atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,



I finished watching Chobits a couple days ago. The end came unexpectedly; I had thought it was a 27 episode series, but it's only 24. There are three additional episodes but apparently they don't fit into the continuity, or something, because they got stuck on disk 7, and their episode numbers are X.5. I haven't watched them yet.

Anyway, the ending wasn't as satisfying as I'd expected it to be. I can't explain why without giving it away, but I really thought that while it was a "happy" ending, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

There is a mention of a "syndicate" which is somehow at least partly responsible for the development of the persocom, but its role in the story seems limited to the actions of two highly specialized persocoms who are designed to keep Chi from running a program buried in her protected memory space. This program will somehow effect all other persocoms in the world, but apparently no one knows how. For some reason one of the syndicate persocoms has a record of all persocoms ever built, which doesn't make any sense to me.

Chi eventually runs that program--one of the syndicate persocoms decides he wants to see what will happen if the program is run--but the overall effect of that program is not well-explained. Others' knowledge of the existence of the program at all seems to make no sense in light of the back story about Chi's creation. And the existence of the program--where it came from, who wrote it--is never explained.

It's a worthwhile series overall, but the plotting in the latter 6 episodes seems rushed; the writing quality takes a noticeable nose-dive. The ending is nothing like a disaster on par with that of Neon Genesis Evangelion but it's sad that such an excellent series had to run out of steam like that.

Cardcaptor Sakura

I finally saw the end of the "Sakura collects all the Clow cards" part of the series. The final episode of that story arc had no real surprises in it. I liked it, though.

In my collection of anime merchandise I have a "Clow Book" with all the cards from the series in it. Now I learn that there is a "Sakura Book"--the second half of the series (more like the latter third, really) deals with Sakura's existence as a Cardcaptor and magical girl extraordinaire. (None of this should be surprising. The title of the series is Cardcaptor Sakura not Sakura Who Loses Magical Cards Twice.) I want the Sakura Book to complement my Clow Book!

The story they came up with for the rest of the series is pretty interesting, too, at least so far. This is in the same vein as Akazukin Chacha, in which she beats the Big Bad Guy about 3/4 of the way through the series, and then has other things to do afterwards. In both cases I like that solving the primary problem doesn't end the series.

That's what happened to Twin Peaks, you know. Once we learned who it was who killed Laura Palmer, the viewership just fell apart. That was a real pity; that series was the pinnacle of David Lynch's career.

CBS ran it on Friday evenings, right when its primary audience was thinking about going out to nightclubs and partying. That's what killed the show; without the great mystery of Laura Palmer's murder to keep 'em in front of the TV--at least until after TP was over--they returned to other things.

That brings me to...

Joan of Arcadia

You know, it's been a year since CBS canceled JoA, and I feel the need to vent about it.

The basic premise of JoA was simple: a girl, aged 16, talks to God. More specifically, God talks to her, and asks her to do things. She never really understands why--at least not at first--but the things that God asks her to do always make some kind of sense, and make some kind of good change; even if Joan herself never sees the good parts, the viewer always does. While the God portrayed in the series wasn't exactly any version of God endorsed by the world's major religions, it was a God that any religion ought to be proud of worshiping. I never saw, heard, or read anything about anyone objecting to Joan of Arcadia on religious bases. So why was it canceled if no one was offended by it?

The official reason for JoA's demise was that it was not well-received by its target audience--the all-important 18-27 demographic.

What was JoA's time slot? 7 PM on Friday nights.

Did they ever try JoA at a different time or night? No.

Did JoA resonante with any other demographic? Yes--the over-30 crowd.

Simply put, JoA was not canceled because it failed to appeal to its "target audience". JoA was canceled because it was too nice.

There wasn't enough sex in the series, for one. The title character, Joan Girardi, lived in a relatively happy home with parents who were not cheating on each other. She was a nice girl who, at age 16, had not lost her virginity, and who--given the opportunity to do so--decided that the back of a pickup truck was not the place she wanted to lose it.

"What??? You mean they showed a teenager choosing not to have sex???"

Yeah. She actually decided that she didn't like the idea of losing her virginity in the back of a pickup truck, in a sleeping bag, after a rock concert, in the stadium's parking lot. She wanted to wait for a more romantic time. How horrible!

Everyone knows that teenagers are simply incapable of self-control. We can't teach them abstinence because it's "unrealistic"; they can't help themselves so we'd better give them condoms.

Oh...and there were no gay characters, either.

For another, God never asked Joan to do anything questionable. He never asked her to go blow anyone up, or rob a liquor store, or anything illegal, immoral, or just plain sick. The series was not "edgy". The clergy shown in the series were always nice people, the kind of people you might expect to have as neighbors; the priest in the series was a nice guy (played by the guy who played "Arthur" in the live-action The Tick by the way) and he wasn't a pedophile. The series did not sugar-coat religion but neither did it crap-coat it; and two of the backstories showed people struggling with religious and spiritual issues in a way which didn't make them look like utter lunatics, but instead like people trying to work out some issues of their own. (One of these characters was a former nun who was into the surfing scene. She had a tattoo and smoked. She was cool.)

Besides all that, though, nearly all the people in the series were just ordinary--and I'm going to expound on that a bit.

You know, when you live your daily life, you don't actually come into contact with many people who are actually evil. You come across people who are selfish; immature; inconsiderate; lazy; stupid; or what-have-you...but relativly few people are actively evil.

Most of the time, the people we are in conflict with just have motivations which run contrary to our own. The inconsiderate bastard who drives down my street at 11 PM with his car stereo set on "stun" isn't evil; he's just...well...inconsiderate. The dumbass who pulls out in front of me, goes 20 in a 40 zone, then makes a left turn, isn't evil; he's just stupid and selfish. The waiter who delivers your food and disappears for the next 40 minutes isn't evil; he's just lazy. And so on.

Don't get me wrong; there are actively evil people in this world--too many of them--but most of the time we don't come into contact with them. (And most of the evil people don't actually see themselves as evil, either.)

In Joan of Arcadia, there were no primary characters who were evil. (Not until the last half-dozen episodes, anyway.) Joan's father was the Chief of Police for Arcadia (and then later became the Sheriff...long story) and so he had to deal with evil people; but those characters were not the front-line characters of the series. Some were one-shot characters; some were recurring--but the series was not about them anyway.

The inter-character conflicts which arose were due to character interation, not because someone wanted to sleep with someone else's boyfriend. In fact, the only sex which happened in the series generally happened between Will and Helen Girardi, Joan's parents. (Her oldest brother Kevin got some once. And her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend Adam was sleeping around on her. So, actually, there was a character who wanted to sleep with someone else's boyfriend, now that I think of it. But it was shown after the fact, not during.)

This is why JoA went off the air: because it didn't fit the mold that network TV executives have constructed for prime-time TV shows, especially those aimed at the 18-27 demographic. If they had been serious about keeping the show on the air, they would have tried it in different time slots, on different days, the way they do with practically every other stupid show that's ever been created. They didn't even make a token effort; they just killed the show at the end of its second season.

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