This week: trying to find a weakness in KILL la KILL, complaints about the endless backstories in Kyousogiga, splitting the characters to revitalize Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, and trying to figure out what’s gonna happen in Gingitsune.
Best episode of the week: KILL la KILL
Anime trending up this week: Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta
Anime trending down this week: Blazblue: Alter Memory
BlazBlue: Alter Memory (Episode 2)
After two episodes of pretty much nothing but Ragna and Noel, is now the time we begin to worry about the remaining cast of characters in BlazBlue? Well, if the anime’s dedication to its story is any indication, yes, now is the time to start worrying. After two episodes of virtually the same material and characters, I have a feeling that BlazBlue will continue its focus like this from start to finish and use the remainder of the cast of fighters as background characters who pop up periodically with no reason to their appearance. How they’ll even fit everyone in is still an area of concern for me, considering that the cast of BlazBlue is extensive and only two characters have had significant screentime in the first sixth of the series. To me, the series is taking a step in the wrong direction and I can see the anime going downhill in a hurry. Then again, it’s typical to start off slow in a fighting adaptation like this, so hopefully we can part ways with Ragna and Noel soon and focus on everyone else. But then again, if the preview at the end of episode 2 is any sign, looks to be more of the same from here on out.
Coppelion (Episode 3)
I don’t like the whole aspect of contamination in Coppelion. While it’s decent for the story, creating this inaccessible and secluded deadzone, the science behind it is largely suspect. The mention of genetically engineered ion channels indicates that the contamination is particle based, that there are chemicals floating in the air that cause toxicity in everyone but the Coppelion girls. However, if it is particle based contamination and the chemicals are known enough to design specific ion channels to create immunity, why not provide more information to create a clearer picture? Why stop half way and only provide a half-assed answer to probably the most stimulating question of the series? And if it is a chemical that’s causing the contamination, why isn’t it spreading from the epicenter and dispersing to other environments? Sure, we know that this was all caused by a meltdown at a nuclear plant but how are there still certain areas with drastically higher concentration than others (unless the source of the contamination is still leaking materials)? And what’s this about their other superpowers too, like super-sight and super athletic abilities? Really, the scientific information here is suspect at best for a series that seems to enjoy using science as a significant point of emphasis. However, I don’t intend to relentless bash the use of science in this anime since the idea of genetic engineering specific to the contamination is a pleasant sci-fi idea, like how microbes develop resistance to specific antibiotics. And I’d love for Coppelion to go the full-mile in its answer to the contamination since it would help strengthen the anime overall. Instead, it feels like Coppelion is quitting halfway with its explanations provided in episode 3, and it’s starting to leave a negative impression on me as a result.
Freezing Vibration (Episode 3)
Freezing Vibration is a substantial improvement upon Freezing, but what aspect of this sequel is the most meaningful or responsible? Last week, I touched upon the change in aspect ratio, going from 4:3 to 16:9 (widescreen) as a noteworthy difference but that alone does not credit the improvement seen in the story or characters. Could it be the reduction in ecchi fanservice? Well, the fanservice is still considerable in this series and much more than anything else I’m watching, so it can’t be that though the series has gotten better at restraining itself. Perhaps it’s the lack of a male presen… ah, yup, that’s it. That’s why Freezing Vibration is so much better. Not only was Kazuya’s character a boring waste of space in the first season, his role or importance was only ordinary or unexceptional besides being the penis every girl wanted to have. So now with Kazuya’s presence effectively reduced to 30 seconds each episode, Freezing is able to focus on its performing or accomplishing characters, ones that actually perform in the story, moving it forward and accomplish tasks, like winning fights or having important conversations with each other. It’s like the series realized what it needed to do to get better and it’s checklist consisted of widescreen anime, reduced/better fanservice and cutting the deadweight in the series… which just so happened to be Kazuya and whatever other male characters appeared in the first season. Now, with Freezing moving forward with only its most important characters, the anime has seen significant developments and upgrades all around. Hopefully the anime will continue on this path beyond this story arc since this is easily the best Freezing has ever been.
Galilei Donna (Episode 2)
Although the three sisters are promoted as the main characters in Galilei Donna, it’s clear that after two episodes, it’s Hozuki… and then her older, more useless sisters. But as the series has progressed thus far, it’s not like the other sisters, Hazuki and Kazuki, have had any opportunity to shine. So while it feels like the youngest sister is the sole protagonist of the series, I can’t help but wonder if the series will proceed in phases, where a certain sister takes the role of ‘leader’ and the other two fit the billing of ‘leader’s suitcases who she carries around’. That is to say, maybe as the series progresses, Hazuki’s knowledge of law will aid the sisters where Hozuki’s mechanics and Kazuki’s karate are ineffective and, at a different time, it’s Kazuki who saves the sisters by kicking ass without much in the way of help from sisters #1 and #3. I certainly hope the series finds more use out of Hazuki and Kazuki shortly since those two seem to be rather interesting as characters themselves but they seem ineffective and unimportant through the first two episodes. It doesn’t have to be that the series progresses in phases where the sisters rotate the role of protagonist, just that they’re able to provide some use to the series besides being Hozuki’s older sisters.
