Yoru no Yatterman is all about fake outs and call backs this week. There’s a functional story that further emphasizes how terrible it is to live in Yatter Kingdom, and how broken the citizens are too, but bait, swap, then call back was most of what it was doing.
There’s no other way to say this but Yatterman Nights isn’t compelling… and it really should be. While the treatment is unique and the academic structure has my attention, the methodical pass, rough visuals, and total bleakness makes it unenjoyable to watch.
Bait and Swaps: The episode opens with an un-origin story for Honorable Oda, but then leaves Oda out of the rest of the episode. Sure, the unexplained reason why the party doesn’t eat him and his spoiled nature are ‘called back’ early on… but he has no impact on this week’s story. He’s not even visible for most of the episode.
Similarly, Boyaki and Tonzra attempt to snake-oil people with ‘magic walking sticks’ after the opening credits because they are broke. The walking sticks themselves may get a call back (Tonzra uses two like swords during the fight sequence) and ‘money’ is called back via wanted posters for the team, but Doronbo’s need for money never does.
In fact, it’s hard to see why money would have value in the Yatter Kingdom in the first place. The Yattermen ‘tax’ the citizens, but there doesn’t seem to be anything for the citizens to buy — and the Yattermen just take what they want (including the citizens themselves) whenever they want it.
This makes the entire plot thread come off as superfluous — arbitrary — and if there’s one thing a slow-moving show built around the intellectual deconstruction of a genre and nostalgia for retro-brands doesn’t need, it’s that.
And then this episode is also a hot springs episode. At least for a few moments. Thankfully there’s no fan service (which would be super creepy since it would feature a little girl, a helpless blind girl and a pregnant woman and three gender non-specific monkeys) but this scene too feels unsupported.
Perhaps it’s here to poke fun at the peeking scenes? Perhaps it’s here only to give a call-forward hook for Doronbo’s Monkey Mech in the final fight sequence? Maybe it’s just here to make us ask why it is here?
The meat and potatoes of the episode revolves around a couple facing separation at the hands of the Yattermen, and everyone including the pregnant wife force themselves to be happy about it.
It drives home the point that this society is truly broken, that nice people are traitorous through fear and all the normal reasons the good will bow before the bad. It’s so over the top that it works (happy song and dance for the condemned anyone?) even if it isn’t especially interesting or unique a concept in dystopian dramas.
Then there’s a stylish fight between General Goro and Doronbo, Doronbo loses, and Doronjo finally realizes that Yatter Kingdom is not heaven but a literal hell.
The fight is stylish, albeit goofy. Perhaps I felt it was drawn out a bit but Tonzra x Goro’s sword fight more or less makes up for it. Additionally, it’s implied that Goro even mistreats the Yatter robots, as he’s seen tazering the Yatterpup mech for not finishing the Doronbo monkey mech quickly enough.
But it really was no fun to watch. Doronbo’s betrayal at the hands of the good couple was obvious. The Battle (sword fight excluded) was more weird and understated than exciting. The unending bleakness just sucks the life out of it.
Given how strong Death Parade was this week, it’s easy to see how much a richer (more expensive) art style can pull a show through the weaker gaps in its setup period. More importantly, it shows how a show can spend its money effectively. Death Parade is barely animated, after all, but the style sucks us in regardless.
By comparison, Yatterman is struggling to even make me sigh in disappointment…