Summer 2012 – Week 2 Anime Review

This week: a fantastic and supplementary use to the overlays in Sengoku Collection, examining fragmentation of the Classics Club in Hyouka, and that annoying convenience in Tari Tari.

These weekly reviews will be somewhat thinner over the Summer anime season, not due to the lack of anime being produced this season or even in the number watched.  In fact, it’s rather the opposite in that I am keeping all the shows that were undecided after the first week (Binbougami ga!, Uta Koi, Sword Art Online, and Kokoro Connect), so that means I’ll be following ~15 shows this season.  However, not every show has made it to these weekly reviews because I don’t think I’ll have enough interesting items to say about each series.  Additionally, I plan on switching shows in and out given their episodes, so that means different shows will be appearing every week from now on with some shows destined to be here more than others based on my interesting in the series and if I can extract something meaningful from each episode.  So with that said, here’s the first weekly anime review of the Summer 2011 season!

Hyouka (Episode 13) – These recent episodes have been innovative for Hyouka given what we saw for the first half of the anime.  Though we had a few moments where the characters remained fragmented and apart before the resurgence of the Classics Club, the anime has never really shown the characters alone like this as these Cultural Festival episodes have shown us.  Rather than following the singular group as a whole entity, these episodes have bounced around from character to character and presented new perspectives and layers of their characters that further increase their complexity.  Perhaps the most notable is how Houtarou reverts back to his previous self, the lethargic and uninterested being who enjoys his solitude while everyone else around him enjoys the excitement of goofing around at school.  Similar parallels can be drawn of the other characters, too, primarily with Chitanda being a victim of her curiosity (no one is able to correct her path and she often seems lost).  And while Satoshi, Chitanda, and Houtarou have enjoyed their times alone, Mayaka has not with her confrontation in the Manga Club’s room and subsequent failure to locate the manga that supported her argument.  Not saying that being a whole or being a part would mitigate or dismiss this problem, but it is meaningful to see how each character works when they’re alone and not relying on others to fix whatever needs fixing.  With the story arc nearly over, we can only wonder how much more time we’ll see the characters apart before they rejoin as a collective whole and begin solving mysteries again.  Hopefully we have enough time in the next episode to appreciate this change of perspective and can see it at least one other time before the anime concludes.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous (Episode 2) – How different would Natsuyuki Rendezvous be if Rokka knew of her ghostly husband’s constant presence around her?  Should Ryuusuke let this crucial secret slip and Rokka learns of Atsushi’s watchful eyes, how would she react?  Even if she chose to not believe Ryuusuke’s story of her husband’s lingering spirit and opted to live her life normally, she’d still change, wouldn’t she?  Whenever she learns of Atsushi’s constant presence, Rokka will need to respond and change.  Based on what limited time we’ve spent with her and learned about her relationship with her late husband, it’s impossible to say, but it’s safe to bet that she’ll change knowing that Atsushi still remains close by her.  Even more concerning is how she cannot communicate with him or even visualize his spirit.  A troubling discovery should Rokka even know, regardless of whether she believes it or not.  Given the structure and story of the series thus far, I believe there will be a time when Rokka learns of Atsushi’s ghost.  That is the point of the story I am looking forward to the most since this climax will ultimately determine everything in the series, from the story, to the characters, to the romance, to anything else.  That being said, I can’t wait until the series reaches this junction and uncover for ourselves what Natsuyuki Rendezvous is all about.

Rinne no Lagrange (Episode 14) – The first season of Rinne no Lagrange appeared to be relatively light on the overarching story and heavy on the mecha action.  So far, in just the first two episodes, the anime appears to have mirrored itself and performed greatly with its story while having minimal, if any, mecha fighting.  This shift in style bodes well for the anime as it has begun to address some of the weaknesses in the first season without sacrificing too much from the other aspects that it performed exceptionally well in from the first season.  Returning to and strengthening the story in Lagrange was what I needed to see from the anime to be convinced it was heading on the right track to start the season and it has done exactly that, if not surpassed my expectations for it.  Bravo Lagrange for being able to start the anime again, after a season off, with quite an appropriate and delightful first few episodes.

