There are some shows each season that I can’t find much to say about for whatever reason. Maybe I zone out while watching because they’re so dull, or they’re so dull that they don’t leave any kind of impression, or they’re just so fucking dull and inconsequential that I can’t think of any pithy way to describe them. Saint Seiya Omega, Natsuiro Kiseki, and Folktales from Japan are three such series, ones that fall in that uncomfortable belt between shit and brilliance that don’t leave much room for criticism or praise.
Saint Seiya Omega
Saint Seiya Omega, the next entry in the venerable Saint Seiya franchise that everybody has heard of but seemingly nobody has put in the time to watch, has been aptly described (By Scamp of course) as Precure for the shounen audience. Contrasting with the focus on toy advertisements and family-friendly magical girl antics, Saint Seiya is a tale of manly men and beautiful women combating the forces of evil, with loose themes vaguely related to classical mythology.
Compared to Heartcatch, the only entry in the Precure franchise that I’ve seen, Saint Seiya Omega doesn’t have much of a grab in its first episode. In the first episode of Heartcatch, it’s established that the world is in peril, and the only people that can help are Tsubomi and company. The bumbling forces of Sabaaku are intent on turning the planet into a giant desert devoid of all joy and love and shit like that, and do so by finding really sad people and taking their hearts. This formula is established in the first episode with only minor variations throughout the first half of the series, and it’s enjoyable specifically because it knows what it wants to do.
We learn in the first episode that Tsubomi is a somewhat shy, otherwise normal girl with a passion for flowers. Her family and growing throng of friends all have differing, clear motives that liberally define their characters, making them an interesting if slightly two-dimensional cast that lets the show’s fine points flourish to cover up for the (initially) lackluster story.
Meanwhile, Saint Seiya Omega doesn’t have much of a draw or a conflict. Our lead, Kouga, doesn’t have much personality or even an idea what he’s doing. About the only thing that can be gleaned is he’s being trained to be a Saint, which you’d think would involve just doing a shit ton of nice things that occasionally involve fighting, rather than centering solely on combat. He doesn’t seem to be all that enthused either, despite supposedly having immense power. None of the characters that we’re introduced to are memorable in the slightest, the big bad, Mars, being the cookie-cutter “Grr, world domination!” type vaguely reminiscent of Golbez from Final Fantasy IV. Hell, the only person that I even remembered the next day is the moustachioed bald guy running around with a kendo stick, and that’s because his running at Mars with it was fucking hilarious and off model.
Its biggest problem is it tells the audience everything without backing it up, leading to the episode being two-thirds dreary monologue about nothing important and one-third mediocre combat, which relies on the old shounen device of the character only defeating the big bad once he realizes his potential to defend his mentor. Even that fight lacks urgency, the big bad standing around seemingly waiting for Kouga to react as the plot dictates. It’s a surprisingly dull start to the show, with hardly any motive given for the characters’ actions and a lack of urgency normally reserved for the dullest of slice of life. While I won’t be dropping it, I won’t exactly be looking forward to each episode with bated breath.
Folktales from Japan
Folktales from Japan, on the other hand, doesn’t engage for a number of other reasons not exactly related to a lack of quality storytelling. While the stories told are reminiscent of Aesop’s fairytales and thus are well told little fables, there’s little animation or narrative accompanying them beyond a soothing voice reading things aloud for children to understand. Really, there’s not much else to say about it, if you don’t mind being spoon-fed three different stories like a toddler would then it’s a decent enough watch. It’s clearly meant for the ankle biters though, so it’s not really worth the time for the true connoisseurs of moe moe kyun.
I fell asleep during Natsuiro Kiseki, so I think that’s all that needs to be said. Well, that’s all for now… hopefully these’ll be the only three dreadfully mediocre shows of the season, though my confidence isn’t too steady.