This week: how transitioning focus away from the cantus has strengthened Shin Sekai Yori, how the diversity of settings in Battle Spheres reflect on the characters in Senran Kagura, the brilliant cinematography utilized in Tamako Market, and finally realizing what’s important in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.
Best episode of the week: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Anime trending up this week: Senran Kagura
Anime trending down this week: Kotoura-san
Zetsuen no Tempest (Episode 22)
Given these flashbacks of Aika, before she joined Mahiro’s family, I find a striking similarity between her and the older version of Hanemura. For whatever reason, it seems that both mages began as appearing to be weak, shy and timid personalities. Another interesting tidbit is that they both grow into their roles and become strong, resilient and independent characters, especially with Hanemura’s rampage against Mahiro and Yoshino in this episode. I can’t help but wonder if people destined for the role of the Mage of Exodus are generally people who have yet to ‘awaken their power’, in terms of personality and magic. Given that we’ve seen two characters follow somewhat similar paths, at least in terms of their personality and character development, it might be by design that the mages go through this process, not only to develop their abilities with magic but to allow their personality to grow and mature. And even if it wasn’t by design, I still find the similarities between Aika’s growth as a character and Hanemura’s growth as a Mage of Exodus to be remarkably analogous and fascinating.
Tamako Market (Episode 10)
Whoever was the episode director for the tenth episode of Tamako Market (it’s Taiichi Ogawa, who also directed two episodes in Hyouka), I like their style. The cinematography in this episode really grabs a hold of your eyes and your attention in a way rarely used in anime. Perhaps the most distinctive use of cinematography in this episode was the use of jump cuts throughout, showing a passage of time to accentuate and draw attention to the characters on screen. What this did is emphasize how much time was spent on one scene or at one location, like the girls having fun together planning their performance or to show how much stress and pressure Midori was facing at home. Jump cuts are an effective way of harnessing the attention of the audience since characters and things appear and disappear in the matter of moments. And in this episode of Tamako Market, the director utilized these sudden and atypical transitions to spotlight the passage of time and the emotions or feelings of the characters. In addition to that difference, there were also a number of feature shots used throughout. At times, there’d be an extra-wide shot placed in the middle of a scene (Midori running through the market) or peculiar close-up shots (that extended shot on everyone’s kneesocks during a conversation) or even varying angles to provide varying perspectives (Dera looking up at the girls). And while it isn’t noteworthy to see these things individually, it’s the frequency and variety of these cinematographic techniques that really help this episode (and this director) stand apart from the rest. To me, I’d love to see more anime explore and experiment with cinematography like this and I’m hoping to hear of this director’s name again in the future.
Space Brothers (Episode 49)
Yup, Space Bros is still carrying on… almost like this march through the desert. The two are similar in a number of ways, really: for most of the series, you have a lot of downtime where nothing really happens, then something happens for a moment, and then it goes back into its same, tired routine. The survival trek goes at a slow, steady pace, parallel to how the story of Space Bros progresses, which are both pretty demoralizing at this point in the anime. Oh, and the characters look tired too, similar to how I imagine everyone associated with this anime feels, especially the audience. What’s making these astronaut training episodes as boring as they are is because it’s taking way too long to narrate its story, much in the same way Space Bros is taking way too long to narrate its own story. All it is is just fluff that draws out the series for no legitimate or reasonable answer. You know that there’ll be a few more of these episodes on the survival march, which is only part of the large astronaut training arc, and then there’ll be some more stuff with Hibito or someone’s backstory and then there’ll be more training for a basic space mission and then a moon mission and by the time Hibito and Mutta are standing on the moon with each other, it’ll be 2044 and everyone in real life will have been to the moon at least twice. And even then, Space Bros will still be carrying on…
Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 24)
The cantus is arguably the most distinguishing and remarkable aspect of this anime. Not only is the cantus fundamental to the setting, the characters and the advancement of the plot, but it manifests itself in a way that’s simultaneously peculiar and fascinating. Seeing these humans use their psychic powers nonchalantly, like it’s an everyday occurrence, akin to us using a cell phone or a door knob, certainly is enough to pique our interests in it while brilliantly enhancing the anime. However, this final arc has seen a distinct shift in its focus from the cantus (a primary concern in the first and second story arcs) to the politics of the humans and queer rats. And with this transition, the pronunciation on all things cantus has faded, too. Although Saki, Satoru and the others are still using their cantus constantly throughout, there is no real emphasis on it anymore. So while it may be out of our minds that the psychic powers are powering the submarine or helping them evade the pursuing queer rats, Saki and the rest are relying on their cantus to survive this horrifying ordeal. What this does, the shift in focus away from emphasizing every use of their cantus, is that it helps strengthen and solidify the cantus as an essential aspect of everyone’s life and that using it in these abnormal or crucial ways is commonplace. As I said before how the use of cantus reinforces the unique setting and characters of Shin Sekai Yori, so too does the process of moving on from this central characteristic help improve the anime. Essentially what is has done is that it has successfully integrated this charming gimmick into the anime and has moved on to develop the other areas of Shin Sekai Yori.
