Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Archives for: October 2009, 25

Sunday, October 25, 2009

04:08:31 pm , 650 words, 1784 views     Categories: Animation, TV

Trapeze

I haven't watched anything from the new season for once. The only show I've checked out is Trapeze. Anything I missed? I had kind of high expectations for Trapeze going in, and honestly they weren't really met. I think I have a pretty good idea from the first episode what they're going to be doing stylistically for the rest of the show, and while I'm sure I'm going to enjoy the directing and the stories, I'm disappointed there's nothing that strikes me as really new in Kenji Nakamura's new show the way Bakeneko and its continuation Mononoke did. It felt like I was watching Kemonozume or Mind Game with the way the live-action was integrated, mostly in close-ups of the face, just like how Yuasa did it. Yuasa's film and shows each felt like they were exploring their own unique stylistic universe, whereas Trapeze doesn't really feel anchored to any strong visual concept. If anything, it just feels like a free-for-all. It's certainly fun, but I can't say I was too convinced by the first episode. I felt it was a little too ditzy and over-the-top with all the colors and the random strangeness without any of the things they were doing having any impact or actually meaning anything other than being there just to look weird. That, and the whole story was kind of boring. The next episode is about a guy with a permanent erection - killer-sounding material. I really like the concept overall of exploring a new person's mental or physical complexes or illnesses in each episode, which is what I'm guessing this is going to be, but I kind of feel like there needs to be more actual exploration of the psychology of the person and less random strangeness for it to really work. That was the real problem, more than style - that we didn't come away feeling like we knew the inner workings of this guy's psyche very deeply.

Yuasa's shows similarly were very daring with the mixing of media in the animation and the vivid and bold use of colors, but the combination actually felt balanced and harmonious in his hands, whereas in Trapeze the gaudy colors and random mixing of media just feels a little gimmicky and even tacky. I'm sure part of that is deliberate, though, so I don't want to dismiss it out of hand. Nakamura is a sophisticated director, and I'm sure that part of the syrupy synthetic feeling of this episode is intentional. At the very least, the show has a unique tone like nothing I've ever seen before.

And I was really not too impressed by the characters by Takashi Hashimoto this time around. The characters worked fairly well in Mononoke and its predecessor, but I didn't much like the designs here. It's not even about the animation so much as just the designs of the faces, which just don't do anything for me.

Anyway, it's still entertaining and definitely strange and like nothing else out there at the moment, and that can only be a good thing. Part of why I haven't watched anything this season is that I've been too busy. But that's the surface excuse. Mostly I just don't have the patience to wade through the ocean of same old same old anymore. At least this show is refreshing and unpredictable. It's quite amazing how literally dozens of shows are made every season and usually only one or two max actually attempt to do something that doesn't look and feel like everything else that has come before.

The subject of the next episode reminds me of something I overheard while I was in a coffee shop one day: "It's a problem when you can't get it up, but it's even worse when you can't get it down". It was raining outside, and the person was apparently having trouble with the latch on their umbrella.