This week: appreciating the evolution of Akane’s character in Psycho-Pass, thoughts on how others face anxiety and pressure in Chihayafuru 2, the perspective and surprise of tricks in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and thinking about the story going full circle in Zetsuen no Tempest.
Best episode of the week: Psycho-Pass
Anime trending up this week: Shin Sekai Yori
Anime trending down this week: Tamako Market
Zetsuen no Tempest (Episode 23)
It’s rather amusing to think back to the first half of the series with what Samon and the Kusaribe Clan were doing, attempting to revive the Tree of Exodus and bring it against the Tree of Genesis. Now, after twisting and turning through the plot that is Zetsuen no Tempest, we’re nearly back at our original starting point albeit using the conflict against the Tree of Genesis. Considering how similar these two plot points are, one could consider that the anime has gone full circle, especially with the original plotline for Mahiro and Yoshino being completed just a few episodes ago. Wouldn’t it be something if Samon’s original plan was the correct course of action all along? I think so.
Tamako Market (Episode 11)
So the entire operation of finding a bride for the esteemed prince of this island country, one that needed to be initiated during his teenage years well before he ascended to the throne (a sense of urgency) and would significantly impact the direction and future of this country were left to a, what, 9-year old soothsayer and her klutzy, unreliable bird? Like, who okay’d this? Who even thought this was a good idea? Hell, even if it was tradition or something, you’d figure there’d be someone out there to oversee the whole operation to make sure everything goes smoothly, not to mention is done in an acceptable timeline. If you were ever wondering why it took so long for this tiny island nation to find a suitable bride for their young prince, look no further than the child and her pet being sent alone on an expedition to lure a girl back home to an island she’s never heard of to marry a stranger she’s never met. Yeah, this is probably the best way to decide the fate of the kingdom for decades to come.
Shin Sekai Yori (Episode 25 [Finale])
Rather than going on about the ending, how the line between humans and queerrats is a blurry one and how the final scenes inspired themes of hope and perseverance, I want to take about 24 steps back and question the education system in Shin Sekai Yori and how the kids were learning about advanced genetics and literary research techniques. The main reason why I have this question is because everything we saw the kids do in school was related to strengthening and developing their cantus and learning about fiends and other scary things. The schools never showed scenes where the kids learned the basics of mathematics or the fundamentals of language nor did we see them do any advanced schooling which both Saki and Satoru seems to have displayed in these final scenes. Besides the field trip that the five children participated in during the infancy of this series, we never really saw the kids do anything besides play around with their cantus all day. So just when did the kids learn about everything else like math and science and language and arts? What about topics like law and medicine? And considering that most of the technology and knowledge was retracted from this society, just how much do they know about concepts like genetics and evolutionary biology? You know, as satisfying an ending as this was, I still have a thousand and one questions remaining about the setting that I fear will never be answered. Ah, ‘tis the sorrow behind anime and storytelling in general.
Senran Kagura (Episode 12 [Finale])
I always wondered why the girls wore their bikinis underneath their battle uniforms after a Shinobi Transformation. You’d figure underwear would be more comfortable, more supportive and be easier to move around in than those really awkwardly shaped and skimpy bikinis. And considering that this is a fanservice anime where the amount of clothing lost is directly proportional the amount of damage received, you’d figure it could get away with a high number of pantyshots and whatnot considering its style, its themes and its target audience. But for this episode, one following the conclusions of all the final battles, ones where all the girls lost pretty much every article of clothing, it makes sense for them to run around in their bikinis rather than their bras and panties. For one, it’d be a bit too much for this franchise, in terms of fanservice, to have 10 girls be running around in their underwear for the entire 24-minutes. Senran Kagura seems to be only mildly to moderately ecchi in its presentation and styling and having everyone in their underwear the entire episode would be a bit much for even then. It’s still quite a bit of fanservice to have the girls run around in their swimsuits for 24-minutes, too, much more than you see in any beach episode of any anime, but that’s about the limit for Senran Kagura. Another reason seems to be is that when the game first came out, bikinis were the standard attire under the battle uniforms, too. As the franchise has released more and more games with more and more costumes, it seems that it has developed its fanservice a bit more and added more in the way of bras and panties, so it seems like these are more recent developments in the franchise than swimsuits under clothing. So yeah, after being confused and curious about the choice of underwear for these girls all season, after watching the finale of Senran Kagura, it seems to make a bit more sense why the girls are going with bikinis instead of bras and panties… they can at least keep some of their modesty when completing their missions, even if they’ve been stripped naked by their enemies.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Episode 11)
