Adaptations Suck: A Look at Astarotte no Omocha

Fumitoshi Oizaki

Not trying to bust your balls, sir. I'm just saying...

I don’t know if Oizaki Fumitoshi is a good director or not.  Based on his credentials, he has mostly excelled in character designing.  However, he has directed at least three works:  the Gonzo production of Romeo X Juliet, the Gonzo production of Welcome to the N.H.K., and Diomedia production of Astarotte no Omocha.  Though Welcome to the N.H.K. was considered a good anime by most, it was regarded with much more vitriol for being a bad adaptation of an even better manga.  Generally, adaptations from manga to anime result in and sometimes necessitate changes.  There could be a thousand reasons why, both stemming from the production office and / or from the director him/herself.  The only common aspect all of these adaptations with Director Oizaki at the helm have is that they’re all pretty bad adaptations.

Romeo x Juliet bears more resemblance to tapioca pudding than to the Shakespearean tragedy, but this might have been the intent of the creators all along (what with the wildly successful and awesome Count of Monte Cristo adaptation).  N.H.K. changes weren’t done for creative reasons, though, and that may or may not have anything to do with the director either.  All I know is that they’re not good adaptations.  We have seen changes from manga, and light or visual novels to anime work well before, so I have to imagine that the director shares some of the blame if the adaptation turns out to be a bad one.  Thus, I have to conclude that Oizaki Fumitoshi is at least somewhat bad at his job.

Romeo x Juliet

Seriously, how do you fuck this up?

The reason I bring this up is, I really don’t know who is influencing what in Astarotte no Omocha‘s anime adaptation.  Having not read the manga, I don’t know if this was supposed to be a loli fanservice show or if it was supposed to have several heartwarming moments of parents and children.  Or both.  Frankly, the way that this show jerks us from utterly wholesome moments of tenderness to utterly non-wholesome moments of depravity gives me a bad case of whiplash.  The thing is, I rather enjoyed those out of place moments of tenderness.  It’s the rest that makes me boggle.

Getting past the plot is not easy for most people.  A ten year old that has to drink sperm to survive is just asking for criticism.  Even if you’re supposed to suspend disbelief and disgust by pretending she’s a succubus, and thus not human, it doesn’t really help.  Since they accentuate ad nauseum the age of the heroine by mention, character design, having an equally 10 year old half-human sister, and Kugimiya Rie doing the voice, the point of the character of Lotte has less to do with her ethnic or racial background and more to do with the fact that she’s an underage girl.  Actually, even for a succubus, she’s an underage girl.  That’s kind of the point.  This is loli’s first harem to help her grow up.  Implication:  CHILD.  I realize that this might be okay to the monster realm considering this is how succubi are supposed to be, but this story isn’t for other succubi, it’s for humans.  Oh yeah, and succubi don’t fucking exist.

So, for a while there, it looked like our hero would simply be humoring the monster realm and it’s quirks about harems and sperm and whatever and instead would just act as a new father figure to the young princess.  At this point, I was okay with the show.  Not only did it seem like Naoya was fitting the bill of this new parental figure with the aforementioned moments of tenderness and helping young Lotte get over her fear of men, but he even brought his own daughter along in order to make the whole thing feel more like a giant family scenario than pedolicious smut.  Along the way he also helped her reconcile with her estranged mother, the Queen of the Succubus realm, and rekindle their loving relationship, even if the emotional detachment was one-sided.  It was working.

Naoya and Lotte

It did start out wholesome and endearing! Really!

I’m not sure when it went fucking wrong.  I have to think it was about the time we all realized that Asuha was actually Naoya’s daughter and not his little sister or cousin or something.  The show does the math for us on screen, so you are forced to accept that a twelve year old boy had sex with a woman and impregnated her and then raised his child through middle school / junior high and then high school and maybe some college.  Dodging puberty issues a second (it actually is possible), what makes this hilarious is not really the logistics of everything Asuha and Naoya.  Actually, it’s the way the monster realm reacts to this.  They’re actually somewhat surprised by a twelve year old having a child.  These are the same people who want a ten year old succubus girl to suck a guy’s penis until he ejaculates so she can drink his sperm.  Something about that scene always screamed at me that this was bad fucking writing at work.  I realize that part of this show is a comedy and, thus, not to be taken seriously, but if you’re not even going to try to maintain sincerity about your own ludicrous plot, then why have it in the first place?  Aside form pandering to perverts, that is.  It gets worse.

