Blogging with No Royalties with Cinderella Girls Episode 4

Posted by DiGiKerot in Cinderella Girls at January 30, 2015 on 10:44 pm

This week on Cinderella Girls…I figure that I should probably stop starting these posts by saying “this week on” before it gets real old, but I probably won’t.

There’s a very real temptation to start comparing this weeks episode to the first episode of aniM@S, given its conceit. Whilst the episode is certainly trying to fill a similar kind of purpose – to introduce the larger cast – if in a slightly more transparent fashion, it actually has a little more in common with the sixth episode of Love Live in terms of how it handles it’s actual content.

In this episode, Cinderella Girls does have way less of an agenda than the older franchise series did in it’s opener – while aniM@S did endeavour to deftly, to varying degrees of success, simultaneously introduce the characters and their particular traits whilst also suggesting where they are in their individual careers, it was also intended to be an act of sleight of hand. It was constructed in a way that allowed them to disguise the involvement of a significant character they’d been very coy about in the pre-release materials, in a way which made everything make sense once actually revealed.

In dereM@S, on the other hand, the conceit is literally just an excuse, a methodology, to introduce the characters, which means that they can actually string together the video introductions with an actual narrative thread. Whilst this results in something perhaps less interesting or inventive, and certainly, if curiously, somewhat less candid feeling, it does make the whole thing rather more coherent, at least for those without some kind of prior concept of the characters and their chemistry.

Its super-effective. Twenty-four minutes later, and I feel like I have a way better grasp on not only the significant characters we’ve barely been introduced to previously, but even the lead trio. Admittedly, there’s not too much that threatens my like of Anzu that’s been forged through listening to Anzu no Uta a few dozen times too many, but a lot of characters make a sold impression this week. I’m still not sold on Anya for the previously stated reason of that massively effected accent, but Miku puts in another solid performance this week. I’m not quite as big an armpit fetishist a fan of the junior duo as a lot of folks seemed to be, though they clearly have fans on the staff given the fact that they claim a bunch of the episodes more interesting animation for themselves, but they’re OK. I continue to love the contrast, both physically and in attitude, they’re making between Anzu and Kirari by slamming them together so frequently. I even like Ranko more than I expected, despite how trite the whole archetype is these days.

Up from the depths, Thirty stories high, Throwing candy, Her head in the Sky… Kirari! Kirari! Kirari!
…And Annnnnzuuuuuuu…..

I do wonder if Riina is going to be revealed as a poser at some point. Aside from the fact that she seems rather reticent to reveal any actual details about the supposed rock she’s listening to, nothing says rock-hipster-fake like wearing a shirt with UK emblazoned on it. There’s a lot of small gestures going on with her that suggest she’s deliberately playing the character up for the audience, only being a lot less outlandish than Miku’s cat-antics, it’s less obvious. If that proves to be true, and gets revealed later on, it’ll be a fun episode when it happens.

Largely, though, the important thing narrative-wise is that we are absolutely set up for individual character episodes now, with pretty much everything of import established. I’m looking forward to it, as long as there’s nothing quite as off as Hibiki’s aniM@S episode in there.

Many of the senior roles in this episode – storyboards, episode direction and animation direction – were taken by Akai Toshifumi alone. Looking at his history, he’s been around in industry as a key animator for quite some time, though there’s not a huge amount of immediately available information in English as to what specifically he’s done on the show’s he has worked on. He’s been working as an animation director a little more recently – his big step-up in that direction looks to be from when he started working with A1 Pictures, from Sora no Woto onwards, though I guess his work on Magi (which I didn’t watch more than a couple of episodes of) has been his most significant role. Whilst information on his specific animation may be a little hard to come by, it’s hard not to notice the significance of the episode of aniM@S he led production on – episode 6, with the Smoky Thrill scene, episode 13, with the major concert, and then the final two of the TV run. All rather significant episodes with major concert scenes which were likely incredibly demanding on the animation staff. These aren’t the kind of episodes you get without being considered a pair of safe hands.

Akai has also done a ton of work in character design in recent times, as well as magazine and cover illustrations. I tend to get the impression that those guys are real sticklers for on-model animation – it’s often things they’ve committed hours of time to defining that are ultimately going to be rendered on screen, after all, so it’s natural that they’d want to see their hard work replicated faithfully.

This episode doesn’t really do much to dispel that impression. This isn’t to say that the actual animation side of things, in terms of movement, suffers this week – quite the opposite, as whilst there’s little with quite the same weight to it as last weeks fist-bump, there’s frequently some really, really great stuff here – but it’s an absolutely terrific looking episode throughout, with little to pick up as wonky. The use of the handheld camera allows some really interesting framing and layout in places, and most of the cuts from the cameras view have some particularly wonderful character and facial animation. It makes a pretty great impression pretty shortly after the opening credits, as would-be cat-idol Miku walks into the office with a wonderfully expressive sleepy expression, before running through a whole series of wacky faces which, in some cases, barely last a frame. The episode manages to successfully express an awful lot in some fairly subtle facial expressions.

There’s a really good sense of how to posture on display throughout the episode as well. Obviously, there’s the scene where the gang walk in on Rika and Miria posing a little too suggestively for girls their age, making everyone else feel kind-of uncomfortable in the process, but they’ve really managed to sell Ranko in a world where the whole Chuunibyou thing has been really overplayed since she was first introduced in the game, which is doubly-impressive given that they underplay the camerawork here somewhat as to not overtly emphasize her gestures.

Also, the gag where she forgot her umbrella was kind of great.

In conclusion, though, yeah, whilst last weeks episode set a really high quality bar, they absolutely knocked it out of the park again this week. I really couldn’t be more thrilled with the way the show has been panning out so far.

Leave a Comment