Senran Kagura (Episode 11)
The assortment of Battle Spheres, the names given to the various private battlefields summoned by the ninjas for one-on-one fights, helps provide a bit of diversity in the backgrounds of this anime while also helping stylize or define an apparent or subtle attribute of the characters that use them. Just to name a few of these different battlegrounds, we’ve seen a snowy Stalingrad lookalike (Mirai), a bright wrestling ring (Katsuragi), a ninja warzone (Homura), a rugged mountain badlands (Ikaruga), and many that resemble a character’s thoughts or fantasy. These select fighting areas help to infuse new color schemes and environments for the anime to use, allowing the anime to progress in a different direction for each fight, to help augment the action and fanservice, or to elaborate on a character or character pairing as we saw in this episode explaining all the Serpent Academy girls. Not only that but the backgrounds themselves silently reveal certain aspects about the characters themselves. For example, Homura’s Battle Sphere looks like a classic battlefield from Feudal Japan which fits her personality perfectly. It’s the same with Hibari’s candy-filled, pastel-colored comfort zone or Katsuragi’s flashy wrestling venue. As for Yagyuu, her desolate landscape seems to symbolize a bit of a cold and empty personality which is revealing of her without Hibari. It also mirrors Mirai’s Stalingrad-like setting, considering that she wants to protect her friends at the Serpent Academy much like the Soviets were protecting this strategic location from succumbing to Nazi control. And yes, I’m probably reading way too much into this considering that this is a fun, fighting and fanservicey anime but I really do find these personalized battle areas to be somewhat remarkable and entirely fascinating. You know that there was some thought put into these specific settings, so trying to read into it and understand how it applies to these characters and the series leads to some interesting realizations and a better, more comprehensive understanding of the anime we’re watching.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Episode 10)
I absolutely love how Tama-in-Sasami was drawn in this episode. Although the body remained the same as normal Sasami, the way her face appeared in this episode was both amusing and exposing of Tama’s personality. Instead of that everyday Sasami face, we were gifted with giant, round eyes and that big, dumb smile. Frequently, we’d see Tama-in-Sasami close her eyes, smile and speak and act with a bit more pep and energy than usual. It was outstanding and fantastic, both in terms of entertainment and displaying Tama’s personality while disguised as our heroine, Sasami. I can only hope we see more of this wacky display before the series concludes in a couple episodes.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (Episode 22)
First, I’m glad that the characters realized that the tearing down of Sakurasou is not the issue at hand but rather keeping the group of friends together as best they can. With that in mind, you have to wonder why Sorata and the others aren’t doing what they can to keep in touch with Jin and Misaki who are both graduating and leaving the dorm regardless of whether it’s standing or not next year and Nanami, who’ll be forced to move back home due to a prior agreement with her parents on schooling and finances. Even if Sakurasou is exempt from destruction, the only people who’d be there next year are Sorata, Mashiro and Ryuunosuke. I wish the characters would realize that their efforts are best spent on each other rather than their dilapidated (and probably dangerous) dormitory. Hopefully with the revelation in this episode, the focus shifts to the characters working to keep each other together rather than trying to save Sakurasou from destruction.
