Autumn 2012 – Week 4 Anime Review

This week: comments on the mature visual styles of Shin Sekai Yori, a phenomenal display of emotions in Jormungand: Perfect Order, a return to familiarity in Medaka Box Abnormal and thoughts on a possible and awesome ending for Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!

Best episode of the week: Shin Sekai Yori

Anime trending up this week: Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!

Anime trending down this week: Sword Art Online

Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! (Episode 4) – So how about this for an ending for Chuu2?  You know how the whole anime revolves around these delusions of grandeur dubbed ‘eighth grade syndrome’?  Well how about, after all these events and when the anime is gearing towards its finale, it turns out that Yuuta was suffering from chuunibyou and imagined everything that happened?  So in reality, instead of being surrounded by all these girls all the time, he’s really been alone throughout his first year of high school?  I’d love a twist like that but I don’t expect the series to ever make such a shocking or depressing conclusion despite it being the best thing that could possibly happen to this anime.

Girls und Panzer (Episode 3) – What makes Team Anko special compared to the other tank teams is not due to the fact that it has the legendary Miho on their side (ok, that’s part of it) but that it is the most diverse team at Oarai Girl’s High School.  Consider all the other teams and how their members all share similar traits in their personalities and behaviors.  With Anko, each girl has their own emotions, motivations, and reactions to everything associated with tanks.  Furthermore, instead of being in constant conflict with each other over their differences, the girls do their best to work together to make everything work together.  Though their diversity might seem like nothing more than five different characters adhering to five different archetypes, it does help provide variety, difficulties, and opportunities for growth for our protagonists given that each one brings a dissimilar personality and background to this specialized team.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 4) – Considering that the Joestar estate was set ablaze and lay in ruin and ashes, I’m curious where and how JoJo lives.  Unless the family owned other property besides their mansion or had their wealth stored elsewhere, I’m wondering how much substance JoJo has to live off of.  I suppose this topic will be addressed eventually, but after seeing the rubble that was once his lavish home, I wonder  how he continues to live and if there are any cultural shocks that he must endure having to live in whatever substandard conditions he faces currently.

Jormungand: Perfect Order (Episode 15) – Without a doubt, the best part of this episode was seeing the range of emotions clearly depicted on Koko’s face throughout.  With everything progressing so quickly, the only way to truly explain Koko’s emotions and thoughts was through her facial expressions and this episode did a perfect job of capturing and detailing these.  It did a magnificent job of communicating these emotions to us without really any dialogue, thinking, or any type of exposition; it was entirely visual.  It’s a shame there aren’t more examples like this in Jormungand because this episode really highlighted how effective the animators are at presenting character emotion through their art and animation alone.

K (Episode 4) – Every time we’ve seen Neko transform from cat-form to human-form, she’s always been naked.  Not only that but it’s been well established that Neko refuses to wear clothes, citing that they’re uncomfortable to wear.  So fast-forward to the classroom scene when Neko appears in human-form for the first time in public… except she’s fully dressed in the school’s girl uniform.  How exactly does that happen?  Not only does is it peculiar that the only time she appears with clothes on is in the public classroom but the choice of clothes is strange, too.  How exactly did Shiro or Kurou obtain the schoolgirl uniform for her to wear?  Maybe they’re just lying around the school grounds like the boxers and panties in this episode?  Also calls into question where they’d get Neko’s underwear, too, unless Shiro is some sorta crossdresser or pervert and has these clothes stuffed away in his closet.  Either way, it’s strange that it happened and almost would’ve been better had Neko appeared in the classroom naked (and enacted the same kinda lackluster reaction that was reserved for Kurou).  That would’ve been hilarious, though K has already surpassed those expectations already.

Kamisama Kiss (Episode 4) – Not sure if this is an accurate impression, but are gods and deities regularly kidnapped from their shrines and married away or is it just Nanami because she’s a human?  I’m not sure how this whole religious world works, but so far it seems to function on stealing gods and deities from other shrines to make you own and then fighting to protect them from intruders and rivals and whatnot.  Or maybe this is all happening to Nanami since she’s inexperienced as a deity and defenseless to youkai and monsters.  It’s hard to say which the predominant one is since both factors seem to be major contributors to Nanami’s adventures of late.  Maybe we’ll see more when Nanami proves her worth as a deity of matchmaking and if the other youkai and monsters prey on her like they have recently.

