Now Boarding On Track 12 East: Everything Wrong With Anime
by Gristle McThornbody
You’ll probably not read past this point, so the simple verdict is IT STINKS.
In the time it takes an average Amtrak Northeast Regional train to travel from Washington, D.C. (WAS) to Bridgeport, CT (BRP), or the Empire Builder to trundle from Grand Forks, ND (GFK) to Stanley, ND (STN), you can have put in front of you the current state of the anime industry-goddamn desperate.
Fanservice is not a new concept, no, but this everything you never wanted nor needed in an anime. The “plot” is a loosely connected string of 12 episodes about a high school student (fuckin’ surprising….) named Naoto Takayama trying to gain employment in alternate-history Nippon where the nation’s rail system was still nationalized under the flag “Japan National Railways” (JNR). Working for the JNR is a life-long experience, and as a government employee, you’re guaranteed stability and a pension. High school students enroll early at the JNR academy to learn their trade, and our otaku/wannabe train engineer Naoto looks vastly forward to both a fulfilling career, and daily opportunities to autism out over trains.
However, he is assigned to railway security with a cast of generic characters. You’ve got muscles-but-no-brains dude Shō Iwaizumi, and two girls: the busty-but-smart one, Haruka Kōmi, and the tsundere one, Aoi Sakurai. I shall feebly attempt to spin a brief synopsis to prevent you, the reader, from having to denigrate yourselves by watching this slow and meandering anime about essentially nothing. Basically, Naoto (Dickhead #1) goes into Railway Security, and prevents a bunch of bad shit from happening, but usually in intent only, having to be consistently saved by the busty smart one of the tsundere one or the muscles dude. It’s quite episodic in nature, and the only indication of your position in the series is how big the harem gets. This includes the three girls, an idol he guarded and a prince-but-actually-a-girl who is also an otaku for trains, as well as his busty boss. At some point they have a beach episode, and the main Dickhead even gets do drive an actual train at some point.
The simple fact here is that this is a fanservice anime that put on the cloak of Japanese Amtrak and strutted around like Tim Curry in Rocky Horror pretending it’s something that it’s not. Unlike Mr. Curry, however, there’s very little else that endears this to the viewer, aside from the curious train otaku or the gotta-have-butts crowd. While it’s animated beautifully, the butt-get went into making every ass shot have as much detail as an entire Stanley Kubrick Movie.
I mean, shit, I love a good anime that panders to my interests. I went wild over Girls UND Panzer. However, what GuP does and where Railwars goes off the rails is simple content. Whereas the tank anime had interesting tank battles, and some strategy, this stogy anime no plot, lots of TNA and minimal rail-related items. Yes, there were trains and trains accessories, but they seemingly played as a backdrop (at times quite literally) as an excuse to present us with even more of the fanservice. I mean it’s like these animators have never seen a bare lady leg in their lives, and that’s not even considering the people this was intended for.
I hear you whine “but what about the character development?” and stuff. To you, I say, that this anime is made up of tropes-one after another-like a train of clichés. Off-the-shelf architypes are put through another iteration of “look at weak male protagonist in situation X”, surrounded by generic characters in an admittedly quasi-interesting setting.
This anime talked a big talk and seemed like this grand production-not the anime to save anime, but one that illustrates what’s wrong the industry. Instead of giving us wonderful, plot-driven stories, or snarky, fun-loving series, we get this, this heaping mess of a show that wastes resources that have gone to something much better.
The sad part is drivel like this gets dubbed whereas something more substantial like Yamato 2199 stays in its native language, unobtainable to those that want to *watch* their anime instead of reading. There’s very little redeeming value to things like this. I mean, I guess a good point of this anime is that they didn’t anthropomorphize the trains this time. Knowing these people, they’ll both make a shitty OVA with trains of the world or something stupid like that, and somehow it ends up being dubbed. Because 2016 is just going that shitty.
Yes, instead of watching this anime I’ve got a better way to spend 5 hours of my life: I’m hoping the next Northeast Regional to Bridgeport, CT-home to none other than P.T. Barnum himself. He can be quoted as saying “there’s a sucker born every minute”, and boy did this anime suck every one of them up with this train wreck.
“Produced” By Passione
Licensed by Sentai Filmworks