This week: Robotics;Notes losing credibility, identifying with a character in Chihayafuru 2, the decentralization of the township in Shin Sekai Yori, the distinctive and original school uniforms in Tamako Market and why Zetsuen no Tempest is a fanservice anime.
Best episode of the week: Psycho-Pass
Anime trending up this week: Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
Anime trending down this week: Robotics;Notes
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 5)
Whenever watching Chihayafuru, I always find myself taking the perspective of the club adviser, Taeko Miyauchi. No, no, it’s not because she doesn’t actively play karuta or because she’s always a spectator during matches, observing them like how we, as an audience, watch them. No, the reason why I habitually return to her perspective over every other character is because she continues to discover new aspects and new avenues of karuta that continue to impress her. Her continuing appreciation of karuta, beginning as a skeptic and now evolving into a supportive adviser, mirrors my own. I originally had my doubts with Chihayafuru because it was an anime about ‘a card game’ but, after watching the anime and experiencing karuta matches, I’ve grown to appreciate and understand the game and the anime. The parallel between us leads me to identify with her character more than any other in the series since we have had similar paths in regards to karuta. So whenever we see Miyauchi-sensei realize something else she can enjoy from karuta, it reminds me of myself in how I have grown to enjoy karuta, too. And what’s special about her character is, I’m sure plenty of other fans of Chihayafuru can identify with her, too.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 18)
Whenever I hear the word ‘hamon’ (Japanese for ‘Ripple’) in Jojo’s, I always think of Mark Hamill. And whenever I think of Mark Hamill, I always think about the Force from Star Wars, a power that resembles the Ripple in a number of ways. Although there are plenty of differences between the two, I find myself often having side-thoughts of Star Wars whenever I’m watching JJBA. How fitting is it that these two concepts are linked serendipitously through some simple and similar names? Well, probably not all that much considering the roundabout (yes, a pun) way I derived this connection, but whenever they’re talking about their Ripple, I always think about the Force.
Kotoura-san (Episode 5)
Who is this doppelganger who has usurped Moritani’s character? Seeing as she was still a bitter, jealous and sinister character just one episode ago… just one episode ago… it feels incredibly rushed and awkward to see her character be a sobbing, luckless, and friendly member of the ESP Society. Like, her character had no transition or development at all to show or mark her character growing. Instead, it’s like she evolved like a Pokemon, going from one form to another in the matter of seconds. It feels wrong to see her character like this, particularly since her previous self has completely disappeared from her current one. I wish there were an episode dedicated to her coming around to being a new character, to show her reject her previous ways and try to warm up to being friendly toward Haruka and Manabe, especially since I like her better now than before. Unfortunately for us, Kotoura-san handled this character development in the worst possible way.
Little Busters! (Episode 18)
I’ve mentioned before that Little Busters! solves its problems away too quickly considering the character emotions present, the magnitude of the problem, and how it ultimately ruins a golden opportunity for meaningful character development. I just want to reiterate that point, again, seeing as this episode repeated the same problem. It goes to show how Little Busters! has failed to develop or improve over the last 12 episodes and why the anime continues to be a disappointment in multiple factors. It also indicates that it’s unlikely that the anime will improve at any point as the series continues toward its finale. It really saddens me to see the same mistakes be repeated over and over again in this anime and how the plot of the anime is becoming increasingly fragmented and disjointed as the series has continued. Little Busters! has been a huge letdown.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Episode 6)
Watching the assembly and then subsequent crossing of the ice bridge in the sixth episode of Maoyuu lead me to wonder how many people died during its construction and when the armies were trekking across its slippery surface. The reason I bring it up is based on three observations: 1) the leather boots the soldiers wore were probably very primitive and offered no grip or traction on their icy surface and 2) the ice looked slippery, uneven and unstable, so that soldiers on the ice were prone to slip into the icy, demon-infested waters below, and 3) it was night, so it’d be difficult to see where people were walking or stepping on these blocks of ice. Although we never saw anyone slip off these icebergs, it did seem that there were ships in the water, probably to help transport people to the ice and to help steer it to the base of the bridge, I would assume that there’d be some support or rescue system in place for people who fell into the water provided there were any accidents. Still, the whole process seemed too safe and too easy considering how difficult a task it was but I suppose it wasn’t in the interest of the anime to show stuff like this happening considering we saw how dangerous it was when the monsters attacked the armies on the bridge. Either that or because Maou always seems to invent something new, she could have developed new shoes for the soldiers or something to prevent that from happening. Who knows.
Pscyho-Pass (Episode 16)
There’s always something big, something special, something significant buried deep, deep underground. Doesn’t matter the story or the characters or the anime, there’s always something important underground. I love what Psycho-Pass is doing now, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. This sudden development has really opened up what the anime can be and I hope it achieves the most of its potential. I am both excited and enthusiastic about what will happen next.
Robotics;Notes (Episode 16)
An anime can lose its credibility in a number of ways. Having two absolutely stupid, completely preventable and downright crippling scenes to end its episode is a damn good way of quickly butchering the series. The falling robot and falling cliff scenes literally blew my head at how pitiful they were, how regrettable they were. It was painful watching them because 1) Subaru couldn’t move for 15 seconds (and he gasped after 12 seconds) when a giant robot was falling on him… 15 full seconds, go back and count that, and 2) no, just scrap that whole Mizuka death scene because fuck that scene, there were literally a thousand things wrong with it. Seriously, those two scenes cost the series a substance amount of respect and enjoyment. There’s a suspension of disbelief and then there’s this. I’m going to have trouble with the remainder of Robotics;Notes now because those two scenes were just so poorly written, so terribly executed and felt so incredibly forced that it leaves an awful, regret-filled aftertaste for everything else that will follow.
