Autumn 2012 – Week 2 Anime Review

This week: heart failure or a broken heart; a phenomenal use of a literary device in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, issues with explaining the setting rather than exploring the setting in Psycho-Pass, questioning the reality and extent of Koko’s network in Jormungand: Perfect Order, and questioning the enjoyment and pleasure in Rikka’s actions in Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!

For this season, the Weekly Reviews will be a bit more random in which anime are included depending on how the episode performs and what material or discussion points there are to bring up.  For this first review, pretty much everything will be included except for the shows being routinely followed.  However, after this week, who knows what’ll end up here, it all depends on the episode and what I have to offer after watching it.  However, seeing as I’m following quite a bit more anime than the past few seasons, you can expect there’ll be quite a bit to talk about during these next few months.  Also, to add onto that, certain sections might be smaller than what has been the standard previously, so there’s that, too.

Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! (Episode 2) – You’d figure that, considering the amount of time Rikka spends in that world of hers, that she’d be having quite a bit of fun or enjoyment out of it.  In reality, though, it’s quite the opposite.  Rikka is constantly under some sort of pressure or stress from her alternative reality, either sealing dangerous monsters or running from her evil sister, so it’s unclear how much she actually likes being in her world.  In fact, you could question how much pleasure she derives from constantly living and working through this fantasy world.  And considering the amount of physical abuse she takes (in the form of physical humor) and the amount of trouble she causes everyone else around her, you’d figure she’d stop or someone would try to stop her.  So, besides the minimal enjoyment and causing trouble for everyone around her, what other reasons does Rikka have for being so absorbed in that world of hers?

Girls und Panzer (Episode 1) – Although the friendship felt rather forced, thin, and artificial, I absolutely loved how Miho’s new friends, Hana and Saori, stood up with her to defy the student council president.  Not only did they help support her during the whole ordeal but they spoke their minds and spoke on Miho’s behalf when she was unable to voice her own thoughts and feelings on the issue.  They were with her 100%, even if they faced punishment alongside Miho for their actions.  And while they ultimately failed when Miho caved in to their overwhelming pressure, I couldn’t be happier that they showed how devoted and encouraging these two girls are.  It’s friendship done right in an anime, not some speech to a villain about how they believe in their friends.  No, having the friends stand there, together, with the protagonist and fire shots and her enemies, when she couldn’t speak her mind, if the kind of friendship I love to see in anime.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 2) – A persistent cough, stacked pillows, chest pain, and peripheral edema.  Yup, George Joestar is presenting the classic symptoms for heart failure, a serious and often fatal condition, even by today’s standards.  However, I can’t help but wonder if the heart failure is being used as a literary device to show how George regrets how harsh he was on Jonathan, how unforgiving he was and is beginning to realize how he failed to love him as a father growing up.  Given how his compassion and trust toward JoJo is much more apparent and significant in this episode when compared to the first, it seems like a perfect decision to show his making this realization along with the manifestation of this heart disease.  Perhaps he’s dying of heart failure due to a broken heart?  If this proves to be the case, then bravo to Hirohiko Araki, author of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure for using such a magnificent literary technique such as this to enrich the story so subtlety, yet so profoundly.  I can see why JoJo’s has received such acclaim if the writing is this deep throughout the series.

Jormungand: Perfect Order (Episode 13) – Okay, so one of my complaints with the first season was how unrealistic some of the situations were in Jormungand.  The new season is off to a decent start, but what’s up with this whole satellite business now?  How exactly does Koko manage to build, maintain, and support 126 satellites simultaneously as they circumnavigate the globe?  Think of all the employees and infrastructure that must be in place to run such an operation.  And all that information being gathered by their constant surveillance, what is she doing with all this data?  I could imagine that she’s selling it, but we haven’t had any indication of that happening, let alone any mention of the satellites before.  Man, I don’t understand whether we’re supposed to believe this anime or not anymore.

