Autumn 2011 – Week 6 Anime Review

This week: a rejuvenation for Chihayafuru, compassion for the characters in Future Diary, and inconsistencies in Working’!!?

Chihayafuru (Episode 6) – The addition of Kanade to Chihayafuru helped rejuvenate the series for me by bringing a new and different passion of karuta to the anime.  Kanade’s sincere love for traditional Japanese clothing (kimonos and hamaka) and Japanese history (specifically literature) reveals a completely unknown side of karuta to both Chihaya and us, one which explains the meanings behind the poems and their histories.  This really revitalized the anime for me because it shows that there is more to karuta than just memorizing poems and slapping cards at lightening speeds.  There are people out there who see the game differently and I’m happy the series is taking a broader approach to karuta than just a game.  I doubt Kana will ever be an expert at the game but I’m still excited to see what she how she can fulfill her love for Japanese clothing, appreciate karuta, and enjoy time with her new friends.

Future Diary (Mirai Nikki) (Episode 5) – I’m not sure if I understand this correctly but are we supposed to feel sympathy for these characters?  The past few episodes have greatly expanded Tsubaki’s (Sixth) and Yomotsu’s (Twelfth) characters, exposing their depressing pasts and current motives.  It’s showing the reasons behind their plans and their actions, which I deeply appreciate the series doing, but it is cast it in such a way that I think the series is trying to make us feel sorry for or at least try to understand these monsters.  And we’ve seen Uryuu (Ninth) change completely, too, going from a gruesome and controlling terrorist to a chatty, panty-wearing prisoner.  Complete 180 turn in character there, going from something everyone would hate to someone we might feel sorry for.  Are we supposed to connect with her now that we’ve seen her in a different light, that she’s not totally evil or corrupted?  I’m not sure if that’s what the series is going after but I can’t feel any sympathy toward anyone but Yukiteru.  Maybe there will be some other character later on who I change my feelings for, like Yuno or someone, but I don’t respect or feel compassion toward anyone but Yukiteru.

Mawaru Penguindrum (Episode 18) – If there was a prize for most consistently awesome anime this year, then Penguindrum would be the most deserving.  The anime operates as such a high level every episode that it’s always enjoyable to watch, especially this episode.  I was captivated by the emotions and drama between Tabuki and Kanba and the progress the series makes with each new episode.  But I do wonder something.  The end is gradually approaching and there is no clear ending in sight.  As of this current moment, I have no clue how the series will tie everything together and what the finale will look like.  I do know one thing and that is Momoka is the biggest, most central element in Penguindrum.  She is above fate, above destiny, and above all the other characters seen so far.  It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that she is the Penguindrum in the end.  Scratch that, she’s likely above that, too.

Persona 4 the Animation (Episode 6) – Wow!  An episode with Chie, Naoto, and Aika?  I didn’t realize this was gonna be an anime where I’d fall in love with so many girls but I, uh… erm… eh, what?  Oh nothing, nothing, please ignore that little bit.  Uh, what was I going to talk about?  Oh, right.

Persona 4’s comedy has both surprised and charmed me.  I’m delighted to see such a strong presence of original comedy in the series, especially with the way the characters play off each other.  Yosuke and Chie are phenomenal in the comedy department, especially when they’re together like when they were stalking Kanji, but they are also multi-dimensional and are involved in the central plot revolving around the murder mystery.  I actually laughed a few times at Yukiko, too, which I never thought would be the case, and Yuu’s unique personality (bland but not boring) has made for some pretty hilarious moments, too.  If it weren’t up against comedy juggernauts this season like Ika Musume or Working!!, then this would be my favorite comedy of the season.  But this is giving those two a run which really says something about how much I like Persona’s comedy.

Tamayura ~hitotose~ (Episode 6) – Wasn’t this anime supposed to be about photos and photography?  Well, this episode decided to take a few trips back in the time machine and illustrate the origins of Maon’s whistling and how her whistling earned her a lasting friendship.  But even in an episode like this that’s about as far from photography as any in the series, I still noticed some elements of photography.  The scenery in Tamayura is absolutely breathtaking when it wants to be but not every scene can be like that, otherwise it’d lose some of its magic. Instead, more ordinary backgrounds use some elements of real photos that are blended with the background to make realistic backdrops.  I noticed this several times in the anime already but this episode had numerous examples with many of them impressive, especially with the characters moving through some of these elements.  I don’t particularly care for photos used in anime but they were doctored in a way that made them feel ‘anime-ish’ (for lack of a better word) and therefore acceptable by my standards.  Kinda actually like it in this anime since it’s in such a unique setting that the photos give a new angle or a new texture to the setting that is Tamayura.

