This is review number four hundred and twenty four. This anime is part of the Fall 2014 lineup. It’s called Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de, or InoBato, or “When Battles Become Commonplace”. It’s a twelve episode anime about a harem AND a love triangle, because clearly, we’re spoiled. Let’s read on.
The literature club of this random school has members who suddenly realized they have superpowers. All the girls have overpowered skills while the only guy has a useless flame power that doesn’t hurt anything. The club knows other people have awoken to some superpowers as well, so they prepare for that day to come. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to have the guy establish a harem, get into a love triangle, be forcibly paired with the student council president and maybe fight some fairies or two. Why the hell not?
Taking the Pants Off
This is a very weird anime. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced Studio Trigger did this project to prove a point. When they came out with Kill la Kill, the reception was pretty divided. Some people loved the former Gainax giving them a spiritual successor to FLCL and TTGL, but I bet these proud creators were a bit hurt when detractors pointed out how dumb the series is. It was, but it wasn’t the point. Trigger’s proclamation with Kill la Kill is that the spirit of Gainax lives on, and you should support them because someone in that group will give us the next Evangelion. No sarcasm on my part, Kill la Kill is one hell of a first impression from a studio that heard the clamors and the fan outcries who promptly responded with everything asked of them. Sadly, it wasn’t enough and that’s really expected in today’s climate. Once you release your baby in the wild, prepare for others to eat it alive. We also don’t experience the same things and an author’s vision will always be different from a consumer’s interpretation. So, as I’m watching this anime, all I kept thinking is that Studio Trigger is producing this sh*t as if trying to prove a point. Kill la Kill lacked story, character development, and it was a gratuitous fan service anime. For Trigger’s next attempt at an anime, they gave us a story, character development, but it still possessed the same animation quality, fast paced atmosphere and general fun that got them on the map. You ALL asked for this, and the studio is not backing out of the challenge. And with all that being said, I honestly find this anime disappointing.
It’s not even Trigger’s fault. They did a wonderful job adapting the light novel, but a good adaptation captures both the strength and the weakness of the original source. The LN itself feels flimsy, lacking identity and just downright hard to like. It honestly tried to take on too much, and it soon lost its defining trait. The show centered around a club (of course), the female members all like the one male character, the guy has eight grade syndrome, he is so neutral that a love triangle is established while his harem is also cemented, and these characters have super powers. I kid you not, that’s the basic premise of the show: characters have overpowered abilities but they’re all students. The setup is also pretty brilliant, since the show is about subverting expectations. The first episode featured the OP characters fighting, and you can tell Trigger is loving the fact that it can show off. BUT, this anime isn’t about awesome overpowered characters killing each other. No, it’s something completely different. It tricked you into thinking it’s all about fighting with a too-on-the-nose title like “When Battle Become Commonplace”, but you’re wrong because this anime is a club anime.
Trigger is Not Just About Fighting
A club anime is basically a slice of life anime centered on the everyday activities of a club. The entire episode is mostly contained in the club room, and the appeal is focused on the characters poking fun of each other and just talking. As the show progress, the characters develop and the audience grows to like them. These shows can be very dense, but they are proven to be very popular. This show features the literature club poking fun of each other and developing as characters together. They mostly just joke around in their clubroom, and that’s the subversive aspect of the show.
The first episode opened with the characters displaying their powers one by one. One can stop time, one can make unlimited objects, one can control the elements or some sh*t, and the point is that they’re all incredibly overpowered. The show also establishes that they obtained their powers just one random day, and other students can also have them. This implies that these strong characters will inevitably cross path with other power users, and we’ll be treated to that thing that made Studio Trigger famous. Except, nope, no action here. The anime intentionally avoids action, and it just features a ton of club anime related humor, character development and a strong character showcase. It’s intentionally trolling its audience, and it’s doing a great job convincing you otherwise. I personally have no problem with this kind of setup, since a lot of light novel does it. There is this LN called “Listen to me Girls, I am your Father” that intentionally setup a scene where a guy is implied to now perv upon three underage girls, and then boom, the story is actually drama. Swerving a reader’s expectation is really nothing new. If you’re as thorough as I am, nothing can really surprise you anymore since you often see a lot of fun things in a single seasonal lineup. A show that promised action and instead gave us mundane slice of life is really something I find brilliant, since my expectations were a bit tricked. The show didn’t stop at a club anime though. It decided to pile a lot more stuff into the story turning it into a convoluted mess.
