This week: newfound respect and appreciation for Nadeko in Monogatari Series Second Season, comparisons of KILL la KILL to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking, the mismanaged emotional aspects of Coppelion, and questioning how the profession of modeling impacts the themes of heroes and justice in Samurai Flamenco.
Best episode of the week: Kyousogiga (TV)
Anime trending up this week: Nagi no Asukara
Anime trending down this week: Little Busters!: Refrain
BlazBlue: Alter Memory (Episode 1)
My opinions on how the story should inpact BlazBlue have already been established in my preview and first impressions posts, but I can’t keep my mind off the subject knowing how much time was spent on it during the first episode. Stories have traditionally performed poorly in fighting anime like these with a cast of characters numbering over a dozen. Often times, these fighting anime follow a formula which, with every new episode, introduces a new character, their backstory, their relevance to the overall story and their fight. That’s the type of pattern that lead to the disaster of Queen’s Blade. Instead, hopefully the story of BlazBlue bounces around between characters and their connections with the story, focusing more on the fights than anything else. Honestly, I’m hoping the story follows something along the lines of Senran Kagura, an anime which spent around 30 seconds on backstories but did enough to explain everything before moving onto the fights. Sure, I’m hoping BlazBlue will be better than Senran Kagura, but it seems to be the benchmark for stories in fighting adaptations, so there’s some identifiable and realistic goal for this anime to reach and hopefully surpass.
Coppelion (Episode 2)
The emotions in Coppelion were the only major drawback from this second episode. It felt as though the emotional aspect of this episode was mismanaged at several crucial moments and lead to the episode’s overall effect feeling compromised. For example, the emotional build-up was often absent from the emotional scenes. The mother protecting her daughter in the slanted hotel, Ibara’s speech on her purpose in life, and the impact of the two deaths all felt too strong or came on too quickly for the audience to match or sympathize with. And, as a result, the two deaths in this episode felt cheap and ineffective. I’m not quite sure where the blame should be assigned, whether in the story itself, the writing, the pacing or the personalities of the characters but it just felt like a wasted opportunity. I do expect that Coppelion will be able to improve on this aspect since it was the only significant flaw in this episode, and the other areas that involved the story, writing, pacing and characters were all fine. Maybe once it embarks on the overall story rather than this episodic content will it begin to correct itself.
Freezing Vibration (Episode 2)
Not only is the second season of Freezing already superior to the original in just about everything but the anime has even improved its aspect ratio! It felt incredibly awkward to be watching a 4:3 anime in 2011 when the first season aired and still remains to this day to be the only anime that I’ve blogged in 4:3 ratio (check out all those old screenshots). Now that Freezing has caught up to the rest of anime and presents itself in 16:9, it feels like a much better anime from just its display alone. I never realized how much of an impact the difference in aspect ratios could be but with Freezing as an example, I can tell how much better 16:9 is than 4:3.
Galilei Donna (Episode 1)
How did Hozuki, the youngest character in the Ferrari family, find the time, money, fuel and weapons to construct that floating airship that we saw in the first episode? Like, let’s just think about that for the moment… the fuel… who was going to sell her barrels of whatever to get that thing moving? And the weapons? Let alone that, how did she manage to construct that beautiful fish artificial intelligence and also fly the flying behemoth without any issues (I’m assuming she didn’t test it in flight before this maiden voyage)? And all in secret, too, without anyone possibly knowing? “Yeah, you can have this giant, underground basement hangar thingy, we’re not using it for anything.” It’s always fun and great to see stuff like this in an anime where someone comes to the rescue in an awesome airship like this, but they always require a bit of suspension of disbelief when it happen. But this? It’s fine for most anime, but for Galilei Donna, how do you even begin to explain it? Where do you start? Unless we have some super-powered girl here who is able to build whatever she envisions just by envisioning it, then I’m not really buying it. And as for the other older daughters whose specialties are law and karate… I’m expecting a lot more from them now after witnessing Hozuki’s heroics in episode one.
