Those Who Hunt Elves

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Those Who Hunt Elves

Postby bakamatt » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:41 am

Those Who Hunt Elves, a 12-episode ecchi comedy fantasy from the early '90's.


I’ve got my list of anime that I’d like to use for inspiration for role playing game campaigns someday. One such is Those Who Hunt Elves. The concept of a party of adventurers questing across a fantasy countryside for non-player characters they need to undress is amusing.

However, I was raised Southern California bleeding-heart liberal, and a lot of it stuck. (For me, “feminist” is still a compliment.) I can’t help but feel a little queasy about the way many anime treat female characters. Not the just the overt, ugly stuff; the subtler social assumptions too. Which means I’m conflicted at the prospect of running a game where the player characters are traveling around the countryside tearing the clothes off female elves. (Which is, I’ll admit, a peculiar incarnation of “subtler.”) At a minimum, my adventurers would also need to strip male elves.

The thing is, it’s barely reasonable to muster this kind of angst in regards to a tepid series like TWHE. It isn’t very good; it isn’t very bad; despite its ecchi premise it isn’t very bawdy; despite being a comedy it isn’t, on the average, very funny. It isn’t very anything.

The basic premise is this: three contemporary Japanese citizens are accidentally transported to a fantasy world. Of course (being contemporary Japanese citizens), they want to go home again. In order to do so they need to assemble the five parts of the spell to send them back; these parts have become symbols on the bodies of random female elves. Said symbols being weird and therefore shameful, the bearers try to keep them secret. Hence Our Heroes are obliged to undress (by force, if necessary, which it usually is) every elf they encounter in the search for the spell parts.

Now, as long as you can treat this non-consensual stripping as merely annoying, embarrassing, and humiliating to the victims, but not a symbolic rape, fine. And the series walks that line: the universe itself is asexual, so whatever reason the victims have for objecting to being involuntarily undressed, it’s not fear of sexual violence. I can live with that – it’s the kind of compromise a bleeding-heart anime fan has to make every day.

So, if the series was so dishwater, what kept me going through twelve episodes? Eventually, a determination to finish what I’d started. There were a handful of genuinely funny episodes. (Balanced by a handful of tedious ones, which is why I say it isn’t, on the average, very funny.) And, if I’m being honest, the vain hope that eventually we’d actually get a good look a cute nekkid elf. It’s not as if you walk away from every episode feeling like you’d just wasted twenty-five minutes of your life, just the lingering suspicion that it wouldn’t have been that hard to spend them more profitably.

But what’s the problem – why isn’t it very good? TWHE has two major weaknesses.

The first is the cast. You can forgive that they have an annoyingly convenient skill set (martial artist, marksman, actor, and native mage) – if they were all chartered accountants they wouldn’t have had much luck stripping unwilling elves. But they have no chemistry. Junpei, the male karate expert, is almost always rude and impulsive – it was his fault that the spell to send them home failed in the first place. Ritsuko, the shooter, is an almost impossibly implausible high-school girl – where did she learn to use not only small arms but the tank that joined them in the fantasy world? Setting that aside, though, she’s boring – just a genki girl who can’t help but pick up stray animals. And Airi, such a skilled actress as to be able to use it for mind control, and very much the brains of the outfit, seems to have almost no real personality of her own. They’re joined by local Celcia, who feels responsible to get the Japanese back home. She’s one of the most powerful elf mages in the world, so spends the bulk of the show in one of two humiliating undesired shape-shifts. ‘Cause it’s funny that a powerful mage is stuck in a dog’s body. Right? Right?

And not only is the cast annoying and generic, but they almost completely fail to gel. Characters manipulate one another, ignore one anothers' hurts, express affection that’s gone next episode. Usually on these “ordinary people in a fantastic world” shows, you get the impression that lifelong friendships are being forged. There’s none of that here, though the last episode pretends there is.

Which is a symptom of the show’s other weakness: the writing’s never strong, but it’s particularly weak in continuity. Characters don’t grow, enemies’ (such as they are) motivations are vague, and events don’t have consequences. Even the first half’s existential threat disappears in the second half, although the conditions bringing it about still exist.