A F*cking Harem
There are a lot of things you can do with a club anime setup, because the bar is honestly low. As long as it’s done inside a club room, then you’re good. If you truly understand how a club anime works, then you can easily incorporate it with the promised “commonplace battles”. A very good example of a club anime would be Setokai no Ichizon. In this light novel anime, the group of girls would always poke fun of the one guy. He’s the designated straight man of the group, and the others would constantly play jokes on him. At the end of the day though, we discover that this student council actually has a lot of time to goof off because the guy does all the work after everyone goes home. He cares about the girls so much that he prefers to carry all the workload. That streak of seriousness cuts through the comedy and it really stands out as a really good club anime. The same thing kinda happens in this show. The guy takes care of the girls by carrying the burden of their powers. It’s a subtle move that I really like, because the club has bonded through their powers. The elements of the club anime is coming through, and its blending well with its ridiculous premise. For some reason though, this isn’t enough so the show also established a harem.
Light novels and harems do go well together, but a club anime doesn’t need it. It’s always implied, but it’s never really outright mentioned because a harem fights over the guy. A club anime establishes a mutual understanding among each member, so if one would suddenly express her feelings to bone the only guy in the group, then you’ve effectively broken the premise of a club anime. How can this group of girls continue their slice of life/comedy poking fun of the guy if one of them wants him for herself? It’s a bit off-putting. So early on, this show breaks its club anime mold and immediately has an episode dedicated to each girl and her relationship with the guy. Don’t get me wrong, these are well written episodes but, what? It’s a harem now? Why not start with a harem in the first place? Just have a bunch of people come together because of their powers, and have them develop feelings for the guys. Why did it have to be a club first and then a harem afterwards? Is it necessary to have it be a club first? Or is this the signs of an inexperienced light novel author relying on well-established tropes? But what the f*ck do I know? The source is adapted by a really great studio, so take that TPAB. It just reeks of messy writing. I smiled when the group remembered how the guy willingly carried the burden of their powers with him, but I can no longer enjoy that scene because the loli of the group is now established as a potential partner for the guy. Yeah, that’s fun.
That Thing You Get In Your Second Year of Middle School
I can forgive a light novel for relying on a harem to bulk up its story. I would honestly do the same if I learned I can’t make ten volumes on just characters playing around in a club room. I’d stop there though, because I don’t want to look like a novice pulling clichés left and right. One thing a lot of light novels all share now is that the eight grade syndrome is a quirky personality trait that a character would possess. I’ve read four or five light novels in the past to prepare for my review of their anime, and the eight grade syndrome is a staple of it. I think it’s like the tsundere character in a visual novel. It has to exist now, because readers expect them to be in it. If you’ve ever read a light novel, it won’t be surprising to see the narration trail off into a paragraph filled with references because the one narrating has the eight grade syndrome. When I read the four LNs with a chuuni character in it, I was honestly tired reading one chapter of it. There’s a reason why most adaptations intentionally leave out the narration, because they come off as retarded. I noticed though that you can actually lengthen a chapter immensely if you have a chuuni retard just throwing references in long paragraphs. A quarrel between two girls can be likened to some mecha show where special moves are referenced and stuff that happens in that mecha is smartly overlapped into the quarrel, which will transition into a scientific rant or a play-on-words rant that’ll invoke emotion and some humor in an otherwise info dump scene. This show has a lot of chuuni in it, and I actually cried when I hear the damn thing play out. I also avoided touching the LN because I know reading it will be painful. Gawd bless to all the LN translators out there, because reading your hard work is tiring. Doing the real thing must be hell.