Gingitsune (Episode 3)
So what’s gonna happen in Gingitsune? Is there going to be some sort of conflict? Some sort of antagonist? Will there be some evil, villainous corporation who’ll try to demolish the shrine and Makoto and Gintarou need to work together to restore everyone’s faith in religion and save the shrine? Or what? What exactly is the central storyline moving forward for Gingitsune? The first three episodes of Gingitsune have been episodic in nature without much in the way of establishing or developing a main storyline. And considering the nature and characters of this anime, it doesn’t seem like this anime is a slice-of-life series with random, fun episodes either. You almost feel as though this anime would have a singular, major plot that progresses through these twelve episodes but there’s been nothing thus far. It’s a glaring chunk that’s missing from this series. And even if the series does develop a storyline in the next couple of episodes, this first quarter of the series will feel like wasted space or a missed opportunity. Then again, maybe Gingitsune is different than most anime and will follow a less traditional route with Makoto and Gintarou. Maybe it doesn’t need a huge story to work through and it doesn’t bill itself as a silly slice-of-life anime. But then, if that’s not it, then what exactly is Gingitsune? I suppose as the series advances, we’ll slowly find out.
Kakumeiki Valvrave (S2) (Episode 14)
Now that Akari’s backstory has been explained and seemingly resolved, you can’t help but question whether we will see a change in her personality and see her more sociable as a result. After all, the origination of her social anxiety was derived from Satomi, her older brother, ignoring her when she was bullied by university officials and classmates alike. This left her emotionally scarred and damaged mentally, which led her to being secluded and isolated from everyone but Shoko. But now that she’s sorta/kinda resolved the outstanding issue with her brother, you figure this will spur a change in her personality or activity. No, I don’t expect her to be outgoing and making friends and striking conversations with everyone, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her more proactive and talking more, especially with Haruto and the other Valvrave pilots now. Then again, that silent-girl personality is a popular archetype in anime and it’s what has led to Akari’s character gaining popularity, so why would you tarnish her character’s strength? Maybe if there’s some happy medium that the series can offer in terms of character growth and silent-girl archetype, then hopefully that’s what’ll happen. If not, I’m willing to part with her older personality if it allows her character to make more of a presence or significance in this series. After all, we had plenty of episodes with her shy/quiet personality already, so why not allow her character to develop like everyone else?
KILL la KILL (Episode 3)
Does Kill La Kill have any weaknesses? After three extremely manic, enthusiastic, spirited and sexy episodes, Kill La Kill has immediately become arguably the most dynamic and entertaining anime of the season and perhaps, even for all of 2013. Every episode is fun, thanks to its inane comedy and ridiculous fights, and the sex appeal is excessive but somehow feels appropriate or justified. The characters have rich, vibrant personalities and fit their roles perfectly, performing their pieces with outstanding results. And the setting is exceptional and unique; exceptional in its style and presentation with one versus a million and its unique with these living school uniforms that are the origin of power and authority in this world. But what about the story? What seems to be the limiting factor in Kill La Kill thus far, the story is well established and clearly understood, but it seems to be lagging behind every other facet of the series in its rather tame and ordinary plot. Sure, specific aspects of the story have done wonderfully, such as the writing, pacing and dialogue, but the subject of the story itself seems like a snoozer. It’s just very average compared to everything else in the series which ranges from astonishing to brilliant to incalculable. But to return to the original point of this review, if Kill La Kill has any weaknesses, I’d have to say no. To call the ‘story’ a weakness would be inappropriate considering how it supports virtually every other outstanding aspect of the series. Furthermore, the story does have exceptional writing thus far, especially with its dialogue. And while I do consider the story to be lagging behind everything else, I do appreciate a simple story done right. To me, Kill La Kill does not have any weaknesses or deficiencies and is pretty much perfect just the way it is.
