「マクロの決死圏 前編」 (Makuro no Kesshi Ken Zenpen)
“Desperate Fight in the Macro Zone Part 1”
One of the advantages of manga as an art form, particularly with how it’s distributed week to week (or month to month), is that arcs can be exactly as long as they need to be. There are fewer artificial constraints because the relatively low cost to create the next chapter, coupled with the advantages that serialization provide for existing stories, creates a different dynamic than for narrative TV, movies, books, or even American comic books. That difference is in the decision point. Take a novel: novels are such big individual undertakings that, once one is finished and released, the question is “Should we do another one?” Ditto with movies and the rest. With manga (as well as webcomics, and certain genres of no/low-narrative TV—afternoon soap operas, talk shows, and low budget reality TV shows come to mind), it’s easy to churn out the next chapter, so usually it is. This can give rise to other problems—the never-ending series that should have stopped years ago is a frequent offender—but if an arc needs just a little more time, it can have it. There are still some artificial constraints (you want a chapter to end on a good point, and most have a set number of pages), but they’re not as prominent. You’d never hear a manga publisher tell a mangaka “Finish this arc in 10 chapters so it can fit into this season.” That’d be ludicrous—while in anime, it happens all the time.
I say all this because a chapter that’s 90% setup wouldn’t be that big of a deal, whereas an episode like that comes off as boring and in some ways annoying—because we know we’re only getting a finite number of these episodes, and to see one frittered away on a plot that’s just a little too full of new characters, strange developments, and extraneous weirdness feels like we’re being cheated out of something. Add in the overly-darkened fight scenes—done so they don’t trigger seizures in kids, see: that Pokemon episode way back when, though here they were WAY overdone—and it’s light on mitigating circumstances.
Some things are less of mistakes even though they might seem like they are at first blush. Introducing Leo’s friend and future accidental antagonist, Riel-san, in the first scene like he’s been around this whole time is a tad lazy, but if the guy wasn’t going to be interesting before this then I’m all for them not having wasted our time with him until now. Whereas the whole scene with Leo and Sonic saving a cat better develop into something big, or else they could have had hyperdoctor Li Gado learn about Leo’s eyes somewhere else and not waste our time, thank you very much.
In the end, this episode of Kekkai Sensen is as much of this season has been: decent-to-good overall, if strangely forgettable for stories set in such an electric city. This one was too heavy on the setup, but it can really only be judged when we’ve seen the rest of the arc. Time to wait for next week, then!
- “Do you have any information? About any sinister activities going on in Hellsalem’s Lot?” Leo, you’re going to have to narrow it down.
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 updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: Help Houston.