This week: the theme of forgiveness and tolerance in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride, questioning the utilization of steampunk technologies in Shingeki no Kyojin, those awkward color filters in Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge, and beginning to understand and appreciate Emi’s character in Hataraku Maou-sama!
Best episode of the week: Shingeki no Kyojin
Anime trending up this week: Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san
Anime trending down this week: Chihayafuru 2
Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge (Episode 4)
For whatever reason, color filters exist in Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge. Though there appears to be no rhyme or reason why these oversaturating and often baffling filters appear, it seems as if they’re meant to denote a significant or dramatic scene. That’d be an interesting choice of effect should the scenes that employ these filters be actually significant (or extrapolate to why these are more significant than other scenes) or dramatic. Instead, these overwhelming colors consume our focus away from the scene in more of a distracting manner than anything empowering. Not only that but the colors lack intensity and excitement and there doesn’t appear to be any sort of system that denotes what the colors represent, though that’s really the least of our concerns at this point in regards to the anime. So without any clear indication to what these filters mean and a shaky execution of how they’re used, I can only hope that Crime Edge moves away from this regretful choice in art style and move away from something abstract and toward something tangible to help enhance the anime’s experience.
Devil Survivor 2 the Animation (Episode 4)
Although there are important characters dotted all across Japan, the constant cuts back to HQ and the other JPs departments significantly undermines the plot and action in Devil Survivor 2. While it’s fine to flip back and forth to show people in different areas doing different things, it only makes sense when they are directly involved in the scene at hand, as it is when the anime switched between Hibiki and Nitta. The same can’t be said when the anime alternates between the characters in Tokyo, the Kyoto branch of JPs, and the other members of the sizable cast of Devil Survivor 2. The end result of jumping back and forth between these sites and these characters is an unfocused episode that seems easily distracted and impulsive. Sure, the characters play an important role in each episode, but the anime doesn’t need to transition between these sites every couple seconds. Although I don’t mind seeing Makoto a dozen times each episode, her role could effectively be replaced by her barking orders through a cell phone (although, I have to admit, I’d probably complain about this would be lazy animation). We don’t need reaction shots of all these characters after every single development nor do we need to hear them speak some psychobabble about their computers being hacked or how close they are to being killed because things are suddenly theatrical. No, what’d help Devil Survivor 2 from here on out would be to focus on the matters at hand, especially during action sequences and battles and save for the cuts back and forth between different sites and different characters for segments that require these characters to converse with each other. Devil Survivor 2 should strive to have more seamless and uninterrupted episodes, ones that focus its concentration and attention to the characters and matters at hand and stop being so easily sidetracked and preoccupied with characters who aren’t there and aren’t affecting the story.
Hataraku Maou-sama! (Episode 4)
The fourth episode of Hataraku Maou-sama! played a fundamental role in solidifying Emi’s character and showing us reasons on why she’s so emotional and so conflicted at her current predicament. After spending some more time with her character and exposing her backstory in a meaningful manner, we’ve earned some insight into what makes her character so complex, so compelling and so interesting in Maou-sama! Really, Emi has the strongest personality and the boldest persona in Maou-sama!, but the reasoning behind her character seemed weak and lacking before this episode, especially since she was so intently focused on killing Sadao despite relying on him in this world. But with the fourth episode spending some quality time on Emi’s past, one which shows her tragically removed from her father due to an escalating war and the eventual death of her father due to the demon armies, you can honestly begin to understand Emi’s motives and appreciate her character better. In addition to that, you can merge this backstory with what we know of her character from these past three episodes to comprehend the conflicted and anguished profile we see before us. And while Emi’s story isn’t the most glamorous or stimulating or expressive, it works well for the story and characters of Maou-sama!, especially when you consider that Emi was already the best character in this show.
Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride (Episode 4)
Considering that Hyakka Ryouran is a mindless action, ecchi harem anime that spends more time on boobs and panties rather than actual characterization or anything intelligent, it might be surprising to note that this episode successfully incorporated and expressed themes of forgiveness and tolerance in this episode. Yeah, the episode had a message embedded within it that explored how Juubei’s forgiveness of Gisen and her tolerance toward her manipulation saved her life from certain death and helped Gisen gain acceptance in the dojo. Yeah, the anime actually had something meaningful and expressive in it which is surprising since there were about a half-dozen pairs of naked breasts in this episode and a nude guy to go with it, too. Then again, it’s not like this episode focused on this theme intently and developed it into a moral or the entire point of this episode. Rather, the whole message of forgiveness and tolerance was woven neatly into the immediate story about Gisen informing the girls about Samurai Brides and trying to manipulate them against each other while she benefited from the controlled chaos. But still, it’s rather impressive to see Hyakka Ryouran have something intelligent and meaningful in it, especially since I thought the anime was a source of purposeless entertainment where my brain could check-out for half an hour. No, the fourth episode of this season won’t change how I watch this anime or how I appreciate it, but it does show that this anime has some merit behind it and some intelligence backing it up. It still isn’t the reason to watch this anime nor is it a reason that makes this anime any better… it just means that Hyakka Ryouran has some positive messages in it, which means it’s somewhat more than just T&A for the better part of half-an-hour.
