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The Divine Tragedy Of Polyphonica

May 19, 2012 @ 19:53 CDT


Earlier in the year, the official site for Polyphonica went dead, whoever was in charge of its renewable apparently felt no need to keep it alive – yet now the site has come back from the grave, outdated as ever.

One wouldn’t go so far as to say the series is out of the hospital and prancing around again happily, however it has gone from essentially lifeless without a pulse, to showing signs of vitality once more – a recurring beep imaginarily being heard by the second. This revived site is still full of ancient, and essentially useless information regarding the last animated venture of the series, Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica Crimson S – yet one should explore this series’ background a bit more.

Before there was Crimson S, there was simply Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica – the former being the second season, and the latter being the first. Now despite being two seasons of the same series, neither has a relation whatsoever – the same characters are there, the setting has not changed, the concept is all in tact, yet Crimson S is basically a re-imagining of the story.

It goes without saying, Crimson S is greatly superior – yet both series are honestly not so grand in terms of animation. Now realize that animation isn’t referring to the anime itself – yet the visual presentation and execution of an anime. Polyphonica’s first season is spittle in that respect – and the divine comedy merely proves amusing in how poorly it was put together. Within a single scene, one can see how blatantly awful the animation is as has been popularly, and humorously, emphasized in a Youtube video:

However, the concept of Polyphonica is actually quite renowned, with many lovable characters at that, and Crimson S is a wondrous improvement as aforementioned – yet lastly, there’s something about this series a bit harder to describe. First of all, to call Polyphonica’s story “unique” would be an understatement – and it’s not innovative for the worse either, it’s spectacular, it takes an alternative approach to the often blundered music and fighting.

A divine song player plays a tune which powers a contract they’ve engaged with a spirit – the spirit then receives energy as necessary to exert their energy, namely for instances of battle. There’s a bit more to it as well – however that’s the general overview of it, and needless to say, Polyphonica, mistakes and all, simply strikes as interesting. And this isn’t to say it merely raises an eyebrow or two, yet this series is legitimately fascinating – from its fictional world, to its actual end-product.

The plot is truly one which captivates, even if the anime is not particularly strong in succeeding to do so – however this is actually one of the aspects, of several many, which captivates. The plot itself is intriguing, as is the fact how the anime didn’t do so well.

Polyphonica’s anime is originally based on a rather popular visual novel of the same name – yet the anime, being straightforward, is a failure. The series’ first season was produced by a crew which hardly knows how to make a decent anime, and doesn’t have much to their name to begin with – Ginga Ya, SoftBank Creative Corp., and Memory-Tech, with Sentai Filmworks merely responsible for licensing.

With the absence of a seasoned anime studio on hand, a tragedy was unsurprising.

On the other hand, the second season was powered by the collective of Diomedea, Lantis, and Magic Capsule – Diomedea is known for Ika Musume, which is currently their most notable hit title, and the other two studios of the mix also have a few generally well-received series to their name.

Aside from the difference in quality however, what’s more intriguing is where the decision came to make an entirely fresh anime – as stated earlier, Crimson S literally hasn’t anything to do with its predecessor, and that’s quite rare, assuming it’s even been done elsewhere in an anime. And on another note, even with the unstable fluctuation across the board in terms of quality, the music is one aspect which remained consistently not even above average, but exceptional, still holding ground against those themes of modern series:

Had it been given the proper support, the series could have managed a world of superiority to its current animated renditions. Yet looking beyond the animations, Polyphonica exists in a wide collection of visual novels, manga, and many light novels – each met with varying degrees of success, and each telling a different part of a truly expansive and immersive story.

Polyphonica’s combined aspects are all engaging – the anime does have strong points, and the pool of potential for success was phenomenal, yet it was never utilized properly. However, that potential was spent just enough to achieve an anime which does find a place in the heart of the right people – it wasn’t all wasted. And with that said, Polyphonica as a whole is quite like this – the overall tale is marvelous, yet the delivery on a certain medium, or a certain instance of that medium, fails.

In turn, this makes the unsuccesful creation one which grasps our interest – why was it allowed to fail? Why was a series with such potential not given much a chance? Yet to further repeat as necessary, Polyphonica’s fictional universe still also sparks a compelling light. The series does exist on numerous medium as of modern day – however, their popularity is questionable.

On the gaming front, last year Polyphonica saw the release of Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica Plus – and currently ongoing is a light novel illustrated by the master of loli artwork, Kantoku, entitled Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica Aphonic Songbird. Polyphonica Plus is quite a treat to the fans of the series – on the other hand however, Aphonic Songbird, while certainly lovely in its visuals, simply portrays old characters in a manner far from the ones who fans of the series have originally come to admire, and it in fact also focuses mainly around new characters.

Even with the moving releases however, they’re mainly getting the attention of a niche market of admirers – Polyphonica is all but dead, recurring disasters have sullied its name, the concept remains wonderful however, and to conclusively put it into perspective, Polyphonica is akin to a fellow with an amazing and ambitious dream, yet never manages to see it off the ground.

