Monday, September 12, 2016

The Great Short Binge: Part 1: The Curse of the "A" Titles

I've stopped looking at the comments on Crunchyroll's short-format anime series; they're a broken record of complaining about each and every show's brevity, as if that's a flaw in and of itself. Sure, a good work of fiction makes you want more, but it also knows how to not overstay its welcome.

(Plus, when you're in the middle of studying for college finals and can only spare a five-minute break, these series will save your life, man. The struggle is real.)

Thankfully, for anime fans like me who don't consider short anime to be an unpleasant surprise, sprung upon unsuspecting fans after the video finishes loading, Rotten Sushi compiled a list of every short and short series available on Crunchyroll for me to binge between writing assignments. In this series of articles, I'll be sorting through the diverse list. Which of these anime are worth your precious break time, and which squandered their five minutes of fame?

Abunai Sisters: Skip (Except to Laugh at)

This is an... interesting title to start us off. Abunai Sisters is about two crime-fighting sisters in scantily clad outfits, and Crunchyroll unanimously hated it. It's a short that exists only as fanservice and not a single hormonal teenager on the site even said they enjoyed it for "the plot." Everyone hated it. Assumedly, whoever was paying for it felt the same, because only one episode of this "series" exists. The animation is horrible and the entire thing is super awkward.

Forget everything I just told you about not reading the comments on shorts. If you decide to suffer through this, you owe it to yourself to enjoy the equally stunned reactions of the other poor souls who stumbled upon this disaster.

AIURA: Watch the Theme Song, Then Skip

I made it about halfway through AIURA before stopping to ask myself why I was still watching the show, and I realized it was due to the really catchy and quirky theme song featuring the main trio of characters inexplicably bonding with a crab. The sad thing is, this is the most memorable thing about the show. AIURA isn't an abomination like the last series, but there's nothing that really stands out about it either. It's another "high school girls act cute and do regular girl things" series, except none of the cast is that interesting, and in a genre with no real plot besides characters being characters, that's a deal-breaker. 

If you absolutely adore this style of anime, you may enjoy this series, but it's probably going to feel like a quick fix to mild boredom rather than your new favorite show. 

Well, this string of bad reviews is getting awkward from someone who started the article saying how much she likes short anime. There are some I did like but... apparently none that started with an A. Go figure.

I'm exceptionally bitter about Anime De Training! EX too, because nothing about the advertising on CR made it clear its audience is actually guys looking for waifus instead of people who want to learn how to exercise from an anime. I got super excited, getting out my yoga mat and everything, only yo find the show consists of a girl struggling to do a push-up while the camera zooms around at awkward angles. Another interesting idea overrun by fanservice.

Anisawa: Skip

Yep, it's the curse of the "A" title anime. 

Is this what it looks like to Japan when we make anime-styled series in the states? Anisawa is indeed an anime produced by a legit anime studio that also makes popular series such as Case Closed! and RE:LIFE, but it's entirely in English and looks like the kind of short you'd see on Adult Swim. Basically, a cat and a bear are dating and there's a bunch of dirty humor about it. I didn't make it through the first episode without feeling all kinds of uncomfortable.

BONJOUR♪Sweet Love Patisserie: Watch

See? I told you I liked some of these!

Bonjour is a sweet (har har puns har) anime about a girl who goes to baking school and finds herself working with and befriending several young men. As you may have guessed, it's based on an otome game, albeit one that sunk into a development coma and has yet to see a release. The anime knows it has something going for it that everyone loves - anime food - and doesn't squander it in an effort to show as much of the game's potential love interests as possible. The heroine has a life outside of boys, and it creates a fun and lightly-romantic series worth giving a look.

I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying: Watch

What happens after the couple in a shoujo romantic comedy gets together?

Kaoru is a workaholic with her stay-at-home husband who is a huge nerd for all things anime. He spends most of his free time on blogs making an income from home and makes references to things even I don't recognize. Together, several 3-minute shorts featuring their antics and the story of how they met ensue.

Shorts can be great for works based off 4komas; 30 minutes of random silliness can be a lot to digest at once. I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying is an example of 4koma-to-short done right, even if a few too many episodes are dedicated to side characters in the first season.

Still, this anime left a smile on my face every time a new short was released. There's a genuine love between the main couple that gives the entire series a positive, heartwarming feel even as it stumbles to figure out its identity.  The positive view on marriage in a mediascape that tends to either ignore marriage or be skeptic towards it is refreshing. 

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