Senran Kagura (Episode 6)
Senran Kagura is an anime that hardly takes itself seriously. Instead of choosing to be dramatic or profound about its riveting story (ha) and mesmerizing characters (ha ha), it chooses to be fun and humorous, helping lead the anime to be one of the most entertaining this season. One reason why it’s so amusing and how you know the anime is just playing around is in how it treats its abilities and character development. For example, the abilities the ninjas use to fight are the “secret ninja arts”. The most powerful, however, are the “super-secret ninja arts”. Yup, simple and straightforward. And whoever receives this goes from being a regular, old, boring “ninja” into the super coveted, super exclusive… “super ninja”. Yeah, “super-secret ninja arts” and “super ninja”. The writers were having fun when they came up with these names and it shows in how these awesome, almighty powers and this title are named. Not only that, but the character development in the series is reduced to being the absolute minimum, just having the narrator talk over everything and go, “here’s this character’s backstory, blah-blah-blah, and now back to the action/fanservice.” Yeah and that’s great. Senran Kagura knows it doesn’t have a great plot or intriguing characters but it knows that it is amusing and tailors itself to be as entertaining and enjoyable as possible. As a result, Senran Kagura has developed into one of the better anime this season for doing so well with its entertaining and not trying to take itself seriously.
Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 19)
When surveying the geography of the human village, it becomes increasingly apparent that the township is decentralized, in that many buildings and neighborhoods of their settlement are located in distant regions of the valley. Consider the location of the hospital in relation to the town square, where the festival was being held (quite a ways away, especially for what could be emergency services). Consider the route that one takes from the town square to the hospital (a river that requires a boat). Consider the residential areas that were separated into seven distinct villages that lay around the valley (discussed in episode 11). Time and time again, we see that the urban or centralization aspect of this civilization has been deemphasized and that the human village is separated into many separate villages that are loosely connected. So the question becomes, why do they live in such a sparse, decentralized township and for what reason? Perhaps this is an expressive detail written into the series to show how the people of Shin Sekai Yori have distanced themselves from our technology and lifestyles. Whereas we are becoming increasingly urbanized and centralized, the people of Shin Sekai Yori are not because they rejected their past (which happens to be our present). Perhaps the reason for the design of the township is to heighten the sense of horror or fear in the setting, integrating nature (the unknown) closer to their homes in a way to spice up the suspense and mystery. Or, perhaps it is something completely different; that the author wanted a rural setting and designed this to match their personal preference. For whatever reason, though, it is strange to see how decentralized the township is in Shin Sekai Yori, considering that the setting for virtually every other anime is more dense and urbanized than this.
Tamako Market (Episode 5)
School uniforms are a staple clothing of anime. Often times, an anime will show its uniform as being a mishmash of colors and patterns over a sailor uniform or a blazer and miniskirt for the girls and then something for the guys (I never look at what guys wear in anime; they could be naked for all I know). Not only that, but there are summer and winter uniforms too, and the prospect of multiple schools, so the styles of school uniforms in anime can be quite numerous. They can also be quite unoriginal or derivative considering that they have a preset design to begin with and that there are so many styles, something has probably been done before. For Tamako Market, the pink dresses that the girls wear for their summer uniforms strike me as both incredibly distinctive and highly original. Rather than return to the tried-and-true designs of a sailor uniform or blazer/miniskirt, Tamako Market utilizes a stylish new cut in a dress as its school uniform. And while a few anime employ dresses as a design for school uniforms, most choose to use the standard palette of colors and go for blues, greys, and neutral, cooler colors. In fact, the winter uniform of Tamako Market is a blue dress, something that really doesn’t stand out considering the number of blue sailor uniforms in anime. However, it does help the bright, showy pink dress stands out as even most distinctive considering how average the other uniform is. The pink summer uniform of Tamako Market is quite a sight to see considering how different and unique it is when considering other school uniforms in anime. It isn’t necessarily my favorite (I still prefer the blazer/miniskirt first and serafuku second) but it’s something I appreciate in this anime for trying something different. I’d like to see more anime try something like this where they go for a more original uniform instead of just mixing and matching colors over a standardized top and bottom.
Zetsuen no Tempest (Episode 17)
Although it doesn’t jump out at you like other fanservice anime, Zetsuen no Tempest has quite a bit of fanservice in it. No, it’s not like one of those ecchi anime where there are bouncing breasts in everywhere or pantyshots around every corner, but it is a series where the main heroine was naked on a desert island for half the series. Not only that but certain conversations, especially those between Aika and Yoshino, have been focused on the topic of sex (whether she was wearing panties during the festival or not in the previous episode). Not only that but the choice of clothing for the girls are rather fanservicey too, seeing as everyone wears tiny miniskirts and how Evangeline always shows off her cleavage. So yeah, there’s quite a bit of fanservice in this anime that seems to go unnoticed or is simply ignored by the audience. In reality, Zetsuen no Tempest is one of the most fanservicey shows this season although it gets virtually zero recognition for it. Just something to ponder about the next time you see Hakaze bathing naked in a hot spring bath.