This week: an analogy between the war and the Crusades in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, the unpopulated, empty world of Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, the damage and durability of the karuta cards in Chihayafuru 2, and thoughts on the criminalization of artists in Psycho-Pass.
As I’ve been readjusting the format of my Seasonal Reviews, I’ve figured to carry that over to my Weekly Anime Reviews, too. Although I don’t believe there was any trouble regarding the positioning of the pictures and the title of the anime, I hope that this new format will help separate shows better and give it a more open and clearer appearance. If anyone has feedback on the style and formatting, please let me know, otherwise, I think I’ll keep this style for now.
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 1)
When Chihaya commented on the increased budget for the karuta club and the subsequent purchasing of new cards, it ignited a spark in my mind. I’ve always been curious about how damaged or bent these cards become after being used for practice over the years. You always see the characters slapping and tapping and being incredibly swift and forceful with these cards, so some wear and tear is expected after using the same cards every day for months at a time. However, every time we see these cards, they look pristine and intact, almost like they’re still new. I’m not certain if that is because these cards are made with to last through these matches through some special or thicker material but that’s how it seems. I’ve always wondered if we’ll ever see a card damaged or disfigured through the course of this second season, such as an event occurring during an intense match or something. I’m sure these cards have different lifetimes depending on who is slapping and pressing them, so it shouldn’t be unreasonable to expect that to happen sometime, especially with the more skillful and faster players appearing in these tournaments. It’s been on my mind since that scene in this episode, so hopefully there is some answer or resolution to this question somewhere further on in Chihayafuru.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 14)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure knows how to instill drama, excitement or emotion into every scene, if not every moment. Perhaps the most beloved and popular feature is the number of ridiculous poses and awkward postures that every character seems to do before and during each and every fight. For me, I find the brilliant use and incorporation of colors and textures to be the most appealing aspect. Not only do they immediately contrast the colors with this jarring and dramatic effect, helping denote a significant event or scene in the anime, but also in that the colors and textures are never the same but always changing. For example, look at the variety of colors that are used for Joseph’s hair since his introduction to the anime. There are multiple occurances of this color/texture effect and each one seemingly uses different colors and textures for this dramatic effect. There is no real purpose to the colors utilized besides creating a jolt where everything is cast through a new perspective. Instead, it’s always something different, something new compared to the previous examples which is something I’ve grown to appreciate in JJBA.
Kotoura-san (Episode 1)
Anyone else curious on why it took so long for Haruka to meet someone who’s optimistic, cheerful and who wants to make friends with a social outcast? Considering that every moe anime is populated with numerous characters who are happy-go-lucky, dumb and always smiling and friendly, you figured it’d be only a matter of days before Haruka meet some beaming moe girl to cheer her up and rescue her from her depressing childhood? Maybe she was in the wrong anime considering that everyone was an asshole to her and refused to look at things objectively and evaluate what they’re doing wrong rather than shifting the blame onto the honest and transparent Haruka. Hell, I find it hard to believe that no one even talked to her and said that everything would be alright if she just kept her mouth shut like most girls with mysterious, psychic powers. Maybe they all wanted their lives destroyed by her? Or maybe Haruka’s problem isn’t just being a psychic but a psychic with a compulsive speech disorder that forces her to blurt out everything she learns from reading everyone’s mind. I don’t really know, but fortunately, Haruka has befriended Yoshihisa since it appears that super-friendly, super-happy and super-dumb moe girls don’t exist in this new type of terrifying hell world.
