Sunrise is the New Gainax: The Sunrise Ending
I recently finished Sora Wo Kakeru Shoujo, and I confirmed something that had been bothering me for a while. The writers at Sunrise no longer know how to write a good ending. I’m not sure exactly how long they’ve suffered from this problem, 3 of their major shows in the past 3 years, Code Geass, Gundam 00, and most recently Sora o Kakeru Shoujo have all suffered from this problem. Their ending all had several common problems and themes which I call the “Sunrise Ending.”
Most fans are familiar with the Gainax Ending. Basically a Gainax Ending is when the writers pull a bunch of random shit out of their ass in the last episode causing it to make no f-ing sense. A Sunrise Ending is similar in that it leaves feelings of dissatisfaction, however the cause is not random last minute plot twists, but rather, a failure to answer some basic questions and tie up loose ends. Whether this is done as a setup for another season is debatable. Another common theme in a Sunrise Ending is the lack of a proper villain. While there may be an antagonist, their presence is often weak, and how evil they really are is questionable.
A good example of the Sunrise Ending is Gundam 00. The first season ends with Celestial Being getting their asses handed to them and the fate of most of the main characters left unknown. The only real villain for the first season is Alejandro Corner who appears sporadically, and whose motivations are nothing more than a petty family grudge. So after a lackluster final boss fight, and a predictable twist, the only achievement in the plot is world unification, leaving many problems unresolved. I was ok with this at the time as a second season was announced. So I watched the second season, and while I did find it entertaining, it did have its fair share of problems. Characters who were never given a lot of screen time get killed haphazardly, yet their deaths are treated like a big deal. The biggest example was the resolution. After a lackluster final boss fight, and a predictable twist, the only achievement in the plot is world unification, leaving many problems unresolved. Oh wait, I wrote this same sentence not too long ago, since both seasons essentially had the same ending down to the same song playing over the epilogue. Plot wise, the entire second season could have been skipped getting rid of the pointless bickering that was the battles with the A-Laws. In all fairness, the second season does answer some of the more major issues such as the actual purpose of Celestial Being, but this felt kind of random. I guess what annoyed me the most was the hints dropped concerning Jupiter and its relation to the GN drive in the first season that won’t be resolved until the movie coming out next year, making me wonder if there was any point to mentioning Jupiter besides leaving some loose ends open for the movie.
The best example of the Sunrise Ending was Code Geass. The Emperor proved to be a weak villain despite being played by the voice of god Norio Wakamoto. He isn’t even the final villain, and his plan to destroy the world has little to do with the main plot. It never made too much sense to me why they had all that Ragnarok Connection bullcrap to begin with. Schneizel also has somewhat noble intentions, although they’re buried under such a deep layer of bullshit that you don’t really remember why he did anything he did. Very much like Gundam 00, Code Geass was a collection of entertaining events, although in the end there wasn’t much substance. Then there’s the infamous ending, which may have been unintentionally vague if one reads interviews with the writer and director. However, we are left with an enormous loose end, if Lelouche really died or not.
The show that brought the Sunrise Ending to my attention was Sora Wo Kakeru Shoujo. Firstly, there was no real villain. Nami wasn’t really evil, just selfish, spoiled, and confused by Aleida. Except Aleida wasn’t really evil, she was only being mind controlled by Nerval. Except Nerval and the other brain colonies wasn’t really evil, he just wanted to be human and the rest were just vain. Then there’s Leopard’s dark side which appears out of nowhere and wants to destroy the universe for no good reason. If you think about it, Sora Wo Kakeru Shoujo was nothing more than 26 episodes of pointless bickering. It was very pretty and nostalgic bickering, but pointless nonetheless. Next there was the lack of resolution. Nami is still selfish, spoiled, and confused and just sits in a bath tub feeling sorry for herself in the end. People who were considered villains for most of the series are treated like old friends. Most disturbingly, the people in boxes are still in boxes are still trapped in their boxes. This bothered me as I originally thought they were going to be a clever commentary on anonymous message board users as they indirectly communicate with each other despite being mere inches away from each other. They also felt like a commentary on NEETs who don’t care about improving themselves outside of their boxes as long as they have their basic comforts. However, nothing came out of this. There wasn’t any resolution to this analogy. It was almost as if Sunrise was telling NEETs to stay NEETs so they continue buying DVDs and other related merchandise.
So why do Sunrise Endings bother me so much? It’s a combination of poor planning and repetition. It feels that Sunrise is so concerned with making each individual episode entertaining, that they forget about the overall ploy, and have to pull something out of their ass in the end. They’ve also done this so many times that I’m beginning to lose faith in them. I’m already doubting that the Gundam 00 movie will bring an adequate conclusion to the series. I’m expecting a third season or an OVA of Code Geass because of how damn popular that show was, just so that they can milk that cow for all its worth. It’s worrying as I feel that their writing staff is starting to run out of good ideas. I’m hoping that the next Gundam anime isn’t crap. If it is crap, I at least hope it will give me a weekly laugh like 00 did.
So the new season is well underway. Canaan seems interesting, although the first episode is still rather vague. Aoi Hana has a great OP and looks really pretty, although the pacing is a bit slow. Haruhi has gotten frustratingly slow with the Endless Eight story. Finally Umineko no Naku Koro Ni is crap. I don’t see what the hype was all about. That’s it for now. Take it easy everyone.