To kick off the new semester, my local anime club decided to show the first two episodes of Mahoromatic. I had heard many good things about this series, and had decent enough expectations. I wasn't expecting a masterpiece, but at least something passable in terms of plot, writing, and animation quality; especially seeing as this was a Gainax production (I loved Evangelion, and while I didn't care for FLCL, I can’t exactly fault it on any technical levels).
What I witnessed disturbed me. Not the show itself, but the overall quality of it combined with the buzz I had heard about it prior to viewing it. I had heard most reviews touch on the fact that the plot was a fairly by-the-book kid-and-his-super-powered-maid bit, but that doesn't even come close to the base predictability, clumsy exposition, and derivative characters that populated the show. The "alien invasion cover-up" backstory, something that could have been slowly revealed as the story progressed, is given to the audience in a minute-long exposition dump that made Deunan's lines in Appleseed look like Shakespeare. Then there's the "protagonist" who's level of intelligence seemed to be dictated by the plot alone and the busty pedophiliac teacher. Both characters seem so two dimensional that they leave about as much of an impression as Keanu Reeves. And of course there's the robotic maid herself. This was the one character I could honestly believe. Why? Because she is supposed to be a robot and has about as much of a personality as a toaster. Not intentionally, mind you. Instead of an emotionless robot girl like Tokiko who still manages to garner the veiwer's sympathy, this character appears to have emotions, yet avoids being the least bit interesting.
But the thing that shook me the most was watching this series and remembering the reviews that praised its animation. I’m beginning to think that most viewers rate animation based solely on clarity of color (something that no longer requires a lot of effort from animators thanks to the near-universal retirement of physical, hand-painted cels) rather than on character designs, level of detail, movement, and “camera” angles. Because in all honesty; Mahoromatic’s animation is crap. Complete and utter crap. The movement is as basic as possible, the environments were virtually non-existant, there are no more than one or two shadows per shot (and most are completely devoid of any shadow effects whatsoever), character designs are bland and unmemorable, and worst of all, there are several shots where the animators didn't even bother to make sure that the shapes on screen were lined up between frames, causing images to needlessly oscillate during a shot. To realize that this level of animation quality was almost universally praised hurts. Maybe I've been spoiled by too many Kon and Oshii films, but this is just... sad. Heck, Shinkai's Voices of a Distant Star, a movie made by one man, by himself, on his laptop, looked infinitely better that Mahoromatic, a series made by the legendary Gainax Studios, even tried to look. Granted, I don't think that every show should try and be perfect, but if you can't even be bothered to try and match Higurashi (who’s animation also sucked, but was backed up by a crafty plot and animators who knew how to use what they had to the fullest) in terms of animation quality, then why even bother in the first place?
This blog has no comments. Leave one now!