The one exception to this lack of continuity is in regards to the gradually accumulating resentment of the world’s elves to being forcibly undressed. Which is maybe where one can winkle out a little interest. The position of elves in what is primarily a human world is kind of interesting. Elves seem to live one of two lifestyles: either solitary, the only one in the area, or in elvish enclaves that may or may not be in human cities. When it’s a solitary life, the elf will generally be a person of influence, and on occasion they will apparently be hiding the fact that they’re elvish. The elves also have their own government, separate from humans. It is to this body that the outraged elves appeal; it has enough influence that their operatives can function freely in human society. Celcia is in an ambiguous position; she’s a highly influential elf, helping the humans abuse other elves. And eventually the elf government authorizes the stripping, although a faction of it continues to try to thwart the characters. I can’t help wonder if this is all somehow a commentary on the Japanese government.

But not much of one or, as I’ve said, much of anything else. This show walks the edge of being inadequate so closely that it feels calculated, that they made the setting just interesting enough, the stories just funny enough, the ecchi content just naughty enough, to milk the franchise an episode at a time. Just that much effort, and not a scrap more. To say nothing of the fact that the second six episodes pretty much reprise the first six. Which does make TWHE, at the end, very something; very cynical.
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Re: Those Who Hunt Elves

Postby Tsunami3k » Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:44 pm

bakamatt wrote:Those Who Hunt Elves, a 12-episode ecchi comedy fantasy from the early '90's.

I’ve got my list of anime that I’d like to use for inspiration for role playing game campaigns someday. One such is Those Who Hunt Elves. The concept of a party of adventurers questing across a fantasy countryside for non-player characters they need to undress is amusing.

However, I was raised Southern California bleeding-heart liberal, and a lot of it stuck. (For me, “feminist” is still a compliment.) I can’t help but feel a little queasy about the way many anime treat female characters. Not the just the overt, ugly stuff; the subtler social assumptions too. Which means I’m conflicted at the prospect of running a game where the player characters are traveling around the countryside tearing the clothes off female elves. (Which is, I’ll admit, a peculiar incarnation of “subtler.”) At a minimum, my adventurers would also need to strip male elves.


While your amendment addresses the gender bias of the original premise, the racial bias remains. Precluding the possibility of your campaign has aspirations of being a veiled social commentary on the TSA and racial profiling, perhaps adding a Columbo-esque approach by not giving any hints as to gender or race thus rendering the crux of the hunt as a search for evidence that narrows down the list of potential candidates. To dissuade parties from simply stripping entire villages, some penalty mechanism for a mis-guess would come into play, say the target goes into berserker mode at 3x stats for 5 turns. Or, to mix things up, perhaps the penalty would vary by race (perhaps ranging from village-leveling dragon-slave-class detonations to, say, an "Asahina race" for which there is effectively no stripping penalty) thus potentially putting the moral onus on the would-be strippers when debating "convenience stripping" or races with relatively minor mis-guess penalties. Conversely, party makeup and/or attributes could mitigate some of the footwork and/or penalties; e.g. gender/race makup could reduce the changes of a penalty triggering. And/or maybe an attribute of a character could provide a means of ruling out potential targets or minimizing the effects of a bad call. For example, someone with the "Haruhi" attribute could strip someone without triggering a penalty once a day (or per village) or perhaps one member might be able to detect whether a candidate has passed through a 100m radius within the last day or yet another might have a daily chance a divining the gender of the carrier.

the idea is rife with potential; you're right to want to gamify it.

bakamatt wrote:The thing is, it’s barely reasonable to muster this kind of angst in regards to a tepid series like TWHE. It isn’t very good; it isn’t very bad; despite its ecchi premise it isn’t very bawdy; despite being a comedy it isn’t, on the average, very funny. It isn’t very anything.


