September 23rd, 2013

Firechick's Anime Reviews: Daybreak Illusion

I give this uninspired, copycat anime...a 55/100.

Rip offs. They have plagued every art medium and form of expression since the beginning of time. A rip off is when one series gets popular and other people try to copy it as much as possible, thinking it'll rake in all the cha-ching they want. It doesn't always work. But having a show that likely deals with the same premise and same character archetypes doesn't automatically make it a rip off, only if said rip off is trying WAY too hard to be the thing it's trying to rip off, without giving itself, its story, setting, characters, and premises their own identity, setting it apart from other shows. The Vision of Escaflowne was seen as a rip off of Fushigi Yuugi for its girl in another world story, but the two shows are completely different in their stories, their characters, settings, and the way they execute them, and both are loved by their fans alike, for different reasons. Other magical girl anime have tried to rip off shows like Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura for decades, with varying success. The list goes on and on. Unfortunately for Daybreak Illusion or Gen'ei o Kakeru Taiyou, while it does have things that set it apart from other magical girl anime, the similarities between this and Puella Magi Madoka Magica are just undeniable.

The main character is a girl named Akari Taiyo who is an amateur fortune teller living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins after her mother died some years before. Things are going smoothly until a monster attacks her and she somehow manages to kill it without knowing how or why...but at a price. Her cousin Fuyuna has practically disappeared, and nobody seems to remember her. After another monster attacks, she transforms into a flame haired version of herself and kills a beast, attracting the attention of an organization called Sefiro Fiore, which specializes in recruiting girls who can see the monsters, called Daemonia, and having them fight them with their tarot cards. At first, Akari is reluctant to kill the monsters upon knowing that they're actually corrupted people, but she finds that she won't be able to purify them, so she accepts the burden of fighting.

Sound familiar? Yeah, unlike Madoka Magica, which builds up its dark mood and sets it up with the right amount of suspense, Daybreak Illusion just announces right off that it's going to be dark, without any good suspense, tension, or proper build up whatsoever. Anyway, the animation for this series...honestly, it looks REALLY weird. Seriously, the humans in this series are so disproportioned and funky looking it's not even funny. The girls' legs look way too skinny for their own good, the girls' magical girl forms are completely uninspired and don't make any attempt to be different from their civilian forms (Just slap on some extra features and boom, magical girl! Come on! I can come up with better magical girl designs than that!), they all look like their assigned stereotype, the scary faces look way too ugly and low budget to even look convincingly scary (were they taking cues from Higurashi? Because it's not working here), the eyes are too big, and the way the show draws breasts makes them look like sagging plastic bags with dog poop in them. I'd show you all a picture of one horrendously drawn pregnant lady but I can't find it anywhere, sorry! Kamichama Karin looked a lot better than this, and that show had animation problems!

The actually surprisingly good. Yeah, it's a little bland, but it's still good, with decent combinations of ominous tunes and upbeat, slice of life tunes, and to be fair, the music itself does a very good job at setting the mood when it wants to. But that's about it. It's not particularly memorable in any other way. The, too bland and stereotyped to stand on their own two feet. We have the cute and kind main character, a stoic ice queen who warms up to her later on, a genki girl, and a polite, timid rich girl. We've seen these characters before, and their vague backstories and development are still too bland and weak to give them any kind of depth whatsoever. The only girl's backstory I liked was Ginka's, only because it's so refreshing to see someone's family actually KNOW that their kid is some chosen one and is involved in dangerous things, knowing the consequences but letting them do it anyway because it's their destiny. Usually in anime like this NO normal people know what they're doing. But that's about it. The rest of the characters are bland, one-sided, and underdeveloped, the villains being the most blatant. Yeah, evil villains are evil villains who want to take over the world just for the evils...and with some really gross motives that SCREAM pedophilia. And Akari is a bit too much of a Mary Sue if you ask me. She's kind, cute, considerate, has a difficult past, and doesn't have any major flaws. I'd like to mention more, but they're pretty spoilerrific, so I won't say, but I will say that by the end of the show's run, the anime feels like its supposed to be all about her. The wooden voice acting doesn't help either. Seriously, everybody except for Ginka and Luna sounds so hushed, like they're too afraid to go all out, and when they do, they sound so hammy and forced! Akari's seiyuu is the worst of them.

And no, I'm not done with harping on the biggest flaws of the show. It starts off with a bland monster of the week format where a person gets corrupted by Daemonia, our main character angsts about having to kill them (though not for long, unlike Madoka), and there's always something lurking behind the scenes. But the biggest problems this anime has is that during times of crisis, it just loves pulling stuff out of its ass to easily resolve everything! For example, without mentioning spoilers, a character gets corrupted and another one gets her powers stolen, and as soon as the main character makes a decision, both girls are back to normal like nothing ever happened! A more egregious example is that one character gets killed off, then a few episodes later randomly bring her back like she never died in the first place! That, and its biggest failing is that its trying way too hard to be Madoka, even to the pointof completely ripping off Mami's decapitation scene. The reason Madoka's rendition worked is that the show took the time to make us care about Mami, her death is given proper build-up, and is ultimately a result of Mami's recklessness, rather than just being done for pure shock value. It knew when to reveal its true colors, making the impact that much stronger. Here, it fails because it doesn't do anything to make us care about its characters, and the ways they do try to make us care about them are too cliche, lazy, and forced, making the whole thing actually come off as shallow shock value for the sake of it. Plus, the show really wants us to know its being dark, so it just keeps throwing shocking swerves at us like paint balls. That is NOT how to make an anime shocking to an audience! Granted, it does die down in some of the later episodes, but it starts back up again near the finale, and its too cheap for the audience to take any of it seriously. Again, this anime does try to be original by throwing in some Tarot cards, but it doesn't even do anything with them other then make their characters represent certain cards, that's it. Heck, the first episode in itself makes absolutely NO sense unless you watch the rest of the episodes! Aniplex, that is NOT a way to rope in an audience! Seriously, if this series got more episodes, it would have been much MUCH better.

Yeah, Daybreak Illusion: a Madoka Magica copycat of epic proportions, and even when it tries to set itself apart, its still lazy, bland, boring, cliche, and stupid. At least I got some good entertainment out of it and maybe someone else will too. But if you want better magical girl anime, watch Fancy Lala, Pastel Yumi, Pretty Cure (particularly Heartcatch), or Tokyo Mew Mew.