I feel at this point as if you pretty much know what you’re going to get with Eizouken ni wa Te o Dasu na!, and that’s both a strength and a weakness. It certainly remains a visual spectacle of the highest order, distinctive and arresting in a way only a few series – FLCL, Tsuritama, some of Yuasa’s earlier works – ever are. When you get series with this much personal vision behind them it’s almost as if you’re watching a different medium from most anime. It’s like the difference between a baguette from a great Paris boulangerie and something wrapped in plastic off the shelf in the bread aisle at Safeway.
That, obviously, is great. But at the risk of sounding curmudgeonly (as if that ship hasn’t long since sailed) things are pretty one-note with Eizouken for me. We’re more or less seeing the same six-minute scene recycled over and over. Asakusa acts like an overeager 8 year-old, Mizusaki oohs and ahhs at whatever madness is happening, and Kanemori internally monologues about how impractical and childish the other two are and scolds them. Then, a fantasy sequence. Repeat, then repeat a few more times until your 22 minutes are up.
I’m perfectly fine with that being what Eizouken is for twelve episodes, because Yuasa and his team are so good at making their beautiful pictures move that the show will never stop being entertaining. But I’m not going to sit here and call that great anime, if indeed that turns out to be all this show is. It’s not hard to see why this series is kind of underwhelming (at least for me) in manga form, because if you take away the Science SARU magic touch all you’re left is that repeating scene on a flat and silent piece of paper (or screen).
Three episodes is longer than it seems – it’s a quarter of this series’ run in the books – and if we were going to see development from these characters and an attempt to make them jump from characters to people I’d expect to have seen at least a few hints of it by now. That makes me think the best chance for Eizouken to make an impact beyond pure visuals is as a paean to animation. And it is off to a better start there – it’s quite obvious that Midori and Tsubame love anime sincerely and that their love represents that of the series’ (both manga and anime) creators.
I don’t actually care that much at this point whether the Motion Picture Club gets saved or not because I don’t really care about any of the cast, but it should nevertheless be interesting to see girls try. The two idiots are much more interesting as artists than they are in any other way, and their naturally complementary strengths should prove compatible in the creative process. The problem (and no, the irony is not subtle) is that what’s missing from their creative process is clearly a writer. Midori just wants to draw cool settings and tech and Tsubame just wants to draw faces and bodies in motion, and the most either of them can muster is a situation, not a story. That’s fine for a three-minute audition video for club funds, but it’s not really creating art in the truest sense of the act.
That leads us to their tank girl short, which promises to be interesting to look at at the very least. These two animators may not have a writer (or a director for that matter, though Asakusa can probably fudge that), but they definitely have a producer – so one way or the other, I expect things will get done. Just once though, when they really piss her off I’d like to see Sayaka bash the two stooges’ heads together like she was Moe Howard.