This week: thoughts on the lack of an education system in Suisei no Gargantia and how it impacts its society, making the best character in Railgun even better, the surprisingly intelligent and effective humor in Shingeki no Kyojin, and my fascination with the audiences in Chihayafuru 2.
Best episode of the week: Chihayafuru 2
Anime trending up this week: To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S
Anime trending down this week: Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai 2
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 18)
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Chihayafuru, more amazing than even the karuta players themselves, is the audience members that observe and commentate over the matches. For the finals match occurring in these recent episodes, this role has largely been reserved to Kanade, among others, who is sitting out with an injured, swollen finger. What I find absolutely astonishing about these audience members is that they are able to watch all five concurrent matches simultaneously and provide commentary for each. What’s more, their commentary is always accurate, appropriate and insightful. And whenever something significant or special happens to one of the players, such as after their internal monologue about how they need to correct themselves, they are right there to back up that moment with some worthwhile claim or commentary. So while all these characters are subjected to sitting in the back of the playing hall, these characters are all eagle-eyed spectators who create roles for themselves in the anime despite being coaches, benchwarmers or other fans of the game. What these characters are able to do, to watch, understand and commentate on 5 individual matches occurring at the same time, is nothing short of remarkable in Chihayafuru.
Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge (Episode 6)
Given the frequent reminder that Iwai’s hair is virtually indestructible, appearing to be susceptible to only a select variety of the Killing Goods, you’d figure that Iwai would learn to use her hair to her advantage. That is, you’d hope that Iwai would learn to use her hair as an insurmountable shield or barrier during all these attempted murders. Then again, from what we’ve seen in the story, it only appears to work against blades that try to cut, trim or shear the hair, but you figure that it would expand to other forms of attack given its role and purpose in the story. Now, I’m not saying that the characters should test this theory out and try to fire bullets at her hair or burn it with fire or acid, but you figure that Iwai’s hair would defend against even those forms of assault. So given the nature and indestructability of Iwai’s hair, you would think that someone would devise a plan to train Iwai in how to use her hair to ward off attacks and attackers to increase her survival. And if any of the characters were intelligent enough to implement such a crazy and cunning strategy, who knows, maybe one day Iwai will be able to repay Kiri back for everything when she uses her hair to block a bullet or blade to save his life. Then again, you figure Kiri would want something else from Iwai given his infatuation with her, but I’m sure saving his life is fine with him, too.
Hataraku Maou-sama! (Episode 6)
Given the duration of their extended stay and their acquired knowledge of urban Japan’s elaborate and perplexing society and structure, you can’t help but wonder why Sadao and Emi haven’t landed better jobs yet. There are a number of factors present that would suggest the two could and would find better work, too. From what we’ve seen in their decorative pasts, both characters are intelligent, charismatic and dynamic, skills that they could put to much better use than managing a fast-food restaurant and dealing with angry/stupid people on the phone all day. Not only that but the two characters have both shown a desire to move up in this world, though Sadao is narrow-minded in his approach and could reconsider for something more along his goal of world domination. And while it’s true that neither has any education, training or work experience, you could consider a host of jobs that Sadao and Emi would potentially qualify for if they just sought employment in those fields. For example, Sadao would definitely earn more money working in the construction or manufacturing industries provided he demonstrated his competence, diligence and industriousness, not to mention that either would be better suited for his theme of world domination. As for Emi, a career in modeling doesn’t seem outrageous given her appearance and charisma, though advertising herself like that would make her an easier target for assassins or something. If not, Emi would also be aptly suited for construction or manufacturing too, among other occupations, considering her history as the Hero of an entire world. But enough about trying to pigeonhole jobs to these characters based on the limited information we’ve been given, the point of this review was to highlight the fact that they’ve been living in Japan for several months now and have yet to find better employment than what they originally secured. After learning, adapting and assimilating to Japanese culture, you’d think that Sadao, Emi and all the other characters from Ente Isla would be readjusting their position and moving up in the world. Oh, and they have magic too, so why not use that a couple of times and fabricate a degree or some cash cards or something?
Kakumeiki Valvrave (Episode 5)
Every time you see A-Drei, you see H-Neun. And every time you see H-Neun, you see Q-Vier. Oh, and you also see X-Eins, too. Like, any time you see one of these characters, you see the other three, too. All four of those characters are always together… always together, whether they’re waltzing around a school during a mission, saluting their supreme leader or sitting around the longue watching highschoolers sing about how much better their lives are than their friends and families who are living under an oppressive military occupation. It’s as if they’re all joint at the hip with each other, creating some awkward circumstances of a quartet of dudes walking in a square facing outward (and don’t even ask how they’d go to the bathroom, let alone sit in a chair). But whenever you see those four characters, you only really see one: A-Drei. Pretty much what I’m getting at is that these 4 characters are pretty much one personality at this point, which is dominated by A-Drei who has a personal vendetta against L-Elf. The other three characters, though proficient soldiers and spies, have done little to establish their character in this series and are effectively just another piece of A-Drei’s character. Sure, every time you see A-Drei, you see three other characters but, at the same time, you only see A-Drei since he’s the only one of the four that matters. It’s kinda awkward at this point but all that needs to happen for these other characters to establish themselves is to break away from the group and have the anime spend some time on them individually. But until then, I’m going to think of this quartet as some chimeric beast with four heads where only one matters, almost like a Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy boss.
