Autumn 2011 – Week 9 Anime Review

Say, whatever happened to my episodic posts on Shinryaku!? Ika Musume?  Well, it’s sad to note but these past couple weeks have seen a significant reduction in my amount of freetime meaning something had to go.  And well, Ika Musume just happened to be the unlucky one.  That doesn’t mean I stopped watching the show, just I can’t type up my thoughts, analyses, or tangents on Ika Musume every week like I have been.  Instead, it’s going to be included in my weekly reviews meaning you’ll see it here from now on.  There is a slight chance that it may go back to episodic posting once I have more time but for now, it’ll be a part of these posts.

Ah, one more thing, since I missed it the past two weeks, let’s have two Ika sections to start and then afterwards, it will be included in the normal (backwards) lineup.

Shinryaku!? Ika Musume (Episode 7) – Kiyomi and friends skits are usually never that funny but are almost always the most heartwarming.  Watching Ika Musume make her own club at Kiyomi’s middle school (the Invasion Club) and then going around town having fun with her friends was certainly a delight to watch, even if the comedy was generally absent.  But probably the best part of that skit was when Kiyomi fell ill and couldn’t make it to their mandatory meeting.  With Kiyomi unavailable, Ika Musume decided to have the club amend its plans for the day and go visit their friend who was resting at home.  It’s clear this skit was never about comedy but about friendship, which is something Ika Musume generally lacks.  The whole skit had an uplifting and cheerful atmosphere to it, one that helped us appreciate the compassion and kindness of the characters to Ika Musume and her feelings in return.  Depsite never really laughing during this skit, it is one of my favorite skits this season.

Shinryaku!? Ika Musume (Episode 8) – There aren’t a whole lot of disturbing things in Ika Musume but Sanae’s shrimp outfit always creeps me out.  Don’t get me wrong, I still laugh at the jokes when she has that shrimp costume on but it’s still disgusts me seeing our adorable, little Sanae wearing that skin-tight suit with that exceedingly detailed shrimp head.  What makes it even worse is she’s using it for all the wrong reasons, too, wanting to be attacked by Ika Musume in exchange for pleasure.  I don’t mind her other stalking or creepy aspects, like how she installed those cameras in Eiko’s home or how she watched over a sickly Ika Musume in the First Aid tent but that shrimp costume is a bit too much for me.  Still, I get laughs from all three situations, so the anime is still performing at a high comedic level but I’d rather be laughing without feeling a bit of unease.  Plus Sanae is one of the cuter characters of the series, so it’s a shame whenever she dresses poorly and covers her face with a horrifying mask.

Working’!! (Episode 9) – I’m having a little bit of trouble with the ages of the character now.  After seeing those photos of Yachiyo as an elementary-schooler next to Mitsuki and Youhei as middle-schoolers, it began to put things in perspective.  They, and Kyouko, are quite a bit older (~28) than everyone despite looking roughly the same as Sato (20) and Soma (??).  And when Kozue began hitting on Youhei, it brought up another age gap that I didn’t realize through the way the characters appear.  There are quite a few years between those two but they look to be about the same age.  And now I’m having trouble with the girls of the restaurant.  Takanashi doesn’t look like he’s 16 but rather a few years older.  Same with Sato and Soma.  Taneshima looks a few years younger than 17, although that’s the running gag with her.  And I don’t know how anyone could think Yamada would be 16 when that’s the same age as Takanashi.  But whatever, ages aren’t that important in Working’!! or any anime really.  It’s just their age and appearances don’t seem to match up that well.  But then again, you could say that for 95% of anime out there, too, depending on the art style.

UN-Go (Episode 8) – I’m going to miss UN-Go when it’s over.  This series has grown on me so much in these past few episodes that it has quickly risen to be one of my top animes of this season.  What I’ll miss most are the characters and the way they interact with each other.  I love how Kazamori and Yuuki had that quick exchange when he regained consciousness or how Yuuki talked to the brainwashed Rie and Izumi before shocking them with his device.  The villains each week are all coherent and understandable and they have logic behind their actions.  And Inga has always been fantastic, especially whenever he’s creepy or overly playful.  All the characters have realistic or believable personalities, never settling for anime stereotypes that put out a predictable response to any input.  Each interaction is detailed and feels authentic and this really helps the mysteries and the storytelling.  There are other aspects, too, that I’ll miss from this series, like the setting, the mysteries, or the opening and ending tracks (love them!) but the characters are what make this show and why it will obtain high marks once the anime is completed.

