Maru’s always quick to lose his cool. Yeah, we updated, WHAT OF IT?? Expect more, you know, updates, on update days moving forward.
A while ago I backed a kickstarter for this independent animation Under the Dog, maybe you heard of it. They released a ‘pilot episode’ for a potential series. I watched it, it was gods awful. And, I mean, I looooove Sword of the Stranger, and this is the same director. But Under the Dog is devoid of any of the charm or heart of SotS and filled to the brim with garbage anime tropes. SPOILERS INCOMING!
So the plot of Under the Dog (or at least this pilot episode) is that there are, like, monster people, and the Japanese government, or some organization that I think is part of the Japanese govt, basically makes teenage girls hunt for ‘the chosen one who will bring hope to the world’. Don’t ask me why they’re looking for HOPE, as there’s basically not elaboration on this point. Also, the girls are special in that they seem to have monster-person abilities, which basically amounts to glowing green eyes and above average/superhuman strength and speed.
Anyway, 80% of the episode is from the perspective of a teenage girl, Hana, who’s got to evac this teenage boy, who her handlers think is potentially ‘THE ONE’, out of his school and back to her handlers before he gets captured/killed/whatever by a bunch of American marines. Hana is actually being coerced into this mission because the organization giving her orders will kill her family if she fails a mission. Why is this? Dunno. For an organization searching for LITERAL HOPE, they’re pretty freakin’ ruthless in their tactics. ANYway, Hana is depressed and upset throughout the whole episode. She not-quite-Matrix-style fights some marines in the highschool lobby, and eventually gets shot up a bunch, it’s all VERY GRIM. Meanwhile, it turns out the marines aren’t there to hunt the boy, instead they’re after the boy’s father, who is also at the school for reasons I can’t remember or was never given. The marines, speaking laughably corny Engrish dialog, find and shoot the dad to death. But daddy turns out to be a monster man, transforms into a nearly unstoppable Evangelion-looking creature and proceeds to wipe out the marines. But Hana’s organization wants to stop the monster also (I don’t understand why these organizations aren’t just working together since they seem to want the same darn thing), so they send in BLONDE TEENAGE BADASS GIRL.
This girl, I dunno, she’s the character featured in the Kickstarter pitch trailer, and the website labels her as ‘the main character’, and yet she is literally just the Terminator. She comes falling into the school from a plane in this HALO pod thing, shoots a bunch of missiles at the remaining marines and monsters. She pops out of the pod, finds the dying Hana, and, shoots poor Hana in the head (this show has NO JOKES, people, this is some SERIOUS STUFF). I’m still unsure WHY this happened since Hana and blonde girl seemed to be coworkers, and Hana had not actually failed her mission and was still alive. Anyway, because the mopey, depressed Hana dies, Hana’s parents then ALSO DIE (such sad wow), and then blonde girl goes to fight the monsterdad on the school roof. She pulls out a big scifi gun, shoots monsterdad a couple times, and then monsterdad EXPLODES WITH WAVES OF ANIME ENERGY, ripping blonde girl’s shirt half off so we can get an underage boobie in there thanks. The ‘chosen one’ boy is on the roof too, surprise, and the monsterdad attacks him, at which point chosen one’s arm turns into a giant monster blade and pierces monsterdad, turning monsterdad’s head back into a human shape. The ‘chosen one’ boy realizes he just killed his dad with a giant monster arm that he’s never had before and FLIPS THE FREAK OUT (which is totes understandable considering the circumstances). Unfortunately for the ‘chosen one’, it turns out this wasn’t what boob-exposed blonde girl wanted, as it means the boy isn’t actually the chosen one (Apparently monster blade arms are a BIG NO NO if you want to be THE CHOSEN ONE). So blonde girl shoots the boy in the head (seems to be her signature move). FADE TO BLACK ROLL CREDITS GIMME SOMMA DAT SWEET SYNTH GUITAR.
One thing that bugs me about this whole kickstarter is that the original pitch trailer, while not exactly filled with ‘jokes’ or ‘character depth’ does show a lot of slick action involving scifi motorcycles, and gunplay while jumping off skyscrapers and shooting at helicopters. It’s very Ghost in the Shell and I would’ve been fine with a mindless half hour of beautiful action schlock, but the final product has nothing from the trailer. Its animation also never looks as cool as the trailer’s. Granted, the animation in Under the Dog is still very good, but it lacks anything visually memorable. It’s all ‘generic military guys shooting up a bland looking high school’, and ‘rampaging generic monster man’, and the world setting and character designs are forgettable. There’s so little here that doesn’t feel like it’s been done a thousand times in other, more memorable series that it feels like they shouldn’t have even bothered. I mean if you’re going to create such a drab, depressing world where all your characters act hopeless and melancholy, then at least make the main character ANGRY about it, make them EMOTE. Cold, silent badasses are one of my favorite tropes, but if everyone else in the story is sad and depressed, the lack of emotional contrast is numbing. And maybe don’t kill your narration character three quarters of the way through the story of your pilot episode for your cool new action show. Also, NOT EXPLAINING THE MOTIVATION BEHIND WHAT’S HAPPENING DOES NOT MAKE ME WANT TO KNOW MORE, especially when you have two organizations that seem to want the same thing! Anyway, I could keep going on about why I found Under the Dog distasteful, but I also need to update the comic so I’ll stop!
Maybe I’m just annoyed because my name is in the credits of this turd.Published on by Alex Kolesar