We find out that Asuha’s mother also happens to be Lotte’s mother.  Apparently succubi have very quick gestational periods, as having two ten year old daughters in one year is kinda tough.  Not impossible, just tough.  I mean, for humans, it would mean you could have a child in the first three months then get immediately pregnant and have another child before December.  The thing is, their birthdays would still be so far apart that they wouldn’t stay the same age for very long.  It is heavily implied in the show that some time passes from episode one to episode twelve.  SOMEONE should have aged by then.  Therefore, and I have heard this is stated in the manga but not in the anime, Lotte and Asuha aren’t that far apart in birthdays.  I wont comment on the biological science behind this because… well… Lotte’s mom is a succubus and therefore… “it’s magic; I aint gotta ‘splain shit.”

Putting that aside, you now have to accept that a fully adult succubus female had sex with a twelve year old boy.  Again, I don’t know what kind of morality the succubus world has that allows this to happen, but there’s simply a physical problem to deal with.  Naoya was apparently okay with all this, even at twelve, though whether he could actually understand what was going on seems impossible to me.  This is to say NOTHING of the need for sexual arousal.  Twelve year old boys might be able to get into it with an older lady, but I’m really not sure that they would want to.  Thus, I don’t find this to be that believable.  This is one reason why people scream about pedophilia (and underage crime, actually); the underage person cannot be expected to be reasonably conscious of their actions.  Thus, no matter how you want to slice it, it looks like Lotte’s mother took advantage of a child herself.  Again, monster morality, so whatever, but human morality doesn’t care for that junk.  Remember, again, this story is for humans, therefore the content is going to be tested by the prejudices of the viewer.  If I may digress for a moment here and point out that there are those who don’t particularly care for certain supernatural morality contents contained in the Twilight Saga books either.  Apropos:  “pedo wolf”(?), I believe is the term I’ve heard used…

Lotte's mom

Okay! Yes! I'D do her, but that's not the damned point!

So anyway, right about this point in the story everything has gone downhill.  With no other major dramatic plot points remaining that need to be resolved, the anime really only has two story elements left to explore:  the secret sisterhood of Asuha and Lotte, and Naoya’s relationship with a ten year old.  Guess which one they choose?

The funny part about the former is that Asuha must be the dumbest person in the universe.  Yeah, I know, ten year old, but she’s met her succubus mother by this point and knows that she’s the queen of the realm.  Asuha never puts two and two together and discovers that Lotte is her half sister.  Lotte has more of an excuse to be ignorant as she is never told anything that would lead that direction.  Thus, this story element, while it might be explored in the manga, is shuttled aside instead for a lolicon romance between a twenty-three year old man and a ten year old demon child.  I must stress that this has to be right around the mid point of the show, so we have six episodes left to deal with this head scratcher of a major plot problem.  It doesn’t help that Judit is constantly trying to get Naoya to put his penis into a child’s mouth.  It also doesn’t help that a completely pointless “rival” character for Lotte’s love comes along to serve as plot driver.  Lastly, they have to come up with some asinine separation story plot in order to wrap things up and give the lovers a chance to confess their feelings without confessing their feelings.  The show ends with a nauseating “tadaima – okaerinasai” scene, which is open ended for use later, if later ever comes.

Sandwiched between the early heartwarming scenes and the craptastic romance story later is a whole shitload of child fanservice.  It wasn’t really prevalent in the early episodes, though Lotte does run around with some skimpy nightwear and often has her undies showing, but it goes completely bonkers later.  Asuha’s childish nudity exploration, which goes way beyond the usual age that this common childhood phenomenon does (around age one and a half or so), serves more as an excuse for no-pan! fanservice then anything resembling child psychology.  Naoya also wins the “Worst Parent of the Ever” award for allowing his daughter and Lotte to cosplay in various sexual fetish costumes for no fucking reason whatsoever.  Y’know, aside from pandering, again.  Toss in the requisite beach episode and we’ve got a head smackingly obvious piece of pedo trash.

