Summer 2012 – Week 4 Anime Review

This week: my favorite romance in Sword Art Online, character energy in Sengoku Collection, a change of setting to perhaps revitalize Rinne no Lagrange and, finally, a disagreement I have with Natsuyuki Rendezvous.

Hyouka (Episode 15) – Whether by design or default, everyone turns their attention toward Houtarou.  And that isn’t just the audience that’s doing it either, all the characters spend some amount of attention observing our star character and commenting on his abnormal behavior.  Despite the fact that every other character from the main cast is waist-deep in a personal problem of their own, the remaining trio of the Classics Club keep a watchful eye on Houtarou and his slow evolution.  Why only Houtarou?  Why don’t the other students recognize the predicaments that they’re in and work to solve those issues as well?  Why hasn’t Mayaka recognized Satoshi’s struggles or Chitanda been eager to help her fellow students with their challenges as well?  Perhaps because Houtarou is special to them to a degree that the other students don’t feel for each other?  Chitanda always goes to Houtarou for her mysteries to be solved and her efforts in solving the cases are the reason why she’s exhausted and troubled by her role in the mysteries.  Satoshi wants to prove his worth in solving the Juumonji incident, so his attention is squarely on outperforming Houtarou.  And with Mayaka’s conflict derived from the Manga Club, she suppresses her feelings as best she can, though when questioned by Houtarou, she adamantly denied such distress.  I’m certain that, given the deep bonds the students share with each other, that if they were more honest with their hardships that they’d be dealt with by their friends rather than suffering on their own.  Nevertheless, it’s strange that everyone keeps observing Houtarou’s activities and no each other’s despite the fact that everyone is going through some form of conflict or another right now.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous (Episode 4) – I haven’t had much reason to complain about Natsuyuki Rendezvous since I’ve found the romance to be fascinating, but the new mechanic that was introduced of Atsushi being able to enter and take over Ryuusuke’s body is something that I personally don’t agree with.  While it may ultimately affect the story in a positive sense, able to advance the story quickly while finally providing Atsushi’s stance on the romantic fling with Ryuusuke, I can’t help but feel it’s awkward and unnecessary.  Having a ghost come back from beyond the grave to communicate with his wife just cheapens the experience of having a ghost as a love rival in an anime.  It’s like the anime gave up and is reversing its plot to accommodate for this scene. ‘He’s a ghost but only some of the time’ is what it feels like.  Why can’t he communicate with anyone else or interact with the physical world beyond shaking the store and moving knickknacks around?  It’s against everything we’ve seen to date, especially regarding the conflict in this romance which has been so successful to date.  Bringing Atsushi back from the dead is an affront to Natsuyuki Rendezvous, in my opinion, though I hope there’s something I can salvage from these scenes in spite of my disagreement with this new direction.

Rinne no Lagrange (Episode 16) – Taking the setting to be among the stars is a wonderful move by Rinne no Lagrange which hopefully will rejuvenate the series and bring it out of this current slump.  The start to the second season has been somewhat of a letdown given how the first season ended and the direction the characters and story have taken of late.  With the series moving to the outer space, a change of setting is certain to bring a new perspective to the series by giving everything a new backdrop and dynamic to the characters to work with.  While Kamogawa has been wonderful as a setting, its gotten somewhat tiresome as of late, much like the plot with the war being eminent for four episodes now, and the cast becoming increasingly static and one-dimensional.  With the girls together among the stars, the anime is certain respond.  Hopefully there is some positive energy and an interesting story for these characters to work with.  And maybe some space battles, too, if we’re lucky.

Sengoku Collection (Episode 17) – With every episode comes a new character and a new personality for which Sengoku Collection to work with.  And with that comes energy and innovation, making every episode both delightful and unique.  With Liu Bei, currently a maid-for-hire who seeks to improve not only the home but the life of a challenging client, we’re able to see an original character bring their energy to this episode for which to make the anime uplifting and heartwarming.  Every character brings something new to the anime given their circumstances and personality, but the end result is always positive energy from the Sengoku characters and a touching story in which they directly involve themselves with the people of modern Japan and their problems.  Watching all these individual stories that are only tangentially connected always makes the series so much fun to watch and it’s largely thanks to the way the Sengoku characters interact with our world and the energetic personalities they display.  If only more anime could reproduce this satisfying effect…

