2014 at 1:06 pmkevinball

      DFC is love, DFC is life. All hail washboard chests everywhere

    • January 12, 2014 at 10:20 pmGinobi47

      It was once said by greatest ancient mathematicians that “HOTNESS is inversely proportional the BUSTINESS”

      A wise loli once said “Then, this line from a game said that a flat chest is a status symbol! A rarity! And when you think about it, there’s a demand right? So, word for word, I’m valuable!”

      A was once a news report that said “In other news, children are getting sexier…and that’s pretty cooooool. ”

      And finally, a criminal once said “20 to life….. but it’s so damn worth it!”

      With the world changing for the better, it is only natural for our future to be led by the WORTHY, the BRAVE and the FLAT!

      The light of Zvezda will shine upon the whole world!

      • January 12, 2014 at 10:30 pmMochaCookies

        I don’t get your logic, but…

        Let the light of Zvezda shine upon the world!

      • April 23, 2014 at 6:33 amclick here to get started

        Thought it wouldn’t to give it a shot. I was right.

    • January 14, 2014 at 1:33 amewok40k

      quote:
      I for myself welcome our new loli overlord.

      well, she is much more competent at conquest than Ika Musume at least…

  • January 12, 2014 at 1:05 pmkevinball

    Throbbing loli-balls*

  • January 12, 2014 at 1:05 pmKinni

    I like it. I really hope this series goes well.

  • January 12, 2014 at 1:09 pmswordhack4

    I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt Tank Man vibes when that scene came up! This looks so interesting, but I couldn’t help but feel very VERY lost in this episode. Was that just me?

    Each new scene brought up the same question for me. “WTF IS GOING ON?!”

    • January 12, 2014 at 1:18 pmDvalinn

      You’re not alone. Usually I have a pretty good idea whether or not I like a show so far after watching an episode, but in this one my feeling was just ‘???’. It certainly has an interesting concept, but the tone was really weird and I’m left feeling confused by the time it was over. As in a, ‘what the hell did I just watch’ kind of way.

      But hey, it got me interested enough to want to see how they’re going to handle this, so they must be doing something right.

    • January 12, 2014 at 1:25 pmStilts

      Definitely not alone. Like I said in the post, I kept wanting them to explain themselves more. They hooked me enough before the series even started to give them a few more episodes, and they didn’t screw that up here, but they need to start explaining themselves soon or that could be lost.

    • January 13, 2014 at 1:10 pmRiktol

      It was confusing, but a hell of a lot clearer than episode 0 of Kyousougiga.

  • January 12, 2014 at 1:10 pmP Ko

    She’s super cute as Serara in Log Horizon but good lord… Kuno Misaki in this.. her voice is just.. omg.. it’s so fucking adorable.

  • January 12, 2014 at 1:14 pmPancakes

    I am on the fence for this once, it’s unclear so far if it wants to be a fully fledged comedy or a quasi-serious show using comedy and action to illuminate some philosophical thought (a la Kill la Kill).

    Hopefully this was just a problem with the opener as some shows have and the ball starts seriously rolling next week. This show has all the pieces to be a serious sleeper like Blood Lad, but so far has not been able to put them together very well. Definitely going to need 3 episodes to make a proper call.

    On the plus side my military-loving side has been thoroughly satisfied. First time I’ve seen Japanese Type 90 MBTs used instead of the M1A2 Abrams or some form of 1940s German over-engineering. Also going to have to dig out my books on the American Civil War, I don’t recall Lincoln ever talking about how the world yearns for conquest. Reminds me more of Nietzsche’s nihilistic Will to Power than Lincoln’s egalitarianism.

    • January 12, 2014 at 1:31 pmckuri

      I think you are all overanalyzing this Lincoln reference. I mean she just stole a part from her speech from the Gettysburg Address (if you steal a line than at least steal from the best) and replaced the “people” in “of the people, by the people, for the people” to “conquest”. But this does not in any way makes her statement a commentary about Lincoln.

