Spring 2014 – Week 5 Anime Review

no_game_no_life-04-tet-god-games-laughing-playful-happy-heart-clubs-diamond-spadesThis week: an analysis on whether the failed assassins live or die in Akuma no Riddle, the balance of fighters and Stands in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, a question of time or limited opportunities in Isshuukan Friends, and the perception of beauty and how it differs between people in Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii.

Best episode of the week: Ping Pong the Animation

Anime trending up this week: Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi

Anime trending down this week: Soul Eater NOT!

 

Akuma no Riddle (Episode 5)

akuma_no_riddle-05-tokaku-haru-yuri-naked-bath-fanservice-scarsDo the failed assassins of Akuma no Riddle die or simply just disappear? With three assassins now mysteriously vanishing from the Kurogumi class, and all in a rather ambiguous, off-screen way, the question continues to repeat itself at the end of every episode. Based on my limited research of the manga, it appears as though the anime follows in its foot-steps without being direct in either direction but providing subtle hints that could favor either argument. For example, the flowers left on the desks of the ‘expelled’ students are more accustomed for funerals and not necessarily appropriate for a student transferring. Furthermore, the anime portrays itself as dark and violent, so the theme of murdering the failed assassins at the end of every episode fits the profile of this anime. On the other hand, not every ‘death game’ anime kills its enemies, especially its female cast members. A central theme to the anime has been the topic of forgiveness, especially with Tokaku’s character changing from her time alone with Haru. Moreover, the anime is ecchi, from innocent yuri relationships to girls showering/bathing to Haru running around in her bra and panties for several minutes. You typically don’t see murder in an anime with considerable fanservice… but that’s not to say it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. And one final point, and the reason why I’m bringing this up now, is that we saw Haruki survive in this episode after failing to kill herself after the botched mission. You don’t really see an anime put that much emphasis into saving a character’s life just to kill them off-screen in the next scene with no resolution to their character.

At this point, the argument could be made either way and either could be correct. I believe the anime is depicting these exits in such a way to not reveal to the audience whether the girls are dead or alive at the end of every episode. After weighing the available evidence, from my perspective, I would argue that the girls remain alive after failing to assassinate Haru. Considering the themes of forgiveness, the fanservice and the emphasis we’ve seen on the girls singing their own ending songs, I would argue that the girls are all still alive and will reconvene at the end. And while this may not be true for the manga, which probably will continue long after the anime ends, I feel that such an ending would be more positive in attracting readers and expanding its fandom. So while this might end up being untrue in the end and the three assassins-of-the-week are dead, I’m willing to bet that they’re all still alive until the anime says, or shows, otherwise.

akuma_no_riddle-05-haruki-cell_phone-family-concerned-worry-fashion-straps akuma_no_riddle-05-nio-smie-wink-happy_go_lucky-hand_pose-leader-antagonist

 

Hitsugi no Chaika (Episode 4)

hitsugi_no_chaika-04-chaika-bath-looking_behind-smile-blush-happy-cuteCoffins are heavy. Like, really, really heavy. You always see images of four-to-six people transporting a coffin out of a funeral service, so why does Chaika carry one all by herself? The coffin is taller than she is and made of solid wood. Even if the coffin were empty (and not carrying her metal gun) it’d still outweigh Chaika by five-times her body weight. And I haven’t even mentioned that Chaika doesn’t drag the coffin around on the ground either; she supports the weight entirely on her shoulders and walks around unimpaired without putting any of the weight on her back or needing to leaning forward. The fact that Chaika can carry this massive coffin around without any assistance or support obviously means she’s the strongest character in this anime. Why she doesn’t overpower her opponents in close quarters combat is beyond me. But still, you can add her name to the growing list of young anime girls who possess the superhuman strength. Watching her carry that coffin around every day without a thought makes me wish I had spent more time at the gym (or possessed magical powers).

hitsugi_no_chaika-04-chaika-tooru-akari-comedy-cute-pose-journey-vehicle hitsugi_no_chaika-04-chaika-clapping-happy-cute

 