The iDOLM@ASTER (Episode 19) – Since starting the anime, I’ve grown to like Takane quite a bit.  She’s consistently made me laugh with that abnormal personality of hers.  Both her talking and singing voice are pleasing, helping pronounce that elegant yet airhead personality of hers.  And I don’t have a problem with her appearance either, actually enjoying her mature, young lady appearance better than the average Idolmaster character.  If I had to name faults for Takane, I’d be stumped since there really isn’t anything she does that annoys me or angers me.  I’d say that since the anime began, she’s been the best surprise of the cast so far and easily the most improved from my initial impressions of this franchise (I already knew Makoto would be my favorite well before the anime began, so no surprised or improvement there).  For what it’s worth, I’ve really grown fond of Chihaya and Haruka, too, and both their character episodes should be coming up shortly.  In fact, Chihaya’s second character episode will be next week.

UN-Go (Episode 5) – Ha, take that Shinjurou!  You were wrong!  And that makes you human, unlike Inga and Kazamori.  And that made for a really enjoyable and intriguing episode, too.  I am blown away by what Kazamori does and how he interacts with Yuuki and Inga.  He can be virtually anywhere he wants like when he transferred himself to the building, allowing him to talk to Yuuki when he was in the men’s room (can’t go in there in a female body Kazamori).  And he’s useful to the story, too, like when he rationalized with Yuuki and helped him snap out of his funk or even simple jokes like teasing the boys.  And Inga is always impressive, such as when he’s still hungry after consuming the truth or when he was angry at Yuuki.  And while the writing in these one-episode mysteries are quickly paced, the writing has been outstanding and they’re able to cram an entire mystery in one episode with little to no wasted time.  This anime is becoming more and more remarkable with each episode.

Working’!! (Episode 6) – Did this episode make sense to you?  Okay, so let me get this straight, Kyoko can call members of her former gang and get them to work at her restaurant whenever she wants?  And for no pay, too?  So then why didn’t she do that in the very first episode when Wagnaria was short staffed and they ended hiring Takanashi?  She could’ve just called one of her members then and just had them work full-time for no pay and saved the restaurant a bunch of time and money.  And at no effort, too (the Kyoko way).  Just seems a little inconsistent here with how much effort was put into hiring Takanashi when they had potential workers a speed dial away.  Well, we do know Takanashi is a much better employee than Youhei or Mitsuki, so maybe that’s the reason.  But if we were only looking for only the best workers, then surely one of them could stay and replace Yamada…

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  1. #1 by zammael on November 12, 2011 - 12:22 PM

    Here’s what I just posted over at otakuness blog:

    Momoka seems like some divine goddess, a saint that can change fate. But the funny thing is — anyone who met her never got over it. Yuri ended up an actress to prove her self-worth and demonstrate her beauty. Tabuki ends up a teacher in order to contribute to other people. Yet they remain two fragmented characters who are married only due to their Momoka connection. So, did Momoka really save anyone? Or did she mastermind this? Instead of growing up healthy and independent, they ended up shallow and desperate.

    Somehow PenguinDrum reads like a modern spin of the Iliad — where the gods are immature & childish, the mortals are mature and heroic. In MPD, the adults are the gods whereas the children are the mortals.

    • #2 by avvesione on November 12, 2011 - 10:15 PM

      You make an excellent point there questioning whether Momoka really saved anyone or not. But I’d argue that saving her friends is not what’s important here but her powerful influence and lasting impressions. She brought new meaning (or even new life) to Yuri and Tabuki and created their new fates. And perhaps more meaningful or symbolic is that she remained their equal, too. That is, she never chose to remain a savoir to them but choose instead to be their friend which might be the most significant element of all. But I like what you said there since that’s something I failed to notice.

      Btw, I’ve read your philosophy blog a few times and am curious if you have an anime one, too. Or do you just like to watch, read, and comment as you please?

      • #3 by zammael on November 13, 2011 - 9:03 AM

        Ah I’m a newbie to the anime world, just started watching a year ago. Thanks for reading! :)

  2. #4 by Joojoobees on November 12, 2011 - 8:16 PM

    Pretty good week in anime land!

