Cake, Kanako, Calories and Cat Ears in Cinderella Girls Episode 3

Posted by DiGiKerot in Cinderella Girls at January 23, 2015 on 11:58 pm

This week on Cinderella Girls, Kanako should be care what she eats, because we all know that girls who eat too many sweets can’t be backup dancers – just ask poor Kana.

Which reminds me that I never did get around to writing anything about the iM@S movie, did I?

This weeks episode of Cinderella Girls is one of those where the immediate impression is that it kind of looks a little rough, but you (or at least I) feel somewhat bad for thinking so. The animation director this time around was Kouno Megumi, which isn’t entirely surprising given the content from this episode when you consider that she was responsible for many of the more memorable cuts from the performances in the previous iM@S anime.

I’m not really going to pretend to be a poser into his sakuga enough to have particularly know the full significance of Kouno Megumi working on something, though the small amount of reading I’d done before hand, having been made of her involvement being something to be excited about, suggested her hallmarks to be a slightly rough style with a less stiff, more realistic sense of movement than most, and also an almost fetishistic approach to hair (which smarter, more-informed minds than I have already pointed out that the episode has in buckets.

The sense of character weight in the movement of Mika and Akane’s greeting is pretty wonderful

Speaking of fetishism, though, that’s maybe somewhat the issue here. Being rough is all well and good when you have things constantly moving, but a lot of anime fandom sure does like to have pretty looking stills, as is evidenced by those folks who love to take frames from what are actually amazing cuts of animation in the likes of Naruto or Ping Pong and laugh at them as if they are unintentionally bad pieces of art. Where this episode of Cinderella Girls comes into this, though, is that it’s still a TV episode being produced at what is, by some reports, a pretty rough schedule, with one incredibly elaborate extended scene at it’s climax. I’m sure (or at least hope that) we’re all watching Shirobako and have a renewed appreciation for what that potentially means for an episode.

The crux is, though, for a great deal of the episode, even the cuts she won’t have key animated herself, Kouno’s style rather permeates. Again, this is absolutely fine when things are in motion, but this is also an episode which still contains an awful lot of still or low-motion sequences which just end up looking a little off. Whether this is a good thing in that it brings a certain degree of consistency through a small degree of inconsistency, or that it just looks annoyingly wonky at times, I honestly can’t decide. I guess I’ll wait and see wait and see if they change anything for the home release and take that as the animators opinion on it all, but people who are far more into the animation side of this whole anime thing seem to have dug it as is.

(Although how much of that is a fetishistic appreciation of particularly distinctive animation in itself, I’m in no position to speculate on)

Speaking of the home release, I guess they’re going the same route as the original iM@S anime and bundling it with PS3 gamesoft – specifically, a revitalised series of Cinderella Girls versions of Gravure for You, featuring a bunch of improvements over the previously released 765Pro versions. Given how much shelf space those G4U packs take up, I really don’t know, man.

I’m not entirely sure of what else to say about the episode on it’s own merits. I like most of the scenes with Miku challenging the lead trio to various activities, mainly because I was neither expecting the sudden cuts to Jenga Jemga or the even more sudden Janken – it was pretty impeccable comic timing. Perception of characters from prior to coming into the anime series aside, Miku has probably thus far made the most notable impression out of the girls other than the three leads and perhaps Mika.

Well, unless the Kirari-Anzu size disparity the show keeps rubbing in our faces is something you find as hilarious as I do. I guess it’s nice that they’ve started to expand Miku’s character beyond her cat-ears and noises, and that they felt confident enough for her not to be wearing her ears at times, though I do wish a little that they’d do a similar service for the rest of the cast a smidgen more quickly than they are. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the measured approach to character introductions, rather than being thrown in a the deep end, but I guess I’m coming into this as someone who didn’t have issues with the aniM@S opener since I knew the characters there already. I’d probably be just as confused as some other folks seemed to be if they’d pulled an aniM@S on this one, so maybe it’s a case of being careful what you wish for.

Speaking of characters, though, Anastasia… I’m not quite so sure of. I know it’s supposed to be representative of a foreigner speaking Japanese in the same was as we British stereotype french folks speaking English in things like ’Allo ‘Allo, but she has that same overly-effected way of speaking that really drove me up the wall with Chloe in Girlfriend(Beta) last season (which probably makes me a monster in many folks eyes, I guess).

I like the concert scene. Aside from the animation being great, It’s nice to be able to hear the calls from the audience, and they completely nailed the T-O-K-TOKIMEKI part that was in particular probably the make-or-break part of the entire sequence, at least for existing dereM@S fans. This is probably a weird nit-pick, though, because it has no bearing on fictional cartoon-world, but the glowsticks in these concerts tend to bug me a little. This isn’t because they’re CG or anything, it’s more to do with the size – the ones the other Cinderella Project girls are wielding are fine, but the rest of the crowd seem to be carrying larger, Kingblade-esque sticks. Generally speaking, I’m under the impression that larger lights like that tend to not be allowed into iM@S shows, probably mostly because they want you to buy their smaller show-exclusive pen lights, so it’s a bit odd to see things like that in the shows.

There’s probably a wee bit of an inside joke in the whole stage lift scene – there was a fairly famous (in so much as, I’ve actually heard about it) instance during one of the iM@S live shows where Yayoi actress Nigo Mayako was catapulted a little too high during her entrance.

I don’t really want to keep lingering on it, because it’s unfairly dismissive of the show on it’s own merits, but there probably is at least some merit in comparing this episode to the third episode of the prior iM@S anime – after all, the fact that Yukiho had to tear her own clothes whilst the Cinderella Girls apparel came pre-weathered probably means something, right?

Jokes aside, though, it makes an interesting contrast in both the situations the girls in the two series were in, as well as how certain elements of the the production are being approached. They both center around the first performances we see in their respective shows, but whilst in iM@S the girls are having to deal with being the main attraction at a tiny event that they are ill-equipped and ill-prepared for, whilst working for a tiny operation that struggled to find themselves work even if the girls themselves are somewhat well-practiced semi-veterans, the Cinderellas almost randomly find themselves thrown as a minor point into a major event by virtue of working at a huge organisation that manages the whole thing with well-oiled, professional precision despite being relative beginners.

The other thing, though, is that iM@S took what is probably the second goofiest set of character traits in the core franchise (after Hibiki’s Doctor Doolittle schtick) in Yukiho’s fear of men (and her reactions to it), and exaggerated on them to build up her sense of nervousness about appearing on stage, whilst in dereM@S, the girls (well, mostly Mio) are just nervous because appearing on stage infront of a large crowd is actually kind of terrifying. For an adaptation of the part of the franchise which often goes the wackiest with it’s characters, it’s all handled in a wonderfully, and remarkably, subtle, underplayed fashion.

[update – I’m informed that the KB ban for iM@S lives is to do with them having damaged equipment at the shows in the past – probably not shocking given some folks probably wield multiple lights for multiple girls at once. I guess that explains the rather specific form-factor of the official pen-lights – good for going Wolverine, as it were.]

[Also update – apparently the real cancer killing the industry is people P’ing on Kouno’s sakuga. Maybe I’m mentally exaggerating the number of off-model static shots in remembrance somehow. Oh, well, seems like a good reason to watch the episode a third or fourth time…]

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