Last week: appreciating the dramatic visuals of Chihayafuru 2, the use of bright, dazzling colors in Suisei no Gargantia, the divergence of Chiho’s life in Hataraku Maou-sama!, and the sudden emotions and expressiveness of Mikasa in Shingeki no Kyojin.
As always, since we’ve reached the halfway point of this season, the order of the shows will now reverse, now starting with Railgun 2 and finishing with Chihayafuru 2.
Best episode of the week: Shingeki no Kyojin
Anime trending up this week: Chihayafuru 2
Anime trending down this week: Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (Episode 6)
Although you wouldn’t expect an anime to present and debate various issues in the field of medical ethics, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S does a fine job of raising the question with the role of Misaka’s DNA and the purpose of the clones in this Sisters story arc. The part in particular I found fascinating is when Shinobu found Misaka sitting silently on a street bench and the two began discussing the Sisters Project. What surprised me about Misaka’s character is how she seems to be more intent on getting revenge against the researchers who lied to her and used her DNA for cloning purposes rather than ending the project and saving the 10,000 clones of her that are schedule to die. Of course, she’d love to stop the project herself if she could, it’s just surprising to see that her mind starts off with that subject first rather than saving the clones of her that are specimens in this experiment. Of course Railgun doesn’t go much further or explore the topic of medical ethics in greater detail, but it does provide some discourse for the topics relevant to the story, presents it in a way that’s easy to understand and does it in a way that doesn’t force the audience to feel one way or another. It’s rather distinctive and fascinating to see an anime present something in this field without making the issue one-sided or having the villains be cartoonishly evil. It’s actually rather respectable how the series presents a subject of a stimulating nature like this, and I certainly hope to see more ethical questions as this Sisters arc continues.
Suisei no Gargantia (Episode 7)
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is an anime of colors; bright, vivid and happy colors. That is until this episode which ditched the otherwise sunny mood of the previous episodes and featured a number of serious and intense scenes between the characters and their potential alien threat. As a result, the change in the atmosphere shifted the anime from its cheerful, easygoing self to one that was somber and serious. And of course, the dazzling colors were affected too, being dampened and darkened to reflect this change. I’ve always found the use of colors in Suisei no Gargantia to be expressive and demonstrative of the mood and the general feel of the characters, presenting Gargantia and its cast as simplistic and relaxed compared to Ledo and Chamber who exist merely to defeat the Hideauze. In fact, that’s why I believe Ledo’s and Chamber’s color schemes are so neutral and plain compared to the vivid and colorful cast. However, with the Hideauze being located on Earth and Ledo seeking to restart his mission of eradicating this threat, the series lost some of its intensity and brightness and turned to something darker and something much more serious. As the series continues to progress toward its climax between Ledo and the alien invaders, it shouldn’t be surprising to see the dazzling colors fade away, especially if there’s more conflict and emotion between the characters to reflect his mood. That’s not to say that the brilliant display of colors and the visual appeal of the series will be lost as we reach the second half of the series but that the feeling of this series has gone from sunny to cloudy, possibly approaching stormy, and that Gargantia has seen its colors change accordingly, becoming muted and nowhere near as vivid or vibrant.
Shingeki no Kyojin (Episode 7)
Mikasa has always been a quiet, stoic character, choosing to remain calm and collected rather than showing her emotions like every other character in Attack on Titan. However, the seventh episode of Titan showed a dramatic change in her personality and how she responded to various stimuli. In fact, it can all be traced back to the moment she learned Armin that Eren was a delicious appetizer for some random Titan. Ever since that moment, Mikasa has showed a range of emotions on her face, contrasting greatly with her previous self and becoming more like the other characters of the cast who express their emotions so well. The whole episode is really demonstrative and expressive of Mikasa’s character and how much Eren and her family means to her. Not only that but she responded to emotion from others as well, something that wasn’t necessarily evident in previous episode. Still, this might be a momentary hiatus of her character as she vents and unleashes all her emotions as once, only to return to her resigned and peaceful self thereafter, but I’d love to see this Mikasa endure for the remainder of the series, especially with how effective and rousing her emotions were in this episode. Not to say that I didn’t like the old Mikasa who was always stoic and emotionless but that this is an improvement on her character, be finally validating her emotions and actions in an appropriate and satisfying manner.
Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. 2 (Episode 7)
Waiting this long to have Sena finally appear and have a part in an episode is criminal. Criminal, I tell ya! At least she’s still as hyper and horny and excited as ever, so that’s still fine. That and it took forever for something to happen to Kuroneko too, although you figured it was only a matter of time in this sequel. Still, you really have to wonder about the direction of the series when the content thus far has effectively removed the two best characters of the series for so long. Well, at least now it seems that OreImo 2 is on the right track, so let’s hope it stays this way from here on out.
Kakumeiki Valvrave (Episode 6)
Seeing as Module 77 is floating around aimlessly in space (or so it appears), you have to wonder why Dorssia or the ARUS are having trouble with it. Think about it for a second and the solution seems really simple for either side. Imagine Dorssia attacks Module 77, much like it did in this episode, and baits the Valvraves away from the ship to fend off its attackers… why not then have another ship approach Module 77 and hold it hostage? It’s not like Module 77 has any way to defend itself, especially if the Valvraves are pulled away to fight somewhere away from their home base. Hell, it shouldn’t be this hard for the most powerful force in the universe to fight a highschool with giant robots. Of course, we can’t have imagination or creativity on the part of the antagonists in this series because it would otherwise end the series at episode 6, well before the entertainment and value of the series is delivered. As for the ARUS, the nation that has pledged to protect Module 77 from JIOR, why not have them steer Module 77 toward their territory? After all, with Module 77 floating around in space, it shouldn’t be too hard for a few ships to steer it toward the ARUS’s Dyson sphere or Earth or wherever. It’s not like the kids will be able to do much about it, especially since they wouldn’t want to start a war with the ARUS while already needing to fend off Dorssia’s frequent assaults and occupation of JIOR. Not only that but I’m sure there are other methods for either side to turn the war in their favor and to force Module 77 and the Valvraves to cooperate with their side. You figure something will happen that will eventually break this stalemate, though you have to figure it’ll be Dorssia given that they’re the aggressor in this current situation.