    • January 12, 2014 at 1:34 pmStilts

      I’m 98% certain Lincoln never said jack about conquest, save for in regards to the American South. Though even that isn’t quite right – since he and the rest of the North maintained that the South was still part of the US, while it did have an element of conquest/invasion (Sherman’s March to the Sea, everything Grant did, etc), it was nothing on the level of trying to conquer the entire bloody world. That’s Iskander stuff – Lincoln was just trying to get back something that was already his country’s.

      What the Lincoln comparison does have going for him is that he engaged in conquest (of a sort) and is still considered to be an excellent leader, so if they’re trying to position Venera-sama & Zvezda as some kind of benevolent conquering force, then the Lincoln example starts to make more sense.

      Either that or it was based on a twisted misunderstanding of American history. Wouldn’t put it past them, considering some of the terrible “Western” names I’ve seen appear in anime over the years.

      • January 12, 2014 at 4:34 pmConrad

        Seeing how this show liberally uses Russian, I suspect they reference everything west of Japan just for kicks.

      • January 12, 2014 at 9:14 pmStilts

        Lol, probably true!

    • January 12, 2014 at 2:23 pmPancakes

      No overanalysis here, it’s just surprising to suddenly have Lincoln and conquest put together in the same sentence, so obviously it’s going to invoke some “where the f*ck did that come?”

      Might just be one of those “oh Japan” things, but really, why Lincoln? Heck James Monroe would have been a better choice, now there was a man determined to have hegemony for the sake of it (fitting with our little loli’s aspirations here), but then again even most Americans don’t know much about President Monroe. Oh well, really just a moot point with all things considered :P

      As an aside this would be funny if it turned into a tongue in cheek take on the whole idol theme. Zvezda is Russian for star, and here we have a loli conquering using magic with lots of pretty colours, asserting her control with a nice “conquered” stamp, and dressing the part when it’s time to get serious. Might be completely wrong on this, but it would certainly be hilarious nonetheless. Conquering the world one fan (minion) at a time.

      • January 12, 2014 at 4:49 pmWrench

        Wouldn’t it be better to just quote Manifest Destiny?

  • January 12, 2014 at 1:32 pmVsAllGaming

    I liked this actually.
    The characters are crazy but I love some of their designs.
    Kate powers were awesome but I cant wait to see more of Itsuka and Gorou

  • January 12, 2014 at 1:37 pmWuz

    Kuno Misaki has the perfect voice for Kate/Venera. She really sounds like a child, and it makes her a bunch cuter.

    Btw, the support wheels on her bike is the cutest little detail in this episode. Too bad they fell off so soon…

    • January 13, 2014 at 1:31 amAngelus

      They didn’t fall off, if you watch the scene again you’ll see she deliberately knocks them off so she can go faster. It’s a turning point for Kate, a symbolic “growing up”. And it wouldn’t have happened without bland cookie-cutter male lead #57, as most people very unfairly regard him.

  • January 12, 2014 at 2:03 pmReader

    Apparently Hoshizora Meteor has a hand in this anime, which would explain why it doesn’t explain a lot. Meteor is the author of Forest, the inspiration for Umineko no naku koro ni. http://vndb.org/v599

    • January 13, 2014 at 1:57 amZannafar

      Umineko being inspired by Forest is just an unbased rumor someone came up with because both use similar themes, despite the two of going in entirely different direction with them.

      The main reason why the two are similar is because Meteo and Ryukishi are apparently friends and talk about their ideas. It happened before with Kusarihime ~Euthanasia~ and Higurashi. The time difference is just bigger between Forest and Umineko because Ryukishi was still working on Higurashi after Forest came out.

      • January 14, 2014 at 2:31 pmReader

        Interesting, I didn’t know that. I stand corrected.

    • January 13, 2014 at 2:14 amZannafar

      Forgot this before but on a related note: the next work of ryukishi07 will be in space http://i.imgur.com/5tuMjdY.jpg

      …and his drawing skill still hasn’t improved.

  • January 12, 2014 at 2:40 pmintroverte

    The military defeated the giant monster by themselves.

    Well that’s new. Even if they did get pummeled by the loli shortly afterwards.

