This week: Magi and Robotics;Notes are here again, how the rural setting of Shin Sekai Yori plays a necessary role in the anime, a disagreement on perspectives in Little Busters!, approaching an abrupt end to a story in Medaka Box Abnormal, and the talents of an effective writer in Psycho-Pass.
Best episode of the week: Zetsuen no Tempest
Anime trending up this week: K
Anime trending down this week: Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!
Sword Art Online (Episode 25) – Oh yeah, sure, Kirito, release The Seed to the entire world. Yeah, make sure everyone has a copy of it to make their own dream MMO and allow it to be connected to every other. Oh yeah, sharing a technology that just killed tens of thousands of people and was developed as a mind-control device for tens of thousands of others is perfectly safe and alright. Yeah, because no one who uses it will use it for anything evil, right, not like everyone who has used it thus far? Seriously now, how long will it be before someone else uses their engine to do something that’ll take the whole system down? Probably not very long since there were companies around the world interested in using it for mind-control and, guess what, now they have their own copies for free. Guess all those companies there were interested in mind-control before are still gonna be able to continue their research without as hiccup. Thanks Kirito, you had the opportunity to prevent global conquest by evil companies and he just openly hands them the technology to do it. Hopefully SAO ends with some badass evil dude taking over the world thanks to Kirito’s gift. That’d make me smile.
Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 13) – The atmosphere and environment have played fundamental roles in Shin Sekai Yori, helping to use the setting to promote or enhance its underlying themes like isolation/separation, secrecy/deception, and powerlessness. One aspect of the setting that has had an immeasurable impact on the anime is that everything is rural or feels remote. As you can guess, the rural setting and wilderness surrounding the villages allow the anime to play around with these themes by creating visual representations (alone in the woods) or by incorporating elements into the story (villages, homes are distant from each other). Shin Sekai Yori wouldn’t be able to do the same had the setting been more centralized, urban, electronic, or futuristic which is often the default setting in anime, especially for ones taking place in the future. Instead, Shin Sekai Yori embraces its rural setting and uses it to improve the anime through various facets. Additionally, many of the scenic landscapes are gorgeous views of the mountains, forests, riverbanks, and other wilderness that encapsulates the village. And these shots do more than just look pretty, they help set the mood for the scene by establishing the color, lighting and environment that the next few scenes will take place in, often times helping enrich whatever themes the scenes are set on exploring. With that, it’s easy to see how powerful and intentional the rural elements of the setting are in Shin Sekai Yori.
Robotics;Notes (Episode 11) – Although I find all the characters and their relationships to be fascinating, I find the chemistry between Kai and Frau to be the best. When you think about it, they’re kinda made for each other in that they’re both introverts who shy away from social contact, yet, when they’re together, they come completely alive and interact well with each other so that both are humorous. It’s like a traditional Japanese comedy duo, or manzi, with Frau playing the role of the funny man while Kai is the straight man. In a sense, that’s how they act when they’re together aside from whatever story developments pop up from time to time. Compared to the other characters, Frau only really ever talks to Junna and acts like a pervert around her (not really that funny), so it’s not like she does well with the rest of the cast. Kai and Aki have had some great moments previously but the two have failed to grow or even change of the course of the anime, so the comedy that they had has stalled. In regards to Frau and Kai, it’s actually improved with the two trying to set the flags for the Kimijima reports, especially with the two trying to divide the labor and attempting to cheat with Airi watching. It’s just that the chemistry between the two fits so nicely with their personalities, so it’s great that they’re spending more time together, especially in this episode.
Psycho-Pass (Episode 11) – The sign of a successful writer is to throw something at the audience, something they know well in advance is coming, and still deliver a knockout. And that’s what exactly happened in this episode in regards to Yuki’s grisly murder. From the moment you saw her, the very first time you see her in the series, you could tell she was going to be brutally murdered in from of Akane’s eyes. It just sorta what happens in stories like these where you have a rookie officer who is best friends with innocent girls like that. So yeah, you know she’s gonna die sometime in the series, so you think you’re prepared for the murder and it’s gonna be no big deal, right? Nope! Wrong. What the eleventh episode of Psycho-Pass showed us was the powerlessness of Akane as she witnessed a supposed non-criminal slit the throat of her screaming, crying, and struggling best friend. And even though we knew that something like this would eventually happen, it was still powerful. It still made its impact. It still delivered a knock-out. The whole episode rode a highs and lows of everyone’s emotions and peaked right on Akane’s futility and hopelessness, all thanks to the callous killing of poor Yuki. So even though the murder was presaged well in advance, it still made an effective statement in the anime and still had an intense and impressive effect on the audience.