The letter ‘J’ is invaluable to Sasami-san. The characters Juju Tsukuyomi and Jou Edogawa were introduced in the middle and the latter parts of the series and both proved to be tremendously positive additions and significantly elevated the series beyond my initial expectations and preliminary assessment with the series. Since I’ve already detailed my thoughts on Juju, I figured that this review could be geared toward Jou since she has recently become a favorite for me in this series, especially with episode 11. Her character really compliments Sasami’s in that she provides a burst of energy rarely seen outside of Tama and a perverted Tsurugi. What this does is it helps break up some of the monotone scenes in Sasami-san and making them a bit more meaningful and entirely more entertaining. Not only that but Jou has some interesting friends and an even more interesting perspective on people. Her behavior and reactions to everyone, always treating Sasami as a suspicious rival and acting all villainy around her, really created a lasting, positive impression of her character on me. Not only did she enter the series later than she should have and have an extremely positive effect on the series like Sasami’s mother but she really carried the weight of the comedy in the second half of the series and made these final few episodes enjoyable and amusing to watch.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (Episode 23)
Through the series, Sakurasou focused on the tenants of the decrepit dormitory, showing their dreams and struggles and conflicts and emotions. These final few episodes have effectively turned the focus toward their home and the sudden struggles to keep it standing following the end of the school year. These last few episodes have shown how the residents of Sakurasou have been working tirelessly and endlessly to save their beloved home with discouraging results. However, throughout this process, Chihiro-sensei has been working her tail off too, to support the students behind the scenes and in a way that only she, as a faculty of the school, could perform. And really, she’s been working hard for the students throughout the entire series but never really had any focus on her character nor her actions. Really, Chihiro-sensei has played an essential and necessary role throughout all of Sakurasou but never has received the recognoition or thanks for what she has done. It’s rather sad to note that we never really will know the extent of her kindness and efforts but at least we can now appreciate her role in everything that’s occurred at Sakurasou and how she, like all the other residents, is a part of Sakurasou, just as much as anyone else.
Pscyho-Pass (Episode 22 [Finale])
Although I’m fascinated with just about every aspect of Psycho-Pass, undoubtedly my favorite is the evolution of Akane’s character. Throughout the twenty-two episodes that comprised Psycho-Pass, we saw Akane grow from a young, naïve and scared rookie to a seasoned, mature and respected detective. This was highlighted in the final scene of the finale, illustrating the contrast between her former and current self, shown openly when Akane met Shimotsuki Mita, a rookie like Akane in the first episode. However, what makes the story of Akane’s character and her development one of my favorite is that she still retained her humanity and her responsiveness after everything she’s been through. It isn’t hard to see a character change as an anime goes one, especially a protagonist, but seeing Akane go through all these challenges and all these trials, with some success and some failures, it’s great to see Akane remain ‘human’ and, perhaps most importantly, to remain ‘Akane’. I figured by the end of the series that Akane would be similar to how Ginoza was throughout the anime but, with our understanding of Akane’s character, you know that she’ll remain herself for some time to come. And unlike other characters who develop with new attributes overlapping or replacing old ones, Akane’s character developed by structuring everything around her initial self. Whether it was erecting new qualities and fashioning new traits, Akane’s character build upon itself to give us the fantastic character that we saw in this finale. Really, there may be a number of fascinating details or intriguing stories or a functional and developed plot in Psycho-Pass, but the story of Akane growing up and developing in an astounding, magnificent character is absolutely the most remarkable, and my favorite, part of Psycho-Pass.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Episode 11)
Have you ever wondered how different Maoyuu would be had the Mage, Onna Mahoutsukai, been present the whole time? Or better yet, how much easier everything would’ve been for Maou and Yuusha in implementing their various plans and developments around the various villages and kingdoms? The lack of magic besides Yuusha is rather stark in a series like this, so it means the trio of female mages is that much more valuable and desirable. Not only would Yuusha be able to assist Maou in certain capacities but the three mages would use their magic to assist the serfs or merchants or whoever with their awesome and seemingly limitless power. And not only that, but considering how awesome those three characters are, you can’t help but wonder how much better the anime would’ve been too had they been around the whole time.