Your moral engagement is directly tied its entertainment level (which you subsequently tie to it falling short on ecchiness)? Lol, I won't judge....much. ;D

bakamatt wrote:The basic premise is this: three contemporary Japanese citizens are accidentally transported to a fantasy world. Of course (being contemporary Japanese citizens), they want to go home again. In order to do so they need to assemble the five parts of the spell to send them back; these parts have become symbols on the bodies of random female elves. Said symbols being weird and therefore shameful, the bearers try to keep them secret. Hence Our Heroes are obliged to undress (by force, if necessary, which it usually is) every elf they encounter in the search for the spell parts.

Now, as long as you can treat this non-consensual stripping as merely annoying, embarrassing, and humiliating to the victims, but not a symbolic rape, fine. And the series walks that line: the universe itself is asexual, so whatever reason the victims have for objecting to being involuntarily undressed, it’s not fear of sexual violence. I can live with that – it’s the kind of compromise a bleeding-heart anime fan has to make every day.


It's actually quite a tame concession even compared to similar properties of its era. As you allude to, it sounds much more racy on paper than it plays out to be.

bakamatt wrote:So, if the series was so dishwater, what kept me going through twelve episodes? Eventually, a determination to finish what I’d started. There were a handful of genuinely funny episodes. (Balanced by a handful of tedious ones, which is why I say it isn’t, on the average, very funny.) And, if I’m being honest, the vain hope that eventually we’d actually get a good look a cute nekkid elf. It’s not as if you walk away from every episode feeling like you’d just wasted twenty-five minutes of your life, just the lingering suspicion that it wouldn’t have been that hard to spend them more profitably.


A fair estimate, even if my dishwater was noticeably more lukewarm than yours.

bakamatt wrote:But what’s the problem – why isn’t it very good? TWHE has two major weaknesses.

The first is the cast. You can forgive that they have an annoyingly convenient skill set (martial artist, marksman, actor, and native mage) – if they were all chartered accountants they wouldn’t have had much luck stripping unwilling elves. But they have no chemistry. Junpei, the male karate expert, is almost always rude and impulsive – it was his fault that the spell to send them home failed in the first place. Ritsuko, the shooter, is an almost impossibly implausible high-school girl – where did she learn to use not only small arms but the tank that joined them in the fantasy world? Setting that aside, though, she’s boring – just a genki girl who can’t help but pick up stray animals. And Airi, such a skilled actress as to be able to use it for mind control, and very much the brains of the outfit, seems to have almost no real personality of her own. They’re joined by local Celcia, who feels responsible to get the Japanese back home. She’s one of the most powerful elf mages in the world, so spends the bulk of the show in one of two humiliating undesired shape-shifts. ‘Cause it’s funny that a powerful mage is stuck in a dog’s body. Right? Right?

And not only is the cast annoying and generic, but they almost completely fail to gel. Characters manipulate one another, ignore one anothers' hurts, express affection that’s gone next episode. Usually on these “ordinary people in a fantastic world” shows, you get the impression that lifelong friendships are being forged. There’s none of that here, though the last episode pretends there is.


Oddly enough, I saw the mismatch characters as kind of critical to the show. Unlike say, El Hazard, these are not a group of people from the same setting bringing existing relationships, or at least acquaintances, but (if I'm recalling correctly) a true random sampling of people. Yes, they're now thrust into a common situation but, instead of bonding into to familiar Swiss Family Robinson template that always comes out of shows like this they instead remain hard-headed and independent, only grudgingly committing to the needs of the group as the situation dictates. In this sense it's arguably more "real" like Gantz where it's largely a group of individuals with their own motivations rather than a "party" as the fantasy settings imply should be the case. It's precisely this character incongruity which sources the bulk of the comedic aspects of the show. I'd never argue that it's comedy gold but I certainly got a fair amount of chuckles from it. And c'mon, a cat/tank is bloody funny stuff!

bakamatt wrote:Which is a symptom of the show’s other weakness: the writing’s never strong, but it’s particularly weak in continuity. Characters don’t grow, enemies’ (such as they are) motivations are vague, and events don’t have consequences. Even the first half’s existential threat disappears in the second half, although the conditions bringing it about still exist.


