Autumn 2011 – Week 10 Anime Review

This week: fanservice in Ika Musume, a substantial contrast in Idolmaster, and confusion over Kanba in Penguindrum.

Blame finals for the delay in all my posts.  Meant to have this up on Saturday and Last Exile to be up on Sunday.  Totally didn’t work out like I planned.

Working’!! (Episode 10) – Okay, does anyone else like going out to restaurants after watching Working’!! or just me?  I always think it’s funny to watch the employees go about with their wild antics and random adventures and follow it up by going out to a restaurant myself and watching the employees go about their business in the real world.  It’s not like I go there and just stare at the waitresses or chefs or anything but it’s fun to see what kinda dynamic the staff has with each other and their customers.  I always wonder if that’s a Yamada in each restaurant (not an underage employee but someone who everyone treats poorly and doesn’t realize it).  Please don’t tell me I’m weird and I’m the only one who does this…

UN-Go (Episode 9) – What makes UN-Go universally better than most mystery anime out there are the fact that it’s not a string of episodic content with haphazard mysteries and random characters but that it has a central story to unite everything.  That central story allows the anime to build itself, its characters, its setting, and provide a way for the series to have some sense of time, too.  It really began in the first episode (although then we didn’t realize it) and it has become more apparent as the anime has progressed.  We’ve really only had 3 episodes with episodic content and this current arc started on the sixth episode and looks like the series will end with this story.  This sense of continuality and constant progress is what is missing from most mystery anime and why UN-Go has excelled this season.  UN-Go isn’t perfect but it certainly knows what to do right when making a mystery anime.

The iDOLM@ASTER (Episode 23) – The first half of this episode provided an noteworthy contrast to the series as a whole.  A main feature of Idolmaster is the constant singing, dancing, music, lights, fans cheering, and overall excitement.  And it’s apparent now more than ever with the idols having success across media.  But the first half the episode was all calm, quiet, and peaceful with Haruka wanting to get everyone together again.  There was no loud music, girls singing, lights flashing, bodies dancing or anything like that.  It almost felt weird for Idolmaster to have a segment like this, like it was almost sacrilegious to the series or something.  Still, I really enjoyed it and found it refreshing for the anime to take a step back and show Haruka go through some quiet time alone.  Looks like we might get some more of that this upcoming episode with that comedic turn-of-events during the rehearsal. (I realize it’s supposed to be sad but I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw what happened.  Yes, I am a bad person.)

Tamayura ~hitotose~ (Episode 10) – Kaoru is my favorite of the four girls, so this was easily the best episode of the anime in my eyes.  It corralled the high energy of the series and toned the constantly girly-ness down a few notches for some seriousness this episode.  This time we got to see the world through Kaoru’s eyes, to understand her thought process and how she sees her friends.  It really defined her personality and showed how she is the glue that holds the three girls together, especially when she had the idea to organize the exhibition in the next episode.  She really is the best of the four girls.  And her interest in scenes, something you never really see in anime (can only think of one other character where scents was her ‘thing’) is something I’m not familiar with, so it’s pretty distinctive and fascinating from my perspective.  I wished we had seen Kaoru more in this series but at least we got something for her before the anime concluded.

Shinryaku!? Ika Musume (Episode 9) – Whenever there’s a bunch of girls in bikinis on screen, fanservice is often brought up.  But what about something innocent like Ika Musume where the setting is on an inviting beach and that’s the typical attire for young women?  The show really does a good job of keeping away from the whole fanservice/ecchi angle of bikinis by not featuring shots of bouncing breasts or round butts, so that’s good.  But there are always numerous girls wearing skin-tight swimwear in each episode not to mention the equally prevalent shirtless and tan males.  I can’t think of any legit anime where so much skin is shown but does it in a non-sexual way.  Does this make Ika Musume a fanservice anime of sorts?  It’s never really looked at it that way, so I’d say no, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see a minority think so.  Nevertheless, it’s never really a focus and as long as it doesn’t ruin the comedy (or become part of the comedy) I don’t mind it at all.

Persona 4 the Animation (Episode 10) – Breaking up the standard formula of fighting shadows has really reawakened my interest in the non-comedy aspects of Persona 4.  The whole Kuma (Teddie) fight there certainly provided the dark overtone necessary for the murder mystery side to reestablish itself as the main plot point in the anime.  Furthermore, it shattered the repetitive formula that started up in the very first episode which was getting a little tedious.  Not saying the fights weren’t interesting themselves but seeing it go through the same motions week after week felt a little unimaginative.  All that’s left is one more shadow (Naoto) and then the series will be done with this pattern of episodes for good.  Looking forward to seeing the whole cast assembled before too long and seeing where what the story of Persona 4 is all about.  Can’t wait.

