BNA – The Importance of Themes

  • Genre: Action, urban fantasy, superpowers, confusion
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: Trigger

Summary: Have you ever thought to yourself: I’m surrounded by animals! Well if you lived in Anima City you would be right. And although it has some downsides, for the Beastmen and women of the world, it’s the best place to be. Heck, it can even be, the only place to be. When Michiru wakes up one morning to find that she has suddenly turned into a Tanuki-Human, she realizes she’s no longer welcomed in her old world and the only way to live not locked up in her room is to make her way to Anima City where all beasts are welcomed and free. But does such a pretty dream have some nightmares lurking under the surface?

So why can’t I make my summary text justified? I really hate it this way. In case someone hasn’t heard yet, Guttenberg kinda sucks for some things. It took me an hour just to figure out how to do my usual post opener and I gave up in the end. I had to use a classic block that is not reusable. Good job you guys.

Anyways… I had been on a pretty lucky streak with Netflix’s original anime. Everything I had seen had been pretty great so I was looking forward to BNA. When I saw that Trigger had made it, I was looking forward to it even more! I’m a bit of a Trigger fangirl. So how did it fare?

it’s not even my birthday!

The look was pretty instantly recognizable and pretty great. I reminded me most of Promare with some Luluco thrown in. Lately, I find that Trigger has been very pink with their colour palettes and I am here for it! BNA is no exception with a palette that errs on the side on candy-coated.

Honestly, the show is pretty, the animation is great as you would expect and the acting is good across the board, at least in Japanese. Trigger knows how to make an anime and BNA is no exception. I will say the camera work is fairly conventional. but as the animation is often a bit frantic, this is actually a plus in my opinion.

Anima City by night is beautiful!

Unfortunately, BNA is high on style but lacking in substance. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not unpleasant or painfully stupid. I found myself enjoying it for the most part and at times I was quite invested and wanted to know where the story went. And it’s not like it didn’t go anywhere at all mind you. If you just flatly layout the plot you will see that there is a very coherent one with B and C plots to booth, which makes sense and comes to a viable resolution.

Similarly, the characters are all complete. They all have personal motivations that are in line with their personalities and backstories. They all act and react accordingly. They are logically developed and have individual evolution that fits in well with the larger plot.

I was trying to find a cast image but well…

The thing is, despite being a generally technically proficient narrative, it feels hollow or maybe just shallow. I have seen a lot of people call it aimless or unfocused and I agree with this. Mainly though, I think it lacks a proper central theme.

One of the very common narration problems I encounter when watching anime, especially shorter series, is that they try to cram way too many things in and end up losing their way. At first glance, I was tempted to lump BNA in with those anime. It tries to do a lot. There is the obvious race or class analogy, or both depending on your reading. There is a social commentary on political structures and on organized religion as well as on the general role and power of strength. There’s the obvious exploration of human nature and of artificial societal constructs. There’s even some commentary on the advancement of science! See what I mean, a lot is going on.

And because of all this, I figured that they just ended up losing the thread along the way. In the first half, I thought it was a sort of Noble Savage metaphor reimagined as the nobility was slowly drained out of the picture. Now that sounds pretty great. I would totally watch that. Except, as the episodes piled on, the story ended up contradicting this or just pushing aside the metaphor altogether and I realized that wasn’t it.

How can I explain this

Then I thought maybe one of those themes I mentioned earlier is in fact the central one but it just got diluted in all the rest. However, a last-minute “twist”, which is a prime example of how not to do twists, pretty much undid most of those themes anyways so I was once again perplexed.

That’s when I figured that it was in fact a way more basic problem. Well, I don’t know this for a fact or anything, it’s just the feeling that I get. I think someone, or rather many someones, threw out all the ideas they thought were cool or interesting for this story-line and the production incorporated them in fairly well and then at episode 11 out of 12 an intern ran up to the director in a panic and shuddered out, we don’t actually have any sort of thesis to tie this all together sir!! What are we going to do??? Then that intern was fired and they thought, it’s fine, we’ll just throw a twist in and no one will notice.

what??!!?? people love twists!

