Anime Taste Testing: SSSS.Dynazenon and Mashiro no Oto

One show is about transforming dinosaur-like robots, the other is about the art of the shamisen. The former is the subtle one.

SSSS.Dynazenon

I always feel like I’m in a weird position writing about these kinds of shows, because as a general rule, I don’t give a crap about mecha or transforming robots. Anime titles of this ilk can (and presumably do) live and die based largely on how good the mecha look and how cool the fight scenes are – whereas here I am, almost guaranteed to be bored by both aspects regardless and really only caring about whether the rest of the show is fun enough to pique my continued interest despite the mecha/robot elements. Moreover, the sole reason I’m watching SSSS.Dynazenon in the first place is because I thoroughly enjoyed its sort-of predecessor (but not sequel) SSSS.Gridman, even though one of my personal ‘rules’ about watching anime is to base my enjoyment of any given work on that show alone, not compare to any other individual work. Yeah, sometimes being an anime fan is complicated, y’all.

So, all that being said, did I enjoy SSSS.Dynazenon? Yes, I’d have to say I did. I’ve pretty much always appreciated this kind of extremely deliberate pacing, as well as shows that don’t shy away from but instead embrace the moments of silence left over from a lack of unnecessary dialogue. This certainly isn’t to say that SSSS.Dynazenon is a quiet show – it’s too dynamic and action-filled for that – but I do think it takes after SSSS.Gridman in that it’s smart enough to know when to commence with the yelling and robot-punching and when to shut up and let the rest of the series just breathe. The character design style and artwork in general will also likely also look pretty familiar to anyone who watched SSSS.Gridman, which I’m perfectly fine with, although it’s a bit too soon to tell which of the characters themselves are going to appeal to me on a deeper level. However, for now, there’s plenty here for me to pass that initial investment stage, so count me in for at the very least a couple more episodes, and quite possibly the entire show.

Score: 7/10

Mashiro no Oto

On paper, this is exactly the kind of show that should be right up my alley. A drama/slice-of-life centered around a traditional Japanese craft or artform, whose characters are a bunch of misfits just trying to do what they do and make ends meet on the basis of their still-burgeoning skills and not necessarily altogether positive life experiences? Sure, count me in. The only problem here is, Mashiro no Oto doesn’t strike me as particularly grounded at all. Shamisen material aside (I’m happy to just assume the show knows what it’s doing there), this is all about the draaamaaa, complete with improbable situations with improbable solutions, dialogue that couldn’t be more on the nose if it tried, and the more interesting characters being almost immediately shunted aside to make room for far lousier ones. In short, Mashiro no Oto feels like it lacks any kind of subtlety and I spent most of the episode sulking about just how much of a loser Yuna’s boyfriend is (followed by a good several minutes fuming over the fact that they kept him around yet shoved Yuna herself unceremoniously out of the picture).

Compounding these issues is that the pacing seems way off. Everything happens at rapid speed, scene A leading to scene Z with no development in the middle, giving zero breathing room for any of the more contemplative moments (melodramatic as they feel) to actually work. It’s not that I minded the moments of humor – not every drama needs to be deadly serious at all times – but having not read the manga at all, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this premiere attempted to cover a bunch of material that could have easily taken up about 3 episodes. Nearly every scene felt either needlessly rushed, poorly timed, or both, and I dearly wish the potential I saw in the scenes that did work for me were given their due. Combined with the lackluster animation and somewhat pedestrian-looking art style, Mashiro no Oto just doesn’t quite hit the right notes for me.

But hey, cool ED music though.

Score: 5/10

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3 thoughts

  1. SSSS.Dynazenon is one of two shows that are a “sequel” (not technically a sequel, but I hope you’ll forgive me) to a show I really enjoyed, but where I didn’t really want a “sequel”, so I spent the beginning of the show less charitable than I probably should have been. And in a sense the jury’s still out. The show’s good at what it’s doing, but if what it’s doing is rehash the first shows with variation, then I’m going to spend a good deal of its run-time wishing it changed up things a little. And sad thing is this mind set is likely to lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. So the question about how much I’ll enjoy the show is as much about my attitude as it is about the show. The characters, though, have won me over and that’s unliekly to change.

    Mashiro no Oto… I went in expecting melodrama, and it wasn’t quite as bad as I feared. My expectations were hugely influenced by Kono Oto Tomare (the koto show), which turned things around, so I thought I’ll start out thinking it’ll either win me over, or it won’t. What I paid attention to, though, was actually the shamisen. And they did well to sell the instrument to me, a shamisen dummy. The performance was great, and what’s more the show seems to have a good sense of sound design in general, so there’s context for the music (like the footsteps in snow compared to city muzak). I was sort of disappointed about the episode treated Yuna, and it doesn’t seem like she’ll be a major character, since the promo material makes it look like a school club show, but I’m unsure. On the whole, I liked the episode, though. Until the crazy aunt showed up, that is. Not sure I’m fond of pushy people coming in to force a plot (if that’s what it is). The important thing for me, though, is that they got the shamisen scenes right. I’ll see where this goes from here.

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    1. “Not sure I’m fond of pushy people coming in to force a plot (if that’s what it is).”

      Agreed, definitely. This is a plot point I see played over and over again in anime, to the point where it’s become such a tired cliche.

      As for the music, this is by far the best aspect of the show – nothing less from the Yoshida Brothers, who do not only the ED but are apparently supervising all of the anime’s shamisen performances. Unfortunately, much as I admire their talent, the music alone simply isn’t enough to make me stick around, given my thoughts on the rest of the show.

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