2 Anime – 1 concept

In which I look at how two anime took the same idea, and ended up with very different results just by adjusting their focus. (also feel free to make this an anime open thread if you wish)

(Yeah I’m doing this post instead of working on my Winchesters review – I’m fighting a cold!)

This is Shinesman:

Go ahead and watch it if you want. I think it hits near perfectly every inch of my funny bone. I nearly have the one hour OVA dub memorized and I still laugh every time I watch it. (Still a crime it never got a full series.)

So as you will have noticed if you watched the above – or looked up information on the show – it is a comedy built around the question: What if Super Sentai (power rangers) and their enemies operated like corporations?

Well recently I got to watch two anime which took the above hypothetical, and both spun off in different directions.

The first one I’ll talk about is Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department (Kaijin Kaihatsu-bu no Kuroitsu-san). This one is much more focused on the business aspect of the story, with the romance a secondary concern. In this, the main character, Miss Kuroitsu, is just a humble lab technician trying to develop the next terrifying monster which will face off against their enemy – who is a lone “Red Ranger” type who doesn’t have an entire team to help him out (unlike other heroes in Japan). Most of the humor comes from the protagonist trying to navigate the challenges of the corporate world – in service to absurd ends. Sure you may have a great design for a fierce battle raptor of amazing firepower – but then budget concerns start coming into play, you can’t risk having the union guys work overtime this week…. and by the end of it you’re stuck with a giant chicken holding a pistol. Oh well, at least failed projects can find work at the Evil Co. family amusement park (which is used for supplemental income). Every episode is a small delight in finding out what our protagonists are going to struggle with this time.

The more you’ve worked in any kind of structure – whether business or government – the funnier this series will be to you. Obviously younger kids who haven’t held “real” jobs out in the world probably won’t get as much out of it as their parents would. Crunchyroll actually put the entire first episode on YouTube and you will know right away if it’s your kind of thing from that first episode.

So if you watched Shinesmen above, you’ll notice there was a plot thread of the heroic red ranger falling in love with the princess of the evil forces who seems to return hints of the affection. Whatever would two such incompatible love birds do about it? Well you can find that answer in Love after World Domination (Koi wa Sekai Seifuku no Ato de). While there is still the foundation of the good guys and bad guys being incorporated and needing to navigate those travails, this show focuses FAR more on the romantic aspect with the two main characters and their struggle to keep their love a secret – they are public figures after all and don’t need such a thing written up in the tabloids!

This one is absolutely adorable and I think it ends up proving a very important point. “Repear Princess” – our main character and the evil, wicked princess (well, one of them) of Evil Co is, by all rights and every measure, a complete 100% Mary Sue. This series ends up proving that you can, in fact, have compelling stories about Mary Sues, the key as I always stress is thatΒ they must face challenges. For example in this series, everyone admiring and respecting Desumi (Reaper Princess’ real name) leads to her being very lonely as everyone keeps misinterpreting her overtures of friendship in sinister ways. Indeed a lot of episodes are about her facing a problem she can’t just overpower her way out of. Official trailer for it here. Oh! And in case you’re wondering because I know I do when it comes to romances – No, most of the problems are NOT a result of miscommunication or misunderstandings with the other party. They do have those, but they are usually the set up for a quick joke, not a multi-episode affair milked for drama. This is a couple who communicates, and it’s beautiful.

It was a lot of fun to watch these two very similar shows back to back just to note from a writing perspective how an adjustment of what was the main focus of the series led to two very different results. MKftMDD is much more plot and story driven, with not a single loose thread left in the show as by the time the final episode rolls around everything you’ve seen up to that point comes together in a spectacular climatic pay off. Conversely LaWD is much more character driven, with the coworkers of our main romantic pair getting a lot more exploration and focus. (There’s even a cute running gag of the lascivious “Blue Ranger” constantly chasing after the very-unladylike “Beast Princess” who’s not used to male attention.)

And you know, even if neither show sounds like your cup of tea, I’d like you to take them as encouragement for your writing. That just because something has been done before, you can still take an aspect or part of that thing, bring it to the forefront, and end up creating something original.

18 thoughts on “2 Anime – 1 concept

    • It was just the two episodes so literally you can watch Shinesmen over a lunch break. πŸ˜‰

      I keep meaning to hunt down the Manga sometime, but from what I’ve studied the dubbers did an amazing job of “punching up” jokes to keep the essence of the humor the same, but make it funnier to Americans.

  1. Hi Nate, just checking in re Elfin Lied, my brother got sick with Covid, so I’m only up to episode 5, but I have an observation / thread that seems common that I wondered if you picked up on? Did you notice how in some anime, female characters are often portrayed as being in total , somewhat excessive awe of the guys in their lives? For example in EF there’s Kohta, The Chief and even little Wanta (although… he’s a cute puppy, so I totally get that)
    They are doing a great job of making the bad guys objectionable, I’m really routing for Lucy/ Nyu and poor little Mayu

    • Hmm. Haven’t thought about it much. If I understand you correctly, I think you may be describing a general trope of hero worship. Like in the Shinesmen link, the main character’s brother plays up the awe to a comical degree.

