This week: why I don’t consider Senran Kagura an ecchi anime anymore, wondering about the comedy in Zetsuen no Tempest, the diversity of karuta opponents in Chihayafuru 2 and remembering the forgotten Reiko in Shin Sekai Yori.
Best episode of the week: Space Brothers
Anime trending up this week: Senran Kagura
Anime trending down this week: Sasami-san@Ganbaranai
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 4)
Although karuta may seem like a simple game, seeing whoever can slap the correct card away the fastest, Chihayafuru does a remarkable job in making every opponent a distinctive, challenging, and above all, interesting character to watch. Dating back to the first season, the various competitors show a vast diversity in personalities, appearances, backgrounds, and perhaps most importantly, playing-styles to give each match a fresh, new feeling rather than an exhausting, repetitive one. As we saw in this episode, Taichi’s opponent offered a unique perspective with her playing style and how it matched up well against Taichi’s weakness. Showing Taichi overcome this flaw and eventually win helped make the match be more interesting and meaningful to watch, and that can be traced back to the distinguishing opponent that Taichi played against.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 17)
Considering how fundamental the Ripple is to the story and the fighting in JJBA, I’ve always been curious about its physical, material form. Often depicted visually by electricity or represented through other physical phenomena, the Ripple is never presented in its purest form, so its exact physical composition is still an enigma. Given the information compiled over the series to date, we do know that it utilizes energy from the sun and is conducted well through various liquids (water) and organic material (vegetable oil, wool fibers, or proteins, like Straight’s beetle hip scarf). Users who are able to manipulate the Ripple for their own purposes must meet a certain criteria first before being able to train in its discipline and must amplify it through proper breathing techniques. And… that’s about it. Although we’ve seen various fighters and teachers, the Ripple, unfortunately, is not fully understood as a physical component of our world. It seems that people are able to understand how to control it and utilize it for various purposes, but that’s it (then again, that’s all they really need to know). It seems as though its physical composition is still unknown and will be a mystery to us, unless the series decides to be generous and explain this awesome power to us in detail.
Kotoura-san (Episode 4)
It is rather amusing to see how inexperienced and naïve Haruka is at inferring information or understanding the thoughts and feelings of the minds she reads. As we saw in this episode, Haruka can be easily influenced by others when using their thoughts in intelligent or innovative ways. Haruka is still rather immature when it comes to social relationships and how people interact, so she was easily mislead and manipulated by people’s thoughts with them knowing that she would read them and respond to them. It’s like an unspoken form of communication that Haruka cannot help but receive due to her powers. And since people are aware of this, they are using it as a way to control Haruka or to bias her in some way to their advantage. Although the tactics may be mischievous or even cruel, it seems to have ultimately positive effects on the characters. If not, it’s always there for some laughs considering Haruka’s exaggerated reactions in these situations.
Also, I feel bad for the crab at the beginning. It got buried alive by Haruka and then, after escaping from her tomb of sand, was immediately swept out to sea by a violent wave. Poor thing.
Little Busters! (Episode 17)
So… the family tradition is to have the daughters of the family take two husbands and to start a family like that? I fail to see how the family could sustain such success over the course of… however long it’s been around, seeing as that this situation is ripe for conflict, stress, and how it would be emotionally taxing on the members involved. I’d wager that the situation with Haruka and Kanata is just the latest in a string of marital and familial problems that plagues the family as long as this tradition has lasted. Not only that, but I fail to understand how the family could retain its prestige throughout this time considering how frequent these internal feuds and fights would be. Really, it’s probably best not to think about how and why this tradition works. It’s best to just sit back and accept the fact that this is incredibly stupid and there are much better ways of developing a story about twins than what the current story is.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Episode 5)
While I am fond of the mosaic, watercolor-esque background employed throughout Maoyuu, my appreciation for it immediately disappears whenever it is used in the foreground or anytime it is the focus of a shot. The aesthetic appeal of this visual style is at its best when used as backgrounds, helping provide a distinguishing feel to the anime with its rather crude style and help establish some of the setting and atmosphere with its colors and blocky textures. However, when it is the subject of the shot and what our eyes are drawn to, it doesn’t look nearly as complimentary and is sometimes even quite disappointing. What this art style does is capture an attitude and translate it into the physical setting but without any distinguishable details. But when that’s all we see, it comes across as messy and incoherent, such as when we saw the zoomed-in cityscape or the various buildings. Those shots were admittedly an eyesore seeing as that’s what our eyes were able to focus on and analyze. When the art style is used in other backgrounds, such as for the sky or trees or the interior walls of a building, it comes across as a remarkable and distinctive art style that benefits the series visually. Hopefully the series will limits its use of establishing shots like the two dismal examples earlier since those were rather unpleasant experiences.