Isshuukan Friends (Episode 4)

isshuukan_friends-04-kaori-emotionless-calm-quiet-bored-straight_faced-blank_expressionWith Kaori’s memory of her friends resetting every week on Monday, one has to wonder whether there is a race against time given the limited number of weeks in a school-year. Japanese schools, for the sake of this post, are roughly about 40 weeks long. That means that Yuuki has, at a maximum, 40 chances to introduce himself to Kaori before they finish this grade. However, we need to assume that several weeks passed at the beginning of the year before Yuuki summoned the courage to befriend her the first time and that several weeks have occurred since, through these four episodes. Although things are fine and dandy now and there is plenty of material left, one can’t help but wonder whether time will be an issue later on for Kaori, especially if she’s going to move/transfer schools at the end of the series (it’s what I’m expecting as the big finale for this anime). It might not be a pressing issue right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see time become a problem as the series progresses.

isshuukan_friends-04-yuuki-dismay-comedy-rain-umbrella isshuukan_friends-04-kaori-surprised-calm-rain-umbrella

 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Episode 5)

jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-05-avdol-magicians_red-stand-fire-bird-fighting-hong_kongThe balance of fighters and fighting in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an unquestioned strength and bodes well for the evolution of Stand fighters as this anime continues. With an amazing selection of styles, personalities, abilities and techniques, the fighting in JJBA has been phenomenal and will continue to be captivating and fascinating each and every time, never leaving a dull moment for the viewers. This is particularly encouraging since there is no single character who is significantly stronger than the rest nor are there fighters with inherent strengths and weaknesses against each other (such as one type being super effective against another). Instead, the field is level and the outcomes of battles aren’t as predictable as in other fighting anime. Of course, as the series continues and stronger fighters/Stands appear, there will be some variability (Dio) and creativity (D’Arby) that will deviate from this small sample size and shift the balance of power to the most important characters. However, at that point, the sheer thrill and excitement that occurs simultaneously with intense and sensational battles should begin to outweigh the advantages of balanced fighting. That’s not to say the fights aren’t exciting now, but that this balance of fighters will begin to fade as Jotaro as his companions inch closer to Dio and his cohorts.

jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-05-polnareff-silver_chariot-stand-armor-speed-fast-hong_kong jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-05-jotaro-star_platinum-stand

 

Mushishi Zoku Shou (Episode 5)

mushishi_zoku_shou-05-ginko-serious-unhappy-calm-silver_hair-one_green_eye-mysteriousConsidering all the strange and haphazard inflictions or diseases we’ve seen people succumb to in Mushishi, I often wonder why humanity hasn’t died out yet. Perhaps that statement is a little too blunt, but how different would humanity be without the help of Ginko or the other mushishi? The frequency in which we see people contract these ailments from various indigenous mushi suggests that there is a need for wandering mushishi to save peoples’ lives. Without them, the rate of death (or disappearances or disability) would be significantly higher and in people of young ages, too. And given that these people live alone or in small hamlets, the morbidity and mortality of these young people would spell disaster for population growth or even sustainability (depending on their skills). So really, how does mankind persist in a world such as this?

mushishi_zoku_shou-05-masumi-diseased-troubled-depressed-lonely-mushi mushishi_zoku_shou-05-ginko-tobacco-calm-thinking-quiet-looking_away

 

No Game No Life (Episode 4)

no_game_no_life-04-shiro-sora-blank-siblings-crowns-colorful-dark-beautifulI’ve always obsessed over the use of color and lighting in anime, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I am fascinated with and adore the imaginative and inspired use of colors and lighting in No Game No Life. The anime illustrates its world through a kaleidoscope of vibrant gradients and the end result is backgrounds and environments that are both curious to look at and spectacular when looked at. The use of lighting is also remarkable, helping cater to the lighthearted quality of the show and helping augment the fantasy-setting with differing colors. The series even uses the absence of light to its advantage, too, such as when Tet abducted Sora and Shiro at the end of the episode. In terms of its visuals and how it presents itself using colors and lighting, No Game No Life is one of the most impressive anime that I have seen lately, perhaps the most since Watamote last year. So while No Game No Life may be mediocre with its character designs or mundane with its animation, the visual style, with bizarre colors and dazzling lighting, moves it from being another ordinary anime into one of the most gorgeous shows of the season.

no_game_no_life-04-sora-shiro-blank-king_and_queen-crowns-royal_garb-throne no_game_no_life-04-stephanie-princess-servant-pet-surprised-bow-colorful_background

 

