Home > Episode Reviews, First Impressions > Freezing Episodes 1 and 2 – Defrost Mode

Freezing Episodes 1 and 2 – Defrost Mode

We haven’t had cause to mention this before, but the influence of Japanese visual media (manga, anime, and the like) is not just limited to exports. Several other Asian countries have produced manga-like material, with Korea being one of the biggest sources. Called manhwa there, Korean comics are clearly taking their inspiration from across the pond, although obviously they make Seoul the center of the universe, rather than Tokyo.

One exception to this is Dal-Young Lim, a Korean author popular enough to gain entrance into the Japanese market. He has produced at least two series, Kurokami and Freezing, which are set in Tokyo and serialized in Japanese magazines. Kurokami was made into an anime a few years back, and I caught a few episodes before dismissing the entire production as cliched and forgettable.

Lim’s primary skill, it seemed from that work, was to distill all the basic necessary plot elements for a successful series into his story, but not to instill the proper heart to it all that would make it engaging and memorable. None of this ended his popularity in Japan, so a few years later we have an anime adaption of Freezing. I will say in Freezing’s “defense” that, while it is still cliched, it is quite memorable. Just not in a good way.

The classroom scenes in the first episode form one of four different frames of reference, as the show attempts to explain the technology of the setting, a key past event, and two separate but intertwined narratives leading up to the start of the story proper. Given the show jumps between these frames at whim, it's a very sloppy way to start

Let’s start with the cliches: 1) invaders of some supernatural/science fiction sort are coming from another dimension to take over the world, and their objective is always Tokyo. 2) The only people capable of fighting them are teenagers, who 3) attend a high school academy for training in the tech/magic system (tech in this case, genetic tampering) which lets them face off against the monsters. 4) In what might be a trend this season, only women can utilize the tech to become super soldiers.

Need more? 5) Said teenagers have a ranking system, where the students compete for the title of most powerful fighter, even though that just makes them more likely to be first on the chopping block the next time an battle needs to be fought. 6) The female fighters (called Pandoras) are paired with fellow, male student as a supporter (called Limiters) who somehow enhances her powers and restricts the abilities of the invaders (called Novas). Oh, and 7) the series has technobabble coming out of its ears—but you probably could figure this out already.

Yes, the statistics in the lead heroine's military file include her three sizes and her favorite food. How else could you easily communicate that information to her masturbating fan base?

Another thing you could figure out from the screen caps is how exploitative this show is. Overly endowed teenagers are a dime a dozen in anime land, and the considerable number of panty shots vies with—but does not actually surpass—shows like High School of the Dead or Strike Witches. Where Freezing “excels” is in clothing damage, as the various weapons the Pandoras use on each other seem custom made for ripping open bodices and destroying skirts.

The exploitation factor, however, isn’t limited to sex. The show is willing to inflict extraordinary violence on its lady cast as well. The opening episode heavily features the Carnival (itself a very suggestive name), the aforementioned competition system wherein female students have their combat ability ranked. Throughout it women are mauled, maimed, dismembered, and gored, with only a very skilled medical staff and the Pandora’s natural healing abilities preventing fatalities.

It was very hard to find an example of the extreme levels of clothing damage common in this show which also met with our site's standards of decency. Note that no matter how much of the girl's top remains intact, the breasts will always wind up bared

The level of violence is “justified” by the fact that combat against the Novas is just as brutal (intermixed in the first episode as flashbacks to a Nova attack four years prior), and given advances in medical technology even lost limbs and slashed throats can be restored. The audience is still invited to take as enjoyment the sight of teenage girls defeated in the carnival as they lie mutilated on the ground, screaming, gurgling, and moaning.

I suppose I should mention the plot, which centers around Kazuya Aoi, a prospective limiter whose older sister served and died as a Pandora. On his day at the academy he accidentally interferes with a fight between the number one and two ranked women of the sophomore class, causing the top ranked Satellizer to lose to the second ranked Roland. (No, I couldn’t make up names like this if I tried.) The second episode consists of Kazuya trying to apologize to Satellizer, which just leads to another fight between her and Roland.

Kazuya buried his face in Satellizer's breasts because she looked like his dead sister when seen from the back. Leaving aside how he confused a British national with his (Japanese) sister, I don't think family greetings typically include innocent molestation

And of all the offensive aspects of Freezing, of which there are many, the most offensive might be this: Despite Satellizer’s reputation of being violently opposed to physical contact, including rumors that she’s killed people for touching her, Kazuya’s full-on embrace just turns her into a blushing school girl. Just by him being present, her ice queen persona melts and even her will to fight seems muted.

Now, I’m not opposed to tsunderes in principle. Far from it, in fact. I am opposed, always and everywhere, to a character’s personality being infinitely malleable based on the whims of the writers and the necessity of the plot. If Satellizer suffers from haphephobia (to the point where the wiki article on the subject actually mentions her character under the pop culture references section), Kazuya shouldn’t get a free pass just because he’s the protagonist. If she is a combat god naturally driven to excel, she shouldn’t forget herself due to another battlefield distraction.

Another small but still disgusting factoid: Roland seems to be sexually aroused whenever she activates her powers. It was less noticeable with Satellizer, but still there

Now, there will probably be some sort of half-baked excuse given later in the story as to why Kazuya doesn’t set her off. I don’t care. Going to the trouble of giving your female lead a psychological issue, and then not dealing with it organically, as part of her character growth, is a cheap cop out. It’s one of the many, many failures of narrative, pacing, characterization, and plain common decency that this show exhibits on a regular basis.

I could go on, but I’ve wasted more time on this show than it deserves. This is the sort of series that  exemplifies the perverted juvenile trash that most people unfamiliar with anime assume the whole medium is like. It’s the sort of show that makes Infinite Stratos seem well-plotted, restrained, and respectful of its female characters. And that Freezing has made me praise IS just a week after I panned it should tell you how far down the gutter Freezing descends.

I suppose it's only proper to devote as much time to the over the top violence as to the over the top fanservice, so here's a shot from where a Void takes off a Pandora's arm. The show wants to be edgy, after all

I’m sorry that the first work by a Korean author covered here at antiotaku is just so plain bad; I’m sure there are solid works from that country that for whatever reason don’t catch the attention of Japanese animators. This work, however, caught their attention by regurgitating some of the most exploitative tropes in a show that features Sex! and Violence! as a substitute for actual maturity. If this is what it takes for Japan to recognize Korean authors, I’d prefer the latter to remain obscure.


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