Pscyho-Pass (Episode 15)
There’s just something so unsatisfying about the way Kougami brings up his theories. Like, there really isn’t any build-up or development that really assists in these segues, more like “hey, look at this, I think we should do this” and that’s it. What makes it even worse is that he’s always correct in these situations, too. It’s like he’s grabbing the script from Gen Urobuchi, reading ahead for a few pages, and then tells everyone what they should be doing. I would go as far as to say he’s cheating the story; it just doesn’t feel right. What’d make me happy would be for him in the briefing sessions to be wondering about the purpose of these riots, to get a map beforehand to see the geography of the present situation, to mull over his thoughts during the car ride over and then to bring it up as a suggestion for others to confirm and then buy into it. I don’t know, maybe I’m never happy with stuff like this, but I would appreciate it had there been more time showing Kougami think about these plans rather than going off on some short exposition and cracking Makishima’s plan in the matter of a minute. It probably is just me but it’s something I’ve come to dislike in Psycho-Pass.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (Episode 16)
What is the point of Yuuko’s character besides being annoying and completely pointless? Like, everything about her character is meaningless in the story and she really doesn’t affect any of the other characters besides making Sorata more annoyed than usual and creating some tension and conflict with Mashiro and Nanami. Removing her from the anime would change nothing besides probably making it better. Maybe there’s something else that’s going to happen like she donates her kidney to save the life of one of the characters or something, but even then, I fail to see what purpose she’s had besides making Sakurasou worse as an anime.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Episode 4)
That doujin/otaku store, Uzume-no-Ana (a parody of Toranoana), that Sasami-san featured in this episode brought back a flood of positive memories from my trip to Japan from this last year. Although I probably only entered 2-3 of these anime/manga/otaku themed stores total (and only really remember my trip to Animate), I found those retailers to be a glorious haven of merchandise that caters specifically to the fanatics in us all. It’s just the density and atmosphere of these stores and energy inside that resonates with our own, it just feels so wonderful. There’s just so much in there, that you could spend your whole day (and your whole bank account) in just that one shop. I can’t wait to go back and walk through those stores and those aisles again. And for those of you who are wondering, no, I didn’t go into those shops to buy any cast-off figures or hentai or anything (although I did buy Needless which sometimes is close enough).
Senran Kagura (Episode 5)
You know, for being an ecchi anime, Senran Kagura really isn’t that ecchi of an anime. Rather, the show seems to assign its fanservice to specific times and particular events rather than incorporating it throughout. For example, you never really see any upskirts or shredded clothing or ridiculous fanservice when the girls are in their normal school uniforms. Even when given a golden opportunity, like Katsuragi having from the ceiling upside-down in her miniskirt… there’s no pantyshot. In fact, the skirt defies physics to cover her striped bikini bottoms in order to prevent any fanservice in that scene whatsoever. That’s not something a normal ecchi anime would do. Oh, and that’s another thing, no one wears panties in this anime. Every upskirt and shot of ripped clothes shows a swimsuit underneath rather than underwear. I suppose that’s a step up in terms of sensibility (the smallest of steps, really), but swimsuits are less ecchi than panties. And even in then, you only really see them when the girls are in their battle uniforms fighting each other or during their brief transformation sequences. The only time you’d ever seen fanservice outside these battles are when the boobs would randomly jiggle but even that has stopped in recent episodes (maybe the specialty-ordered super bras they ordered finally arrived?). In fact, it’s rather surprising at the lack of fanservice in these episodes considering that the fanservice was supposed to be a selling-point for the series. Well, the fanservice is still there and there’s still quite a bit, but this anime is rather mild compared to the other panty-fighters of the past. In fact, I don’t even really think of this as an ecchi anime anymore considering that the baseline level of fanservice in Senran Kagura is now considered normal these days for late-night anime. Yeah, I mean, maybe my standards are just atypical (I admit, they are) because it still is an ecchi anime, but it feels like it should have more fanservice than it currently does and that it’s holding itself back.
Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 18)
You’ve got to feel bad for Reiko. If you’re like Saki, Satoru or pretty much the general audience of this anime, then you’ve already forgotten who Reiko is. Well, poor Reiko was ‘removed’ from the village in the first episode after showing signs of weaknesses and inability in controlling her Cantus back when Saki first joined the group. Anyway, the point being is that whenever Saki or Satoru or anyone brings up their group, they always leave Reiko out. Always. Okay, besides one instance back in episode 11 when they tried to recall the sixth member of their group, no one ever seems to think about or remember her. Instead, it’s always and only Saki, Shun, Satoru, Maria and Mamoru. Shun didn’t live for too much longer nor did Maria and Mamoru stay in the village long after that. Really, the group spent only a few years together and the main five only stayed together for 2 short years. You’d figure Saki might not recall too much about Reiko since she only knew her for about a week or so, but she was together with the other characters for a couple years before that. In fact, by the time Shun, Maria and Mamoru left, they had all spent more time with Reiko than with Saki. And yes, I do know that they all had their memory wiped from that event, but it’s still somewhat distressing to see Saki and Satoru struggle over the faceless boy whereas they have no recollection of Reiko at all. In fact, that’s something I find more disturbing and horrifying than trying to remember Shun seeing as that the memories of Reiko are completely gone from everyone in this anime. Hopefully after this, it won’t be everyone watching this anime, too…
Space Brothers (Episode 43)
Given the time, speed, distances and positions used throughout these past few episodes, I fail to understand the geography of the Moon and the relation in which all these places and events occurred. I’ve gone back and tried to compile some of the data provided from the anime in trying to make sense of it all but there are just some things that don’t add up. Understanding the geography of the Moon would help but trying to make a map out of everything and making sense of this whole situation isn’t quite that easy. I suppose it really isn’t too big of an issue considering that the main purpose of these past few episodes was to instill some remarkable drama and character development in the series, but it still bothers me that I can’t properly visualize the region in question and play out the events as they occurred in order to better understand and appreciate what just happened in Space Brothers.
Tamako Market (Episode 4)
You know about that urban legend where if you feed rice to birds, they explode? Well, maybe it can be modified to be feeding mochi to birds since Dera has been expanding wider and wider every episode. Tamako Market has already offered us a surplus of fat jokes for Dera’s pudgy character, so I wonder if they’ll ever take it to the next level where he eats one bite too much of mochi and explodes. “Tamako, that wasn’t mochi you feed Dera, that was plastic explosives!” Okay, I’m not being serious here, but it is what comes to mind whenever I see Dera now. That and I kinda wanna see him explode, too, get him outta this anime.
Zetsuen no Tempest (Episode 16)
So what’s with all this humor in the second half of Tempest? Considering that the first half dealt with the constant themes of revenge, death, deception, isolation and mystery, it seems very strange that the current episodes of Tempest show their characters to be somewhat wacky when placed in a calmer, more relaxed environment. Remember those people turning to iron and dying whenever those giant eyes arose from the sea? Remember those battles with the supersonic speed and blue defensive barriers? Yeah, they’re gone now. It’s like the two halves of Tempest are two completely different anime with one being serious and somber while the other is zany and amusing. Sure, certain elements have been retained but the silly humor is somewhat of a jarring impression for Tempest that gives these current episodes a completely different and unrelated feel compared to the first half of the series.