Sunday, July 3 2011

The Demon King in the Editing Room

As part of my spring cleaning this year, I decided it was finally time to clean out the mess of obsolete AV gear in the family room. Two 200-disc CD changers? Gone! Laserdisc player? Gone! Original Xbox, DXS, Slink-E, 100 Mb/s switch, DishPlayer, S-VHS player? Gone, gone, gone! 32-inch, 185-pound television set and bulky stand? Oh, that is so gone (and carried out of the house by someone else). Actual television service was gone several years ago, when Dish Network stopped supporting the WebTV DishPlayer, and I really hadn’t missed it.

But now that things have settled down in HD-land (apart from the 3-D nonsense that I want no part of), I decided I could safely buy a decent LED-backlit HD TV and Blu-ray player, and find the least-outrageously-overpriced TV service to subscribe to that included TV Japan (which turned out to be Dish Network again).

But of course I needed something to watch in HD. My Blu-ray collection is small, and the expensive but poor selection at Amazon Japan suggests it will remain so for some time, but there’s still some anime getting released in the US, so in addition to the AsoIku OVA, I now own a copy of Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou.

It’s not bad at all, and I certainly don’t regret the purchase, but my primary reaction to it was “I’d love to see the story this highlight reel is based on”. Compared to AsoIku, it feels incredibly rushed: the relationships, the escalating situation, the development of the supporting cast. It just rips through the material at a breakneck pace, leaving very little time for the viewer to connect with any of it.

Both series are based on roughly the same amount of original text. Daimaou is, as far as I can tell, based on the first five novels in the series. AsoIku is based on the first four novels, plus the end of the sixth and a standalone story pulled from the ninth, and some scenes that appear to be completely original. Light novels are short, episodic, and dialog-heavy, making it reasonable to convert one book into 2-3 episodes without losing too much, so why is one so much more coherent than the other?

Focus. In AsoIku, they trimmed and consolidated the cast to focus attention on a small band of heroes facing a single villain; there are some dangling plot threads and mystery characters, but they round out the world without distracting from the core story. In Daimaou, not so much. I lost count of the factions, and couldn’t tell you who fought who for what reason. Or, really, when and why Junko fell for Akuto. Honestly, unless I’m in the mood to take notes, I think my primary motive for rewatching it will be Peterhausen.

Well, that and the fan-service.

[I am sufficiently intrigued that I’d consider reading the novels, but I’d have to do the OCR and proofreading myself, since all I’ve found are scans. If I’m going to do that much work, I’d rather do it for a story I’ve already spent some time on, like Rune Soldier. After I finish with AsoIku, of course, which is now in unexplored territory; among other things, book five appears to be building up the tie-in to the author’s first novel.]