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Catch up: Gen'ei wo Kakeru Taiyou

I was sick the past week. The annoying kind of sick where you’re too weak to function, but too hyped up on medication to get proper rest. It did give me a chance to catch up on anime, so I strategically chose some uncovered topics. I guess my coughing is your gain?

Gen'ei wo Kakeru Taiyou - il sole penetra le illusioni (lit. Daybreak Illusion – The Sun that Penetrates Illusions)

Episodes: 13 + 1 OVA

Release date: 2013

Genre: Drama, Action-lite, Fantasy, Magical Girl

Hoshikawa Seira, wielder of "The Star". Arguably one of the more cooler chick.

Plot summary: In a world where tarot cards hold power and destruction, behind the scenes war wages between the exclusively female wielders of the Elemental Tarot and the Daemonia, creatures which transform humans into monsters through a combination of negative human emotions and the Diablos Tarot, a negative mirror of the Elemental Tarot. The series follows 12-year old Akari Taiyo, who inherits the Elemental Tarot “The Sun” from her deceased mother and joins the organisation Sefiro Fiore, a fortune-telling school which functions as a base for Elemental Tarot Users. However, the battles come with a price: eliminating the Daemonia also eliminates the people they posses, which Akari finds difficult to do. For only she can hear the tortured voices of the possessed, and the reasons behind her ability may hold more secrets that she can handle.

Watch It If You Like: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

It pains me to say but I was so glad when this was over. When it comes to anime, I commit to the bitter end once I watch a series, no matter how bad it gets. Gen'ei wo Kakeru Taiyou didn’t get bad…but it also didn’t get any better as it went on.

Akari in civilian gear vs her fierce-eyed alter ego and teammates

The series started out strong and my hopes were high. The opening song and animation was solid, an intriguing mix of cute and whimsical, carefully splotched with bloodstains and accessorised with weapon-toting lolitas against a backdrop of punk rock, courtesy of singer LiSA on her single “Träumerei”. The first episode was good; a concise breakdown into the plot and protagonist Akari’s life circumstance and the mental struggles her cousin goes through which eventually turns her into a Daemonia. Thereafter comes a well-contained and very bloody fight scene with a tastefully-sophisticated magical girl transformation where Akari goes from cheerful naivety into slanty-eyed, overpowered loli, complete with hair extensions, sword, and a beautiful resting bitchface. That, by itself, hinted that this wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill, pedestrian magical girl anime.

The entire series is a homage to the Lolita fashion, and the darker aspects that fascinates it so. Imagine a bunny holding a bloody knife: cute, but psycho. Everything, from the character designs; their transformations and tarot card illustrations ooze with Lolita charm. SO MUCH FRILLS. SO MUCH HAIR. SO MUCH ANGST.

The aftermath of battle. One of many bloody splotches in the series 

It’s the angst that the crux of the series, but it never really gains proper traction. In fact, the only remotely interesting quality about it is how much death is involved. In almost every episode, someone die. The main characters themselves suffer from tragic life stories. Akari is an orphan who upon awakening to her powers kills her infected cousin. Her three teammates who fight with her have had various troubles: one has watched her childhood friend die from a Daemonia attack; another had to eliminate a dear family friend, while the last has a missing sister. In fact, it’s ironic that none of the girls are in therapy!
Many instances where Akari can't and won't fight. What a waste of loli power.

The anime isn’t so much a magical girl action flick as it is a drama...a half-baked one. A decent effort is made for the fights, but it couples with disjointed pensive moments from Akari who stand there like a lump thinking of what to do. Her conflict arises from hearing the regrets and pain from the Daemonia and that causes an internal struggle in her: to save the one or by killing the Daemonia, to save the many. This pacing causes inconsistencies, and ends up become more annoying than dramatic.
Antagonist Cerebrum, being his usual nefarious self. Note the beautiful tarot card design? 

The only thing I can say about Gen'ei wo Kakeru Taiyou is that…it’s not shallow. It’s no Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but it has its moments, especially with how it openly illustrates an oft-trivialised fact in most magical girl anime: that these girls are, in fact, killers. At the very least, I enjoyed that there’s no standardised magical attack with cheesy names, and the transformations are only shown in full once throughout the series. Ironically, the episode I enjoyed most was a filler episode, with much less drama and girls just being teenaged girls.

14 episodes are woefully short to encapsulate the anime. In fact, it leaves you with even more unanswered questions. Akari turns out to be half-Daemonia, from an infected father who is now missing. What has become of him? Who exactly are the antagonist Cerebrum, a Daemonia with free will, and his relation to Akari? The mysterious organisation Leguzario which controls Sefiro Fiore, who talks flippantly about Cerebrum and the Elemental Card Users, and is never seen, what is their end goal? All these are never answered. Perhaps if given more screentime, the plot and development could have come into fruitarian on its own, instead of banging out drama and action in disproportioned measures.

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