The iDOLM@ASTER (Episode 22) – It was only a matter of time before one of the girls took center stage as the main character of this anime.  No surprise it was Haruka who always had those little hints that she would end up being the lead female but it is kinda surprising that it took so long before she took her destined role.  While the series will not change drastically as a result, it will give us a new perspective as the anime approaches its finale.  This change will provide a spark to help revitalize the series before it begins to wrap up and give us some structure going into the last few stories of the anime.  What’s great is that Haruka has grown on me these past few episodes, especially with how she helped Chihaya get through her struggles and how she’s supportive of everyone in the agency, even the Producer and Kotori.  Haruka has the best personality to be the lead of this anime (she cares about everyone more than any other idol, evident by her effort to organize the Christmas party), so it will be interesting to see what she does and how she incorporates all the characters together for a wholesome and entertaining finale.  Should be fairly interesting to watch.

Tamayura ~hitotose~ (Episode 9) – How strange for this episode to be split between two extremes.  First, the Momoneko skit had to be my least favorite of all of Tamayura.  Because of that, I’m going to just skip it and just say it pretty much bored me the entire time without much cuteness.  The latter half of the episode was, without a doubt, my favorite.  The series took a step back from Fu and her friends for a moment to look at the recurring characters of Shimako and Manami and give us an update on their current situations.  Besides the breath of fresh air, the series also kept some details alive in its background characters since we saw Shimako recently asking about the best places to confess during the festival and later in the act of confessing.  I never expected to see her or her friend here again but we did and got a half episode out of it, too.  We got a bit more insight into the personalities of Shimako and Manami.  They actually come out to be less gimmicky than some of the main cast members (I’m looking at you Norie and Maon) and it was easy to understand their rationale and read their complex emotions.  The themes were brilliant, too, combining the strength of friendship with starting anew and being honest with yourself and others.  The lighting during the sunset was gorgeous and the scenery from atop the mountain was breathtaking, too.  And the comedy wasn’t bad either.  Easily my favorite in all Tamayura.  I just hope the anime can continue with themes and scenery like this before it is all over.

Persona 4 the Animation (Episode 9) – I find Aika to be one of the cutest characters in Persona 4 and I do find her humor to be somewhat entertaining but hasn’t her gag been used a bit too much lately?  I’m glad they’ve included a character like her in the series for some quick and amusing gags but we’ve seen her the past three episodes and I feel her gag is beginning to grow a little tired.  Yeah, we get the humor behind getting beef bowls or anything delivered anywhere now.  Is there anything else she can do to make us laugh or smile?  Her personality is a bit quirky, so why not work with that and have it be separate from the restaurant, too?  She’s appeared at school a few times in the background, so why not try something there for a laugh or two sometime soon?  I think everyone would appreciate that than another delivery joke.  She’s not a bad character but if you continue to use this one gag over and over and over, then she’s going to become a joke that no one wants to hear.

Mawaru Penguindrum (Episode 21) – Ah, so we’re starting to see the finish line.  With this week’s episode we saw numerous developments, all meaningful ones for our characters, the story, and our understanding of some specific themes.  The characters are beginning to separate from each other and fill their destined roles which will help set up what looks to be the best finale of the season.  Unlike most of the previous episodes of Penguindrum, this one went straight to the point on many subjects and plot points rather than dancing around them with artistic direction or zealous symbolism.  I liked that.  This episode probably had the most story developments of any in the series, helping progress the story at a rate unseen before in Penguindrum.  I can only hope the pace remains like this until the approaching finale to answer all these mysteries and resolve all my questions.  I can’t wait till we arrive at the point where everyone has been revealed and we can piece together every fragment of the series to finally arrive at what Penguindrum truly is.  I’ve seen so much differing speculation on the series, it’s nice we’re starting down the final arc where everything will be resolved and finally, finally, understood.

