This week: how the cinematography aided in the visually magnificent episode plant planet of Space Dandy, thoughts on the resolution of Gotou’s girlfriend in Samurai Flamenco, remembering the first half of Magi, and trying to make sense of what Manaka lost in Nagi no Asukara.
Best episode of the week: KILL la KILL
Anime trending up this week: Noragami
Anime trending down this week: Hamatora
Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta (Episode 9)
What makes Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta one of my favorite anime of the season was aptly demonstrated in the ninth episode regarding the romance. Not only did we witness substantial and meaningful progress in terms of the relationship between Kal and Claire (first kiss is always an important milestone), but we witnessed the schism between the two when they realized the identity of each other. Furthermore, this radical event was saved for the middle of the episode, not the end, meaning we were able to see the immediate aftermath and how it impacted the characters around them. The flow here was not interrupted by an inconvenient one-week break, which means we could live in the moment of the break-up, utilizing that event to strengthen the aftermath that followed. Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta exhibits some superior storytelling methods to complement its beautiful story and this episode is a perfect example.
Space Dandy (Episode 9)
Obviously what stood out with this episode were the brilliant use of vivid colors and extreme use of vibrant and conspicuous animation. You could tell the animators had a fun time with this episode. But what stands out to me with episode 9 of Space Dandy was the cinematography, a detail that played a vital role in the visual presentation of this episode that may have gone unnoticed to many fans of the franchise. The episode utilized a number of wide shots to help establish the fantasy environment on the planet of plants, helping us see all the colors and weirdness of this world. It helped paint a scenery that appeared both psychedelic and peaceful. Besides the wide shots were many tight shots of Dandy, showing his facial expressions through that wonderful animation. These close-ups were what demonstrated the illustrious animation of this episode, putting more life into Dandy than what we usually see. Furthermore, there were plenty of interesting uses of light and angles, though nothing out of the ordinary for Space Dandy. Still, it was a phenomenal episode to watch, thanks primarily to the use of color and animation. However, it’s worth noting the importance that cinematography played in helping aid these two aesthetic aspects.
Silver Spoon S2 (Episode 8)
Since Moyashimon and Silver Spoon are both educational and intelligent agricultural anime, I feel the two will always be compared to each other. The purpose of bringing up Moyashimon now is that I want to compare and contrast the informative sections where science lessons would dominate the scene. In this episode of Silver Spoon, we witnessed a lesson in cheesemaking. And while the scene accomplished its goal of educating us about the process of manufacturing cheese, the scene felt very out-of-place and felt substandard for Silver Spoon. The scene did provide frequent breaks where the students would demonstrate their learning (a positive since it provides a different perspective on the lesson) but most of the time it was unfunny comedy that did not add to the scene besides its runtime. It felt very educational but it also felt very school-like in how it was presented with the teacher dominating the scene. Whereas in Moyashimon, many of the educational or enlightening tidbits were presented rather straightforward without interrupting gags. The educational sessions also felt flowed better in the series, linking together projects or concepts for the characters rather than just being “hey, let’s make cheese now!” like in Silver Spoon. Or more bluntly, what I enjoyed about the educational aspects in Moyashimon were that they felt more integral to the series and the education was utilized by the characters better. Here, it felt random and arbitrary to include the cheesemaking now, especially since the character haven’t used that knowledge since. Then again, I wrote about my positive impressions with the use of education in Moyashimon, so I might be a little bias on the subject matter here. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the educational sections in Moyashimon much more than I do with Silver Spoon.
Samurai Flamenco (Episode 19)
Although I was expecting something grander and more spectacular with the whole girlfriend scenario, I must say I’m happy with the current developments in terms of Gotou’s character. While I was expecting Gotou’s girlfriend to be some extreme super-boss or a character we already knew (say that Jouji was crossdressing the whole time), I am happy with seeing the delusions of his character knowing already how delusional Hazama is. It’s a conclusion that I was not anticipating or even aware might happen, but it fits tremendously well with the themes and events of the series.
Noragami (Episode 9)
We already know what Yato and Yukine think of Hiyori, but what about all the other gods and shinki we’ve met? What do they think about a human whose soul disconnects from her body periodically? Furthermore, Hiyori seems pretty unique since we have yet to see or hear of any other human who does this. And on top of that, I wonder what they think about a human wondering around with Yato, a god who seems to be considered a loser by most everyone. I could keep going on these questions, especially in regards to her personality, interest in Yato and Yukine and what she plans on doing when she’s back to normal… but it’s best to stop here. I’m rather surprised that someone else hasn’t decided to take it upon themselves to query Hiyori about her situation and taken it upon themselves to help her with this situation. Then again, maybe they know something I don’t and are choosing to stay away from our cute, cat-tailed protagonist. Still, I wonder what everyone thinks of this rather exceptional character.