So yeah, this show also has this overplayed cliché and it does make sense. Eight grade syndrome often has the person role playing as super powered idiot, but the characters here are actually super powered idiots already, so that’s pretty clever. The problem is that the chuuni-ness doesn’t really add anything to the story. Since the super powers are just used as a swerve, majority of the chuuni-ness just comes from the guy talking about his chuuni name or his chuuni special powers. It is often a big part of the club anime aspect of the show. The guy will display his eight grade syndrome, the other characters will react to it, he’ll look stupid in the end and we move on with our life. The anime intentionally destroyed the club anime mold of the story though, so the chuuni elements soon lost its place. Does the harem need it? No, this is mostly a character quirk. Duh, the superpowered aspects of the show need it. Yeah, but the anime also abandoned that early on. No real fights happen in the show, therefore, no actual reason for the eight grade syndrome, meaning this is useless clutter. Does the main character need to have chunni syndrome by default? No, he doesn’t really role play that much. In fact, he is too busy being involved in a love triangle to do anything else.
Wait, I mean, he’s in a harem story.
Oh wait, no, there is a love triangle.
Isn’t it a harem?
It’s both? What? How?!
Cliché Number Three
Yeah, we have a love triangle here made up of characters in the established harem. Good gawd, let’s just unpack this. So after the show breaks the club anime mold, it focused on a small subplot containing the guy and one of the girls. They bonded over a shared secret, but the just-now-we-are-learning childhood friend is actually jealous of this new relationship her long time guy friend now has. This builds until it becomes a major focus of the show. While this love triangle is happening, the two other members are also sharing some moments with the guy so the entire thing is a mess. A harem and a love triangle cannot exist together, because they function very differently. Don’t get me wrong, you can start with a love triangle and then grow into a harem. Nisekoi did this, and Oreshura did this as well. This anime did it in reverse, and it looks awkward. A harem involves a gaggle of girls fighting over a guy. A love triangle is a hyper focused love story with only two logical outcomes. They can’t exist together. So what the f*ck is this sh*t? We’re just going to ignore the two other girls exist so the childhood friend and the best girl fights over the guy? No, that’s beyond retarded. Why is this anime consistently stuffing more things into its already convoluted premise? It’s as if the writer knows its running out of material and then immediately grabs the next cliché to bulk up its story. It’s turning into nonsense, and the overall product is turning into a mess.
Sum of Its Parts
Here’s the annoying part about the anime. Overall, it’s a glorious mess but each aspect, presented as is, actually looks pretty good. The love triangle is good, the harem is good, the chuuni stuff is decent, and the other stuff is great by themselves. I think the author sacrificed consistency to take advantage of the LN’s format of short stories told in a volume. So, if you’re a reader, you’ll be reading the harem in one volume and the love triangle in another, and you’ll soon be conditioned to expect new things in succeeding volumes. With so many things established, the reader will also be surprised to see a recently abandoned element suddenly reincorporated into the story. I think this is a brilliant idea, but does it translate to an anime? Studio Trigger is confident enough to adapt it, so I guess they know the show will be good. They know well enough to capture the best parts of the light novel and really adapt the spirit of the original source. Yeah, I can totally respect that.
I think this anime works best on a weekly viewing, so you’ll be surprised by the new stuff added in as well. I marathon my sh*t, and I always look at the overall experience. For me, the thing is a mess. It comes off as laughably amateurish, but that’s really just how I interpret a show that thought a love triangle and a harem works well together. Next you’ll tell me that there’ll be fairies involved and they’re all fighting a war that humans aren’t aware of. What the f*ck is this, Sword Ar-
I believe at episode eight, the anime swerved us once again. I’d call it brilliant, because it is, but I can’t really praise it that much. Just like the number of clichés lined up like a checklist, this one is really just there. It didn’t affect the overall story, but by itself, it is really brilliant. This is my problem with the anime. Parts of it are good, but the overall experience isn’t really as interesting. I also know that it’s on purpose, and that’s kinda the genius of it. Still, I’m not really impressed by it because it feels like the show is giving us a compilation of impressive tricks but it edited out all the times it scrapes its knees or does a fall so hard it bounces off the cement floor. A double subversion is brilliant, but what exactly happens after it? Nothing. It’s the same old dialogue, the same old dry pacing and the same old lackluster presentation. It doesn’t elevate the show, but it just gives you a moment of brilliance that immediately goes away. The double subversion is particularly frustrating, because the overpowered battles were somehow incorporated back into the story and my interest is raised beyond belief. But after that? The show still featured a harem, a love triangle, and a ton of dry dialogue. What is it trying to accomplish?
