「一つ屋根の下で」 (Hitotsu Yane no Shita de)
“Under One Roof”
This story reads like someone’s first novel.
Good Ideas, But Execution is Slightly Off
Comet Lucifer, as a story, reads like someone’s first novel. Understand that I know what I’m talking about when I say that. The problems of first novels from promising artists are unique. I’m not talking about those people whose first novels are utter trash—in Comet Lucifer, Nomura Yuuichi is showing off some interesting ideas. Not necessarily groundbreaking ones—a story need not be unique to be enjoyable—but between a bestial mech (which was built like a linebacker, but moved like a tiger … kowai), a mysterious girl who is genki instead of emotionless, and the setting that attracted so many people to this series, there are signs of interesting ideas here. Executed well, they could take the series far.
But the execution is slightly off. I call it a first novel because the mistakes are egregious. They’re either oversights, or a product of ignorance. Take the fall Sougo and Kaon mysteriously survived last episode, without any explanation telling us how. A more seasoned storyteller might have realized they needed to address that, and likely, Nomura Yuuichi will too, after people point it out here. Editing or proofreading would be nice too. That’s another thing this show feels like so far—a novel that wasn’t beat read enough.
This week, the biggest offenders were any scene with Captain Gus Stewart (Hamada Kenji) that wasn’t shared with the protagonists (i.e. the initial fight was fine). He’s summoned by some mysterious geezer, gets a new mech (foreshadowing! Menacing foreshadowing!), then recruits some kid who spits out a tooth(??) and kills some people, who is then recruited for some unspecified mission, and the entire time I was thinking, what the hell is the point of all this? I feel like a more experienced (or better edited) storyteller would realize that all this is coming out of left field, and that we hardly care about the main characters, so we’re not going to give two shits about this antagonist guy.
Another big one: The production team did well to initially imply that Moura (Minase Inori) was the bestial mech, so they didn’t need to make it obvious (with spilled curry, of all things) at the end. A more experienced storyteller might have known they could trust their audience to pick up their clues. The episode was scattered with examples like these, of small mistakes born of inexperience whose solutions will become second nature after a second or third or tenth book. Or in this case, anime scripts.
The Line Between Moe and Childish
I remember driving with one of my non-anime watching friends, and just to be a weirdo, I put on some JPop anime OPs and EDs. He’s a singer himself, so he had to comment. He found it bizarre how so many Japanese women in these songs tried to sound like they were prepubescent. Which, if I extract myself from the anime sphere long enough to get some perspective, I agree is kind of weird. Full-grown women, trying to sound like children! Though of course, we know there’s a difference. The Cult of Kawaii, and its Little Sister Moe (and of course, it must be a little sister), are different from straight-up childishness. The line, though, can be hazy at times. I feel like Felia stepped over that line.
It was probably Koan carrying her. Or how her exuberance is so youthful, with no mysterious hints at a deeper personality somewhere below the bubbles. Which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it does prevent a minefield going ahead. Because let’s face it, anime characters are often sexualized at ages that would be utterly disgusting if it happened in real life. But it doesn’t rattle our alarm bells because (1) They’re fictional characters who are distant enough from uncanny valley (much less absolute realism) so as to not automatically trip our existing social conditioning, and (2) they often don’t act their age. But at least for this episode, Felia is acting like a child. So when Koan mentions that they can’t leave her alone with a starving mongrel like Sougo, my first response is, “Eww.” That might become a problem later on.
Looking Ahead – More Slice-of-Life, Please!
While the serious scenes are flailing, I feel like there’s real potential in the more slice-of-lifey ones. If they can weave hints of serious conflicts into a larger tapestry of Felia experiencing the world (and through her, us experiencing it as well), that could be something worth watching. We’ll find out next week if that’s what on the docket.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Aside from the initial battle, all the serious stuff falls flat. Felia is all cute and innocent, though #cometlucifer 02
- Pffft, a machine being mass-produced shouldn’t automatically make it worse. Mecha shows! You and your silly prototype fetishes *shakes head*
- “Haha! Now you have HIV. You’ll die in—“ *is riddled with bullets*
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: The best content is in email, My morning routine, True Ends, and Rejection, the secret place, & fundamentals
Full-length images: 24.