Sengoku Collection (Episode 15) – An artistic motif that has bedazzled me throughout Sengoku Collection is the use of symbolic overlays as an aesthetic touch to enhance both the simplistic backgrounds and colorful palette of this charming anime.  Though most of these overlays are basic symbols that loosely tie themselves to the characters onscreen or the current situation of the anime, they failed to provide an influential addition and remained somewhat unnoticed or underappreciated.  With this haunted house episode needing some assistance in its atmosphere, these visual overlays slowly transformed into horrifying images of skulls, eyes, and ghosts.  Almost subconsciously, the anime transitioned itself from its usual, lighthearted and delightful self into a spooky and unnerving anime.  Though you did not necessarily focus on the images themselves, these overlays added to the mood of the anime.  It was a powerful use of art in Sengoku Collection which is often acclaimed for its use of vivid colors and moe characters.  I always appreciate it when an anime does something subtle like this with its details, so it’s no wonder why I felt like this change in style had such a significant impact on me.  Hopefully others noticed it, too.

Space Brothers (Episode 16) – Despite living within a tiny, secluded, and fully sealed box and under constant surveillance by your potential bosses, I am surprised at the behavior of so many candidates for JAXA.  It seems only one person, Nitta, seems to be concerned about the fact that JAXA is examining them at all times during this test; everyone else seems highly emotional and easily manipulated by the tension of their current situations.  And some are incredibly petty and disgusting in how they behave, especially Yamato who has some personal vendetta against Kenji in the B pod.  Doesn’t he realize that JAXA is watching him try to undermine his team for his own personal benefit?  Surely he realizes there’s more to JAXA than just their ineffective point system.  Regardless, it is interesting to see how characters have changed from before this test to now.  Should be fun to see what happens moments before the ending when every group is at their climax.

Tari Tari (Episode 3) – Tari Tari seems convenient.  Almost too convenient, if you know what I mean.  We’re only three episodes in and the Choir and Badminton clubs both were terminated because they needed 5 people.  Well the Choir club had 3 and the Badminton club had 2.  Perfect!  What about their upcoming activities?  Why, there’s a music festival that’s just starting up and it’s almost time for a tournament, too!  Brilliant!  And that problem last episode where the problem suddenly appeared to be they couldn’t get to the concert in time but resolved itself about 2 minutes later and everything was fine?  Yeah, that too.  Tari Tari suffers from a simple and uncomplicated script.  If something needs to happen, the opportunity will suddenly appear and allow the event to pass.  And if a problem randomly appears for no reason at all besides adding DRAMA, then it will be solved almost entirely as fast and everything will be alright.  It’s this basic pattern of storytelling that leaves much to be desired in Tari Tari, especially considering the growth of its characters.

What’s that you ask?  What would I do differently?  Well, let’s consider the whole ‘late-for-the-concert-scenario’ which I felt was a great chance for character growth and improved story content.  Rather than have the principal suddenly become hospitalized only for someone else to drive the bus, I’d rather have seen Miyamoto overcome with anxiety before boarding the bus regarding the nightmares of her previous embarrassing mistake.  With Sawa there to convince her to take this opportunity or regret it for the rest of her life, and done in a compassionate and supportive way, does enough to get Miyamoto on the bus to make it to the hall before their concert.  Though at the hall, I’d still like to see Miyamoto anxious and uneasy, especially right before her song starts, but calm down and wow the crowd with her voice.  With the successful concert completed, Miyamoto would find Sawa and thank her dearly for her support and getting her to realize her dream while fighting off her demons.  Not only would that show more character growth and provide more content to the story but it’d also deepen the friendship between Miyamoto and Sawa.  That and I believe it’d be more heartwarming than the concert we saw.  Regardless of whether it’s better or not (ultimately up to opinion, right Hyouka?), I’m looking for some improvement in the script and story in Tari Tari.

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  1. #1 by illogicalzen on July 20, 2012 - 4:02 AM

    I am enjoying all the series apart from Space Brothers since I never actually picked it up. In terms Natsuyuki Rendezvous we are getting to know the characters slowly but surely, the drama is something that the series is building up to rather than throwing it at the audience at the beginning. I particularly like how Natsuyuki Rendezvous has this very mature relationship, one that is complicated further by the presence of Atsushi and his attempts to get between Rokka and Ryuusuke. The series is subtle, but also very straight forward in places, giving us an excellent look into the complicated life and emotions of Rokka.

    I like the change of pace in Hyouka as well, and while we are being giving very similar ‘mysteries’ to previous arcs, with the cast broken up by the festival the mysteries have significantly less impact on the story. it is als fascinating to see how they all need to be together in order to work and survive in a sense, with their faults being corrected, or perhaps focussed by everyone else around them. Essentially they cannot function fully as individuals, and the presence of the others and of the club has created something that has yet to fully realised by any of the characters.

