This show has become strange to me over the last few weeks. It started out to be this entrancing anime, showing the depth of the world, using various elements to work towards creating a particular sort of tone, and further using these elements to create a world and characters woven into this grand narrative that was both mystical and tinged with drama. Lately though, these aspects that have attracted me to the show have started becoming buried under all sorts of problems, and it’s becoming harder and harder for me to look past them, even in its key dramatic moments.
To put it simply, SukaSuka has become more and more of a wildcard every week. I truly don’t know if I should go into each episode thinking that it’s going to finally go back to its original roots or if it’s actually continuing to slip further into standard light novel riff-raff. Even as the narrative continues to progress into some interesting topics, I can’t say that it’s been able to recapture what initially gave this show its individual flare and captivated me into watching it to begin with.
It could be the previous episodes slowly grading on me from being so different from the first two, having few moments of the dramatic tone set for itself, none of which have had as much impact or memorable as anything we saw from episode 1. It also could be that the fantasy plot itself seems to not be conveyed as well as I expected it to be and isn’t really emphasizing what I expected the show itself to place further emphasis on. Fantasy stories have always been like this for me; they’ve been very hit or miss on keeping me engaged in the narrative. Fantasy shows for me boil down to how much of an impact you can create to make your story stand out, as an over-saturation of the genre while I was younger creating a high expectation of any sort of fantasy-based media I consume.
This is why SukaSuka initially stood out to me this season. The world itself being built up in this particular way was interesting and stood out, even if world itself is not much different than a typical fantasy setting at the end of the day. However, I was more invested in this dramatic framing and tone that it set for itself in just a few minutes of the first episode. While I understand that the series couldn’t be like that all of the time, I expected many moments like it to occur throughout the show, and I’ve been increasingly disappointed with the ones I’ve received thus far.
That bring us to this episode though, which was probably one of the weirdest experience I’ve had with this series so far.
Now, there were some good segments, some of which were reaching for what I’ve been wanting out of SukaSuka since the beginning. There were also some more well-integrated narrative into the world which went together really nicely to the history of this world which they’ve been building up to for a while now. And of course the final scene of this episode, the star of the show in my eyes, that did almost everything that I expected the series to do from the beginning. It gave us the drama and romance that it desperately needed to give us in order to take us away from the heavy amount of exposition that happened this week. It was a solid ending scene, only hindered by the rest of the show’s ability to be able to convince me of the sort of narrative they seem to be attempting for.
There were also some segments though, that made my eyes roll all the way back into my head, and considering the amount of times I’ve had to do this throughout the past few episodes, I’m not too confident in how the rest of this series will eventually progress.
One part of SukaSuka that’s been bothering me for a few episodes now is the overall narrative of the story. I realize I just said that the integration of the narrative using the world’s history was a creative move on the show’s behalf — and it was — but this doesn’t mean the narrative telling itself has improved from the last few episodes. Almost every bit of information about this was produced via a long exposition sequence, something the series lately has been keen on doing when it wants to explain to us more about the world instead of just letting us explore and discover it for ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but this isn’t the kind of “world-building” I want to see from a show.
These exposition scenes always lack the drama and impact that the series could have really used, but what also has bothered me is that it seems like the characters are being dragged around waiting for particular story events or explanations to just happen, adding very little to the actual progression of the characters themselves. That’s something that I really expected the series to hone its focus in on as it continued.
My complaints about the narrative go beyond that though. We have constant situations where a lot of stock light novel situations and elements are occurring time and time again, and while their number of appearances in each episode tends to vary, we are seeing more and more occurrences of them as the series continues. It’s both surprising and interesting to me that a series that stood out so much in the beginning and has a solid ground to stand upon if it chose to do so feels like it has to rely on these stock elements in order to tell a compelling story, when in fact it’s creating the exact opposite effect for itself. One of the biggest and most prominent examples of this would be our main character, Willem.
At first I was given an impression that he was going to be a more proactive protagonist than he actually has been. We saw him avoiding the troublesome and cliché scenarios that were being placed upon him by Chtholly and friends. We saw him characterized as more of a serious sort of person, taking this job in the warehouse more like it was an obligation than of something he wanted to do, even having an angry outburst in episode 1 of him not wanting to take this job. Perhaps all of those moments of interaction were just motivated by his past though, something he’s now willing to put behind him because of changing circumstances. I’m willing to accept some of these changes of his character for this reason.
What I can’t accept though is how complacent Willem has become. By this, I mean that people he seems to care deeply about, such as Chtholly, become almost forgotten by him as soon as a new plot event appears and causes him to do a 180 in terms of his actions.
A perfect example would be the scene at the end of episode 5 where he’s hell-bent on going back home with Chtholly as soon as she returns from battle. As a reminder, this isn’t more than a day after he literally cries his eyes out because he thought she wasn’t coming back from battle. However, Buronny spontaneously shows up and brings up something regarding Willem’s past which completely changes his motivations from Chtholly to caring about his past in a single instance. This is fine to an extent, minus the fact that it was obviously an easy way for the show to hit the necessary plot points to continue the story something which I’ve learned the series isn’t afraid of doing.
That’s not to say that he can’t care about both his past and Chtholly, but what I find it strange about this is in reference to the follow-up scene shown at the beginning of this episode.
The beginning parts of this episode are regarding Willem’s past, and for most of this scene, he seems to be oblivious to the fact that he was angry right before he came here because it interrupted his reunion with Chtholly. But what was also strange was that he seemed to not have any excitement or motivation towards a reunion with his friends from the past either, almost like he was completely detached from both his past, and Chtholly herself. The fact that he seems detached from Chtholly becomes even more bizarre and disjointed, as later on, he was obviously emotionally affected when he learns about her mental illness due to her inability to become the true weapon of destruction that she was meant to be.
The series has yet to explain these inconsistencies with Willem’s character and emotions for particular people. Why is he so interested in past events, enough so to abandon Chtholly at a time when she needed him the most? Why is every situation where he makes an irrational decision made to seem like it’s not one made of his own volition, but something that’s been carefully crafted to continue the narrative by force?
And I think that’s what’s weird about this show to me. I can’t tell if these aspects are calculated actions taken by the show itself, or if these problems are just a by-product of a muddled identity from what this show wants to be versus what it actually has become. It’s not just Willem either, there are several moments that are reminiscent of several light novels adaptations, and not usually good ones. A few quick examples would be the mystery of why characters fail to communicate with ones they are seemingly close to, or the sporadic introduction of events that have suddenly a lot of bearing on current events taking place.
From the way the show has been so far, I legitimately can’t tell if SukaSuka is trying to put me into a sense of false security in attempt to create a sudden dramatic punch later on, or if it’s just adapting a work that’s reliant on the build-up of its characters and story too quickly for the show to handle.
I guess there’s only one way to find out which one it is.