Monday, March 17, 2008

Hatenko Yugi, episode 3

It's not entirely clear what's going on in this show. Rahzel is kicked out of her house with just a blind-folded teddy bear and a command to "see the world." She comes across an oh-so-myseriously-sexy albino-with-issues (and a gun) named Alzeido. They go on random adventures together (inexplicably joined by the playboy Baroqueheat) and learn the value of friendship and true love. Or something. Also, she has vague magic powers that seem to involve shooting generic energy blasts and the playboy can turn his hand into a... sword... thing. And don't worry about keeping any sense of time or space or tension during the fights, 'cause there is none.

It's got all the classic shoujo elements: a cheerful heroine, a silent-but-sexy type, and an overly affectionate hunk. The meandering "plot" and the lack of any distinct setting, per se, makes it difficult to follow - as do the stilted and heavy-handed references to Mysterious Pasts for both the bishis - but the actual dialogue was surprisingly sharp enough for me to give it a little time to develop. Our heroine isn't a swooning ditz, she's a reasonable bad-ass in her own right and her exchanges with both her gigolos are surprisingly entertaining. She's got a sharp tongue and so do they. Perhaps even more importantly, they don't insist on continually denying obvious feelings for each other. While they all certainly enjoy putting on the act that they don't care about each other, they all ultimately admit it and that gives Hatenko Yugi a leg up on my female harem shows.

Unfortunately, that's not really enough to overcome the show's central flaws. The hunks (and even Rahzel herself) are set up with intensely dramatic, mysterious and tragic backstories and we know this because we are told so. Flat out. Repeatedly. Usually by Rahzel herself. The accompanying heavy-handed metaphors drag whatever episodic plot they're foisted upon, giving everything a childish feeling at odds with the often dark and brutal subject matter. The undeniable gravitas is just shoved down the viewer's throat. It's possible it might have worked with some kind of central plot to hang on to, but instead it all collapses under its own meandering weight.

It's a shame, as I wouldn't have minded seeing more of Rahzel bickering with her man-whores. Fans of shoujo with a high tolerance for "Isn't that tragic?" who are looking for something a little different will probably find something to enjoy here, but everyone else can probably give it a pass. It could develop into something good, but with the level of storytelling presented thus far, it'll likely come at a high price.
based on 3 episodes : ANN : Wikipedia : YouTube

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