Pscyho-Pass (Episode 21)
Although it seems like Makishima has the Psycho-Pass script in his hand, or at least it seems this way judging by how he’s able to accurately predict everything that happens (preparing that bomb, that mirror, all his escapes, etc.), you can’t help but wonder if he knew that Kougami would leave the Public Safety Bureau and pursue him as a rouge, outside the lines of the law and justice and Sibyl itself. You figured from what Makishima knew of Kougami’s character prior to and during the story that Kougami was one who respected and upheld the law while attempting to carry out his revenge. And for the most part, Kougami remained within the law, even at the supposed end-point when Makishima was captured in the Ministry of Welfare’s Nona Tower. However, after that point and after Sibyl turned on Kougami (while also allowing Makishima to escape), Kougami decided to leave the force and chase this harrowing criminal on his own. So did Makishima plan for this to happen or was this just simply the outcome after a cascade of events? Maybe we’ll find out in the finale…
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Episode 10)
Though the human character in Maoyuu are integral the Maou’s plans on transforming the world into a better place for humans and demons alike, they really can’t function well without her constant oversight, planning and understanding of the situations. It’s like the brains of the operation were removed and now the brawn is left with trying to decide on what to do while carrying out these actions. It’s no surprise that without Maou around to direct the characters that things have gotten slightly messy and is teetering toward chaos and war. It helps emphasize just how vital Maou is to everything that is occurring and has occurred in Maoyuu and that she really is the driving force for improving the lives of everyone around her. Hopefully Maou has already planned ahead for these such events to occur and will be able to address them when she’s able, but for now, it’s rather amusing to see how different things are without Maou around than when she’s controlling everything around her.
Little Busters! (Episode 23)
Another character story ends without any character development or a resolution to their problems. Yup, that’s Little Busters! in a nutshell. And yeah, no, you don’t get to teleport metal objects through space and time (yeah, time was fucked up too in that scene since it was clearly night when Kud got the item and day when Riki sent it) and call everything okay. And why is there always some necessary amount of magic involved in solving these problems, like with Mio’s story, too? Like, really, the fucking deus-ex-machina magic is the most interesting part of this anime, why not cover that? I’d love for the twist at the end to be that Kyousuke is a fucking wizard and he’s causing all these problems for these characters in order for him to evaluate Riki and, when Riki fails, he uses magic to make everything better. There, in one sentence, I just make Little Busters! a thousand times more interesting than it already is. Yup, that’s how bad these stories are.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 23)
Man versus machine or man-machine versus man-machine? It’s obvious that Stroheim is part-man and part-machine, but what about Cars with his retractable blades? Considering that none of the other Pillar Men have any other sort of human-technology associated with their characters (besides clothes, thank God), it’s strange to see Cars have such a sophisticated weapon-system as part of his arsenal. Did he implement these modifications to himself or have they always existed? Either way, he’s similar to Stroheim in that regard, being both man and machine (while also appearing to be immortal, just how many times will you make a comeback, Stroheim?)
Also, on another topic, considering the weakness to sunlight that the vampires and Pillar Men share, doesn’t it strike anyone else as odd that Cars has the power of light? Cars is able to produce it from his blades to blind his opponents, but what makes this light fundamentally different than that of the sunlight that causes these villains to die? Maybe there are certain wavelengths or frequencies that cause more harm than others to the Pillar Men and that Cars does no produce them when creating these dazzling and intense lights? Or maybe he has developed a tolerance to them overtime and he is able to protect himself when using these attacks? Either that or that helps explain why he points the blades away from himself when using his power of light. Whatever the reason or the explanation, it’s strange to see someone have the powers that corresponds to their one true weakness.
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 10)
One area where I wish Chihayafuru would improve upon is showcasing the other individual matches during team play. During these matches, it seems all our time is spent on Chihaya and her specific match with whoever her unlucky opponent is or Taichi should he be the focus of the episode. This reflects heavily on the fact that Chihaya is the protagonist of this series and that the anime is shown mainly through her perspective, but that doesn’t mean we have to completely ignore the other three members and their matches (although it seems during karuta games, Chihaya does ignore the other games going on). For example, with this episode, we were given a brief update on how Kana was using her memorization of the poets and poems to her advantage, yet she ended up losing by two cards at the end. With Nishida and Tsukuba, it was the same albeit slightly different problems and outcomes. Why is it that these other matches are always neglected or ignored when all five matches are integral to the success and victory of the karuta team? Despite Chihaya and Taichi dominating their opponents at the ends of their matches, Mizusawa barely won with a 3-2 result. We never really had any clue that the other matches would end up going 1-2, especially since Kana had the advantage against her opponent and his erratic and haphazard formation of cards. I just wish Chihayafuru spent more time showing how the other characters were doing than being left in the dark until the final card is claimed.