Ping Pong the Animation (Episode 4)

ping_pong_the_animation-04-kazama-kong-dragon-domination-table_tennis-paddle-dramatic-giganticEverything thus far in Ping Pong has revolved around singles table tennis. The games have been sensational and enthusiastic, gushing with emotion and purpose. There is no question that the story will continue with a focus on singles matches but is there also the opportunity for doubles matches? We’re constantly reminded of the emphasis on teams and schools and nationalities in Ping Pong and the protagonists are a pair of boys with contrasting personalities that would make for an interesting duo. Additionally, the advent of doubles Ping Pong would provide a differing style on how to examine Smile and Peco as characters. It could also potentially introduce a new conflict given their styles of play and how invested they are in their games, helping provide a new avenue for character growth that would otherwise be impossible through singles matches alone. However, since this anime follows the story of a completed manga, I suppose I could spoil myself the mystery and read ahead to find out whether doubles will ever be a thing in Ping Pong or not. Nonetheless, I still would be interested in seeing a doubles match in Ping Pong because it would add another dimension to the already thrilling matches of this incredible anime.

ping_pong_the_animation-04-kong-shocked-surprised-amazed-sweat-panic-fear ping_pong_the_animation-04-kazama-dragon-kaio_academy-ace-dramatic-shadowing-emotion-enthusiasm

 

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin (Episode 4)

ryuugajou_nanana_no_maizoukin-04-juugo-punch-emotional-blood-fightWhy aren’t more people or corporations or organizations after the treasures in Nanana’s Buried Treasure? You’d think, given the unbelievable nature and ability of these treasures, that there’d be people tearing up the island over these world-changing devices… but no, it’s just a handful of high schoolers who are after these priceless artifacts. And given their proximity to high-traffic areas and the age of social media, you’d figure there’d be more interest in these items than what’s currently shown. I would imagine that there’d be this level of interest if these treasures were hidden in a mountain temple or in some lush, dense jungle, but these treasures are housed in schools and tourist destinations in a metropolis. Like… wouldn’t somebody have stumbled upon these things sooner and realized their potential? Maybe the story needs to progress more before we can answer these questions, especially behind who hide these treasures and designed their trials, but it’s pretty absurd that no one else is searching for these things besides a small party of teenagers.

ryuugajou_nanana_no_maizoukin-04-isshin-adventure_club_president-theif-glasses-smile ryuugajou_nanana_no_maizoukin-04-nanana-happy-eating_pudding-smile-blush-cute

 

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii (Episode 5)

soredemo_sekai_wa_utsukushii-05-nike-rain-dress-ceremony-braids-beautifulBeauty is relative. This quality is distinctive to whoever is judging whether something is beautiful or not, so beauty to one person might be unbeautiful to another. So for someone like me who finds beauty in bright, sunny days, I find it interesting to see that almost everyone in the Sun Kingdom finds beauty in overcast skies and downpours. To me, I find the Sun Kingdom to be beautiful on its own, with clear skies, warm weather and gardens around the palace. Rain, however, doesn’t necessarily hold that same level of beauty to me, especially in an arid, sunbaked desert. Rain goes well when there are snowcapped mountains or emerald forests to go with it, not with dry flatlands with minimal vegetation. So to me, it’s odd to see the anime put such an emphasis on the beauty associated with rain when I’d much prefer sunny days. However, as mentioned before, beauty is relative, and so to people who have never seen rain or experience it infrequently, it must hold some special value to them that I would otherwise ignore. Furthermore, Nike’s manipulation of clouds and rain have their own special beauty to them, too, such as putting a halo (or ring) around the sun for her ceremony. I do find those scenes beautiful, but probably to a different degree than what everyone else sees or feels. Regardless of my perception or that of the characters of this anime, The World is Still Beautiful uses and emphasizes beauty in truly interesting and meaningful ways, and it will be interesting to see what else the anime depicts as beautiful and Nike tries to reveal her world to Livius.

soredemo_sekai_wa_utsukushii-05-livius-king-rays_of_light-clouds-uniform-beautiful soredemo_sekai_wa_utsukushii-05-livius-nike-chibi-comedy

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  1. #1 by LGM on May 10, 2014 - 4:55 PM

    Huh? Where’s that 3-D anime you say you’ll try this season? Did you drop it already?

    On another note, Ping Pong turn out so much better than I thought it would be. Strange really, how its style makes its characters more alive compare to other animes – when before it just seem horrible to me. & every characters are so flaw & therefore so much more alive.

    Hitsugi no Chaika piss me off sometimes because of how badly unprofessional the siblings felt at times. I mean you guys supposed to be children raise for war for Christ sake!

