This week: comments on the mature visual styles of Shin Sekai Yori, a phenomenal display of emotions in Jormungand: Perfect Order, a return to familiarity in Medaka Box Abnormal and thoughts on a possible and awesome ending for Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!
Best episode of the week: Shin Sekai Yori
Anime trending up this week: Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!
Anime trending down this week: Sword Art Online
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! (Episode 4) – So how about this for an ending for Chuu2? You know how the whole anime revolves around these delusions of grandeur dubbed ‘eighth grade syndrome’? Well how about, after all these events and when the anime is gearing towards its finale, it turns out that Yuuta was suffering from chuunibyou and imagined everything that happened? So in reality, instead of being surrounded by all these girls all the time, he’s really been alone throughout his first year of high school? I’d love a twist like that but I don’t expect the series to ever make such a shocking or depressing conclusion despite it being the best thing that could possibly happen to this anime.
Girls und Panzer (Episode 3) – What makes Team Anko special compared to the other tank teams is not due to the fact that it has the legendary Miho on their side (ok, that’s part of it) but that it is the most diverse team at Oarai Girl’s High School. Consider all the other teams and how their members all share similar traits in their personalities and behaviors. With Anko, each girl has their own emotions, motivations, and reactions to everything associated with tanks. Furthermore, instead of being in constant conflict with each other over their differences, the girls do their best to work together to make everything work together. Though their diversity might seem like nothing more than five different characters adhering to five different archetypes, it does help provide variety, difficulties, and opportunities for growth for our protagonists given that each one brings a dissimilar personality and background to this specialized team.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 4) – Considering that the Joestar estate was set ablaze and lay in ruin and ashes, I’m curious where and how JoJo lives. Unless the family owned other property besides their mansion or had their wealth stored elsewhere, I’m wondering how much substance JoJo has to live off of. I suppose this topic will be addressed eventually, but after seeing the rubble that was once his lavish home, I wonder how he continues to live and if there are any cultural shocks that he must endure having to live in whatever substandard conditions he faces currently.
Jormungand: Perfect Order (Episode 15) – Without a doubt, the best part of this episode was seeing the range of emotions clearly depicted on Koko’s face throughout. With everything progressing so quickly, the only way to truly explain Koko’s emotions and thoughts was through her facial expressions and this episode did a perfect job of capturing and detailing these. It did a magnificent job of communicating these emotions to us without really any dialogue, thinking, or any type of exposition; it was entirely visual. It’s a shame there aren’t more examples like this in Jormungand because this episode really highlighted how effective the animators are at presenting character emotion through their art and animation alone.
K (Episode 4) – Every time we’ve seen Neko transform from cat-form to human-form, she’s always been naked. Not only that but it’s been well established that Neko refuses to wear clothes, citing that they’re uncomfortable to wear. So fast-forward to the classroom scene when Neko appears in human-form for the first time in public… except she’s fully dressed in the school’s girl uniform. How exactly does that happen? Not only does is it peculiar that the only time she appears with clothes on is in the public classroom but the choice of clothes is strange, too. How exactly did Shiro or Kurou obtain the schoolgirl uniform for her to wear? Maybe they’re just lying around the school grounds like the boxers and panties in this episode? Also calls into question where they’d get Neko’s underwear, too, unless Shiro is some sorta crossdresser or pervert and has these clothes stuffed away in his closet. Either way, it’s strange that it happened and almost would’ve been better had Neko appeared in the classroom naked (and enacted the same kinda lackluster reaction that was reserved for Kurou). That would’ve been hilarious, though K has already surpassed those expectations already.
Kamisama Kiss (Episode 4) – Not sure if this is an accurate impression, but are gods and deities regularly kidnapped from their shrines and married away or is it just Nanami because she’s a human? I’m not sure how this whole religious world works, but so far it seems to function on stealing gods and deities from other shrines to make you own and then fighting to protect them from intruders and rivals and whatnot. Or maybe this is all happening to Nanami since she’s inexperienced as a deity and defenseless to youkai and monsters. It’s hard to say which the predominant one is since both factors seem to be major contributors to Nanami’s adventures of late. Maybe we’ll see more when Nanami proves her worth as a deity of matchmaking and if the other youkai and monsters prey on her like they have recently.
Little Busters! (Episode 4) – Is it just me or does Kud seem like she’s a little too young for high school? I mean, not only is she the shortest and youngest-looking of all the characters present, but she’d probably look shorter and younger compared to most middleschoolers in this anime given the basic character shapes and their general body structures. I suppose it’s true that Kud could’ve skipped a few grades to get to high school, but she doesn’t seem to be a genius or excellent student given her initial behavior. She actually seems like one of the slower characters in this anime which is surprising since we already have Masato, Komari, and Haruka. So, yeah, I’m not sure how that works. Either way, I suppose it is possible that she skipped a few grades, but given her adorable appearance and child-like behavior, middle school seems more appropriate for her.
