the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
It’s time for another episode of I Make Really Terrible Life Choices. Because I am, as always, a hopeless masochist. In fact, I’ll just come right out with it:

Haou Airen

Those of you who have heard of this thing are doubtless already facepalming and/or hurling nearby objects across the room. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, I’ll try to explain:

Mayu Shinjo is a mangaka who could be described as the queen of Horrible Brain-Scarring Shojo. I don’t know if she’s the worst, but she’s definitely up there. The lady has got a massive rape fetish and all of her works prominently feature the Bastard Boyfriend archetype. Hell, one of her BB leading men is actually Satan. You know, the Satan? You can’t get any more Bastard Boyfriendy than that! But until now, I only knew about Shinjo's work second-hand, via TV Tropes. Until now, I’d managed to resist morbid curiousity. But then a TV Tropes image link happened and suddenly it was 7 am this morning and I was finally going to sleep after mainlining the whole thing in one sitting.

Which brings us to Haou Airen, which I gather is Shinjo’s darkest work so far. Oh come on, “dark” is an understatement — it’s basically a giant tsunami of ~sexy~ rape scenes glued together with plot. It was licensed and almost got an English release, but was cancelled at the last minute when the publishers found out what was actually in it. Hey, just like Kodomo no Jikan! However I’m pleased to report that reading Haou Airen was only a mildly horrible experience because a) I’m jaded ever since reading Hot Gimmick and b) this manga is actually pretty funny. How is that even possible? One word: MELODRAMA. Even horrifying subject matter can be narm-ified when paired with stupid dialogue and even stupider plotting, and Haou Airen is so overwrought and has so many ridiculously bone-headed plot twists that it becomes darkly hilarious in the sense of “I can’t believe someone got paid to write this horseshit.”

Speaking of plot, it boils down to this: naive innocent ordinary high-schooler Kurumi happens upon wounded bishie Triad boss Hakuron and tends to his injuries. He thanks her by whisking her off to Hong Kong with the intention of making her his mistress. That’s about it. I didn’t read the first 15ish chapters, but I glean that Hakuron was relatively nice to Kurumi during them and the two were kind of falling in love. However, the shit hits the fan in chapter 16 when Hakuron murders Kurumi’s secretly-evil best friend right in front of her, causing her to turn on him and declare that she hates him. So Hakuron has to figure out some way to make her stay with him. You can all probably guess where this is going.

Click to read the selected highlights (lowlights?) of Haou Airen! Or don't, you probably have better things to do. )

So yeah, this manga is creepy, gross, and horrible. Don't read it unless you share the author's fucked up set of fetishes.
the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
I just discovered that another victim of the recent TV Tropes Pedo-n-Porn purge is one of my own creations: the main page on Hen, Hiroya Oku's legendarily bad "yuri" manga.

To which I say: Hey you inconsiderate fucknugget mods, I put a lot of time and effort and love into cataloguing all the hilariously mishandled tropes contained within that godawful masterpiece, and I do not appreciate you vaporizing all my hard work! I even did my best to keep my snarking as mild and deadpan as possible so as not to violate the site's Don't Criticize Anything Because We're All Delicate Flowers policy. I know that Hen is a) obscure and b) terrible so no one but me is going to mourn the page's deletion, but dammit some things are worth troping because they're complete crap!

Although I'm pretty sure I know exactly what triggered the page's deletion — it was the scene where SPOILER AND TRIGGER WARNING FOR BRAIN-BLEACH-NECESSITATING REVERSE-PEDO RAPE CREEPINESS where the heroine gets raped by an 11-year-old boy. Yeah, that happens. Though it's less "pedo fanservice" and more "the writer is tripping balls."

Luckily I also discovered that some kind soul rescued the page from oblivion and archived it. And by "some kind soul," I mean the apparently resurrected Encyclopedia Dramatica. Never thought I'd be feeling grateful towards ED of all people.
the_sun_is_up: Yahtzee's speech bubble has been censored by a black bar that has the text "horrible things" written on it. (zero p - horrible things)
This week on the Magical Girl Project, I take on that other unholy abomination known as CosPrayers.

