Anime-Gataris Series Review: A Guide In How To Have An Idea But Not A Story

Overview:

Minoa keeps dreaming about an anime she saw as a kid but doesn’t know which one. one day in the classroom a classmate overhears her talking about the anime with a friend and seeks her out. Turns out she’s a major anime fan. Soon the girls have found other like minded students and started an anime club but things aren’t going to be smooth sailing.

Review:

While reading that overview you probably had the sense that you had seen that show before. Probably more than once. Anime-Gataris is another one of those self-aware kind of parody type shows except that it doesn’t really commit to the idea of parody or satire and instead indulges itself by endless references within the industry and later in the series even becoming self-referential. That doesn’t automatically mean we should sound some kind of alarm as there is still a lot of potential in such a series. Early episode of Anime-Gataris did in fact work quite well.

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No, where this story fell apart is that it forgot it was supposed to be a story and not a series of loosely connected set ups. Just metaphorically winking at your audience as you skate right over increasingly thin ice with your story isn’t enough to really let you get away with the kind of abysmal story this show ends up producing. And while there are some early attempts at foreshadowing the ending we ultimately get, there are entire chunks and episodes that do not feed in to the overall narrative in any meaningful way and are merely there for the sake of squeezing in one more reference or trope.

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Maybe people who just like gag comedy will still get something from this. There is enough of a plot that if you aren’t too concerned about it making sense you could just kind of go along with their nonsense. However, then the show will have to contend with the fact that other than the first couple of episodes where the characters have rapid fire conversations making some interesting points and the references serving some kind of purpose (or at least taking a small dig at the show they were referencing), by the mid-season these had become far less frequent and had lost any bite they may have had and by the end they merely became filler to drag out a conflict that had so little weight there was no reason to care.

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That isn’t to say there aren’t some very funny moments in this series. Early episodes are quite amusing if you happen to like the kind of humour they are selling and should you have experienced enough anime to be able to negotiate your way through the layered references in some scenes. Yet repeated gags and fairly flat delivery make even the comedy elements of the show pretty dull by the end.

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Maybe breaking the fourth wall entirely in the final episodes seemed like an extraordinarily amusing idea in a planning meeting but the actual delivery is rather like the show is looking at its audience and pointing at itself demanding that we acknowledge how clever it is. The end result is pretty ordinary.

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Where the show fares a bit better are the characters with Minoa being generic but entertaining as our pink-haired leading lady. New to the anime community, her enthusiasm and passion are a joy to watch at times and while there’s nothing particularly exceptional about her or any of the cast, they all kind of serve their assigned roles well enough and the early season has some great moments shared between members of the anime club.

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Despite all of that, I can’t actually bring myself to dislike this show. At least half the series (the first episodes and then elements of the mid-season) was pretty entertaining and I did appreciate the sheer number of anime they managed to reference during the run time. However, I also can’t bring myself to recommend the show given the entire series is just a downward spiral from the spark of a good idea down to a derivative and self-indulgent mess.

Episode Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Anime-Gataris Episode 12: Death By Narrator, Nonsense, and No Direction

Review:

Anime-Gataris has become an increasingly convoluted and frustrating watch. Despite early indications that some catastrophe was coming, the final form it takes is incredibly random and the solution is equally non-nonsensical making for a fairly lacking finale that draws on the worst clichés of poor endings including the power of friendship overcoming anything.

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Now, I like a good Gurren Laagan reference as much as the next anime obsessed human but even that wasn’t enough to save this story from sinking into a swamp of its own making. It was almost like watching a dream play out on screen which meant nothing really had any weight and so wasn’t worth worrying about.

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I’m not sure how I feel about this series as a whole right at the moment but I know that this episode just kind of made me sigh. A lot.

Finally, time is running out to have your say in the reader’s poll for best and worst anime of the season. If you haven’t voted click here.


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Anime-Gataris Episode 10: It’s the Power of Friendship/Teamwork/Plot Convenience

Review:

While this episode certainly did better than last week in that it delivered some actual plot progression and a nice simple problem to solve (Principal’s door is locked and we need a code to unlock it), there’s still plenty to wonder about how the show got to this place. More specifically, why they felt the need to have a traitor in the club who is clearly continuing to play both sides. I’m just not sure what this adds as it isn’t particularly clever or funny and it just seems kind of dumb.

