Fuuka, and the nature of bad anime

In which I talk about an anime being awful but still tell you to watch it anyway.

Fuuka is incredibly stupid. I’m opening with something that strong because it’s true, this show (for now) is as deep as a puddle with the brief glimmers of originality drowned in a play by play of the romance/harem anime tropes. And yet I find myself fascinated by it. It’s a clear train wreck 3 episodes in, and worse, it’s a predictable train wreck but there a times I’ve laughed out loud at the sheer audacity it shows.

For example the main characters arrange a date and both arrive at the meeting place, but can’t find each other as one is stood on one side of the statue whilst the other is sat down on the opposite side. Various POV shots set up the idea that neither can see the other. So I thought to myself “I bet there going to walk around the statue and completely miss each other”….

Two seconds later they did exactly that, it was oddly beautiful. There were a few times this same line of events played out. They set up a scene, I guessed what would follow and it happened to the letter. This isn’t be petting my overinflated ego either, it’s just so generic that anyone who’s had a passing look at romance shows in general would know what’s coming. So I find myself wondering if this is going to be the next in the long line of genre deconstruction shows the Japanese seem so found of making now a days after the success of One Punch Man, Konosuba and Madoka Magi.

And after a bit more thought, I’m thinking it probably isn’t, this is show is just what you get on the tin, a generic anime with little to redeem it for now. But I’ll still watch it this season, because as stated before there is some perverse joy to be gained from watching something bad attempt to be good and only get half way. Now should I be applauding it for being a bad show, probably not, in theory the industry would only improve with well-balanced critique, I think I am not providing right now. But I would also argue, that you need to keep the bad shows around, to further reveal the greatness in other shows. I spent all of 2016 comparing every film I saw to Batman VS Superman, something I really try to avoid doing due to inherent differences between movie genres but it made everything just seem better. It’s healthy in a media landscape to have a broad range of quality, we have to take the good with the bad and several years from now no-one will remember Fuuka. So whilst it’s here, why not enjoy the fact that shows like it exist? as long as we still recognise the fact that it is bad.

A Pickle of A Peanut

“The Next Episode will be better” – Pickle and Peanut S1E1

First Impressions of Pickle and Peanut

Pickle and Peanut is a currently airing show on the Disney ‘XD’ channel about two “Small town teenage boys and best friends Pickle and Peanut” created by Noah Z. Jones and developed by Joel Trussel. Each episode is 11 minutes in length and broadcast in pairs, so nothing out of the ordinary there, and for the purposes of this I sat through the first 4 episodes, ‘Greg’, ‘Gramma Jail’, ‘Cart Rustlers’ and ‘Swim lessons’.

I’m going to get this out of the way very quickly (although I can guarantee i’ll return to this notion later on) Pickle and Peanut desperately wants to be Regular Show. This is clear  from the very first moments of the opening episode as the two leads, Pickle and Peanut are slacking off of work and messing around.. The setting, mirrors REgular Shows as well as it is a vague representation of a normal world but with anthropomorphised characters in the form of walking food and animals. The show also seems to emulate the same story trends of setting up standard characters and putting them in very out of the ordinary situations. But it does a terrible job at this.

This is a bad cartoon, a very very bad cartoon, and it is for several reasons and it took all of about 2 seconds into the first episode before warning bells went off in my head and the first consistent issue rears its hideous peanutty head. The show lacks any form of focus and the opening theme displays this point wonderfully. It is one of the worst things I have ever heard with the visuals to match (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRlKrlB0Pq8) go ahead and listen to it (a fun exercise I found was to play just the audio and then show the visuals to accompany it)The lyrics are entirely the things Pickle and PEanut like set to a beat and just comes off as trying to hard to grab a young audience. The phrase “Hip to the kids” came to mind as soon as I saw this.

The next massive problem with it is that I find Pickle and Peanut interchangeable. Over the course of four episodes I learnt the following things about them, presented in a handy table:

Pickle Both Peanut
Is a pickle They Rap/beatbox Is a peanut
Is nicer The ideas one

Pickle seems to be presented as the stupider one in the partnership, not knowing how to swim and being distracted easily when guarding a shopping cart. Peanut is also just as reliable, seen though falling asleep when he was supposed to be watching the shopping carts. My point here being that a good dynamic duo relies upon the two leads having chemistry together often created through their differences. The only difference I can garner between these two characters is there I.Q, other than that they seem almost identical and their lines could easily be interchanged with little impact to their characterisations.

The other giant issue with this cartoon is that it doesn’t know when to stop a joke. A consistent thing seen throughout the first 4 episodes is single word narration that appears on the screen to match with various buzzwords coupled with slow motion. I presume it’s supposed to be amusing but more comes off as distracted and stale after the second or third use. Partly because it is used far more than once in each episode.

I suppose i should atleast try to find a positive in this mess though……

Hm…. There’s Wayne, Waynes great. A side character seen in the 4th episode who is a young boy taking part in the swimming lesson with Pickle and Peanut. His parents leave him at the pool every summer to give themselves time off. Looking like something out of a tim Burton illustration and never blinking, his appearances on screen are emphasised with a narrow close up of his giant’s eyes. For some absurd reason i found this funny enough to laugh out loud at the first 4 or so times it happened…… although then they kept doing it, bearing in mind these episodes are 11 minutes long i thing it becomes clear this cartoon feels the need to use the same punch line to pad out it’s run time and I’m already back to grumbling about this show……

wayne
This is Wayne, I shared that same expression whilst watching this show

Hm, another good point…..

It gave Brad Breeck more money, so i guess that’s good, although that fact does tear me up inside due to his previous work on Gravity Falls, We Bare Bears and Star vs the forces of evil (all of which i will undoubtedly discuss in a later post), having compused Openings of all and in the case of we Bare Bears a large chunk of the score all of which are great, making this opening an odd decision and a disappointment on his record.

So in conclusion, don’t watch this show, watch regular show instead. It does everything this show tried to do but actually succeeded at it thanks to great characters and good writing. It’s an incredibly enjoyable watch from the very beginning and I can’t think of any part in its 7 season run (with an 8th on the way) that struck me as showing fatigue via a drop in quality, if anything it improves with age as these consistent characters grow and form meaningful and positive relationships in there little soap opera of a life.

And now if you excuse me I need to go watch the season premier of Star vs the Forces of Evil to remind myself that disney’s animated television excursions have not died with the end of Gravity Falls.