This week: thinking ahead on how the weather could be used as a means of conflict in Suisei no Gargantia, weighing in on two fascinating story mechanics in Kakumeiki Valvrave, the fantastic use of voices in Chihayafuru 2, and examining the personalities of Emi in Hataraku Maou-sama! and Misaka in To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S.
Best episode of the week: Shingeki no Kyojin
Anime trending up this week: Kakumeiki Valvrave
Anime trending down this week: Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 15)
Sound is essential to every anime. Whether it’s in relation to the music, the voice acting, the ambiance or whatever, sound is a vital aspect to every anime. In Chihayafuru however, the voices of the various karuta readers shows an even greater capacity in how the use of sound plays an imperative role in this anime. As we already know per the rules of karuta, once the first sound of the poem begins, the players are free to swing their arms and aim their fingertips to the corresponding card. With the rules of karuta structured like this, we find a great deal of significance placed on the readers in every match, often times amplified when Chihaya or another player pounces at the first syllable. However, in this finals match, we’re treated to Yamashiro Kyouko, a grade 7 certified reader, which is pretty much the very best of the best. For her character, not only does she need to be a talented voice actress but also one that understands and enunciates as a professional karuta reader does. Not only that, but to have the impact that her character has and for her voice to have that imposing yet impassioning effect, she needs to be better than all the other karuta readers before her. With this in mind, we can find a new form of appreciation in the karuta reader and in Kyouko’s voice. In addition to that, it’s worth noting that the other karuta readers deserve recognition too, since each has had to learn the system and rhythm and pronunciation to be karuta readers in this anime, even the ones that turned out to be ‘bad’ readers since they had to learn how to do it properly and how they would flub it up. Hopefully now, with the sudden appearance of Yamashiro Kyouko, there is a newfound appreciation of karuta readers and how the use of character voices plays a fundamental role in Chihayafuru.
Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge (Episode 3)
Let’s face it; we knew the fights in Crime Edge were going to be bad. When the deadly weapons that the characters use to ‘kill’ each other are a pair of scissors, a syringe and a sledgehammer (I notice a pattern…), you figure that the fights are going to be a disappointing if not dismal. And yes, this is before you factor in Kiri’s superhuman speed that materialized out of nowhere, like even the story wasn’t aware it was going to happen and wasn’t sure where the episode was going with it. But the worst part about the fight in the third episode of Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge is how the opponent, the Sledgehammer of Crushing Disintegration, never had his character explained. In fact, during the fight, he never spoke a single word. Now I realize that people love to complain about how things aren’t realistic when characters say their names and explain their motives during fights, but there are a couple of reasons why we see it so often in stories like these. First, this isn’t real life, this is an anime, so let your logic run loose and forgotten while you enjoy (or try to enjoy) this show. Second, it’s an effective method of storytelling despite being clichéd and corny in nature. Yeah, people don’t tell each other their secret plans and all that in real life but it’s the one chance the character had to elaborate on himself, explain why he appeared now and why this fight is necessary and to help relate his situation back to Kiri’s own as an Author. Really, the decision to leave this first real opponent in the dark is a poor decision on Crime Edge, especially since there was amble room to explain what happens to an Author without an Instead and what the Author’s wish was that could tie back into the pain and obsession the Authors must endure. But no, instead, we have a missed opportunity here for Crime Edge. Without a doubt, this is the principal reason on why I found this fight to be a severe disappointment.
Devil Survivor 2 the Animation (Episode 3)
Is it just me or does it seem like everyone has pointy, elf-like ears in Devil Survivor 2? At first, I thought it was just Makoto who had tipped ears like that, but in the third episode, you also see it’s prominent in Keita’s appearance as well. After scanning back through the episode, there are instances where you see it in others too, like Daichi and Io. So do these characters have legitimately pointy-ears or is there something else going on that’s causing it to only appear so? Well, given its inconsistency with other characters, and the fact that doesn’t appear to be another race of humanoids in Devil Survivor 2, I figure that this is an impression or effect that I have with this particular character design or art style. The way the ears are drawn here just seem to be pulled upward or inward, in a fashion that leaves them looking pointier than other, rounder anime ears. Looking back at some of the summons, especially Lilim who has genuine pointy ears, it becomes clearer that this is merely an effect of the character designs or art style on certain humans. So yeah, there doesn’t seem to be any significance on the shape of the ears in Devil Survivor 2 besides being slightly different than what we see as the norm in other anime.
Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W (Episode 3)
Why are there even fights in Nyaruko-san? Unlike most other fighting anime, Nyaruko-san doesn’t have an emphasis on fights or even have a system that configures and organizes power levels, fighting styles, strengths and weaknesses or anything to that nature. It’s just, ‘there’s gonna be a fight, let’s power up and win’. It’s not like the characters train or anything to become stronger or better. It’s not like the enemies are stronger and that there is some challenge or reward in these fights. They’re just plot devices used to end these story arcs. Really, Nyaruko-san would be significantly better without these fights and if they just replaced them with jokes. And yes, I realize that the majority of these fights are comprised of comedic material and that they’re used in a way to set-up for other jokes, but this time could be managed better to include more jokes or better jokes that relate to the story arc and the characters. To be, the fights in Nyaruko-san are always unsatisfying and disappointing and I hope that the series begins to steer away from them and use its time better, especially if it can include more comedy.
Hataraku Maou-sama! (Episode 3)
In the first three episodes, Emi has come across as a tsundere bitch who hates everyone and everything. You’d think as a Hero of the human race, she would be a kinder, gentler soul with empathy and compassion etched firmly in her heart. In reality… she’s exactly that: Emi is actually a thoughtful, caring, and kindhearted girl to everyone that isn’t Sadao or his underlings. Pretty much every time we’ve seen Emi thus far is when she’s around her mortal enemy, Sadao, and so she reacts in a way that’s vicious, intense and hateful. However, when she’s around other humans, the people that she herself is trying to protect and save, she shows her truer self which is one of a caring and benevolent nature. Although you figure she exploded in front of Chiho out of pure jealousy, you could also see it as her concern of a human falling in love with Sadao, only to be stolen away, tortured and murdered by the Demon Lord himself. Because of the way Maou-sama is directed and given the way the story has progressed, we never really see much of Emi by herself or when she’s around other humans and not pre-occupied with Sadao. Given what we’ve learned about her character in the past and how she acts around humans in our world, we can ascertain that Emi is actually a compassionate and loving girl who just happens to be passionate or extreme in her feelings toward the world’s greatest enemy. She really is a sweet person and I hope that we see more of this side of her soon.
Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride (Episode 3)
Sorry Kanetsugu but your competition of finding the #1 maid at the dojo is doomed for failure right from the very start. There can’t be anyone who’s more maid than Hanzou because her character is always a maid. Sure, right now, everyone is working as a maid in the maid café but these are only costumes worn by the girls to provide a better experience for their customers. None of these girls are actually maids, they’re only pretending to be. That is except for Hanzou who’s genuinely a maid and a samurai. So by trying to hold a competition among the girls to find the #1 is completely asinine when you already have a character who is full-time maid in this series. And when the plot device that is the maid café dries up eventually, Hanzou will be the only who’s still being a maid in this series since that’s what her character and her costume dictates. After all that, do you really have to question who the #1 maid is in Hyakka Ryouran? I think not.
Kakumeiki Valvrave (Episode 2)
I can’t figure out which is more intriguing in Valvrave thus far, the whole death/survival/vampirism mechanics going on that allow Haruto to live or the enchanted, supernatural powers that energize and operate the aptly named mecha, Valvrave. Although both components are inevitably linked to each other, the two are being used to very different degrees in the anime and have fundamentally different roles in the story at this point. To me, the whole aspect of Haruto’s bite-and-control-someone-else mechanics are more interesting since it can have a wide variety of applications in the story while also being unique in nature. I’m curious to see how the anime employs this fascinating concept further, especially since I can see it being used for dumb, goofy stuff that Sunrise always likes to do with its stories. The Valvrave system is the less interesting aspect to me simply because we always find these mobile suits powered with special mechanics that make them the strongest in the series. Although I am interesting in discovering the source of the light, the operating system that requires the pilot to reject their humanity and the superpowered God-mode, I just find this to be the same old story as we see in any generic mecha anime. Hopefully there’ll be something there that makes the mobile armor in Valvrave interesting but I can’t say that it captivates me like the life-and-death mechanics going on with Haruto’s character right now.
