This week: Kaiki’s internal conflict and searching for his truth in Monogatari Series Second Season, severely disappointed with Samurai Flamenco, why the family drama is much better than the romance in Nagi no Asukara, and the underappreciated, yet fascinating mecha in Galilei Donna.
Best episode of the week: Monogatari Series: Second Season
Anime trending up this week: Kyousogiga (TV)
Anime trending down this week: Samurai Flamenco
Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta (Episode 7)
Yozakura Quartet has had its ups and downs this season, thanks in part to some fascinating episodes early and some tedious ones of late. However, there has been one aspect that has remained consistent throughout, and it continues to be one of the genuine strengths of the series. The comedy in Yozakura Quartet doesn’t always take center-stage or the spotlight in every scene but its ubiquitous presence in the series always makes room for smiles or laughs, even when the series is straight-faced or serious. The fact that the comedy isn’t subjected to ups and downs means that the humor and entertainment in this anime is anchored at an adequate level; it’s something we can expect going in to every episode… and that’s something extremely valuable for a series that has inconsistencies, or spikes and valleys, like Yozakura Quartet.
Samurai Flamenco (Episode 7)
Of course, we all expect Guillotine Gorilla to be a part of some stunt or trick or twist or scheme, likely orchestrated by the main antagonist of the series, Akira Konno, and the chief of police. The event was obviously planned and coordinated by the entire staff of police and, without Gotou’s or Hazama’s knowledge, it lead to our masked hero to be cornered by the spatial projection of the source of all evil. I mean, the transformation, the gorilla, the damage and deaths, and the evil specter of evil, King Torture, are all likely some flashy effects and scientific wizardry concocted by the only person still obsessed with Samurai Flamenco. Think about it… who, other than another superhero fanboy, would know exactly what to do to antagonize a masked hero fanboy like Samurai Flamenco? Right? It’s got to be him. Who else would know to do all this, to this level of detail, and to pull off this stunt without Hazama or Gotou catching wind? What just occurred what almost too perfect. But then that means… it wasn’t perfect. In fact, it’s pretty far from perfect to me.
To me, I felt like the series took a completely wrong turn with this move. Why did the series try to play this event out as a serious event? Why did this anime try to portray everything that happened, as incredibly stupid and asinine as it was, as something that actually occurred? I don’t get it. Is the series trying to take a nosedive? Is it trying to shed its realism and go all bananas? And if, for whatever miniscule chance this is all real, then what the hell is this series trying to accomplish? Consider myself unamused by what just occurred in Samurai Flamenco, for taking the series in the complete opposite direction of where I wanted the series to go. Nevertheless, consider myself also deeply intrigued because I’m absorbed in what just happened and excited to see what will happen next. I may not be happy with what’s going on in Samurai Flamenco but I’m certainly engrossed enough to learn about everything that just happened.
Nagi no Asukara (Episode 8)
The dynamics of the family drama in Nagi no Asukara, that is Akari’s decision to leave her family in Shioshishio and reside with Itaru and Miuna on the surface, is easily the more interesting aspect of the series than the love pentagon developing between the five school-age kids. Romantic relationships in schools between budding adolescents is a tired, tired genre for me, and what Nagi no Asukara is offering with its stereotypical anime cast is nothing to get me excited or interested. And while the drama related to the families isn’t anything spectacular, I find myself captivated by the events that have transpired and the drives the characters have. To me, the most significant growth and development in this series has occurred between Akari and Miuna, especially Miuna. Watch these two characters come together has easily been my favorite aspect of Nagi no Asukara and I’m pleased to see this story continue through the middle of the series and remain a feature throughout. I realize that the romance will eventually take over toward the latter half of the series considering the anime spends a disproportionate time on that subject, so I can’t help but wonder if my interest in this anime will wane when such a transition occurs. I suppose now I should just enjoy what the series is providing me in terms of the familiar and societal drama and then try to enjoy the romance when the series decides it’s time to sink.