Kakumeiki Valvrave (Episode 3)
There’s what’s realistic in an anime, and then there’s suspension of disbelief… and then there’s Valvrave the Liberator, which is in a league of its own right now. After the third episode of Kakumeiki Valvrave, you really have to wonder if all this hilarious, nonsensical bullshit is supposed to mean anything or if it’s camp-style fun taken way too far in a Sunrise-esque mecha anime. Like, Valvrave has already gone past the point-of-no-return in terms of its silliness and its implausible actions. No matter what it does from this point forward, it’ll always be labeled as a series that went too far. Whether that’s a bad thing or not has yet to be judged, but so far, it’s worked in Valvrave’s favor for unintended (or maybe purposeful) hilarity. To say that L-Elf’s absolutely perfect planning and escape, even though he had no clue where Haruto would be, when he’d be able to make his escape, how he’d find, carry, set-up and detonate all his explosive within that 15 minute time-frame from when he’d escape and be found, that the ship would be at the exact location and encounter the exact issue that’d render the collision as an earthquake… I mean, this thing goes on forever and this is only one episode. You could do the same thing for episodes 1 and 2 as well and probably make one for episode 4 and 5 and all the rest if you really wanted to. The point here is that Valvrave has a certain bizarre charm about it when it comes to being unrealistic and preposterous… but that’s what makes it enjoyable and amusing as a series. Whether this is good or bad in the long run has yet to be determined, especially with fans evaluating it from differing perspectives and coming to opposing and often conflicting conclusions.
Shingeki no Kyojin (Episode 4)
The steampunk technology in Attack on Titan is quite unique and exhilarating, watching characters fly around with swords drawn that have controls for pressure-controlled hooks and cables that suspend them and launch them through the air. However, you have to wonder if this is the best use of such a technology in regards to fighting the titans. For example, what do the soldiers do when there are no trees or walls around for which to attack a giant? Well, considering that the hooks from the pressurized cables are strong enough to pierce the brick/stone façade of the massive walls, you figure that they can easily pierce the flesh of the titans. Well then, why don’t they just launch those cables at the titans and use them to pull them down, targeting the legs of these monsters from a couple angles to trip and disable them? Or better yet, why not just invent guns that use the hooks as a projectile if they’re so effective? The military technology in Shingeki no Kyojin is rather remarkable but its use and effectiveness really has to be questioned at this point, especially since we keep hearing how the Recon teams are easily decimated when facing even a single titan. Maybe there’s something else going on that we don’t know about yet, but you figure that there’s gotta be better ways than flying around in only a few select settings and hitting them in the back of neck with swords.
Suisei no Gargantia (Episode 4)
Since the beginning of the anime, we’ve been in the dark about Red’s character, but the fourth episode of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet offered us some clues about Red that help us understand his character a little better. What we’ve seen of Red paints him as a traditional overzealous, self-assured, and straightforward soldier who has a set line of thinking and always responds in the manner that best suits him, his army and the entirety of mankind. His steadfastness in this manner has shown him come into conflict and even begin to question his teachings, especially after meeting various members of the cast and getting to grow friendly with the bold and endearing Amy. Couple this with the fact that we saw a flashback of him visiting a younger version of himself in some sterile, all-white lab with stasis chambers, and you have to really consider the fact that Red might be a cloned soldier to fight the Hideauze. After evaluating his appearance and how long he’s been in military combat, how his straightforward way of ‘military thinking’ is almost programmed into his brain to be the best, most-economical fighter, the fact that there’s a younger version of himself somewhere in the universe, and the fact that he is forging an ocarina without knowing what it is or why its significant, seem to indicate that he is a clone or something incredibly similar. Right now, I’m leaning toward the idea that the humans create clones, even from candidates who are sick and “would otherwise be disposed of”, to fight against the alien races as disposable soldiers. These clones are designed in a way to be the ideal soldiers, not only in their training but also how they understand and evaluate everything around them. In regards to the wind instrument that Red is carving, I’m not sure if memories are retained or transferred between the original and the copy, but it does seem like Red remembers his former self having one and wanting to make one too while stranded on Earth. As for any other details or hints or clues in these past few episodes, I believe that they point toward Red being a clone, though I think it might be best to wait and see how this plays out in the next few episodes.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (Episode 3)
One of the best aspects about Railgun is how this side-story provides an alternative perspective on certain events in Index and how the two series compare and contrast with each other. Consider the story of all the Misaka Sisters who we were introduced to in the first season of Index. While it seemed like the story was sufficient in that series, we’re able to go back and reexamine the Misaka Sisters again with this new perspective from Railgun. With this, we’ll be able to learn more about the Sisters and be able to connect it with the events that happened later in Index. And although this merely appears to be supplemental material to the story in Index, it appears as though there is its own story here for Misaka in Railgun that was never acknowledged (or possibly even through of) when Index documented its story. It does make me happy to see a story be retold like this through another source and from another angle, almost like two people recalling a single event but from very different backgrounds and who saw very different things. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out, especially with how it connects to the Index story, almost as if this is a prequel to those events.