K (Episode 2) – For a few years now, I’ve always had the idea of futuristic walls that, rather than being covered by paint or wallpapers, were more like screens used on a television or computer that were customizable depending on a person’s mood.  These walls would be able to switch to any color when selected, or shift to any type of moving picture (clouds soaring by, a tropical beachfront, or a peaceful mountain lookout) or ‘wallpaper’ or whatever.  Not only that but being LED or something, they’d be able to project a variable amount of light, suppose a gradient from dark to light at dusk, or automatically dim for movies or whatever.  Well, consider my surprise when the walls of Yashiro’s apartment were pretty much that.  Yup, that flowery hologram wallpaper is pretty much the basics of my old idea and the first such example I’ve seen of that outside space-age sci-fi flicks and whatnot.  So yeah, pretty amazing to see something like that in an anime, especially since I can see the potential flaws in these designs considering how busy or distracting they might be (let alone how expansive they’d be to install in a house).

Kamisama Kiss (Episode 2) – Despite featuring some of the same features as all the other school anime out there, Kamisama Kiss stands out as one that’s a bit different.  And although I often harp on school anime almost continuously, I’m rather pleased by how Kamisama Kiss is handling its school segments.  The characters are school are largely irrelevant to the story, helping keep the anime focused on the gods/youkai aspect of the anime without diving into the split between her normal high school girl life and managing a shrine as an Earth deity.  Not only that but besides that one guy making fun of her, every other character at the school was largely forgettable.  Not only that, but Nanami isn’t being stressed out by homework or exams or planning for her future or the cultural festival or any of that bullshit.  It’s not to have an anime at school that doesn’t automatically devote itself to all those ‘school’ things that have been done so many times before.  So consider that a plus for Kamisama Kiss, for taking the ‘school’ out of the school setting segments.

Little Busters! (Episode 2) – I’m kinda curious if we’ll ever get the origin of the name “Little Busters” or if it’ll even be brought up by any of the characters.  It originated sometime before Riki joined the foursome, probably by Kyousuke, so there’s a chance that the protagonist or one of the new girls will ask about it before the anime finishes.  If not, then maybe we can attribute it to all the girls in this anime and call them the “Little Busters” for their little busts! (Heh, I am terrible, aren’t I?)

Medaka Box Abnormal (S2) (Episode 1) – How exactly is the Hakoniwa Academy funded?  Considering how the school is constantly ravaged by these ultra-powerful students and must be constantly under construction, I wonder how this school manages to balance its budget and stay in the black.  You’d figure there’d be liability claims, too, for the students that get injured on campus due to the failure of the school to prevent its students from sustaining these injuries.  Man, any normal school like this would be bankrupt before the first class ever graduated.  Then again, I think I have an idea of how this school manages to stay in business while paying these lawsuits and rebuilding itself every week.  Ever see any teachers around at school?  Neither have I.  It makes sense that the school doesn’t have any faculty or staff, since they wouldn’t have enough money to pay for both the reconstruction costs and the teacher’s salaries.  That also makes sense considering how the students never show up to class either, but now the question becomes, why even have a school like this in the first place?  Man, who knew Medaka Box was this deep.

Psycho-Pass (Episode 1) – Whenever an anime relies on explaining its setting to the newbie or the rookie, in this case, all the Psycho-Pass technology, modern weaponry, and the structure of the criminal justice system, I can’t help but feel somewhat letdown or disgusted.  It’s one of my least favorite ways to explore the world because it’s unnatural for characters to go into this much detail for no reason.  Sure, we don’t know any of this stuff, but I assume Tsunemori who’s live in this world and studied in its police academy for years would know most of this stuff.  Maybe not everything about the enforcers, but she’s not a baby or something.  Dunno, having the exposition in this episode primarily being Masaoka explaining every single detail to Tsunemori felt pretty elementary and simple to me.  And, because there’s nothing worse than an empty argument, here’s how I’d approach the situation: instead of having Tsunemori be totally clueless about everything (like we were), how about have her ask questions that the audience might or show her being corrected by Masaoka.  For example, Tsunemori could be going on about “I’ve never used one of these before, how do they work?” or “this is how you work one of these, right?” and then lead to the explainations.  Oh well, hopefully this style of exploring the world will be mitigated soon, otherwise, I might have a problem with how this anime explores its vivid and distinct setting.

Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 3) – The choice and style of clothing in this anime is pretty damn awesome, and in this episode, I’d like to point out all the silly hats that everyone was wearing.  Just look at them.  They are silly but they are awesome.  And though it doesn’t really pertain to the characterization or story progression at all, the clothes in this anime are distinctive and very thorough in their detail.  It’s impressive at how meticulous the designs are and how descript they are visually and all without much, if any, weight in the story or the characters themselves.  Still, it does play a part in enriching the setting and elevating the quality of the anime, and it’s an aspect of this anime I hope receives some recognition with its fans.

Sword Art Online (Episode 15) – What is it with otaku fandom and all this incest subculture?  Seriously, why does it have to be so prevalent and obvious?  And why is it always, “OH, HEY, WE’RE NOT ACTUALLY BLOOD RELATED, JUST COUSINS SO THAT MAKES IT OKAY NOW.”?  No, no it doesn’t make it okay now.  They’ve been living together like brother and sister their whole life and now you invent some copout so that it’s okay for them to fuck now?  No, that’s not alright.  And how about do these situations ever happen?  Do families in Japan trade their kids around like birthday cards so they can confuse them emotionally, sexually and potentially mess with their lives?  “So, yeah, my son is, like, 2, and you just gave birth to your first daughter. How about I give up my son to your family, for like, ever, and don’t tell him anything, so that way he can have an onii-chan/imouto relationship or something, does that sound alright?” “Yeah, sure, why not?” Because that’s what happened in every incest-oh-wait-no-it-isn’t-incest-cuz-we’re-only-cousins-lol incest anime there are.  It’s the worst type of bullshitting an anime can do and now we’re in for more shitty romance in SAO.  Fuck, I didn’t even get to complain about the whole new romantic subplot now with some pedophile marrying a comatose teen.  Guess that’ll have to wait until next week.

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  1. #1 by illogicalzen on October 16, 2012 - 12:16 AM

    I decided to watch the first episode of this second season of Medaka box and somehow managed to finish it. I have to say that it left exactly the same impression as the first season, that of a mediocre and generally poorly thought out creation. I have been told by various people that the manga gets better the further into it you go, and in order to see if they were correct I have managed to read every currently available chapter. I have to say that they are wrong and the manga has absolutely no direction, the problem is that the anime doesn’t either. Add to that the generally dull characters and we have a series that I wont watch.

    In terms of Psycho-Pass it just felt incredibly derivative with clunky exposition and dialogue that almost ruined the whole cyber-punk, dystopian megalopolis setting. While watching this first episode I couldn’t help but wonder why I wasn’t watching another series of film – Ghost in the Shell perhaps, maybe Akira, Bubblegum Crisis 2040, Madoka Scramble, Silent Mobius and so on. The ideas and other elements present in the series are all fascinating, but they have all been explored before (primarily by Phillip K. Dick) and there was nothing in the first episode that really stood out for me. So yeah, sort of interesting, but I could watch any cyber-punk anime or read/watch any Phillip K. Dick work and get those same ideas only presented in a far better way and arguably far more interesting with less annoying exposition.

    • #2 by avvesione on October 16, 2012 - 1:26 AM

      I always find it amazing how two people can watch the same show and come to two completely different conclusions. However, given what you said, I can explain our difference. For me, Medaka is nothing more than an entertainment anime for me. If I were using my archaic, obsolete classification system, I’d be calling it a “Brain Off” anime. Why? Because whenever I watch Medaka Box, my brain is shut off. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, just means that I view it different than how I view story-driven or character-driven anime. Medaka Box, to me, is just fun, fighting, and fanservice. Honestly, I don’t care about the story or characters, whatever happens on screen that makes me laugh or excites me or pleases me is all that I’m taking from it. And with that, I’m really enjoying and really liking the anime. As you can probably tell, I actually do this with quite a few anime and usually end up enjoying them, too, (Needless, Dog Days, Softenni, etc) though I do voice my complaints from time to time. For you, it sounds like you’re focused more on the story and characters and whatnot. Yeah, I don’t think I’d enjoy the anime either if I watched it for that, too. But because I’m just watching it mindlessly, I’m actually having some fun with it. So yeah, I like Medaka Box.

