Winter 2012 – Week 9 Anime Review

This week: why every match in Chihayafuru is remarkable and fascinating, filling the role of lead female in Persona 4, and why Another had one of the best beach episodes ever.

Rinne no Lagrange (Episode 9) – Episodes like these, ones that personify and develop defeated villains, often are the foundation for when these characters will flip sides and fight alongside the protagonists.  You could say that since they’re being developed in the way we saw, often with light-hearted comedy sandwiched between plot-related progress, it’s only a matter of time before they are converted to the light.  The way it’s shaping up, the male trio will be rejected or dismissed by Villagiulio, either through subordination or refusal to accept his mission and then be quickly won over by Madoka’s charisma and welcoming nature.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see these guys fighting alongside Madoka, Lan, and Muginami before too long and am suggesting it’ll happen before the anime finishes its first half at the end of this Winter anime season.

Persona 4 the Animation (Episode 21) – The role of lead female in Persona 4 had often been vacant due to the structure and nature of the game.  Being adapted from a game with a romance element, leaving the role of lead female open allowed for the player to choose which partner they wanted to be with over the course of the game.  The anime took a similar approach and rather than tying Yuu down to a specific girl, it was left open.  And given the nature of the anime, focusing on the drama, adventure, mystery, and comedy before romance, it never made sense for there to be significant strides in romance though it would’ve made for some interesting developments given the fact that everyone (including all the guys) seem to be card-carrying members of Yuu’s Harem Club.  However, with the recent shift of focus in the story and emergence of Naoto as integral to the mystery and spending more time with Yuu, it’s beginning to feel like she’s stepping into the role of lead female.  Though she’s been around the least of the four girls, Naoto has thrust herself into the spotlight (though not during any beauty pageants) and played essential pieces in recent episodes which is more than some characters can say.  Though I don’t believe Naoto will be the romantic interest at the end of the anime, a position reserved for Chie, Naoto has taken charge and filled the void that was reserved for the lead female in Persona 4 by taking a commanding position in solving the mystery and advancing the story.

Mouretsu Pirates (Bodacious Space Pirates) (Episode 9) – With Marika basically grounding the Bentenmaru due to school, I wonder what the crew does every day when Marika is away.  Even more curious are where their homes and lives are away from this pirate ship.  Consider the fact that Marika returns to a safe and welcoming home with her loving mother, Ririka, every night; what about the members of her crew, where are their homes away from the pirate ship?  I often imagine the members of the crew do not have permanent homes like Marika and prefer to sleep among the stars each night but the question of family is not so easily solved.  At this point, it’s up to our imagination and our desires but it won’t really be known where the crew originates from, what their former lives are like, where they go when they ‘return home’, and other frivolous details like that.  If we’re lucky, we might be gifted some hints but it might just be something that’s up to our imagination to fill in.

Chihayafuru (Episode 21) – Ever wonder why you enjoy the karuta matches so much in Chihayafuru?  One area that I’ve noticed that engages me in every match is the fact that the anime takes the time to develop the opponent enough so that you understand them, can relate to them, and even can feel for them.  Furthermore, Chihayafuru knows how much time to spend on each character not tipping the balance in favor of them since they more likely than not will not reappear for any significant portion of time.  And on top of that, these developments never take away from the game itself, never taking the excitement or interest out of the game.  The way Chihayafuru uses these characters is astounding.  Rather than having nameless, faceless, and personalityless (not a word) opponents who just play card games, the anime opts for real people with their own unique lives and stories and emotions behind each match.  It’s this factor why I always love every karuta match and why each one is thrilling in their own regard.  It’s one of my favorite aspects of the series, the way each and every opponent is characterized.

Brave 10 (Episode 9) – I don’t often sing the praises of BRAVE10 but this most recent episode deserves some applause.  With the 10 braves finally assembled (and clearing up my question from last week), it seemed like the anime was about to hit a wall and stagnate.  Nope, turns out it had a pleasing twist in store and pitted the warriors against each other in a satisfying turn of events.  I must say this was probably my favorite episode for the way it was directed and how the story made itself interesting from basically a comatose state.  Also, assigning the ten elements to the ten braves is something I’ve always enjoyed in shows like this where characters have obvious traits to their fighting and personality.  Seeing everyone line up with an element is kinda cheesy in a way but it’s something that helps me understand a character, both in terms of personality and fighting style, in an easy-to-remember way.  As long as these elements don’t become their dominating character trait, in which case it isn’t for anyone, then I’ll be happy with these developments as well.

