Yoru no Yatterman – 05

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Yoru no Yatterman took some interesting turns this week but, ultimately, has become the Gundam G of the deconstructionist, post-apocalyptic, retro-theme genre. The story lurches incoherently between formulaicly crazy and weirdly mysterious but flat.

It’s all over the place and, because I’m not invested in the original franchise, the simple fight-of-the-week formula isn’t gripping me and I just don’t enjoy watching it anymore.

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This week introduces Takeshi, who’s super strong, fighting to win comforts for his sick mom, and has a bladder infection or something because he’s constantly peeing everywhere.

I’m sure his peeing ties into earlier Yatterman shows or is a cultural joke or… something, but it felt totally random to me and, after the first time it’s used as a joke, it wasn’t very funny.

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Yes Yatterbot soldiers. It was just some snowmen peeing on that Yatterking statue…

This was actually the funniest moment in the episode.

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Beyond Takeshi, the first half of the episode is dedicated to Gatchan trying to show strength and get ready for a prize match (against Takeshi). I enjoyed watching Gatchan get all riled up over beating Miss Doronjo into the ground and then losing his confidence immediately because he can’t even defeat Boyaki but… Gatchan is such a dull character to begin with.

Rather, any character development he gains from this is cliche at best.

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As far as visuals, this week presents another mixed bag. On the up side, we got a decent amount of action in the animation, plenty of characters and mechs designs, and some occasional uses of color.

On the down side, even at 1080p the snowy background washed out many of the opening scenes. Worse, the ‘flash back’ scenes with Doronjo and her mom may as well have been on blank white fields, they were so high contrast. Even if I liked Yatterman’s aesthetic, and I don’t, this wasn’t the show’s best week.

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So Yatterman obviously cheats and sends mega-mecha to the fighting tournament and destroys all 3 of the champions instead of giving out a goat each and some pocket money. Nothing new or surprising, given how purely villainous Yatterman has been presented up to now.

Then Doronbo shows up and beats the Yattermen completely for once. They also leave the winnings with Takeshi, who is unconscious but wakes up soon to pee…

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The mechs fights were especially quirky, especially because they were narrated by ‘the whispering reporter’ who may or may not be a new character or a call back to original Yatterman. He added a level of pun humor that was… weirder than funny.

That all aside, we see another parallel between Ally and Doronjo’s mom (Ally repeats a scene of building snow men from Doronjo’s memory) and I have to wonder where that season long plot arc is going. It was given so little attention though, and it was so blatant a ‘this is an important long-arc’ scene that I didn’t really care.

All these ‘what a twists’ just don’t feel earned.

6_ogk

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Yoru no Yatterman – 04

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Yoru no Yatterman – 03

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It’s make or break for Yoru no Yatterman this week and, for the most part, it succeeded. However, “Yatterman Nights” remains a deeply strange show to watch, as again there were details I didn’t understand, it has a slow pace, and even at 1080p it has a certain… ugliness to its beauty.

I can excuse all of that though, because this week’s nods to the past were either less esoteric or less complicated to surmise. In a nutshell, I understood more of what is going on and, thusly, it held my attention all the way through.

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To sum up: team Doronbo meets Alouette, an immensely kind girl who is nearly blind and has a nagging resemblance to Leopard’s mother. While uncomfortable lying to her, Miss Doronjo agrees with Boyaki that not correcting Allouette about being angels is acceptably grey for her ethics and probably necessary to survive the night.

The situation becomes more complex when Galina, Allouette’s friend and of-so-blind protector shows up. However, he quickly shows that he has no love for Yattermen, and is willing to let the roll of a D6 determine if he will reveal their presence or not.

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As luck would have it, he keeps quiet and a showdown is avoided. This scene is especially quirky, as it reveals the Yatterman’s dance-like salute (which is adorably weird) and makes it very unclear if the ‘Robots’ that Doronbo blew up last week were actually people in masks… which is a little disconcerting.

It also results in Doronbo’s costumes being destroyed to keep them hidden but, in a fairly obvious twist, Galina sews them new (and far superior costumes in thanks.

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See ‘Gatchan’ and ‘Ally’ have a beef with Yatterman too. It’s a big one, and it involved the death of their parents and family dog. Owing to the fact that Ally is older than Leopard, I’m not entirely sold on Gatchan’s story.

Rather, I’m sold on his story but confident the show will throw a sisters-twist in there eventually. Regardless, it’s compelling and ties the group together so that, when Yattermen return the following day, the battle goes in Doronbo’s favor this time.

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What worked really well: the reto-nods were more natural, Gatchan’s development with room for future betrayals, and the focus on Yatterman’s capital as a destination all gave the show a stronger focus and a better core for the weirdness to orbit around.

I especially enjoyed the robot-or-not Yattermen banter, which presents a deeply twisted take on the ‘filler’ baddies common to these shows. ‘Why don’t you try shooting it first’ paints them as more then mindless minions. At least, until they are all destroyed (or killed?) in Doronbo’s massive explosion.

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What still doesn’t work: This is, of course, subjective and a bit technical but Yatterman Nights is rather ugly. The color is intentionally desaturated, which makes everything muddy, and lack visual impact but, on top of that, a post-process filter has been applied to the line art, which results in ‘unclean’ edge to color fields and outlines, even when viewed at full 1080p.

It is obviously intentional but, when a show like Rolling Girls is playing with similar themes but is so much more vibrant and ‘fun’ to watch, it’s hard not to feel that YnY is missing something.

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Verdict: I maintain that Yatterman Nights goes a bit too far for art’s sake — Academic / High Art — and that results in a less exciting, less stunning show for us to watch. However, now that it has a near-term goal to focus on, I’m finding it much more satisfying to watch.

This definitely was the push it needed to edge past Binan Koukou for next week’s elimination round but, only time will tell if it can maintain that focus (or if I can survive such a drably colored show) for the remained of the season

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