Perhaps a centralized reboot could save it – a modern anime, done by a respectable studio, with previous issues accounted for. Yet as it stands, Polyphonica is more or less on the edge of purgatory, a lonely path, recognized by few, simply as it never was given a chance. The series’ reason for failure is akin to that of C3, irrelevant scantily clad marketing attempts and all – however Polyphonica faced it to a far more radical extent, and could have accomplished so much more.

14 Comments

  • Yuki says:

    lol its Seven’s favorite anime girl

  • avatar flamestrike says:

    It’s a real shame the anime wasn’t able to live up it’s full potential. Although I still enjoyed Crimson S a lot. I remember playing the demo version of the VN in english too, and it got me interested in the world of Polyphonica. The first anime was massive fail in every sense of the word. I never though there could be an anime that rivaled cabbage love in bad animation quality…

    • Seven says:

      Similarly, I enjoyed Crimson S immensely – there’s an atmosphere present not found elsewhere. The first season of the anime did fail – although it remains that Polyphonica, while not the greatest, is certainly the most fascinating series I’ve come across. The story is interest in a manner unlike most.

  • The Polyphonica franchise was always most popular in its Kinetic Novel form, and the larger universe recently expanded with ocelot’s sequel/spin-off Sousouki Reginald (with new lead characters, but recurring roles for Corti and Phoron).

    The original Polyphonica anime suffered from a few major issues, not the least of which was the unfortunate passing of original series director Junichi Watanabe a few months before the show’s airing. In addition, the story was written to expand the franchise beyond what was covered in the existing four series of light novels (Crimson, Black, White, and Blue), and so didn’t adapt the original Crimson kinetic novels that were the most popular. This approach, along with the production values, likely alienated some viewers. So, this is what Crimson S, the second anime, was trying to resolve, which was a more literal adaptation of the Crimson Kinetic Novels. But by then I think the series’ name had been sullied among the anime audience, and the “reboot” anime failed to catch on.

    So in the end, the franchise lives on as a still-expanding Kinetic Novel franchise, likely in no small part thanks to the beautiful art and interesting universe crafted by lead writer Ichirou Sakaki.

    • Seven says:

      Wonderfully stated! It’s truly a disappointment that the series had to experience such tragic occurrences.

      On the subject of Ocelot’s Sousouki Reginald however, I’m honestly not too familiar with the plot – although from what I’ve seen, it appears to diverge from Polyphonica greatly. And if I’m not mistaken, it’s an eroge series?

      • Seven says:

        Want to add however, Aphonic Songbird is doing relatively well – although one of the more unfortunate aspects I believe is the switch in artist.

        Kantoku is incredible, and I do love every one of his works, yet his Corticarte appears far from the one I came to love – she loses much of her charm under his style of art. Though I suppose it doesn’t matter much since Corticarte isn’t the focus of that branch to begin with. I was always, and still remain, massively impressed and in love with the original Corticarte character design – there’s a truly elegant charm to her which I admire deeply, and her fashion selection is the absolute best in my eyes. The extensive use of ribbons, cloth layering, and fabric intricacy is nothing short of astounding – although Kantoku doesn’t appear to be much for any of that.

        • And incidentally yes, I too love Kantoku as an artist, but the original Corticarte (by Noboru Kannatsuki) is one of my favourite character designs ever as well. Kantoku doesn’t quite fully capture her charm, but that’s okay too. I actually do like his take on her as well, even if it’s a bit different. To have such talented artists working on this franchise certainly enhances the appeal a lot (though I too love the overall concept and universe they created).

          • Seven says:

            “To have such talented artists working on this franchise certainly enhances the appeal a lot”

            Indeed, I’m greatly pleased that they managed to have Kantoku working on the novel. I was quite surprised when I learned that as well as Kantoku is truly one of the best – his skills are a league of their own.

      • Sousouki Reginald is still an all-ages work (though of course some of the bonus material was a bit suggestive, as always). It does seem to change the tone a bit and take the universe in a bit of a different direction (with the obvious vampire theme), but it’s a world that does allow a fair bit of diversity (as evidenced by all the multiple novel series in the first phase). In either case, need to get around to playing the new game for myself to more fully understand what happens and how it changes where the franchise may be heading from now on.

        • Seven says:

          Same, I need pick up Sousouki Reginald as well to truly understand it – though repeating myself a bit, the artwork I’ve seen looks a world apart from Polyphonica. It also looks to only feature a bishoujo version of Corticarte, more fitting of a vampire theme, versus the standard more slender one.

          Additionally, the Corti in Reginald is named “Corticarte Reichstein” – rather than “Corticarte Apa Lagranges”. Though it seems that’s simply another reason I need to get around to the game.

  • zekeinferno says:

    I can’t laugh properly on the first video >< its too good

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