「蘇えりし者、夜に嗤う」 (Soerishisha, Yoru ni Warau)
“The Revenant Howls in the Darkness”
It seems that every season Netflix looks into the future and claims one show on Passerby’s list just to spite him (er, me) and this season it’s Sirius the Jaeger. We’re are not going to let that stop us (again, me), though, so let’s try to at least give this thing an introduction here on RandomC. This one actually looks like it could be pretty good and it’d be a shame if we just let it pass us by, subs or no.
The show that instinctively came to mind when I watched Sirius the Jaeger was Joker Game, based on just the setting. Sure, Joker Game had no vampires in it whatsoever, but sufficiently advanced spies are indistinguishable from vampires and, more importantly, the two shows are set in around the same time period (roughly the 1930s). The second show that came to mind was Kekkai Sensen, which was not set in the same time period but was something like a period piece with vampires in it. The common element between these three shows, and what really sells them to viewers like me, is that they are awfully stylish. I don’t know what it is about period pieces that may them so shway. Maybe it’s the snazzy hats. Maybe it’s the impractical pipes. Maybe it’s the boxy cars. Whatever the reason, the early 90s apparently oozed style before a bunch of wars came along and bombed it all into rubble. And style is where anime is effortlessly strong; as I mentioned in the preview this is a medium that is surprisingly good at period pieces and this may be why. That’s a good thing for Sirius the Jaeger, as it relies on style to basically carry this pilot. Characters are just being established, the plot is still thing, and the dialogue isn’t anything to write home about, but what we have action and violins and that was good enough for me. The emphasis on style also helps us turn our brain off and not get caught on narrative-stupidity, like shots where characters are obviously posing for the camera, improbable weapons, and luck-based survival.
That last point is worth expanding on as it plays into the other thing this pilot of Sirius the Jaeger is commendable for: relatively little exposition. So often so many anime are so eager to jump right into the plot, and to do that they rely on dumps of exposition to explain everything as quickly as possible. It’s an easy fault, as 12 episodes for your standard anime is not a lot of time and there’s a rush to get to the exciting plot stuff. But exposition can ruin an anime in many ways. One, it bogs the pace and takes us out of the story, as even well disguised exposition is the writer talking at the audience. Two, it undercuts mystery, one of the best audience hooks. Three, it leads to information overload for the audience; we already have to take in the setting and characters and don’t need more distractions (especially; there are a lot of characters just floating about without purpose right now). Four, the side effect of distracting information that takes us out of the story is that it makes the audience have to turn their brain back on to process it, which is not something you want if you want to deliver a purely visceral but not necessarily logical experience. This, I’d wager, is why Sirius the Jaeger limits its exposition in this pilot; it just wants us to go with the flow and let things slide so long as its cool. All we really need to know is that there are vampires and folks who hunt vampires, and everything else is simply detail. That’s the trick to exposition; it’s not about how much information you can fit in, but how much information you can afford to leave out.
Of course, considering the jargon they tossed around this episode about Sirius and Jaegers (roll credits) and talk of ancient artefacts in the premise it could be that Sirius the Jaeger is gearing up to do an exposition dump in the near future and traditionally episode 02 is the place to do it. We would understand the story more, but I think we should actually keep in mind: is more understanding always better? We shall see. For now, Sirius the Jaeger looks like a solid, stylish vampire-action period piece. It doesn’t really need to be more than that, but I think it plans to be, and time will tell whether those plans will bear fruit. Netflix willing.
ED: 「シリウス」 (Sirius) by 岸田教団＆THE明星ロケッツ (Kyoudan Kishida & The Akeboshi Rockets)