lol...And yet curiously the lack of continuity works for a show like Galaxy Angel. Nearly every show ends with everyone dead, the end of the universe, thousands of years into the future or some other intractable fate yet the next show the universe resets and it's off to the next absurd story. Is it that your expectations of a story set in a fantasy environment so engrained that they must involve tight-knit yet diverse parties progressing through a linear quest that strictly obeys continuity? Should every also level up regularly? ;D I'm just curious if your expectations would be any different if it was set in the Galaxy Angel universe and they were hunting for glyphs inscribed on aliens (vs artifacts). It's probably a fair argument that Slayers almost rote adherence to their formula both succeeds and succeeds despite of its predictable continuity.

bakamatt wrote:The one exception to this lack of continuity is in regards to the gradually accumulating resentment of the world’s elves to being forcibly undressed. Which is maybe where one can winkle out a little interest. The position of elves in what is primarily a human world is kind of interesting. Elves seem to live one of two lifestyles: either solitary, the only one in the area, or in elvish enclaves that may or may not be in human cities. When it’s a solitary life, the elf will generally be a person of influence, and on occasion they will apparently be hiding the fact that they’re elvish. The elves also have their own government, separate from humans. It is to this body that the outraged elves appeal; it has enough influence that their operatives can function freely in human society. Celcia is in an ambiguous position; she’s a highly influential elf, helping the humans abuse other elves. And eventually the elf government authorizes the stripping, although a faction of it continues to try to thwart the characters. I can’t help wonder if this is all somehow a commentary on the Japanese government.


It's definitely intriguing angle but, as with cat/tanks, woefully underplayed. An embedded message like this could have been a nice easter egg but, sadly, it falls far short of a NukuNuko custody battle or a Neo Ranga social commentary.

bakamatt wrote:But not much of one or, as I’ve said, much of anything else. This show walks the edge of being inadequate so closely that it feels calculated, that they made the setting just interesting enough, the stories just funny enough, the ecchi content just naughty enough, to milk the franchise an episode at a time. Just that much effort, and not a scrap more. To say nothing of the fact that the second six episodes pretty much reprise the first six. Which does make TWHE, at the end, very something; very cynical.


I don't consider the show a critical watch for anyone but I did come away from it with slightly more warmth than you did. Perhaps because I notices many of the shortcomings that you did but made a few associations to similar shows and concluded, for better or worse, that I liked having a few of my expectations subverted a bit. In fact I credit anime with honing my appreciation for contradiction my expectations, even to the point that I often give anime unfair consideration as opposed to other mediums. Whereas I was initially blown away by anime doing crazy stuff that I never expected like killing off main characters, being violent, hyper abstract, contemplative, etc., now I'm impressed all over again when it defies my expectations by defying my expectation of having my expectations defied! Or less cryptically put, the occasional use of an ages-old, predictable Hollywood-esque trope blowing me away because I've come to expect anything *but* something so mundane from anime! Not to say that crap somehow get elevated to any appreciable status but it certainly takes the edge off of mediocrity which, very rarely, exposes the occasional gem (like, arguably, stumbling across a fantastic story mechanic or concept rife with gaming potential).
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Re: Those Who Hunt Elves

Postby bakamatt » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:27 am

Tsunami3k wrote:
bakamatt wrote:At a minimum, my adventurers would also need to strip male elves.


While your amendment addresses the gender bias of the original premise, the racial bias remains… veiled social commentary on the TSA and racial profiling…Columbo-esque …some penalty mechanism for a mis-guess would come into play, say the target goes into berserker mode at 3x stats for 5 turns.


You know, it’s not like I needed any more proof that you don’t think about gaming like anyone else in the world…

T3k wrote:Or, to mix things up, perhaps the penalty would vary by race (perhaps ranging from village-leveling dragon-slave-class detonations to, say, an "Asahina race" for which there is effectively no stripping penalty)


*snort* Heh. Good one.

T3k wrote:gender/race makup could reduce the changes of a penalty triggering.


