Back when I reviewed the first half of Ixion Saga DT late last year, I worried that the humor in the second half of this Capcom-produced deconstruction of fantasy anime wouldn't live up to that of the first. And while there are some bigger misses in the humor department in the second half, there are also some bigger hits.
By far the strongest part of Ixion Saga DT's second half is how it creates humor by playing on your expectations. Many of the plots and characters are painfully cliché at first glance. The best humor in the series comes from then turning these clichés on their heads.
One episode features a girl so stereotypically “anime cute” that the sparkle in her eye literally takes the shape of a star. In her daydreams, her life is a great, dramatic romance. The twist is that she is unable to tell the difference between her daydreams and the real world, and thus in real life she acts more like a schizophrenic gang member than anything else.
Another great example of the series playing on common anime tropes is an episode where all the characters go to karaoke together. While generally these kinds of episodes are known for crazy antics and light humor, Ixion Saga DT turns the whole situation into a high stakes, pseudo-horror story. And there is something amazingly funny about a life-or-death night of karaoke.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Ixion Saga DT, is its willingness to go all out for the sake of a joke, even if that means completely changing the tone of the entire series. After the apparent deaths of half of the main cast, the entire next episode is played completely straight as if they were truly dead. The only humor comes from the bad guys trying to figure out if the deaths were a ruse or not—and from within yourself as your try to figure out if they really killed these main characters despite a lifetime of other books, movies, and TV shows that tell you the heroes never die this early in the story.
There is also an episode situated between the big reveal and climax of the story that is almost entirely a 1980s Yakuza movie. It is not a parody of 1980s yakuza movies, mind you—they play it completely straight. The joke is how out of place it is in a series like this.
Of course the downside of this kind of commitment is that some of the jokes are ridden into the ground and far, far beyond as they can't support the amount of focus they get.
The humor in general in the second half of Ixion Saga DT is all over the place—and I don't mean in quality. Rather, the target audience of every given joke varies wildly. Some jokes take the form of parodies or critical deconstructions while others focus on wacky adventures or gutter humor. One moment it’s making fun of ICO and Zelda and the next a character's level of arousal is being measured by two beautiful women and a boy genius scientist.
So the target audience can change at a moment's notice, meaning every episode is likely to have several jokes you find funny—and several jokes you do not.
Was I impressed that they played it straight and did a 80s Yakuza film? Yes. Do I respect going that far for the joke? Absolutely. Was it boring as all sin? Oh yeah.
And that's the biggest problem with Ixion Saga DT: Beyond the humor, there is nothing really compelling about it. By the very nature of the humor, the characters and setting are cliché—the plot likewise so. The animation and music are decent but nothing special and there is no deeper message or meaning than enjoying yourself through the humor. So if you aren't laughing, you're probably feeling awkward (at best) or bored (at worst).
The second half of Ixion Saga DT was funny. It was also in turn awkward and boring. But humor is always something that is hit and miss. And for the most part, the humor hit me more often than not. In the end, my recommendation from the first half review stands. If you like watching the deconstruction of anime tropes and clichés and/or lowbrow humor, you will find Ixion Saga DT worth a watch (and a laugh).
Ixion Saga DT aired every Monday at 1:05am on TV Tokyo in Japan. It can be watched in the U.S. and Europe for free on Crunchyroll.
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