With my vacation quickly approaching, this will be my last weekly anime review of the season. I will be provide more details later but I will be gone for roughly two weeks which means it will be unmanageable to write two weekly posts, especially since I will be away from my computer and anime in general. So this is it for the weekly anime reviews for the Winter season!
With that said, this week: a minor detail which in Chihayafuru which I absolutely love, something that is missing in Mouretsu Pirates, and an anime setting where I’d want to move to.
Rinne no Lagrange (Episode 10) – I don’t often watch an anime and think to myself, “I’d love to live there, in that town where the characters live.” This usually never happens because most anime are set in a mundane urban backdrop somewhere in Japan, in some sci-fi setting that would seem great but is combined with war or constant peril, or a fantasy world where there’s also uncertainly and danger. Though there is some threat of an apocalypse and the destruction of Earth in Rinne no Lagrange, I’d totally live in Kamogawa, the seaside paradise which is the home to Madoka and friends. Perhaps it’s the way the skies are drawn and the proximity to the serene ocean but everything about Kamogawa is beautiful and I adore all the ocean views we get from all the regions of the city. Not to mention the weather is always lovely and the temperature doesn’t appear to be sweltering or unbearable (Madoka wearing sweats a lot is my hint). Kamogawa is urban enough for me but also has that community feeling to it, thought that might be attributed to Madoka and her activities in the Jersey Club. I could go on further with my list of reasons for wanting to live in Rinne no Lagrange but I believe you understand my point. Still, I would like to go on about Kamogawa…
Persona 4 the Animation (Episode 22) – This episode had to be one of the saddest episodes I’ve ever watched in an anime. And even with that remarkable distinction, I never cried once during this episode. At times I felt like I should be crying given what was happening on screen but the tears and sniffles never arrived. At times like these, I wonder if my heart is made of concrete and coal-powered combustion, one that has difficulty with sympathy and sorrow. Those are probably the emotions I feel the least throughout anime but that might be because I don’t typically watch anime full of melodrama or sacrifice. And I felt other strong emotions at the end of this episode, too, but the sadness was never dominant. Or perhaps I was never invested emotionally in Persona 4 which explains the lack of tears. I don’t have trouble sharing in the glee, humor, and silliness of the series and the sense of friendship throughout the anime clicked with me. So why did I fail to respond to one of the most pivotal and saddest moments in this anime? Maybe becoming accustomed to a certain style in this anime lessened my response to this episode. Who knows because I certainly don’t.
Mouretsu Pirates (Bodacious Space Pirates) (Episode 10) – Through Mouretsu Pirates is one of my favorite anime this season, I can’t help but notice it’s missing a few things. Perhaps what it lacks the most is that there are no other pirates out there to compete with the Bentenmaru and her crew. The fact we have yet to see another pirate power in space, or even another pirate ship besides the one that attacked the Space Yacht Club on their cruise, is something that has bothered me slightly. Furthermore, I’d love to see other ports or planets or areas of this universe that respond to piracy differently than Marika’s home planet. Not only would we be seeing more marvelous scenery on distant planets but it’d be interesting to see how the rest of the universe views pirating and piracy. I’d imagine these two additions would improve the sense of adventure and tension in the anime but, really, the anime is doing fine the way it currently is. Nevertheless, there is more that I constantly want from Mouretsu Pirates and until I get satisfied, I’ll have a craving for more ‘pirate’-styled themes in this anime. And while my hunger may never be satisfied by Mouretsu Pirates, the fact that I have this hunger shows how much I am invested in it and how much I care for the anime in general.
Future Diary (Mirai Nikki) (Episode 21) – I’ve had a growing problem with Future Diary that only seems to get worse with each passing episode. What increasingly irritates me with each passing episode is that things need to happen and they just seem to happen regardless of logic or rational. Take the opening scene of this episode for example. You have three armed police officers who just stand there for 10 seconds while Yuno slaughters them with her sword. I realize the plot required “Yuno to kill and create a distraction” but couldn’t it have been done in a realistic way? Happened again a little later but was even worse that the cops planned to shoot the kids for no reason. Here, the plot needed “drama” and did it in one of the worst ways possible. Then Yuno did a repeat of the opening scene and killed all the officers without any reaction or action. A final scene I want to mention is when Yuki evaded Minene during their cat-and-mouse scene in the tower. Minene was talking about how she was listening for Yuki to give his position away yet she was unable to hear him get up from his position, carry his large automatic with him and go up some stairs to hide while his cell phone went off? I’m sure Yuki isn’t a ninja, so I’m curious how he was able to do all that without giving away his position when Minene was actively seeking and listening for him. I really wish the anime put an effort into these scenes because they really take out some enjoyment for me from this anime. These scenes of poor writing are probably my largest gripe with this anime and I can only hope they go away before the anime concludes in a few weeks.
Chihayafuru (Episode 22) – Does anyone else pause the video and then proceed frame-by-frame through some of the plays in the karuta matches? I’ve been saving this topic for a while now and realize this is probably the last (and maybe the best) time to bring up the subject. Originally, I was going to comment on how brilliant the animation is in these scenes since it shows full-body movement at swift speeds and in relation to another who’s also attack the same cards. It requires so much work going into such trivial scenes that the value of animation can often go unappreciated. Furthermore, these scenes are extremely significant since the anime is about karuta and these motions are what decide the winner from the loser. But for this episode, it added a whole new dimension with Yamamoto Yumi constantly contesting cards causing carefully calculated chaos. There’d often be only one frame which showed the truth behind each challenge and every time, Yumi would be correct. At first, I thought she was just using that to get cards that she barely lost but she was able to get her hand there just before Chihaya did. Truly amazing animation to get all that motion, detail, and emotion into each shot. This is just a minor detail in the anime but it has so much weight in it that it makes every match amazing to watch. Details like these are why Chihayafuru is one of the best anime this season.
Brave 10 (Episode 10) – Despite the ‘good guys’ being a team of 9 guys and 1 girl (and Isanami doesn’t fight, so you don’t necessarily need to count here here), the anime has surprising success in balancing the screentime of its characters evenly between the sexes. Yes, though the females are greatly outnumbered in this samurai anime (though this episode undoubtedly helps with the addition of two female ninjas from Hattori’s side) they are represented well throughout the anime in terms of their roles and the amount of time they are seen. This aspect has done well for the series since it was expected that the females would only play minor roles and hardly appear in the fights. But BRAVE10 has outperformed. By keeping its cast balanced like this, BRAVE10 has prevented itself from creating an unnecessary burden, such as spending too much time with the guys or overcompensating for the lack of girls.
Another (Episode 9) – While I’m already incredibly frustrated that my favorite character in Another, Aya Ayano, died in the last episode, I’m even more frustrated how it was handled. As a secondary character, you would’ve expected her death to be treated like everyone else and have a shot of her lifeless body or what I like to refer to as, the ‘confirmed death shot’. Without a ‘confirmed death shot’, I figured she must’ve survived the fall from the cliff because every other major death in the series had one. Hell, even the nameless brother that died in this episode had one, so why not Aya? Why was she shafted when she was one of the secondary characters in the series and featured in numerous episodes? Just seeing the car break the road barrier and fall off into nothing was probably the worst way to show a death in a horror anime, essentially giving us nothing but a cheap way to remove a character. And the fact we barely got any screentime of it happening just made it even worse. I might not be bitching about it as much if it wasn’t my favorite character but that was the least satisfying death in Another and we’ve already had a heart attack and a suicide (which are really lame ways to die in the horror genre, too). Well, that was infuriating but at least I won’t be disappointed or saddened like that again in this anime.