During whichever week this belongs to: complaints on the detective/mystery work in Danganronpa, how Index continues to undermine Misaka’s character in To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S, excitement over distinguishing Fu’s character in Tamayura ~more aggressive~, and a slight but refreshing and welcome change in Monogatari Series Second Season.
Best episode of the week: Monogatari Series Second Season
Anime trending up this week: Tamayura ~more aggressive~
Anime trending down this week: To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S
Danganronpa the Animation (Episode 2)
Although I don’t have much in the way of complaints with Danganronpa thus far, I do feel the need to voice my disappointment with how the anime is handling the material between the murder and the trial. In the game, this time is intended for the player to create a foundation before going into the trial: to hunt for clues, to gather evidence and to begin to construct an idea about who the murderer might be based on how they interpret the material before them. This process allows the player to understand the case before them. In the anime, it’s pretty much glossed over with a quick montage of characters finding items for less than a minute and off to the trial! I figured that translating this material from the game to the anime would be difficult, but I never thought it’d be painful or meaningless like this. Instead of creating value or meaning behind the items picked up, the anime just gifted them to us without requiring or stimulating any thought or perception. Rather than actually letting us connect the dots, the material was literally thrown at us. It’s like the anime wanted to avoid this perceived down time and tried to minimalize it as much as possible.
And since I never like it when someone complains about something without offering their opinion on what would make it better, my thoughts on the matter could go in either two directions to improve this aspect of Danganronpa. First, the one I’d prefer of the two, would be to show the characters searching for clues but to not explicitly show the items being picked up. Since the anime wanted to gloss over this section quickly, why not have Makoto standing over a dead body, make a remark about some evidence without stating it explicitly and then move on, only to finally present it during the trial. In this situation, the anime isn’t teasing us or giving it to us effortlessly but instead, puts the sleuthing solely on the characters rather than the viewers. The second option would be to spend more time on the detective side of the story; to have the characters talk and think through the evidence they’re gathering and attempting to build a case before the trial. In this situation, it uses the characters and the evidence together to help guide the viewer in the murder mystery. Either of this changes would shift the perspective of the detective work and the mystery significantly, clarifying the issue of how the audience is supposed to perceive their role in the murder mysteries of Danganronpa. Right now, the material between the murder and the trial is handled awkwardly in Danganronpa, giving us a minimal amount of detective experience and a quick overview of the evidence about a minute before heading to the trial. It could be significantly improved with a little more care, so hopefully the anime will learn from its mistakes and go in one of these directions in future episodes.
Gatchaman Crowds (Episode 1)
Is it a bra and panties or just some fancy, frilly two-piece swimsuit? The clothing choice for Utsutsu in Gatchaman Crowds is definitely the eye-candy of the series, but rather than enjoying her for her shameless sex appeal, I find myself curious about what exactly she’s wearing. Given just the appearance of her clothes, the shape, style, cut and color, I originally thought she was walking around comfortably in her underwear. However, when Hajime meets Utsutsu, she comments on her clothes and calls it a swimsuit. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but you usually don’t see a garter paired with a bikini, nor is it common to see a bow on a top. Then again, it’s not like it’s impossible given the variety of styles of clothes seen in anime, especially for one like Gatchaman Crowds. Perhaps the only way to answer this question, underwear versus swimwear, would be if the series was kind enough to focus on Utsutsu more and provide more of her in terms of screentime and detail. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would appreciate such a change, even after we settle the whole bra and panties versus bikini paradox.
Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou (Episode 2)
One thing I don’t get about the new school in Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou is… why is there a new school? The entire student body of Sephiro Fiore, the combat unit of tarot card using magical girls covering as a school for lolis with disproportionate heads, is an astonishing 6 students, which increases to 9 if you include the trio of Tendou sisters (but let’s not include them, shall we?). What’s the point of this school exactly, especially if all they’re doing is taking the same classes as regular students with nothing in the way of training for combat? Why not have these various girls attend their regular schools and call them together when there’s an emergency or something? It doesn’t make much sense to set up an entire school for half a dozen students, especially when their courses are perfectly normal like music, PE, and chemistry. It doesn’t seem like the girls are doing anything special there than besides building their own chemistry together, but couldn’t they be doing this as an after-school activity or some special club? Or better yet, Sephiro Fiore should integrate combat, tactics and magical girl history into their curriculum, alongside the likes of mathematics and literature. Regardless, I do enjoy the aesthetics of their school more than the cookie-cutter designs of Japanese schools and it does have a dormitory for the girls to live in, so it’s not like I completely hate the new setting of Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou, I just question its purpose as a school for these girls.
