Archive Post: When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace (12/29/14)

Hello and Welcome to another Anime Chop Block

Today, after a hiatus, it’s time to review the first effort for Trigger’s adaptations of existing material: When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace

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Yet another light novel adaptation, this time from Kota Nozomi of Happy Death Day, it ran for 12 episodes from October 6 to December 22. This being a Trigger show, I didn’t know what to expect since the show didn’t look like it lent itself to the insane visuals and art of Kill La Kill and Inferno Cop. However, I was impressed by it and I will explain why here.

Story/Writing

Our story follows the members of a high school literature club: Jurai Ando, Tomoyo Kanzaki, Hatako Kushikawa, Sayumi Takanashi and Chifuyu Himeki as they suddenly develop superpowers with Ando, the most excited about the prospect, getting the most useless one. They try to live their normal lives while dealing with some of the fallout of their powers.

Now, this story summery is not very long and that’s because this is not really a continuity heavy show like the last comedic show I reviewed: Prisma Illya. The show is much more episodic and while stuff from earlier episodes can impact or carry over into another, most of the time it’s self contained arcs in individual episodes. In other words, instead of focusing on serious repercussions of how they cope with powers, we instead fast forward a few months after they get powers to the real start of the series and focus on how the characters bounce off each other. That said, they bounce of each other with amazing results. Each of the characters are predictable in how they would react to each other but the jokes revolving around those reactions are hilarious and come at a fast pace to make sure that you don’t really get tired of it. In addition, a lot of the jokes revolve around anime and otaku culture with a few snide remarks about how insane everything is while also lampooning the supernatural action genre at times.

Comedy wouldn’t be good if the characters aren’t written well but they are very fun to watch, hilarious, and we want to follow them on their little adventures. While the personality types are basic: chuuni, deadpan, airhead, tsundere, club president, they all are fleshed out with some character traits and have enough to them that they are both human and over the top. It’s enough for me to stay engaged and the jokes have more impact because of it. This strength of character writing also lends itself to a bit of heart within the show as we can see genuine growth as time goes on and it does hit home a bit.

However a bit of frustration comes in when it actually comes close to actual serious moments. I will talk about it more in the character section but while it’s nice to see the show try to reach for great dramatic heights, it kind of fails the landing.

There is a sideplot involving other people using powers to fight each other but that’s more setup for a possible next season. That said, the characters revolving around that are a joy to watch and the finale that occurs when it intersects the main plot leads to a pretty tense episode.

Characters

Due to the nature of comedy, explaining the characters may spoil some of the jokes indirectly. As such, proceed at your own risk.

First is the main protagonist of the show: Jurai Ando. His power is “Dark and Dark” which projects a small lukewarm black frame. He also has a massive case of chunibyou (good discussion of it here) and is the most hyperactive and enthusiastic in the group when it comes to the powers or just anything in general. He loves giving names involving alternate readings of kanji and katakana and believes that the powers exist only so that the club can have fun. That said, he has a very human side; his view on powers comes from a kind selfless humanity and he is also the most emphatic of the club. That humanity helps to identify with him even with his tendency to be overly dramatic and nuts. I would say that he is self-insert but not of the power fantasy kind but of a better person than what we normally think of those with Chuunibyou. While Ando lends himself to a lot of the heart of the show, he also sets up most of the jokes due to his over dramatic nature with everyone else either deadpanning or over reacting to his actions with perfect timing.

Next is Tomoyo Kanzaki. Her power is “Closed Clock” which can slow down, speed up, or stop time. She is the main foil to Ando as a former chuuni who constantly has to bring Ando back into reality. Comedicly, it’s very amusing to see her react to Ando’s insanity with futile attempts to restrain him. She however has remnants of her old self in the form of her passion for light novel writing. This is the main plot thread of character development for Tomoyo and also a good source of Ando’s humanity as Ando helps Tomoyo try to write a light novel for a competition. As time goes on, she grows closer to Ando due to his advice and assistance with the novel and fall in love with her. The chemistry between them is very sweet and humorous as both of them sill have the same interest in light novels and can bounce off each other naturally. This chemistry also leads to the plot thread for the next character we will discuss.