Most of you have probably never heard of this series. Those of you who have might have also heard of the minor meme it spawned: "worse than CosPrayers." This meme uses the show as a litmus test by which to judge other shows, in order to separate the truly wretched from the merely crappy. Saying a show is "worse than CosPrayers" indicates that it's the very suckiest of suck.

Even the production company seems to have become aware at some point that the show sucked because right after it came out, they made another show called "Smash Hit" in which CosPrayers is a show-within-a-show that is acknowledged in-universe to be really terrible. This is what we in the biz refer to as a "parody retcon," in which the creators of a really shitty work turn around and go "Oh, no no, we made it shitty on purpose! As a satire of, um, stuff! Please believe us!"

Hell, even the name of the thing is sucky. Its full title is "The Cosmopolitan Prayers," and the shortened title intentionally resembles the word "cosplayer." Yes, it's a groan-worthy pun based around the Japanese tendency to pronounce "L" and "R" the same. KILL IT.

So since I'm the type of person who always gets morbidly curious whenever fans declare something to be the WORST EVAR, I decided to give CosPrayers a try and see for myself just how bad it is. Honestly, I came away feeling kind of disappointed.

CosPrayers is not the fun kind of bad. It's not the hilarious, campy, hubcaps-on-strings kind of bad that makes the work of Ed Wood and Coleman Francis so unintentionally entertaining. CosPrayers is just dull. And I know I panned Wedding Peach for being dull, but at least Wedding Peach had a clear idea of what it was doing and how to do it. CosPrayers, on the other hand, is incompetent and incoherent, with the storytelling and the editing being its biggest problems. It's like the creators had a bunch of story elements and bits of plot, but instead of arranging them in a way that flowed and made sense, they just kind of dumped them all out on a card table and let chance decide. The characters are shallow and bland and never get a chance to talk or develop relationships with each other, and the plot is so poorly executed that it invites plentiful fridge logic.

That 52-card-pickup method of storytelling gets even worst in the latter half of the series which offers up several plot twists that make no sense whatsoever, only serving to confuse the audience further. Again, it's like the creators wanted to have some plot twists in their anime, but had no clue of how to go about constructing such things. Alternatively, it's like they wanted to make a show about some cute girls fighting monsters, but they didn't realize that a functional anime series needs more than literally just "some cute girls fighting monsters."

I guess I should also mention that the show is full of gross, in-your-face fanservice that completely shatters the dramatic tension whenever it shows up, and the art style is typical of moe-esque fanservice shows in that it makes all the girls look like they're made of plastic, but none of this is unique to CosPrayers.

But back to that question of the parody retcon: According to Wikipedia, Smash Hit premiered only a week after CosPrayers ended, so it does seem possible that the producers had planned all along for CosPrayers to be crappy. But if that's the case, they're still complete blockheads. First of all, where's the sense in airing the intentionally sucky show-within-a-show before airing the making-of show that gives it context? Your audience will get bored and/or annoyed and go off to watch something else long before you have a chance to reveal the whole "it was supposed to be crap all along!" twist. And secondly, a crappy work does not automatically get any less crappy just because you made it crappy on purpose. If you sing a song horrendously off-key, it doesn't matter whether you did it because you're tone-deaf or because you're doing it intentionally to make some point — either way, it's still going to make my ears bleed. Being sucky on purpose isn't enough by itself — you have be entertainingly sucky, and preferably also include some satire on the sucky thing that you're imitating. Plus, I don't think CosPrayers is outlandish enough in its suckiness to qualify for the "haha sucky on purpose" crowd. Simply put, it's not bad enough. Despite that "worse than CosPrayers" meme, it's not the worst anime out there, nor is it even the worst I've seen. It's just kind of mediocre and incoherent. It fails even at being legendarily awful.

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