Little Busters! (Episode 24)
As I’ve mentioned previously, I believe Rin would make a much better protagonist to Little Busters! than Riki does. This episode further reinforces my thoughts on the matter considering how it showed Komari to be the perfect lead female… erm, lead supporting character for which to augment and facilitate the development of Rin as the leading character. Had Rin been the main character of Little Busters!, the series could have focused more intently on the friendship between these two girls, how Komari was able to overcome her crippling depression and how Rin was able to and is still conquering her distressing shyness. The two work well together, fantastic even, and having the series spend more time with these two together, especially with how well they compliment each other and allow the other to grow and mature as a character, would certainly improve the series as a whole. You know, rather than being a straight adaptation of the popular Key visual novel, I wish this anime had a twist so that Rin were the one solving everyone’s problems, including her own. And if that wouldn’t work, then I wish we had crossdressing Riki the whole time instead or normal Riki because then Riki wouldn’t be so boring.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Episode 24)
In anime and storytelling in general, the audience is often allowed to see various events and objects that the characters are unable to see. This is frequently used in ways to show the beginnings or hints of a trick or misdirection that will befall an unsuspecting character. However, in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, you often never really see these hints or clues when Joseph Joestar is playing the trickster. What this does is it places the audience on the same level as the villains, thus creating an authentically surprising and a substantially more satisfying conclusion to the trick, too. It has been developed in recent episodes, especially with Joseph taking a more central role in the fights, so there has been in increase in the need for the series to take a generalized perspective in order not to spoil the stunning or shocking tricks that Joseph is able to pull off. It has really helped enhance the fighting in this final arc of Battle Tendency while also highlighting JoJo’s intelligence and ingenuity.
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 11)
Given that the Mizusawa Karuta Club faces drama and anxiety before and after every match, you can’t help but wonder if all the other teams face similar circumstances before all their matches too, just that the electricity and tension occurs off-screen. We’ve seen it happen with the Hokuou Academy Karuta Club earlier in the series, either in the form of Kinashi selecting their line-up or with Sudou placing an uncomfortable burden on the members, but almost all the other clubs appear to be calm, cool and collected before every match. Hell, the most drama we’ve seen in this tournament outside the Mizusawa team was the international school trying to speak English for whatever reason. And you figure with such a weighty and important tournament going on, that there’d be more drama and excitement going on with the other teams. Well, given that we’re nearing the championship for the team tournament, we might see the drama escalate rather quickly, especially with the opponents being given actual backstory and development unlike the past few challengers. It’s clear that the pressure will expand as the tournament comes to a close but the question remains whether we’ll see it manifested in the characters playing against Chihaya and friends.
#1 by Mwnanamai on April 2, 2013 - 5:08 AM
Pilling on our disappointment with Mauyo Maou Yusha, you know which show actually was good despite starting with a trashy premise ? Vividred Operation.
The story is a simple cross between Evangelion and the “Fantastic Four : rise of the silver surfer”, and but the characters are compelling, the villain is not a clone of Dr Doom and actually have reason to do what she does, and there is actual emotion between the different characters.
Yes it is a “Girls in boomers” fanservice fest, but it is as restrained as Senran Kagura with few butt focused shots unless it is a joke or in a funny embarrassed sweating butt scene.
It is a simple story, with good characters, and emotion. I don’t know if you can catch by now, but if you can backlog it take the chance. ;)
#2 by avvesione on April 2, 2013 - 5:51 PM
Yeah, I gave the first episode of Vividred Operation a chance but I never really enjoyed it nor did it really appeal to me. I know plenty of other people who enjoyed the anime but it doesn’t seem like something that I’d enjoy all that much, especially since the story sounds pretty average. I might check it out one of these days just to see what it’s like but it probably won’t be for a while.