Gingitsune (Episode 2)
To start, I’m fine with Makoto being the only one to see Gintarou. For now, it’s a great way to strengthen their bond without any other characters trying to interfere save for the father who mockingly calls out Gintarou whenever his daughter is found alone talking to herself. However, as the series progresses, I hope other human characters are able to see Gintarou as well. For one, it would help expand Gintarou’s character beyond Makoto and allow for his marvelous character to impact others in a direct manner. Imagine if he’s able to do something with someone else to aid Makoto rather than doing it through her. It would definitely expand the possibilities and potential for Gintarou’s character. For another, what’s the point of only having one character see these spiritual entities? It seems like there are other divine characters and mystical bodies as well, so it bodes well for this idea that others will see Gintarou eventually and interact with others besides Makoto. But with those two points, I’d also like to reiterate that the main interactions of this series should be between Gintarou and Makoto. I don’t want the series to open so wide that everyone is able to see and interact with Gintarou because then that lessens Makoto’s character while also dispelling the mysticism and magic in this anime. Maybe there’ll come at time when others can understand and respect Gintarou’s character later, not like what the father is doing right now, that would be an appropriate middle ground for this anime moving forward. I guess we’ll find out as the series progresses (or if I go scan through my 20 issues of Ultra Jump on my shelf).
Kakumeiki Valvrave (S2) (Episode 13)
Valvrave the Liberator has always been silly and had a knack for outperforming itself episode after episode in the first season. With the sequel having restarted with this first episode, the first incredibly ridiculous detail that exposed itself (besides that entire fight to start the episode) is that information is made out of undetectable particles called ‘runes’, that runes are used to power the Valvraves and that vampire-Haruto biting people drains them of their runes and powers their mechas …yeah, that’s what they’re going with. I’m not sure exactly what to think right now about this convoluted explanation as to why Haruto needs to keep biting people but I guess it serves that issue that was probably brought up over the summer. My next question for Valvrave is, what are you going to do next to top this?
KILL la KILL (Episode 2)
The two anime that Kill La Kill seems to draw a number of comparisons to are Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking. I understand where each comparison is derived from with a number of aspects and details in this anime drawing parallels to the others. To me, I identify more with the TTGL crowd than the P&S one. While the animation, art style, and comedy feel more like P&S than TTGL, I feel the characteristics of the character design, the story, the storytelling, and the setting mirror TTGL better. But perhaps the most significant attribute of Kill La Kill is its attitude and emotions, which if compared to those other two anime are decisively in TTGL’s favor. To me, these features are what’s dominating Kill La Kill thus far and the reason why it has become so celebrated and distinguished after only two episodes. Its attitude and its emotions are the reason why it’s drawn such acclaim. And to me, this is the reason why we’re even comparing it to other illustrious and notorious anime like TTGL and P&S. Sure, it can be silly at times like Panty & Stocking but its badass, kickass, me-against-the-world, against-all-odds mentality with Ryuuko standing against everything is where I draw the most tangible comparison. And then, of course, by sprinkling on the other details mentioned before, I feel that the TTGL scale has more weight than the P&S one. I do hope that as Kill La Kill progresses and develops as a series, it’s able to differentiate itself more from the other anime before it and distinguish itself as an elite anime, but considering that it’s in its infancy at this point with only 2 episodes, that these comparisons are appropriate for the time being.
Kyousogiga (TV) (Episode 1)
Kyousogiga has always been a franchise with a number of loose ideas running around without any relevance to each other. It was like that with the first OVA and even more evident with the second OVA, so I was curious to see how all these thoughts and concepts and theories would tie together when it became a television anime. Well, it didn’t take long for the series to grab these individual ideas, tie them down and number them in order. The first real episode of the Kyousogiga TV series did just that by providing the entire backstory of the setting and the characters with this exceptional episode. Furthermore, it did it in that same brilliant Kyousogiga way with style, color and fun. Not only was the episode the best of the week but it laid out the foundation for the remainder of the series and the franchise to grow up from and blossom into an extraordinary and remarkable anime. By featuring this episode at the beginning, I’m thrilled and delighted to see what the remainder of Kyousogiga has in store for us.
Magi S2 (Episode 2)
Whereas most fighting anime have one method of fighting, Magi features three styles that each compliment and contrast each other while all deriving from the same origin. In Magi, you can use enchanted items as Djinn Equips to transform any human into a super-powered, element-enhanced fighter. If that’s too much, you could always sit back and rely on elemental magics, using them in a variety of manners to fight your opponents. Or if you’re feeling really lazy, why there is of course the summons where your lucky Djinn could do all the work for you. And if you want to add one more, you could even consider Morgiana’s style different than the rest and show that there are four ways to fight in Magi. Not only does this provide variety and style to the anime but these various methods of fighting help compliment the character personalities and their roles in the series. It’s an aspect that continues to grow on me the more I see of it and, with the anime already in the heart of the series, I hope to see more diversity within these styles as the series introduces more and more enemies, villains and opponents for our heroes to fight against.