Hatako Kushiakwa is a kind airheaded girl who has been friends with Ando since elementary school. Her power is “Over Element” which gives her control over fire, water, earth, wind and light. She is a bit of an outsider when it comes to dealing with Ando; despite all the time they have spent, she sill can’t really understand Ando’s chunnibyou or his interest in anime. This leads to her main character development, which is kind of the most aggravating to talk about not because it’s bad but because it’s too good at one point. Hatako is jealous of Tomoyo’s closeness to Ando compared to her despite the time she has been with Ando; the main reason is due to Ando and Tomoyo’s shared chunni interest. This leads into a big outpouring of emotion towards Ando for his inability to explain his interests to Hatako. That outpouring is easily the best few minutes of the show, a depressing and overpowering speech about otaku exclusivity. However, any conflict between Ando and Hatako due to the speech is wrapped up way too quickly with apologies from both parties and jealousy between Hatako and Tomoyo wraps up in a similarly anticlimactic acknowledgement of mutual interest in the same person. Her development really could have been better if the show took the time to resolve both the tension between Ando and Hatako and the jealousy between Hatako and Tomoyo. Things are better on the comedic front, as she is the type to overreact but in a way opposite of Tomoyo. While Tomoyo will try to silence Ando’s antics, Hatako takes the antics seriously with somewhat disastrous results.

Next is Sayumi Takanashi, the literature club president. Her ability is “Root of Origin” which can return people and things to their original state though the definition of “original state” is unclear. Sadly, she doesn’t really have any real character development. She does have one episode where we see that she was once more isolated as a person but eventually opened up and made friends with the club. There really is not a lot to her though she is still enjoyable to some degree with the comedy as she treats Ando’s antics like a bored mom scolding her child for the umpteenth time.

Finally is Chifuyu Himeki, an elementary school student who is the niece of the club advisor and hangs out with Ando and the gang. Her ability is “World Create” which can generate space and matter from nowhere as long as she can imagine it. She also doesn’t have much of a character arc; she has a friend that was worried about her being around Ando and the group due to the fact that they have powers. She tries to keep it secret for the sake of the group. We are able to much better see how this affects her than with Sayumi but it still resolves relatively quickly and with no real impact (though there is a joke revolving Ando supposedly being a lolicon that carries over to another episode). Comically, Chifuyu is actually more smart and genre savvy than she seems and is able to tease and counter Ando’s antics with deadpan and a straight face while playing up her child appearance to her advantage.

Art/Animation

As this was done by Trigger, the show still has some of it’s color and flair of it’s more famous works. Both backgrounds and characters are colored very brightly but with good contrast of shadows and the animation is hectic and frenzied while making sure that it’s not too jerky or choppy frame wise. The character designs are full of soft edges and sharp faces; they are not completely over-exaggerated like Kill la Kill but they still have the stylized eyes and various faces that are common in more insane anime. In addition, while there are very few fights, motions and attacks defiantly get the Kill La Kill treatment with a lot of crazy faces, speed lines, and smooth motions.

Sound/Music

The opening, OVERLAPPERS by Qverktett:II (a group consisting of three of the voice actors in the show), is a nice and fluffy opening with cute vocals and a calm beat for most of it’s run time with the tempo increasing in the last 30 seconds to actually get us pumped. The ending, You Gotta Love Me by Kato * Fuku, is fairly standard J-pop with some electric guitar but it’s cheerful and fits the tone of the show really well.

Conclusion

When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace is not a show that will last with you for the rest of your anime viewing future but it will give you a good laugh and some very cute warm moments that will make you smile. The times that the story dips into serious dramatic storytelling are admirable and work within the story but they fall apart in resolution. In the end, if you are looking for a comedy that is smarter than it seems or you just want a really good laugh, check this show out.

When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace is available on Crunchyroll

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