Spring 2013 – Week 12 Anime Review

aiura-11-kanaka-saki-rain-umbrellas-rain_boots-school_girls-legs-colorfulLast week: the various contrasts and distinctions between Index and Railgun in To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S, why Shingeki no Kyojin has stagnated and stalled recently, how the minor characters have flourished since the transitions in Suisei no Gargantia, and a rant about the powers of the moon in Hataraku Maou-sama!

Best episode of the week: Suisei no Gargantia

Anime trending up this week: Chihayafuru 2

Anime trending down this week: Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san

 

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (Episode 11)

to_aru_kagaku_no_railgun_s-11-touma-index-cross_over-bland-boringThe eleventh episode of Railgun features a scene where the spin-off and the original overlap.  That is to say, we were able to revisit those first couple of minutes of To Aru Majutsu no Index where Touma meets Misaka again, but only from the perspective of Misaka in Railgun. I always love and appreciate scenes like these where you witness the same event over again but from a new perspective or that you’re given new information.  And for that, I applaud Railgun for redoing the scene again, just 5 years later and with much better art and animation.  The one problem I have with this scene is how stark of a contrast this is from the rest of Railgun.  Since the scene was lifted directly from Index, it features and older, more cautious and less developed version of Misaka as compared with what we see in Railgun.  The fact of the matter is, we’re inserting an older version of Misaka here after watching her mature and evolve as a character over the remainder of Index and the entirety of Railgun.  What contrasts this old Misaka and with what we saw from the first 10 episodes of Railgun is that her powers are much more limited, her tsundere personality was much more pronounced and her dialogue was very flavorless.  In regards to her powers, we’ve seen Misaka hack into ultra-complex computer networks as what was required of the story, but here, it’s much more controlled and tame to the point where she’s unable to select what cans she wants from a vending machine.  You can tell that as Index and Railgun progressed, Misaka’s power began to develop and progress more as was required of her and the story at those points.  Misaka’s tsundere personality was also highlighted in this scene which contrasts deeply with the current storyline in Railgun.  In the previous ten episodes, Misaka always appeared to be calm, cool, and confident, but here, she quickly flips between her tolerable ‘dere’ side and got angry for virtually no reason twice here with Touma.  As for the dialogue of this scene, it seems like Misaka’s character was dumbed down a bit compared to what we see in Railgun.  I suppose this was done on purpose because Misaka’s character was new to Index at the time and it wouldn’t make sense to have her have this heavy of a backstory at this point in Index.  As a result, using the same scene from Index again in Railgun was a nice touch to show where the two franchises intersect but it does show how much Railgun has grown as compared with the infacy of Index.  To put it lightly, it really highlights the weaknesses of Index and how the writing and the characters have improved significantly since then.

Also, it’s worth mentioning the significant contrast in fanservice between Index and Railgun.  The one thing that they did manage to change from Index to Railgun was eliminating the shot of Misaka’s shorts and the pantyshot thereafter with Misaka Imouto’s striped panties.  Railgun has always been an anime without any real ecchi aspects whereas Index featured countless shots of panties, naked girls and other fanservice meant to delight the audience.  Really, it’s a shame they went to such a degree to eliminate such a scene (where Touma realizes it’s Misaka Imouto by seeing her shimapan versus the shorts) while keeping everything else unchanged and out-of-date.  Althought it might have upset the fans that they changed some of the dialogue and whatnot, it would have drastically improved Misaka’s character and kept it consistent with everything else we saw in Railgun.  So while I did enjoy seeing this scene again, transplanted from Index into Railgun, it could have and should have been better.

to_aru_kagaku_no_railgun_s-11-misaka-cross_over-kick-vending_machine-shorts to_aru_kagaku_no_railgun_s-11-misaka_imouto_10032-sisters-clone-headgear-looking_down-empty-emotionless-striped_panties

 