    Working – your comment reminded me of why I was disappointed with season 1. They always go for character humor, instead of situational humor. I think a comedy show about a restaurant would be really good, but it wouldn’t be this show. Instead this is a show about some wacky characters that happen to hang out in a restaurant.

    Un-go – I agree that having Shinjuurou mess up was effective. I actually liked that moment when Rie kicks him in the head, not because he deserved it, but because it was pretty shocking way to set up that emotional low point.

    PenguinDrum – Talk about shocking! This show is a classic that is slowly unfurling in front of our eyes. Even the OP sequence grabs my attention every week. I just sit back amazed.

    Chihayafuru – In addition to the points you raised, this episode did a good job of showing Taichi and Chihaya again. Taichi is a bit more mature, but he is still selfish, conceited, and cowardly (he figures the club doesn’t need any more members, and counsels giving up on Kanade when she initially rejects the club invitation), and Chihaya shows her genuine interest in and appreciation for other people, as well as her spontaneous, tomboyish charm (running barefoot after Kanade). These characters are so convincing!

    • #5 by avvesione on November 12, 2011 - 10:24 PM

      Working-Character humor and situational humor both work for me but I do find this season much, much better than the first when judging the comedy. Maybe it’s that there is more situational humor? I’m not sure.

      UN-Go-What I liked about Rie kicking Yuuki is that it showed that others were affected by his work, not just himself. At that point, he seemed to only be solving these mysteries for his own selfish purposes rather than for revealing truth and justice. It never really progressed down that path but I like the dynamic between Rie and Yuuki, especially between their highs and lows.

      Chihayafuru-I really liked your post of this episode on your blog and felt you nailed this episode perfectly. I’m wondering that if this pattern continues with the next few club members joining that if Taichi will get in a fight with Chihaya and they’ll separate for a bit (and probably before a big tournament, too). And just when our heroine needs some comforting, Wataya shows up to fulfill that role, that undeserving bastard. I’m hoping Taichi and Chihaya end up together but I cannot foresee that happening with how the series has progressed so far. Oh well.

      • #6 by Joojoobees on November 13, 2011 - 10:47 AM

        Situational versus Character: All I meant about that was that, instead of finding the humor in them trying to keep the restaurant going with two workers out, they jump to making them (twin) thugs and make jokes about that. Or, in a previous episode, instead of making jokes about what happens in a restaurant when they run out of ingredients, they encounter a woman from a manhole. So instead of it really being humor about a restaurant, Working always makes jokes about these wacky characters.

        I would have enjoyed a show that was really a comedy about a restaurant, because I have worked in restaurants, and seeing a comedy about that would be nice. Instead Working is really a comedy about a girl with androphobia, and a guy that likes small things, and so on. They just happen to work in a restaurant, but very little of the show has anything at all to do with the setting.

        I wouldn’t say that one type of humor is better than the other. Now that I know that it isn’t what I went in looking for, I can appreciate it on it’s own merits.

        • #7 by avvesione on November 13, 2011 - 3:00 PM

          Ah, I think I understand now. And with the way you put it, I’m not surprised to see the show stick with character humor over situational humor lately. For one, situational humor is, well.. situational whereas character humor is longer lasting and can be developed and worked on for multiple episodes. That and I think it’s easier to write character humor to be more universally funny than say stuff that happens at restaurants (not everyone who worked in restaurants might understand these jokes). I will admit I am disappointed they don’t use their unique seeting more than they do but as long as I’m laughing each episode, I guess I can’t really complain. And I’m glad you’ve come to terms with Working and find it amusing, too.

  3. #8 by Joojoobees on December 3, 2011 - 3:39 PM

    Hey, I thought about this conversation recently because I caught the preview episodes of Daily Lives of High School Boys. I’m really not a manga reader, so I can’t comment on the series as a whole, but if you check out these previews (I saw #3 and #4), they feature situational humor as I was using the term. The humor really isn’t driven by the characters (at least not these episodes), instead they come out of the situations high school boys might find themselves in. In one, a boy asks his friend for advice about getting a girlfriend. In the other, the boys are walking home, and one finds a stick. These are situations that can plausibly happen, and this show looks like it knows how to find the funneh in these everyday situations.

    • #9 by avvesione on December 4, 2011 - 12:35 AM

      Ah, that’s probably the best example of situational humor I’ve heard since everything else I’ve seen in some blend of situational and character humor (like Working!!). I’ll have to check it out soon to see it for myself. Seems the pre-air has created some buzz which is promising.

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