Tag Archives: no_6

No. 6 08 — The Noble Savage Visits the Oracle

We have a visit to the Oracle, rescuing the forest folk… Is this a bad RPG adaptation now? And we still haven’t gotten inside No. 6 yet?

Engaging Storytelling

In this episode we follow Shion and Nezumi’s journey to the center of the earth. They are brought as prisoners to the great hall of Argatha, where they offer a prayer to the Oracle, surrounded by his ascetic sackcloth-clad followers watching from the balconies. The Oracle was one of the chief architects of No. 6, but was exiled after he discovered what the leadership was up to. He gives Shion a USB key with the results of his research on No. 6 and the parasite bees, of which he was the first victim.

So, let’s review what we learned this episode.

  • No. 6 and the other cities were constructed very recently after all but six patches of land were destroyed in war. I thought it had been much longer.
  • The killer bees are not exactly a new phenomenon.
  • No. 6 eliminates all who come in contact with the bees. So the reason they tried to kill Shion was probably not because he was a dissenter.
  • No. 6 has an evil evil plan. It would take too much time to explain. But it’s evil!
  • Shion’s mother was involved in the construction of No. 6.
  • Nezumi is the last of the Mohicans, who were destroyed by No. 6. This explains why he is so noble (and savage) and why he is one with nature (the king of the rats).
  • The leader of the forest folk, Elyurias (I get the feeling it’s a tree or something), is calling out with its song to Nezumi and Safu.

These are probably the most interesting developments the story has had since episode two. So we’re starting to get somewhere. But I still took issue with the way everything was presented. The oracle asks Shion if he wants to know the truth. And then he just blathers everything to Shion. “Show, not tell” is the saying. And No. 6 just literally delivered an entire episode’s worth of exposition from the mouth of an oracle. An oracle who we didn’t even know existed until this episode. What a great way to tell a story, No. 6. You always manage to keep things exciting.

Overacting

The dialogue continues to feel fake to me. The characters are all highly articulate, complete with hand gestures and dramatic pauses. It’s like they’re acting out a play.

As one example, take Nezumi’s insert song. He comes out singing with a beautiful voice, with perfect posture, arms taut at his side. The cavemen scream in pain in the background (why are they afraid of the song…?). A lighting crew and an orchestra join in to accompany him. Then, for no apparent reason, Nezumi dramatically collapses, as Shion catches him. Ok… why?

For a second example, take the scene where the Oracle says “Elyurias… that is her name.” Nezumi’s gasps and his eyes wobble in fear. Right. Such a scaaary name. Sounds like the name of an angel or something.

And then there’s this scene, where the Oracle tells Nezumi what will happen if he kills the people of No. 6:

How could he possibly not have realized this…? The characters reactions’ are so over the top that I have trouble taking them seriously.

 Speculation

What does the future hold for No. 6? Not much, since there are only three episodes left. And for this show to come to a solid conclusion, they are going to need to pack more into those three episodes than they’ve put into the past six. Good luck with that.

No. 6 07 — A Goodnight Kiss

No. 6 is on the verge of picking up as, well, the characters head back to No. 6. Six episodes about nothing but Shion and Nezumi’s love nest in an eleven episode noitaminA series? Enough is enough. This series is doing worse than Fractale with respect to using its time wisely.

I mentioned last week that Dogkeeper was one of the more tolerable characters in this series, but the creators are on the verge of forcing me to revise even this modest piece of praise after this week’s episode. First of all, that opening segment. Shion says “Thank you for the compliment!” while smiling and bathing a dog. Dogkeeper blushes, then scoffs, and shouts “That wasn’t a compliment! Don’t get full of yourself!” while turning away and crossing her arms angrily. Pick any harem show, this scene could have been copy-pasted right out of it.

The other thing which bothered me is the scene where Nezumi blackmailed Dogkeeper to help him. Nezumi used his superior analytic powers to make a stunning psychological revelation that shook Dogkeeper’s very soul— that she fears death. He tells her that if she’s dying slowly, miserably and painfully he won’t help her or sing for her if she doesn’t do what he asks. I guess this is supposed to be a comment on how even basic human decency is something that must be purchased in the ghetto outside No. 6. But really, if you have to bargain over this sort of thing, why would you trust anyone enough to keep their promises in the first place? The fact that Nezumi even proposed this is ridiculous, considering he could have just mentioned Shion’s name and Dogkeeper probably would have helped. But what really bothered me is that Dogkeeper was so affected by this threat. She should have just kicked Nezumi out and sicced her dogs on him.

