Last week: the reasons why Inari will have phenomenal character development in Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha, the diversity of applications and meaning of a catgirl’s tail in Noragami, how Vice President’s Dog is replacing Pork Bowl’s role in Silver Spoon S2, and appreciating the many comical references in Hoozuki no Reitetsu.
Best episode of the week: KILL la KILL
Anime trending up this week: Hoozuki no Reitetsu
Anime trending down this week: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (S2)
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren (Episode 2)
I’m sure people have wondered this many times before, but with the second season of Chuunibyou premiering, I figured it’d be worth revisiting. Imagine how difficult and annoying it must for Rikka to wear that eye patch all day every day. Sure, she’s cute for wearing it, but from a practical standpoint, it must be problematic for her to lose about 40% of her vision and be completely blind on her right side. It also makes ordinary activates unnecessarily demanding, too, like checking for traffic when crossing a busy street or tracking a fast moving object. Additionally, I’m surprised the anime doesn’t play off this character trait more often, such as sneaking up to Rikka from her right side and surprising her or even something as simple as always tapping her on her right shoulder. Then again, the novelty of the eye patch wore off back in the first season, so it’s probably fair that they’re not returning to the well too many times for one joke. Still, it’s one of the most distinguishable aspects of Chuunibyou, which is why it’s worth revisiting at the start of this new season.
Hamatora (Episode 2)
So, is everyone poor or is it just Nice? The reason being is that all the poor jokes revolve around him and only him while all the other characters seem to be immune to being cheap (unless you count Hajime, too). Maybe the other characters are also poor but not as poor? Or maybe it’s a character trait of Nice that we’re supposed to sympathize with him or that we can relate to him? Or maybe it’s his only joke since all those instances are meant to be humorous and not a critical analysis of his monetary habits? Well, whatever it is, it’s pretty lame and doesn’t seem to amount to anything.
Hoozuki no Reitetsu (Episode 2)
The visual references in Hoozuki no Reitetsu are outstanding in how they supplement the humor in this budding anime. Whether it’s Lum Invader from Urusei Yatsura appearing during the tiger-patterned underwear segment, the image of Cloud (Final Fantasy VII) and others during the calm, stoic, Japanese-stereotype analogy or even the Phillips CD-i Luigi (dressed in Mario’s colors) in the background of the Italian song explaination, Hoozuki no Reitetsu has done an exceptional job with its visual humor through subtle but amazing references. The comedy exploded in this episode thanks to some better writing and funnier scenarios but the perceptive pop-culture references took the humor to an even higher level. If this anime keeps up with these little tidbits and cameos, then this might grow into one of my favorite for this season.
Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (Episode 1)
Inari’s character has magnificent potential as a character to grow and mature. Not only do I foresee her having some of the finest and most remarkable character development of the season, but even having a chance to be my favorite new character of Winter 2014 as a result. But this potential is not due to her shapeshifting/transformation ability or what that entails of her adventures. No, why I believe she’ll have the best character growth of the season is because of her current state. Right now, Inari is incredibly flawed as a character with her shy, timid, pessimistic crybaby self. She’s pretty much an empty canvas or a blank slate. But she’ll more than that. Her happy, cheerful and innocent self are the bright, passionate colors that turn this white canvas into a beautiful portrait of Inari’s true character. It just so happens that the shapeshifting/transformation ability will be a tool to aid in this process, but it’s what Inari is now that will dictate the breadth and extend of her growth. It will be delightful to see just how much Inari has grown when the final episode rolls around and we can compare and contrast her character from this episode to that.
KILL la KILL (Episode 14)
It’s amazing how Ryuuko looks good in everything she wears and how everything she wears is unique to her character. Whether it was her original school uniform from when she transferred, to her irreplaceable Senketsu (all versions), to her hand-me-down pajamas, to her striped underwear and now to her sexy gym uniform (which for some reason has sweatpants and not buruma), Ryuuko always looks impressive and stands out from the cast. There’s always that style, personality and sex-appeal to everything she wears, and it’s always unique and distinguishable, too. Even with something as common as her gym uniform, there’s a little bit of Ryuuko to it. With her giant Senketsu scarf around her neck, her yellow shaded sunglasses on and her sexy midriff showing thanks to a short shirt and her typical suspenders, you can tell this outfit was made for Ryuuko and Ryuuko only. For a anime that puts such emphasis and importance into clothing and sex-appeal, KILL la KILL does a phenomenal job with all of Ryuuko’s outfits.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (S2) (Episode 14)
It’s always fun to see characters enjoy the simpler things in life. Whether it was Titus enjoying the ordinary lives of townsfolk or Marga impressed with the fake city, the episode was full of heartwarming moments seeing the characters find pleasures and delights in stuff we might take for granted. It really instills some personality and humanistic qualities to the characters and the anime, especially since the series is often idealized or romantic in its adventures and battles. It’s a nice touch for any anime but it had a stronger effect in Magi thanks to its lack of these qualities of late.
