It’s with no small amount of relief that I’ve completed the epic disappointment that was Allison to Lillia. I feel as though the characters are now put out of their misery: when they are so lively and engaging it feels like an act of cruelty to even watch them go through such an embarrassment of a storyline. Another way of looking at is is that when I eventually reach the end of Code Geass I can sit back with the final episode, safe in the knowledge that I’ve already experienced true trainwreck television. In a very literal sense.
“Oh rly?” “Yes, rly.” “No way!”
Since I haven’t after all actually finished Geass the termÂ â€˜trainwreckâ€™ is little more than an over-used buzzword; at this point though I can still understand the feeling of disappointment the R2 haters among you must have felt. On the plus side it means I’m more likely to enjoy Lelouch’s final outing since, with the final two arcs of Lillia taken into account, it probably can’t be any worse than what I subjected myself to this week. How did such a promising show go so wrong?
The ending is, even by the series’ own standards, really, really bad. I’m sure Jeremy Clarkson could come up with some scathing and amusing metaphor (e.g. “if this anime series were a car it would be a Trabant,” in that it runs for ages but is held together with plastic and string) but the best way to imagine it is your disbelief not being so much suspended as dangling from the gallows and croaking out its last dying breath.
I’m used to the infamous Allison to Lillia Plot Holesâ„¢ but I can’t really see the point in listing every plot point or event that is either poorly explained or is devoid of logic altogether. Hanners went to the trouble of blogging the entire series, so you can read those posts at your leisure; a brave and worthy justification for episodic blogging if ever there was one. Suffice to say the last two arcs don’t improve on the previous ones in terms of being laughably unconvincing.
What I was scratching my head over was how an anime series based on a popular series of books by a reputable writer and produced by a studio that has barely disappointed me since, well, forever could turn out to be such a dud. The artwork and music are decent, the animation isn’t top-notch but if perfectly decent for a B-list title; the background to the story is immersive and fascinating. The thing is, the plotline of a TV show isn’t made by a small group of people. There are a lot of animators, artists, actors and technical staff involved; any one of whom could have put their hands up during production and said, “Hang on. I don’t get it.”
I don’t want to sound like I’m exaggerating when I say that whoever worked on the storyboards and/or continuity may not have actually known what they were doing. The underlying ideas were fantastic but it must be the execution of the details that made it a succession of implausible plans, flawed logic and unexplained events; the script wasn’t exactly bad I guess but the characters did come off as being pretty dumb at times. There were likably dumb though, because it felt like one of those films where a talented actor or actress stars in a B-movie because their agent is incompetent and looks a bit lost right from the first scene.
Was it down to a lousy director and storyboard planner? Or were the original novels substandard? Since I haven’t read them for myself I have to go on the impressive sales figures and reject my theory that Sigsawa is great at short stories (Kino for instance) but can’t write longer ones. The fact that they’re light novels may mean that the stories were short on detail and heavy on dialogue – it may be that the reasoning behind certain aspects of the story weren’t explained fully, resulting in plot holes. This alternative theory lets Sigsawa off the hook (despite the Kino anime being made up of more philosophical and less action-orientated self-contained stories, I still can’t believe that he’d fail as spectacularly as this) but still doesn’t explain why the A&L production staff didn’t fill in whatever gaps there were in the original text.
If the novel doesn’t explain how Travas can get two armed men out of a jeep and jump aboard from a moving train, you sure as hell ought to come up with a convincing reason of your own. Similarly, no right-minded adult could possibly accept the idea that more armed men, this time on foot, could keep up with a speeding train. It is utterly unacceptable: no director could be as stupid as to let that get past his office door so I can only assume that the show’s producers thought their audience is stupid, which is worse somehow.
I guess the flames start here
The fact is, the storytelling of this series is so clumsy and sloppy that it has to be down to laziness on the studio’s part. Recap episodes and bad animation can be attributed to scheduling/financial issues or labour outsourcing but bad writing throughout the show’s run smacks of a lack of thought and care at several levels of production; which is a shame when, as I pointed out earlier, the characters are fun to watch and conceptually is marvellous. I can only hope that the novels get a translation (by fans or a Western publisher) so I can enjoy the adventure as its writer intended; in the meantime I’m reduced to wondering what could have been…and taking small comfort in remembering how I watched a REAL trainwreck anime.