Medaka Box Abnormal (S2) (Episode 11) – With the second season of Medaka Box approaching its finale, I find it somewhat sad that this will likely be the end of the story for me. Judging from its perception and sales, I figure the anime is unlikely to receive a third season, especially anytime soon. As for continuing the story in the manga, I don’t feel entirely compelled to begin something it based on my schedule and other anime/manga I want to start in the meantime. So for me, this is about as far as I get in the story for Medaka Box. And although this is a baseless claim, I feel that there are many out there who share the same situation as I do, that this is where we end our adventures with Medaka and her friends. It’s not that we’re saying that the story is terrible and not worth continuing but that this is where our interest begins to wane as this is where the anime ends and our attention turns toward the new season beginning the following week. And unlike all the other anime that are ending this season, we know that the Medaka Box manga continues well after this point and that the story is still in its initial stages. We know that there’s more to the story and that we’d like to continue the story, but this is about all we’ll get. So from that perspective, it’s somewhat sad knowing that this will probably be the end for many of a fun and entertaining story. However, to not end this on a depressing or apathetic note, at least the manga is continuing, so that anyone who wants to can start where the anime left off and finish the story at their own pace. For me, though, this will likely be it.
Magi (Episode 11) – The way Kougyoku Ren, eighth princess of the Kou Empire, addressed King Sinbad and withdrew from combat shows how strict and formal the relations between monarchies are in Magi. Until this episode, we never really saw any royalty address each other and conversations between various leaders and militaries and nations shows a clear hierarchy between the actors. Here, however, Sinbad is able to immediately calm Kougyoku by as little as a simple request, not only showing his power as an individual but the power inherent in this position as a king. Keep in mind, Kougyoku had the upper-hand in the battle, too, not only outnumbering the Fog Troupe but in terms of power, too. And yes, while I’m sure some of Kougyoku’s infatuation had played into it, I’m sure that his position as a king is what ultimately caused the Kou Empire to retreat and ignore the skirmish. Here, it provides a hint of civility and formalities between the upper-class which has been unapparent thus far with the number of conflicts between parties. Every time previously, even with Judal, we’ve seen the two sides immediately erupt into disagreement and often lead into an altercation. Here, a simple request was able to stop a fight. Now, understanding the complex relationships between the empires and royalty might be amusing should the anime even develop that side-story anytime soon.
Little Busters! (Episode 12) – I happen to adamantly disagree with Mio’s perspective on literature when she claims that when one reads a novel or story, the reader assume the role of the main character. To me, this is inappropriate. While it is true that you can assume the role of the main character, it is not the default option when reading a story. For example, any reader can assume the role of any character in a story, especially if they choose to select one that fits their personality more than the main character. And for myself, and I assume many others, we choose to not assume the role of any character. Instead, we read the novel as through an outsider perspective, watching over everyone and listening to their thoughts like as presented through a movie or an anime. Rather than pretend I am the protagonist going about their adventure or life, I seem to assume the role of an observer. The only time when I feel it is appropriate for myself to assume the role of the main character is when playing a video game, one where I use my actions and decisions to impact the characters on the screen. Here is where I feel it is appropriate to assume the role of the main character whereas in literature it is not. By comparison, in literature, you have no way of implementing your thoughts and actions to the situation, unless it’s a Choose Your Own Adventure novel or something similar. I mean, in a video game, your decisions impact the story, whereas in a novel, it has no effect. You can still assume the role of the main character and still enjoy the position, as Mio was telling Riki, but it is incorrect to say that when reading the story, the reader becomes the main character and begins living their story. It is possible to do it, but to say that it is the default perspective for readers is something I disagree with.