Medaka Box Abnormal (S2) (Episode 3) – With the student council back together and ready for action, Medaka Box has a sense of regularity and familiarity returning to it. The series is at its best with the main cast together, as evident by their few scenes together at the end, so the anime is moving in a positive direction with this Flask Plan arc. However, one significant piece is still absent from the formula and that is Shiranui. Her absence is probably the biggest disappointment of the new Medaka Box season thus far as she was easily the best character in the first season. Hopefully she can worm her way back into the anime again soon since her inclusion would elevate this anime to be even better than the first season (as well as a number of other anime airing this season).
Psycho-Pass (Episode 3) – The indirect world-building going on in Psycho-Pass has revealed quite the remarkable setting thus far. Of particular note is how the manufacturing plant, governed by the Ministry of Economy, was able to side-step the investigations by the Public Safety Bureau by citing missing productivity as a means to prevent them from questioning the staff regarding the string of recent murders. Given the events in the first and second episodes, it appears as though the nation was under a police state system, one in which justice superseded all other aspects of life. Apparently that’s not true when it comes to the economy and production. Hell, the manufacturing plant was even taken off-line meaning the detectives and enforcers were effectively powerless and unable to enact the Sibyl System to solve the recurrent murders. What this does is shake-up our idea of the setting a bit, shifting our idea of this being a police state first and foremost, one that constantly monitors your psychological state and can arrest you based on whatever pretty color you so happened to be today, to one that has tiers of government overseeing each other. With this, we can see that the Ministry of Economy is above the Public Safety Bureau and even the all-knowing, all-powerful Sibyl System. Makes you wonder how they were able to elevate themselves above the law of the land, especially with how godlike the Sibyl System is.
Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 5) – The fifth episode of Shin Sekai Yori featured numerous visual styles, showcasing many different animation designs and special effects that gave the episode a very detailed and thorough feel to it. Perhaps the most significant change that occurred in this episode was how Saki and Satoru appeared to look older or more mature. Not to complain on the inconsistency in how these characters were visualized, I actually preferred their developed appearances, especially since this episode was heavily sexualized (anyone else notice Saki had breasts for the first time?) and it was the most dramatic and tense to date. Not only that but there were some creative uses of lighting and color in these various animation styles, which by now you should know is a personal favorite of mine. The stark contrast between soft light and hard light in the various scenes really helped enrich the stress that the characters were exposed to, helping augment these new visual styles to fit the story and conflicts in an appropriate and meaningful manner. What these new art styles were able to accomplish was enhancing the episode by giving it more weight which corresponded wonderfully with how significant this episode was. And if the next episode preview at the end is any indication of what to expect next week, looks like we’ll be returning to the younger, more childish designs that we’ve seen through the first four episodes. Should that be the case, then that just speaks to how the art styles made this episode even more distinctive than the rest of the series.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see if a new director and new animation director were used for this episode which allowed it to look so different and give the episode a bit more weight than normal. A few of my favorite anime have done this before with different visual styles for an episode and they’ve all worked well in the past. If that’s the case with this episode of Shin Sekai Yori, then this is no exception. Bravo to Shin Sekai Yori for doing that, should that be the case.
Sword Art Online (Episode 17) – You know what would be a simple fix to make Sword Art Online significantly better without changing too much of the anime? Eliminate all the stuff that happens in the real world. Yeah, if this anime was just about Kirito playing with his friends in an MMO and having fun, SAO would be much more enjoyable. But with the story as it is, with his sister wanting to bone him, his girlfriend in a coma and being stalked by the Fairy King (how dare you ruin my image of Takehito Koyasu!!), some random bullshit about mind control or something completely ridiculous and uncalled for, and only being able to do it in 7-days for some arbitrary reason, it really saps the fun and enjoyment out of the anime. Instead of exploring these fantasy worlds, going on quests with friends, and having a good time, SAO tries to make everything dramatic and suspenseful with a bunch of random, meaningless shit that… well… is just random, meaningless shit. Seriously, you have a great idea here with these MMOs and whatnot, don’t try too hard to wreck everything good that you have going for you. Why? Because you’re doing a fantastic job of making this anime worse with these new shitty story development. Seriously, it’s like you give them a nice cup of black coffee and they dump all the sugar, cream, nutmeg, caramel syrup, walnuts, flour, and drink stirrers until the cup overflows, tips over, and are left with a sticky mess everywhere. Yeah, that’s what SAO is like right now.