sevendials: (mea culpa)
laila ([personal profile] sevendials) wrote on February 8th, 2010 at 01:48 am
It Is The Nineties.
Weiss Kreuz as a series is more than a little chronologically confused. This is a show that only makes sense if it's set in a year with twice the regulation number of days. We're talking snow in April, Omi having the canonical birthday of Febrary 29, 1981 even though 1981 was not a leap year, and oh God Ken Hidaka's back story. Don't try and make sense of it all, for that way madness lies.

On the other hand, it is at least possible to get the decade right. Sure, Schuldig appears to be campaigning hard to bring back the Eighties, but we always knew Schuldig was a bit weird and he may just be yearning for the glory days of the Stasi, and Kase seems to be under the delusion that it's the Seventies but then he's always been even weirder. The fans, on the other hand, think it's 2010.


The nineties, I suppose, still just looks contemporary. (As someone who was a teenager in the 1990s, I should probably be thankful for this.) Nineties fashion, relying as it does heavily on the jeans and tee-shirts I spent my own teens in, doesn't look anywhere near as dated as it could do since nobody's wearing puffball skirts or ridiculous bouffants, and consumer technology's prevalant enough to be noticeable. There were games consoles that weren't made by Atari with graphics that actually managed to look vaguely like the things they were trying to represent. There was an Internet, even if most of it did seem to consist of lunatics ranting on Geocities and Tripod about not very much (and you wouldn't even get that much if you were on AOL) and you most likely had to access it all via dial-up networking. It's not like Weiss Kreuz is set in the terrifying pre-technological wilderness that was the Eighties, after all.

But it is still the late nineties. The spring and summer of 1998, if one wishes to be scrupulous. And there's obvious evidence for this and I'm not just talking things like official birthdates or the occasional date on the occasional piece of background color. The essential ninetiesishness of the setting the characters are moving in is everywhere the alert viewer might choose to look, and several places they probably wouldn't.

And, of course, I have screenshots to prove it. Everything's better with screenshots.

This is not a contemporary setting we're talking about here. It is not 2010. It's twelve years previous and it shows. It's showing, I like to believe, pretty damn obviously in just about all these screenshots in one way or another; it's just as bad elsewhere, if not a little worse. Either it's 2010 and Weiss are the most self-consciously retro assassin team ever or it's 1998 and they're actually pretty well-equipped. What's more likely?

  • If you don't know what movie this is making reference to, you're too damn young. The Jurassic Park pastiche here - possibly referring to the release of The Lost World in 1997 - is one of the most conspicuously nineties references in the entire series.

  • Omi collapses onto his bed surrounded by floppy discs. The idea of anyone seriously using floppy discs to store any kind of information nowadays is utterly ridiculous: the average egg timer has more data storage than those things do now. Most modern computers don't even have floppy drives any more, the discs themselves are near-impossible to even get hold of, and the idea of black-ops agents relying on an obsolete and obviously just plain unreliable method of data storage is utterly ridiculous now.

  • The size of these computers' monitors alone are enough to tell an observer that this is not modern technology here.

  • I couldn't find a good screenshot of the equipment in question, but: medical technology and best practices regarding its use change fast. What was cutting-edge medical equipment twelve years ago has been slimmed down and streamlined a Hell of a lot in the following decade to the extent that the old stuff is already as good as obsolete. Space is at a premium in critical care units and the sheer size of the monitoring equipment by Aya-chan's hospital bed - to say nothing of the design of the bed heads - is something that simply wouldn't be seen in a well-equipped ITU in early 2010.

  • Every single car in this image now counts as a 'design classic', not just the Lotus Super Seven in the middle there. Cars just don't look like this any more: the trend is for a sleek, curved chassis, not the much boxier designs common in the nineties.

  • This television is huge both in height, length and breadth... and it has a VCR.

  • Ken has a Mac. Not an iMac, just a Mac. Once again, the size of the computer screen alone is enough of a clue we're not dealing with a modern computer even before we check out what Weiss's desktop looks like. Once again, computers just don't look like this any more.

  • Hirofumi Takatori is getting his would-be victims' pictures courtesy of a monochrome fax machine rather than an email attachment or cellphone photographs. Why would any modern bad guy take a fax machine with him if he wanted to stay in touch when the average cell phone would do the lot and more besides without requiring a phone line and an entire table to itself?

  • Finally, just one example from an episode that's absolutely replete with late-nineties detailings: this would be Maki in a phone box. Yeah. A phone box. How many people in Tokyo seriously use phone boxes any more? How many people go out without a cellphone on them? The idea of leaving home without your cell was perfectly acceptable in the late '90s: ten years down the line and most people wouldn't even want to run the risk of going to the grocery store without taking their cell phone with them, still less running black-ops data retrieval missions.

There's more to it than this, of course. There's Youji infiltrating an office with a DVD-R rather than a pen drive - and the attendant five-minute wait for the data to transfer. There's Wunder X, peddling CDs of addictive music, and the victims plugged into Discmen rather than iPods - or any other kind of mp3 player, for that matter. There's Weiss's reliance on radios when communicating in the field and the size of the headsets they use. There's the fact that a minute fraction of the cast have cellphones - incredibly clunky-looking cellphones at that - and even the ones that do don't always seem to remember they're there. There's Persia's car phone. There's Tetsuya's Playstation 1. There's the fact that two computers and a laptop in a house with only four people in it was quite a lot of computer to have casually hanging around the place in 1998. And then there's Sister Ruth trying to find Farfarello via her Angelfire page.

So could we please declare a moratorium on giving Weiss - or the Mary Sues who love them, for that matter - things like iPods or Nintendo DSes? It is the nineties, and there were no such things in 1998.
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