Kamisama Kiss (Episode 12) – During the initial episodes of Kamisama Kiss, Tomoe outlined to Nanami about how to increase her powers as an Earth deity, by helping restore faith in her followers and the shrine in general. However, we’ve never really seen Nanami do any of that, and now with the story becoming about how the shrine is believed to be abandoned and haunted, it shows how little Nanami has done to improve herself as a goddess. And while it must be difficult for a human to develop and mature as a deity, it seems as though Nanami is as weak as the moment we saw her attain godhood. I almost wish the anime had taken more time in developing the spiritual aspect of Nanami’s character over some of the recycled romance we’ve seen or some of the side-stories since I was eager to see how Nanami would handle the struggles and challenges of a deity. Since the beginning of the series, we’ve only seen one example of her playing matchmaker and it just so happened to be the best episode of the series. Go figure. Oh well, maybe there’ll be something to salvage this storyline in the final episode.
K (Episode 12) – Colorless Kukuri’s split personalities having a conversation with herself might just be the greatest thing in K. Sure, long after the anime finishes next week (dang, I was hoping for 24 episodes), I’ll remember the anime for its gorgeous artwork, harmonious battle animations, outstanding soundtrack, and surprisingly good comedy (yeah, it made me laugh quite a bit more than I was expecting), but maybe not for its individual details like this scene where Kukuri divided herself into four personalities and had each talk to each other. Sure, the scene was short, but it was easily the funniest moment in a rather entertaining and interesting anime. It was brilliant, especially how it cut between each other with whatever face preset allowing for maximal effect. Well, maybe this little post will serve as a reminder for what ultimately might be my favorite scene in the anime, though episode 13 needs to be seen before declaring it so.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 12) – When comparing Jonathan Joestar and Joesph Joestar as fighters, it seems like Joseph is the better of the two considering who each had initially fought. With Jonathan, he began by defeating Speedwagon and two bums in the back alleys of London. Joseph pretty much started out by defeating Straits. And considering the increased fighting abilities of who Joseph is about to face in the preceding episodes, it seems like Joseph will end up being the stronger of the two. However, we should probably wait and see before judging who’s the better of the two when Jonathan has defeated Dio and Joseph still has an entire season to go, but as of right now, it seems like Joseph is the superior fighter of the two, considering the first few fights each has had. Then again, Joseph has had his Ripple since birth while Jonathan had to gain his later, so that kinda mucks things up a bit, but still, Joseph saved Speedwagon by throwing him outside a crashing plane. I mean, he’s pretty badass compared to Jonathan at this stage in the story.
Girls und Panzer (Episode 10) – Although Girls und Panzer will return again in March, it kinda sucks for characters like Nekota and the others to be introduced right as the show is entering its haitus. I mean, sure, we’ll get to see them again soon and they seem like fun, crazy characters (and with the recently announced sequel tentatively planned, it seems like we might get quite a bit more of them), but it’s kinda a downer that they just appeared in the story, were given a few lines, get blown up almost immediately, and that’s it, at least for now. You know, you always had those comedy anime that make that joke about introducing characters in the final episode but it actually kind of happened here in Girls und Panzer. Oh well, once the final episodes air in March, then this point can be retracted, but for now, you kinda feel bad for Nekota and the others.
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! (Episode 12 [Finale]) – Every finale always has a return or appearance of every character, almost as if the series wants to include every character together one last time for a final farewell. The same thing happened in Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! with everyone showing up to help Rikka snap out of her rut and become childish again. But, when considering how the finale went and the meaning behind everything, we really didn’t need everyone to show up at the end. It would’ve been fine with everyone at the end waiting for Rikka after Yuuta ‘rescued’ her, but no, they kinda had to shove them in everywhere. If this weren’t the finale, it probably would’ve ended up being like the beach episode where Yuuta followed Rikka onto the train and they traveled home together. If the finale ended like that, I probably would’ve been happier, especially since I really didn’t like the finale all too much to begin with. But adding everyone in like that at the end when it was completely unnecessary and had little effect on the story, it just felt artificial. But, as with any anime, the finales always include every character, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to see everyone one final time before the anime came to a close. May not have been the most appropriate or advantageous thing to put them back in the story again, but it shouldn’t be surprising since that’s what every anime does.