Spring 2014 – Week 4 Anime Review

ping_pong_the_animation-03-hero-tsukimoto-smile-robot-childhood-fantasy-shadow-creepy-wings-scary-texturesThis week: why conflict is the best thing to happen in Isshuukan Friends, not being distracted to the real story in in Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin, appreciating character developing for a strong, independent female lead in Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii, and some differences between marathoning Mushishi and watching Mushishi Zoku Shou weekly.

Best episode of the week: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

Anime trending up this week: Isshuukan Friends

Anime trending down this week: Akuma no Riddle

 

Akuma no Riddle (Episode 4)

akuma_no_riddle-04-haru-studying-school-classroom-exams-tests-midtermsWill anything important ever happen during school in Akuma no Riddle? For an anime that spends about half its time in the classroom, not much happens. Virtually everything that moves the story along or is remotely exciting happens outside the classroom, whether it be in the dorms or wherever someone wants Haru to be murdered. I can only imagine that the school scenes are used as downtime between these scenes because the anime would be too exciting otherwise. But, I suppose that half this anime is about Haru and she is keen on making friends and graduating from her class, so there’s some meaning there to her character. It’s just everyone else is apathetic or indifferent to school that it makes these scenes so tedious. Then again, there was a bit of backstory on Kouko’s character in the classroom with this episode, so it isn’t a total waste. Still, Akuma no Riddle would be much, much more without these classroom scenes.

akuma_no_riddle-04-tokaku-assassin-cold-stare-indifferent-emotionless-short_blue_haired_tomboy akuma_no_riddle-04-kouko-assassin-class_rep-knife-glasses-twintails-crying

 

Captain Earth (Episode 4)

captain_earth-04-moco-amara-kill_t_gang-aliens-guns-villains-antagonistsOne of these days I should try eating human flesh because aliens (and monsters) are always saying that humans are the most delightful and succulent source of nutrition in the vastness of space… and I’m wondering if we’re missing out on something here. Then again, the real topic of this post is in regards to how Amara and Moco, the tag-team duo of the KILL-T-GANG, survived for so long without delicious, delicious human flesh? What did they eat before venturing to Earth and how did they survive for so long without earthlings? And to continue off that point, how do they know that humans are the most perfect food in the solar system? Have they even tried Italian food yet? Anyway, the point here is that it’s rather silly to have aliens comment about eating humans when they have little to no experience with humans, especially eating them. I would be more likely to accept this argument as true (and enjoy it much, much more) if the invasion had already occurred and they had devoured half of mankind. Learning about eating people after that would be something that the series could use to strengthen its villains and the story, but for two aliens to claim that humans are filet mignon without even a lick or a bite into anyone undermines the whole purpose of these villains. Then again, this is hardly the most prominent problem with Captain Earth at this point.

captain_earth-04-amara-kill_t_gang-alien-villain captain_earth-04-akari-hacker-genius-energetic-genki-orange_hair

 

Hitsugi no Chaika (Episode 3)

hitsugi_no_chaika-03-tooru-akari-chaika-coffin-traveling-wanderers-adventure-happy-excitedI am struggling to understand the purpose of Akari’s character. Through three episodes, her single accomplishment is that she’s been a third wheel to Chaika’s adventure. But really, what has she done that Chaika or Tooru couldn’t already do on their own? In fact, if you completely removed her character, the anime would be the exact same. Akari has had no impact or influence on Hitsugi no Chaika. Not even a little. She’s just there. She just exists and follows her brother and Chaika around. Really, what is the purpose of her character and why does she exist now? I usually don’t have issues with characters who have minimal impact on an anime or are meaningful for comic relief or fanservice, but Akari has done nothing for three episodes now and is one of the most prominent characters being shown quite frequently. I figure that there’ll be a time where her character is important or significant in some way, but for now, she has no meaning or purpose, besides being the biggest third wheel in anime.

hitsugi_no_chaika-03-vivi-zita-comedy-angry-tsundere-smile-playful-glasses hitsugi_no_chaika-03-chaika-eye_brows-angry-fist_clenching-cute-adorable

 