      Or maybe it’s part of their courtship. If you like a guy you hype him up. LoL

      • Good point, probably sort of a ‘Sandy and Danny’ situation, where the truth isn’t always in the words, but the actions.

        EL is so gorgeous, the art depicting the vectors, the changes to the ocean subtle depending on who’s viewing it, like a mirror to their hearts
        They build peril well, I’m constantly worrying about Wanta! Even if they cut back on the amputation and violence, they have successfully infused a sense of corruption and darkness, hidden just below the surface of that pretty, peaceful suburban area

      • Aw, thanks, he’s in good hands and is making progress.
        It’s always good to have popcorn, pie and beer for a finale, but do I also need Kleenex? You gotta know I’m waay to involved already😊

      • Also I would advise… making sure you binge the last 3-4 episodes back to back. You really don’t want to have any delay when the series kicks it up a notch. (And you’ll know that point when you see an episode end with “really big container.”) Just clear your schedule and then blitz through to the end.

      • Happy New Year Nate! Hope you had a good festive season?
        Well I’m back, finally completed watch of Elfin Lied. What a masterfully crafted story, all the pieces just slotted into place because it was so well set up to link the past and present ( if they could achieve a semblance of this on The Winchesters , I’d be impressed)
        It presents all the usual tropes, the unrequited love, vengeance for being wronged, they even fitted in heroic redemption with Lucy’s arc, but in a fairly unique way. I loved how the steps were used symbolically as the place where Khota reconciled his past and present, the unloved restaurant becoming a refuge for the little rag tag of wronged children, how Nana the obiedent child gets her freedom and finally catches a break, how she found her own way to act independently of her instructions and think for herself.
        What I found very interesting was how much rage those girls had, Lucy, Yuma, and #35 were not at all content with their lot and refused to be the playthings or victims of men.
        And that big reveal of the head of the institute being horned, a potential set up for the future, but it acted as understandable motivation for all his actions within this one story, sadly I was not that surprised, they did tip their hand having his son revealed as being horned too.
        Hats off to the entire crew though, they pulled off a self contained beautifully drawn, drama with heart. And yay, Wanta made it! He was definitely my favourite.
        Thank for the recommendation, I enjoyed it.

      • Well now you probably know why I don’t recommend the series to just anybody. πŸ˜‰ And also why so many (including the series creators) admit that it inspired Stranger Things. I told you if you waited it would all click into place. πŸ˜‰ (At least, it seems pretty clear that after Kouta’s reaction, Lucy allowed herself to be captured in shock and repentance.)

        I find it such a compelling story about lashing out in a rash moment, making a mistake you would do anything to take back, forgiveness and kindness. Yeah it hits me pretty hard too. I can’t even think of this scene without tearing up.

      • It’s a show that’s bigger than the sum of it’s parts. It’s unquestionable there’s a lot of brutal violence, but it undersells the point of the show to have it only remembered for that.
        The way Khota has his found family, the love between them, the very humanity of their mistakes is touching . The sympathy they engendered for Nana and Lucy, even #35 her monstrosity tempered by her fragility and the cruel manipulation. A master piece in emotional resonance.
        I forgot to say, how cool was it they wive in a reason for the existence of the musical theme tune? Amazing and mesmerising.

      • OH yeah you can go down quite the rabbit hole on youtube for covers of the theme.

        But yeah I sometimes joke the alternate title of the series should be: “Everybody needs a hug (and has a lot of blood).”

        It’s also what I consider a prime example of great tragedy writing. That moment in the train, you 100% understand every person’s thought process and their logic behind their actions and it all makes perfect sense… Even as you scream because it’s all going to turn out so horribly.

      • Can’t beat well done musical Latin. It’s very spiritual even if you have no particular affiliation to the language or the religion using it I have to confess I’ve found myself lingering outside churches on occasion just to listen to them practice.
        Tragedy and sacrifice make for great storytelling with writers who clearly care . I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, anime production teams work so much harder than Iive action shows in keeping the stories tight and focused , picking locations or objects or music to convey the things that the character faces can’t necessarily fully convey. They go that extra mile.

      • Yeah that’s why Vivy is one of my favorite not just anime, but all time works of fiction – period.

        Steins;Gate is an entertaining scifi romp with a romance at the core and gives you 3 different endings ranging from heartbreaking to heartwarming. πŸ˜‰ (there is debate over the sub vs dub, I would recommend the sub – have tissues handy)

        And like the 2 anime mentioned in this post, won’t move you as much as Elfen Lied, but they are cute and a nice refresher.

        Oh! So one you may enjoy again if you like your tragic elements (and girls who need a hug) is Beyond the Boundary. It’s much more lighthearted but still has a lot of tragic core to it.

      • Just pulled myself outta the rabbit hole of Beyind the Boundary. So many traditional ideas encapsulated in a slightly teen hero world. I recently read a collection of Japanese based tales that had parallels in BB. Especially the concepts of making peace with your inner self and your actions. I get the feeling in Japanese culture ghosts and monsters are looked at as an integral part of life, driven by life.
        It was an interesting take on finding balance within and so pretty, fabulous use of color and design. The monsters were unique and so detailed. I enjoyed the comedy aspects and slow reveal of where our two heros were and how they got reunited. A pretty enjoyable monster romp, thanks for the recommendation πŸ™‚

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