This week: Being logical versus being theatrical in Zetsuen no Tempest, questioning the philosophical arguments in Psycho-Pass, why you can never make Kudryavka’s story sad in Little Busters!, and why Shinobu is the best character in Chihayafuru 2.
Best episode of the week: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Anime trending up this week: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
Anime trending down this week: Space Brothers
Zetsuen no Tempest (Episode 21)
One thing I don’t understand and don’t appreciate about the Aika’s understanding and impressions of the future is 1) how readily and quickly she accepted Hakaze’s story about the future and 2) how she was content with it remaining the same and preceding to commit suicide. For example, given how logical Aika is (something that most character in Tempest use and pride themselves on), she should’ve poked and prodded Hakaze’s story a bit to see if there were any weaknesses or inconsistencies. Instead, it seemed to be a rather heartfelt conversation on the riverbank without any signs of doubt or confrontation. I’ll willing to accept that there may have been some that took place between the scenes, but I would have enjoyed seeing Aika quiz Hakaze about events that could further detail emotion or development in that scene. What upsets me the most is how afterwards Aika immediately rejects Hakaze’s proposals on how to change the future. Instead of trying to make things better, something that’d be entirely possible, Aika decides that it’s her job to kill herself so that way everything remains unchanged. What we have prior to this conversation is a baseline, something of which can be improved by Hakaze returning to the past, altering the events, and choosing a future that’s better for every party involved in this anime. I mean, what’s there to lose? You already know all the mistakes which have occurred over the years, why not try to rectify those mistakes, use insight to predict any potentially new adverse events and plan for those, too?
To me, that’d be the logical deduction from Aika accepting that story but no, I suppose that’d be too sensible to consider in such a dire situation. Instead, Aika seems more dramatic than anything else, choosing to keep the story the same as an imitation of Hamlet and The Tempest. You know, the same might be true for everyone else, that this is a series based on these Shakespearean plays and that all the talk of logic this and that are merely logic derived from these plays rather than anything original to these characters. That is to say, the entire theme of logics in Tempest originates from the logic used in these plays and that the characters, by acting dramatic and theatrical, possess their logic secondary to those traits. If that’s true, then maybe I wouldn’t be so hard on Aika.
Tamako Market (Episode 9)
Just as Dera had forgotten his responsibilities, almost immediately upon arrival in Japan, Choi has neglected to fulfill her duties too, besides the first and essential step of locating and scolding Dera. It’s somewhat ironic and amusing to see Choi spend her days with Tamako without making any significant progress toward finding the elusive bride or monitoring and directing Dera to do the work he was originally assigned to do. Then again, this isn’t necessarily Choi’s mission, so she should have more free time than Dera to munch on mocha and attend school for no reason but she should at least be forcing Dera to work so that way the mission is accomplished before he expires (that sudden increase of weight can’t be good for his health). Or, you could also argue that the longer it takes Dera to find a bride for the prince, the better a chance Choi has with him which would then illustrate how smart and cunning Choi is and would explain why she’s not concerned with her assigned mission anymore. But then again, I don’t think this anime has that kinda writing or intelligence, especially since it’s a goofy and amusing slice-of-life story.
Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 23)
Now there’s a twist I never saw coming. Considering that Shun was figured to be lost and forgotten throughout the second half of Shin Sekai Yori, you didn’t expect for Saki to be reunited with her love. At most, you’d figure she’d remember his name and face before the whole ordeal was over but no, Shun is still alive and well and living in the forbidden wasteland that is modern Tokyo. And not only that but we’re under the impression that he’s lived in exile here this whole time. And to make matters even more interesting, that strange and trippy fantasy sequences in which Saki met with Shun in that distant cabin… well, it turns out that the whole sequence was actually Saki visiting Shun in Tokyo. Considering that these twists weren’t even on the radar or the minds of the viewer make them that much more enticing and satisfying, and help make this recent turn of events to be incredibly gratifying to both the characters and the audience. Shin Sekai Yori is doing a fantastic job of handling its climax and the next two episodes are going to be very interesting in seeing how everything plays out for Saki, Shun and the others.
