Spring 2012 – Week 11 Anime Review

This week: understanding and appreciating opinions in Hyouka, an older brother anime to Space Brothers, the effects of inappropriate storytelling in Mouretsu Pirates, and a marvelous aesthetic touch in Medaka Box.

Zetman (Episode 11) – Given the extensive and elaborate nature of Jirou Nakata’s revenge, not only including the hiring of various Players as assassins but constructing and furnishing an entire lavish mansion outfitted with impressive security, numerous trap rooms, and a corridor that featured about a hundred deadly lasers that probably had the contractors scratching their heads on why they were installing such unorthodox décor.  Not only that but consider the time that was wasted on this project, too, and not just Jirou’s time but that of everyone else who was associated with this plot.  And all for what?  For tormenting Kouga for a week after his father destroyed his life?  Seriously, that’s the master plan, the magnum opus he was going for?  Why not actually do something actually destructive, like kidnap and torture Kouga and Konoha or sabotage the business that spawned his animosity?  Why not do something that would actually oppose the Amagi Corporation instead of playing mind-games with their apparent teenage heir?  A perfect waste if there ever was such an example.  Really, you deserve this outcome Jirou, for not only mismanaging your revenge but for ruining absolutely everything.

Tsuritama (Episode 10) – With every subsequent episode, I continue to notice my qualms and reservations about DUCK slowly increasing.  How is this bizarre organization, operational with senseless grunts in rubber ducky hazmat suits who’re  commanded by a flamboyant and downright thoughtless leader, able to stage such a dramatic evacuation and launch an assault on a trio of extraterrestrials seriously?  For one, they can’t even locate or capture Haru despite his numerous appearances on television and other media.  Though they were able to successfully evacuate the town (I’m curious where the police and military are at this time), their barricades and defenses are atrocious, unable to keep a simple vehicle from entering the forbidden zone.  And their only form of offense is to dehydrate people.  Seriously, how do they expect to take on a swimming behemoth in the face of an imposing typhoon given their ineptitude?  Their only advantage is they seem to have the resources and appropriate alien knowledge but how this organization is able to stay afloat leaves me in disbelief.  I’d be curious to see their track record with other alien events just to see if they’ve ever triumphed in a mission since everything they’ve done here has been one or another form of failure.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (Episode 11) – Considering the anime has successfully split itself from the manga and is destined to an anime original ending, I can’t help but be curious of where the true ending is headed and what’s in store for everyone in the mind of the original author.  It’s almost like the anime has split into its own path with us following the naïve normal Yuuko around without knowing the truth while Shadow Yuuko (the manga route) is wondering around with the mystery still concealed safely away and unknown until the manga reaches its own end.  I’ve never really enjoyed anime original endings or animes that deviate from the manga too extremely since they’ve left me with negative emotions and ambivalence in their conclusions.  However, that being said, I tend to enjoy seeing how some work with the material given to them and how they’d wrap up the series prematurely, like what’s currently happening in Hyouka with their movie.  Since I’m not familiar with the manga and what the anime has done to deviate from its script, I can’t be too strict or judgmental on what it’s doing wrong and what it has done right.  However, what I can say is that I’m enjoying the route the director of the anime has chosen and I’m excited to see what conclusion it has planned for us.  And who knows, perhaps I’ll find myself reading the manga one of these days to see what else happens to Yuuko…

Space Brothers (Episode 12) – If there ever were a brother series to Space Bros, it would have to be Twin Spica, another manga/anime that narrates the story of kids realizing the dream of becoming astronauts.  Not only do the stories share similar themes and elements, but even actual episodes mirror each other nicely.  This effect became even more pronounced in the most recent episodes of Space Bros with Mutta sealed in that capsule for an extended duration of time.  This, of course, parallels the early episodes of Twin Spica when the five main characters were stationed in their own simulated environments, going through their own tests and observations much like Mutta is currently.  The one major difference between the two is how much more dramatic and emotional these episodes were in Twin Spica compared to Space Brothers and how it really pushed Asumi and the rest to the edge.  So far, the examples in Space Brothers look rather tame and normal when compared to the older series, but it’s rather interesting to see the similar elements used to such differing degrees and trying to contrast the two with each other.  I’m curious if or when the two shows will split from their similar paths but judging that both shows share familiar roots and document an analogous story, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Space Brothers follow in the footsteps of its better, Twin Spica.  And yes, you can be amused by the whole brothers, twin, older, similar, etc. etc. stuff going on here.

Mouretsu Pirates (Episode 24) – With the climax to Mouretsu Pirates only an episode or so away, we leave ourselves questioning what exactly is going on in this series.  The build-up to these final episodes have required the introduction and establishment of numerous characters, unknown pirate and military factions, tactical space battles, and pirate themes that have been absent the entire series.  In fact, nothing going on now was properly prepared for or hinted at throughout the entire series despite the fact we still have Marika and her crew around and the topic of the day is suddenly pirates.  But who are all these figures who are assumed to be important given their names and presentation in the series?  Who are all these factions of various pirates and nations and organizations against them?  Why have we suddenly been thrust into space combat after going the entire series without it?  Are we supposed to be intimidated or surprised by the Grand Cross when our knowledge of space combat are only a few choice scenes from the pair of episodes?  It is rather amusing to see the series use a story like this as its finale given how the rest of the series has been to date.  This style and concept of a story is what many expected the series to be about all along yet, now that we’re getting it, it feels a bit empty given that there has been no build-up to this yet.  It almost feels ‘too little, too late’ but I’m thankful the series is attempting to have something interesting as its climax and finale despite never really preparing us for such events.