Kyousogiga (TV) (Episode 2)
So… when are these flashbacks and backstories going to end? Since the original OVA aired in 2011, everything since (the 2012 OVA, the OVA revisited and these first two episodes of the TV series) has been a flashback or retelling of an older story. Where is all the new material? Where is the series moving forward? I can understand why the series wants to establish its history before it gets too detailed in its current story, but why did we need all this upfront? Couldn’t the series have made some progress and done its backstory when it was needed to explain details or events? That’s typically how most anime document their story and it’s a pattern that works wonders. Take Mawaru Penguindrum for example and its ability to infuse a gorgeous and impressive history into an anime without needing to pause the plot for hours at a time. What Penguindrum did was it linked everything in the present to events or situations in the past and used it to propel the story forward with reason and relevance. In Kyousogiga, we’re given everything all at once and we can’t find its significance or relevance until… whenever (or maybe never). However, if the preview is any indication, it seems that the series will finally move forward for the very first time, since the release of the original OVA back in 2011. Hopefully now we can finally see this anime develop like what was promised two years ago.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magi (S2) (Episode 3)
Splitting the main trio of characters and each pursuing their own path is exactly what’s necessary for Magi to rekindle the hype, excitement and adventure that was lost long ago. When Magi started to grow stagnant and stale during the whole Alibaba/Kassim love story in the middle of the first season, the anime lost its sense of being a journey and its adventurous enthusiasm. The characters were content with solving socioeconomic and political issues rather than exploring dungeons, meeting fascinating djinns and learning about the world they live in. And so, the latter half of Magi became largely mediocre and wearisome. So with the prospect of the three main characters each going their own ways and pursuing their own goals, I have a strong feeling that Magi will relearn and re-experience its sense of exhilaration and adventure. The characters will each be traveling to new areas of the globe, meeting new characters and learning more about themselves and others in these exciting places. After getting a quick dose of this split in the first half of Magi S1, I’m excited to see it again though on a much bigger and grander scale. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana now that each will be away from each other for an unspecified amount of time. And when they return back together, it’ll be interesting to see how this changes affect not only themselves but the series as a whole.
Nagi no Asukara (Episode 3)
Although the rule of banishment from Shioshishio is derived from a logical and practical conundrum, the idea of enforcing banishment in this modern era seems asinine and laughable. The whole idea of banishment stems from the lack of ena, the special material used to breathe and survive underwater, of the child between a couple from above and below the sea. Without the ena, one of the parents and the child will need to remain on land since neither could possibly live underwater in Shioshishio. So, instead of tearing apart the family and living it to a single-parent, Shioshishio forced the responsible party out and excommunicates them to live on the land. But why does this underwater society need to ‘banish’ these people? Why not allow them the possibility of returning if things don’t work out, or if they want to return to visit their family for a weekend? The idea of banishment is certainly extreme and unjustified, especially with the notion that it effectively reduces their dwindling population. I understand why the practice came about and I understand why it’s present with the themes of this series being on multiracial societies and their conflicts. But being set in this modern age, I fail to understand how this unwritten rule hasn’t been altered or modified to address how the current societies operate and intermingle. Then again, maybe it’s used to show how asinine or silly these old rules are, even when it’s the consequent from a rational and actual problem that keeps people alive and families together. It will be interesting to see how this applies to the characters of the series, especially Manaka, moving forward.
Samurai Flamenco (Episode 2)
The addition of Mari Maya, the popular idol from Mineral Miracle Muse, is certainly intriguing because of her prospects of joining Hazama’s ‘hero’ side of the anime. Not only that but the idea of her becoming a sidekick or a member of Hazama’s hero team is thrilling and promising. I had wondered about there being other heroes to join Samurai Flamenco and his pursuit of justice but never figured Goto would join given his occupation as a policeman and his rationale sense of justice and society. However, in comes Mari who seems to be somewhat obsessed with heroes, similar to Hazama; she’s obsessive enough to recognize the Red Axe song during work but not obsessive enough to be a heroic vigilante herself. However, after watching Hazama’s interview after her shower that night, you figure it’s only time before she creates her own costume and hero and fights crime on the streets like Samurai Flamenco. I’m already looking forward to the moment when Hazama and Mari meet up on the street in their hero costumes. I’m also looking forward to when they discover each other’s identities, too, since that should be priceless.
Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta (Episode 2)
The characters in Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta are an exceptional strength. Not only do each of the characters possess their own fun personality that work extremely well with each other but their appearances, whether it’s their unique costumes or their subtle youkai/beast details, are a significant reason why I enjoy this cast so much. Yes, of course, you have the generic male lead with short, black hair and a handful of schoolgirls, but the wild assortment of costumes beyond them are wonderful. And the cohesion between humans and youkai is a pleasant aspect that allows this series uses to its fullest advantage, allowing catgirls(satori) and ogres(oni) to walk alongside your normal, everyday humans with superpowers. Not only that but the casual demeanor of the cast and their collective mentality bring out the fun in this series, like how Hime, Kotoha and Ao acted during their practice brawl before it almost turned ugly. I’m not too sure what to think about the other aspects of this anime like the setting and story, but the characters are an unquestionable positive and their impact on this anime is indisputable. But just how much of an impact they have and whether that’s enough to make up for the other aspects remains to be seen.