Oh, that’s just what gaming needs, yet another implementation of the “humans are the crap race of the multiverse” principle.

T3k wrote:the idea is rife with potential; you're right to want to gamify it.


If by “gamify” you mean “make gamy,” you may have something there.

T3k wrote:
Matt wrote:The thing is, it’s barely reasonable to muster this kind of angst in regards to a tepid series like TWHE.


Your moral engagement is directly tied its entertainment level


When talking public media, what better criterion? But not precisely, but sort of. If age teaches any wisdom, it’s “pick your fights.” If I were going to get up on the moral soapbox and start railing, it wouldn’t be against something minor like TWHE, it’s be some appalling work of tentacle porn or something truly ugly like Queen’s Blade.

It’s like, I have a militant feminist friend back home who was bitterly asserting teenaged girls’ right to dress provocatively. I don’t disagree, but besides there being much more serious issues out there, from a practical standpoint that’s such an inefficient place to try to draw the line.

T3k wrote:
Matt wrote:And not only is the cast annoying and generic, but they almost completely fail to gel.


Oddly enough, I saw the mismatch characters as kind of critical to the show. Unlike say, El Hazard, these are not a group of people from the same setting bringing existing relationships, or at least acquaintances, but (if I'm recalling correctly) a true random sampling of people.


Disregarding that rather fortuitous skill set (unmatched short of Highschool of the Dead), they’re kind of random-ish.

T3k wrote:instead of bonding into familiar Swiss Family Robinson template that always comes out of shows like this they instead remain hard-headed and independent, only grudgingly committing to the needs of the group as the situation dictates. In this sense it's arguably more "real" like Gantz where it's largely a group of individuals with their own motivations rather than a "party" as the fantasy settings imply should be the case.


I can’t disagree with a matter of opinion, but such devices are perhaps more appropriate to a more serious vehicle like Gantz (which I haven’t seen) than a piece of farcical fluff such as TWHE. At the minimum, such devices mandate stronger writing than the latter musters.

T3k wrote:
Matt wrote:the writing’s never strong, but it’s particularly weak in continuity.


And yet curiously the lack of continuity works for a show like Galaxy Angel. Nearly every show ends with everyone dead, the end of the universe, thousands of years into the future or some other intractable fate yet the next show the universe resets and it's off to the next absurd story.


It may be arbitrary, but in my opinion the 15-minute-episode shows have forsaken any pretense of serious storytelling - which isn’t, I hasten to point out, at all the same as giving up on good writing.

T3k wrote: Is it that your expectations of a story set in a fantasy environment so engrained that they must involve tight-knit yet diverse parties progressing through a linear quest that strictly obeys continuity? Should every also level up regularly?


I don’t insist on a group being “forged into a team,” but if they’re not going to be I want something else instead. As I said, TWHE doesn’t provide it but pretends to.

But it’s a fair question, although I’ll insist on making it more specific – I’m not talking about any story set in a fantasy environment, I’m talking about the “mundane characters in a fantastic world" trope. I don’t consciously have any expectations for it, though I probably do unconsciously.

What have I seen: TWHE, Rayearth, El Hazard, Fushigi Yuugi, Haibane Renmei, Angel Beats , arguably Highschool of the Dead (though in that case it’s the weird coming to the mundane, not the other way around), a bit of Twelve Kingdoms (what else am I forgetting). I’m not sure there’s enough in common there to qualify as a “genre” in any meaningful way.

T3k wrote:It's probably a fair argument that Slayers almost rote adherence to their formula both succeeds and succeeds despite of its predictable continuity.


Agreed, though it again falls outside of my trope of topic here.

T3k wrote:I don't consider the show a critical watch for anyone but I did come away from it with slightly more warmth than you did. Perhaps because I notices many of the shortcomings that you did but made a few associations to similar shows and concluded, for better or worse, that I liked having a few of my expectations subverted a bit.


I don’t disagree, but would ask for better writing while doing it.

