This week: thoughts on why the antagonists of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure are so brilliant, why the arrival of Juju has significantly improved Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, rationalizing that the Dark Faction in Senran Kagura is more kindhearted than the good guys, and the balanced use of success and failure in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.
Best episode of the week: Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
Anime trending up this week: Sasami-san@Ganbaranai
Anime trending down this week: Shin Sekai Yori
Zetsuen no Tempest (Episode 20)
With the sudden return of time travel, the Aika we’ve seen and heard so much about in flashbacks and memories is finally able to assert herself as a dynamic and functional character now that Hakaze has returned to a time when Aika was still flesh and blood. These developments bode well for the series since Aika has been continuous built up as a pivotal and influential character throughout and now, with these next few episodes, we can why everyone keeps talking about her and why the story continues to revolve around her death after 20 strong episodes. And considering what else she has revealed at the end of the episode, it’ll be nothing short of fascinating and remarkable to see how everything plays out. My thoughts on how she’ll died in the past and how she will eventually die again? Suicide. Wouldn’t that be a woefully anticlimactic ending if it turns out that Aika killed herself, especially since Mahiro and Yoshino were never prepared for that outcome and it’d completely nullify the entire revenge angle of the plot. Or maybe we’ll see Hakaze lie since she’ll be the only one to know for sure. Either way, the ending is shaping up nicely for Tempest and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.
Tamako Market (Episode 8)
Without a doubt, Kanna is my favorite character in Tamako Market and two of my favorite scenes have been her talking about fixing the broken locker next to hers and now, her presenting that special bird house that she built specifically for ‘Mister’. It’s at that moment when I realized how much better Tamako Market would be if it were about Kanna going around and building random things and fixing broken stuff for people around the market. Could you imagine all the hilarious adventures and the rewarding education experiences that would beget a series like that? You know, Tamako would mention something like a freezer being broken and Kanna, getting all inspired and whatnot would go out and look at it, research the topic and then go out and fix it. Like, holy shit, that would be awesome and not just because Kanna is now the main character and gets more screentime than everyone else. Like, it would actually relate more to the market and its vendors than already shown in Tamako Market and it would allow the cast to expand much further than just being flat characters. I mean, Tamako Market doesn’t really have a plot anyway… I mean, it’s been the exact same since the Dera was first introduced and nothing has happened regarding that in the past 8 episodes, so… why not invest all your time and money in obviously the best character and just show Kanna do what she likes for 24 minutes a week?
Space Brothers (Episode 47)
When Amanti Patel saw the future of Nanba Mutta, she gasped in shock at whatever horror she saw. Given that this is a ‘realistic’ astronaut/space anime, you figure that some cliché disaster will happen where astronauts will die. In this case, we’re specifically talking about Hibito here, being Mutta’s brother and one of the stars of this anime. Not only that but the theme of death has been present throughout and there have been hints that something bad will happen sometime in this series. So yeah, after gathering all these clues and processing the information, you figure that Amanti foresaw a disaster in which Hibito dies somehow. My friend and I were brainstorming various ideas of how this event might occur in the anime. Our best answer? Hibito drives into that same moon crevasse and dies there. You know, I actually hope that one happens.
Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 22)
The Tsukuba branch of the National Assembly Library, mirror terminal number 008, a solar-powered autonomous mobile archive, model T-SP-SPTA-6000 is super cute. I mean unbelievably cute. I mean, just look at it, it’s an adorable, little walking record of useful information and is potentially the most essential device to the survival of mankind. Unlike all those other mobile libraries we saw throughout Shin Sekai Yori, this one appears to be modeled as a baby archive, perhaps for the purpose of transportation since it seems Saki is able to carry it without any encumbrance. But beyond that, it’s appearance comes across as delightful. It’s a little pudgy with those short, stubby paws and those cute, lil ears and that giant X on its snout. It’s like totally the opposite of this horrific and frightening situation; it’s a cute, little creature accompanying Saki and friends on their journey to save humanity. Not only that but with all the monsters and dangerous creatures in Tokyo, it really contrasts well since it’s non-threatening and surprisingly normal-looking compared to anticoagulant slugs and other terrifying insects. And, because I’ve already seen episode 23 by the time of this post (I’m just really slow at writing and unmotivated which is why everything is always late), I have to say that Tsukuba Library 008 is adorable there too, especially when its sitting on its own seat in the sub and surviving dangerous attacks and riding around in Saki’s backpack. You know, it just might be my favorite thing in Shin Sekai Yori, especially since this most recent story arc has been a little underwhelming compared to the previous two.