And yeah, I’m delighted to learn that Shouko is still alive after everyone was crying and complaining about her ‘death’ in the first episode. Sure, it didn’t surprise me as much because I predicted it would happen after the events of the first episode, but I’m happy either way that she’s back in the series again after a brief absence.
Shingeki no Kyojin (Episode 3)
Given how crazy and fanatical some anime fans are, I seriously wonder if more potatoes will be consumed in Japan, solely because of Sasha’s character and her love of potatoes. If you remember last week, I tried making my own black pepper fries after watching Hataraku Maou-sama!, and now I’m in the mood for some baked potatoes after watching this episode of Attack on Titan. I can’t help but wonder if other anime fans around Japan are craving potatoes too, now that we have an endearing, delightful character who loves them and loves eating them. I guess we should keep our eyes focused on the streets of Akihabara first to see if otaku and anime fans alike are developing a taste for potatoes, especially if any place starts some promotional or Attack on Titan-themed entrees where potatoes are the prominent feature. And yeah, you can tell I’m really hungry at the time I wrote this piece.
Suisei no Gargantia (Episode 3)
Although the first three episodes of Gargantia have been relatively turbulent, the weather and the seas have been calm and clear. Every episode thus far has shown brilliant blue skies above and a peaceful aquamarine ocean below for our heroes to travel on and travel through. But how long will this tranquil excursion last provided that we know how forceful and terrifying the weather can be? And seeing as that everyone in Gargantia lives atop this seafaring flotilla and knowing that Red’s mecha is built for space warfare and is not necessarily tailored to Earth, you figure that at some time in the future, stormy waters await our protagonists. I believe that in some episode soon, a hurricane or a tropical storm of some sort will encroach upon this civilization that lives aboard these floating vessels and in these maritime cities. And when this happens, I believe the humans will be faced with some extraordinary but remarkable challenges. I’m not sure how the stormy weather will affect Red’s mecha or Chamber’s performance, but the combination of wind and rain will certainly play some role. As for the cities themselves, you have to think that any powerful hurricane has the chance to capsize or sink these cities, especially depending on the size of the waves or the speed of the gusts. If that were to happen, try to imagine how that would impact all the characters and how it would change the composition of their fragile civilization. I’m already interested to see how these characters will perform against this vengeful and violent form nature rather than continuing stories against other humans or an alien species, especially since there seems to be an environmental message embedded in the story of Gargantia. If it turns out to be true and there is some human versus nature sequence in Gargantia where the weather plays a vital role in the story, you know I’ll be excited and overjoyed.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (Episode 2)
How do you define Misaka’s personality in Railgun? In Index, it’s easy to define Misaka’s personality since she is the standard tsundere archetype, especially around Touma. But in Railgun, the character dynamics are altered and her relationships are predominately with Kuroko, Uiharu and Saten. Not only that but Misaka’s role in Railgun is unlike that of her role in Index with her being both the protagonist and hero here in Railgun. As a result, Misaka acts differently between the two anime if only slightly. But given this change, it’s nearly impossible to define her as a tsundere in Railgun since Touma plays a minimal role here and we hardly ever see her switch back and forth between the tsuntsun and deredere. So how do you define Misaka in Railgun? I’m perplexed by this issue and curious to see what others thing but the more I think about it, I suppose that Misaka fits the hero archetype in Railgun better than anything else. Although she does match well with a number of different archetypes, she doesn’t fit one perfectly like she did in Index. In fact, she’s a bit more plain and ordinary in Railgun compared to Index too, but Misaka is featured better as a character in Railgun and is able to do more as a character, too. So just what exactly is Misaka in Railgun? Maybe after another 24 episodes, I’ll have a better idea.