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