Monogatari Series Second Season (Episode 2)
Unlike the previous anime in this franchise, an impressive collecting spanning Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari and Nekomonogatari, this new season of Monogatari has been devoid of its protagonist, Koyomi Araragi, and given the series a refreshing change of perspective that bodes well for the series moving forward. Whereas the previous three series repeated the pattern of Koyomi aiding a female character with her particular quarks, a pattern that was growing weary and tired after such frequent and constant use, Monogatari Series offers the series through a different perspective in that we’re seeing what happens when Araragi isn’t around. That’s where I find the charm and enthusiasm in this new anime. Rather than having Araragi bike around town and talk to various girls in one-on-one conversations, we’re seeing the story through the eyes of the affect girl and seeing how she lives with her problem. It’s a fascinating turn of events and one that I wish had occurred earlier in the series since it changes the dynamic of the characters and the storytelling to a much greater degree than anything that Araragi could do on his own. I hope to see the eventual problem with Tsubasa resolved without any aid or appearance by Araragi but I can’t say that Senjougahara has been much in the way of help besides providing a roof over her head and so much needed friendship that has crossed the yuri line on several occasions. Oh, and that’s the other thing… even without Araragi around, the series still manages to retain its renowned sex appeal with a stimulating shower scene, some suggestive sleeping poses and the return of Senjougahara’s school supplies panties. I’ve got to admit, this season of Monogatari is off to an incredible start.
Shingeki no Kyojin (Episode 14)
The series of walls that surround the human civilization in Attack on Titan has been referenced multiple times as a marker to denote wealth and especially safety. But with the fourteenth episode of Titan, does it also signify a difference in time periods? You’d always hear about how people would want in the Wall Sina, the innermost fortification, since it offered the most safety… but maybe there’s more to it than that. After a few scenes, showing of the city within the deepest walls, you notice how very different this society is from those inside Wall Rose and Wall Maria. First, and probably the most noticeable, is probably the clothes, with people wearing suits, top hats and bowties. Compare that to the tunics and trousers worn by the citizens outside of Wall Sina, and you notice a stark difference in clothing patterns that spans several hundred years, from Middle Ages to the 19th Century. If there was anything to reiterate the gap of wealth between the two, this would be it, but it does hint at a more advanced society, too. Another major difference between the two is that the people inside Wall Sina were looking at newspapers whereas the others were reading a notice in a village square. Although it doesn’t say anything about the difference in education, it does highlight the difference in wealth again and that the people inside of Wall Sina are more advanced than their counterparts. One more aspect that might denote a difference in the time periods between the two is the horse-drawn carriage. Virtually everywhere else in Titan, have we seen crude wagons and wagonettes used but here, within the wall of Wall Sina, did we actually see a large, stylish, painted carriage. Again, this may just be another sign of the wealth behind the walls, but it does show yet another difference in the technology between the two sides. Of course, the idea that the people behind Wall Sina are in a different time period than everyone else was merely in jest, but there are enough instances of a difference in technology, culture and society to believe that the one within Wall Sina is more advanced than those outside of it. I doubt that there’s any meaningful reason as to why there is such a blatant difference between the two beside wealth, but it might be interesting to see what happens if these are all hints toward a greater conspiracy going on.
Silver Spoon (Episode 1)
Say, what about fishing? Or more better yet, what’s the deal with the lack of ichthyology in Silver Spoon? We know that Ooezo Agricultural High School is renowned for its curriculum involving livestock, especially since the anime has primarily focused on horses, cows, and chickens with crops being second and everything else third, but what does this rural, agriculture school offer in the realm of fishery studies? You’d figure that since Japan consumes some of the highest amounts of seafood in the world that an agricultural school like this would house a department or offer courses in aquatic and fishery sciences. Then again, with the school situated in the middle of Hokkaido, the question becomes, where would you teach these kids about fish and fishing? I suppose a school near a body of water would make the most sense, probably one on the coast as to teach techniques and science about properly fishing the oceans, so maybe there’s a sister school or a satellite campus where students can learn about that food industry. Still, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been any mention of fish or fishing at this school, especially since they seem to eat it during breakfast alongside the eggs that they harvest during class. It might be a niche interest here in rural Hokkaido and an afterthought to these students, but I hope to see some fishing (especially how it contrasts farm life) here in Silver Spoon.
