Fall 2009 Anime Impressions – Kampfer and Sora No Otoshimono – There’s a Right Way to do Fan Service and a Wrong Way

fall0908933
Sora No Otoshimono

The majority of the professional, paid anime critics will insist upon putting every single fan service show in the same pile and labeling the whole lot as garbage – their existence being a personal affront to anyone with even just a hint of sophistication much like how English teachers feel about most popular books. They forget that people like Shakespeare ran his theater and wrote his plays for the common folk of the time – not for the intellectually “elite” of the times. If he did, I’d be willing to bet that no one would remember his name today.

The fact of the matter is that it’s possible to create a fan service show that’s entertaining and full of fan service and still displays the creative spark that separates quality shows from the generic shows. One of these shows does a pretty good job of displaying this spark whereas the other is exactly the type of rubbish that many think of when you mention fan service. Can you guess which series I’m talking about?

The Scores

Kampfer

Rating: episode 1 – 4/12 C
Rating: episode 2 – 3/12 D
Rating: episode 3 – 2/12 F
Rating: episode 4 – 3/12 D
Rating: episode 5 – 2/12 F
Anticipation Level: 0.5/5 – Very Low

Sora No Otoshimono

Rating: episode 1 – 9/12 A-
Rating: episode 2 – 9/12 A-
Rating: episode 3 – 7/12 B
Rating: episode 4 – 9/12 A-
Rating:
episode 5 – 8/12 B+
Anticipation Level: 3/5 – Average to Medium

fall0908632

The Story

In Kampfer, a typical loser high school boy wakes up one day with the ability to change into a girl. All Kampfers have to female – though no one knows why and the show doesn’t bother to explain it – and as a blue bracelet Kampfer, he has to fight red bracelet Kampfers – though, once again, no one knows why and the show doesn’t bother to explain it. Wacky hi-jinks supposedly occur.

In Sora no Otoshimono, a typical loser high school boy falls into a sweet situation, namely he becomes the owner of an angel that can fulfill any request – money, the ability to turn invisible, to become the world’s emperor, or to create new types of life from women’s undergarments. Wacky hi-jinks ensue and some not-so-wacky hi-jinks as well (with a few veiled hints at some sort of more serious storyline).

fall0909014
Sora No Otoshimono

The Fine Print

Kampfer is a terrible show, plain-and-simple, it’s not funny or entertaining or imaginative and it’s fan service is “service” in name only.

The original creator and the animators of Kampfer fell for the line of thinking that not much is expected from fan service shows and so they don’t have to put much work into it to be successful. It’s wrong thinking, it’s entirely possible to find creative thinking in fan service shows and when it’s done the result is a superior product and when one comes along (Sora No Otoshimono), it displays how big a waste of time shows like Kampfer are.

Another thing that I realized with Sora No Otoshimono is that because the story was well thought-out, the animators don’t have to work at including the fan service. This makes a difference; much like how in baseball, the best players make the sport look easy, the better quality shows make the genre look good. The animators don’t have to continually create contrived situations over and over again – all you have to do is give a typical high school boy an all-powerful wish granting entity and the show can pretty much write itself. And to see the difference in this point just watch Kampfer for how hard the show has to work and strain for it’s fan service.

fall0927216
Sora No Otoshimono

Other differences between the two shows include Sora No Otoshimono having a more interesting set of characters (Eishirou Sugata’s character is worth the price of admission by himself), better production values (so far every single episode ending of Sora No Otoshimono has featured a different song and different animation), and vocal work (Tatsuhisa Suzuki and Saori Hayami to name a couple pluses for Sora No Otoshimono). And on the topic of vocal work, I love Marina Inoue as a vocal actor (I gave her my top female seiyuu award for 2008) but she can’t quite sound manly enough to make the main character on Kampfer sound right. Hayate’s vocal actor, Ryoko Shiraishi, would have been a better pick since she can do Hayate the Combat Butler as well as Arashi from Natsu no Arashi.

In closing, I’m not saying that Sora No Otoshimono is Shakespeare (though Shakespeare makes about as much sense to me as when I try to understand Japanese). It is, however, a good example of how even in a genre not known for creative writing can, in fact, produce quality shows if people are willing to work at it.

fall0900285
Sora No Otoshimono – love the extensive use of chibis
fall0903933
Sora No Otoshimono
fall0922425
Sora No Otoshimono
fall0932831
Sora No Otoshimono
Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Fall 2009 Anime Impressions – Kampfer and Sora No Otoshimono – There’s a Right Way to do Fan Service and a Wrong Way”

  1. Yea, but what about Marlowe c.1593…

    I tried with Kampfer, but fell off mostly because I wasn’t very enthused; meta. Didn’t try LostProp, but the production value is likely my main attractor.