Like I said, I’m not 100% sure that that’s exactly what happened. It’s possible the intern was fired before finishing the second sentence. All I know is that for me, the experience of watching BNA was like watching an anime made by a very talented studio that sort of forgot to give their story a point. Oddly, it’s by far not the worst series I’ve seen. And I will commend it for showing me that a point isn’t absolutely necessary for an anime. But I can’t deny that the story did suffer for it.

In the end, what could have been a great success for Trigger ended up as a pretty but forgettable offering. It’s a series you can easily skip but if you’re a Trigger fan like me, it does have some worth while moments.

Favourite character: Nina Flip

“The thing about trying to drown his sorrows, is that sorrows know how to swim.”

Suggested drink: Green Beast

  • Every time we see Shirou switch forms – take a sip
  • Every time someone mistakes Marie for a different animal  – take a sip
  • Every time Michiru gets a new power – cheers
  • Every time Shirou goes into scent mode – take a sip
  • Every time anyone mentions “pride” – take a sip
  • Every time Michiru breaks her phone – oh noooes
  • Every time anyone speaks of “The Silver Wolf” – raise your glass
  • Every time we see Shirou’s crow – cute!
  • Every time we see a DNA sequence (not in the OP)  – take a sip
  • Every time Michiru plays basketball – take a sip
  • Every time Shirou is all right – pfiou

Do you guys enjoy the end of post image galleries or do they just make the post long to load?

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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18 Responses

  1. Kapodaco says:

    Hmmmm… I should watch this soon.

    (And I like your end-post galleries.)

  2. Shokamoka says:

    My goodness, style over substance seems to be a recurring theme in Trigger studio!

  3. Merlin says:

    Your galleries are pretty nice, I’d say. And though I haven’t seen this anime at all, I have to say, Michiru looks so adorable! 🙂

  4. I like your galleries. I think I’d like them even more with captions.

  5. foovay says:

    Thank you for, as usual, putting into coherent words the feeling I had of slight disappointment. At the beginning I thought it was really going to be a fantastic reach for some grand themes, and oh yeah, pretty and fun besides. And in the end I was left with, well, pretty and fun but rather less than I had been led to expect. I can’t say I was UNHAPPY with it, but I wasn’t quite as satisfied as I expected either. :/

  6. Dawnstorm says:

    I quite liked the show. I have to admit that I didn’t remember any twist, so I looked it up, and well, now I remember. It wasn’t very memorable. I wouldn’t say the story is excellent, but story isn’t really very often a major attraction in anime. However, I thought the entire thing was pretty consistent; can’t say more without spoilers.

  7. Pinkie says:

    This show kept me entertained, but when you realise that the big narative episodes ..discussing the main plot are the weakest and the more stand alone are the strongest.. you do have a problem as a show. The Albatross episode for me was an example where I really noticed the show could not tell the story it wanted to tell. The plot twist in the end made no sense and to me felt like.. okay so we failed to make this story about that theme we chose on… let’s pretend we went with a different take all along.

    I also get a little annoyed at how often the ending theme was played during the episodes as well… I like the idea of a song existing in universe but I think they ended up singing it in like 5 episodes or so.. almost half of the episodes had the ending theme twice. It wasted so much time with those little kind of things. If we combine all those it’s almost half an episode of potential exposition to make your theme fit better.

    I really did like the more stand alone episodes such as the Baseball episode and the Party with Nina the most. I liked some of the classical Trigger stuff as well but for me this is a show where single episodes are much greater than the sum of it’s parts.

    • Irina says:

      The twist was a real narrative low point. To me it honestly felt like the writing team realized they had no destination and tried to distract us from it.

  8. I watched this anime, But I don’t really think it was my type…

  9. railgunfan75 says:

    The series simply tried to tackle too big of an issue for it’s short run time. That was my major thought when I finished the series. I liked where the series was trying to go, there were great characters, and the setting was interesting as well. I respect the ambition of the series but will certainly acknowledge it fell a bit short on it’s execution. I still liked it though as I have watched far worse train wrecks.

    • Irina says:

      You might be right. For me it was more an issue of unifying all the ideas it was going after but maybe they just needed a bit more development

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