Future Diary (Mirai Nikki) (Episode 8) – Is there a reason that all the people in Future Diary try to murder each other rather than take the easy way out and destroy the other’s diary?  It’d be much easier to damage the cell phone in such a way to defeat the other player but everyone else goes for the more difficult method of killing the actual person.  There have been multiple times where diaries have been completely vulnerable but the villains, and occasionally Yuki, have failed to take the opportunity to end an opponent quickly and effortlessly.  But if you think about it from a storytelling perspective, it’s not exciting to see people run around trying to break each other’s cell phones or rip pages out of a book.  You can’t build the same sense of fear and tension that way as you can if you’re seeing people murder each other.  They just aren’t equal.  And the fear and tension are what drives Future Diary and makes it simply captivating.  So while I want to fault the characters for being dumb, I can’t.   It’s either dumb characters and outstanding storytelling or intelligent characters and lame storytelling and if given the choice, I’d pick the former every time.

Chihayafuru (Episode 9) – Consider most of my fears with this series vanquished with the latest episode of Chihayafuru.  My biggest concern with the series would be incorporating the entire cast together, having enough time to develop the leads, and show karuta in a meaningful and appealing way.  And well, this entire episode nailed all three aspects perfectly.  This episode showed every character of the Karuta Club together practicing the fast-paced card game and bonding as a team should.  We witnessed every character make inputs and never feel dominated by the two leads, something I love to see in an anime like this.  And we were even treated to some alone time between Chihaya and Taichi, helping them reinforce their roles in this anime and progressing the romance separate from karuta, careful not to harm one or the other.  But what might have been the most pleasing is how karuta appeared in this episode.  It isn’t boring to watch.  It’s actually very exciting, seeing the players attack the cards as best they can.  Seeing their expressions, then energy, and their weariness comes together to bring more to karuta than a bunch of cards on the floor.  To say this episode rejuvenated my interest in this series would be a gross understatement.  This episode is what Chihayafuru should aim to be every week.  And hey, I didn’t even mention my favorite scene of the episode yet, at the end with the cake and the text message.  But need I say more?  This episode of Chihayafuru was the complete package and I can’t wait to see how the members of the Karuta grow in the next few episodes.

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  1. #1 by Joojoobees on December 5, 2011 - 8:32 AM

    Lots of good points here that I don’t have time to remark upon.

    I agree with you that I would not have encouraged them to use that Momoneko-sama story. OTOH, it did do one thing that Tamayura hasn’t done up to now, and that is show a different side of Kou (Fu’s brother). Usually he is just the nice kid was in the background in one or two scenes. Even when he is supposedly the focus of attention because of the love rivalry, he generally isn’t there, or only appears briefly to say something is delicious. In the Momoneko story, Kou had an impact on the plot, we also saw him sketching nature, and he has some information that is secret from the rest of the cast.

    The second half of the episode was straight-up Tamayura: Dealing with the pain one feels; Friends awkwardly trying to make it better.

    Chihayafuru! I was never really worried by the Karuta aspect, but I am impressed at how they have managed to balance the Karuta aspects with relationship aspects, and also give a very well-rounded treatment of the various side characters, without losing sight of the central characters.

    • #2 by avvesione on December 7, 2011 - 3:43 AM

      Yeah, the best part of the whole Momoneko adventure was seeing Kou do something completely outside of the personality we’ve seen before. Him taking action and scaring the boar was my favorite part of the segment since he actually did something I like. I guess I should be thankful for that gem. Also, I laughed how you said the only thing he does is say something is delicious because that’s all he does… kinda sad when you think about it.

      I agree with everything you said on Chihayafuru and I know that is one of the reasons why I’m enjoy the series so much. I’m interested to see how much time we get with each club member to develop their own stories but I guess we’ll find out. Seems like we have enough time to spend one episode on each while also working on the karuta and the lopsided love-triangle.

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