Senran Kagura (Episode 10)
Death is the reward for the girls of the Serpent Academy should they fail their current mission in subduing the invaders of the Hanzou Academy but, besides being the comically evil response to everything, you have to wonder why that’s even an option for the five best ninjas at this school. For example, consider all the time, energy and resources put into these girls. If they fail one mission, do they really consider voiding everything they’ve done for them and eating all the costs? That’s a significant amount of waste considering that they’re the top ninjas at this academy and how much training and time has been spent on them. Secondly, consider that removing the top 5 ninjas mean that the new top team will be significantly weaker and unable to carry out the same caliber of missions. Should the Hanzou Academy attack again, they are essentially defenseless and would succumb to defeat even quicker. The whole Yoke Technique makes sense for some of the other intended situations where former students could leak the information about the academy to opposing forces, but to use it in this situation for failing to win the fight is just stupid. But then again, this is the Dark Faction and we have to show how ‘evil’ they are, even if it’s hilariously bad.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Episode 9)
I don’t really have a good name for anime that follow this style of storytelling (besides light novel adaptation style storytelling) but Sasami-san is one of the best when it comes to this. Pretty much what this style consists of are characters slowly evolving through various, unconnected stories and loosely and tangentially hint at a central storyline. However, each little story arc feels like it could be its own anime with how different they are in style, theme and composition. For example, consider the very beginning with Sasami monitoring her brother and refusing to go to school. When that story ended, she was fine with going to school and has sense had no issues with being a hikikomori. This last one she had grown to accept her mother after she reappeared randomly and tried to force her back into the priesthood of the Tsukuyomi Temple. With this story over (and two new characters introduced at the end), we can expect another story that does not follow-up on anything directly from the last episode considering that this is the style of storytelling Sasami-san has. However, Sasami-san does much better at this style than many of the other light novel adaptations. What helps is that there are consistencies with the characters in each story arc and that each story does build upon the rest. Sasami-san has grown incredibly as a character throughout the series despite this hindrance in switching between novels, which is almost completely absent in other light novel adaptations. And it also helps when the stories and characters are engaging and endearing, especially with Juju who evolved from a humorous but villainous antagonist into an amusing but caring mother who just needed to understand her daughter and for her daughter to understand her. Hopefully this pattern of storytelling will continue and that Juju will continue to have a presence in this series because, if so, then this should qualify for the best storytelling of a light novel adaptation that I have ever seen.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (Episode 21)
Sometimes, all it takes is one episode to significantly improve an anime. And that’s exactly what happened with the 21st episode of Sakurasou. However, every time something like this happens, it’s only fair to recognize what the previous episodes did to built-up to this point and what made this episode as great as it was. It’s like saying thanks to the pillars of the efforts of the previous episodes as how they were slowly but carefully constructed to elevate this episode to the highest level possible. So thanks to those previous episodes, this episode was able to easily become the pinnacle of Sakurasou, even though I continue to shake my head at the whole housing story going on (so thank God that this episode completely evaded that idea and focused on what’s important in this anime, the characters). Hopefully what this means is that the anime will continue at this level and continue to show the growth and development of its characters since it seems to finally be cashing in on what it’s been working on this entire series. Sakurasou really broke-out with this episode, so hopefully the anime will continue to operate at a high level until it concludes in a few more episodes.
Pscyho-Pass (Episode 20)
What troubles me with Psycho-Pass is some of the philosophical arguments used by the characters. Although I understand their philosophical stances and approaches to the arguments, sometimes they come across as incredibly strange or incomprehensible. For example, one of the arguments from Makishima is that humans can only have value with their freedom. While I understand the concept he’s going for, the argument itself is arrogant and insubstantial. To counter it, you could say that the soldiers of D-Day did no possess their freedom (no one in their right mind would try storming a Nazi-occupied France) yet their actions produced an immeasurable value. The same for the Soviets who stormed and captured Berlin. Or another example, suppose the value produced by Kougami as a latent criminal. Instead of being imprisoned or worse, he continues to provide value to society despite no possessing the same freedoms as everyone else around him. And this point can be argued for some of the other arguments made by the other characters, too. The characters do an excellent job of communicating their opinions and their philosophies on the matters at hand but their evidence or methods carry with them some flaws or fallacies that weaken their opinion or viewpoint. It is interesting to consider that those are the examples or response they have during these philosophical debates because they do help solidify what their philosophies are (which really is the main point of these arguments are), but they sometimes lack in perspective compared to how they fit in with the real world. Oh well, it’s still pretty damn fun to consider what they’re all saying and doing and how they compare and contrast with each other in terms of how they view and understand life in Psycho-Pass.