Monogatari Series Second Season (Episode 21)
Kaiki is probably the greatest character in the Monogatari franchise. Not only is his cruel personality and strict demeanor ideal for a villain, fitting the theme of Monogatari like a curse to a middle school girl, but his dry humor, harsh temperament and brimming self-confidence make his clashing nature a delight to witness. Whether it is with Senjougahara, Araragi or even himself (the scene with the bathroom mirrors), Kaiki’s dialogue is simultaneously both turbulent and perceptive, showcasing his contempt for others while adhering to his own personal philosophy and system of logic. He is a remarkable character who rationalizes his selfishness and malevolence in a steadfast way that is impossible for anyone to convince him otherwise.
So to see Kaiki there, sitting alone before the bathroom mirrors, searching for a reason to accept Senjougahara’s job is quite jarring and conflicting to what we’ve already established Kaiki’s character to be. It wasn’t so much that Kaiki was trying to convince himself to take the job, since we already know that to be impossible. Rather, he had already convinced himself to take it when listening to Senjougahara’s story. Instead, what we saw was Kaiki attempting to rationalize his decision with himself. Now that’s something I find fascinating. What I saw with Kaiki’s monologue is a character that chose to do something that is against his existence; he accepted Senjougahara’s job despite it conflicting with everything he stands for. As a result, he forced himself into seclusion and searched for every possible motivation for him to take the job, dismissing everything obvious and, in doing so, found the most arbitrary and distinct detail and used it to fit his rationale. It isn’t that Kaiki is doing this for Kanbaru. Rather, Kaiki is doing this for himself with Kanbaru as the only explanation to fit his character. But why is Kaiki doing this for himself when it goes against him unwavering personality? That is something I’d love to find out and I pray we find out with this story arc. I’d love for Monogatari Series Second Season to explore his character in depth and rationalize his character, especially since we’ve already seen one contradiction in his character already. If there is any time to do such a detailed examination and analysis of Kaiki, the time is now in Hitagi End.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magi (S2) (Episode 8)
I’m glad Aladdin’s adventures in Magnostadt (which I’ve always wanted to call Mangostand and will henceforth do so) were only episode long. Why? It’s not that I didn’t find myself enjoying the episode or that I found its placement in the series to be incorrect or insignificant, but that one episode was the right amount of time used to tell such a story. Anything less would not have been enough and anything more would have been too much. The story was complete, able to do everything it wanted to in the time allotted. And the episode wasn’t boring or tedious either; rather, it was actually pretty amusing with a constant emphasis on comedy and humor (and fanservice) throughout. And I actually liked the city of Mangostand, though the setting was notably underdeveloped in just this one episode. Still, I’m content with what we saw and what was achieved in this one episode, and I hope the pattern continues for Alibaba and Morgiana next.
Little Busters! Refrain (Episode 8)
Seeing Riki lead Rin around has been a common staple for Little Busters! since the beginning of the anime. You’d often see Riki lend a hand, figuratively of course, to help Rin venture outside of her comfort zone and help her disperse her shyness. But now, with the series in an alternative timeline or dimension or whatever, things have been reset, and all of Riki’s progress with Rin has been seemingly lost. So, what do you expect Riki to do now that Rin has reverted back to her introverted state? He’s lending a hand again… but this time, literally. To see Riki lead Rin around by holding her hand is something completely new in this timeline. And while I’m probably the least invested in romance in the history of anime fandom, I think it’s really, really, really, adorable. In fact, seeing the couple go between places with Riki holding Rin’s hand has easily become my favorite aspect of this anime now that several of my favorite characters are AWOL. I can only hope this minor detail continues to the end of the series, though I have my reservations on how far it will continue as the Little Busters circle grows in subsequent episodes.
Kyousogiga (TV) (Episode 6)
The Alice in Wonderland motifs in Kyousogiga have always made me smile. The tributes, the details, the minutiae… all these little tidbits and elements have helped infuse a sense of meaning and miracle into the innovative and imaginative narrative that is Kyousogiga. But now, with the story embarking on a different path, or at least one that doesn’t seem to rely too heavily on Lewis Carroll’s novel, I find myself smiling even more. Why? Because what Kyousogiga is doing now is establishing its own story, now with its own originality and creativity. To see the series expand in such a fashion and to find its own direction, after using so many parallels from Alice in Wonderland, is something I can’t help but appreciate. It really makes me happy when an anime is able to assert its independence like this after incorporating various characteristics and features from other stories. And with Kyousogiga now instituting its own chronicles, I can’t help but excited to see where this new, original journey takes us.
