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Jumping the Shark

So who made the rule that anything that turns out intriguing, and well, or even remotely so, must by the end of a series have its quality go down faster than Monica Lewinsky at the Democratic Convention? And I'm not even talking about the inevitable decline in quality as things drag on and on and on just because they don't have the balls to end things while they've still got some magic left. I mean things that apparently have a set ending in sight from the get-go, but yet just lose their momentum during the journey to actually *get* there.

I'm musing on this as I'm struggling with the continuation of two things that I at least used to be intersted in.

Just the other day I received the third DVD of Saiyuki: Reload from Amazon.com. Now while the original series was... okay, maybe it wasn't the epitome of Deep Anime, but it had cute guys, cool action, a good dose of humor... generally good stuff. But with reload? The animation quality to me seems "off," and lowering the more I watch it. For the most part the enemies seem unoriginal, and uninspiring, and the plots are barely more than rehashes of the first series at times. Oh, and the ending theme is, well, tolerable, while the opening theme... isn't. But of course, I'm left with either just dropping it totally and not getting to see how the story ends, or continuing on knowing at this point that it'll never recapture the magic of the first season, and not knowing if I'll even really get to see anything "new" that really catches my eye.

I'm also thinking about this because I finally managed last night to finish my re-read of Lord of Chaos, as I try to slog my way back through the Wheel of Time series in preparation for the eleventh (ugh) book which is apparently due out in October. At least that's what Amazon says, feel free to insert the usual platitudes about trusting the bookstore people, lack thereof. And of course that is if I were for some reason to decide to pick up the hardcover. About the only way I figure that's going to happen is a) an impulse purchase if I see it relatively cheap at the bookstore, or b) if people whose taste I know and trust start commenting how it's, if not the best thing since sliced bread, at least a very marked improvement over the last few books.

I can tell more and more than around between books five and six is where things really started to fall apart for Jordan, because that's pretty much where my reading progress went from a nice galloping revisit to old friends, who I'd frankly forgotten were as good as they were thanks to the latter books, and straight into a slog-fest where I have to practically force myself to read a bit every few nights just to get through. Well, HOPEFULLY at least this time I can manage at the end of the readthrough to finish off Crossroads of Twilight - which I have honestly not yet at this point actually managed to do. I'm also noticing that I'm going from "now why did this character annoy me? They seem human and naturally to me" straight into "oh. THAT'S why I couldn't stand that character. Yeah, they need to die now."

(And for the record, the more I re-read, the more I'm thiking that Taim might be Demandred after all - Jordan's had a few other instances sprinkled throughout the books where someone didn't recognize someone else due to the need for Dramatic Tension or what have you, even when they should have. And there are really really FAR too many incidents that point to that outcome, more than any red herring should ever be freaking allowed to have.)

Which reminds me: I really need to find a new newsfeed, or try to get in on the paid part of my old one. *grumble*

Anyhow, in the same vein as the topic, see also: Fushigi Yugi, and, much as I hate to admit it, probably Rurouni Kenshin. Although that latter is more the dragging-on-longer-than-it-should syndrome, rather than the "end clearly in sight but getting lost along the way" one. Seems like there was something else I wanted to mention along these lines as well, possibly a manga or two, but can't think of it right now.

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stormfeather
Jul. 11th, 2005 03:08 am (UTC)
Well, maybe it's because I haven't watched the actual first series in a while, then went to the manga. Or maybe the animation improves later on.

And if you saw a thrash-metal opening song, it may be a different one, since I know the first series also had two openings and two endings before it finished. The one in question is a kinda... er... rock/hip hop type thingie? That keeps repeating "Jump it up! Jump it up!" and "Wild wild rock!" in embarassing ways. Still, could be a mileage issue.

Nah, don't need scanlations. I'm sure the manga will wander its way over here eventually. And yes, if anything does ever happen with WoT, I'll let you know - if I can manage to continue wading through it, as per the plan. (And my god, have you seen the book art for book 11 yet?)
dscotton
Jul. 11th, 2005 07:01 am (UTC)
I actually liked Lord of Chaos... to me it wasn't until Path of Daggers that the series really started to fall apart, although in retrospect the signs were definitely there earlier. Anyway, here's hoping Knife of Dreams is better. I did think Winter's Heart showed some promise, what with things actually happening and a plot thread being resolved, but book 10 failed to capitalize on that.

I just looked at book 11 on Amazon and GOOD LORD that cover is ugly. Nice to know that Sweet's still doing his thing, I guess.

By the way, no discussion of things that start out well and end up sucking would be complete without a mention of the Star Wars series.
stormfeather
Jul. 11th, 2005 03:33 pm (UTC)
Well, that's around where things really started to go. But now going back through the umpteenth re-read, it's apparent that Lord of Chaos is probably around where the first things start to fall out of place - and knowing how it turns out in a few books makes it that much harder to go back and re-read, now.

Agreed on Winter's Heart, I thought it was a noticable improvement over the books that came before it. And then wanted to tear my hair out when what I read of Crossroads of Twilight was so horrid.

And the cover... well... yeah. *twitch*
silmaril
Jul. 11th, 2005 01:41 pm (UTC)
The funny thing? Almost everyone whose opinion I would trust about the next Jordan book is in the "I'll read it only if someone whose opinion I trust says it's better than the last few" camp.

Who's going to take the fall for the group?
stormfeather
Jul. 11th, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
Heh, good question. Well, like I said, maybe I'll make an impulse buy if I find it cheap, we'll see. And I do figure I'll buy it eventually, in softcover,it's just the hardcover I'm really iffy on.
dscotton
Jul. 11th, 2005 04:28 pm (UTC)
I'll buy it. I haven't soured on Jordan nearly as much as a lot of people seem to have. But then, I'm the guy who kept buying Terry Brooks's new books year after year until recently...
silmaril
Jul. 11th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC)
*cheers and breaks out the banners for dscotton*

Actually... if I was still active on the newsgroup I would probably end up buying it as well. You know, to participate in the discussion and all. But the sense of urgency is totally gone. Maybe... maybe it'll return...

...nah.
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