It’s pretty unusual that I specifically write about 1 episode of an anime, but this episode of El Hazard is special. It’s special because it struck me on so many levels of bad that I was trying to remember if The Magnificent World was this bad and if it was, how did I not notice it before. I was thinking of making this a Mini Mendacious Moment feature, but I decided that since I wanted to talk about more than just one thing, that I would talk about the episode as a whole.

Main cast from Magnificent World. Arielle is the small blue haired girl on the right. Makoto dressed as Princess Fatora in the center.

Ok, so a little background first. I’m not particularly fond of harem type anime, but I have watched my fair share. Usually either the premise is interesting enough (Shakugan no Shana) or it gets a few laughs out of me (Kannagi), so I just keep watching even though I’m not particularly enthralled. The first El Hazard series, titled The Magificant World, I remember being interesting enough because of all the mysteries surrounding the premise. It was by no means great, but it had enough going for it that I continued watching. When I finished it, I decided to watch The Alternate World, but I didn’t get around to watching the first episode till last year and I only recently watched episode 2. I don’t recall the first episode being too interesting, hence the long pause between these two episodes. Well episode two goes from boring to downright disturbing and then just plain annoying.

The disturbing bit is literally just a 2-3 mintues of the show but I couldn’t help but wonder how I did not notice this before. Perhaps because the younger Princess, Fatora, was absent for the majority of The Magnificent World, or perhaps as I’ve come to slowly become more analytically and critical of media imagery, I caught this “small” exchange this time for its full ramifications. So what am I talking about? Well in episode two, Fatora sneaks into Arielle’s room with the purpose of “feeling her up”, but she accidentally “feels up” her twin brother instead. Fatora is suppose to be a lesbian so she “naturally” gets disgusted at feeling up male genitalia. She screams waking everyone up and Arielle’s brother is thrilled to have the Princess’ “honour”. Oh boy! For such a short scene, so much wrong happens. Might I also mention that Arielle and her brother are visibly younger looking than everyone else in the cast. Official profiles of Arielle give her age at 15, but she looks more like 12 (as does her brother), which just adds to the unsavoury imagery.

The thing that got me the most was that this was suppose to be “funny”. I did not find it funny at all and I’m pretty big on body humour. It just made me feel uneasy. First off, why is the only lesbian in the cast (other than Arielle) the biggest creep of the show? Why is she the one sneaking into people’s rooms to feel them up? It’s not a nice picture of lesbians is it? Add to the fact that she’s sexually active with someone who likes like a minor, well, it’s just a lot of bad imagery and unfortunate implications, especially given that this is a harem show and a lesbian is sexually unavailable and uninterested in the straight male lead. I can’t help but feel like because she is a lesbian and thus unavailable, Fatora is getting depicted rather crudely and in unsavoury ways. Perhaps it was unintentional. Perhaps the director thought adding some yuri and funny lesbian moments would be good. Yuri for men isn’t anything new after all, but nonetheless, the imagery is really bad on a number of levels.

Is this fun to watch? I find it tedious.

Sadly, the episode did not improve much from there. It went from disturbing to just plain annoying. The rest of the episode was dedicated to the other 3 girls – Shayla Shayla, the fire priestess, Nanami, the girl from Makoto’s world, and newcomer Qawoor- jealously squabbling over Makoto. No seriously, that’s all there was to the episode (outside the last five minutes which do actually advance the plot). If there is one thing I simply loath in harem anime, it is the rival girls being mean to each other and fighting over the guy yet never blaming the guy or telling him why they are so upset. It drives me downright mad whenever this happens. It’s silly. It makes the girls into little children and rather than give us character development, it  just gives us shallow romantic tension. I don’t find 2 girls jealously berating the third one for 10 minutes interesting or entertaining. It’s just tedious.

So at this point I was going to drop the anime for good. The plot was going nowhere, the characters were boring and cliched, and especially the unfortunate implications were all making my decision so easy. But then the last 5 minutes happened and the episode preview got me interested. So I’m going to give this anime one last chance to entertain me. If it fails in the next episode, it is going to be dropped.

–SW

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