Nagi no Asukara (Episode 22)
I’m not quite sure what to think about the ability ‘to fall in love’ and how that explains everything we’ve seen with Manaka since she has awaken from her deep slumber. Does the fact that these memories that are now forgotten were signs that she was falling in love with Hikari (example of falling in love)? Does her lack of fascination with Tsumugu now mean she was in love with him (example of continuing her crush)? And if Uroko’s definition of ‘falling in love’ means her crush with Tsumugu is broken, what about her relationship with Chisaki (Manaka loves her friends)? I’m really struggling with the idea that Manaka can no longer fall in love or, as it seems now ‘to never love again’, and what we’ve seen of her character. Additionally, I’m not sure what taking away this ability does for the sea god. It seems very arbitrary as of right now… but as long as it proves useful or fruitful to the story, I suppose I can’t complain. It’ll be interesting to see how this mechanic is used in the final episodes of Nagi no Asukara and what this means for the intertwined web of romance for the main cast of characters.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (S2) (Episode 21)
Given the complete dependence on elemental magic, Djinn Equips and Metal Vessels lately, Magi feels like two completely different series with the recent reappearance of djinn. Really, from the time before Ugo left to now feels like two completely different series with one focusing on the djinn and this latter one on magic. Seeing this blue-skinned, pointy-earred and colossal magical-beings certainly reminds me of the beginning of Magi when Aladdin relied solely on Ugo instead of his own inherent magic abilities. Only now that we see Leraje, Kouha Ren’s djinn, do I even remember the first half of Magi, something I have forgotten given how different the series has become. And now that I’m thinking back to the first season and everything that’s occurred since then, I have to admit that Magi has changed radically since its start in Qishan. I’m not sure which half of the series I prefer since both have their strengths and weaknesses… but if I have to choose, it’d be the first half since that’s when Morgiana was a character and not a missing person. Seriously, why did they have to make her disappear like that?
KILL la KILL (Episode 21)
Although great animation is usually demonstrated by fluid motion, abundant details or zooming, panning, spinning cinematography, I find Nui’s animation in KILL la KILL to be some of the best based on its simplicity and on her character. What makes Nui’s animation outstanding is that it’s so wildly different than anyone else, employing individual pieces rotating, shifting, transforming and moving on their own. She never moves like a normal character, fitting considering who she really is. And when she’s in battle and moving like this, it makes her dodging seem effortless and that she’s much stronger than everyone else she fights. The fact that she moves like this, continues to move like this and is the only character to move like this makes her animation surprisingly distinctive and charming. It also adds an element of humor and intimidation to this psychotic villain, making her character cuter and more annoying than she would be otherwise. Nui’s animation is surprisingly simple and innovative, but it is something that would only work in an anime that’s in the style and presentation for something like KILL la KILL.
Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (Episode 8)
The gods in Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha are a bit too silly. In most anime, gods are given humanistic qualities and personalities and often like human things like anime, video games and foods like apples or sweets. But the gods in Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha are much more than that. Unlike shows like Noragami, Nekogami Yaoyorozu, Kamisama Kiss, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, Gingitsune or even Spice and Wolf, none of the gods do anything important in Inari. They all seem to be aimless and unemployed, choosing to relax, have fun and do whatever they want. They don’t seem to be listening to prayers or fighting evil or making the world a better place. Instead, all they do is play around and have fun. On top of that, they often have somewhat-crazy to crazy personalities, making them prime targets for comedy. In fact, they go as far to make it seem like these characters aren’t actually gods since there’s nothing dignified or refined or revered about these characters. Perhaps it’s best to surmise that it’s a really interesting and strange dynamic, the deities in Inari. While they don’t seem to act or behave like gods at all, they are all fairly interesting characters that fit well with the comedy and story of Inari. Still, I’d like to see the gods actually demonstrate their powers for god and the prosperity of their followers rather than playing video games, chasing after girls or generally being lazy.
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren (Episode 9)
It shouldn’t be surprising that the two most mature characters are the two most distant to Rikka and her cohort of delusional friends. Touka and Kuzuha are two of the most interesting characters to watch since neither of them buy into the whole ‘chuunibyou’ world that everyone else does and they continue to reinforce a serious tone whenever confronted with these crazy antics. Furthermore, the two are not only anchors in realism but work to make the other characters around them better people. What makes Touka and Kuzuha two of my favorite characters is that they don’t assimilate with Rikka and her chuunibyou but still want to help her and her friends with their real-world issues. The two are remarkable characters in this regard and makes me wish we had more time with them in this second season. Nevertheless, it was nice to see both of them in this episode.