Sword Art Online (Episode 4) – The innocent and fleeting romance that took place in the fourth episode of Sword Art Online is my favorite type of romance in anime.  Not only was the relationship naïve and simple, a momentary crush for Silica after her life was saved by Kirito, but it never dominated the episode nor affected their goal of reviving the feathered dragon Pina.  Ultimately, the romance was a consequence of Silica being with Kirito rather than the story itself.  Furthermore, it was filled with positive emotion, budding with hope and smiles, and ending with a happy story for everyone involved.  The fanservice in this episode was geared toward Silica being an innocent young girl, too, embarrassed at Kirito seeing her panties a few times and not going with the clichéd anime reaction of screaming, calling him a ‘hentai’, and smacking him across the room.  It just involved her blushing deeply which is what it should be for someone in that situation and at that age.  And with that ending, it left both characters inspired and motivated to continue on their journeys albeit separated from each other given their level and circumstanced.  It doesn’t need to drag on in an endless adventure where we know they’ll never end up together like so many harems based their existence on.  It lasted just one episode for now and hopefully can be revisited later before the anime reaches its finale.  If only more anime had sensible and endearing romances like this, then I wouldn’t be so bitter and spiteful toward the genre as a whole.  I might even go as far as to say it’s my favorite romance for the year of 2012, though I’ve been impressed by Natsuyuki Rendezvous, have strong impressions from Chihayafuru, and fond memories of Tasogare Otome x Amnesia.  Still, being fourth among an entire year of anime is still remarkable, especially since this was just a crush during one episode of an action/adventure anime.  Well done, SAO.

Tari Tari (Episode 5) – If there’s one thing I adore about the art style in Tari Tari is how the emotions appear on the faces of the characters.  P.A Works has always delighted me with its unique design of characters and its methodical attention to details, so it’s no wonder I’ve taken such a liking to the way the emotions express themselves on the character’s faces.  Not only does the art style look pleasing artistically but it’s done with such aesthetic mastery that it you can instantly understand how they feel.  This anime has been full of varying levels of emotions and had conveyed happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, and playfulness all through the way the characters are drawn.  The appearance on their faces has been a favorite of mine throughout this young season of Tari Tari and something I had to mention before too long.  And with this episode showcasing a rollercoaster of emotions, now was as perfect a time as any.

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  1. #1 by windyturnip on August 1, 2012 - 5:47 PM

    I’m either watching or planning on watching every series here except Sengoku Collection. I didn’t give it a second look after reading the synopsis, but you seem pretty impressed by it. Could you give it a serious recommendation or is it more of a niche anime?

    • #2 by avvesione on August 2, 2012 - 2:52 AM

      Sengoku Collection is more of a niche anime but if you’re looking for something lighthearted, fun, and certainly refreshing, then Sengoku Collection is definitely an anime I’d recommend. It does begin a little slowly and the worst episode is the 3rd one but, after that, it picks up quickly and becomes a delightful and charming experience. Episodes 5-8 are my favorites and 13 and 17 were fantastic, too. It is a bit of hit-or-miss on some episodes for some people but I have a favorable impression of the entire anime and I’d love for more people to watch it. Also, the series has no real story structure either, so you could really start with any episode though there are some minor details connecting the series as a whole.

  2. #3 by Detetiv on August 1, 2012 - 9:38 PM

    This isn’t Silica’s last scene, though that’s all I can say w/o giving stuff away

    • #4 by avvesione on August 2, 2012 - 2:53 AM

      Wonderful, I’m glad to hear it. Hopefully she appears sometime before the finale since she’s quickly become my favorite character in this anime. Doesn’t seem like we’ll see her for a while given the level difference between her and Kirito, but maybe he’ll visit her again sometime soon.

      • #5 by Detetiv on August 3, 2012 - 8:33 PM

        She doesn’t really have a big role at all after this though, she doesn’t show back up until the end of volume 4. The characters that show up often are Kirito, the other main girl & Kirito’s friend. They seemed to have larger roles.

        /spoiler/ I want their “daughter” & the other game to show up soon already though. Cause I enjoyed the interaction even better. /spoiler/

        • #6 by avvesione on August 5, 2012 - 8:58 PM

          Yeah, I read up on Silica’s character, so I know kinda what goes on afterwards. Looking forward to that stuff in the Autumn since it’s scheduled to be 25 episodes.