Isshuukan Friends (Episode 3)

isshuukan_friends-03-kaori-yuuki-friendship-couple-romance-lunch-lovey_dovey-happyI’m thrilled to see conflict in this lighthearted anime since conflict is exactly what this anime needed. Without conflict and without problems that arise, this anime would stagnate, grow stale and grow boring. But with conflict, thanks primarily to Shougo’s character, we’ll see the characters grow from this event and for them to mature as human beings. Instead of the anime being simply nice and boring every episode, Isshuukan Friends is moving along its story and its characters through meaningful interactions. Had Shougo acted the same as Yuuki, then the anime would have done nothing new. Instead, Shougo confronted Yuuki about Kaori and her condition and challenged him to view her through his perspective instead of his own. It pushed the characters in such a way that they had to react to this conflict. And as a result, we saw the characters become something more than when the episode started. I can only hope there continues to be conflict in every episode since that is exactly what this needs to continue to improve. It’s already one of the better anime this season and a simple conflict every episode will continue to help its characters, it story and its overall product, grow.

isshuukan_friends-03-kaori-quiet-shy-blush-cute isshuukan_friends-03-shougo-friend-indifferent-conflict

 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Episode 4)

jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-04-joseph-laughing-loud-awesome-beard-old_manNot only was Joseph Joestar the best protagonist in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure but he continues to be the best all-around character thanks to his brazen and flashy personality. He easily has the best presence of anyone so far in this season of JJBA, both in terms of his dynamic with the other characters and how his comedy is portrayed. It’s actually amazing to think but his character has actually improved from the last arc to this one, which is saying something since he was phenomenal as the lead character in Battle Tendency. It’s promising to see him again in Stardust Crusaders since his personality contrasts so sharply with Jotaro’s and the two complement each other by making up for the other’s weaknesses. However, given how much we’ve seen of Joseph already, I’m not sure if he’ll continue to improve as a character or if this is the pinnacle of his success as a character. However, if that’s the case, he’s leveling off at the right place and is certain to make this season of JJBA an unforgettable one.

jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-04-jotaro-shock-surprise-different_colors-pale-hat jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-04-polnareff-stand_user-menacing-gogogogogog-antagonist-opponent-star-smile

 

Mushishi Zoku Shou (Episode 4)

mushishi_zoku_shou-04-ginko-traveling-tobacco-modern_clothes-one_eye-silver_hair-calm-awesomeUnlike every other anime airing this season, I find it odd to watch Mushishi only once a week since I marathoned the series prior to the second season beginning earlier this month. During that golden week, I would watch numerous episode of Mushishi together and the end of one would mean the beginning of the next. Now, each episode stands alone for a seven-day period and I dare not wait for these shows to pile up since every episode is an individual masterpiece. So with this new season of Mushishi, I found that I am watching the series different than I did before and I have much more time to digest the episodes each week than after six or seven or eight at a time. I’ve found new aspects and details to appreciate with the series and can enjoy it for a longer duration of time, yet the downside is that I know each viewing is limited to half-an-hour instead of several hours at a time. There’s now that sense of hunger at the end of each Mushishi episode, wanting to skip ahead to next week’s episode and watch it right after. Then again, I doubt that’s any different with any other anime that’s as remarkable as this one. Probably not, but it’s interesting to see how stark of a difference there is between marathoning an anime and watching it week-to-week, especially of an anime with such extraordinary quality as this one.

mushishi_zoku_shou-04-ginko-lantern-night-wanderer-wayfarer mushishi_zoku_shou-04-ginko-looking_back-one_green_eye-silver_hair-ominous

 

No Game No Life (Episode 3)

no_game_no_life-03-shiro-loli-nervous-biting_thumb-concernedWatching Sora and Shiro play real world games in No Game No Life would be interesting but not as interesting as playing games with magic, made-up rules and chaos. Here, we’re able to see the characters go beyond strategy and employ emotion, personality and humor into these events to turn these common games into something more. And while I wasn’t expecting anything to the degree of this new game of chess (I was expecting cheating to various degrees), I found something new to look forward to with each new game in each new episode. So instead of watching people play checkers or slot or something normal, we can now expect Sora and Shiro to play crazy checkers or silly slots. It certainly livens up the setting and scenarios in No Game No Life, which is quickly becoming a pleasant surprise this season.

no_game_no_life-03-sora-smile-cell_phone-photo-creepy no_game_no_life-03-clammy-yelling-orders-battle-chess-opponent-veil

 