Mawaru Penguindrum (Episode 22) – I must’ve missed some information somewhere because I fail to comprehend Kanba’s character.  Just as everyone else in the anime became more understandable, Kanba goes and decides to be highly hypocritical and illogical.  I realize that some of it is part of his character but there are other parts that just seem contradictory to himself.  For one, he believes Himari will die and has stated that he will ‘take down the world’ if that is the case, reasons that explain his constant terrorism and shadiness.  But then when he and Masako are caught in the crossfire from the police, he leaps out to save her, after ultimately rejecting her.  I don’t understand why he wants to save her when he’s the one causing this destruction (his actions are what put Masako in trouble).  Also on that point, he wants to take down the world, so why care about Masako, especially when he never has the entire anime.  And since he knew Masako from the very beginning, why did he act like she was someone he didn’t know initially?  It doesn’t make sense to me which is why I feel I missed some information somewhere.  And going back and rewatching some scenes from this episode didn’t help either.  Anyone have any idea what I missed?

Future Diary (Mirai Nikki) (Episode 9) – Although Deus Ex Machina declined the transfer of the diary from Tenth to his daughter, I consider Hinata to be the true diary holder and a true player in the game after what happened in these past two episodes.  Why when clearly that isn’t what transpired?  Well from our perspective, we never saw Tsukishima (Tenth) actually do anything with his diary or play any important role in the story.  Instead, we saw Hinata do all the action, control and use the diary, and get caught up in a deadly moment with Yuki and Yuno.  Additionally, Hinata wasn’t afraid to kill either making her crazy enough to be one of the participants in the survival game.  Through those actions, I consider Hinata to be the true diary holder and a true player in the survival game.  The reasoning behind this strange behavior is for the series to abide by its rules but not kill off a cute girl and likely a recurring character.  Since the creator wanted to keep her around, he likely worked out a plan to make her a diary holder but not have her die when her story ended.  That’s the rationale I have on why she was able to do what she did but gave the required death to some scapegoat character.  The only reason Tsukishima was in the series was to die for Hinata’s survival, which is another reason why I don’t consider him to be the true diary holder.

Chihayafuru (Episode 10) – The use of hakama (the traditional Japanese clothing obsessed about by Kana) is one of the small details that keeps Chihayafuru interesting.  While most anime would opt for a situation where a team wears handmade uniforms with their team name (essentially what Chihaya, Taichi, and Wataya did as children), Chihayafuru dresses its cast in something innovative for the karuta tournament.  We knew earlier in the series that Kana would force the team to dress how she wanted (her compensation for joining the club) but to actually see it in practice and see it affect the story (being graceful, Chihaya tripping, Kana adjusting Tsutomu’s obi as a way to talk to him) all benefit the series in ways traditional or handmade uniforms could not.  It’s minor details like this that keep Chihayafuru as one of my favorites this season.

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  1. #1 by Joojoobees on December 13, 2011 - 8:09 PM

    Seeing all these shows listed at once really makes me thankful that this was such a strong season. I am not one who believes every episode of a series has to be strong for it to be good. I also tolerate “merely good” anime, because I believe truly excellent anime should be exceptions. That being said, we have such an interesting range of shows in the good to great range this time around. We have Comedies like Working, and Mystery-ish shows like Un-Go, and true Slice-of-Life, like Tamayura, and School Life / Battle fusion, like Persona, and the Symbolic-Drama of Penguin Drum, and even a Sports-Romance in Chihayafuru!

    I agree about the way the hakama were worked into the plot, by the way. This was a great episode of Chihayafuru, where the emotions were running high, and it really psyched me up for the final match of the regionals.

    • #2 by avvesione on December 14, 2011 - 1:00 PM

      This season has been fantastic from start to finish with so many strong and diverse anime. I kinda feel bad for dropping some that I know I would’ve liked but I didn’t have the time for (will try to catch up on those ones later). And I’m having trouble trying to rank everything from top to bottom since so many of them are so great. Wouldn’t be surprised to see others have this “problem”, too.

      Glad you enjoyed Chihayafuru, too. I think this tournament has been the best couple episodes in the series for me and I hope the anime can keep this feeling through the Winter season.

  2. #3 by Detetiv on December 13, 2011 - 10:36 PM

    yay Ebil teddy segment!

    • #4 by avvesione on December 14, 2011 - 1:01 PM

      That was unexpected but totally awesome. Was a little surprised how quickly it turned dark and somber. I’m guessing you’ve played the game before?

      • #5 by Detetiv on December 16, 2011 - 10:11 PM

        Nope! I don’t anything but a NDS, original PSX & a Wii -laughs-
        I remember lookin for info about p4 cause I was readin the manga & I came across this.

        I wish the manga would hurry up I really want to read it before I watch more of this.

        Just wait teddy gets very kawaii [At least in the game segment I came across]

        • #6 by avvesione on December 19, 2011 - 1:17 AM

          That’s good to hear. Must be kinda fun to read the manga and watch the anime at the same time, especially if they eventually branch off or have some differences between them.

        • #7 by Detetiv on December 19, 2011 - 2:47 AM

          It totally is!! I was doing that with Nuraihyon No Mago/Nura: Clan of the Yokai [I believe I spelled it right] after watching some of the anime I just had to read the manga cause it was that good.

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