Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Special A : It's NOT like Ouran, Damnit!

I "just" (Edit: last Friday, been busy over the weekend) got my (Japanese) placement test results!!! And they're... so not like this, lol.

Actually we didn't really get our results, but we can fairly guess how we did by the classes we were sorted into. Considering that or the placement tests I didn't finish the multiple choice grammar portion (I read slow, okay), managed like one page of the kanji portion without guessing (a surprising achievement really, guess furigana in manga does help somewhat :P), absolutely flunked the essay (90% of whatever kanji I do remember I can't remember how to write) and was probably the only person in the room who didn't speak in a grammatically 'correct' manner during the interview... I'm surprised I didn't get put in the last class (close enough to last really, which is a relief since I get to relearn everything I shouldn't have forgotten about the language -_-"). There are two Special A... I mean advanced classes for the students who are ridiculously fluent enough in the language to pass off as locals, and I supposed that inspired this separate first impression post for Special A.

(Edit: This is all last week's news btw, this week I have placement tests for subjects like Japanese Culture and Science ORZ)

I keep mistaking the dude on the left for a girl... It doesn't help that he's voiced by Yonaga Tsubasa of OoFuri fame =P

Special A is this season's 'uber' shoujo offering this season, which many have labeled as a successor of Ouran High School Host Club of sorts... but I say nay, because that's an insult to my favourite comedy of all time! Kidding. Ouran isn't my favourite comedy of all time, but it's close (You get a virtual manwhore voucher if you can guess what is =P). The comparison is probably inevitable though, since most people hail Ouran as the premiere shoujo show in recent history, but though the setup and stylings of Ouran is very much catered to the shoujo market, Ouran's success to me wasn't that it was an awesome shoujo series, rather it an awesomely hilarious comedy that managed to make fun of many things including its shoujo trappings. In fact I think those who aren't usually into shoujo anime enjoyed Ouran because it was funny in both intelligent and whimsical ways and more so because it didn't delve too deeply into the intricacies of romance and fluff that supposedly 'bog down' the 'girly' genre.

Just for fun from a geek by any other name :P

But I suppose the comparison has more to do with the 'special students' sitting around drinking tea in a lavish setting concept (why can't school be like that in real life?) than anything, but I just wanted to rant a bit =P But instead of saying "It's like Ouran..." I'd say the setting is more that of the student councils in Utena (the garden etc. Though technically Ouran is reminiscent of Utena too, so S.A. being similar to Ouran seems reasonable... gah, there goes my point...) or even Code Geass. Kei can be Lelouch, Megumi can be Nunally, Akira can be Millay and Hikari would be Shirley, lol. Tadashi can be Rival(z) and Ryuu would be Mori-senpai... Oh wait... D'OH!

My main irk with comparing S.A. with Ouran based on its first episode is that Ouran had one of the most brilliant first episodes to remember ever (I will forever love the lightbulb gag :P) whereas S.A.’s just was just... okay (not “Special” enough?). I tried to like the show as much as I could (it was one of the few shows I had in mind this season), but there were sill things that rather annoyed me when I watched the first episode. Mainly the noodle thin character designs (seriously, the characters here make CLAMP’s look fat!) which I wouldn’t have minded so much if they didn’t make Hikari and Kei wannabe wrestlers - I keep thinking that they’d snap like dry twigs in those scenes -_-" Besides the fact that they’re trying to play him up as the token ‘perfect’ bishounen who’s a little too proud for his own good (Hmm, where else have we seen that this season...) Kei is a big annoyance in that he just screams Geass (Fukuyama Jun should gargle some salt water or something in his future roles, I’m in despair hearing Lulu’s voice everywhere). I actually find him more irksome than the guy from Itazura na Kiss (it helps that I don’t recognize Itou Makoto’s voice as well). Gotou Yuko as Hikari, I don’t mind as much since she’s okay in my books as long as she keeps to her Kaede/Abiru voice rather than her high pitched Mikuru (It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like her singing the insert song >.<).

Now that I think about it, the twins do remind me of CLANNAD's Kotomi - if she were split into 2 halves.

Sloths are awesome because they get away with being, well, sloths :P Now who wouldn't want to get away with that...

Karino Tadashi : He's just like Tajima... (seriously, they're both hilarious) Let's hope we don't hear about his masturbation habits -_-"

But enough of the ‘hate’, let’s go on to the positives, and why I will continue watching Special A. (Besides the fact that I'd take a shoujo anime any day over stuff like Kanokon and To-LoveRU) The setup may be slightly generic and the main characters are only passably likeable (well I seldom take to main characters anyways), but there's nothing really bad per se about it all. What’s tilting the scale for me is definitely the entertaining side characters. Yea, so quirky side characters are a tried and tested gimmick to increase the likeability of the cast and better the impression of a show. It worked for Itazura na Kiss, and it’s working in S.A. as well though it feels slightly more gimmicky here (see girl who can’t talk but can end the world with her singing… Reminds me of Kotomi -_-“). Ryuu, the sloth guy (who reminds me of Mori-senpai, only he talks lol) seems pretty cool (because sloths are cool! And that he has the twins literaly eating out of his hand :P) while Tadashi is a riot (casting Tajima’s voice = brilliant!) especially his chemistry with Akira. Overall there’s an enjoyable chemistry between the characters as well that works in the show’s advantage. Story-wise, nothing spectacular yet, so I’m still seeing how it develops.
Overall, my impression of S.A. is still a positive one.

Continuing? Yeap, especially if the sloth returns :P


sneezl said...

Ouran's success to me wasn't that it was an awesome shoujo series, rather it an awesomely hilarious comedy that managed to make fun of many things including its shoujo trappings


And speaking as someone whose favorite comedy of all time is Ouran, I don't see much resemblance between SA and Ouran either. Ouran's character designs may have been on the thin side, but I kept wanting to force-feed cans of Ensure to the people in Special A. I was sure that the "A" in "Special A" stood for "Anorexic."

I think I prefer SA over InK so far - the guy in InK is my least favorite main character this YEAR, not just this season. And InK feels like shoujo wish-fulfillment to me. Of course there's still plenty of time for either show to worsen/improve.

issa-sa said...

LOL A for Anorexic, that's a good one.

I think there's enough of a shoujo fan in me to enjoy both S.A. and Itazura na Kiss this season. Now as for Vampire Knight... *goes to work on that post*

I hate Shoujo but... said...

Of the two, I prefer Itazura, despite the art being poor, though it makes up for having a nicer plot. Nana Mizuki has nothing to do with me liking this. Honest.

issa-sa said...

Hmm so far for me, one episode of Itazura > two episodes of S.A. Not looking too good for the anorexics ;P And that was before I realized Mizuki Nana is voicing Kotoko! (I need to clean out my ears more)

sneezl said...

Yeah, 2nd ep of SA developed nothing. You could swap the two SA episodes (other than the intro section When Rei Met Hikari) and it wouldn't make any difference. And 2nd ep of InK drew me in a bit more even though Crossdressing-Bastard-san is still pretty irritating.