Have fun getting the bugs out of your hair later on.
While ViVid Strike could have benefited from tighter plotting or a few more script revisions, it never forgot one thing that so many anime do forget: it’s not about the plot. It’s the characters, stupid.
To being with, let’s go over the elements I didn’t like. The first is something that chaps my bum, and I started sputtering curses every time I saw it: if you’re throwing up when you’re training, you’re doing it wrong. Same with fainting or working yourself to the point of utter exhaustion. That’s not you “working harder.” That’s you going past the point where you body is saying “You are harming me!”, and not stopping because you’re thick. Over training hurts your body’s ability to recover and will get you WORSE results! So don’t ever let me hear any of y’all endorsing that nonsense. It’s stupid, and I’ll Sky-Severing Knuckle you upside the head.
The other thing that annoyed me was—okay, actually two other things. I’ve never liked the “talent vs skill” plot, but that one was adequately confronted by Nove at the end.
“Don’t you think talent is something that’s only mentioned after the fact? If you succeed, you’ve got talent. But if you fail, then they say you didn’t have it.”
Yes yes YES! Talent is justification after the fact for people who want to believe you had some innate reason why you succeeded, when the real reason is usually that you worked hard, were interested in it, had a good teacher/a smart plan, and were lucky. Jill saying that denigrated Rinne’s hard work! But Nove took that head on, and shredded her argument. Good on her. So not a real complaint there, since the show and I are on the same page. I just wanted to back it up on that theme.
The other part that I didn’t much like was the extended flashbacks into Rinne’s past. This is where I said the script could have benefited from a few more revisions or tighter plotting, because they did better in twenty seconds with an unexplained flashback at the end of episode three (when Rinne and Fuuka were confronting each other after Rinne’s exhibition match) than they did in one and a half episodes of detailed flashbacks during episodes four and five. That short glimpse of Rinne, with a valuable piece of jewelry tossed in the toilet and three girls looming over her, did more to emotionally convey what she was running away from than her blow-by-blow trauma report. Though, to be fair, her destroying her bullies the day after her grandfather died said something that small flashback never could have, and fortunately it didn’t glorify her actions. If it had, I would have stopped watching, instead of just wanting to after seeing little girls getting so brutally beaten.
What I liked, and liked very much, is that the focus was always on the characters. Fuuka and Rinne were not just the main characters, they drove the entire story, and it was their character flaws—mostly Rinne’s—that were the impetus for everything that happened. The tournament never took over the plot, because it wasn’t the point, as shown when the entire last match took place off-screen. The point was to see Fuuka and Rinne reconcile, and unless that took place during the tournament, the tournament wasn’t important.
Which is the other thing I really liked: their final match didn’t take place in the tournament. That would have been an uncomfortable place to set a heart-to-heart battle, so I’m glad it didn’t go that route. Which feeds into the (other) element I seriously liked: the tournament matches didn’t proceed how I expected.
Going into it, I expected that Rinne and Fuuka would fight. They had to, right? And working off the assumption that they’d do it in the tournament, because we were already there and why wouldn’t they, that would mean that Miura and Vivio would need to lose. In the Rinne vs Miura match, they did a good job of making us doubt, but it all turned out as expected . . . and then Vivio came along, and in true Takamachi fashion she befriended the fuck out of Rinne. (Okay, the befriending happened later off-screen, you know what I mean. Like mama, like daughter.) Vivio’s match versus Rinne is what took the series from going largely according to plan, with a side of loli ultra-violence, to something I hadn’t precisely expected.
In the end, ViVid Strike was pretty good. Had I more free time, I probably would have kept up with it instead of marathoning it all this past week, and had I even more time than that, I might have blogged it. (Though there were a few in its way, hi2u Girlish Number—yes, that will be getting an END post, though not from me.) With tighter plotting and a quicker pace, allowing it to up the stakes another time or two and really throw us for a loop, it could have become something outstanding, but as is it never lost sight of what’s important. This was a character story, about two friends who had to punch the fuck out of each other until they understood each other again. We got that, and the happy ending it provides.
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for exclusive content. At stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Conflicted feelings on the Electoral College; Voting Reform: Single Transferable Vote; They didn’t feel heard. I don’t feel heard. This is a problem; and What the hell do we do now?