Little Busters! (Episode 14)
Great, I’m glad that everything with Mio was resolved and life is back to normal, but… what about all that magic going on? Isn’t Riki going to question how Mio made Midori and they switched places or anything like that? I mean… she did something extraordinary and phenomenal here and he’s just going to drop it and move on? Like… how did she do it? I mean, it’s possible that this isn’t the end of Midori or that something similar won’t happen again to Mio, like after she graduates from high school. The problem hasn’t been fully resolved with Mio, so why does it stop here? I don’t know, I just thought maybe they’d go a bit more into what exactly happened with Midori reappearing again and usurping her life.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Episode 2)
Although the setting for Maoyuu is ultimately high fantasy, it does borrow a collection of historical elements for the purpose of explaining and exploring its world. Among the details that we’ve discovered through character dialogue or through observation of the physical setting, we’ve understood there are similarities in concepts, theories, social structure, architecture, clothes and so on and so forth between this world and the High Middle Ages of Europe. Perhaps the most descriptive and distinctive, however, is how the current war parallels the Crusades. With both military campaigns, the many nations of the north send their armies to the distant south based on fear and misunderstanding. These armies found success early by taking strategic landmarks and strongholds but the opposing army retaliated and pushed back. The perspectives on both sides are similar too, with the northern armies believing that their actions and that the war was justified while the southern army fought for their land and their survival. Furthermore, it seems as though there are many nations and soldiers banding together from the north whereas the military of the south appears much more unified. Of course, there are other parallels that can be drawn between the two wars, but it appears to me that the war taking place in Maoyuu is mirroring the events of the Crusades some thousand years ago, at least from this perspective. As the story goes and the war is explained further, it might be quite different, but for now, it appears as though these two are analogous. Also, I want to stop before I make the comparison that Maoyuu is actually some strange romantic story between Richard the Lion-Hearted and Saladin. [whoops, too late.]
Pscyho-Pass (Episode 12)
Judgment from the almighty Sibyl System is based on psychoanalysis of an individual and grades their output in the form of a gradient of colors and numbers which is ultimately the difference between being innocent and being guilty. It appears, though, that artists have been persecuted more in Psycho-Pass than any other profession or lifestyle. Given the premise of this episode with the unauthorized musicians and Yayoi’s past and combine it with previous ones, such as with the painter/sculptor (Rikako Ouryou), public speaker/activist (Spooky Boogie or Shouko Sugawara), the crazy guy at the correctional facility that drew all over himself and Makishima who attempted to show liberation through his mutilations. Perhaps it is the stimulation and emotion derived from art and expression that causes these characters and these people to have disturbances psychologically which can be recognized and registered by Sibyl to be criminal, but I believe that this is an underlying theme in Psycho-Pass, especially after this episode. This focus on art and expression in the world of Psycho-Pass is being closely regulated and often times censored due to its emotional response in people. Although not everyone associated with art becomes evil and is deemed a criminal, there appears to be some ideas that art is dangerous in this society. Because of that perception and how the Sibyl System works, it seems as being an artist is the gateway to becoming a criminal.
Robotics;Notes (Episode 12)
Of times in anime and manga, a trauma or phobia that developed in a character as a child is often idiotic, irrational or completely non-relatable to the audience. In the case of Junna, her fear of robots is perfectly understandable and this episode did a fantastic job of showing it to us and showing how she came over her fear. When Junna was just a kid, she was probably fond of the friendly, talking robot named Yoshiro. However, Yoshiro’s voice is eerily similar to Kyubey’s from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Imagine that, being alone with a robot that sounds like Kyubey and how it’s telling you that it’s a friend to humans. And then it falls on her, probably as some sort of terrifying attack on poor Junna. Yeah, no wonder why that thing scared the hell out of her. However, it was through her mastering the controls of Yoshiro did she manage to conquer her fear of robots, showing that she is effectively controlling this Kyubey-sounding robot and preventing it from ruining the lives of all the children around her. Or… at least that’s what I am pretending is what happened since the episode was pretty dumb. I’m glad that Junna is over her fear of robots and will again be an active participant but her backstory turned out to be pretty lame.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (Episode 13)