    • #2 by avvesione on July 25, 2012 - 1:24 AM

      It’s been a wonderful season thus far, especially if you’re watching all these shows besides Space Bros. For Natsuyuki, it is refreshing to have a romance/drama where the characters are mature adults dealing with the stresses of attraction while going about their daily lives. On top of that, there’s a ghost making things more complicated for both the lovers. It’s been brilliant thus far, though a bit slow at times, but I believe it will be one of the best anime this season when we reach its finale.

      For Hyouka, I’m enjoying the lack of mysteries in this arc, or at least, lack of the mystery being the story. I do find it interesting to note that you said “they all need to be together in order to” solve the mystery since it seems each character plays their own part when they’re solving a mystery together. I wouldn’t go as far to say they can’t function fully as individuals, seeing as Houtarou could solve the mysteries on his own (if he cared) and Satoshi and Mayaka could do some, but they’re much more effective as a whole, working together. But those are just my opinions since we actually haven’t seen that happen yet.

  2. #3 by Detetiv on July 20, 2012 - 2:16 PM

    Surprised you kept K-Connect… I dropped it like cold turkey after I finished 2nd ep… They mashed 3 chapters in 1 episode… That last scene about the soul was from the end of chapter 4. They took out so much genderbending… There’s 3 times they switch bodies that weren’t shown nor what happened when “he” was suddenly in the classroom. So much hate for it. SAO is growing on me. I really wish k-connect was better.

    • #4 by avvesione on July 25, 2012 - 1:27 AM

      Sounds like we’re missing out on quite a bit in Kokoro Connect but, because I haven’t read it yet, I have no basis for knowing what I’m missing out on. Without that knowledge, I’ve got to admit I’m enjoying what I’ve seen thus far. I’m a bit sad now knowing that there’s quite a bit I’m missing, but I’ll keep on with the anime and hope it improves from here on out.

      SAO is growing on me, too, though I’m still a little unsure of the series thus far. I’m enjoying it, just not as much as I hoped I would be.

      • #5 by Detetiv on July 25, 2012 - 2:23 AM

        SAO is just giving us side stories so far. If you didn’t read the light novel for 3rd ep it’s a bit confusing. I got confused in it even.

        I would recommend if you only could read 1 chapter go read chapter 2 of K-Connect. There’s a large scene they took out before the teacher talks to them. I found that scene really funny.

        • #6 by avvesione on July 31, 2012 - 10:44 PM

          Thanks for the advice. I’ll try to find time to go back and read the original material since it sounds like both SAO and Kokoro Connect have some good scenes not included in the anime (or at least for SAO, it’s more understandable).

  3. #7 by Joojoobees on July 22, 2012 - 7:39 AM

    I like this arc of Hyouka. The ideas behind it (including the character exposition, by showing them apart that you discuss above) are quite interesting. I liked the whole bit with the pen and the winning number, etc. as well as the hints about the missing cola/tarot card/go stones. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one develops.

    On Space Bros.:

    People have done studies in the past where groups had an individual brought in to observe. In the short run, behavior changes, but very quickly after that, people get used to the observer being there, to the point that they ignore them and carry on essentially as if they were not there. The JAXA ‘experiment’ involves cameras and wristbands which are even more innocuous than having a stranger in your midst. In other words, after a week most people would get used to the monitoring and just act “naturally” (as opposed to behaving as if they were being observed).

    I was wondering at one point, however if JAXA had selected people for the test that they thought were unsuited, just to cause problems for the others (it definitely would be vexing to have some loudmouth complaining every five minutes).

    As to the guy in Group B who is trying to sabotage Kenji, talk about the wrong kind of person to have on a long-term space mission! I know astronauts have been competitive people in the past, but a manned expedition to Mars will either succeed or fail as a TEAM. That dude needs to learn how to work with others.

    • #8 by avvesione on July 25, 2012 - 1:32 AM

      Yeah, this arc in Hyouka has been outstanding, especially in terms of what it has done for all the characters. Though there hasn’t been a bunch of new information, it’s been significant to each character. It’s fun to see how they are on their own which is something we never really get to see in shows like this.

      Thanks for adding those bits in about Space Bros. I assume that would be logical that everyone would go back to normal after a little while, but still… if you know you’re being monitored, why not act on your best behavior? Unless… maybe this is the best behavior for some of the candidates??? Oh dear.

      And yeah, Yamato is not getting that position with JAXA, even in the off chance that he gets voted on by his pod. I couldn’t imagine ever working with someone like that, especially on such a crucial team project like a Mars mission.

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