    Regarding your comments about “holding back information to doll it out later on”, I think that requires the protagonist to have some familiarity with circumstances, and the world setting only needs to be explained if it significantly differs from what we’re familiar with.
    Additionally, the beginning of two of the series you mentioned follow the beginnings of the shounen manga they are adaptions of fairly closely. In general, shounen manga can’t afford to hold back in the beginning when they need to attract as many fans as they can.

    That might explain why those series and this series start out differently, but why this series starts out this particular way is probably because of the reasons the above commenter mentions. Though I’m not too familiar with Meteor, if what Reader says is true, then that would certainly explain things seeing that Hoshizora’s the one doing the series composition.

    • January 12, 2014 at 2:52 pmStilts

      On your holding back information point, you’re not wrong. This show has the luxury of having a certain number of episodes already allotted to it, so it can take it’s time. That’s good…and yet our attention is not much different than what would be directed at the first chapter of a shounen manga, and they still need to earn it. You’re right that once they start chunking exposition at Asuta it’s liable to get better, but I still felt there was a lot of intentional obfuscation where they could have explained themselves (to us) better, but didn’t.

      That said, if they explain more next episode and, most importantly, if the series progresses in interesting ways, then all will be forgiven. It might take some talk of “Oh no, don’t worry, it starts to make sense later on” when suggesting it to friends, but that’s okay if the end result is worth it.

  • January 12, 2014 at 2:53 pmleatherhead333

    So…….has anyone else noticed that she shares the same name as Renge from Non Non Biyori and they more or less look the same?

    I could totally see her doing something like this in this setting lol xD.

    • January 12, 2014 at 2:55 pmStilts

      So what you’re saying is, Ren-chon is our new overlord?

      I can work with that. We could do a lot worse.

  • January 12, 2014 at 2:53 pms_w

    Enjoyable, but confusing.

    It’s kind of like using a bad GPS with outdated maps. I have no clue where we’re going, I just hope we don’t wind up going off of a cliff or through a fruit stand at some point.

    I prefer to have an idea of where we’re going from the start, but sometimes that would just ruin the fun. (Madoka Magica.) So I’ll just be patient for now and see where it goes.

  • January 12, 2014 at 3:11 pmRoguespirit

    Heh, what’s funny is that as soon as I heard Kate’s voice I immediately thought of Sarara from Log Horizon. It’s funny cause the two characters are almost polar opposites. Also I feel like a criminal every time I look at Kate in her “empress/conqueror” outfit.

    Not sure I’ll stick with this show, but I’m going to apply the 3 episode rule at least.

    • January 12, 2014 at 4:27 pmStilts

      No surprise, considering Kate and Serara have the same seiyuu : )

      • January 12, 2014 at 6:00 pmRoguespirit

        Heh, yes I suspected it immediately. After this was posted I confirmed my suspicions. I still find it amazing how actors/actresses can switch roles like that and make it convincing.

      • January 12, 2014 at 6:38 pmAnonymosity

        The day Serara reached level 90, dyed her hair and decided to take over the world…
        Nyanta-roshi’s gentlemanly denseness must have been too much to the poor girl.

  • January 12, 2014 at 3:30 pmlorenzo

    This was surprisingly enjoyable for me. I’m really thinking about dropping Hamatora, which seemeed reeealy weak, and continuing watching Sekai Seifuku. The opening is really bright and catchy; one of the best I’ve seen (and heard, especially) in a while.

  • January 12, 2014 at 4:23 pmoliviaven

    I may have severely underestimated this season, severely………..

  • January 12, 2014 at 4:30 pmMagoiichi

    Tough competition for anime of the year already.

    I just love anime with an overpowered badass loli. Especially a loli with good one liners. It can’t just be the men with all the cool one liners all the time.

  • January 12, 2014 at 4:32 pmCroos

    Indeed Stilts.
    The loli’s dialogue is really good and.. its not random that they pick lines. They fit it with the situation they are in.

  • January 12, 2014 at 4:32 pmfrubam

    Uh oh… watch out Laharl, you’ve got a new overlord in town D0=…

  • January 12, 2014 at 5:45 pmufo

    I am the only one raging at the loli when she punches the MC for trying to catch her? The show could be good but her first impression really ruined it all.

