The Fall 2008 Anime Preview Guide
Zac Bertschy

by Zac Bertschy,
Clannad After Story

Rating: whatever it is you think the rating should be (of 5, but you can change that scale if you need to because it might be unfair)

Review: I like this show as much as you like it, if not more, or less. It's about people doing things. I enjoyed it, but also liked some parts more than I liked other parts, but I also loved some parts, so that was good. There are many attractive people in this show and I plan on enjoying their attractiveness throughout the show. In addition, the music was also something I liked about this show. And the animation was something I liked.

Also, things happened in this show. Some of them I liked, others I loved. If you like shows like this one, you will like this show.

Overall, Clannad After Story is a show that I liked as much as you did, if not more, or less.

Linebarrels of Iron

Rating: welp time to hang myself (of 5)

I don't normally get to participate in these preview guides, and haven't for some time, because I'm usually too busy editing and formatting and posting everyone else's reviews. I do, however, usually try to make time to check out a handful of the new series just to stay on top of things. This time I decided to try out Linebarrels of Iron, the new show from Gonzo. I deeply regret it and I'm ashamed that this is the sort of thing anyone would spend money producing.

The show begins with the usual cryptic image of some macguffin that will obviously play a role later in the series and then we're introduced to Hayase, the show's milquetoast loser who we all know will eventually become the troubled hero, being bullied by a bunch of badly-designed dudes who are slapping him around in an attempt to get him to buy them lunch. Rushing to his rescue is Risako, the prerequisite tough blonde with a big rack who “protects” Hayase. She's a tough girl, right, who has thinly-veiled feelings for Hayase but he's such a damn loser he goes to buy the bullies lunch anyway, because if he didn't, he wouldn't be in the right place at the right time to intercept the show's big plot device.

Then a bunch of very serious people sitting in front of computer screens yell a bunch of technobabble, including meaningless all-caps robot names like “ARMAS”  and “MACHINA” in very serious tones. Suddenly we're then back to Hayase arguing with Risako, who he will probably violently rape over and over again in thousands of doujinshi set to premiere at the next Comiket, about how he's being a giant wuss to the bullies because they'll “eventually bow to him” because he has “untapped power” and he's “on the side of justice”.


Naturally – and tell me you didn't see this coming – on his way back from picking up lunch he gets hit by a mysterious force which leaves him dazed in a crater and delivers to him both a totally hot and mysterious naked chick and a giant robot, as if to say “here you go kid, fill up 13 episodes with this stuff!”. If you've been watching anime for more than a year and have seen more than, oh, let's say two anime series featuring giant robots, this scene will make you scream in anguish and also basically telegraphs not only the rest of the episode but probably the entire series as well.

By the time he's proclaiming “this is my power!” in his brand new robot on the city streets fighting off cheaply-rendered enemies with the now-clothed mysterious hot girl, it's clear that they're about to reveal some lame-ass plot twist that is somehow supposed to magically set this generic crapfest apart from all the countless other shows like it. Sure enough, mystery girl informs him that he's apparently dead. Which I guess is supposed to knock you out of your seat and light your hair on fire and send you running into traffic screaming about how your mind has just been blown, but we all know how this will turn out – the next episode will be mostly exposition followed by another cheap CG mecha fight, and the whole “dead” thing won't really be what it seems.

Perhaps I'm a little too old and a little too jaded to enjoy something like this, but at some point swallowing this sort of insulting mediocrity, this kind of mind-numbing pabulum slapped together from the rotting pieces of other mediocre anime series as “eh I guess it's OK” has to end. We have to stop this. Stop accepting this kind of lazy uncreative hacky garbage as “passable entertainment”. Anime fans love to bitch and moan about American TV, how it's all stupid reality shows for morons who aren't paying attention. I would argue that Linebarrels of Iron is absolutely no different in terms of creativity, ingenuity and quality than, say, Paris Hilton's My New BFF, an MTV reality show in which infamous celebutante airhead Paris Hilton pretends to select a new friend from a group of attention-seeking reality famewhores that mimics VH1's successful “Celebreality” TV secretions like Flavor of Love and Rock of Love. Approximately the same amount of creative talent must be going into both, because it's the same crap you've seen countless times before, tweaked just a little so it feels artificially new or different somehow without actually being either of those things.

We've seen this worn-down, beat-up, tired old formula countless times since the premiere of Mobile Suit Gundam and at a seemingly feverous pitch since Neon Genesis Evangelion. This stuff seems like it's written by a high schooler with an “Anime Mecha Show” Mad Libs booklet where all you have to do is change the names and maybe add some kind of mild personality twist to one of the characters. No wonder so many deluded teenagers think they have brilliant ideas for anime series – they see repetitive hacky garbage like this, something a big studio actually spent a lot of money to produce, and say “hey, I could write this!”

They could. I could. Anyone could. You could. If this is the kind of lazy trash they're going to spend money producing, then hell, it's no wonder the anime market is in trouble.

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