Tamayura ~more aggressive~ (Episode 2)
One of the issues I had with Tamayura ~hitotose~, the series prior to this one, is that Fu’s character never really established her own identity as an individual. Instead, it always felt like she was just the figurehead of the quartet that was Fu, Kaoru, Norie and Maon. With the new season establishing the photo club as a fundamental subject that highlights the ‘more aggressive’ theme, there’s hope that Fu will begin to distance her character from her friends. Not only will this help differentiate her character from the others and put her in a position for her character to grow but it will also provide new opportunities for her to expand and understand her love for photography beyond snapping photos during excursions and hikes with friends. It’s rather amazing how just a few episodes into this new season that Tamayura has begun to address the issues that I had previously with ~hitotose~. All that needs to happen for this to be the perfect sequel will be if Kou and Komachi can mysteriously disappear and never be mentioned again (although I’d gladly settle for just Kou if the opportunity presented itself).
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (Episode 14)
Although my memories of this Sisters Arc in To Aru Majutsu no Index tend to be positive or favorable, I can’t help find myself irritated and distressed at it now after going through so many episodes of To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S. The main reason for this change of heart is solely based on how the writing and storytelling of Index undermines and belittles the Misaka we’ve grown to know in Railgun. A major reason why this problem exists is because Index was written well before Railgun was and, as a result, Railgun is required to revisit the writing of Index in order to recap this story arc. However, between the time that Index was written to the time that Railgun began the story again, we’ve seen Misaka’s character grow and develop independently of Index’s variables and become a remarkable protagonist on her own. We’ve grown to understand her personality and her motivations, how she responds to various stimuli and seen her power grow from a simple manipulation of electricity into stupidly overpowered feats of imagination. But now, after all that growth and maturity, Misaka’s character was stunted, reduced and retarded. Her powers were meaningless in Index as compared to Railgun. Seriously, she was able to hack into some of the most impenetrable security networks in Academy City and now we have to expect that she can’t operate or control a simple vending machine? And don’t get me started on her personality and dialogue toward Touma now after seeing her through about 30 episodes of Railgun. Really, I appreciate the fact that Railgun is going back to revisit this arc and explore it through Misaka’s perspective. Really, I absolutely love the idea to show this story again but through the eyes of the other protagonist and show how it affects her and integrates into her character. The main issue I have with this is that, at this point in Index’s story, Misaka was still in her infacy and everything that she did was experimental to see where her character would end up. Now that her character has fully matured and became well defined, it feels stupid and silly to force her to revert back to this infancy stage for the sake of completing this story arc. Now I can only hope that this Sisters Arc ends rather quickly and that the series can return back to what Railgun is supposed to be: Misaka kicking ass and taking names.
Uchouten Kazoku (Episode 2)
The mother of the Shimogamo family, simply referred to as ‘Mother’ by her children and ‘Prince’ by her fellow billiards buddies, is an outstanding specimen of a character if I’ve ever seen one. Her flamboyant personality is charming and sophisticated. Her choice in clothing not only matches but enhances and accents that personality perfectly. Her style and her presentation is engaging and entertaining. And her look is simultaneously both beautiful and handsome. And all that without mentioning how she’s a caring single-mother for her four luckless sons, can transform into an adorable red-furred tanuki and is scared of thunder and lightning. I typically don’t obsess about characters like this right off the bat in a new series (okay, I’m lying, I do this all the time), but the Mother in Uchouten Kazoku is such a fantastic and fabulous and flashy character, that I love how she contrast everyone else in this series by punching it up with fun and amusement without becoming silly or losing her meaning in the series. I’m looking forward to whatever role she plays in the series moving forward, not only from an entertainment perspective but from a story perspective, too, particularly if she plays a pivotal role in the lives of her four sons moving forward.