Alright, it looks like we’re doing this. So, uhh… let’s get to it.
Luck & Logic episode 2, Genius or Fool, is split into three parts, a dull start, better middle, and hollow end, but none of that makes me worry much about the quality of this show long term. Before we get into any of that, the OP.
The OP is nothing we haven’t seen before, at least in one place or another. It’s largely made up of the shots that appear pretty much all over the place; character being plunged into water and struggling to breathe, reaching for the sun, camera zooming out while rotating around two characters facing one another, a series of side-by-side portraits of characters with their closest significant other- it’s anime OP 101.
Though it’s not unique, where the opening does shine is in some generic battle footage, showing off the good CG work, and giving us shots of at least some of the characters, which last long enough to fully register what the character looks like, and get a base impression of their personality.
As for the show proper, like I said it’s split into three parts, but not so much in thirds as one half and two quarters. We’ll start with the half.
There’s a bad trend, I think, of anime introducing a whole bunch of characters at once near the beginning, as if the writer put all the characters together first then wrote the story out of them. It’s like they’re a bunch of friends setting out on a road trip. I prefer stories written into characters; so new characters appear like hitchhikers, one at a time throughout the journey, some riding along for just a couple episodes, others staying on for the whole journey.
Luck & Logic continues this trend. At the end of episode 1 it put off introductions, so the first half of episode 2 is spent on them. We start off in a classroom scenario, where our Logicalists-in-training are taking a test. This scene gets used to teach us some basic Logicalist terminology that you’ll fail to follow if you’re having to read the subtitles the whole time, as well as show us that one character, Blondie, is an idiot.
There are some other character dynamics going on, and if you pay attention you’ll pick up at least a few of their names, but a lot of it leaves little impact because you’re not really engaged with the characters yet. The show gave us barely any experience with these people last episode, and by putting off introduction even that much has worn off. That Blondie thing is the only noteworthy bit of information I got out of this on my first watch.
This is followed by a lunch scene where we get the introductions proper. Names are given, and the basic relations between each set of Logicalist and Goddess (or whichever the terms they go by). But again, I just didn’t care. There are around eight or ten characters being introduced at this point; a name dump during a low tension time, when it’s hard to see the importance of any one of them, is not going to help.
The funny thing is, when introductions are over and we move into the “better” quarter, I found I retained a lot more character information.
This section of the episode starts with some VR training. Our Logicalists, now in “Trance” (merged with their Goddess partners) fight a simulated monster. We learn how each of them fights, as well as how each of them responds personally. There’s the healer who is gentle and fairly sympathetic to others, but doesn’t like how Mahou Shoujo her battle costume is. She even argues with her Goddess over it. There’s Blondie, who proves to be a competent fighter who enjoys action a lot more than class work. There’s out main character, Yoshichika, who provides cover. And there’s a cool-headed sniper who… I’ll just let her express herself in poetry.
At one point, another character observing the training even describes their team strategy in terms of soccer positions. This is when you get the viewer engaged with your characters.
As for the animation, the CG still looks good, but last time I commented that what this show needs is creative battle zones and good fight choreography. It still needs those.
I wouldn’t say that this is problem now- this is a VR training simulation, and there was good character work, so it doesn’t need or want anything too visually distracting- but if Luck & Logic is going to take my advice and show everyone the quality that modern CG can achieve with proper direction, it’s about time it started showing it.
Finally, there’s the last quarter, which is a bit more of a mishmash of things. First, an utterly underwhelming “fight”, which only existed to serve as the catalyst for two actually significant conflicts.
A Foreigner is bothering some kids at a preschool, so Yoshichika is chosen to tell it to stop. Yoshichika protests, asking why he has to do it. When another Logicalist, Orga, didn’t even have to train with them, but he’s given a, “because I’m the boss and I said so,” answer. This leads him to be suspicious of Orga getting special treatment, and the last few minutes of the episode are spent on a direct confrontation between the two. The answer Yoshichika was so determined to get? Orga hasn’t got a goddess partner yet. It’s a complete none-climax, and it was built up throughout the episode. Thankfully it does have one redeeming quality, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The second conflict comes about from how Yoshichika handled that “fight” he was chosen for. There’s not much to it; at the end of the episode he was made the leader of the group, and another character thought that was unfair and he mishandled the situation. Like I said, no much to it, but it’s the kindling for what will hopefully be a fully explored rivalry/jealousy arc.
Those last two points are kind of significant, because they’re where my final thoughts come from on this episode. At this point, more character work needs to be done. For most character, including Yoshichika and his Goddess Athena, we still don’t even know their goals or desires. That’s really bad, and is why this show that I think is generally good is struggling for my attention right now.
However, we do have that for two characters, the same two we just talked about. The girl who was upset Yoshichika was made leader rather than her (yeah, I still haven’t remember her name); she wants to be team leaders. Okay, good start. And Orga wants a Goddess so he can actually fight like the others, and not let his Logicallist powers go to waste. Great, a very clearly defined goal for a character I’m warming up to. If the next episode starts off with Orga trying to reach that goal, and uses the engagement viewers have from that to finish setting up the rest of the characters (incuding Yoshichika; seriously, how can the main character not have any clear goal after two episodes?), then we’re in business.
Don’t Lose Your Way