Hataraku Maou-sama! (Episode 7)
Consider the challenges and difficulties in everyone’s lives. Whether it is attempting to conquer two realms, trying to slay the world’s greatest evil, or finding the simplest route between two dimensions while conserving as much magic as possible, everyone faces some unique burden that makes their life stressful, strenuous or, at the very least, problematic. Oh, and then you have Chiho, who goes to school, has a part-time job and an obvious crush on the cute guy at work. To say her life is simple would be wrong to ignore all that she’s going through as a budding teenager, but, by shifting perspective and comparing her to everyone else in Hataraku Maou-sama!… yeah, her life is simple in light of all those zany characters. And really, the contrast between her and the rest of the cast is rather quite stark. Not only does she not have to worry about finding her way back home, or at least not through crossing dimensions with unfathomable amounts of magic, but she doesn’t have to worry about fighting or fending off mysterious assassins, so long as she still is friends with Sadao and Emi. Oh, and unlike the characters that migrated here from Ente Isla, she never had to look for a home or find a job to survive. What’s more, since she’s receiving a formal education by going to school, she’ll have access to more jobs that are easier and earn better pay in the future. And in addition to that, she probably has plenty of friends in Japan too, so she doesn’t need to rely on a tight circle of otherworlders from Ente Isla. It is rather amusing to see how different her life is when compared to the rest of the cast in Maou-sama!, especially since she is one of the main characters of the series and spends most of her time with Sadao or Emi. Of course, because of that, you figure she’ll be tied up in some of their crazy situations as the series goes on, possibly even making the trip to Ente Isla in the near future. But even so, Chiho is easily the most fortunate of this anime by leading the easiest and simplest life in Hataraku Maou-sama!
Devil Survivor 2 the Animation (Episode 7)
Finally, some humility! After virtually the entire first half of the series flipping between too heavy and melodramatic, Devil Survivor 2 introduced some lighthearted entertainment, fun and fanservice in the seventh episode to show that it doesn’t take itself as seriously as it once did. Although this episode did dabble in questions of saving mankind, what defines a human or humanity, and all that jazz, this episode also played around a bit with the required physicals and the cast just having some downtime together without any of the Septentriones around to bother anyone. Not only that but it helped expand some of the newer, better characters too, like Otome, Joe and Airi. Perhaps the series needed to wait until three of its better characters showed up but it’s finally capitalizing on its cast by having them differentiate parts of the series to make it more fun, endearing and definitely more enjoyable. Although we shouldn’t expect this transition from serious to fun for much longer, especially with the next impending attacks, it does provide some hope for more lighthearted fun and entertainment in the future, especially with the climax still a few episodes away.
Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge (Episode 7)
Given the budgeted time and bulky story that is Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge, I can’t help but wonder how Kiri and Iwai spend their time when they’re not preventing the next attempted murderer from obtaining their wish. Although each episode focuses intently on developing the Killing Goods and the few central characters of the series, quite a bit of time has passed since Kiri and Iwai met on that fateful day. And though we know that Kiri gives Iwai those daily haircuts at no charge, the rest of the time has been omitted. We can assume that the two lead characters see each other during this time given their proximity to each other in the series and the need for Kiri to be present, with Crime Edge, to give Iwai her necessary haircuts. But do they go out together as a couple? Do they stay indoors, in the mansion, and play Uno all day? I’m really quite curious about the extent and reality of their relationship outside these various killing sprees by the other characters and how their relationship has evolved in the eyes of their friends or the public in general. I suppose that with the limited number of episodes and the extensive story that is Crime Edge, we won’t be treated to any episodes that explore this subject adequately, but there have been plenty of hints in the previous episodes to suggest one solution or another. Still, with one of the most pivotal and interesting aspects of the anime being the relationship between Kiri and Iwai, I wish there was some more dedicated material to the subject rather than another episode of “criminal-of-the-week-with-murder-weapon-that-is-something-stupid-that’s-gonna-lose-to-Kiri”. Fortunately for me, it seems that this formula is about to end, at least with the anime approaching the climax in the upcoming weeks.
Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 19)
Just about every aspect of Chihayafuru is outstanding and I could go on and on about virtually any subjective or objective trait of this anime. This week, I want to highlight the its excellence in how it arranges and presents its visuals, particularly the shots where several characters are positioned together in relation to a moment or scene. Like the main image of this review, a scene showing the anxiety of the audience moments before the final card is claimed, these shots are rather quite frequent and always remarkable. What makes each of these shots visually appealing is how everything is arranged, with the characters placed as such with various contrasting colors and enhancing filter, and how you’re able to witness the character’s expressions while simultaneously seeing what causes them to have these emotions. It communicates the scene effectively and expresses the emotions, or in this case, the passion suitably. Even if you already felt the anxiety, this shot reinforced that feeling for the audience by echoing it with the spectators. And though this is just one example, there are many other shots like this where you have the characters staged in such a fashion that really emphasizes the mood or the moment. It’s really quite fascinating to see these shots in anime as they are saved for only the most dramatic or shocking of moments. And when given the opportunity here, Chihayafuru makes the most of it with how well it presents these images, aesthetically and demonstratively.