T3k wrote:now I'm impressed all over again when it defies my expectations by defying my expectation of having my expectations defied!


[overthinking]…[/overthinking]

T3k wrote:Or less cryptically put, the occasional use of an ages-old, predictable Hollywood-esque trope blowing me away because I've come to expect anything *but* something so mundane from anime! Not to say that crap somehow get elevated to any appreciable status but it certainly takes the edge off of mediocrity


Despite your disclaimer, I think you’re flirting with “so bad it’s good here,” which I’ve always though was a silly and meaningless thing to say. Sure, if said unexpected mundanity was wielded with skill, it could be fun. But TWHE is just lazy.

I keep coming back to, “What he says would all be true if the show was good.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you saw it pretty early in your viewing history, when you were more forgiving and, like me, just hoping for some good cheesecake; that if you went back and watched it again now you’d come away with less fondness.

But I could be wrong. Sometimes one just likes stuff. Neither the original Nuku-Nuku OVA nor Saber Marionette J are as good as I remembered; I just like them.
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Re: Those Who Hunt Elves

Postby Tsunami3k » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:30 pm

bakamatt wrote:Oh, that’s just what gaming needs, yet another implementation of the “humans are the crap race of the multiverse” principle.


That's perhaps a product baggage born from a life as an avid gamer. I hadn't cast humans as "crap" or otherwise.

bakamatt wrote:When talking public media, what better criterion? But not precisely, but sort of. If age teaches any wisdom, it’s “pick your fights.” If I were going to get up on the moral soapbox and start railing, it wouldn’t be against something minor like TWHE, it’s be some appalling work of tentacle porn or something truly ugly like Queen’s Blade.


To be clear, I wasn't taking or provoking any sort of high-ground stance. Rather, It just struck me as novel to think that the two would ever be conflated. It's interesting to think that an offensive work could somehow be less offensive simply by being more entertaining. Then again The Adventures of Chibi-Hitler could be the runaway success nobody expected.

bakamatt wrote:I can’t disagree with a matter of opinion, but such devices are perhaps more appropriate to a more serious vehicle like Gantz (which I haven’t seen) than a piece of farcical fluff such as TWHE. At the minimum, such devices mandate stronger writing than the latter musters.


I won't say that it worked for TWHE, just that it seems counterproductive to consider one story element less valid for one story type as any other. Or perhaps I've grown to appreciate anime's devil-may-care attitude regarding the implicit rules as to what should and shouldn't be compatible story elements that most forms of media regard as cannon.

bakamatt wrote:It may be arbitrary, but in my opinion the 15-minute-episode shows have forsaken any pretense of serious storytelling - which isn’t, I hasten to point out, at all the same as giving up on good writing.


I've only seen a handful of 15-minute shows and I'd have made the same presumption had I not seen Neo Ranga. True, 15 minutes is limiting but NR manages to develop a genuine story with impressive depth given the implicit limitations.

bakamatt wrote:What have I seen: TWHE, Rayearth, El Hazard, Fushigi Yuugi, Haibane Renmei, Angel Beats , arguably Highschool of the Dead (though in that case it’s the weird coming to the mundane, not the other way around), a bit of Twelve Kingdoms (what else am I forgetting). I’m not sure there’s enough in common there to qualify as a “genre” in any meaningful way.


Have you seen either of the Record of Lodoss War properties?

bakamatt wrote:Despite your disclaimer, I think you’re flirting with “so bad it’s good here,” which I’ve always though was a silly and meaningless thing to say.


Not in the least. First of all, though I do like to truffle hunt, I didn't and wouldn't claim it was good. While I'm sympathetic with the notion that a show can be so bad it's good (there are a few that I categorize as such), this does not qualify as [arguably] no mediocre show could. Mediocrity implies tedium and a truly awful show is far from tedious. Perhaps the phrase "so bad it's good" is so summarized that it is easy to write off as trite but there are very tangible mechanisms at play that, at least for some, render it quite valid. Without going too far off on a sidetrack, the notion of "so bad it's good" has very close ties to the well established pillars of irony and parody, at least as I've come to appreciate it. Thus it's very much akin to how real-life lines often blurs themselves like when, for example, laughing at someone interweaves with laughing with them, (particularly when they forget Neveril's hair).

bakamatt wrote:TWHE is just lazy.