Monogatari Series Second Season (Episode 15)
Nadeko remains my least favorite character in the Monogatari franchise, actually making herself worse with this episode, but I’ve discovered some newfound respect for her character that allows me to enjoy her more without me actually liking her. What I appreciate about Nadeko’s character is that she is flawed as a human, incredibly flawed at that. You can see her struggles as a character and the stupid, regrettable decisions that she makes and her reactions, attitudes and personalities. You can see her selfish tendencies and the internal conflicts and struggles she deals with on a constant basis. I don’t believe that the Nadeko Medusa arc was intended for us to ‘like’ her more as a character since it’s constantly exposing her flaws and highlighting her sins, but I do believe it was designed so that we can understand her character better and her role in the Monogatari universe. When considering this, I’ve found a new admiration, respect and even approval of Nadeko’s character. So while I still find her to be my least favorite of all the characters from Bakemonogatari onward, I realize she has a fundamental role in the series and isn’t just some wasted space that is forgettable or was regrettable. Actually, for what it has done, this might be the best story arc thus far in Monogatari Series Second Season.
Nagi no Asukara (Episode 2)
How is Nagi no Asukara like Non Non Biyori? Well, there’s probably a couple hundred answers that would answer this question correctly, but the one I’m going for here is that they both have schools with only four students. Or rather, they did have schools with only four students. While Non Non Biyori simply increased its total to five, the underwater school in Nagi no Asukara was closed and its four students (the only four we’ve ever seen or known or heard about) relocated to the one above sea level. So that begs the question, where there ever any other students at the school underwater or did it only have four students like Non Non Biyori? And no, I’m not entirely serious with this post, you can tell it’s mainly for fun, but it’s an observation I made after watching both anime and realizing that the schools only had less than a handful in each. Maybe there were others in other grades in Nagi no Asukara, but for now, I’m treating it as an underwater Non Non Biyori.
Samurai Flamenco (Episode 1)
After one episode of Samurai Flamenco, I am curious to see how the profession of being a model will impact the theme of the series. Considering that the anime is about heroes and justice, I find the role of police officer entirely appropriate. But model? How does Hazama being a model impact or influence the anime in any capacity? I suppose it does provide him with an avenue of wealth and access to time for which to be a hero, but it doesn’t have the symbolic effect that Goto’s position as a cop offers. Maybe the symbolism here is that he’s a model and a role model, but a role model to whom? The only thing I can think of is that being a model will make his face known to others and make him potentially identified as a weirdo when he’s eventually de-masked but… honestly, how is that going to affect him? He’ll lose his job but his job isn’t his livelihood. I could understand that if he wanted to be a model AND a hero how this could impact the series with any significance, but if he were to lose his job as a model because of being a hero, then he’d shrug it off, put on his tight tights and chase after drunks and litterbugs along the streets of Tokyo. So how will Hazama’s job of being a model impact the themes of justice and heroes in Samurai Flamenco? I honestly have no clue.
Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta (Episode 1)
Although our introductions to the villains or antagonists of Yozakura Quartet have been minimal at this point, I find myself more interested in them than the good guys. Not only that, but I think I even like them as characters better than the good guys, too. Now it shouldn’t be surprising for me to state that since I do enjoy villains and antagonists more than most anime fans (as this characteristic of mine has been detailed in numerous posts previously) but we’ve barely spent any time with them and they already seem more interesting. I’m not sure whether that says that our heroes are boring as characters or the villains have more potential with their wacky costumes or strange motives, but that’s how I feel right now. The main quartet of characters in Yozakura Quartet are decent but really average right now with little in the way to differentiate themselves from other protagonists in similar anime; you’ve got a group of middle school kids with super powers who help anyone around them. And while the evil characters are also a bit generic too, they’ve got a bit more style and attitude to them that make them seem a little more interesting. Whether this holds up or not remains to be seen but I do find myself looking forward to the villains in this series more than the heroes.