While it may seem as though Sorata is the only ‘normal’ one at Sakurasou, his emotional outbursts and lack of self-control around Mashiro seem to indicate that he’s just as crazy as everyone else (but not in a good way). Sorata seems to take out his frustration on Mashiro and often at times when she wants to comfort him or at least be together with him. This isn’t the only episode where it happened as different variations and severities of these encounters have dotted throughout the series. It really is irritating to watch these scenes knowing that Shiina has done nothing wrong but gets yelled at because of Sorata’s issues and his lack of understanding others. If only he were calm like Shiina and the two took a moment to talk things out, then there wouldn’t be so much conflict and forced drama between the two. Then again, if everyone did that for every problem, Sakurasou wouldn’t last for one more episode since every issue would be resolved almost immediately and there would be no anime left. Still, it pisses me off to see this time and time again in Sakurasou, especially since no one has bitchslapped some sense into Sorata yet.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Episode 1)
Although the world of Sasami-san is rather distinct from other anime with its surrealism and imagination, it is like many other SHAFT anime in one specific and characteristic regard: the world is barren and uninhabited. Like Bakemonogatari/Nisemonogatari, ef – a tale of memories, Arakawa Under the Bridge and many others before, the worlds of these anime are unpopulated, vacant. There are no people in the background. There are no signs of life, like moving cars, trains or busses running. It’s empty. It’s emptiness. But this is typical of SHAFT and how their settings are visually constructed and how their worlds are portrayed. Despite being located in an expansive cityscape with skyscrapers and neighborhoods, it’s populated with just five characters right now. This aspect of SHAFT has always fascinated and intrigued me, so it, again, captivated me while watching the first episode of Sasami-san. I certainly hope that this trend continues since these curiously empty worlds always seem to fascinate me, especially considering how peculiar and enigmatic the setting is.
Senran Kagura (Episode 2)
It is rather remarkable how immature and unprofessional the student ninjas of the Hanzou Academy are compared to what we perceive and understand ninjas to be. Rather than being silent, sneaky assassins who used for espionage and other dangerous missions, the five girls are boisterous and disorderly or are nonchalant and playful with each other. And though this is used to generate some fun and fanservice for the series, it also shows how amateur they are as ninjas and why they need to continue their training at the Hanzou Academy under their instructor, Kiriya. And yes, this even includes Ikaruga who, despite being the most mature and serious of the Hanzou girls, shows lapses in her judgment and awareness. Even how she pulled Asuka aside, away from Yomi, looked like how a child would pull their sibling away after a stranger began talking to them (and the whole “don’t talk to strangers” segment afterward confirms that). It is doubtful that we will see the girls develop and mature into the stereotypical ninja archetype with them being sneaky and shadowy assassins but the series should show the girls improve their skills as ninjas before the anime is over. Sure, there’ll still be scenes of them fondling each other’s boobs and relaxing in kiddie pools in the secret hideout, but the five girls should be better ninjas at the end than what they are now.
Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 15)
It has only been two short years since we last saw Squealer and his colony of queerrats. What was then a disorganized and diminished society living in a series of caverns is now a bustling, flourishing civilization that has seen countless advances in technology, lifestyle, social policy and government. A few of these notable changes are that the queerrats have banded together despite being segregated and warring colonies before, that they have begun adopting a democratic structure as their new form of government, that they are now building permanent buildings through use of concrete, that they have fashioned armor for themselves and were able to perform some type of brain surgery to disable the tyrannical Queen. In these two short years, the queerrats have seen unfathomable advances in their society to the point where they are harnessing technologies and practices that the humans had dismissed long ago. It would seem likely that the queerrats were able to obtain some of this forgotten knowledge for themselves considering how many years it took to develop these technologies and techniques, so it will be interesting to learn what else Squealer, or rather Yakomaru, knows beyond what we’ve already seen. It will be especially interesting should some of this knowledge be used against the humans, starting with Saki and Satoru…
Tamako Market (Episode 1)
Even though Dera Mochimazzi is what made Tamako Market a marvelous fantasy experience, I almost wish we had an episode without him to see how the Usagiyama Market functioned before his arrival. Sure, the whole opening scene up to his introduction served as that segment and I suppose the relationships Tamako has with the other vendors and shops haven’t changed, but it would still be something interesting and slightly amusing to see. It seemed as though the episode took a focus on Dera Mochimazzi rather than on Tamako or the market in this first episode, so our baseline for what’s normal is rather minimal and has been slightly diminished given that we were more interested in the talking bird than what Tamako’s life was before this unlucky encounter. Maybe we’ll see these details sprinkled throughout the series but it doesn’t appear that we’ll be receiving it upfront, if at all.