I can't argue with that.

bakamatt wrote:I keep coming back to, “What he says would all be true if the show was good.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you saw it pretty early in your viewing history, when you were more forgiving and, like me, just hoping for some good cheesecake; that if you went back and watched it again now you’d come away with less fondness.


I saw it a couple of years ago and hadn't planned to re-watch it. My response was primarily motivated towards providing some dialog to your extensive review rather than leave you thinking that you've cast your efforts into a black hole (even when I fail to do so, I really do enjoy reading your reviews). I'm not sure how that equates to your persistent perception that I think the show is good though. Perhaps I should quote myself:

T3k wrote:I don't consider the show a critical watch for anyone but I did come away from it with slightly more warmth than you did. Perhaps because I noticed many of the shortcomings that you did...


It's not a masterpiece, it's not excellent and perhaps it's even generous to say that it barely aspires to be adequate. On the ANN rating scale I think we simply fall at different ends of "Decent"..or maybe your take is more "So-So"? They're both kind of ambiguous and I actually don't care for rating schemes that devote a lot of delineation to the vagueries of mediocrity or badness but, in any case, I'm not disgruntled at having watched it once and, barring better fare, I wouldn't discourage an interested party from watching it if they wanted to. Rather, I think with a good heads up about the scattered sundry morsels a mediocre show might have, the experience can be improved marginally (if not substantially for the rare rough gem). A good show is greater than the sum of its parts; a mediocre show puts the onus of that perception on the viewer. One can watch a lot of anime without ever exercising their mind in this manner so perhaps it's a valid argument to question why anyone should.
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Re: Those Who Hunt Elves

Postby bakamatt » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:23 pm

Tsunami3k wrote:
bakamatt wrote:Oh, that’s just what gaming needs, yet another implementation of the “humans are the crap race of the multiverse” principle.


That's perhaps a product baggage born from a life as an avid gamer. I hadn't cast humans as "crap" or otherwise.


Quite true, you didn’t. And your suspicion is both correct and astute: it’s a cliché that any player character race besides humans in any game will be statistically and/or mechanically superior to humans. The sole possible exception is hobbits/halflings, and even they usually get stealth and missile weapon bonuses to compensate for crap stats.

T3k wrote:
Matt wrote: If I were going to get up on the moral soapbox and start railing, it wouldn’t be against something minor like TWHE, it’s be some appalling work of tentacle porn or something truly ugly like Queen’s Blade.


To be clear, I wasn't taking or provoking any sort of high-ground stance. Rather, It just struck me as novel to think that the two would ever be conflated. It's interesting to think that an offensive work could somehow be less offensive simply by being more entertaining.


No, no, I wasn’t clear. The point was, the more entertaining a work is, the more exposure it’s likely to get, and so the more appropriate target for praise or condemnation. And, of course, in general, the more offensive it is, also the more appropriate a target.

T3k wrote:I won't say that it worked for TWHE, just that it seems counterproductive to consider one story element less valid for one story type as any other.


“Valid” isn’t a word I’ve have used – “effective,” perhaps.

T3k wrote:
Matt wrote:It may be arbitrary, but in my opinion the 15-minute-episode shows have forsaken any pretense of serious storytelling


I've only seen a handful of 15-minute shows and I'd have made the same presumption had I not seen Neo Ranga. True, 15 minutes is limiting but NR manages to develop a genuine story with impressive depth given the implicit limitations.


Interesting.

T3k wrote:Have you seen either of the Record of Lodoss War properties?


I’ve seen what I think is the first Lodoss series, some time ago – I’ve been thinking it’s getting to be time to give it a second look. Why do you ask?

T3k wrote:
Matt wrote:Despite your disclaimer, I think you’re flirting with “so bad it’s good here,” which I’ve always though was a silly and meaningless thing to say.