#3 by Mwnanamai on April 3, 2013 - 3:44 AM
Knowing how you enjoy to over-think everything, let me just say without spoiling it that there is a Dimensional and divine element in the story that might get your inner Einstein jumping and question the causality of it.
If I remember correctly you had problems with Mirrai Nikki convoluted plot, this is not that complicated but if you are looking for something to overthink that could be a positive.
#4 by avvesione on April 5, 2013 - 7:53 PM
Interesting. I hadn’t heard that before about Vividred since everything I hear about it are butts and more butts. But to hear this makes it sound promising and that it has a story superior to say Strike Witches which seems to be its parallel.
As for Mirai Nikki, there were parts of the story that I disliked, but overall, it was a fun story that tried to be different and made for an entertaining anime. If Vividred is something akin to that, maybe I’ll check it out one of these days, just… it’ll be a while.
#5 by Zammael on April 2, 2013 - 5:28 AM
As usual, here’s my season review:
Shin Sekai Yori
A truly ambitious and deep show, executed properly, ended up a classic that will definitely be on the Best of 2013 Anime. Proof that great anime series needs better source material than the usual L/N crap, and proof that creativity does not need a large, shaft-type budget.
Another brilliant, violent entry from Gen Urobuchi, who poses deep questions without cheating the audience with ready-made answers. One of the most original villains in years in Makishima.
Excellent continuation and expansion of the first season, although some inconsistencies has crept in (pacing, slight xenophobia).
Zetsuen no Tempest
Excellent mind-bending show, with solid cast and great mixture of action & literary references.
Still funny, but sometimes wastes too much time on peripheral characters.
Boku wa Tomodachi NEXT
Robotics; Notes Got stupid all of sudden. Blew all goodwill of a solid first half.
Sasami @ Unmotivated Shaft is not a sufficient reason to watch a show.
Tomoko Market Hot Potato’d it after 1 episode. KoyAni has lost all credibility with me.
#6 by avvesione on April 2, 2013 - 5:54 PM
I’d tell you to wait until I have my Winter Season Review up, but honestly, who knows when that’ll be? I’ll try to have it up soon but you know how late I am with these types of things…
Glad to see that we agree on pretty much everything, though I have SSY a bit lower than you. And for the 3 shows that you dropped, they all kinda collapsed at the end, though I did finish those 3. Seems like this is probably the most similar we’ve been in terms of our evaluations of anime since there usually is one or two where we are the complete opposite.
#7 by Jay on April 2, 2013 - 6:49 AM
Actually, if you look back in the scene in Jojo’s around the time where Joseph is setting his scarf on fire, you can actually see him setting him up the rope trick, with the end of the sawed off rope lying by his feet.
It’s just that, like Cars, your attention is drawn to Joseph’s silly antics so you don’t see it.
#8 by avvesione on April 2, 2013 - 5:57 PM
Yeah, that’s true, there are always the hints but it never seems to be the focus of the shot or shown in any significant manner. The anime does an excellent job of drawing your attention away from what the actual trick is with some sudden comedy or action, thus helping us ignore the trick going on and allowing it to be more surprising when it actually occurs. These scenes are always done so well in this regard.
#9 by Joojoobees on April 3, 2013 - 2:44 AM
Regarding the drama in teams other than Mizusawa: you did overlook the whole match with Arata, which had plenty of dorama. Actually I think you are about to see another example, as there has been criticism from some other folks that episode 12 spent too much time developing the opponents (I disagree, I think it is a natural part of Chihayafuru to consider the motivation and strengths of the opponents).
#10 by avvesione on April 5, 2013 - 8:01 PM
Okay, true, I did skip over Arata, but he is one of the three main characters of this anime. What I was thinking of would be one of the new opponents, one that we’ve never seen before, dealing with the anxiety before the matches or facing some club drama before the match and going against Mizusawa with only 4 players or something.
As for episode 12, I did enjoy seeing the anime take the time to develop the other ace, especially since she’ll be shown again in the individual tournament and act as a new type of rival for Chihaya. I don’t mind that they’re doing this now, especially since she’s one of the best female karuta players in Japan.