Ping Pong the Animation (Episode 3)

ping_pong_the_animation-03-tsukimoto-koizumi-smile-coach-paddle-tournament-matchI often don’t comment on the music in anime, so the few choice times where I do mention it, you can tell it left a favorable impression on me. There were actually three noteworthy songs that stood out to me in the third episode of Ping Pong; the first being the melody that used ping pong balls as a rhythm, the second being a techno song during Kong’s first match and Tsukimoto’s humming at the end. Each had their own brilliance to it, with the ping pong ball song being beautiful, the techno song augmenting the visuals and the humming song carrying importance and implication. Each song displayed its own unique value to the episode and helped improved many different aspects of the episode as a result. It often takes quite a bit for a song to impress me in an anime, so for Ping Pong to do it three times in one episode, is nothing short of astonishing. Even though we’re still in the first month of the season, I think I’ve found my favorite sounding anime of the season with Ping Pong.

ping_pong_the_animation-03-kong-chinese-sunglasses-bored ping_pong_the_animation-03-sakuma-hoshino-peco-rivals-angry-butting_heads-bald-glasses

 

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin (Episode 3)

ryuugajou_nanana_no_maizoukin-03-nanana-shocked-distressed-fridge-no_pudding-comedyWhat I’m enjoying the most about Nanana isn’t so much the adventures, the puzzles and the treasures but how the series presented Nanana’s death, the role of her character and how the series is trying to move our attention away from her and toward these fun, little scenarios. To me, the series would not have presented the importance of Nanana’s character and her murder if it weren’t the central storyline of this anime, yet everything since then has been a diversion or distraction to take our mind off Nanana’s character and her death and LOOK, SHINY TREASURES AND CGI ANIMATION. You aren’t fooling me, anime, and you aren’t fooling anyone who’s curious about how this all points back to Nanana and her death. And considering the magnitude and imagination employed in Nanana, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nanana’s ghost be a hoax or the phantasm of a magical treasure device. I mean, after all, who’s putting these treasures all throughout Nanae Island? Really, there’s a mystery presented in this anime that goes beyond searching for treasure. While the episodes present entertaining or amusing puzzles for the characters to play around with, the real puzzle is presented to the audience to understand what’s going on with Nanana’s character, the treasures and everything in Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin.

ryuugajou_nanana_no_maizoukin-03-daruku-trap-school_uniform-laughing-happy-dirty-cute ryuugajou_nanana_no_maizoukin-03-juugo-protagonist-puzzle-smile

 

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii (Episode 4)

soredemo_sekai_wa_utsukushii-04-nike-princess-tomboy-strong-independent-shocked-surprised-panic-adventure-long_orange_hairStrong female lead characters always bode well for an anime, and Princess Nike is one of the best at what she does. Rather than being a cute, innocent moe girl who goes to school, enjoys time with friends and fights monsters/aliens/whatever with magic or superpowers, Nike is an active, energetic, passionate and outgoing young lady who isn’t afraid to defy those around her, challenge authority and be a strong, independent woman. And because of that, it’s amazing to see her in the role she’s in and how she’s changing as a person. Whereas before, as princess of the Principality of Rain, where she was free to do what she wanted, now she’s the fiancé of the Sun King and is adapting to a life where her role will no longer be the tomboy that she currently is and into something more regal and royal and regulated. So while the anime continues to focus directly on how Livius I is changing as a king, it’s also an examination of how Nike is changing, too. However, Nike still possesses that strong, independent personality and won’t be remodeled overnight. Unlike many characters who have a weak will or multiple flaws, Nike has a defined and refined personality that is able to resist simple or straightforward character development. Her stubbornness and tomboyish nature aren’t going to fade away quickly, if at all, so it’ll be interesting to see what other traits of her personality evolve as she continues to live in the Sun Kingdom. And even as she changes, she’ll still continue to be the tough, reliable protagonist that will lead this anime to new heights. You can think of it more as adding details or touching-up a project that is in its final stages. Or at least, that’s how I view how the series is trying to improve and distinguish Nike’s character. A strong female lead is always appreciated in anime, but one that matures and grows as a character too, is something truly special.

soredemo_sekai_wa_utsukushii-04-nike-disguise-cloak-sneaking-spying-cute soredemo_sekai_wa_utsukushii-04-nike-surprised-comedy-

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  1. #1 by Artemis on April 28, 2014 - 4:19 PM

    I’m still enjoying Captain Earth – enough to keep watching at this point, anyway – but you’re right, there are definitely some problems there. I have to honest and say that if it weren’t for the generally very high production qualities, I probably wouldn’t be as lenient with them. The problems themselves (which I think I’ll spend a bit of time talking about later on my own blog so that I don’t end up spamming yours with an essay) are a shame, because I had anticipated Captain Earth being a much stronger series than it actually is.