Noragami (Episode 2)
Often times, a catgirl’s tail is nothing more than a little piece of fanservice that wiggles around to hypnotize the eyes of its captivated audience. For Noragami, the Hiyori’s cat tail does that… and a whole lot more. With the story of her character’s soul slipping in and out of her body, her cat tail is a symbol of her lifeline that connects her soul to her body when she’s in these out-of-body experiences. It’s a sign that she hasn’t died yet, but it provides us with the symbol to differentiate between human Hiyori and spiritual Hiyori (along with a hilarious joke each time). Furthermore, the cat tail does well to reflect Hiyori’s personality. Rather than having something generic like a rope/string or a ghostly shadow, the cat tail represents energy, passion, inquisitiveness and playfulness. Likewise, the tail can be used to augment her current emotions, such as being an angry cat tail, shocked cat tail, or sad cat tail. And on top of all that, if Hiyori loses her cat tail, her soul will be disconnected from her body for good. It’s rather amazing, all the importance and significance they have crammed into that traditional piece of fanservice, but it’s a success for Noragami. Hiyori’s cat tail is one of the best aspects of Noragami for what it’s able to do to the story and to her character. Now if only everyone in this anime had cat tails…
Samurai Flamenco (Episode 13)
The only thing that’ll save Samurai Flamenco for me is if Hazama wakes up in an alley somewhere and realizes this that everything in this anime was in his head. He’ll realize he’s homeless, suffering from psychosis and that everyone he’s talked to is someone on the street (his modeling agent, Sumi Ishihara) or from television (Jouji Kaname) or advertisements (Mari Maya and the other idols). A bonus would be that Gotou is actually a police officer who helps him from time to time and talks to him when he’s harassing people and causing trouble in the streets ‘in the name of justice’. Otherwise, what’s the point of watching this bad, bad parody?
Silver Spoon S2 (Episode 2)
Pork Bowl was arguably the most significant and influential character in the first season of Silver Spoon. After all, no character grew and matured as much as Pork Bowl did, outpacing the character development of Hachiken and everyone else combined, and S1 did culminated at the point where the other characters killed him and ate his flesh. Definitely a first in anime where all the minor characters kill and eat the most important one… but I digress. Perhaps the most important thing that Pork Bowl did was create a role where his cuteness and charm would sooth the hearts of the audience and grew to be a dependable character in the cast. However, with his inevitable trip to the slaughterhouse, a void was created that needed to be filled with something small, cute and cuddly. Enter Vice President’s Dog, the new and improved ‘Pork Bowl’ for S2 of Silver Spoon. Not only will this adorable puppy dog fill the cuteness void created by Pork Bowl but it will likely remain its diminutive size and, more importantly, not end up being eaten by the cast. Vice President’s Dog is the permanent replacement for Pork Bowl and probably a better one, too, in terms of its potential. While Pork Bowl served as a source for cuteness (second only to Mikage) and provided the only touching story of S1, Vice President’s Dog possesses a semi-humanistic personality in how it reacts, response and performs with the cast around it. It’s able to function as more of a character than Pork Bowl ever could and fulfills the role of the cute, cuddly mascot character of the series. No whether Vice President’s Dog will have the same impact on the series as Pork Bowl did will remain to be seen but I feel comfortable with this young pup stepping in for the role of Silver Spoon’s #1 animal character.
Space Dandy (Episode 2)
The bad cook/bad food trope in anime is a tired stereotype that… actually, you know what… I enjoyed the bad looking food in this episode of Space Dandy. The first and probably the most important aspect for me enjoying this old cliché is that the visual gag was played straight this time and the bizarre foods tasted as wide and diverse a range as their appearances. It wasn’t that dichotomy of ‘this is the worst thing ever’ or ‘this is the best thing ever’ but the responses were actual critiques or opinions on the food being eaten. Wow, imagine that, some originality in an anime joke. Furthermore, the appearances of the ‘bad’ foods weren’t really all that bad. Instead, each bowl was a new palette of colors and textures that brought out a new feeling with each ramen. Each looked different from the other and, although most were unappetizing, I must say that each was visually interesting. I’m not sure if I can chalk this up to being in the same realm as all the other bad cook/bad food tropes in anime since it different than anything before it… but if not, then this will be the first time I appreciated this joke in an anime.
Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta (Episode 2)
Perhaps the best aspect of the romance in Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta is that there are no conflicts, misunderstandings or love triangles. Without any of those three aspects to annoy, irritate or frustrate me, I’m actually enjoying the romantic aspects between Kal and Claire. That being said, Ariel’s lack of jealousy is a major contributor to why I’m enjoying the anime, even bringing me to the point where I’m delighted to see her supportive of Kal and Claire despite her close relationship to Kal. If the anime can continue like this with a genuine and innocent (and doomed) romance, this will probably end up as one of my favorite romance animes of all-time. Then again, given my history with romance anime, that bar is set pretty low.
Wizard Barristers – Benmashi Cecil (Episode 1)
The character designs of Wizard Barristers is impressive, from their broad, overall appearance to the minor details and quirks that are unique to these characters. Starting with the broad, you have delightful character designs like Cecil, Quinn and Natsuna who all fit into different styles that reflect and express their personalities. These general appearances do well in establishing character traits and personalities early, especially between Cecil’s naïve and outgoing personality, Quinn’s professional and business nature, and Natsuna’s mature and formal disposition. On the other end of the spectrum are all the character details that help distinguish the characters further. For Seseri, you have his wildly swirly blue hair and prevailing yellow eyes. For Ageha, you have her butterfly thingies in her hair. And for Nanajinyi, Cecil’s frog familiar, you have… everything about it. Just the visual representation of every character is remarkable when you have the chance to weigh everything and analyze every bit and detail. There is an unquestionable amount of effort put into these characters and they’ve been brilliant in this anime thus far. I can’t help but wonder what other amazing character designs we’ll see later on when the series advances passed this first story arc.