KILL la KILL (Episode 8)
Something that Ira Gamagoori said in this episode shook me a bit. Although we consider Satsuki and the Four Divas to be evil antagonists, oppressing the students under totalitarian rule, he did state that he’s there to help the students of Honnouji Academy, even when his sworn enemies, Ryuuko and Mako, were stuck on the side of the road with a broken-down scooter. And that got me to thinking… what is the perspective of KILL la KILL like from everyone other than Ryuuko? Although the established opinion in this anime is that Satsuki and the Four Divas are evil, I wonder how much good they provide to the other students or to the school in general. Then again, while characters like Nonon and Houka interact coldly with their fellow students, Ira and Uzu are seen among their peers and often are helping them in one way or the other. It’s kinda funny to see these dual personas with these villainous characters, but it’s something I appreciate in an anime of this style. I always appreciate it when villains are shown to have good or virtuous sides instead of being insane characters who are obsessed with destruction, world domination or something that lacks depth or is not relatable. So to hear Ira say those words to Ryuuko and to follow through with his actions really helps me realize how much I enjoy these characters in KILL la KILL. I can only hope they continue to play a significant role after Ryuuko beats them to a pulp in the Naturals Election.
Gingitsune (Episode 8)
Since Gingitsune is a highly religious anime, I appreciate it taking the time to move away from the heavenly heralds and show us the story of a man going through hell. Or, that is to say, I thought watching Yoshizumi escorting three high school girls through the mall for hours was the very demarcation of hell, or at the very least, one of them. Not only must the whole experience been tedious and frustrating and maddening, but to have him have a crush on one of the girls must’ve made the whole experience even worse. Ugh, watching her walk around, looking at clothes and being indecisive about ties must’ve been the worst day of his life… especially since it was on his day off, too. I feel for Yoshizumi as a character; that must’ve been rough. I can only hope he gets fired or ends his misery by resigning shortly hereafter.
Galilei Donna (Episode 7)
The mecha in Galilei Donna are both underutilized and underappreciated. With the anime revolving around some soon-to-be disappointing treasure and the related hunt with arbitrary clues and artifacts and guides, I can’t help but realize that virtually every episode has had a mecha play a significant role in some way. Whether it’s Hozuki’s flying airship, Galileo, Hozuki’s robotic suit that helped liberate her sisters from prison, the vast array of enemy fighters, or even Hozuki’s bike/bazooka from the opening scene… the diversity and application of mecha in this anime is outstanding. But why are these fantastic aspects so unacknowledged? While I do attribute a large part of this to the setting, a future where these remarkable and mesmerizing machines are nothing more than everyday gadgets to the characters, I don’t understand why the characters don’t pay more attention to these things. Then again, there have been several times where the characters comment on the usefulness of the mecha or their curiosities of Grande Rosso or whatever, so maybe I’m just late to the party in realizing how amazing the mecha are in Galilei Donna.
Freezing Vibration (Episode 8)
One of the main reasons why I heavily criticize fanservice in most anime is because it always feels forced or contrived. The way it’s portrayed or the way it’s depicted just never feels right. In Freezing, sometimes the fanservice feels like this (probably whenever Kazuya is around), but most of the time I like it or appreciate it. To me, the fanservice in Freezing feels natural. You don’t have too many awkward zooms or characters blushing or girls flashing their panties when they don’t want them too… nor do you have the guys with bloody noses, the creepy otaku stereotypes who obsess over these girls and that dreadful comedy where the girls punch the guys in comedic fashion (I swear, those punches do more damage to me than to any guy they hit). But no, in Freezing, you have girls unashamed of these details and who walk around naked or in various states of undress throughout. Here, the fanservice feels normal or natural, and this lack of attention or focus is why I find Freezing to be one of the better ecchi anime out there.
Coppelion (Episode 8)
Who authorized the Coppelion project? Or more specifically, who decided it was a good idea to give superhuman strength or electrical powers to the clones of a serial killer? Couldn’t someone have spent a minute or two researching their candidates and realize that some all of the things they were doing was a bad idea? Then again, couldn’t the people making this anime have done the same thing? Seriously, GoHands could’ve been making a sequel to K or something instead of this garbage.