This week: why I’m not buying the ‘death’ scene in Kakumeiki Valvrave and what leads me to believe so, some recommendations for Yamane on how to properly use a syringe in Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge, questioning the geographies, organizations and structures of cities in Shingeki no Kyojin, Suisei no Gargantia, and To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S, and some additional thoughts on the setting in anime.
Best episode of the week: Shingeki no Kyojin
Anime trending up this week: Hataraku Maou-sama!
Anime trending down this week: Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 14)
Considering that the team tournament and individual tournaments are only a day apart, you really have to question how fatigue, both mental and physical, will play a role for competitors who play in both. Consider players like Chihaya and Megumu who both play in several games on the day of the team competitions versus Shinobu who gets to relax all day and prepare for the individual matches the following day. You really have to think players who aren’t in the team competition are at a significant advantage, especially since we see fatigue setting in for the cast of Chihayafuru after 3 or 4 or 5 matches compared to the distinct possibility of playing 10 matches in the span of 30 or so hours. With this substantial handicap placed against Chihaya and Megumu, I don’t predict that they’ll go very far or perform very well when the individual tournament begins, but it will be nonetheless be interesting to see how they perform regardless of fatigue or other factors.
Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge (Episode 2)
Someone needs to take Yamane’s ‘death syringe’ away from her until she learns some proper syringe and needle etiquette. For starters, I hope she switches out her needles after every poke in order to reduce the risk of blood-borne pathogens, like hepatitis or HIV, from infecting her friends or introducing bacteria to sterile sites and causing cellulitis or sepsis. Not only that but changing the needle out after every injection will prevent the tip from deforming, which certainly isn’t pleasant. And what’s with her injecting people in the neck and forearm? That certainly isn’t safe or the preferred method of injecting someone. Considering the needle she’s using, at least go for the deltoid muscle. Like, you really have to wonder if anyone taught her how to handle the Killing Goods that she inherited or if she just picked them up and began injecting everyone with everything she could find. And another thing, how exactly is she getting ahold of these medications? Not necessarily concerned about the financing which is probably astronomical for a mere teenager but how does she hold the licensing to purchase these drugs, especially the sleeping on that she administered to Iwai and Kiri? But whatever, it’s just dumb fun and mindless action, and trying to answer these questions usually means killing the fun and action itself, so let’s not go there, especially since those two are the best aspects of this anime so far.
Devil Survivor 2 the Animation (Episode 2)
Yellow and blue seem to be dominating colors for Devil Survivor 2, present as saturating overtones throughout the entire episode. Really, if you go back and just scan through the episode, you’ll notice how much of a presence yellow, and to a lesser extent blue, has in Devil Survivor 2. Thinking back to the other Atlus anime that aired last year, Persona 4, that one also had a very powerful presence of yellow throughout it, too. In fact, it is almost overwhelming at times the amount of color that Persona 4 and Devil Survivor 2 uses in some situations. From here, the question becomes, what significance do the colors yellow and blue play in Devil Survivor 2 or why use these colors to this extent in the first place? There doesn’t seem to be any clues or any hints as to why yellow and blue play a predominate role in Devil Survivor 2, but it should be interesting to find out if the subject is ever explained or explored.
Hataraku Maou-sama! (Episode 2)
Okay, be honest, did anyone else try to make ‘Black Pepper Fries’ after watching Maou-sama? I’m not sure if there’s a secret recipe at MgRonald with a dozen or so ‘secret spices’ or if they’re pretty much normal French fries with black pepper sprinkled all over them, but I tried this myself soon after finishing the first and during the second episode of Maou-sama. Rather than ransack my spice rack and experiment with whatever I had, I sprinkled some coarse black pepper over a full-serving of fries and at them alongside my viewing of the second episode. I must say that eating my version of Black Pepper Fries was a delicious treat while watching this delightful anime and I’m considering making this a habit for at least the next few episodes (or until they come out with a new type of French fries to serve at MgRonald). If you’re curious yourself, I highly recommend trying it yourself, especially since it’s relevantly simple to prepare for something so yummy.
Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride (Episode 2)
You really have to feel bad for the forgotten characters of Hyakka Ryouran: Matabei, Hanzou and Kanetsugu. Not only are these characters destined to be in the background of every fight, mainly because the series hates them and won’t let them become Master Samurai, but they’re destined to be in the background of every episode, too. Every time there is an event or story going on in the anime, it revolves around Yukimura or Sen or Muneakira or Juubei or someone other than the three forgotten characters. Instead, they’re stuck doing support jobs like helping these main characters with the least amount of screentime possible. And when the situation arises that a new Master Samurai must be crowned, a silly monkey suddenly appears, gets an entire episode to itself (!!) and serendipitously becomes a Master Samurai for no justifiable reason. Yeah, after helping out with everything for an entire season, the series just passes Matabei and Hanzou over and gives everything to a new character that never put in any work or effort. Yeah, so much for being a bodyguard and friend to both Yukimura and Sen for all these years. And let’s not forget Kanetsugu, the best character of this series; she deserves a power-up and an episode to herself, too. Well, based on the preview for episode 3, we might just get that with a Kanetsugu-themed episode coming up next. Hopefully the series doesn’t find a new way to screw us out of something good.