Little Busters! (Episode 4) – Is it just me or does Kud seem like she’s a little too young for high school?  I mean, not only is she the shortest and youngest-looking of all the characters present, but she’d probably look shorter and younger compared to most middleschoolers in this anime given the basic character shapes and their general body structures.  I suppose it’s true that Kud could’ve skipped a few grades to get to high school, but she doesn’t seem to be a genius or excellent student given her initial behavior.  She actually seems like one of the slower characters in this anime which is surprising since we already have Masato, Komari, and Haruka.  So, yeah, I’m not sure how that works.  Either way, I suppose it is possible that she skipped a few grades, but given her adorable appearance and child-like behavior, middle school seems more appropriate for her.

Medaka Box Abnormal (S2) (Episode 3) – With the student council back together and ready for action, Medaka Box has a sense of regularity and familiarity returning to it.  The series is at its best with the main cast together, as evident by their few scenes together at the end, so the anime is moving in a positive direction with this Flask Plan arc.  However, one significant piece is still absent from the formula and that is Shiranui.  Her absence is probably the biggest disappointment of the new Medaka Box season thus far as she was easily the best character in the first season.  Hopefully she can worm her way back into the anime again soon since her inclusion would elevate this anime to be even better than the first season (as well as a number of other anime airing this season).

Psycho-Pass (Episode 3) – The indirect world-building going on in Psycho-Pass has revealed quite the remarkable setting thus far.  Of particular note is how the manufacturing plant, governed by the Ministry of Economy, was able to side-step the investigations by the Public Safety Bureau by citing missing productivity as a means to prevent them from questioning the staff regarding the string of recent murders.  Given the events in the first and second episodes, it appears as though the nation was under a police state system, one in which justice superseded all other aspects of life.  Apparently that’s not true when it comes to the economy and production.  Hell, the manufacturing plant was even taken off-line meaning the detectives and enforcers were effectively powerless and unable to enact the Sibyl System to solve the recurrent murders.  What this does is shake-up our idea of the setting a bit, shifting our idea of this being a police state first and foremost, one that constantly monitors your psychological state and can arrest you based on whatever pretty color you so happened to be today, to one that has tiers of government overseeing each other.  With this, we can see that the Ministry of Economy is above the Public Safety Bureau and even the all-knowing, all-powerful Sibyl System.  Makes you wonder how they were able to elevate themselves above the law of the land, especially with how godlike the Sibyl System is.

Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 5) – The fifth episode of Shin Sekai Yori featured numerous visual styles, showcasing many different animation designs and special effects that gave the episode a very detailed and thorough feel to it.  Perhaps the most significant change that occurred in this episode was how Saki and Satoru appeared to look older or more mature.  Not to complain on the inconsistency in how these characters were visualized, I actually preferred their developed appearances, especially since this episode was heavily sexualized (anyone else notice Saki had breasts for the first time?) and it was the most dramatic and tense to date.  Not only that but there were some creative uses of lighting and color in these various animation styles, which by now you should know is a personal favorite of mine.  The stark contrast between soft light and hard light in the various scenes really helped enrich the stress that the characters were exposed to, helping augment these new visual styles to fit the story and conflicts in an appropriate and meaningful manner.  What these new art styles were able to accomplish was enhancing the episode by giving it more weight which corresponded wonderfully with how significant this episode was.  And if the next episode preview at the end is any indication of what to expect next week, looks like we’ll be returning to the younger, more childish designs that we’ve seen through the first four episodes.  Should that be the case, then that just speaks to how the art styles made this episode even more distinctive than the rest of the series.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see if a new director and new animation director were used for this episode which allowed it to look so different and give the episode a bit more weight than normal.  A few of my favorite anime have done this before with different visual styles for an episode and they’ve all worked well in the past.  If that’s the case with this episode of Shin Sekai Yori, then this is no exception.  Bravo to Shin Sekai Yori for doing that, should that be the case.