So am I mad?  Yeah, I’m a little mad at this.  The early episodes may have put me to sleep with their saccharin sweetness and cliched rhetoric, but god dammit at least it wasn’t garbage.  The rest of the show is.  So I come back to Director Oizaki again and I have to ask:  “who was really in charge of this thing?”  Who was the one who wanted the early focus to be on family, and parenting, and children, and whatever?  And who was the one who wanted that shit tossed out the window for an atypical piece of child pornography?  Honestly, looking at the plot, I have to believe that the latter was how this was supposed to be all along.  Was it Oizaki who wanted to take this another direction, only to be stamped down by the original content?

I guess I’ll never know.

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There’s just one more thing… I want to know what you think.  Post below, or just use e-mail or twitter.  Yeah, I know I said before that I think twitter is the stupidest thing ever invented and I still stand by that.  But some folks around here like to use it for communication and… well… adaptation sucks, but we gotta do it.

16 Responses to “Adaptations Suck: A Look at Astarotte no Omocha”

  1. I was fascinated by this show, I couldn’t figure out who it’s intended audience was.. you’d think that creepy loli lovers would rather not have wholesome, heartwarming childhood friendship scenes disturbing their fetish.

    Somewhere in this show was the core of a genuinely lovely story about childhood friendship and parental neglect, but it practically apologized for it every chance it got and ended up writing in a completely disturbing romance premise that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around.

  2. I haven’t seen Astarotte myself (and that’s long odds to change), but the case of Romeo x Juliet has always stumped me. Like, this had some truly terrible ideas in it. I don’t think the original play is Shakespeare’s best work, but I was just flabbergasted by the anime, especially after Gonzo successfully pulled off what might be the most ambitious adaptation that anime has ever seen in Gankutsuou. I mean, really? Shakespeare himself as a comic relief character with homosexual tendencies? What the hell, Japan?

  3. I only watched the first 6 or 7 episodes, but from the few chapters available online, I actually was a fan of the changes they made to the show. The problem is that the show is a piece of crap, no matter which way you slice it.

  4. Just a side note–since your point about bad adaptations got lost somewhere down the road–as far as Japan is concerned, I don’t think they liked Welcome to the N.H.K., as it had piss-poor DVD sales.

  5. You know what’s weird about Astarotte’s Toy? At the end of every episode, I kept asking one dubious question: “Where’s the semen?”

    Seriously, what’s the point of mentioning semen when the plot would have been completely fine without it? Cynically, I believe that it’s some sort of marketing gimmick to get people to watch this, and if this is indeed the case, then I’m insulted.

    To sum it up, I think Astarotte’s Toy is an example of a double rip-off. It looks like shit (and thus, I was looking forward to bashing it), but then it doesn’t look like shit (which I then was a little surprised), but eventually it turns out to be another kind of shit (hence, my bashing continues).

  6. Well I do read the manga as friends recommended it, and I dropped the series 1ep in, so I can’t stake on the comparisons, however… I don’t get why they went with a crazy premise like that either (just asking for trouble <.<), but Naoya is far more of a father figure than anything else and the manga pretty much focused on that. My friends compare this to Hayate minus the harem (at least not in the same way), and based on what I've read I agree. Insofar as adaptations go… well, fanservice sells I guess?

    I actually like NHK anime more than the manga =P (moving the arcs around felt like it flowed better, and the finale more conclusive).

  7. […] of Astarotte’s Toy could almost be seen as a companion piece to TypicalIdiotFan’s recent article about the anime on the blog. Both of them were left wondering just what this series was trying to […]

  8. Just a side note–since your point about bad adaptations got lost somewhere down the road–as far as Japan is concerned, I don’t think they liked Welcome to the N.H.K., as it had piss-poor DVD sales.