Senran Kagura (Episode 9)
Although the Dark Faction is portrayed as the villains or the ‘evil’ ninjas in this series, they actually seem to be more kindly, outgoing and accepting than the Light Faction. Yes, this is related to the policy that they accept any aspiring child to become the next greatest Super Ninja (and even their members too, at least outside of battle). To exemplify how it shows that the Serpent Academy is more responsive and nicer than the Hanzou Academy is that it accepted Homura and Yomi as students. Although Homura has an acceptable pedigree to be a student for the Light Faction, her having killed a person barred her from ever being accepted and the only path that remained was through the Dark Faction. Yomi’s story is much more polarizing: since she grew up in impoverished conditions, she was unable to join the Light Faction. Even though she seeks to change the world to improve the lives of the poorest people, the Light Faction would not take her. Instead, the only path for her was through the Dark Faction and joining the ranks of the Serpent Academy. Yeah, you could even argue that Hikage and Mirai joining the Dark Faction are not necessarily because they’re ‘evil’ or that they want to be villains but that it was their only choice. Although the names of the two sides are Light and Dark, the morality and practices between each are shades of grey and naming system characterizes them improperly. Rather, it feels more just to have it be divided between Hanzou and Serpent since there is less prejudice in those names than the black and white issue of Dark versus Light.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Episode 8)
Juju, Sasami’s mother, is perhaps the most fascinating character in Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, simply because of how she impacts Sasami and continues to play a role even though she passed on before the start of the series. Not only that but her position in the temple as head shrine maiden, the position that Sasami was intended to assume prior to the beginning of the series, is also a fundamental concept to the series, its direction and ultimately what defines Sasami’s character, transitioning her from a motivated child to a lazy teenager. I can’t help but feel that with the addition of Juju that Sasami-san significantly improved, both in terms of story progression, character development and even in the realm of comedy, too. I hope that she continues to make her presence known throughout the series since she seems to be a driving force in this anime as it moves forward. However, seeing her take on the role of antagonist while still being loved and cherished by Sasami, might make things a bit difficult if we want a happy ending for both. Still, you figure something will be within reach, especially since you figure Sasami’s character will change between now and the finale.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (Episode 20)
The use of success and failure in Sakurasou has been rather balanced in the anime with characters finding success in certain areas (Shiina starting her own manga, Sorata continuing with his video game concept, etc.) and others finding failure elsewhere (Nanami getting her rejection letter, Yuuko failing the entrance exam, etc.). Not only that but the theme has been employed constantly and consistently in regards to the romance too, which can be especially rewarding in some cases and downright painful in others (I’m looking at you, Rita). Whatever the reason and wherever the instance, it seems that there’s an even chance of success or failure for the characters here. Given the track record this anime has throughout the past 20 episodes, you figure that there’ll be some good luck and bad luck distributed throughout the next few episodes. Just who’s fortunate and who’s unlucky still remains to be seen, though, but that should be more than enough to keep the audience interested in these final remaining episodes.
