I sat down sometime in January and attempted to write a ‘Worst of everything in 2013’ post, basically listing all those elements of anime and manga that most irked. Unfortunately i didn’t have nearly enough data to complete that post, specifically in the area of worst manga, villains or even heroes.
Though truth be told the anime section came quite easily, not only consisting of BlazeBlue, Valrave the liberator and the like but chiefly led by this anime, Arata Kangatari; one of the worst anime series i came across in 2013.
In fact Arata Kangatari topped my worst protagonist/hero list (Arata standing along side Korra from Avatar) as well as my Worst villains/antagonists of 2013 list (this referring primarily to Kadokawa).
That’s how bad i found Arata Kangatari to be, absolutely lacking of anything that could be mistaken for quality in every field that i could think to judge it in.
Every 30 years, a new princess is chosen from the Hime family to serve the Hayagami. The time has come again, however the Hime family hasn’t produced a daughter in 15 years; save for one, the 15-year-old Arata.
The only problem is, Arata is actually a male. Forced to disguise himself and take the place of the princess candidate until a formal one can be found, he attends the festival only to witness the current princess, Kokuri-hime, murdered by the hand of the princess' personal guard, the 12 Shinshou. As he runs for his life, Kannagi of the 12 convinces everyone that Arata is the one who murdered the princess instead, and now everyone in the Imperial Court is after his head.
Okay, let’s look at what Arata Kangatari might put forward as its hook. While fleeing from the murderous intentions of an imperial court, and indeed nation, beguiled into seeking his blood for the most heinous crime ever committed in their world, young Arata is thrust out of his fantastical realm into modern day Japan, a world devoid of all magic.
Modern day Arata, while struggling to remain afloat amongst the chaos of high school life is suddenly thrust out of modernity and dropped into a fantasy land, where magic reigns and legendary beings walk.
Two boys with the same face struggle to come to terms with the new hand they have been dealt. Now does that sound like something you would want to watch? Well it intrigued me.
Because with such a situation what you can expect is confusion to ensue; as both parties struggle to assimilate into their new environments, feathers are bound to be ruffled, secrets brought to the light and unknown demons confronted, the resulting contention making for some pretty engaging conflicts.
And what makes a quality story if not conflicts on an epic scale, the purpose of which is to draw viewers into the complex web that form’s our protagonists’ attempts to overcome hardships
So what did Arata Kangatari deliver instead? Well, conflict of course, confusion, chaos, challenges to overcome and all that. Which can only mean great success for the series, right?
WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.
+But before that. I have to ask; was Arata Kangatari really a 2013 anime series? Is Wikipedia really trying to convince that Arata Kangatari only made its debut in 2013? With production values such as was presented?
When a writer/director sits himself down to pen an anime, in no way can they guarantee the success of the story that will eventually appear on screen, and that’s because it’s impossible to determine which way personal tastes will swing.
SO does that mean that one can only sit back, anxiously waiting for the fates to decide how an anime will appeal to its viewers? Well, no, because an anime creator still has in his hands the power to control how the anime is received; at the very least making certain that, in the worst case scenario, where otaku happen to be completely disgusted by the plot and characters of the story, they do not walk away from the experience utterly distressed.
Rather its within the hands of an anime creator to ensure that every creation has a little something that will positively impact their crappy story, one or two elements that should at least keep the audience glued to an anime till the end.
And this couldn’t be easier to achieve in shonen fantasy, because all you need to keep us viewers interested is decent animation, great action scenes, intricate battle structures, either so mind blowing as to wow us, or so complex as to engage us intimately with regards to the strategies in play.
Combining these elements together along with a great musical score, its more than possible to entertain the hell out of anime fans even in the presence of garbage story telling (though thinking about it, this can’t be true; because Blazeblue was just that, great animation, art, decent music, action scenes and a garbage story line. In the end it still sucked to no end).
But what the hell did Arata Kangatari deliver? Mediocre art, less than mediocre animation, terrible action scenes, negligible musical scores, basically zero production values worth talking about.
And what exactly did they assume would keep me glued to the screen, great story telling? Or maybe compelling and well developed characters? Because even these they couldn’t deliver.
Back to the story. Arata Kangatari is terribly written and not because it lacked compelling plotlines. And you can’t really complain about the concept either; the series fails at the execution stage.
It’s almost like the writer marked off all major points in his story map, couldn’t really figure out how the story would jump from one point to another, figured it didn’t matter and threw whatever he thought would work into the picture so long as it brought about the desired outcome.
And this is my problem with Tales of the Abyss, an even worse anime (that i can’t believe am still watching). All these series seem to assume that the end always justifies the means; that we don’t care how that epic battle comes about, who did what and why, so long as we get epic battles at one point.
+Though it might be argued that the story truly began to flounder at the character stage. I don’t think i have ever come across as sappier, needy, self centred twat of a primary protagonist (not even sure what twat means, but it fits the bill here).
As a hero Arata fails, firstly because he whines all the time for no justifiable reason. Seriously, this dude could be worse than even Shinji; everything is about him, all the suffering he has undergone during his years of torture in school, all the horrors of normal life.
He doesn’t move without some sort of pep talk pulling him back from an abyss of passiveness. And i never could really figure out the logic of his misery. Again it’s like the authors needed a hero that had suffered certain horrors yet couldn’t figure out why these actions were targeted towards him and why it affected him so intensely.
Arata Kangatari basically states a lot of facts and expects you to just swallow them; its infuriating how dumb this series got. I want anyone who watched it to try and reason out to me the rational of Kadokawa and his hate for Arata.
I mean this guy just came off as little more than a psycho hiding under the guise of mentally tortured soul turned bully. None of these characters made sense. Every single one of them existed for the sole purpose of being positively affirmed by someone else.
It’s like if they didn’t receive their fair share of ‘That’s a good boy.’ pats on the head, they couldn’t truly accept the potential they carried within them, and could only wait to crumble under some vague mental or physical burden.
…thinking about, i want to scream at this anime. Pondering on what i watched, it is only hitting me now just how pointless Arata was, how dumb his rivalry with Kadokawa was, how irrational Arata’s weaknesses were, only in existence to allow for some ridiculous and none existent character development to occur in the end.
We had to wait 12 episodes just to see everyone recognise just how amazing Arata is, like that was the magic bullet he needed to spur him forth. It might seem like i am placing so much emphasis on Arata, but am not.
Every other character in the series pretty much falls into this same mould, except for the real Arata, whose role in the series was pretty negligible.
VERDICT: Arata Kangatari is basically a telenova, where chaos ensues because people always face each other on the field of battle, could lay their souls bare, could easily clear up all the misunderstands, but instead choose to fight, only to laugh about everything at the end, never acknowledging how stupid they were, that by choosing to not leap to conclusions over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, the world would be at peace.
Arata Kangatari is without a doubt the worst anime of 2013, at least that i watched. The series spends more time dramatizing tiny moments during its run that trying to tell a compelling story.
RATING: 0/10, i have never awarded anything a 0 before; but this most definitely deserves it.
HIGHLIGHTS: The Kannagi/Akachi feud almost irritated me as much as the Kadokawa/Arata rivalry; with a cast full of attention hungry irritations there isn’t one moment worth highlighting.