Sword Art Online (Episode 17) – You know what would be a simple fix to make Sword Art Online significantly better without changing too much of the anime?  Eliminate all the stuff that happens in the real world.  Yeah, if this anime was just about Kirito playing with his friends in an MMO and having fun, SAO would be much more enjoyable.  But with the story as it is, with his sister wanting to bone him, his girlfriend in a coma and being stalked by the Fairy King (how dare you ruin my image of Takehito Koyasu!!), some random bullshit about mind control or something completely ridiculous and uncalled for, and only being able to do it in 7-days for some arbitrary reason, it really saps the fun and enjoyment out of the anime.  Instead of exploring these fantasy worlds, going on quests with friends, and having a good time, SAO tries to make everything dramatic and suspenseful with a bunch of random, meaningless shit that… well… is just random, meaningless shit.  Seriously, you have a great idea here with these MMOs and whatnot, don’t try too hard to wreck everything good that you have going for you.  Why?  Because you’re doing a fantastic job of making this anime worse with these new shitty story development.  Seriously, it’s like you give them a nice cup of black coffee and they dump all the sugar, cream, nutmeg, caramel syrup, walnuts, flour, and drink stirrers until the cup overflows, tips over, and are left with a sticky mess everywhere.  Yeah, that’s what SAO is like right now.

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  1. #1 by Xiammes on October 30, 2012 - 1:53 AM

    For some reason, I knew you of all people would end up liking Shinsekai Yori’s artstyle.

    I also thought of a ending like that to Chuunibyo, people would flip their shit.

    • #2 by Xiammes on October 30, 2012 - 1:54 AM

      Also I don’t think its fair to put SAO on the trending down, unless another show bombs hard, it will be hard to top SAO.

      • #3 by avvesione on November 4, 2012 - 10:34 AM

        SAO deserved it this week because it had Takehito Koyasu (Adam Blade, Dio Brando, Lord Il Palazzo, everyone badass, etc etc) say “I am the Fairy King!” Yeah, seriously, it’s that bad.

        It’s like the anime is trying to ruin my image of every other awesome anime character as a result of tarnishing his image. As a result, SAO is trending even further down.

    • #4 by avvesione on November 4, 2012 - 10:29 AM

      Yeah, you know me pretty well. Any instance of an art style like this, I’m going to enjoy, especially if there’s some nice use of colors or lighting to really enhance it. This episode of SSY is no different and certainly one of my favorites for the entire year.

      As for Chuunibyou, I do want to see a semi-depressing ending or something. It feels too happy as it is, so anything to kinda reverse that would be satisfying for me. I’m sure all the fans of the anime would be pissed off or broken, but I’d be smiling and laughing.

  2. #5 by bobbobsters on October 30, 2012 - 5:13 AM

    I think your diversity argument is right for Girls und Panzer, however, they also have the suggested 5 people for a tank, they aren’t required to multitask the whole time.

    • #6 by Samuel Amaral (@SPambas) on November 1, 2012 - 4:49 AM

      Besides the multitasking argument, the girls personalities are also different, because the other teams are made of Gym girls and the president teams, which have similar personalities from their jobs.

      Only team more diverse is the Finnish team.

      • #7 by bobbobsters on November 1, 2012 - 5:05 AM

        Isn’t that a little ironic? All the other groups have been together for quite some time and have been essentially practicing their teamwork for just as long, yet this rag-tag group of ‘leftovers and newcomers’ (just claiming they don’t fall into a genre, nothing malicious) have the best teamwork out of any of them.

        • #8 by Samuel Amaral (@SPambas) on November 1, 2012 - 8:24 AM

          Those teams problems is exactly the teamwork they have been developing for years.

          The presidents team suffer from the President impulsiveness and focus : She wants Panzerfarhen at all cost and she order her crew to shoot at any moving target … without aiming.

          The Finish team suffers from their boastful attitude : “apologize to Finland!” and having flags stick up their tank which negates their stealth getting them knocked out.

          The Gym girls on the other hand have good thinking, but like to celebrate to much, which is why their ingenious plan with the garage fail because they didn’t double tap the Panzer.

          What helps the rag-tag group is luck (Mako is the best driver, but lazy like hell), the flower girl is very calm so no panics contrarily to the other teams. while their commander is cool and has good tactics.

