The Fall 2022 Preview Guide
VazzRock the Animation
How would you rate episode 1 of
VazzRock the Animation ?
Community score: 1.5
What is this?
How was the first episode?
Since I started writing for the seasonal preview guide, I've seen more than my fair share of terrible premiere episodes. However, I can honestly say that I've never seen one as mind-numbingly boring as this one. The majority of this episode is just the characters sitting around answering various softball questions designed to introduce their various archetypal personalities and make their fans squeal.
Yet, despite how utterly uninteresting these Q&A sections are, they are also incredibly realistic. Over my decade and a half of living and working in Japan, I can't tell you how many of these non-interviews I have seen and reported on. These are a go-to for idols (not to mention anime staff and voice actors); rather than being actual interviews, everything is loosely scripted—the questions and answers are decided in advance (so as to prevent any potential scandals) and often even rehearsed beforehand. Sure, there is a fair bit of ad-libbing, but when it comes down to it, everything is just an act for the sake of PR. You're never going to get anyone's true feelings through one of these—just light-hearted, on-brand fluff. While it can still be fun if you're invested in the personalities on display, it's like nails on a chalkboard if you aren't. But I don't have to tell you that if you've seen this episode—you've already experienced it first hand.
Outside of the interview portions of the episode, we see a bit of the interconnected nature of the Japanese entertainment industry. Popular singers are stunt cast in various films and TV shows to draw in their associated audience—regardless of whether they have any actual talent in acting or not. Meanwhile, professional actors are expected to play off of and support these amateurs. We almost get some drama from seeing our heroes in this situation, but, in the end, the conflict is simply sidestepped.
The only other moment of potential drama comes as one of our pretty boys is about to reveal his tragic backstory—and the episode ends. I think it was supposed to act as a cliffhanger, but I'd actually have to have some emotional investment in the character for a cliffhanger like this to work and...I don't.
Man, what an awful waste of time this episode was. I want my 22 minutes back.
Welcome to “Sleep Aid: The Anime.” That's probably not an entirely fair assessment, since if you have some attachment to the two bands in the show, Vazzy and Rock Down from the Tsukipro franchise, you might feel otherwise, but if that's not the case, this is twenty-four minutes of guys talking. That's it. Oh, sure, there are scenes from the drama a few of them are filming, which is some samurai thing, but that's mostly them standing around in period costumes talking. Occasionally they switch to a sepia-tone filter! Be still my heart!
Basically the “plot” of the episode is that the two groups, who combined are the eponymous VazzRock (which I have to admit sounds like a slang term for female genitalia), are on some sort of talk show. They all introduce themselves, they look at pictures of themselves, and they talk about themselves. There are also a few cats, which can't quite save things, and a discussion about a smile-based photoshoot. The men are all moderately attractive in a bland sort of way; basically they all look like they're from almost any boy idol show with most of the colors toned down. This makes it difficult to tell them apart, pink and red guys aside. I suppose there's something to be said for this episode if you'd be willing to listen to your favorite male VA read a grocery list or something, but no one's delivery is particularly making them stand out, either.
I'm running out of ways to say that there's simply not much here. If you're looking for a male idol show, I'd suggest catching up in IDOLiSH7 or the insanity that is the UtaPri franchise. This doesn't have much to offer beside a large cast of young men, and that's simply not enough.
Rating: Who are you people?
Imagine, for a moment, you're sitting in front of a TV, and on it is playing a talk show segment featuring a bunch of celebrities you don't recognize. Maybe they're sports stars, or TV actors from shows you don't watch, or even a bunch of TikTok celebrities. The point is, you don't know any of these men from Adam, and for the next 20-odd minutes you've just got to sit there, listening to them answer superfluous media questions about their favorite colors, or what “smiling” means to them. That's essentially the experience I got walking into VAZZROCK, a title that sounds more like a contagious disease or a new way to bedazzle genitals, and is almost as alienating.
This is apparently a spinoff of the TsukiPro franchise, a series I have no real familiarity with, and I have to imagine this plays a lot better if you're already a fan, because it's absolutely impenetrable to newbies. Theoretically you'd think an in-universe TV segment where the full dozen of these identically handsome men introduce themselves would be a good gateway, but outside of learning their names and basic gimmick, I could not tell you anything about most of these guys. Like there's one dude whose schtick is making comments about samurai? The red-head one wears lace gloves and is kinda cute. That's all I got, because the rest of the opening half is just these guys talking about each other and occasionally cracking a very mild joke. For all I know this segment is littered with in-jokes that are absolutely hilarious to fans, but without context for who any of these dudes are, it sloughed off my brain like freshly fallen snow.
It certainly doesn't help that this is easily one of the most stilted productions I've seen recently. There's plenty of attention paid to make sure these characters are never off-model, but that's about the only positive point. This episode is 99% talking heads, where the characters' facial expressions almost never change, maintaining the same thousand-yard stare and generic smile no matter what they're talking about. It gets genuinely disconcerting when they focus on any one character for more than a few seconds, as their glazed, unmoving eyes pierce the middle distance and never blink. It gets especially bad in the second half, where a handful of characters are shooting a film and constantly talking about not being able to keep up with their more experienced co-star, because nobody in this show is capable of in-universe acting that feels even slightly believable. It prevents anyone from having any discernible personality, and sucks out every last drop of energy.
So yeah, I am fully out of my element, and am more than happy to recuse myself from this. If this is fun for existing fans, more power to you, but I've got nothing.
I keep staring at my computer screen, hoping that I'll enter a fugue state and wake up with my review for VazzRock the Animation fully written. It seems only fair, since I spent the whole episode fighting off that fugue state out of sheer boredom. I did some cursory research on the internet, since I couldn't figure out who this could possibly be for based on the content of a bunch of guys sitting on a couch introducing themselves, looking at photos online, and then filming a period drama. I learned that this is a Tsukipro project, introduced in 2017 as two fictional idol groups. They've been developed in real-time through a combination of fake interviews, fake social media accounts, and drama CDs. None of these are accessible to your average English-speaking fan.
In short, chances are this anime is not for you. You are not considered part of the audience.
And if you are part of that huge majority, this episode will bore you to tears. The members of the group take turns introducing themselves and describing their personalities, every single one of which I forgot the moment the camera switched to another guy. Seriously, I just finished the episode and I don't remember any of them, not even the ones who got a little bit more screen time. I suppose in an attempt to come across less cartoony, they all had fairly sober outfits and calm smiles as they delivered their lines. They talk shop and look at pictures and talk about the pictures, then go talk shop some more during their downtime while filming a period drama.
There's not even any singing, for crying out loud! I'm not a fan of idol music but a dance break would at least liven things up. Instead, the characters barely move at all other than their mouths, and never more than one at a time. If your production is so limited, why even bother making an anime? Why not just make more drama CDs?
I'd say something like, “I'd prefer it even if it were bad in an offensive way,” but I see Futoku no Guild coming up tomorrow and this season has taught me to be careful what I wish for.
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