      As for Psycho-Pass, yeah, it does seem pretty unoriginal for now, but it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from this setting, especially since it has 22 episodes to flesh out a story and develop its cast. And just because its setting is a derivative of other cyber-punk, dystopian works, doesn’t mean I love it any less. It’s still among my favorite types of settings, though I do admit that Psycho-Pass isn’t anywhere near the top, yet, among this categorization. But yeah, I’ll take up your recommendation on Philip K. Dick since I do love this subgenre with a passion. Thanks for mentioning that to me!

      • #3 by illogicalzen on October 16, 2012 - 1:36 AM

        I understand your point about Medaka Box as a piece of mindless entertainment, thats quite obvious, I’m just not really entertained by it. There are other series that are equally, if not more ridiculous that I enjoy far more, I have just never been able to find Medaka Box entertaining. I dont really watched it for the characters or story, largely because I know they dont exist in any meaningful way. In this case however, unlike other series, the lack of these things hurts or destroys my enjoyment of the series itself. It is interesting that our opinions differ when we seem to be looking at the series in a remarkably similar way.

        With Psycho-Pass, its not the setting that I dislike since I adore the cyber-punk genre, and I know that in many respects this series would be entirely unoriginal. I love the setting and find it fascinating, at the same time I get put off by Urobuchi Gen’s involvement mostly because in his previous works he has been incapable of creating proper characters, with good dialogue, thus ruining what is potentially a very good series. Now in terms of Psycho-Pass, while I love cyber-punk, I just got the feeling that I could be watching/reading any other dystopian, cyber-punk series/story and have a better experience. The first episode was clunky and the exposition nearly ruined my enjoyment of it. On the other hand, because like you I love this setting so much I am willing to give Psycho-Pass a chance. It has only just started and we shall have to see how it progresses.

        • #4 by avvesione on October 16, 2012 - 11:27 PM

          Yeah, I think we just have two very different standards for entertainment despite both of us knowing Medaka’s true intent is to entertain. For me, fighting, comedy, and fanservice are enough to keep me happy and I think Medaka does a decent to good job in those regards. That and I think plenty of the girls are cute, too, so maybe that’s why I’m so fond of it.

          Yeah, as for Psycho-Pass, it’s only been one episode and I feel giving such a judgement this early, after one episode, is a bit much, since we really have no idea where it will go from here. I do agree with you that it started off pretty mild, nothing too innovative or inspiring, but the same could be said for Madoka or Fate/Zero or most anime. It’s always hard comparing new anime to anything else since everything else has had more time to develop their stories and characters and it’s difficult to just limit these comparisons to first episodes only. So in regards to that, yeah, I agree that there are things better than Pscyho-Pass episode 1 but I’m not going to say that in regards to the anime as a whole yet. It might get better, it might get worse, but right now, it’s too early, I feel, to pass such judgement on the anime.

  2. #5 by Mrbeansman on October 16, 2012 - 6:48 PM

    About Jormungand, the first part of this episode was how the manga ended and that global satellite system business never got fully explained. Overall moving that around like irks me a little cause it’s cutting into the Overshaft arc and in the same breath cuts into one of my favorite parts of it. Which as I explained in a earlier reply is Jorms best arc by far. All and all if you don’t find the next two episodes to be the best in the series well I don’t know what to tell you because Hex is absolutely amazing.

    • #6 by avvesione on October 16, 2012 - 11:29 PM

      Yeah, I remember you saying that Jorm was getting into its best stuff now, so I’m excited. And though I may have been a bit harsh on the anime in my review, I’m still thoroughly enjoying it and found the 13th episode to be one of the better episodes in the whole series. It has certainly caught my interest and I’m looking forward to what this new season brings.

  3. #7 by Guratan on October 17, 2012 - 8:05 AM

    I think your criticisms about Jormungand being unrealistic is quite accurate if you’re talking about their lousy depictions of shoot outs, but I hardly think launching a hundred of satelites is unbelievable. It is a costly business for a man but hardly ever for a company if it’s certain that it will bring some cash. My university has a small satelite, and I was amazed by how much info it can get with so little budget (well, I don’t think they launched it themselves so that’s kind of different). I mean, we’re talking about some shady international arms cooperation here, and that’s enough for me suspend my doubt about their budgets and some shady conspiracies grand enough to launch loads of satelites.