#1 by bobbobsters on March 24, 2013 - 5:08 PM
you say kotoura-san is trending down, but don’t even elaborate… Then again, I agree with your statement, so w/e
#2 by avvesione on March 24, 2013 - 5:10 PM
I didn’t have anything new or interesting to say about it this week, so I skipped it. I could just copy and paste a complaint from a previous week and it’d still be the same.
#3 by Kaellian on March 24, 2013 - 5:41 PM
Avv won’t listen to me, but if you’re tired with the pacing of Space Brother anime, go read the manga instead. You won’t miss anything beside artificially drawn out scenes.
#4 by avvesione on March 24, 2013 - 5:49 PM
Yeah, just to reiterate, read the manga instead, especially if you were thinking of starting the series or weary of its length. It’ll save you a considerable amount of time by switching from the anime to the manga.
#5 by Jay on March 24, 2013 - 5:59 PM
In Jojos, it’s the ultraviolet radiation in the sunlight that hurts vampires and Pillar Men. This is why the Nazi ultraviolet lamps dissolve vampires. The light Cars produces is just light so it doesn’t harm him.
#6 by avvesione on March 24, 2013 - 6:07 PM
The light Cars produces is a white light meaning that it has multiple frequencies from the visible spectrum produced simultaneously. If that’s true, then there are probably some amount of UV light (as well as infrared) being produced, too.
Then again, the sun’s light is pretty intense, so maybe there needs to be a certain threshold of UV lights necessary to fry the vampires that Cars simply cannot produce on his own.
#7 by Jay on March 27, 2013 - 10:37 AM
Magic. Vampire magic.
#8 by mwnanamai on March 25, 2013 - 12:38 AM
My funniest scene of Maoy Yusha was in episode 10, when the young Merchant receive a briefing of the Church splitting in two and is rather surprised of this “rash move that doesn’t fit Maou style” … until He realize that Yusha is in charge and He set in motion his plan to get rich of the war.
Maybe I am reading too much, but I got the impression that the merchant was like “The Dumb hero is in charge ? This is our chance to become rich, muahahahahahaha”
As for episode 11 things are Messy indeed, but I am happy that Dragon Princess broke the Harem rules and is making the young Merchant into her Hero. It is safe to assume that between her well endowed chest and the Merchant greed for commerce with the Demon realm there is going to be a half-Demon Baby at the end of this series.
#9 by avvesione on March 25, 2013 - 1:20 AM
Yeah, I do like that people are responding to Yuusha being in charge compared to Maou being in charge and using it to their advantage. It was amusing to see them react to it considering that they thought Maou was the one being brash with her plans.
As for the Dragon Princess breaking the harem, I’m happy about that, too. It’s nice to see the romance redirected away from Yuusha since it’ll allow the characters to expand a bit more even if it is this late in the series. A good move but a bit questionable regarding its timing in the series.
#10 by mwnanamai on March 25, 2013 - 6:15 AM
Yes the timing is odd and seems to be a little too late, and it is not just the Dragon Princess but even the Loli Mage only got properly introduced in episode 11. It was hilarious to hear saying “Magic Decompression Algorithm” lol
I think the production team is betting on getting a second season and developing everything there. I hate this kind of move in movies, it is just sloppy to not produce a compelling first movie plot and character wise under the excuse that “everything will be explained in the sequel”.
As for the chances of them getting a second season I am not too sure about it, because MMY wasnt’ snobbish enough as the anti-dumb anime because it had some childish development and plenty of fanservice and not enough fanservice to generate BD uncensored sales.
It is not convoluted enough like Evangelion to create a fancult and not shameless enough like HoTD to generate Otaku interest. Even Medaka Box didn’t get a third season despite having more fanservice. We might need to read the mangas.
#11 by avvesione on April 2, 2013 - 3:36 AM
Yeah, with the way the story and manga are structured, it isn’t surprising that they weren’t able to get enough done this season to have adequate development on the characters and story, especially on the two characters you mentioned.
I also agree with you in thinking that they were planning on getting a sequel (resuming again in the Summer) since they could work out what when well and what didn’t (the fanservice). And if they were expecting to sell BD with that limited amount of fanservice, they must be crazy.
And even if another season is announced, it might be best to read the manga or novel anyway since you’d probably get a clearer, more focused and ultimately better story there… and without the unnecessary fanservice, too.