    I didn’t do an introduction to this aimed at a more “series” style piece, but I probably should have. I plan on doing more of these, probably one a season, to illustrate the clues on where adaptations appear to be going wrong. I actually got this idea, ironically, from the eighth episode of the anime adaptation of OreImou, which was non-canonical filler but featured a very similar subject (adapting a novel to an anime, and the brouhaha involved in the production meetings).

    The point of this particular article, since I didn’t read the manga, was to simply point out the weirdness in presentation and sudden directional changes the mood of the show went to show that there just seems to be some kind of bizarre adaptation distillation going on. Since I haven’t read the manga, I have nothing to compare to. Thus, I compare the show to itself.

    I wasn’t really going to run off on Romeo x Juliet or NHK very much, the former because I don’t really know if that’s an adaptation so much as a revision in the Gankutsuou mold, and the latter because jpmeyer already did it. Those were only mentioned to support the premise that maybe Director Oizaki is bad at handling adaptations.

  9. For me, I found the heartwarming beginning pretty much watchable, if only by a bit. I dare say I actually enjoyed the Queen as a character. At about when her subplot ended is when things took their turn for the worst. My flat out “Fuck this shit” moment was when it became glaringly obvious that Naoya was going to fall in love with his 10 yr old daughter’s 10 yr old sister by another mister.

    As far as adaptations go, fans I know of were actually praising this show for being an equal or greater adaptation, eg: making the Queen a less repulsive figure. As I haven’t actually read any of this (and sure as hell don’t intend to) I can’t testify to that at all.

    All in all, the direction here trolled us hard, intentionally or no. They set us up to believe that this was so bad that it couldn’t possibly be, presented evidence to support that, and once they’d lulled us into a sense of security, promptly went full pedo. I find myself highly curious as to precisely what goes on behind the scenes of such a debacle.

  10. Sorry to kind of ignore the points you focus on *^_^* But I wanted to comment on your points about ‘monster morality’. First of all, this show looked like dodgy fanservice crap when I first read about it and I saw no reason to touch it, heh (adult female anime fan, not the target audience).

    You’re right in saying that the succubi are perfectly likely to have their own standards of morality, and you’re also right in saying that we, the human audience, can’t be expected to share those different standards. ‘Monster morality’ could have been played in some really interesting ways if the succubi all held one standard (they’re creatures which live for and live on sex, of course they see it differently), as long as the human characters reflected what the audience can be expected to think. It sounds like this show fails in that regard miserably. Human characters should react to and question the assumption that drinking semen is healthy for a ten year old girl, succubus or not, and the succubus characters can justify themselves however they feel is right – that’s conflict.

    Instead, you describe unquestioning fanservice and exploitation portrayed as if it’s totally the natural thing for anyone to do in this situation. Well, I can’t say I’m surprised -_-

  11. Hey, for all you know, this was just one big satire on modern society, and now the director’s just laughing at us for not understanding.

    (but of course, nobody’s that smart to do something that dumb)

  12. The queens clearly not an adult when she bangs/rapes Nagoya, though she’s obviously older, minor nitpick really

  13. Hogart,
    >I was fascinated by this show, I couldn’t figure out who it’s intended audience was.. you’d think that creepy loli lovers would rather not have wholesome, heartwarming childhood friendship scenes disturbing their fetish.

    What the hell are you talking about? As a “creepy loli lover” myself, I can say with certainty that you are completely wrong. “Heartwarming childhood friendship scenes” do not disturb my “fetish” (also, it’s not a fetish, it’s a paraphilia. A sexual orientation much like homosexuality).

    And please refrain from calling people like me “creepy” without knowing anything about our personality. Our sexuality does not define us, and we have the exact same kinds of personalities as you do. Unlike what big money-obsessed news and media corporations want you to believe, we are not all child molesting, sex obsessed, sadistic perverts.

  14. Bro if your looking for an anime with romance just watch Eureka 7 or Gundam X

    PS: Hogart you are a creepy faggot

  15. zOh sorry I meant Honest lolicon derp

  16. Oh sorry bro I meant Honest lolicon derp

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