    • #8 by avvesione on October 17, 2012 - 11:21 PM

      Maybe I misunderstood the situation but I thought that these satellites were all Koko’s and not apart of HCLI. If they are just a project from HCLI, then that’s completely understandable, seeing as they’re a transcontinental corporation. However, I was under the impression that these satellites are all being run and managed by Koko, seeing as how Bookman described the operations system, which is where I’m basing my problem with.

      For a quick exercise, I just browsed some commercial/private satellite costs. I’m not sure what satellites these are but I do know that the ones Koko is operating is being used for spying/surveillance, so they’ll be pretty expensive based on that assumption alone. One estimate has them from $5m+, so let’s use 5m as the lower bound estimate. Another site I saw said launching a satellite is anywhere from $50m to $400m, so that’s another upfront cost to use. Let’s use the lower bound again for our estimate, so that’s another 50m to the sum total. And let’s ignore the need for a full-time staff operating these satellites since those really are annual costs and not upfront. And we know the anime is in the future, so we can apply some discounting and take the upfront costs from $55m down to $50m to make our calculations easier. So, with a lower bound estimate of $50m upfront for each satellite and satellite launch, that’d put the whole project at a total cost of $6.3 billion. And that’s a lower bound estimate, too.

      So, if this were all Koko’s own operation, that’s where I have a problem with this whole satellite ordeal. If it is a piece of the HCLI’s operation then yes, I can see that being somewhat feasible given the size and power of the corporation, but that’s not the impression I am understanding from Jormungand.

  4. #9 by Samuel Amaral (@SPambas) on October 21, 2012 - 9:22 AM

    Only show I watched so far was Girls und Panzer, cause a friend of mine who know that I loved Upotte! was bugging me to watch it.

    I was a bit bored by the whole affair, but as you said the friendship showed did stand up, for me especially since the Student council are obvious douchebags as they are trying to force a clearly traumatized girl to do something that went wrong in her past, since she says that She transferred because they wasn’t Panzer battle in this school. So in contrast Her friends standing up for her did make some impression.

    I did watched the second episode, and some of the more tank specific comedy seems to be alright, and the dopey half-sleeping girl is my favorite character already, but the whole Moe component is a bit boring for me, which is weird ’cause I like it in Upotte!.

    I will catch up with the other animes after the winter Exams hopefully in a maddening christmass marathon, don’t have comments for other anime of this season.

    • #10 by avvesione on October 21, 2012 - 11:05 PM

      Yeah, hopefully you have the chance to catch up on some of these other shows soon. There are a number of anime this season that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

      As for Girls und Panzer, not a lot has happened and everything that has happened has been rather simple or basic. Not a lot of action has happened besides the mock battle at the end, so it’s been a bit lackluster thus far. However, that’s sure to change when they spend more time in their tanks and learn how to fight. And it seems like your favorite girl will be joining the team soon, so there’s that for you, too. I’m sure it will pick-up soon since the introductions are almost over and from here, it’ll be more tanks and more team unity and more friendship.

      As for the comparison with Upotte!!, besides the appearance of an all-girls military program, they’re actually pretty far apart in terms of their focus and characters and stories. But then again, if you liked that in Upotte!!, then you might also like it here in this.

  5. #11 by fr on December 12, 2012 - 10:46 AM

    the satellite is hcli

    kasper launch it

    the jormungand is the ‘toy’ within minami base

    and other than koko team,rabbitfoot,baburin and minami……no body else know

    • #12 by avvesione on December 16, 2012 - 6:52 PM

      Still, that doesn’t address my complain about the funding necessary to build, launch, and maintain the whole system. The lower bound estimate for everything is about $6.3 billion (math worked out here: http://avvesione.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/autumn-2012-week-2-anime-review/#comment-5627) meaning that they are sinking all their profits into this one project, meaning they can’t resupply their inventory as quickly during this entire enterprise. It just doesn’t make sense (although I have more to complain about in recent episodes)

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