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The other question I had this episode came up during the opening when the entire opening theme was filled with Minoa’s friend, Obata. Other than fan servicey type shots of her doing high jump or stretching, I haven’t really figured out why her character even exists in the show, so I’m stumped as to why we needed her face grinning at us through the opening this week or what relevance that has to anything.

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And possibly both of these concerns will be cleared up before the end and I’ll see it was well thought out and purposeful all along. And then again, maybe not. Still, you have to give Minoa credit for staying true to her passion.

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Definitely a better episode than what we’ve been getting but this series has left it a little late to really turn itself around so all I’m hoping for is a decent ending.


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Anime-Gataris Episode 9: There’s a Fine Line and This Just Jumped Right Over It

Review:

I’m not the biggest fan of comedy in the first place, but the first couple of episodes of this show were pretty funny. However, heading in to episode 9 and off the back of a couple of fairly flat episodes, we see the show trying to capture some of the energy it had earlier in the season with a severe mis-fire (at least for me).

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What was funny early on in the season was the characters were so recognisable as fans of anime or light novels. They were passionate and over the top enthused, but you could relate to them and the excitement they felt in getting to discuss that passion with others. The exaggerated elements of the show were there, but they made enough sense within the context.

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Now however we have the sports clubs actively copying anime techniques rather than actually training for their sport with some incredibly stupid results. This isn’t funny because it requires you to believe that every single high school student, their coaches and supervisors, jettisoned their brains after watching a single anime series and they’ve just copied what they’ve seen on TV as if it some kind of bible.

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Then we get the so often repeated threat of club shut down that even the club doesn’t care but finally there’s a twist. This time the principal is involved and there is a traitor in the group (and just so you know, it is the character that has legitimately served no other purpose in the story thus far so guess who it is).

So yeah, not funny humour and incredibly lame plot developments… this one is heading down my watch list fast and I’m just kind of hoping it remains watchable until the end of the season at this point.


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Anime-Gataris Episode 3: No Chance of Dropping At Episode 3

Review:

This is just such a fun show. Admittedly, a lot of the fun is in the over the top referencing but even the characters are starting to flesh out and (reflecting the very nature of anime shows they are discussing this week) they are starting to really feel like a group with the dialogue flowing far more naturally between them. Of course, a large chunk of time is spent this episode on dealing with the club losing its room and then maybe getting shut down. As usual, the supervisor is unhelpful (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a useful club supervisor outside of Haikyuu).

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Though that doesn’t stop the group from taking a trip to Akihabara and sightseeing leading to the proposal that maybe they could be an out of school group (firmly rejected with yet more references as supporting arguments). Still, we did get a nice cosplaying conversation in this section.

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Finally we get to the speech where the anime club get to make their case for existing and Minoa chokes (though that is probably because the script she’s been given is rubbish from delusional rich girl), and so Kai comes to her rescue. He unleashes his secret power (by removing his glasses) and delivers an awesome appeal, right before he trips over due to not being able to see after removing his glasses.

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It is a great episode with a lot of fun to be had and these characters are becoming more than just one note as we learn more about them. Looking forward to next week. I was promised an explosion in the club room so I hope they weren’t being metaphorical.


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Anime-Gataris Episode 2: The References Just Keep Coming

Review:

I really had a lot of fun with this episode. From a story point of view it is pointless. Girls recruit new club members and start a club which is then immediately challenged by I’m guessing the student council because what else do you do when you are a self-aware high school comedy focussed around a new club? Still, from start to finish they are packing in the anime references. My two favourites go to the shout out to Haruhi Suzumiya and Sword Art Online.

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Questioning her use of the word ‘standard’ here.
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This particular title will never get old.

However, for all that this is silly and fun, as well as slightly ominous with the talking cat and mysterious room mystery being totally ignored even though that is clearly the only chance of an actual plot appearing, this episode made an excellent point about how closed off the anime community sometimes is. Minoa is struggling hard to follow conversations and the logic of hard-core fans with well established arguments and at times you kind of realise why new fans might get turned away.

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It isn’t particularly deep and meaningful, but I think most people who are anime fans will recognise the scenarios presented. This one is definitely a surprise for me this season and I am so far really having fun with it.


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