Shingeki no Kyojin (Episode 6)
Despite Attack on Titan constantly dealing with fear, torment and death, the series has some surprisingly good, intelligent humor embedded throughout. Furthermore, the comedy is spread nicely throughout, even incorporating it into more serious or dramatic scenes. And the types of comedy presented in Attack on Titan are incredibly diverse too, ranging from the wacky, nonconformist characters, to the visual sight gags (I am positive some of those Titan designs are done on purpose for this season), to the clever one-liners. What’s more, is that the constant feeling of dread and danger throughout has a further enhancement of the comedy since it feels less predictable than when comparing it to straight-up comedy or slice-of-life anime. For example, if this were a comedy, you might expect to see a silly Titan run down a narrow thoroughfare and not be as surprised. In Attack on Titan, however, when you see the little girl point back and ask her mommy what’s going on, you figure it’s going to be some heinous, bloodthirsty monster ready to pounce on the crowd and devour the girl or her mother. Nope, instead it’s some silly Titan speeding down the road without a care in the world. It is moments like these where the humor in Attack on Titan is most effective and further enhances the entertainment aspect of this anime.
Suisei no Gargantia (Episode 6)
Even though Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is debatably the best school anime of this season, with Ledo being the mysterious transfer student who can’t quite fit in at his new high school which is the sandbox that Gargantia represents, there is a surprising lack of generalized and specialized knowledge among the seafarers of this floating flotilla. But then again, given the structure and functionality of this ocean-crawling society, is an education system really necessary?
The issue was originally highlighted when Ledo questioned Chamber on why all the children were running around and playing on the deck when they should be diligently studying in a military academy. The fact that there is no education or training system in place on Gargantia (except for maybe a system of apprenticeship) means that this human society is largely uneducated and unskilled. For example, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of industry or manufacturing on Gargantia. Instead, virtually everything obtained and used in this anime, from the skimpy bikinis the girls wear to the giant, underwater robots to the metal used to repair the ships, comes from whatever source the people are able to successfully salvage. Ah, but this brings up a good counterargument to which one would address that an education system would be unnecessary on Gargantia. Why would the people need to study and train when virtually every occupation on this ship is selling goods, providing services, and the trio of fishing, farming, and salvage. There really isn’t any capacity for people to work in any industry on Gargantia given its unique situation nor is there a need for people to study and research the world given what’s going on. Suppose that if the people were somehow educated enough to develop an electrical system to harness the energy of tiny, electric ocean bugs, these people wouldn’t have the resources or equipment to create such devices.
The fact of the matter is that an education system is largely unnecessary in Gargantia and that society is surviving and functional as it currently is. The problem, however, is that this lifestyle is unsustainable and that they’ll eventually run into issues of scarcity, especially if there are issues with salvaging goods and materials. But again, at that point, would an education system really be appropriate to addressing the problem that stems from a lack of resources? Really, the topic is entirely debatable, but my stance on the issue is, even though it is somewhat surprising to see an advanced society exist without any form of an education or training system in place, it makes sense given the unique setting that is Gargantia. Of course, it is worth noting that this argument is based off my own observations of this anime and that there is no industry/manufacturing on Gargantia, unless we want to believe that there are factories onboard creating nylon and spandex for revealing swimwear and others creating microchips for the variety of aquatic robots among other products.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (Episode 5)
Misaka Imouto has always been the best character in the Index/Railgun franchise and now they’ve made her better. Not only was Misaka Imouto 9982 clever, amusing and enjoyable as a character but her story, from conception to extinction, was very expressive and endearing, something that I greatly appreciate in an anime. Watching her go from an indistinguishable and featureless clone, incubating in a status tube in some research facility, to whatever range of emotions she left before being crushed to death, was a character story that came across as disturbing, depressing but also entirely satisfying. You can’t help but feel some compassion and empathy for the young girl, who makes a genuine friend with her original, before fulfilling her purpose and dying in a dubious experiment. The whole story felt complete and appropriate, forcing Misaka to change and act in regards to the experiment, and with the added bonus of comedy that helped make Misaka Imouto 9982 both hilarious and engaging. It is a shame to see such an enjoyable character meet such a premature demise, but hopefully we’ll see some other clones appear to help fulfill her void and continue to expand on the curious role that is Misaka Imouto.