Lance N' Masques
Episode 1 also reviewed here:
Medium:
Year:
2015
Director:
Kyohei Ishiguro
Writer:
Hideaki Koyasu
Actor:
Keywords:
Country:
Language:
Format:
12 episodes
Url:
Website category:
Review date:
9 December 2016
lance n masques
I liked ep.1. There's a lot of potential in its material about missing, damaging fathers. The main character, Youtarou, hates the fact that he's a medieval knight in a world where he doesn't belong. I like the comparison between knights and superheroes. The show's a bit silly (superheroics, talking horses, etc.), but its ideas are crunchy and intriguing.
However the show got worse and worse. It turned into a blob. The characters were indistinguishable blobs of anime traits with badly drawn anime blob-faces. The story was a blob of anime plot cliches. It's surprisingly difficult to follow, being badly written and unmemorable, but then again after a while you stop caring. Who's Dorgon-san? Why does the "Chief" (a violent colossus with boobs) want Youtarou, unless perhaps she's planning to cook and eat him? Why can't I tell any difference between the girls? They all act the same and talk the same. Who's that bloke fighting Youtarou and am I supposed to know who he is? I don't recognise him, but maybe I missed his introduction because I was trying not to fall asleep at the time.
I liked Makio. You can't confuse her with anyone else, since she's six years old, obsessed with superheroes and before long claiming to be Youtarou's wife. The disturbing thing about this is that Youtarou gets flustered by this, instead of just patting her on the head and ignoring her. She's six. Anyone having a reaction like that to a six-year-old asking to have their back washed (for instance) should probably be locked away. However before long she's become a surrogate mother (to Yufeng) and she's one of the few characters here who's memorable and distinctive throughout.
Parental relationships (especially fathers) are an important part of this show and Makio's hooked into that. She manages to be a daughter figure, a wife figure and a mother figure, all at the same time. As for the real fathers, Youtarou's is a weird combination of parental pride, distance and borderline abusiveness. Makio's sends gangsters to kidnap her and has ordered the household staff not to befriend her. She doesn't have a mother, by the way. She's a six-year-old living all alone in a mansion, apart from those carefully distant maids.
Oh, and also "Makio" is a boy's name, while the blob-like character designs and the Japanese lack of personal pronouns make it hard to tell what her gender's supposed to be. The English subtitles claimed she was female, but I was seeing gender ambiguity.
However all this potential gradually dissolved into generic anime-ness.
I'd been okay with the cartoon gangsters in ep.1. I noticed the anime's silly view of guns vs. lances in ep.3, but I kept going. Ep.5 mainly registered with me as a badly drawn mess of "father!", revenge, swords, duels, etc. Ep.7 has one mildly interesting moment (the computer-hacking children) but by now I'd stopped regarding the story as a story. It's just generic anime pieces (usually dull fights) glued together with only a token attempt at coherence.
The last two episodes improve a bit, though. That African boobs-knight is so pale-skinned that there's the potential to give offence, but on the other hand we have some character interaction again instead of fights. Makio has her world turned upside-down on discovering her superhero's secret identity, while Youtarou has to confront his rejection of his own identity. One of those questionable fathers even turns up! He's less interesting than you'll have been expecting, but the flashback to his late wife isn't without poignancy.
The art really is poor, by the way. Most of the cast have that stereotypical manga blob-face, which is of course fundamentally a time-saving trick. If you're lazy and talentless, draw a blob! However there are a couple of adults with more realistic character designs (Gai, the Chief) and they make the show look awful. Gai in particular will get drawn clumsily. There's also a mega-fanservice hot springs episode (ep.6), although I wouldn't recommend it.
I like the version of this story that's playing in my imagination. There's a good show buried deep inside this, but unfortunately what actually got broadcast is running hard and fast towards all the cliches. It's not even doing them well! It doesn't feel like a story, but instead like a collage of the dried-up bits of one. Even exploitative anime trash will almost always be better at the basics of plot and character. It's not aggressively horrible, but it's blobbed itself.
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