Sunday, June 30, 2013

Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 2000% Episode 13--Happy Pulse (END)

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My Wednesdays will feel empty for a while.

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Yet again, I'm at a loss where to start. This episode took all of my expectations and put them on a rocketship to Pluto. Or maybe the edge of the universe is a better description here? Anyway, it was a foregone conclusion that UtaPri would go out with a bang, but triggering Instrumentality with their song was not on my list of possible outcomes, and yet again I fell out of my chair laughing. This episode also had scene where, for the first time, the series tried to give an explanation for the hallucenogenic heart sparkles. Apparently the technical term is "happy pulse," which only makes it even more silly, but we get to see Shining in a hazmat suit, so I guess it balances itself out. Maybe there was some merit to my Center Nova theory after all! However, I'm still undecided on whether Shining is a mad genius or just mad.

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I'm impressed that he was able to hang on to his cigar.

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So after the Happy Pulse ecompases the entire universe, Raging admits defeat and disbands Heavens. However, Starish insists that the group stay together, otherwise their fans will be sad. Shining drops out of the sky and agrees, so Raging decides not to disband Heavens after all because no one argues with Shining. Then everybody joins in on a sing-along of Maji Love 1000% and the credits roll.

...That is probably the silliest synopsis I have ever written. Good job, UtaPri.

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I don't have much to say about this episode beyond that, aside from continuing to state that this show is more entertaining the more ridiculous it gets. But since this is the last post for the last episode (please let there be a season three), I wanted to dig a little deeper. What is it about UtaPri that makes me love it so much? With most other reverse harem series, I'm either ambivalent or I hate them, with little in-between. So then why is this show not only my favorite from the reverse harem genre, but one of my favorite shows period?

Escapism is certainly part of it; I've kind of had a rough time this last month, and being able to forget for a while in favor of a world where the biggest problem is an idol contest has helped. But I liked the show long before my life decided to throw me a curveball, so that's not the only reason.

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I've grown pretty attached to the characters over the last two seasons. However, during my rewatch of the first season I've realized that a lot of the interaction in the group that made them a bit more than their color-coded otome stereotypes has been cut down in favor of bigger and more fabulous settings and twists. While each character did eventually get their time in the spotlight, the fact that my favorite episode this time around pulled from season one speaks yet again to how much I love character-driven stuff in my entertainment. But since characters were not really the focus this time around, I can't point to this as a complete reason either.

I've also talked a lot about the increasingly ridiculous levels that this show takes its plot to, with this episode as the crowing jewel so far, beating out even the Giant Screw You Dragon. I do not watch this show for the sole intent of bashing it (thankfully I've grown out of that phase as an anime fan), yet I can't deny that a lot of enjoyment comes from poking holes in the scenarios this show has created. And from what I remember of the comments on the ill-fated English Nico Nico website the first season streamed on, I'm far from the only one.

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In the end, as cheesy as it may sound, there might be something to the idea of the "happy pulse." While I did use the term "so bad it's good" early on while blogging this show, I don't think that's accurate anymore. There's something about the combination of everything that I mentioned above that makes it feel like, through all the silliness, there's a heart to UtaPri that just wants to entertain people and make them smile. I'm not going to take the same direction as some corners of the internet and claim that this show was made completely without irony and that its production was not motivated by money at all, because with the current state of the anime industry, that's just not true. That said, I also don't feel that every single anime produced needs to be a soul-searching or genre-redefining masterpiece, because then where would we get our fun?

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UtaPri is fun. Plain and simple. As much as I harp on about character development, pacing, and plot consistency on this blog, I find it just as important to maintain my sense of fun. Sometimes I want my mind blown by a brilliant piece of animation, or question my own motivation and direction in life through a well-thought-out plot or character arc. And sometimes I want to sing along to a J-Pop song with fictional idols. In a fandom where we take our entertainment a little too seriously sometimes, it's important to remember the sense of enjoyment that got us here in the first place.

Never change, UtaPri.

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