    • January 13, 2014 at 2:15 pmplushkin

      I agree. I was kind of liking the show until she punches him for catching her, then I was like “ooooh, it’s going to be that kind of show -_-”

      The only show to pull this off was Haruhi, and that was due to Kyon’s sarcastic internal monologueing, and this MC is no Kyon.

  • January 12, 2014 at 6:06 pmTheMoondoggie

    Ah, this season seriously weirded me out in it’s first week. What’s with the shows? It’s like someone fed the one writing the stories with a substance that makes people high and delusional as fuck.

    And here we have a loli that’s trying to conquer the world. My head hurts now all of a sudden.

    • January 13, 2014 at 1:32 amAngelus

      More than just trying, we know she succeeded.

  • January 12, 2014 at 6:10 pmnhelraios

    Cute and Evil, Veigar approves this.

    • January 12, 2014 at 6:13 pmCroos

      やめろ!
      Stop making me go back in playing LOL!

    • January 12, 2014 at 9:17 pmStilts

      HAHA! I enjoyed that ^^ I miss playing Veigar. Too bad he’s a little rough on TT (which is what I usually play) since there’s not enough time to build up his Q properly ;_; Also, too bad there’s not an option to re-skin him as Venera-sama <3 <3 <3

      • January 12, 2014 at 9:20 pmnhelraios

        “Venera Veigar”
        Shut up and take all of my RP.

  • January 12, 2014 at 6:31 pmCroos

    Ore no Itsuka Shikabane(a.k.a Plamya) konna sadist wake ga na!

  • January 12, 2014 at 6:50 pmAnonymosity

    Funny fact: ignoring kanji, “conquest” and “school uniform” are apparently both “seifuku” in Japanese.
    Because of that, I completely misunderstood the title, didn’t check previews and decided to ignore this title.

    The following episodes shall show whether I will thank stilts from the bottom of my heart for fixing that or not.
    It looks promising though.

    Meanwhile I shall, however, curse him for almost doubling my watchlist for this season during the past week.

    • January 12, 2014 at 9:18 pmStilts

      I laugh at your anime-based pain! Mainly because I share in it. My free time~!!

  • January 12, 2014 at 7:40 pmTre

    I noticed that Kate’s statue in the future shows her with a far more mature appearance.

    Is that how she really looks like in the future, or has she simply ordered her looks to be exaggerated in official portraits and sculptures (as many powerful leaders in the past have done)?

  • January 12, 2014 at 7:44 pmpetitorenji

    Actual episode aside, this is a really well-written post. RC’s bloggers all seem to be such well-seasoned writers

    • January 12, 2014 at 9:19 pmStilts

      Thank you very much : ) Your comment made my night!

      • January 13, 2014 at 12:10 pmRichard

        Yeah the writing here is top notch!

  • January 12, 2014 at 8:01 pmlolicon

    finally a badass loli as the main heroin!!!

  • January 12, 2014 at 9:59 pmMaya Stryker

    Shows like these are why I love anime. You;ll never find anything that even remotely resembles this in the west.

  • January 12, 2014 at 10:13 pmqwert

    The Lincoln reference isn’t aimed at her plans of conquest but rather the manner in which she gave the speech to the military.

    “Conquest of Conquest, for conquest, by conquest” is a copy of ” “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”.

    Took me a second to catch on after wondering when I missed Lincoln’s plans for global conquest in history class.

    • January 12, 2014 at 10:21 pmStilts

      Ohhhhhh, there it is. Nice catch! I totally missed that one :X

    • January 12, 2014 at 10:56 pmPeTdo

      well that’s deep!
      The light of Zvezda will shine upon the whole world!

  • January 13, 2014 at 3:12 amdangreg

    Why I had a total Star Driver feeling when I watched it????
    Someone tell me pls. ;-/
    Maybe I feel like the “villains” and the “good guys” willend up in the same class?
    But its only the feeling, its not like I didnt like it.