Not in the least. First of all, though I do like to truffle hunt, I didn't and wouldn't claim it was good. While I'm sympathetic with the notion that a show can be so bad it's good (there are a few that I categorize as such), this does not qualify as [arguably] no mediocre show could.


Okay, that’s fair.

T3k wrote:Mediocrity implies tedium and a truly awful show is far from tedious. Perhaps the phrase "so bad it's good" is so summarized that it is easy to write off as trite but there are very tangible mechanisms at play that, at least for some, render it quite valid. Without going too far off on a sidetrack, the notion of "so bad it's good" has very close ties to the well established pillars of irony and parody, at least as I've come to appreciate it.


That’s certainly the closest thing to a reasonable defense of “so bad it’s good” I’ve ever seen.

Though I can’t say I agree with your thesis that “a truly awful show is far from tedious” – in my experience, they’re awful when they’re tedious. I suppose it’s a question of whether you’re using “bad” to mean “boring,” or “unprofessional.” For me, a perception of the creator’s sincerity is something of a saving grace. Plan Nine From Outer Space is, of course, technically poor, but it’s still the product of a sincere directorial vision. That puts it a leg up on, for example The Beast of Yucca Flat, which is nothing but a cynical attempt to make a “horror” movie on as small a budget as possible. Or, to pick a more relevant example, a few weeks ago I got to watch The Green Slime at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. (Relevant because it was shot in Japan with a Japanese crew and American cast, and directed by the guy who, some decades later, directed Battle Royale.) Widely disdained as bad, Green Slime has surprisingly good production values and, while simple (you might say “child-like”), it seems entirely sincere to me.

Note that this concept, that what the director intended matters, is easy to misconstrue. Intention doesn’t create legitimacy, but it implies discipline and cohesiveness that keeps a movie from being awful. This is a practical, nuts-and-bolts thing, not an esthetic one. Some people will tell you that all that matters is what the viewer saw, not what the director tried to show. I don’t agree, but this is purely a matter of opinion.

So much for not going too far on a sidetrack…

T3k wrote: Thus it's very much akin to how real-life lines often blurs themselves like when, for example, laughing at someone interweaves with laughing with them, (particularly when they forget Neveril's hair).


Or forget that it was Aer’s hair?

T3k wrote:My response was primarily motivated towards providing some dialog to your extensive review rather than leave you thinking that you've cast your efforts into a black hole


That’s courteous, certainly. No one likes feeling like their page count is wasted. And, should there be any doubt in anyone’s mind, quash it: I love listening to myself talk. But a journal where the contributors are only talking to themselves is walking dead, and I love listening to you guys talk, too.

But at the same time I don’t want people simply going through the motions. Which I’m not saying you did, but in general.

T3k wrote:I'm not sure how that equates to your persistent perception that I think the show is good though.


I don’t think I ever quite said that. But I did imply it pretty strongly, and shouldn’t have. That was a bit strident of me, and I’m sorry.

T3k wrote:I think with a good heads up about the scattered sundry morsels a mediocre show might have, the experience can be improved marginally (if not substantially for the rare rough gem). A good show is greater than the sum of its parts; a mediocre show puts the onus of that perception on the viewer. One can watch a lot of anime without ever exercising their mind in this manner so perhaps it's a valid argument to question why anyone should.


I think it quite is. Why did I invest time in finishing TWHE when I was, at best, lukewarm on it? I cited some reasons in my original revue, but I’m not sure they’re either good enough or are a complete list.

Return to first principles: like any popular medium, 90% of anime is formulaic hackwork. Don’t put it on a pedestal, and don’t disdain it for not being better than it is.

And, after all, I never finished the first Ikki-Tousen. A combination of boredom and mild distaste killed it for me about halfway through. So I can quit a series, if it really doesn’t work for me.

Here’s a commenthook: is it legitimate to review a series you didn’t finish? Is there value in a post that starts “I didn’t finish The Adventures of Chibi-Hitler, and here’s why…”?
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bakamatt
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