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Review: 聖者の行進 (seija no koushin)

Last post 02-14-2005, 1:42 by icelava. 0 replies.
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  •  02-14-2005, 1:42 920

    Review: 聖者の行進 (seija no koushin)

    Synopsis: Machida Towa leaves home with his mother to be placed under the care of Takegami Factory, which implements a city programme that offers work for the mentally-handicapped, giving them a chance to integrate and be useful to society. Joining this group with similar intelligence levels, Towa soon gets to witness the pain and tribulation they have to endure behind the guise of the saintly management, the challenges with interacting with “normal” people, and the development of a relationship with a delinquent schoolgirl.

    Translating the title into English, "March of the Saints" appears to be a crooked march that veers off the road and falls down the hill. Very often. Was it due to the retarded influence the story had on the director and scriptwriters? 

    Before I go into that, let me say this show started out with a very solid premise. Not very often do you get a drama that is outright trying to be dark and depressive, promising you no happy ending, and in giving a taste of real-world fallacies of humanity, guarantee to grab you by your heart and squeeze the tears out of you. You cannot help but empathize with the characters’ plights and suffering.

    While the early episodes would have you thinking the protagonists and development are between that of Towa and Tsuchiya Arisu, the schoolgirl who happens to be the mayor’s daughter, the format of the show quickly degenerates into incoherent scenes to give the other teenagers a “chance” to tell their own sad stories. This constant context switching can get somewhat tiring as you attempt to figure out just who the show concentrates on. Well, it is nobody in particular, especially when a main character just disappears half way in an unnaturally fast manner.

    Actually, multi-tasking with various people's lives and stories is not a bad thing per se. But, the events and character arcs brought to light in the incoherent scenes hardly see any fulfilling conclusions (even when they are big serious cases), often dropping off the radar to make way for yet more incoherent events. The dissatisfaction with such wavering focus is way too immense. The supposed ultimate climax just loses wind like a loosen balloon, instead of going out with a bang. And what followed as a means to end the story is really unexpected. In a bad way.

    Moreover, what is strikingly irritating is the failure to represent the retarded kids with a consistent level of mental ability. Throughout the entire story, scenes exhibiting behaviour convincing you of their simple mindedness, are mixed in with scenes filled with acts and thoughts that throws you off your seat and have you questioning the need to conduct an investigation for disability fraud.

    Taking Towa as an example, he initially tricks you into thinking his mind is concerned only over screaming out loud with excitement when seeing interesting things. But soon you witness just how adept he is at recognizing suicidal tendencies via phone, realize danger approaching others with sharp instinct, and reacts with intense agility to save their lives, preaching moral philosophies. Yet, he cannot comprehend the danger of wielding a katana or an approaching train. Other examples feature the ability to compose Pachelbel's Kanon and solve difficult differentiation questions when one's skill with the trumpet is mediocre even with a simple tune and without being schooled in elementary mathematics respectively.

    I have tried hard not to reveal spoilers, but was the effort (and the show) worth it? This show was choke full of potential, but sadly never realized with such subpar direction and storytelling.

    Rating: 5/10
    Yes Heart-wrenching, empathizing, real-world scenarios.
    No Massively incoherent plot events; inconsistent character behaviour/intelligence.

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