「如月アテンション」 (Kisaragi Atenshon)
I really don’t want to come off that I’m hating on MEKAKUCITY ACTORS. In fact, I want to give it praise, but only when it is deserving. Let’s examine episode two to see what went right and what keeps falling through.
First: the beloved insert song, Kisaragi Attention. If you haven’t watched the original music video, I highly recommend doing so here. The Kagerou Project would be nowhere where it is now without the music that brought it there, so it’s definitely a nice touch to have Momo Kisaragi’s (Kashiyama Nanami) character song included. I personally would’ve preferred IA’s original recording, but Haruna Luna also does a good job covering the song. It’s a nice nod to the target audience, as well as utilizing a good song in itself!
Second: the episode was superb in fleshing out Momo’s backstory, which included original material. The eerie focus on Momo’s isolation and objectfied people in Momo’s flashback is quite appropriate and effective as a visual cue. It’s definitely important for Momo to establish her loneliness despite her massive attention, since this trait is an important link for her to emotionally connect with the other characters later on. She may have all the world’s eyes on her, but in reality none of them are looking at her. This exposition actually explains a lot as to why Momo is an idol in the first place. If the show continues to develop characters in this manner, the show will be all the better for it.
As a side note, Momo wasn’t the only character that got introduced today. We won’t introduce his name here to avoid spoilers, but it is interesting how they introduced the boy who ran with Momo much earlier than expected. Could we see an early introduction the videos of Moon-Viewing Recital and Kagerou Days? MV fans, what do you guys think?
Finally, the ED. It’s simply animated, but it’s clean, tasteful, and the song is lovely. I do like theforeshadowing based on the placement of characters in the scene–a gentle nod to the future that I’m sure veterans will appreciate.
However, let’s now address the aspects of the show that are ‘wanting’. First, animation.
A commenter last episode labeled the animation best as, “A poor man’s Monogatari.” SHAFT has great potential and I believe that they will continue to make stellar works. However, I feel that MEKAKUCITY ACTORS isn’t going to be one of those, especially animation-wise. It’s undeniable that there is significant influence from Monogatari, but the difference comes from the cleanliness. I have nothing against simple designs and simple settings, as long as it’s cleanly done. Monogatari, in all of its minimalism, does this well. Focus less on the background, focus more on short character animations and smart wordplay. MEKAKUCITY ACTORS on the other hand has simple designs that look similar to Monogatari’s, but the character scenes are then given too much attention given their quality. Oftentimes, the shot is either a long-distance view that looks really sloppy or a close-up on one of the character’s faces (which I don’t mind as much as the former). The key animation itself is of acceptable quality, but the subtle frame-skipping of key scenes to presumably save on resources prevents the show from looking as great as it could, and overuse of these scene shots gets repetitive. Look only to the running scenes during Kisaragi Attention for an example.
Finally: the script and composition. I’m disappointed in both the original creator Jin and Yase Yuki in how they’re handling the pacing of the show thus far. Much of Momo’s scenes seemed to drag on longer than they should have. The jokes just fall pretty flat without comedic timing and most scenes don’t lend themselves well to developing the setting or the story. I wouldn’t particularly mind it if these scenes were visually pleasing or scripted well, but even as I close my eyes, the energy of the show just seems…lacking. Perhaps it was a mistake to have two novices be in complete control of the storyboarding and scripting. As another commenter pointed out last episode, Jin may be good at making music and recruiting animators to make music videos that blend well with the lyrics, but in terms of actual scripting for an episodic format…he has a lot to learn.
I still am willing to give this show a try though, despite all my personal gripes about it. To see a different interpretation of a story you love is always an interesting endeavor, and hopefully from here on out, I’ll have to complain less about logistics, and more gushing about how the characters and plot are painting an interesting narrative.
ED: 「days」 by Jin ft. Lia