Little Busters! (Episode 22)
No matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you want, you just can’t make Kud’s story depressing. Her adorable appearance and cute personality oversaturate every episode where she’s the focus. It takes precedence over anything else going on, taking control of the episode and constantly redirecting it to how cute and innocent Kud is compared to her going through a depressive episode after learning about her mother’s demise. Like, it’s nearly impossible to make the story any emotion beyond endearing since you’re watching her run around with that hat and cape and always looking up and excited, like a young puppy, for 24 minutes. Well, given the track record of the other stories in Little Busters! thus far, maybe it’s for the best that this one is primarily cute first and depressing second. Hell, that may be what it takes to break the mold and to make this one the best story arc in the anime.
Kotoura-san (Episode 9)
I’m having difficulty understanding how the rumors spread in Kotoura-san, unless of course the anime writers assume that everyone without any significant amount of screentime is a sheep, has no brain to think for themselves and exists solely to cheapen the pitiful artificial drama in Kotoura-san. Like, instead of having students think for themselves and evaluate the rumors for what they are (or better yet, against what they’re hearing from other students), everyone just repeats the same material to spread gossip without even thinking about it for themselves. Honestly, stupid baseless rumors like that don’t really spread very far because someone with a brain will be able to spot out the inconsistencies, question it for themselves and cause the person telling them the rumor to reconsider the story. They don’t spread endlessly, even if they’re juicy or if they are the kinda rumors that people want to hear. What this shows me is how Kotoura-san wants to make its situation more dire and dramatic, which is perfectly alright, but it’s going about it in the wrong way. Instead, why not have a couple people confront Haruka about the story and ask why she’s withholding information from the police or something? Not only does that seem more reasonable but it’d put the pressure directly on Haruka to make the situation even more stressful. Instead, we’re treated to more asinine and idiotic storytelling which seems to be what’s expected of Kotoura-san when it’s attempting at being a serious drama.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 22)
The characters in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure must be the fastest talkers and thinkers on the entire planet. Considering how much narrative, either in their thoughts or spoken, elapses in the span of a few seconds, you have to figure they can blurt out several hundred words per minute. Take for example those situations where one character is attacking another or, better yet, that scene where Joseph and Cars were falling into the icy crevasse. Virtually every time a situation like this occurs, the circumstances alter to allow the characters to explain their thoughts or their rationale or simply their reaction to the ongoing event. However, it can take upwards of several minutes for them to explain everything (and for the subsequent actions or for the story to make sense), but the span in which it occurs is only a split-second in real time. So when you link the two together, you realize that they’re able to get a complete narrative, upwards of a hundred words or more, off in a second. It’s truly amazing is what it is.
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 9)
Shinobu is the best character in Chihayafuru. Not only is she respectable as a rival for both Chihaya and Arata, someone confident and powerful in the game of karuta, but she is also the most amusing character with her eccentric behavior and quirky personality whenever she’s not in a competitive match. In other words, she is the ideal character when it comes to the sports side of the anime and she’s the ideal character when it comes to the comedy side of the anime. And not only that but she seems to make all the characters around better, too. Take for example Chihaya in the previous season (Chihaya wants to be a better karuta player because of Shinobu) or Arata in this episode (the scene went from boring to awesome). What Shinobu does is take the already elevated status of Chihayafuru and take it up another few steps. And hopefully with the individual tournament starting in a few episodes, we’ll continue to see Shinobu make a presence in this anime.