Suisei no Gargantia (Episode 12)

suisei_no_gargantia-12-melty-messanger-surfkite-flying-surprised-blushOne aspect that I adore about Gargantia is how splitting up its cast has allowed minor characters to flourish.  Whereas characters like Melty, Pinion and Mayta were rarely used or even utilized in the first half of Gargantia, each has seen a phenomenal amount of growth and development now that their ships have parted from Gargantia.  For Melty, she was able to establish her independence as a character and it allowed her to show how she’s different from her two friends, Amy and Saaya.  In the first half, Melty was always together with Amy and Saaya and they always functioned as a ‘group’ rather than three individual characters.  Melty was never really becoming her own character until recently and her new role showed her contrast with Pinion and the others about the treasure hunting and leaving the Gargantia fleet.  As for Pinion, his character was always secondary to Bellows in terms of treasure hunting.  Whenever Pinion was around, it seemed his character was mainly used to conflict with Bellows or for comedy or something.  However, after splitting off from Gargantia, we finally began to realize what Pinion was all about and why he had the motives and desires that lead him to depart from Gargantia.  Like Melty, it helped establish his independence, but it also began to show he was an authentic character with a purpose and motivation rather than some silly guy who was ‘evil’ or in over his head.  And even though Mayta still has a minor role in the series, acting as a subordient to Pinion in the treasure hunting operation and becoming a gunner for the forgotten technologies, her role prior to the departure was just standing in the background and saying 2 lines.  Now, Mayta actually has lines, makes appearances and helps out with the story events.  It really shows how a background character can actually become a “someone” when the opportunity presents itself.  With so many characters left on Gargantia, it makes sense that these characters were able to grow in their absence and push the series in a different direction than before.  By using its cast in this way, and by showing their development as a result of this transition, not to mention how they impacted the direction and progression of the story, is one of my favorite aspects of Gargantia.  It is somewhat sad to know that when they do go back to Gargantia, their roles will be reduced again, but at least we were able to see them grow and mature which is more than we can say for other characters who are slotted in roles like these.

suisei_no_gargantia-12-pinion-treasure_hunter-mechanic-head_gear-rain-wet-face_paint-cult suisei_no_gargantia-12-mayta-treasure_hunter-gunner-screaming-yunboro-fighting

 

Shingeki no Kyojin (Episode 12)

shingeki_no_kyojin-12-mikasa-titan-teeth-grin-glowing_eyes-fear-dramaticThe Defense of Trost is definitely a momentous and distinguishing point in Attack on Titan but, considering that we’ve been in this scenario for over half a dozen episodes now, it does feel like the anime has stagnated a bit and lost the momentum from earlier in the series and even at the beginning of this story arc.  These past three episodes especially highlight how the action and pacing have slowed and that the energy and fear that previously drove the series have been replaced with monologues and expositions.  Furthermore, we’ve already seen some of these scenes before where people are struggling with their gears or their guilt or their fear or how they witness the death of their friends, so it really hasn’t shown anything new despite it being novel experiences for most of these characters.  I do expect the series to pick up its pacing again when the Defense of Trost arc finishes and it can’t come too soon for someone who’s growing impatient like I am.

shingeki_no_kyojin-12-riko_brzenska-elite_force-glasses-short_hair-serious shingeki_no_kyojin-12-mikasa-maneuver_gear-flying-swords-steampunk-clouds-sky

 

Kakumeiki Valvrave (Episode 11)

kakumeiki_valvrave-11-l_elf-emotionless-serious-straightfacedL-Elf has always been that calm, cool, emotionless super-soldier, though we’ve seen him show a range of emotions since ditching the cold-hearted military of Drossia and joining the ranks of JIOR’s teenagers.  Still, L-Elf has yet to really show the emotion of ‘surprise’ or ‘shock’.  Perhaps this is in part due to his ability to see into the future with his uncanny ability to predict events.  Or perhaps the reason here is because L-Elf has seen so much violence and carnage that death, destruction and loss are as normal as waking up and eating food.  Whatever the reason, seeing L-Elf mildly surprised about Shouko’s cooking is about as close as we’ve seen to the most common emotion of everyone else in Valvrave.  I wouldn’t be surprised myself to see if L-Elf does seem surprised before the anime takes a break for the summer, but I’m really curious as to what could surprise him given how he seems to be reading directly from the script and knows exactly what’s about to happen even before the most astute observers from the audience can even consider what’s going to happen.

kakumeiki_valvrave-11-haruto-harakiri_blade-power-heat-dramatic kakumeiki_valvrave-11-shouko-crying-screaming-emotions

 

