Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 3

Brought to you by Mrs. Morimoto's 3rd grade Art class.

Reaction to the Horror
Wow. They say when people get in really bad accidents, a lot of the time they won't remember what happened, because the brain is protecting them from the traumatic memory. That's the only explanation I can think of for how the animation in this episode was even worse than I remembered. I've seen before-and-after shots that show they did a significant amount of cleanup on the DVD version, but as I only have the TV broadcast (and I'm not optimistic this will get licensed in Region 1 anytime soon) I can only evaluate what they put on TV.

The plot this time is mainly an excuse to get Feena to wear a waitress's uniform--curious about Tatsuya's part-time job, she goes over to Trattoria Samon, and Jin ends up asking her to help out as a waitress. Although she's never done anything like that before, this is Feena we're talking about and she does a good job charming the customers and taking orders. Jin sets up an Iron Chef-like showdown between Natsuki (known as "Master Carbon" since her cooking is overcooked to an insane level) and Feena, and despite not having cooked before, Feena generally kicks ass at her dishes, while Natsuki even manages to burn salad. Wreathlit, the mystery loli from earlier, gets pulled in to be a judge from the audience, but other than eat she doesn't do much. Feena's declared the winner, but as Tatsuya consoles Natsuki we get the first sign Feena might be a little jealous.

There wasn't anything wrong with the story this episode, and as a big Iron Chef fan this should have been a slam-dunk for getting me to like it, but the animation quality was so bad, so consistently, that it was hard to enjoy watching this at all. Some people argue animation quality isn't important, but for me that's definitely not true--when the animation is bad, it becomes harder to 'read' the characters' expressions, and the sheer mediocrity of the artwork takes away from the story. A good example is a scene where Feena 'glares' at Jin, and Tatsuya and Natsuki look scared--I'm basing this on the BGM for the scene because when you see Feena looking at Jin there's no glare there, and it's impossible to tell what, if any, emotion she's feeling. If they'd given her a real glare, it would have been a funny scene, but instead it loses all impact. For a bishoujo series to make their characters look this bad is about the worst thing the studio can do...this is very likely the worst-animated episode of anime I've ever seen, even early Urusei Yatsura wasn't this bad.

The Good
- They do a really good Iron Chef parody in this episode, with Jin serving as Chairman Kaga, even taking a bite out of a pepper as sweeping music plays in the background. As a big Iron Chef fan, this is enough to bring a smile to my face in spite of everything else. It's too bad there wasn't a theme ingredient declared, although if there was I'd guess it was Battle Cabbage.
- Natsuki taking being a bad cook to a ridiculous level. Burning SALAD? You don't even cook salad! If Tatsuya's right and she's improved a little, I can't even imagine how bad she was before.

The Bad
- The whole cast looked like ass for the entire episode. Everyone was so far off-model it was like watching a completely different series, or a compilation of really, really bad fanart. If everyone was in Suka Card mode for 24 minutes it would have been a vast improvement.

The Verdict
Minus one star for each and every frame of this episode.

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