    On a positive note, that most recent episode of Mushishi was excellent. I mean, they’ve all been great so far and there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that they’ll continue to be, but episode 4 in particular really stood out to me as being something special. The atmosphere it managed to create was just exquisite.

    • #2 by avvesione on May 10, 2014 - 3:11 PM

      The production values and Akari are the only positives I have for Captain Earth. The anime has been a real disappointment in terms of its story, its characters and its woefully inadequate action sequences. It’s far from the worst anime this season but it’s the biggest disappointment, for sure. So in that regard, I agree with you.

      And yeah, about Mushishi, I’m thrilled its back and have been extremely happy with every episode of this new season. I’m always glad to hear of people who think the same!

      • #3 by Artemis on May 10, 2014 - 5:04 PM

        Yeah, the artwork/animation is probably the best aspect of Captain Earth – although I also really like the OP, and I like Daichi as the main character as well. I actually like Akari more than Daichi on a personal level, but I think that having a main male character of a mecha anime who’s so positive and proactive is an excellent move, and a very welcome change from what people usually get. However, while these things may distract from Captain Earth’s deficiencies, it unfortunately doesn’t entirely make up for them.

        • #4 by avvesione on May 10, 2014 - 5:28 PM

          I don’t particularly like Daichi’s character. In fact, I think he’s one of the biggest disappointments in the anime. His positive, do-good personality just feels artificial and bland; he doesn’t leave a unique or memorable impression on me like Akari. He isn’t really fun either. I’m glad he wasn’t really in the last episode, but him as the main character is a problem for me.

        • #5 by Artemis on May 10, 2014 - 5:53 PM

          Well, I can’t really argue with a subjective opinion – it’s an entirely valid one, and no doubt there are others who feel similarly.

          Personally, while I neither particularly like nor dislike Daichi, I think it’s really refreshing to have a character like him for this type of series. I’m so used to seeing young males in mecha anime who are extremely whiny, lack any kind of confidence or self-awareness, or have severe psychological issues – if not a combination of all three. Evangelion’s Shinji, Eureka Seven’s Renton, etc. etc. While I have nothing against these types of characters either, I very much welcome the change in a more open and assertive figure such as Daichi.

        • #6 by avvesione on May 10, 2014 - 6:28 PM

          Just out of curiosity, have you watched Star Driver? If you enjoy the change of pace with Daichi’s personality, I think you’ll love Takuto as a character in Star Driver.

        • #7 by Artemis on May 10, 2014 - 6:31 PM

          I have, but I ended up dropping it about halfway through. I quite liked it, but it just became too repetitive for me, and a bit predictable.

        • #8 by avvesione on May 10, 2014 - 6:40 PM

          I see. To me, Takuto is a much, much better protagonist than Daichi. While they’re both positive and heroic, I found Takuto’s forward and outgoing personality to be more genuine and entertaining as oppose to Daichi who is like Takuto but on benzos. That’s not to say he’s bad, especially since he was the best character before Akari showed up. But as for someone who leads the anime and drive it forward, I think he could’ve and should’ve been better.

          Also, sorry to hear about you dropping Star Driver. It was repetitive up until the middle of the series but then things started to change in the later-teens. If you made it through the first half, I do strongly recommend finishing it.

        • #9 by Artemis on May 10, 2014 - 6:53 PM

          I honestly can’t remember what I thought of Takuto as a main character – I know the series isn’t especially old, but for some reason it feels like it was ages ago that I watched it. But if I hung on until the halfway point, I assume I must have liked Takuto well enough. Maybe I will try it again sometime.

        • #10 by avvesione on May 10, 2014 - 6:56 PM

          Star Driver was Autumn 2010 to Winter 2011. In fact, I even wrote about it in my review for Winter 2011!

          Anyway, the reason I bring this all up is that there are numerous parallels between Star Driver and Captain Earth but that I enjoyed Star Driver much more than I am now with Captain Earth.

          If you do go back and finish the series, let me know how you like it.

        • #11 by Artemis on May 10, 2014 - 9:05 PM

          Yeah, I definitely got those Star Driver vibes from Captain Earth right off the bat. Though I’m feeling a bit of Eureka Seven (which I love) there as well.

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