Kakumeiki Valvrave (Episode 1)
Quite a bit happened in the first episode of Valvrave, but one scene sticks out in particular for me as being the most significant and meaningful. When we saw Shouko run from her group to help a pedestrian stuck in a car, we witnessed her death when an energy beam landed right beside her and blasted the whole area into nothing more than a silent, smoldering crater. Yeah, so we can close the book on her character now, right? Well, that’s where I want to say that Valvrave is wrong and that it only appears that Shouko is dead. Sure, we saw the whole explosion and whatnot, but there are enough details present to suggest that she’s still alive and will make a return to Valvrave. The first point is that we never saw her body. It could be that the energy beam that killed her also vaporized her body but not finding a body after a death scene is always a flag that they might return later. Another point specific to that scene is that the energy beam landed next to her, not on top of her. This might be significant in that someone else (the passenger in the car) may have shielded her and protected her as her body was flung from the site of the explosion. Furthermore, we know that Shouko is an important character to our protagonist, Haruto, so it makes sense to bring her back for whatever reason later on in the series. Those three points alone are generally enough for most shows to have a character to reappear after a ‘fake death scene’, but Valvrave introduced one more concept that reinforces my idea that Shouko will return and that is the whole system of losing one’s humanity.
As we saw with Haruto at the end of the first episode, people who operate Valvrave reject their human life and become some sort of superhuman vampire-thingy that can survive what would surely kill any normal human being. And seeing that the Valvrave mobile suit was underneath the school the whole time, what’s not to say that Shouko was a test subject and lost her humanity like Haruto? Given how we only learned of this concept after Shouko’s ‘death’, I believe that she had gone through the same process once before and that we never thought that she could survive a blast through such a means since we never knew such a means existed until after the ending credits rolled. Not only that but having Shouko survive through such a means plays well with the other three points listed previously. Given that and everything else that we saw in this first episode, I have a strong reason to believe that Shouko is not dead in Valvrave and that we’ll be seeing her at some grandiose and magnificent time near the end of the first season, probably killing superhuman Haruto because she’s a villain or something and then having us wait 3 months between the two seasons of Valvrave. Remember, you heard it here first!
Shingeki no Kyojin (Episode 2)
Having such a densely populated area located on the outer-most region of the walls is a terrible idea. Even if this area were the slums or a township of disadvantaged or impoverished people, it doesn’t make sense for a settlement of such a size to be located near such immediate danger, even if the titans were unable to invade for over a century. Not only that, but it doesn’t make sense for a village of such wealth (considering the appearance and structure of the buildings) to be located in such an area. It’s not like being located on the edge of the walled empire provides an advantage to trade or resources or agriculture or anything. I could understand if it were a military outpost to keep a watch for the titans and to maintain a milita, but it looks more like an urban city than a citadel. And after taking a quick look at the population geography of the nation of humans, it doesn’t seem that there are really any densely populated areas around this specific hamlet, instead with most of the people choosing to live within the center-most walls and concentrating around that area. So as to why the humans choose to build such a compressed and urban settlement right next to the least defensible area in the empire is beyond me.
Suisei no Gargantia (Episode 2)
Considering that the surface of the Earth is covered entirely with water and that mankind lives atop floating flotillas, you can’t help but wonder where the source of fuel comes from that power these seafaring vessels. I’d like to assume that these ships are powered by some sort of renewable energy source, like solar power, because that would make sense given the extreme lack of resources that these humans face, but the structure and shape and just the general feel of these ships screams out to me that they utilize some type of fossil fuel like oil or coal or something. Then again, you don’t see smoke billowing out of these ships and you already know that coal or oil or natural gas are probably impossible to harvest now, so it’s probably not anything analogous to what we use now. But still, seeing these retrofitted steel behemoths and roaming the oceans, you can’t help but wonder what sort of dated fuel source they’re using, even if it’s something like solar power or wind power or something like that. Either way, I’m curious to see more about the technology of Gargantia, how it impacts the lives of its crew and its citizens and how the people live sailing around the globe in this nomadic lifestyle.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (Episode 1)
Who exactly thought that Academy City would be a good idea? Okay, first things first, how does a city with over 1.8 million students, 80% of the total population, support itself considering how overburdened the adult workforce must be. Not only do these students need to be kept in schools and academies of various sizes and structures, each having their own staff and faculty, but then you have to employ all the various shops and groceries and other commercial businesses in the city, not to mention government, police, healthcare, transportation and utilities, with the remaining population. I don’t think Academy City could support any form of industry within its borders, including light industry. Unless there is a massive population of commuters living in the suburbs not included in that population statistic, I don’t see how Academy City functions. Furthermore, who’d send their kids to school there considering how dangerous and targeted the city is? I’m not sure how far away the rest of civilization is but I’d worry about sending my 12 or 13 year-old kid there for the next decade of their life. You have all these punks and hooligans causing trouble every single day, various organizations trying to take over or destroy the city and immature brats running around with ESP powers that could pose danger to anyone that looks at them the wrong way. Now it makes sense why they have to enlist students as an ancillary police force. And what happens when you graduate? Do you get booted out of the city or are you forced to find a job there? Are there places of higher education within Academy City, like universities or specialized schools or places for job training? Just how strict is Academy City on its population policy so that it maintains a student population of 80% of the total city? Oh, and one other major issue is that of taxation and how exactly the city is funded. Considering how wealthy, clean and structured the city is, I assume that every one of the 1.8 million students are paying out their asses in board, tuition and taxes to stay at these private schools in Academy City. You have to assume that the net flow in wealth coming into the city is well into the tens of billions based on the USD. Really, the society of Academy City is intriguing to me, trying to understand how such a city is structured and how it functions.
As you can tell by the last three subjects on the last three anime, I have an undying fascination with the setting of anime with a particular interest in the geography of cites, especially in those that are similar or wildly different than the real world. Unfortunately for me, these questions are hardly ever examined and, less frequently, answered. But then again, maybe that’s the reason why I enjoy thinking about these subjects so often and why I look for the solutions on my own. Either way, I always find myself enchanted with the various settings of all the anime I watch and I hope these questions and thoughts provoke or inspire you to think critically about the diversity of settings in all the anime you watch.