The root problem that bothers me in both of these scenes is the same. Dogkeeper was initially presented as a loner who learned to be tough to survive, and whose family was a pack of dogs. She tried to kill Nezumi after he gave a slight insult to her mother. And now she’s getting all teary eyed from someone saying thank you, and cowed by the threat of someone she tried to kill the other day not sitting by her death bed? I get that they’re trying to show she is kind and does rely on other people, but with such a dramatic difference in actions, I have to ask, is this the same person?

On to my next complaint… which is, once again, how over dramatic everything is. I’ll point out two major instances of this. The first is from when Shion went clothes shopping and found Safu’s coat and started screaming at the shopkeeper. This guy has anger management problems (not to mention this is a rather far-fetched coincidence). The second instance is the goodnight kiss scene, where Shion says “I’m glad to have known you” and then kisses Nezumi “goodnight”. Nezumi’s accusal of bad acting doesn’t even begin to describe this.

With all that said, I felt that the scene at the end, along with the brief interludes into No. 6 with Shion’s mother, were on the right track. There are some hints of progress in the overarching story. In the scene where Shion tried to make his escape, watching Shion’s counterpunch to Nezumi hit was quite satisfying. Nezumi’s flashback was also nice in explaining why he’s taking care of Shion, since it provided a rare glimpse under his skin and past the front he is acting out.

But seriously, I wish they had condensed the last six episodes into two or three, and focused on the bee plague, social injustice and No. 6’s dystopia instead of Shion and Nezumi’s love nest.

No. 6 06 — No. 6

It’s episode No. 6 of No. 6. Over halfway done and it doesn’t seem like we’ve gotten that far…

I will say that this episode was an improvement just for the fact that Safu came back, so we spent less time on Nezumi mounting Shion this week. The episode also did a good job of showing the cracks in the walls of No. 6. The grandmother’s coffin at the twilight home, the man assuring Safu of how her grandmother died happily, and the return of a box with only the grandmother’s glasses did a good job of indicating that something wasn’t quite right in town. It wasn’t exactly subtle, but one step at a time. We also confirmed that No. 6 is the only one of the cities that is so draconian— Safu can’t even bring in her Picasso art book, and it seems to be the only city where they wear the bracelets. I am curious how these cities view the suffering of the population outside of No. 6, and whether they have similar issues.

Safu is not the smartest chip on the block, and after searching to discover that Shion is accused of murder (that search alone probably put her on the no-fly list) she has to go and visit Shion’s mother and ask. Shion’s mother is smart enough not to say anything, but Safu doesn’t realize the house has been bugged since they moved in. Then Safu gets kidnapped, and Shion’s mother sends a message to Nezumi. This part kind of surprised me: I had a low opinion of Nezumi, and assumed his struggle would be over whether to do anything at all about the kidnapping. He seems to want all the inhabitants of No. 6 to die, so Safu could be step one. But I got the impression that he does intend to help Safu- he was about to tell Shion, and then stopped and destroyed the paper out of concern for paper. But I get the feeling he still plans to do something on his own. An enemy of an enemy is a friend, I guess.

I think I may have finally been able to put my finger on what bothers me so much about this show: it’s the dialogue. It’s just too well thought out and over-dramatized. It doesn’t sound like the characters are having a conversation. It sounds like they’re reading out the lines from a play that they memorized. This has the effect of making the characters’ interaction feel superficial and downright corny. This comes out even more strongly in the BL scenes, when what’s going on is corny enough as it is. The character that suffers least from this is the dog woman: her spontaneity rescues her from an impression of superficiality, even if some of her lines are a bit too in-your-face philosophical. No. 6 tries  to be intelligent by having the characters quote Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, and argue about philosophy: this makes it come across as pretentious. Compare No. 6’s approach to Mawaru Penguindrum, which involves stalkers, delusions, penguins, magical hats and slapstick comedy. Which of the two shows is more intelligent and witty?

I’ll put out posts on Usagi Drop and Steins; Gate eventually- hopefully tomorrow. Penguindrum isn’t airing this week.

