Backlog: そにアニ、Super Sonico The Animation

[CBM]_Soni-Ani_-_Super_Sonico_the_Animation_-_11_-_A_Saint_Is_Coming_to_Town_[720p]_[7FF12489].mkv_snapshot_14.56_[2015.08.03_21.00.51]

When Super Sonico: The Animation first aired, I challenged myself to write a blog post about the first episode. Within it, I wrote about how it is a wholly mediocre show lacking in creative energy. In other words, it was uninteresting, and in many ways that is worse than simply being “bad.” Others that I knew seemed to agree with me:

そに子 MAL score

I later asked my friend Kiniest why people hate Sonico.

“Because it’s a bad show,” he replied.

But, truth be told, I actually started to like the show after a few episodes. Even if it was unambitious, it was relaxing and amusing to watch as a simple slice of life full of well-endowed mascot characters. I won’t be calling it great anytime soon, but as the saying goes, it was good for what it was.

I believe episode 6, “Cruising of the Dead/クルージング・オブ・ザ・デッド“, was where I finally said to myself “Okay, scratch everything I said in that blog post. This show is amazing.” It was hard to dislike the show when it had Sonico and her friends running away from cruise passengers turned into zombies by beauty products. Coincidentally, that’s also where I started to lose track of the show, and away it went into the depths of my backlog for a year and half…

If nothing else the show had very impressive production values, and the visuals were unarguably the best thing about it. The CG was…okay for a Japanese cartoon, but the traditional animation was great most of the time, and the background art was truly phenomenal.

One of my favorite episodes of the show was Episode 7, “Star Rain/スターレイン“, where Sonico does a lot of traveling for inspiration. It lacks a coherent and compelling narrative, but it made up for it with its 20 minutes of painted scenery porn.

Sonico’s a very idealistic character so to speak; she studies marine biology, she has her own popular indie band, she helps her grandma at her pub, and even models for a job. She is a very busy person, but manages to somehow find time for everything. Her only real character “flaw” appears to be her shy and timid personality, which of course could also be seen as a positive with how moe it makes her, although this characterization of her very much clashes with her job as a model. Though to be fair, this is at least lampshaded when Kitamura mentions in episode 3 how he originally didn’t think Sonico was right for the job because of her timidness.

Within the context of the show, it almost feels like she’s too idealistic and perfect. I feel like the show would be a lot more down to earth–or it would seem more down to earth–if it took out one of Sonico’s hobbies or responsibilities. Like if it was more about a girl who was simply a college student in an indie band. But I don’t know, for all I know, her job as a model could be integral to her character as a mascot to begin within. I’m just going off what I know from watching the show.

Though to be fair (again,) the show sort of made fun of this with Episode 9, “Sonico’s Longest Day / そに子の一番長い日“, in which Sonico has to juggle a million different responsibilities for her college’s cultural festival.

The ecchi and fanservice in Super Sonico is a bit conflicting for me. I enjoy the fanservice itself, as I tend to do with well-animated fanservice, but at the same time it adds a layer of…I don’t know…pandering, if that’s the right word? That may sound odd when fanservice tends to be inherently pandering–it’s implied with the very term “fanservice.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, in fact I once sung of praise for Vividred Operation precisely because of its quality pandering. But it’s easier to defend fanservice and ecchi in the case of ecchi comedies, and Sonico isn’t exactly an ecchi comedy, at least not primarily.

03_Sonico10

Once while watching Hey Paula with my family, my mother remarked how Paula Abdul couldn’t be a bad person because she has four dogs. Likewise, I wonder how anyone can hate Sonico when she has so many cats.

Episode 11, “A Saint Comes to Town/聖者が街にやってくる”, was particularly epidemic of this, wherein the girl characters dress up in scantily-clad Christmas costumes in order to attract customers to their local shopping arcade. I try to avoid using this word, but in this case it seems appropriate to say the characters seemed a bit “objectified” here. At first I thought it was funny, but then it created some jarring moments, like when the stripperific Sonico has a conversation with little girl Ayaka. It makes me wonder what sort of expectations little Ayaka would have about what growing up to be a woman entails. It’s not neseccarily a bad thing to use your body for that sort of profit; I mean, I’m of the opinion that prostitution is fine as long as the prostitutes are safe. But still, it makes me wonder.

I always thought it was a bit amusing how some praise Sonico for being a fat-positive character, as she never struck me as particularly fat. But then again, she’s certainly “bigger”, more plus-size, than the typical anime character, with larger thighs and waist, and it’s always nice to see something a bit different. Perhaps this just speaks to how subjective our conception of fat can be sometimes.

My favorite episode was the “murder mystery” with Ena (Episode 8, “Super Sonico Murder Mystery/すーぱーそに子殺人事件”). At first the whole conflict of the episode seems forced; they find Sonico unconsciousness, quickly learn she simply tripped, but Ena like a little brat keeps trying to play detective and conjures a bunch of crazy theories about attempted murder. I was sold on the episode though when chibi versions of the characters started playing out Ena’s murder mystery fantasies, but the “reveal” at the end really brought it all together. The episode went from annoying filler, to enjoyable filler, to something of brilliance at the last minute. Though that probably makes it sound more enthralling than it really was (it had a minute of brilliance, but it still wasn’t that great.)

I would be interested in seeing a second season for this show, for the rather simple reason that I’m quite curious to see if they plan to do anything with Super Pochaco. She pops up briefly in a few scenes as a background character. She doesn’t speak, but we can tell that she’s curious about Sonico, and in the final episode, she appears very awestruck by Sonico’s performance. It seems to suggest they have something in mind for her as far as a story goes. But of course, this is Super Sonico: The Animation, a show for bland mascots. Even if they have something in mind, it’s doubtful it would be something any less mundane or laidback than the rest of the show. I’m sure there wouldn’t be anything too dramatic or heart-wrenching. But I’m just curious.

It is rather odd however how they chose to animate Pochaco without her own characteristic headphones. Perhaps they didn’t want her to stand out too much in the end when she was ultimately never more than a background character.

So that was my thoughts on Super Sonico: The Animation.

***

With the anisphere caught in a blizzard storm of 12 Days of Anime posts as it does every December, this may seem like an odd time to publish a blog post about some random show from my backlog. Despite the top image, it has nothing to do with Christmas or the end of the year. I actually wrote the rough draft for this four months ago, and then simply didn’t bother to edit and finish it until now.

 

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