    • January 13, 2014 at 3:46 amCroos

      It’s because they make those kiraboshi-like moves.
      Seriously I tell you, if you want to watch something similar to Star Driver watch Captain Earth.

      • January 13, 2014 at 5:04 amdangreg

        Yes lol!
        So it was the posing also. Now I know why it feelt so similar. :D

    • January 13, 2014 at 6:41 amlorenzo

      Great comparison!

  • January 13, 2014 at 7:46 amSeishowmeu

    This for me might be a surprise winter hit!

  • January 13, 2014 at 8:57 amIbreaker9736

    Loli taking over the world I’m already following. Kate looks so moe I do not blame Asuta for being a minion.

  • January 13, 2014 at 8:59 amHarpy12

    General Pepel was amazing. I hope we get to see him swing that panzerfaust around some time soon.

  • January 13, 2014 at 9:04 amNamaewoinai

    Those people behind the show seems familiar………OH NO…Type-moon…Type-Moon…
    i knew it!…uh…UGH!!

    • January 13, 2014 at 11:14 amSingerOfW

      Fun fact: the only thing that Meteo has done for TM is Girls’ Work, which has been delayed indefinitely for ages now. On the other hand, he also wrote lots of excellent VNs, such as Kusarihime and Forest.

  • January 13, 2014 at 11:16 amSingerOfW

    Gee, Venera-sama, what do you wanna do tonight?

  • January 13, 2014 at 12:09 pmRichard

    omg what did I just watch?! Granted, I think they’ve still hooked me enough to give them more episodes to see where its going.

  • January 13, 2014 at 7:51 pmLogan Snider

    I can explain the Lincoln thing because believe it or not people with History Masters actually watch anime. She’s implying that the Southern States succession and rebellion was a legal right of the people which contrasts the typical analysis of the American Civil War as an unsuccessful rebellion. Thus, Lincoln was performing a right of conquest rather than a right of reunification. Then again, to use the term reunification in place of conquest is a rather obnoxious way avoiding the implications associated with the term “conquest.” In short, those in the field of historiography use the term reunification to distinguish Lincolns actions not as a means of conquest by denying that the South had the legal authority to succeed in the first place. In doing this, she implies that the South, indeed all people, have the right to rebel and perform an act of conquest regardless of existing social contracts with established authorities. For those who watch anime and think of plots in a sociological context this is a rather interesting way of taking a villains actions into account and providing a personal reason for ones belief in conquest. Anyway… had to share some words on this…

  • January 13, 2014 at 8:50 pminanis

    The light of Zvezda will shine upon the whole world!

    with that said.. well.. did it make sense? not a lot.. was it funny? hell yeh , nothing better than a Moe Loli overlord on a world conquest rampage!

    PS: “Conquest of Conquest, by conquest, for conquest” lol’d

    PS2: yeah someone mentioned it before but she is TOTALLY an older Ren-chon! (damn it.. if Renge-chan had superpowers i could see her do this too!)

    • January 15, 2014 at 7:40 pmtahuti

      It might make more sense if you translate what some words means, Zvezda = Star, Venera = Venus.

  • January 14, 2014 at 2:39 amNyanpassu!~

    Renchon x Petrarca as our new rori overlord?!

    Board of Wise-men approved!

  • January 14, 2014 at 3:22 amewok40k

    whatever you do in life, never sign up for JSDF tank crewman…
    “Tanks for nothing” trope ruins their life…

  • January 14, 2014 at 4:35 pmGremmie

    The story of little Takane Shijou.
    himitsu~

  • January 14, 2014 at 5:23 pmDark

    I for one welcome our new loli overlord!

    All Hail Venera-sama!

  • January 16, 2014 at 5:48 pmso very odd

    very interesting show. seemed like jimon was the older gentleman in the beginning and he’s recounting the tale of how she conquered the world, essentially.

  • January 17, 2014 at 12:38 amRantic

    This is just a guess but judging from Jimon’s bickering with a family member in the phone in the early parts of the episode and him having a Gold Card (and actually using a card just to buy some groceries)… Jimon might actually be a son of a Yakuza or some syndicate. Or… he’s technically freaking rich…