          So I guess them not having habits make it easier to obey to their tank commander, but they do have a lot of luck.

    • #9 by avvesione on November 4, 2012 - 10:42 AM

      Actually, when I was talking about the diversity of their team, I was intending it to be about their personalities and behaviors, not their jobs or multi-tasking abilities.

      You have Miho who was against the whole tank movement but has assumed the role of leader given her knowledge and ability to command her friends. She never seems excited about anything she does unless her friends are there to cheer her up. Saori is using it to gain popularity and use it as a means to meet more guys (or so she thinks), but doesn’t really have the drive or resolve to operate in a tank. You’ll notice how she usually is positive and excited outside the tank, but inside she’s always cautious and worrisome and nervous (wanting to bring Miho back in when they were getting shelled). Hana is looking to try something different but really doesn’t have any bring anything with her background. Nevertheless, she tries her best to remain optimistic and wants to have her and her teammates succeed. Yukari is absolutely obsessed with tanks, moreso than anyone else, and is enthusiastic about everything, much more than anyone else. And Mako is outstanding at driving the tank, but would rather be sleeping and seems kinda selfish in that regard.

      Or that’s what I had in mind with the diversity statement. None of them are alike in really any regard, though their dynamic together is nearly perfect in how they function together as a team. And that not only applies to their duties within their panzer, but in terms of their personalities together, being able to support each other and keep the team together despite Miho and Mako wanting out and Saori and Hana getting more than what they bargained for.

      • #10 by Samuel Amaral (@SPambas) on November 4, 2012 - 12:32 PM

        I just meant that the other teams are less diverse in term of personality because they seem to have long held group dynamics already, especially the Prez, Volleyball and the Finish teams.

        They seem to have the same goal already, while team Miho has people there for different reasons and personalities.

        • #11 by avvesione on November 4, 2012 - 1:40 PM

          Yeah, you and I were both making the same point, though you were using the other groups as comparitors to Miho’s group and I wanted to provide individual examples as my point. We both meant the same thing, just used two ways to say it.

  3. #12 by azeriraz on October 31, 2012 - 6:51 AM

    Love your idea of Chu2’s ending. If only that would happen!

    • #13 by bobbobsters on November 1, 2012 - 5:07 AM

      What if the twist was that everyone BUT a chosen few were suffering from 8th grade syndrome, and thus ignored the truth in the magic reality?

      • #14 by Xiammes on November 1, 2012 - 7:34 AM

        How about on the last episode, it shows Yuuta waking up in some random location in a run down city. Rikka stands their and tells him he was hit by a magic attack and they have been trying to reconstruct his memories so he would wake up.

        Turns out they live in a magic reality and are in a war, then we get a preview for a movie or new anime series announced sometime in 2013.

        • #15 by bobbobsters on November 13, 2012 - 5:26 PM

          Ooooo I like that one!

    • #16 by avvesione on November 4, 2012 - 10:44 AM

      I do like all your thoughts on potential endings for Chuunibyou. If there’s any sort of twist or surprise at the end, I’ll be rather happy with the result. And if it’s anything semi-depressing or saddening, then I’ll be enthusiastic.

      Now if there were only some sort of way for us to make sure it ends up with this “good” ending…

      • #17 by A. Crush on November 18, 2012 - 4:35 AM

        Maybe the ‘twist’ will be Yuuta winding up with a different girl than he would up with in the LN. (If he did, I’ve avoided learning details so as not to spoil it).

        The ‘it was all a dream’ ending gets a groan and an eyeroll. That would be a dud of an ending to what is so far a decent if not good story.

        I’m all for endings that break out of the norm and even those that defy expectations, particularly of the status quo in anime. But given it’s billed as a ‘romance anime’ and the title, the fitting ending is the protagonist winding up with a date. Hopefully.

        • #18 by avvesione on November 18, 2012 - 7:49 PM

          True, that’s something important to note is that this is a romance anime more than a comedy. Still, I’m not sure how far into the LN we’re going to go or even if the anime will remain dedicated to the LN.

          I’d still like a semi-depressing ending, so if it turns out that Yuuta hooks up with another girl and leaves Rikka alone, I might be okay with that (depends on how it goes).

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