Spring 2012 – Week 8 Anime Review

This week: an unexpected character trait for astronauts in Space Brothers, a neglected storyline for a main character in Tsuritama, how the girls of Upotte!! will be unable to adapt to our society, and telling sweet, little lies in Hyouka.

Zetman (Episode 8) – As mentioned in previous reviews of Zetman, the art style and choice shots have aided in emphasizing the heroic nature of Zetman.  Character poses, aesthetic details, and extended shots are just a few examples of how the art has impacted this theme.  Now it’s time to recognize the music in Zetman for having the same, inspiring effects.  While not every track in this anime leads us to a sense of heroism, certain songs and specific times help reinforce this theme by providing songs that match the sense of justice or challenges the characters are facing.  The song I had in mind when documenting this review was the track that played when Jin and Kouga conversed in the tower overlooking the city.  I felt that same level of inspiration as during previous heroic moments but this scene was able to match that enthusiasm without relying on signature artistic techniques.  It was then that the I realized what an impact the music has in Zetman.  It seems as though every aspect of this anime can all be traced back to this simple yet powerful theme.

Upotte!! (Episode 8) – The girls of Upotte!! are so well integrated into their community and the real world that they’re unable to differentiate what’s normal or peculiar to them anymore.  Take for example the food we’ve seen the girls eat throughout the series and what was served at their maid café during the school festival.  Besides a few playful examples how “chili powder = suboptimal gunpowder”, the food the girls eat to sustain their lives parallel those to what we’d expect real Japanese girls to eat.  However, during their café segments, they served militaristic or weaponry themed food that seemed entirely normal to them despite the fact that most of the world has never seen or conceived this culinary style before.  What it tells us is that the girls are so ingrained in this military society that strange concepts like grenade-shaped dishes and driving tanks around school and opening fire on friends is commonplace and generally accepted.  Perhaps this is why we rarely see the girls leave their campus since they’d likely be thrown in jail otherwise.  It also makes me wonder why the Japanese teacher hasn’t demanded an overhaul in their curriculum and prepared these girls for the real world.

Tsuritama (Episode 7) – Only recently have I realized that the four main characters of Tsuritama each have their own individual storyline that have all been integrated together to form the story of the anime.  However, upon acknowledging this fact, it donned on me that not everyone’s story has received equal treatment, not just by the timing spent per episode but by characters themselves.  Natsuki’s storyline pertains to the rift between him and his father and how it affects his family.  While the matter is personal in nature, we’ve seen all the other characters of Tsuritama insert themselves into places where they don’t belong and help by accepting some of the burden of the problem or help alleviate those unable to bear the pressure.  In fact, everyone has helped everyone else with their storyline except for Natsuki’s who remains largely ignored by the producers of this anime and the characters within the anime.  This episode certain brought this issue to the forefront of the anime, after long last, but even with these developments, the cast just don’t seem ready or able to help Natsuki with his own personal issues despite all that he’s done for everyone else, especially Yuki.  Being indebted to his fishing teacher and partner, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yuki, with his newfound confidence and understanding, to go out of his way and repay Natsuki for all he’s done for him.  Truthfully, I find Natsuki’s story to be the most fascinating since it seems to be the most realistic and most difficult to resolve.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (Episode 8) – The whole issue of Yuuko temporarily losing her memory only for her to immediately regain it by the end of the episode really irked me because it comes across as lazy writing or simplistic storytelling.  What could have developed from such a dramatic shift in the story could have forced all the characters to change, especially Teiichi, but instead the series reverted back to its old, comfortable self with only the proclamation of love by Teiichi as our souvenir of this episode.  Really, for the series to jump back so quickly after taking a plunge is a tease on the series since it’s like starting an adventure only for it to turn back before the first obstacle.  Or better yet, like convincing a friend to jump in the pool with you only for them to immediately exit it, dry off, and return to their pool chair.  While it is pleasing to see the series try something different and move the characters out of their familiar roles and put them in altered circumstances, it is unsettling to see it degenerate so quickly, almost as if the producers were afraid the anime they were caring for would turn into a monster or die or something.  Then again, I’ve always thought the story to Tasogare Otome x Amnesia has been lame, so it shouldn’t astound anyone to see I enjoyed it being different and am unhappy to see it return back to mediocrity.

Space Brothers (Episode 9) – As one might already assume, not everyone can be an astronaut.  Astronauts can only be developed by a certain breed of people with the industriousness, enthusiasm, poise, and confidence (thanks John Wooden) necessary to make this transformation in their life.  But among those required life skills is one that portrays a negative influence on the person, yet is entirely essential to be a devoted and dedicated astronaut.  And that is that the person needs to be selfish.  Consider the life of Kenji, a married father of one who’s goal is to travel among the stars as a Japanese astronaut.  In order to do this, he must put his life and his goals ahead of those of his wife and daughter, something that he alluded to in this episode when discussing this challenge with Mutta.  He described that with the current technologies that the world he returns to on Earth will be entirely different after a single trip to Mars.  Just on the duration of time alone, he described how he’d be saying goodbye to his toddler and return home to a girl ready to graduate from elementary school.  Furthermore, he went on to detail how conflicted he would be for leaving his daughter for so long and forcing her to grow up through such important times without a father around to support her.  Of all the things in this anime, this is perhaps the first time I ever felt really shaken by the words of a character and wondered what it takes for a person to pursue such a life style when they’re sacrificing so much from themselves and their family.  And just as it has disturbed me, it also revealed just how enthusiastic and devoted they are to achieving their goals and living their dreams.