Medaka Box (Episode 11) – Medaka’s forte #4 War God Mode is certainly an interesting concept given how it affects her personality, philosophy, and fighting style, but my favorite aspect of this transformation was Medaka’s new hair color.  That wild and passionate neon pink looked absolutely wonderful on Medaka as she was kicking ass and taking names.  Not only did it complement her rage and match her enthusiasm but it gave Medaka a bold new look for which to display how much she changed to contrast with her normal self.  Based on appearance alone, I prefer that shocking pink color to the tame royal purple because it just looks so awesome.  But thinking back to the rest of the series and given Medaka’s personality, demeanor, and actions then, I’d prefer the calm purple over the screaming pink because it fits those scenes and episodes better than this.  But the change in Medaka’s hair color, her essentially going super Saiyan for this fight, is something I definitely loved in these past two episodes.  I almost wish this aesthetic change was used more often throughout the series though, if that were the case, the dramatic influence of such a change would be lost for an episode like this.

Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna (Episode 11) – After witnessing the demise and destruction of Oscar in this episode, the question immediately arises, ‘what was the point of Oscar in this series?’  His involvement in the series was quite prominent, actually shown more frequently than some of the original five main characters, but his influence and impact was minimal, playing only trivial roles throughout the series.  And this episode seemed to be infatuated with him as a character attempting to rid the world of Mine Fujiko to satisfy his own selfish desires yet it never amounted to anything significant in the series besides fantastic delusions and uncomfortably erotic undertones.  But what does any of this mean to any of the original characters or the peculiar story of this Lupin derivative?  As I sift through detailed memories of past episodes, I struggle to find a satisfying or appropriate answer to this question.  What was the purpose of Oscar in this series?  Why did he exist?  And the most I continue to blank at this answer, I increasingly see Oscar as a wasted character or failed opportunity.

Hyouka (Episode 9) – The presentation and theme for this episode was examining individual analysis of the film thus far and critics proposing their ideas on the culprit in the ‘who-done-it’ murder mystery.  The three different critics each brought their own background and expertise to the same film and, based on their own personal observations and preferences, they provided their conclusions for the film they were creating.  What stood out to me from this simple episode is how starkly dissimilar the opinions on the matter were and how much more different were the parts they analyzed and included in their theories.  It reminds me to the fact that everyone has their own thoughts, opinions, and even observations and perspective on a given work, much like you and I do on anime.  What I take from an episode is different from you and the readers before and after you.  I’m fortunate enough to have this blog to communicate my thoughts and I realize not everyone has the same opinions as I do, so naturally, we find disagreement.  But the positive to this is that we’re all curious what everyone else thinks about something, so we actively seek out their opinions on the matter and compare and contrast our opinions.  What might be fun to do is to hit up a few other anime blogs and catch the opinions of everyone else who watched this episode and see how they stack against each other.  Though not everyone is watch nor writing about Hyouka, I recommend you check out a few of the blogs located in the blogroll in the right sidebar.  It may prove to be an exploration or exercise with quite satisfying results depending on your curiosity.

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  1. #1 by illogicalzen on June 18, 2012 - 10:14 AM

    One point about Tasogare Otome x Amnesia. The entire project involves Maybe the original author of the manga, so, regardless of it being an anime original ending, it should be one that is true to the overal feeling and aesthetic of the original manga. Anime original endings can be incredibly annoying, often ruining or skewing things, but at the same time, and at least in this case with such a short series it is almsot necessary.

    • #2 by avvesione on June 19, 2012 - 4:56 PM

      That’s true, the author of the manga is probably there to guide them and put some input in the ending but it’s far from the ending that they have in mind for the manga. What I find interesting about endings like this is that they have to end and take all the elements given to them at this time and try to wrap it up as best they can. Sure, the series will seem different in terms of story, characters, and pacing, but it’s the best they can do without leaving it open ended with only a small chance of it ever being picked up again. I’m not totally bitter about this ending being different than the manga but I am curious about how the manga is progressing compared to the anime and how their paths have split.

  2. #3 by Myst on June 18, 2012 - 6:17 PM

    I’m pretty much with you on the new direction Space Pirates has taken. I wouldn’t necessarily call it inappropriate because I’m liking the whole new sci-fi aspect. That said, I do wish the whole pirate factions was a bigger part of the series, cause that is something I have been hoping for since the beginning. If nothing else, I am at least glad they aiming big for the final arc!

    • #4 by avvesione on June 19, 2012 - 4:59 PM

      Yeah, the fact that we’re suddenly thrust into a pirate storyline with all these new characters that we’ve never heard or seen before just makes for an unappealing ending to this series. Had the series invested more time in these other pirates and their problems or at least provided more information on these topics, then I wouldn’t be so jaded at this final arc. But since we’re being shown all these random people and told we’re supposed to care about them and why they’re important, I can’t really get into this final arc. It just doesn’t feel like I should care given that the only characters we know, really, are Marika, her crew, and Chiaki. Honestly, if piracy ended in Mouretsu Pirate’s universe, frankly, I wouldn’t care. The series has just done a very poor setup for this final arc.

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