No. 6 05 — Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing

This episode was a step in the right direction. Safu made her return, and we discovered a bit more about the disease and its apparent spread.

The main reason I felt things were improved, however, was because Shion and Nezumi weren’t together much. This isn’t the best of signs. Alone, each of them is tolerable, even if they aren’t the best characters. But when they’re together… The scenes where Shion was with the dog woman and his mother’s friend were pretty decent, until Shion heard about the bee disease spreading and started screaming about how he had to tell Shion right this second or the world would end. People miss their significant other when they’re apart, but the extent Shion takes this to is simply ridiculous. And then after he rushes over to the theater, Shion decides he shouldn’t go in because Nezumi told him not to. I don’t care what you do, Shion, just don’t waste my time titillating.

I will admit that the dancing scene was nice though (at least in terms of animation). Some very nice scenery. Shion’s confession afterward and the hitting of Nezumi’s weak point… ugh. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as the fiasco at the theater.

Interestingly, Shion is already becoming more popular than Nezumi due to his less abashed charity. He’s already closer to the dog woman and the neighborhood children than Nezumi ever was. For those who are wondering, the story Shion read to the children was Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince, and the show has already referenced it several times. My simplistic interpretation: Shion is the prince, who has already lost his ruby / hair, and Rat is the Swallow. Who will the reed be?

The other event of note is Safu’s return. I had kind of assumed that all of No. 6 was as frank about sex and reproduction as Safu, but this appears to be incorrect. She’s an oddball even in the cities. It seemed that the creators were trying to show how Safu changed a lot since she left, with her classmates claiming the only thing that hadn’t changed about her was her frankness regarding reproduction. I can’t really see how she’s changed at all though. She seems exactly the same to me. Perhaps she’s a bit more pretentious?

The other thing is that vision. Why did both Safu and Nezumi see the same thing? The only thing they appear to have in common is that they both know Shion, who happened to be in the vision. Perhaps not only did the bees affect him, but he affected the bees? My suspicion is still that the bees are a censorship tool used by the city— everyone so far has become ill after voicing some rebellious ideas. Hard to say though.

With Safu coming back next week to say goodbye to her grandmother fight off her love rivals, I’m optimistic that things will improve. My patience is gradually wearing thing with No. 6, however.

No. 6 04 — My Mother was a Dog

We’re exploring all kinds of family structures today, aren’t we?

My reaction to this episode. ^

The thing is, I generally enjoy No. 6 when Shion and Nezumi aren’t together. But when they are, it’s a complete disaster. It’s like they copy-pasted their personalities out of the frickin’ yaoi fangirl manual. They’re both handsome bishounen. Nezumi is the seme and the one who wears the pants. Shion is weak and emotional and all that.

My problem isn’t that they’re gay: two of my favorite shows are Hourou Musuko and Simoun, which explore issues of gender. No. 6 has more ridiculous and rigid conceptions of gender than the perceived 1950’s suburban America (just different genders). For crying out loud, they even had a scene where Shion is a stay at home wife, cooking and waiting for his husband to come home from work. Nezumi gets home, takes off his coat, and goes to bed, taking out his anger on his wife.

It gets even worse when combined with the corny acting. Nezumi’s favorite activity is grabbing Shion’s collar and pushing him against the wall. Shion is so naive he doesn’t realize the woman kissing him is a whore. Then Nezumi steals an indirect kiss from Shion using the same prositute. Later, Shion gasps upon hearing that Nezumi would have women lining up for him if he became a prostitute, and then attempts to murder the person who said it (jealousy?). He then starts crying because the guy “said all those mean things” and Nezumi isn’t angry. I just wanted to strangle Shion at this point. I honestly think that Rin from Usagi Drop has a higher level of maturity.

Let’s look at some other brilliant quotes from Shion. “I want to know more about you!” “I find myself drawn to you.” And describing Nezumi: “His voice carries away their souls / Like the wind carries away a flower’s petals.” Gah!!! Could this get any cornier? (don’t answer that: I’m sure it could)

This show can be good when it focuses on the sci-fi aspects and doesn’t have Shion and Nezumi together. The only scenes I enjoyed this episode were the ones with the dog renter. I did laugh at Shion naming the rats as well.

The preview for next week indicates that our semen-seeking friend will return, so perhaps we can dare to hope that the episode will resemble the first episode more than it resembles a yaoi doujinshi.