Another (Episode 8) – Often times beach episodes in anime are there for completely fanservice and fun often at the expense of the female character’s bodies and the amount of pain the male cast can withstand.  Another took a stab at this overly prevalent trope in anime and turned out probably one of the best beach episodes I’ve ever seen in anime.  Though there was plenty of fanservice and fun in this wildly entertaining episode in a way the anime had never been before (and was a wonderful change of pace compared to all the doom and gloom of previous episodes), the story never lost track of its purpose which was to 1) find out about an item that’d help them end the curse and 2) relax and enjoy some time away from school.  Often time beach episodes have no connection the plot but this one integrated itself nicely in with the main storyline without causing too much of a disruption.  Additionally, the episode was able to characterize the cast in a more personal and intimate way.  We never really saw Izumi open herself up like that and she was engaging Kouichi in conversation and questions rather than just giving him the evil eye or glaring at Mei.  And Mei was shown to have more social skills and personality than assumed, able to spend time with everyone rather than closing herself and not talking like what she is accustomed to doing.  But probably best of all is that the episode advanced the plot and now the next step in ending the curse is back at school, somewhere.  Also, worth noting, but only three students from the class have died so far?  That surprised me when I reviewed the series briefly which I often do after each episode.

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  1. #1 by Detetiv on March 7, 2012 - 4:22 AM

    Well Naoto in the game has a large crush on him to the point of wanting to follow him. I forget if you’ve seen the game. I’ll just leave it at that.

    On another note: I liked it better when your rss posts were short & you had to go to your actual blog to read the whole post.

    • #2 by avvesione on March 7, 2012 - 4:58 AM

      Heh, knew that was going to happen. I got feedback from some readers saying that it was easier for them to read the full post in their feeds rather than coming to the blog. Figured that when I switched, I’d hear from the other side, too. I’m curious if there’s an option out there that’d allow the specific user to switch between summary and full post lengths or if it’s up the individual blog (and therefore no optimal to the important ones, the readers, to have their choice in reading style). I’m going to reevaluate this soon and make a final decision on the format soon.

      Also, I kinda guessed Naoto had a crush on him but so does everyone else it seems. I haven’t played the game but I do talk about it quite often with a friend who’s a big fan of it, so I’ve picked up on some stuff the anime hasn’t covered and whatnot.

      • #3 by Detetiv on March 7, 2012 - 6:34 AM

        The rss feed reader I use [I use one not well-known called Slick RSS] is very iffy with long posts. Acts up when I need to favorite long posts with photos.

        Well I’ll be a bit more clearer, when the main was goin back home she spoke about wanting to follow him & blushing alot if memory serves me correctly when I saw the cut scene.

        • #4 by avvesione on March 7, 2012 - 1:24 PM

          Ah, I picked up on that in the anime, too, but probably not the the degree it was presented in the game. I think you see it more when Naoto is alone with Yuu rather than in the group setting (which is true for most of the girls though).

          As for the feed thingy, I think I’ll keep it this way because you still have the option to come over to my blog to read it with pictures and that way the people that want to read the full post via their feed can also do the same. I do apologize for the inconvience I am causing you and my other readers.

  2. #5 by Joojoobees on March 7, 2012 - 8:00 AM

    I agree about the characters in Chihayafuru, but there have been a surprising number of returning characters (at least Nishida, Retro-kun, and Sudo all surprised me by showing up again).

    I did feel sorry for the little girl, and almost wished she could win, because I didn’t want to break her spirit. Aah! Karuta is such a cruel master.

    • #6 by avvesione on March 7, 2012 - 1:27 PM

      That’s true and those characters have been developed much more than any of the one-time opponents. Those characters seem to fulfill the comic releif aspect from time to time (not so much Sudo) but they’re all well developed and you can understand their personality and character much more than I originally expected.

      And yeah, kinda feel bad for the little girl but I’m glad she left happy and was accepting of losing rather than pouting and throwing a hissy-fit. Do feel bad that people trashed her afterward when they were the ones that built up all the hype around her. It’s not like she had anything to do with it, so it was sad she was hurt by the game she loves. But… she left happy, so that’s good.

  3. #7 by Myst on March 7, 2012 - 9:33 PM

    You know, now that you mention it, what do the other members of the Bentanmaru do when they aren’t pirating? I would be very happy if even a small moment was given to acknowledge the fact that they do have lives just like how Ririka was shown to be a working woman and not just Marika’s mother.

    • #8 by avvesione on March 8, 2012 - 12:42 AM

      I’d love to see that side of the series, too, but this doesn’t seem like an anime that will insert filler episodes that’d cover this topic. Everything has been related to the plot, so it doesn’t seem likely that they’d cover this topic besides maybe little hints or side conversations. If we’re lucky, they might cover it in DVD extras with little bonus episodes but I wouldn’t plan on it.

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