Mouretsu Pirates (Episode 21) – Chiaki has always been one of the best characters in Mouretsu Pirates, not only possessing one of the better personalities in the anime by being fervent and supportive of pirating but to provide valuable insight and information on a variety of subjects that are unknown to both Marika and the audience.  She’s the very definition of a support character but she’s also one of the best in terms of entertainment given her personality and actions.  And that’s why the series needs more of her to be around.  Without someone like Chiaki who breathes life into this anime, Mouretsu Pirates begins to feel somewhat stale or tired and the heart of piracy and adventure begins to feel irrelevant.  With the final arc beginning soon, one that relates to piracy it seems, we can only hope that Chiaki returns to the spotlight in this anime and returns the anime to its former glory.

Medaka Box (Episode 8) – HOLY SHIT YES MORE YATSUSHIRO!!! With only the anime opening as our knowledge base of the villains in Medaka Box, I had already passed judgment on them based on appearance alone and dismissed them as any exciting or useful part of the story.  Consider how surprised I was when we saw Onigase being as entertaining and enjoyable any other member of the anime.  Not only that but she was able to advance the story and set up the next arc which will put the student government against the student police through her actions alone.  Unlike most of the other episodes which have either had weak stories or weak comedy, I found Onigase’s presence to be obligatory for both the comedy and for the story to work the way they did.  Seeing the two other officers at the end have me questioning the direction of the rest of this arc, probably more action and less comedy than this episode, but I can be content knowing that at least one member of this team exceeded my expectations in virtually every way.

Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna (Episode 8) – To date, we have yet to see an episode that contains all four members of the main Lupin cast together.  Instead, the cast has been fragmented and we’ve followed the adventures of Mine Fujiko as she spans the globe seeking adventure, satisfaction, and above all, treasure.  Plenty of times she’s run across another member of the famous quartet and this episode reunited three of the members but we’ve yet to see any indication all four will be together for an episode or not.  Assuming the current trend continues, it will only be near the end of this season before we see all four together and, should that be the case, I can’t help but feel it’s a mistake by the series to take such an action, even though this anime is a stand-alone derivative of the original.  Hopefully I’m wrong but it doesn’t seem like it, especially with the end of the season quickly approaching.

Kore wa Zombie desu ka? OF THE DEAD (Episode 8) – During the first season of Zombie, I hated Kyouko and found her insanity to be a negative to the series.  Seeing an insane villain with no disregard for destruction or death is lazy writing, used in place of where a villain is needed but being too lethargic to come up with any type of background.  Now that she’s returned and her insanity is back, I figured I’d continue where I left off and detest her some more but I really didn’t.  In fact, I enjoyed her and her crazy faces.  Just what caused this change when virtually nothing happened to her character since then to now.  What likely caused this change in opinion is the fact that her insanity was used for comedy this time around rather than being a piece of the story.  With it containing less significance and to the story, my abhorrence for that lazy writing seemed to vanish.  Plus seeing her faces used in jokes and general humor outplayed most of the other jokes in this episode, especially when she was on that evening date with Ayumu.  Unfortunately, as it appears I just get around to liking a character, she disappears for a few centuries in prison only for everyone to forget about her mere existence.  But knowing how anime work and how this show operates, she’ll be free before the end of the series, so we’ll get to see her sometime around the finale or something.

Hyouka (Episode 6) – Knowing how Houtarou is infatuated with conversing energy and always taking the path of least resistance, it’s surprising that he hasn’t begin to lie to Chitanda to quell her constant curiosity and requests for help.  She seems unable to accept most answers and the other remaining club members are dedicated to forcing Houtarou to pitch acceptable answers, but couldn’t he just make up some lie that would satisfy everyone without having to put any effort into solving whatever mundane mystery or asinine question that Chitanda comes up with?  Surely he’s played around with the idea in his head but perhaps he realizes that he has a bit of curiosity in himself, too, and desires to see an answer to whatever the question of the day is.  Still, I would’ve assumed we’d hear Houtarou’s thoughts on such a matter and hear why he decides to answer the mysteries truthfully rather than in accordance to his own philosophy of conserving energy.

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  1. #1 by mwnanamai on June 2, 2012 - 7:57 AM

    Teaching the girls in Upotte how to be proper Japanese girls and stop playing with weapons would be like spending more time teaching Sangoku about driving instead of planet destroying martial arts … but I do remember that DBZ episode with Sangoku trying to drive a car was hilarious :P

    I generally don’t bother with over analyzing Upotte premise, since the show is not trying to teach us big things anyway, they have a premise of ”Girls=Guns” and as long as they keep it internally consistent and fun it will be fine, even thought the whole premise might be absurd.

    I don’t know why Upotte needs to explain its premise furthermore, a lot of other animes are based on absurd premises too.

    I did a Jormungand Marathon till episode 5 and it was indeed glorious, hope to be able to complete soon. Have not yet picked on Zetman, but it looks promising indeed

    • #2 by avvesione on June 2, 2012 - 6:44 PM

      Well the only one who cares about them growing up and acting like normal people is the Japanese teacher and, judging from how he always overreacts to everything they do as strange or absurd, I always thought he’d take the initiative and teach them how to live as normal girls. After all, they act like normal girls most of the time, just they have certain oddities that wouldn’t fly in the real world. Plus they’re trying to be the best weapons they can be, and being able to adapt to their environments would make them better, wouldn’t it? But yeah, this isn’t supposed to be taken seriously as it is a comedy with an outrageous backdrop, but it’s still fun to think about nonetheless.

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying Jormungand, it’s been one of my favorites all season. Zetman has been a little lackluster but you still might enjoy it. It’s worth a shot if you have the time and energy to catch up with it.

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