    I’m interesting in your rating schema btw, I guess 12-point system, which is totally viable, but maybe you can point to an explanation or something. ^^

    Like

  2. @Ryan A: I did do a writeup of my grading scale under the About tab but it really doesn’t go into the why of my scale so I’ll try to sum it up here.

    I wanted a system that was specific enough that I could differentiate the different levels of quality (which left out the x stars out of 4 or 5 rating scales) and that it was apparent there was an actual difference in the score (which left out using a lot of decimals – to me a 9.4 and a 9.5 are essentially the same thing). I also started pondering why on grading scales out of 10 or 100, the F range takes up more then half the scale – is there really that big of a need to differentiate the really, really bad anime when that forces the other letter grades into a really small area. And I also realized that if I used a scale of 10, people would bring their preconceived notions as to what the scores meant.

    Therefore, using 12 worked out best because it aligned the halfway point of the scale 6/12 with what I consider the lowest grade of show that I want to watch, namely a B- show. And it allows me enough freedom to really nail the different levels of quality in the shows that I watch. Hope that helped. 🙂

    Like

  3. Like I said before, Kampfer would have been better off as an action series in the way of sekirei because it wont be worth the dvd’s they try to sell it on. I have to completely agree with this post though I wouldn’t grade it an A but maybe a B- or a C+

    Like

  4. @steelbound I like where your head’s at. I’ve done quite a bit of writing on ratings and rating systems (http://aloedream.animeblogger.net/archives/tag/ratings ), as well as implemented an “unfixed” rating system on an api engine (too bad the ui isn’t very good). If anything sparks your interest, drop me a comment or email ^^ (more technical writeup, http://blog.melative.com/archives/46 )

    Also, second question. Where does the anticipation level play into all of what you said? Is that related, is it before or after the experience, and/or per-episode?

    Cheerios.

    Like

  5. @kirapika: Sora no Otoshimono is definitely a fanservice show but it’s creative with it’s fanservice which makes it a fun watch and there are hints at a deeper story but without spoiling myself, I’m not sure how important this story will become in the rest of the series.

    @Ryan A: I read those two posts, and I definitely see parallels, namely how each grade is equivalent to a certain level of experience and the balancing of one’s scale. Though I will disagree on how often a perfect show comes along. My anime series review page looks very top heavy but that’s because most shows that start trending below 6/12 never get finished but I will stand by each of the shows that I gave a perfect score to as being perfect.

    As for the anticipation level, I’ve been using it for awhile now but I realized I only ever half defined it so I had to give it alittle more thought. It’s supposed to be a measure of much I want to continue watching a show based on the episodes I’ve already seen.

    The idea for ranking a show’s anticipation level came from observing how sometimes I watched an obviously well done show (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 was an example) but I didn’t feel much excitement about continuing to watch the show and at times, a lower ranked show was able to draw me in and make me want to continue watching it.

    Instinctively I know when a show scores higher or lower on the anticipation scale then it should based on it’s rating. In the case of Sora No Otoshimono, it’s scoring a little bit high on the anticipation scale for the type of ratings I’m giving it but I’ve never really outlined how to use the two together which is what I’ve been thinking about and need more time before I come up with something more concrete. But it is possible to use the anticipation scale separately since a 3/5 means the same thing if the show is at an 11/12 A+ or 7/12 B rating.

    Like

  6. Kampfer may not be as thought out as alot of series such as Bleach or naruto but it sets itself apart in that its not a serious animation, it looks like it was meant to be funny. I understand everyone wants the story line to be dramatic and so forth but cant we have a animation that is just funny to watch. Its good every so often to have a show that doesnt mean anything or do anything but makes you laugh in some form or another. Episode 11 is giving hints to what is to occur or what will happen, to be honest I hope there are more episodes along the line becuase there looks to be some type of story building up and if anything it looks to be interesting further down the road if left to develop further until it creates its own identity, not everything has to be dramatic but there is a story building and eventually something will occur. it may be fan service but I feel they are trying to find what works and what doesnt and there building a show to eventually have its own identity down the road> we need funny every so often it between the serious

    Like

  7. I thought kempfer was good i watched both series through to the end of available episodes Ya sure there was room to improve and didnt fully grab my attention at first like Sora No Otoshimo but they also pull to a different sense of entertainment to me In the the end i was only wanting to know what happens next with Kempfer and a feeling of why did i watch this at the end of Sora No Oyoshimono

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s