  3. #7 by foshizzel on August 1, 2012 - 10:33 PM

    Rinne no Lagrange 16: Daaaammm things are getting freaking good especially with the reveal of Yurikano! But I really want to know why she is acting like a child…they have to tell us how that happened and why she is with Lan’s brother! I still think he plans on using her to pilot a vox eventually. Also they mentioned clones? Why don’t they just make clones of Madoka since she is obviously the key to unlocking the full power of the Vox? Then again maybe it doesn’t work like that? I did enjoy those horrible disguises Madoka and Muginami through together that was amazing.

    Sengoku Collection: BEST NEW CHARACTER! I love her design and color layout and of course her outfit! I noticed all of the generals have fantastic clothes. The whole pig curse thing was a bit out there for me but it I suppose it was needed for the story? Either way I always look forward to more Sengoku Collection! That series needs more love.

    Sword Art Online: I know I said best character for Sengoku! But damn Silica stole the whole episode in a good way though. Her character I swear was a breath of fresh air compared to episode 03 with Sachi who was a down and depressed girl, but I really enjoyed watching the interaction between Silica and Kirito! YES SHE DIDN’T SLAP HIM I was really waiting for her to say BAAKAA and call him a hentai…thankfully she stayed away from that. Kirito is now 78 with 14,500 HP? That is really cool, but most people are like HERP A DERP now he is overpowered! Yeah he is a main character after all isn’t that like his job? LOL Anyway great episode and I keep hearing that Silica wont appear again? I hope she returns because this is a 24+ anime series.

    Tari Tari: OH MY GOD what a great episode and honestly it felt like I was watching a side arc in something like Clannad to me, but damn the emotions were wonderful and I will admit it was quite sad to see Wakana go through her memories with her mom! damn the next episode is going to be a drama fest in terms of story.

    • #8 by avvesione on August 2, 2012 - 3:06 AM

      Yeah, I had a great laugh at those disguises, too. Almost wish Land had one as well. If I had to guess why Yurikano is acting like a child, it might have something to do with those tests they were doing on Lan that had the unintended side effect of permanently damaging one’s personality and behavior. I’m going to guess when she destroyed that planet by releasing her Rinne (or whatever), that’s when she suffered this irreversible damage and became child-like. As for the clones, I think they could clone Madoka but I don’t think they’d all have that ass tattoo that she has that connects her with Midori. I think that’s what’s important about Madoka… you remember that scene from the first episode right? =P

      Liu Bei is one of my favorites, too, considering her appearance, personality, and perseverance. Her energy really made the episode enchanting and satisfying, especially when she not only improved the house of her client but her life as well. That pig curse was a bit awkward for me, too, but her pig form was absolutely adorable. I grew to love it. As for the clothes of the generals, some of them are a little bit… well… slutty (Nobunaga especially). But then, that’s kinda the norm for anime characters, isn’t it?

      Yeah, Detetiv seems to tell me that we’ll be seeing Silica again, so I’m already looking forward to that. And I wholeheartedly agree with you about Silica being a refreshing and delightful character for not adhering to the stereotypes that she seemed predestined to fall into. That scene when she almost opened the door in her underwear, I expected her to call him a pervert and hit him or something which would’ve spoiled the character and episode for me. Thank goodness that never happened, nor did it happen during the few other pantyshots that thankfully were happened offscreen. As for Kirito being Lv78, it’s a little sudden and unrewarding for him to be that high without seeing him work for it, but it’s fine given that he’s the main character. I wouldn’t say he’s overpowered, but I am disappointed he’s already 78 without seeing him train, struggle, and strive for it.

      The anticipation for the next episode of Tari Tari is high, especially after how emotional this episode was. I’m actually more excited to see Wakana’s character after she deals with this impending ordeal, to see how she acts around others and handles her the memories she hold dear to herself. The series has been improving every week which is something I love to see in an anime like this (that’s slife/drama/comedy).

      • #9 by Detetiv on August 5, 2012 - 11:37 PM

        Yeah She shows up again but more like “I wanted him why did I accept to not harass them for half a year from his lover” Think that sneaky girl that wants the guy but the main girl already has him. It’s quite long way away from seeing her again if they go by the novel BUT /spoiler/ the sister he spoke of will make a appearance in the future. /spoiler/ I need to go watch ep 05 now.

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