Hataraku Maou-sama! (Episode 12)

hataraku_maou_sama!-12-sariel-archangel-moon-wings-power-dramatic-poseSo Sariel, the archangel, has is power augmented by the moon.  Okay, that’s fair.  After all, the moon is a celestial body that’s significant to a number of religions, societies and the history of mankind.  And I’m fine with the idea that if Sariel gets closer to the moon that his power increases even further.  Sure, maybe it’s like a magnet to the moon’s light or some type of power sink and can absorb the power better when he’s closer to the moon than not.  But seriously… GETTING CLOSER TO MOON DOESN’T MEAN FLYING UP IN THE SKY!  The moon is a staggering 384,400 kilometers (238,900 miles) from the Earth.  Having Sariel fly like 10-20 meters up in the air and exclaim how his power is getting enhanced is bullshit.  What’s the difference between where he was before and where he was now?  An astounding 0.000000026% increase.  Yeah.  Just look at all those zeros.  Just look at it.  That’s be like me saying “I’m super close to Tokyo” after taking a step to the west.  Or not even… to cover the same distance that allowed Sariel to power up from the moon would only take 20 centimeters for me.  Sure, it’s true that I’m closer to Tokyo like Sariel is closer to the moon, but it shouldn’t make any difference in how it enhance his powers.  So, yeah, I call bullshit on Sariel (for both his powers and the fact that he’s a terrible character).

hataraku_maou_sama!-12-sariel-mitsuki_sarue-archangel-moon-sentucky_fried_chicken hataraku_maou_sama!-12-emilia-chiho-suzuno-comedy-blush

 

Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge (Episode 12)

dansai_bunri_no_crime_edge-12-emily_redhands-assassin-loli-dancing-dress-flowers-sunsetI’ve finally reached the point where I just don’t care anymore about Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge.  Often times, I do reach a low point in an anime where I begin to care less about the characters or the story, but at the very least I’ll continue to pay attention to the dialogue and the actions on the screen, hoping it’ll entertain me or make me laugh.  But for Crime Edge, it’s fallen so far, I don’t even really bother to read the subs now.  The story and the characters in the anime have been, to put it nicely, a disaster and, with one episode remaining, it seems like the anime will be unable to wrap up everything and deliver an ending that the beginning and middle of the anime promised.  I mean, what’s the point anymore knowing that there’ll be some unsatisfying resolution that’s untrue to the original manga?  Although, to be fair, it isn’t so much of the anime’s time schedule being a problem as it is being that the story was incredibly mundane and that the characters were all uninteresting.  Still, it’s few and far between that I’ve reached this level of boredom and disinterest with an anime, so at least I’ll remember Crime Edge for something.

dansai_bunri_no_crime_edge-12-iwai-hair_queen-sleeping-bed-waking_up-covers-loli dansai_bunri_no_crime_edge-12-emily_redhands-author-assassin-loli-shocked-surprised-scared-fear-big_round_eyes

 

Chihayafuru 2 (Episode 24)

chihayafuru_2-24-shinobu-karuta-queen-swing-dramatic-pose-handI’ve always found the pacing of the matches in Chihayafuru to be incredibly awkward yet appropriate given its presentation and style.  What I mean by the awkward pacing is that, during a match, the time between the reading of two cards can take up to 12 minutes while the 6 cards that follow take 12 seconds.  As a result, the matches can either drag on forever or occur too quickly, never really reaching that sweet spot in the middle that feels both dramatic and exciting.  Still, this difference in pacing does fit Chihayafuru well, especially with how it showcases how all the characters are thinking between cards and how, as a result of their thinking or planning, they’re able to take advantage of the match within the span of 6 cards or so.  However, I believe I’d prefer Chihayafuru to have a more consistent pacing throughout its matches without having to sacrifice the thinking or the swings in momentum.  One way that this could work is to have these sections of thinking be spread over a few cards, so that way there are no extended durations of downtime during the episode, as we frequently see in these finals matches.  Instead, by spreading the internal monologues over 2 or 3 cards, the pacing wouldn’t be sacrificed and we’d still have action sequences when the cards are read and the players swing.  Furthermore, I believe it’d be somewhat more realistic to have the players be thinking while playing the game and having to be constantly interrupted from their thoughts to play the game rather than to sit there on the mat and think for a 10 minutes like they currently do.  Nevertheless, I do enjoy how the matches are carried out in Chihayafuru, though I would prefer them to have a more consistent pacing and evenly distributed action.

chihayafuru_2-24-wataya-karuta-swing-hand-pose-dramatic chihayafuru_2-24-shinobu-karuta-shocked-surprised-looking_back

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