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 Simple smartphone, simple fate

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Al-Bhed
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PostSubject: Simple smartphone, simple fate   Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:33 am

If there are some universally accepted statements this anime season it is that Smartphone is trash and Apocrypha is meh.
Surprisingly they both earn those comments for the exact same reason: They are simple to an absolute degree, perhaps insultingly so. "Absolute" here is not a random adjective, there are aspects which are as simple as they could possibly be, they approach the very concept of simplicity.

I should note that unlike my more edgy anime watching peers, I understand the value of simplicity. It is on one hand the dirty tactic of big studios to maximize popularity with the cheapest of responses from an audience that will accept any drop in quality, it is also however on the other hand a valuable source of rest and relaxation for your mind.
A complex, deep story demands your involvement, your thought, your practiced understanding. You are to engage and to an extend actually interact with the information you receive, you need to remember, you need to pay attention, you need to understand those people you are watching and you need to reason through the events you witness. That's entertaining, memorable and at the end it's a process where you gain something as a person, so it makes sense to be grateful towards such works, you are a slightly different person than the person you were before watching. Even if that's extremely marginal and not in any way life changing, it holds great value.
A simple story on the other hand will not ask anything of you. It will give you in return for your time simple entertainment and nothing more. And for that as well there is value.

We use our minds for way more than just entertainment, there is no shortage of mentally taxing tasks in a person's life, so we are often not willing to pay a price of attention, engagement or reasoning. It's not a sign of laziness, we all need rest, that complex entertainment may in fact be a chore at the wrong time of the day and no one has an obligation to go through with it. Think of it like this: a steak at a good restaurant is several times better than a fast food burger, but if you do not have the time or money for the steak the burger is more valuable.

If you are wondering why there are still people out there who appreciate Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni, that's your answer. It's terribly simple, terribly predictable. That's why it's useful. Because you don't really need any mental investment for it, you can just watch brain dead isekai harem action. I do have to say however this works much better in a VOD format since getting to your TV at an appointed time does not scream "relaxation", at least not nowadays.

In fact, here's my controversial sentence of the day: If I had to rank Smartphone and Apocrypha, I'd rank Smartphone higher.

Apocrypha follows a similar formula, it's amazingly simple. I thought Fate/Zero was simple, but Apocrypha is way beyond that, every character falls into simple to understand archetypes and motivations are shoved in your face in the shortest amount of time possible. I get why it's so simple. Apocrypha is franchise promotion, and the thing to be promoting right now in the franchise is Fate/GO. I wouldn't be surprised if this was funded with Fate/GO money. It was a smart move to not just serialize the game story right off the bat and take the easy to market Apocrypha which features a bunch of servants instead, then streamline it to maximize character popularity and sell more Quartz, or whatever the premium Fate/GO currency is, to have people look for those marketed Servants and then some. The idea looks easy on paper, take what people come to Fate for, boil it down to the essential parts and focus on marketable characters, then make money.

There is however a very big problem with that idea. It contradicts itself.
Apocrypha is at its core a very simple anime, but it's not made with simple anime components.
You look at Smartphone and you see simple round character designs, bright distinct colours, uplifting music, shots that give directly descriptive information and lack of any human emotion below the absolute surface level. That's simple, that's how you do simple, heck even the name is simple bait.
Then look at Fate/Apocrypha. Characters with sharp, expressive features, dark visuals, a soundtrack that invites you to be engaged in the interactions of those characters, shots that emphasize body language and appearances of, at least by regular standards, complex emotions. It's like half the components of this anime is at war with its simple self (Which is actually a symbolism of this two side Holy Grail War HOLY SHIT OMG-).
You look at the emotional issues of Mordred and her conflict with Seibah, something that should be dealing with deeper emotions, but it's at the same time one of the most hamfisted things you have every witnessed, with characters actually spelling out subconscious undertones, things that people would never actually say or perhaps even realize themselves (the soldier mordred killed saying he rebelled because Arturia is too perfect, Mordred's confrontation with Arturia where she just goes 0-100). Siegfried seems to be going through an emotional arc, but in reality it's a flashback to death combo. Astolfo's master is psychotically obsessed with him with a sexual element to it, and we know the obsessed part because she spelled it out directly, while we know the sexual part because she was half naked while doing it and the first thing we knew of her was that she was licking Astolfo; at the same time you see me referring to her as Astolfo's master because for the life of me I cannot recall her name and if you told me it has never actually been mentioned in the series I would not be able to confidently refute that claim.

This conflict is not happening because the director shot for something different or because the staff rebelled against corporate. It is the very fundamental plan that is at conflict with itself. The problem is that they want to simplify it down to what makes fate, fate. But what makes it that is at its core understanding the characters. Fate is very much a character exploration series, with the tragedies that shaped the people who are the legendary heroes on one side and the moral conflicts of the maguses with the world they live in on the other. That does not work with being simple, a simple story takes you out of the character and views it superficially, while a story that explores characters demands your engagement because it also needs you to look at yourself, that comparison is necessary. You cannot be both of those things at the same time.

As a result Fate/Apocrypha does not seem just simple or cheap. It seems jarring. It's like a classy woman that tries to charm and draw in the other party, but then just goes "ain't nobody got time for that" as she bares her breasts and shoves their face in them. I would still go for it, but it would feel really weird.

In conclusion, this should be the Fran-chan show. She is the only one that fits this format.


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Last edited by Al-Bhed on Wed Aug 16, 2017 10:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Simple smartphone, simple fate   Wed Aug 16, 2017 7:45 am

i-i like smartphone
yumina and sushie best girls


I named this one: yare yare daze zero two where did i go wrong aw.psd

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PostSubject: Re: Simple smartphone, simple fate   Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:59 am

I remember you asking if Smartphone was good and I said "I don't know." I think that's because my mind was telling me no, but my body was telling me... it's enjoyable. I laugh with Smartphone, I laugh at F/A. Pretty on point with F/A wanting to be complex but dumbing it down and being very simple in it's presentation. It constantly gives me this feeling that something is wrong or off about the show and that it's promising me far more then it plans to give. Alternatively, Smartphone set out to do something and nailed it so hard I can practically quote characters lines before they even say them despite never hearing them before... there's just something about F/A's simplicity that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, like I've been cheated of something.

Granted, I think both are pretty watchable and neither is god awful, but I do find Smartphone a more enjoyable watch.



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