I’ve wanted to see this anime ever since I heard the theme song. It’s a really cool song. Based on the introductory visuals, Mushi-Uta combines Japanese childrens’ favorite things: guns, goggles, and bugs. It looks like a kids’ show, but that’s fine with me. Plenty of kiddie shows are cool.
Then Mushi-Uta actually begins. For 25 minutes, nothing happens. There’s no story, there’s no direction, there’s no one to care about.
We see a man — he screams “filler character” — run away from a beetle-controlling bum who looks a lot like Ghost in the Shell’s Batou. An insect picks the running man up to carry him to freedom, but the bug is gunned down by the presumed hero of Mushi-Uta who makes his dramatic first appearance. He’s revealed to be a first-class something. There’s a lady on the other side who’s also first-class, but they don’t actually meet or fight.
Then the hero (Daisuke) starts attending school. He’s a dweeb. The first-class chick (Rina) is also a student there, and she’s thoroughly unlikable as well. I don’t think they recognize each other.
The episode ends with the hero spotting a cute green-haired girl. Cue some dramatic slowdown and big wide grins, even though there’s no inherent drama to the moment. Then cue the ending credits.
The hero, Daisuke, grabs a cute green-haired girl’s hand and they run away together to avoid the transit authority. At first I assumed they already knew each other, but this turns out not to be the case. The girl introduces herself as Shiika Anmoto, and Daisuke doesn’t introduce himself at all. But he does ask her out on a date and gives her his cell phone number, which he conveniently had pre-written on a scrap of paper in his pocket.
If some strange guy grabbed my hand and ran me 20 blocks across town, I’d be a little irritated. Shiika just goes along with it in that acquiescent quiet way that mysterious girls do. This is meant to appeal to Japan’s Yamato nadeshiko image of the ideal woman, but Shiika doesn’t demonstrate the strength or resolve to be a Yamato nadeshiko. She’s just a weak-willed wallflower and Mushi-Uta’s writers are too inept to know the difference.
Then they go on a date. After eating hamburgers and exchanging the types of vacuous pleasantries I can’t stand in real life, they part and Shiika goes home. Apparently she has some kind of psychic powers — the exposition leads us to believe these powers stem from an insect infestation — and used these powers several years ago to save a girl from being smashed by a truck. Instead of gratitude, the rescuee screamed, Shiika’s family disowned her, and men in goggles took the valiant girl away.
So I guess I kind of feel bad for Shiika, but the show’s hero is still an empty husk with no personality. Also, if I were making a television series about shadowy organizations that fight each other with guns and giant bugs, I’d have included at least one quality fight scene within the first hour.
“You’re the type of guy who loves to brag about his girlfriends.”
That’s what the thoroughly unlikable Rina says to the vapid hero Daisuke. How does she know this? I don’t know. Mushi-Uta has so far provided zero personality to Daisuke. And, if you recall, Daisuke only met Rina a few hours before he met Shiika. None of these people know each other!
Rina ends up smacking Daisuke and insulting him. I think she’s supposed to be a tsundere, but she fails just as Shiika fails to be a Yamato nadeshiko. She’s just an uncalled-for bitch. Perhaps Mushi-Uta’s writers did not actually intend Rina to come across as a tsundere, but that would mean that the writers intentionally filled their animation with a cast of cretins . . . so I’m placing my bet on incompetence.
After another date with Shiika, the heroic Daisuke dons his goggles for a bug battle! But it’s handled in as boring a manner as possible, as a bunch of people wander around a park but don’t see each other because they’re all hiding really well. Daisuke sees a little girl and then sees a wasp heading straight for them. He shoots the wasp to protect the girl, which causes the girl’s eyes to lose all signs of life and she falls to the ground.
So far, Mushi-Uta is terrible, but not offensive. A lot of anime begin with a poor episode. Just look at Robotech — the best thing about “Booby Trap” is Gloval’s nutty laugh. Or Tenchi Muyo, where Tenchi gets chased around town by a “mummy” for the entire episode. But even in their badness, those introductory episodes actually INTRODUCED. I came away knowing about Rick Hunter and Roy Fokker and Tenchi after only 20 to 30 minutes.
After three tedious episodes, what did I learn about Mushi-Uta’s characters?
Daisuke: vacuous hero who was a bugbuster in the first episode and three minutes of the third
Shiika: acquiescent wallflower
Another way to look at it: I wrote over 1200 words about Legend of Basara’s first episode, and Mushi-Uta couldn’t manage 900 for three.
Episodes four through six become available for free at Crunchy Roll on December 15. Sadly, I will probably let you know how they are. Look for my thoughts on the 14th, if you care.