Trapeze is Not an Anime for Anime Fans

A number of people have criticized the current Fall season of anime for having too many cliched shows, too many moe shows, and most important of all, for having no giant robot shows at all. “Where are the good anime that’s meant for us?” they might lament. Well, Trapeze is here to tell you that it’s different from the rest, but to some it might be a little too different.

Whereas Kaiba was the kind of highly artistic anime which could still attract viewers with a strong plot, relatable and interesting characters, and a visual style which, while unusual, is still clean and pleasing to the eye overall, Trapeze (or “Kuuchuu Buranko”) has none of those “concessions,” and just straight up presents itself as a bit of a nonsense show, even if it actually isn’t. Don’t be fooled by that cute blond in all the promotional images, this is not a show about a kid who loves to dress silly.

You might ask, “Why would anyone watch it, if it’s got not much of a plot, no good characters, and is ugly?” Well, that’s the reason Trapeze might not be for you the anime fan, whether you’re the type of fan who is looking for sweeping narrative and grandiose storytelling, or you’re the type of fan who mainly cares about the characters themselves. In fact, it’s kind of hard to actually call it an “anime” at all. Now, you can be an anime fan and still like Trapeze and quite a bit, but you’ll have to be aware of the likely possibility that you’re not gonna like it as you would most shows.

The way I would describe Trapeze would be 1/3 Shinbo Akiyuki (director of Zetsubou Sensei and Hidamari Sketch), 1/3 Yuasa Masaaki (director of Kaiba and Kemonozume), and 1/3 Tom Snyder (creator of Home Movies and Dr. Katz). Does that make it a good show? Honestly, my opinion is still up in the air after only one episode. What I will say though is that while I enjoyed the first episode, it’s the kind of show that probably wouldn’t be good to marathon. It’s kind of an intentionally abrasive show, and I don’t know how many people could handle that. It’s like eating corned beef hash; tastes great, but eat a little too much a little too often and you suddenly start to get sick of it.

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10 thoughts on “Trapeze is Not an Anime for Anime Fans

  1. True, Trapeze is radically different from everything else running this season or even this year for that matter. Enjoying it will definitely require a completely different mindset but personally I found it pretty damn great. As far as the technical side is concerned it hangs around the gray zone between live action and anime but its setting isn’t all that weird. If it was animated in a more conventional anime style by for example SHAFT, I doubt many would find it all that much out of the ordinary.
    What makes Trapeze an odd experience is simply its technical execution, not the setting and story elements.

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  2. Pingback: You Are All Wrong About Trapeze | Kuuchuu Buranko « Anime wa Bakuhatsu da!

  3. Due to Kenji Nakamura and crew’s previous show Mononoke, this was the only new anime I was looking forward to this season. While this seems to be a little less competent on a technical level (possibly lower budget? more rushed?), it was still refreshingly ambitious and enjoyable.

    In fact, given the popularity of the short stories and the noitaminA slot, I wouldn’t be surprised if this did better in the ratings than Mononoke did.

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  4. For me, the only thing that made it not-so-anime-like is the live-action mix.

    I like it that it’s so different among the other shows this season ^^ And am I the only one who sees a story despite the ridiculous stuff presented in this show? Or maybe I’m just too weird that I think I see sense in nonsensical stuff. Haha!

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  5. KareKano had bits of live-action imagery as well. Although I wouldn’t want every anime to use it, it’s good when an anime is willing to experiment like that. Sometimes CG can be a more unaesthetic element within an anime than live-action, because often the CG may be trying to blend in and failing.

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  6. I think Trapeze is definitely the sort of show for fans of animation, if not fans of anime in general. There’s a lot of different techniques at work in just this one episode (I hesitate to use “avant-garde”, but the term may be appropriate here.)

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    • That is an interesting point you bring up. When I think of “anime fans,” I don’t necessarily think of them as “fans of animation.”

      It might be that I feel a lot of fans don’t take big steps to move past their comfort zones in the first place, and Trapeze can be VERY uncomfortable, or that I think they emphasize characters and story over experimentation with animation techniques.

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  7. Exactly. I’m actually a huge fan of the creator of this series and also, it’s predecessor Mononoke. Both of these series are executed in a way which, to my surprise, grates on a lot of otaku’s nerves. Even so, I find it fascinating. I really enjoy watching it because it begs to be watched more than once to gather all the little clues about the story.

    If I had to guess, I’d say that anime fans that are more on the artistic or intellectual side may love this, but it’s a tough pill to swallow for an audience that touts itself as being unique and different.

    As other people have mentioned, this is very similar “challenging” style that the creators did with Mononoke. The same principle of who this will (or won’t) appeal to holds for that series as well.

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