    Others characters from some other animes this season can be careless & even stupid because they aren’t really professionals or agents or such so eventhough it’s nail biting frustrating to look at them at times it’s acceptable.

    You guys suppose to be good at war & nothing else so please keep the mistakes & clumsiness that helps with the story to the minimum.

    • #2 by avvesione on May 10, 2014 - 5:35 PM

      You mean Knights of Sidonia (3D anime this season)? I’m still watching the anime, but it isn’t in this post because I don’t write about every anime I watch. It really depends on whether I have something to say about it or not, which is why Captain Earth is absent this week or why I haven’t written about Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?.

      The style of Ping Pong really helps allow the animators to animate their characters more than the more common ‘moe’ style of anime. Whereas now you see lots of effort and detail into drawing the character’s faces to make them cute and attractive, Ping Pong uses simplification in order to add more movement and motion and to bring the Ping Pong matches to life. It’s not the prettiest anime out there but damn does it have great animation.

      I don’t mind the attitudes or behaviors of the characters in Chaika, even though we’re expected to believe they’re soldiers. One aspect that I do like about it is that they’re showing more depth than just being professional killers. That is to say, they’re more than just their military side and have some humanistic qualities to them, too. And even if they are trained and professional soldiers, it doesn’t mean that they’re good at everything. They probably don’t have much training in terms of tactics or espionage and were only hired for their skills in combat. I think it’d be more fair to give them the benefit of the doubt since they’re doing much more than they were doing as hired soldiers.

  2. #3 by Tzaphqiel on May 10, 2014 - 5:41 PM

    Although I can’t speak for you, I would guess that part of why the people of the Sun Kingdom find rain to be beautiful is because of its relative rarity for them. Technically, rarity like that could just as easily be used as justification for them to despise it (much like those few members of the church), so this shorthand doesn’t completely account for their feelings, but it still seems like it would be a big portion of why they admire it. Though if you include immediate feelings regarding the rain (gentle rains tend to be cool, almost soothingly so; the rainbow is a rather interesting sight; people being enraptured by rare “natural” phenomena like this could make it harder for the church to control them), maybe that is all you need to explain their feelings.

    • #4 by avvesione on May 10, 2014 - 6:36 PM

      Right, I mentioned that in my post that the scarcity of rain plays some role in how the characters find the beauty in it. And looking back on that review, I failed to mention is Livius’ connection to rain from his childhood and how it reminds him of better times. Since he never experienced rain and his mother would talk to him about it, finally seeing that and remembering that connection must have a more significant impact on him that on the rest of the Sun Kingdom. Besides impressing the servants in the palace and the other people at the ball, we really haven’t seen too much love for the rain besides people being surprised or impressed. But I agree with you that the infrequency of rain plays a major role in the beauty of this anime.

  3. #5 by Artemis on May 10, 2014 - 9:32 PM

    I’ve been wondering about that final point you make with regards to Mushishi as well. But I’m assuming that there must be at least a few larger towns and cities in whatever universe the anime inhabits – perhaps Ginko has simply chosen to visit the smaller and more rural locations, which are therefore most in need of help? (That’s just a guess though, and I doubt we’ll ever find out the specifics.) There are also a number of other wandering mushishi around as seen in the first episode of Zoku Shou, as well as other characters who have knowledge of mushi like Adashino and Nui who we met in the first season – I suppose mankind could persist if there were enough of these types of people around. Come to think of it, nobody ever really seems to question Ginko when he tells them he’s a mushishi or even appear particularly surprised by the revelation, so it’s probably a safe bet that there are enough of them in existence to help keep up the general population.

    • #6 by avvesione on May 25, 2014 - 4:23 PM

      Based on what you mentioned and what I’ve seen from Mushishi, I think it’s safe to say that mushishi are fairly well known and their tales have reached even the remote villages, hamlets and settlements of the world. I believe that without them, mankind would struggle and be forced to live in specific areas that are away from the mushi.

      However, in regards to the cities or larger towns, I just don’t see that. We’ve never really see anything substantial nor have we heard mention of it otherwise. I do think that Ginko likes traveling to the rural villages over the towns since he’s bound to see diverse and different mushi this way and that he might be wary of attracting mushi to populated areas, but the biggest town we’ve seen was the second to last episode in the first season and that wasn’t that big. I did scan through my screenshots of season 1 and see a few cities shown briefly, but nothing like a Kyoto or Tokyo or anything where the city takes up an entire valley or something.

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