Pscyho-Pass (Episode 19)
The whole concept of characters taking action to keep their Psycho-Pass within the predefined limits and applying psychotherapy to individuals at risk reminds me of how healthcare providers try to keep their patients under certain real world limits. For example, whenever Ginoza is being interviewed by that specialist and they’re trying to reduce his Pyscho-Pass number, I can’t help but recall how similar that is to a provider counseling a patient on lowering their blood pressure, their blood glucose or their lipids. In fact, it’s probably portrayed that way to draw that parallel: that health in this anime is measured primarily by someone’s Psycho-Pass numeration. I wouldn’t be surprised if these counseling sessions are derived from actual medical practice since they do share a few seminaries on their own, but there is enough difference between the two that they are separate. Still, whatever the origin or the meaning, I can’t help but think of these examinations and dialogue as representations of real world medical practice applied to Psycho-Pass.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Episode 9)
What a magnificent, impressive, inspiring and heartening speech by Maid Ane (Older Sister Maid) after being unjustly arrested, bound, flogged and humiliated in front of the country and the people she loved. With such a rousing and moving demonstration, there’s no doubt that she motivated everyone around her, including Onna Kishi (Female Knight) and Fuyu no Ouji (Winter Prince) who stepped up to save her from being tried and executed before the church. That was all great, but… you can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had the church never organized that gathering in order to make an example of her and her heresy. Had they taken the carriage to the back of the church and removed her without any public exhibition, there’d be no crowd, no speech, no inspiring moments for our secondary characters to act upon and no intervention by them to save her. In fact, had the church done this, they would have taken Maou out of the country without any incident. Of course, Yuusha would have shown up eventually to save her, so the outcomes are still the same with or without the speech. But had things progressed a little differently, it would have been far less eventful (and far more successful) than what we saw with Maid Ane expressing herself to the citizens of her country.
Little Busters! (Episode 21)
Why couldn’t someone just walk in on Riki painting that chocolate mixture onto a semi-naked Kud? I mean, that’s probably the closest we’ll get to a sex scene and it was in the middle of a courtyard and I’d love to see them try to worm their way outta that one. It’d be hilarious. I’d love it. And I’m sure you’d all love it, too.
Kotoura-san (Episode 8)
The eighth episode of Kotoura-san offered a clear glimpse of what Kotoura-san might be if Haruka never possessed psychic powers. The results are largely unremarkable but it does confirm that beneath the rather shallow gimmick that is Haruka’s problem, the anime is pretty much a no-thrills, no-laughs derivative high school slice-of-life anime. Really, the anime doesn’t offer anything beyond using Haruka’s psychic powers in some innovative ways and the anime really doesn’t offer much in the way of that anymore. The remainder of the cast proves to be ineffective when the spotlight or any amount of weight of the story is passed their way, so the whole anime really depends on Haruka and how her story develops. That’s not to say that Haruka’s psychic abilities alone save the anime but it’s doing a damn good job of supporting it thus far. Unfortunately, with my patients crumbling and the plot developments appearing more and more lame, I can’t help but wonder if there’ll be something else to save this anime from this unfortunate, deteriorating slide.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 21)
Whether we’re talking about Dio Brando, Cars, Wham or any of the other future antagonists in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, they all share one thing in common: well… besides that they’re all villains… but that they’re all satisfying villains. Each of these characters possess attributes that make them unique, fun or awesome in some way that makes watching them enjoyable and what makes watching them be defeating a rewarding and worthwhile experience. Perhaps this is due to the exceptional use of their charisma and their personalities? Or maybe this is credited to how awesome and over-the-top the series is to begin with and that these characters fit the description so well. Or maybe it’s because I always enjoy villainous characters and just happen to find the backstory and development for these characters to be among the better in the realm of anime. Well, for whatever reason, the various antagonists in JJBA are all very satisfying as characters and a solid reason for why JoJo’s has been so fantastic and magnificent as an anime.
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 8)
Seeing a variety of foreigners from an international school play karuta is a vivid reminder of how many sports are expanding internationally. At the timing of this post, the World Baseball Classic is ongoing with 16 countries represented, attempting to show their best to the world. The NFL is bringing American football to Canada and Britain with hints of establishing a permanent team in London (possibly the Jaguars). American college sports are looking to expand their brand and names internationally too (Notre Dame and Navy in Dublin), with west coast universities looking to become more prominent in Asian countries, which would in turn attract more international students. And let’s not forget established and popular international sporting events too, like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, which enjoy success around the globe. With increased access, communications and the sharing of information (like news or videos), sports have found a way to grow in various spots around the world where there was only fragmented or limited interest before. And it seems that it’s the same for competitive karuta too, though in the anime, it seems to be in its infancy considering the five players were studying in Japan. But who knows, maybe Chihayafuru is bringing awareness of karuta to fans overseas and might fascinate some fans, causing them to seek out more information, find others who share the same interests and establish some karuta clubs outside of Japan. If not, at the very least, this episode serves as a reminder of how sports are expanding globally, especially with the advent of and access to the internet.