What roughly should an anniversary episode contain? Tough one. Off the top of my head I couldn’t give a direct answer, but I’m sure what I wouldn’t have in it. Carnival Phantasm is roughly what I’d had in mind of hey, this is not so bad and actually entertaining way to celebrate an anniversary for a franchise.
While Studio Deen dug up some scrapped idea of 07th Expansion and animate it to cover up for their poor decisions and present that as the anniversary to the series that made fans take notice of them, Larc knows better. Type-Moon gives its series a proper service with the animation of Take Moon. For being 15 minutes Carnival Phantasm beat the full 30-something minutes of Deen screwing up the original No Naku Koro Ni cast that they’d wish to be thrown back in a time loop if they could help it. There are just so many things TypeMoon does right in Carnival Phantasm that are worth mentioning.
#1 – First of all. It’s about Fun, which is what the industry has forgotten when it comes to specials and OVAS not simply catering and falling into plain otaku pandering realm delivering low quality entertainment and out of place fanservice that feels awkward rather than enticing. It’s about having fun and showing the characters in it having fun. It’s time to use crazy antics and revisit some known material and use them when they feel right, like material in Higurashi Kai where the characters have fun playing tag instead of three old man wanting to be sent to jail. There’s a bit of difference between having the characters of a show doing nonsensical actions and perversion for the hell of it.
#2 – Fanservice. Yikes. Proceed to run to the hills in a exaggerated manner
It’s crouching camera man. Not hidden intentions. I mean seeing how the character is most of the time wrapped in a tunic permits such acts every now and then.
To handle this “touchy matter” simply reduce it to a limited level of fanservice should it exist in the special episode. While I doubt that my series would be heavily fanservice oriented, for the sake of it I wouldn’t discard the possibility, but likely there wouldn’t be much anyhow. Here Carnival Phantasm has only one serious fanservice shot in the first episode and the rest is mild stuff. Ignore that some of the characters are already designed to fit fetishes because you’ll be hard pressed to not find an archetype or the like in any regular story unless it sticks to a deadly super serious business theme. Should one get remotely mad about some fanservice in the show? Hell, no. Fairly limited and mild material doesn’t rile fans up as much as the overuse use of them. Upset? Dance it off.
“I’m just going to call it the Type-Moon Wave”
#3– Dancing. Yes, dancing I say because we all like it whether or not we can dance or not. If anything anime opening themes have taught us is that they are highly catchy and fun to watch. The magic of it is that you can have all of your characters start dancing for no reason in your OP and in some cases ED, whereas they wouldn’t normally dance in the story itself. Go ahead do that dancing Saber, Arcuied, and Kohaku – whatever it is called. It is catchy. Unlike a certain happy, lucky, No no no! theme I’m looking at you dochy. Whatever you actually mean. I mean, you’ll be crazy not to have dancing in the OP where it’d feel more natural and give it a laid back feeling. Maybe not like Like Rin’s expression but fairly close.
#4 – Time. The length of the special is important. 15 minutes too short? Not really. That’s actually a good number. Nobody wants to sit through a comedy show where there are only unfunny jokes for the remaining other 15 minutes. Like nobody would reasonably seat through a three hours long movie unless they were unable to walk away. A solid 15 m is your right amount of time to throw all the material at the audience, more than that it’ll probably need a story, a provisional one, or be broken into likely three segments to not lose the momentum. Who would complain about a 15 m anime? Well, unless it is one of the crappy ones under 10m that no one talks about unless questioned at knife point, a 15 m show does no harm. If the anniversary or special episode has some type of close to a plot then the average 25-30m is a go. 15 minutes are great for light stuff. After seeing what Carnival Phantasm can offer I’d also opt for fifteen minutes short episodes for a miniseries to commemorate the anniversary of any show. It’d be a good game.
#5 – Handling the characters. Focusing on their strengths and weakness to get material from there. Whatever they can and they cannot do. Saber would be against any type of uncouth behavior. Berserker would flunk any arts and crafts class before they even started, let alone be able to play tennis normally. It’s the open universe hilarity and parody where all familiar character are part of one more time.
#6 – References. These specials do exist to commemorate the anniversary of the series. It’s about making references to the familiar and not so familiar cast. Not about emphasizing whatever they did badly in the story, but for whatever they were better known for and what represented them best. Making the characters out act will be part of the beauty of it even if doing so they still manage to keep part of what made them likeable in the first place. On the other hand, it might be a strange move to drastically alter who they are moreso if it gives the audience a different feeling than the ones they had of the characters they were familiar with. The idea of mine is that the anniversary special should capitalize on those aspects. Saber is righteous so we emphasize that. Lance always gets the end of the stick so we emphasize that. Gilgamesh is (still) a dick so we make damn sure we emphasize that. It is a further representation of what we know about them, sometimes with some twists.
#7 – Story? That’s right. There’s no reason to make it a good solid story. While it might sound contradictory of what a good show would be, the point is that the story doesn’t have to be solid to be good. After all, the main story (and other possible routes) are already finished and unless the creators have another better side story to surprise the fans with it the special episode will have to be non canon material. No one seriously and realistically should be be expecting the anniversary to be the most solid, one on part with the main series, insightful material instead light material. It’s about making the anniversary interesting while not ending up as a disservice to the series and the fans. The goal – to make it entertaining. Type-Moon’s anniversary nails it.