But again, I think that’s the point. It tells us it can be brilliant any moment, but it doesn’t want to. It feels like a cop out, but I’m too impartial to not believe the other reason as well. So yeah, I’m f*cking confused, as you can see. For me, it just feels insulting that the show is refusing to achieve its true potential because it wants to be meta or some sh*t. It doesn’t come off as truly brilliant, but it comes off as someone feigning brilliance. If I were to trust the amount of overused cliché it uses, its aimless character direction and chuuni filler, the writing feels incredibly weak. It’s good enough for its target audience, but I also know they’ll grow up and realize this LN isn’t really as brilliant as it think it is. I guess we’re allowed to have that experience, but I’m a bit insulted it had to happen here. Studio Trigger trusts it enough to officially make it their second release, so there’s also that. If the Gainax peeps trust it, then sure, I’ll put some stock in the amateur writing as well.
The cast is a mix of good and bad. I particularly hate the obvious loli character that functions as a loli character. I’m particularly miffed, because their powers could’ve raised their character a lot more. The show intentionally relies on their cliché though, and it doesn’t really add anything to the show. At best, they come off as bland. At worst, they come off as filler. You’ll eventually grow to like them though, but the visuals and the voice acting really does all the work here. The writing is really one dimensional, and thank gawd Trigger knows how to make the characters work. In regards to the club anime format and the harem, the characters are incredibly bland. They have their backstory, but it’s still bland. Of course, the student council stereotype is the perfect girl that makes no mistake. Of course, she’s also rich. Oh, what’s this, the loli is a kuudere and she comes off as cold yet attached? Wow. Oh, look at that, the main character with the eight grade syndrome constantly talks like he’s in RP and he constantly makes fun of himself. Really, this is all you’ve got?
The love triangle is pretty good though. In this angle, the character doesn’t really play his chuuni as much, but mostly just to comfort the tsundere. Their talks are pretty personal, and the visuals really help boost the particular scenes. When the childhood friend is added in, the love triangle is really good. It actually led to the best part of the anime for me when the childhood friend just went on a rant expressing her heartbreak and frustration, and it was so good. If the show just focused on this sh*t, build this moment up some more, then I could’ve lived without a harem or a club or super powers. Those sh*t didn’t need to be there. But you know what, I get it. I get what this particular light novel is doing.
Invaders of the Rokujouma
There is this very brilliant, very rare yet expertly executed anime out there called Rokujouma no Shinryakusha. It follows a bunch of characters living in an apartment. There is a ghost, an alien, an underground mole person, a magical girl, and a regular guy, and they are trying to take ownership of the apartment. The core of the anime is a club anime, but the show deviates from a magical girl story, a ghost extermination beach episode, an alien invasion, a mole people invasion and it ends with a giant double subversion. Basically, it succeeded on everything this show failed to achieve. First of all, it didn’t break the club anime mold. The invasions, fights and random dangers all supports the characters playing around in a club room and growing together as a group. THERE IS NO LOVE TRIANGLE, and the harem is very quietly implied. It’s there, but the show never outright pulled the girls aside just to tell the readers that the harem exists. No, it still works inside the club anime mold. The slice of life comedy format of the club anime supports everything, and it made every decision in the show logical. It didn’t just throw random sh*t at you. No, the show foreshadows them and makes the reader anticipate. I still remember how much I smiled when I saw the magical girl finally have her turn on the spotlight. Rokujouma didn’t drop any already established element as well, so the super powers were constantly present and always part of the story. This is why I am frustrated with Inou Battle, because I’ve seen its attempt done ten times better before.
I’ve basically enjoyed what this show tried to sell to me, but I’ve had it a lot better. So there you go, this anime is no Invaders of the Rokujouma.
