Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dropped: Area no Kishi (The Knight in the Area)--One Word: Bland

Area no Kishi Dropped Review Screenshot 1

I haven't watched this show in a few weeks, and I have no desire to go back.

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I wouldn't say that this is a bad show. It doesn't frustrate me to the point of wanting to flip a table or make me question my life choices, and I don't actively dislike any of the characters. But it doesn't make me feel anything else either. Area no Kishi is a great example of a middle-of-the-road show that falls apart as soon as you begin to think about it. There's nothing really bad about it, yet it's not that great either.

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I liked this show a lot more when it was about a kid who was dealing with a inferiority complex since his older brother was a genius soccer player. However, every time it seemed like the show had settled on a plotline, it would change its mind and go in a different direction regardless of logic, but even then it wouldn't fully commit. Spoilers follow after this point. For example, the main character's heart transplant is treated as the equivalent of gaining superpowers (except his skill set doesn't actually change...) and then completely forgotten about except to add drama at random points. The love interest can somehow juggle playing for the national league and be the manager of a high school team at the same time. Also, people are allowed to randomly join or switch teams in the middle of a game. This would all be fine if the show could own that it is acting a bit silly, but the characters' completely bland reactions to these events (implying that this is all normal) takes away what humor it could have.

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All of this was made worse by the fact that the show seems to think that events happening equals character development, and that's not exactly true. The difference in how people react to a similar situation is character, and having the same reaction, regardless of the situation, is boring. The characters are quickly put into stereotypes and then watered down even further by not giving them much to react to. Of course people are going to feel sad when they lose a game! Of course they'll be happy when they win! The difference is in the details, and Area no Kishi doesn't have a lot of them. One character that particularly suffered from this is Araki, who was introduced as yet another genius soccer player who'd become overweight. He was a pretty funny and intriguing character at first and there was a chance for an interesting storyline with him involving fitness, but long before I stopped watching he'd been demoted to predictable comic relief. That's not even mentioning the completely unrealistic dieting... No one can lose that much weight that fast without needing to go to the hospital. No one.

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Even the animation doesn't seem to fully commit. I mentioned in my first impressions that this anime really liked speed lines, blur, and still frames, and that never changed. Characters are frequently off-model, and random instances of CG pop up, especially with the ball during the games. I hope you like that animation of the ball hitting the net, because if you watch this show you'll see it a lot, with almost no variation. With all these cost saving measures, it's clear that even the animation studio doesn't have high hopes for this show. It's just as well; everything is safe, calculated, and predictable to the point where it's just not fun to watch anymore. It's not a bad show if you have time to kill and want to see still frames of anime characters moving in slow-motion towards a soccer ball, but it's gotten so bland that I just don't want to keep up with it anymore.

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  1. Bland, the most appropriate word to describe this show, it would seem. I had only watched ep. 1 and didn't like it, but to read from you that it does shounen/superhero stuff while trying to act like it's a serious show, that sounds pretty dumb.

    I had heard about the heart transplant thing and thought of it as just sudden shock value for the show at an early stage, like the show wanted to do something overly drastic to progress main character whats-his-name to play.

    Oh, did that "alien" thing from the first episode ever get revealed?

  2. Yep. I think I can agree, but I'm going to somehow stick with it (I'm up to Ep 14). But I think it's kind of bad when I find more entertainment out of the other soccer show than Knight. It's in danger territory!

  3. @Jrow

    I think that my main problem with this show is that it would become "serious" for shock value... and then completely forget what it was trying to be serious about. There's an episode where the team does the stereotypical "test of courage" with some of the older members dressed like ghosts. It all seems like a run-of-the-mill anime scenario until you remember that the kid they're scaring had a heart transplant... Not cool, guys.

    Yeah, the "alien" was the love interest. All that established was now the main character practices at night. :|


    LOL, that's the last episode I watched! But yeah, every time I saw it come up on Crunchyroll, I thought, "Oh yeah, I should catch up on that." But there are so many shows this season that are more entertaining than this one ever was that I've given up on it.