Otsuka, Takanashi, and Studio Trigger
Masahiko Otsuka is the chief director of the series, which is basically the top guy. He oversees the entire series while Masanori Takahashi actually directs the show. Otsuka also series composed the show, and I do admire how he made the episodic nature of the show stand out. The full force of Trigger worked on this anime. From storyboards to the script to the episode directing, I am convinced baby Gainax was out to prove a point. So, back to the question, can Studio Trigger edit themselves and create an anime with a story? Yes. Can they give us an Evangelion anime? I think so. I am hopeful that they can do it, because it feels like they learned a lot from Anno so they really want to do it. I bet a lot of their genius is in the stand alone shorts, and I am enticed to watch and review those. Maybe I’ll do them some of them another time. I mostly just feel like we need an Evangelion anime now, because the industry feels like it’s ready for it. If Trigger won’t give it to us, I’m not really sure who will. KyoAni, maybe? Eh, I hope not.
Sight and Sound
Character design is done by a dude that goes by the alias “029”. He also designed the characters for “The Devil is a part Timer” hence the familiar seductive eyes of the characters. The designs are pretty awesome, since it is one of the best parts of the show. The incredible part is that Studio Trigger did a 100% character adaptation, complete with 029’s color palette. I’ve rarely seen character design this spot on, because most studio skimp on the color output. Solid colors are easier to produce, but LN illustrators goes for a more faded style to make the cover attractive. Studio Trigger brought the cover illustrations to life, and that’s a level of detail only people that can make the second Evangelion can execute. The clichés do still permeate to the character design, but the animation does make sure they don’t come off as one dimensional. You can see the Studio Trigger stamp on the characters, and it does stand out amazingly.
Animation is pretty incredible. I’d first like to talk about KyoAni who does four to six character poses in a single dialogue. I kid you not, watch a show and do a frame by frame. The characters do not sit still, and that’s the level of quality that makes KyoAni a beast in the industry. Studio Trigger does the same in this anime. Sadly, no one goes insane like Maka Mankanshoku but subtle character poses are insanely detailed in this anime. This makes the dialogue scenes inviting and captivating to watch. This is a subliminal move, since your eyes follow movement and if a character changes position five times in less than a minute without you noticing, then KyoAni basically controls your soul now. Studio Trigger still busts out its incredible animation though. Fight scenes are incredible and it often feels reminiscent of Kill la Kill or TTGL with its grainy texture and pastel crude lines. There are also character movements that are just adorable, because you know the person who storyboarded the scene knew it was the perfect time to sneak an over the top animation. If there’s one notable thing that shocked me in this anime, it’s the lack of fan service. I bet Trigger realized the backlash Kill la Kill got with its glowing nipples and skimpy outfits and they made sure their next work had zero fan service. There are girls in bikini, per the story’s direction, but fan service is pretty mild. It blew my mind. Trigger knows restraint, and they should tell that to Shaft and their head tilts.
The anime’s OP is “OVERLAPPERS” by Qverktett:|| (Haruka Yamazaki, Saori Hayami, Risa Taneda, Nanami Yamashita). This is sung by the harem, and it’s a decent OP. The lyrics are weird. I know it references the stuff in the show, but I think it’s about self-growth or something too. The song feels a bit stale to me, but I do love the enthusiasm of the group. The OP sequence also feels a bit subdued. It follows the girls on their normal routine, cut to a fight scene and ends on the group together but, I don’t know, it feels restrained, boring even. The anime’s ED is “You Gotta Love Me!” by Kato*Fuku. This is a singing duo composed of Katou Emiri and Kaori Fukuhara. In the anime, they played the loli’s best friend and the student council president respectively. The song feels like the OP, but it’s more romantic and direct. I suck at interpreting songs, so just know it’s a fun and bubbly song. Katou and Kaori also has an amazing voice, unsurprising since they are veteran VAs at this point. The ED sequence features chibi versions of the girls, and a cute montage where the sing along to the song. It’s pretty cute as well.
7/10 “Give all the effort to Studio Trigger, because the original source is laughably amateur”
Let’s do this, a score of one for the story, the characters, the overused cliché, the insulting flash of brilliance that leads to nowhere, the wasted potential of the plot threads and cramming a fairy in the show. I hate all of those, and I’m sure your experience will be different. That’s fine. This is my opinion, and I think the LN sucks. For the animation, the voice acting, the pacing, the background, the series composition and the faithful adaptation of a weak original source, I’d give the show a six. When will you give us the next Evangelion, Studio Trigger? The experience is completely elevated thanks to the technical aspects of the anime, so I’d say try it. It’s a fun show, but it needs improvements on places where it truly counts.