This week: the contrast between Aki’s family and Hachiken’s family in Silver Spoon, demonstrating Hiyori’s character growth through subtraction in Noragami, the humanistic personalities of djinn in Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, and the good half and bad half of the story in Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha.
Best episode of the week: KILL la KILL
Anime trending up this week: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (S2)
Anime trending down this week: Hamatora
Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta (Episode 11)
I wish every anime had the equivalent of a movie’s budget for every episode, guaranteeing gorgeous, vibrant and consistent animation throughout. However, bad art and animation do not make-or-break an anime for me, and I watch plenty of anime with substandard visuals. That being said, the aesthetics of a series do play a significant role in how I enjoy and appreciate the show. And though Pilot’s Love Song is one of my favorite anime of the season, the atrocious quality of the art and animation has negatively impacted the show. At times, the visuals are bad and, at others, distressing. I never thought I’d want to rewatch an anime if it were reanimated, but I’d make an exception for this one. For an anime of such superior quality in all the other areas, it’s shocking to see how poorly animated this anime is with this episode being a perfect example. I’m going to keep an eye out for the BD versions of Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta to see if the art and animation are better through the various redraws. I’ve never really done this before, but I am considering rewatching this anime if they improve upon the art for the BD releases.
Space Dandy (Episode 11)
Whenever an anime experiments with an alternative art style, different directing, or use or colors and textures, I find myself excited. Many of my favorite episodes from some of my favorite anime (Needless, Sengoku Collection, Dantalian no Shoka) have utilized different art styles to their advantage and have turned ordinary stories into unforgettable episodes. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about this one with Space Dandy. While I am thrilled with the prospect of using a monochrome, textured art style for this episode, I found it to be difficult to watch the episode. The episode was relatively dark, obscured and frequently perplexing, especially after the psychedelic, colorful plant planet episode where everything was clearly defined. I do like that the anime tried something different, but I wish that the style was only used for a bit rather than throughout the whole episode. I appreciate that the animators tried something different, but I wonder if it was executed properly or if the episode was intended to be muddled like that. Still, Space Dandy has been one of the best anime this season in terms of its aesthetics, so seeing an episode or two turn out like this is well worth the price of some visually brilliant ones like earlier on in the series.
Silver Spoon S2 (Episode 10)
Although Aki and Hachiken both share a number of similarities in identifying and pursuing their dreams after high school, there is a major disparity in how they’ll begin the next step. No, no, this isn’t related to Aki knowing that she wants to work with horses and Hachiken still deliberating between all his options. Rather, the contrast between Aki’s family and Hachiken’s family and how they support their children will play the most significant role in each teenager realizing their dream. With Aki’s family, all the adults are open and receptive of Aki’s idea and are willing to support her on her endeavors. It might not be the most advantageous or idealistic option to them, but they love their daughter and want to make sure she has a happy and healthy life. Hachiken’s family is quite the opposite, being closed, silent and dominated by the father who lacks heart and emotion. Without his presence dominating the dinner table, I figure the family would be much better off, but nowhere to the level of Aki’s family. Part of that is due to Hachiken’s resentment to his mother and his brother, but they probably will never be at the level of Aki and her family. And with the tenth episode featuring Aki’s family discussing her future, the contrast could not be more apparent with Hachiken’s participation. Seeing him open up in front of other open characters really highlights the difference between the two families. Not only would Hachiken never experience discourse to this degree, but he would likely never speak out for his own well-being nor would he ever argue with his father. So witnessing Hachiken in a similar situation to himself but with another family highlights the remarkable contrast between Aki’s family and his own. I wouldn’t be surprised if the tenth episode of Silver Spoon S2 was my favorite in the entire series for how it revealed the two family and how it affects the two characters, especially how we’ve seen them portrayed lately. I almost wish this happened earlier in the series so we could see the long-term effects this conversation had on both Aki and Hachiken.
Samurai Flamenco (Episode 21)
With all the twists and turns of Samurai Flamenco’s story, ranging from supervillains to alien armies to ghosts and talking to the universe itself, I’m surprised that no one important had died yet. Although you can argue that Gotou’s girlfriend is essentially dead and that Hazama’s parents were part of an unsolved murder (say, whatever happened to that unresolved plot thread?), it’s not the same as having a character die during the series. I would have assumed that someone, somewhere would have perished in a way that would’ve changed Hazama, but no… none of his friends or allies have died or left a mark on him in anyway. In fact, no one around Hazama has really changed him besides Gotou steering him on the right course from time to time. Maybe it plays into the theme of the series where justice is true and everyone is saved, but I would have assumed that, for a story like this, that there would’ve been at least one death.
Noragami (Episode 11)
With Hiyori losing her memories of Yato at the end of the last episode, we return to seeing our heroine in her natural and default personality: a respectful, polite and friendly schoolgirl who loves to smile and make others happy. While we are more accustomed to a playful, outgoing and tsukkomi (straight-man) Hiyori, it’s fascinating to see her like this again despite how distressing it must be to Yato and Yukine. What this does for Noragami, beside introduce a story to end the anime with, is show how much of an influence Yato and Yukine have had on her and how her personality evolved throughout the series. Although the standard Hiyori is calm and smiles, we see that she’s actually rather distant and closed. This contrast is a clear display of she opened herself up to Yato and Yukine throughout the series and how she began to do more than speak politely and smile. I do miss the personality that we’ve seen recently in Noragami, but I do enjoy seeing her revert back to normal for a little bit, just as a reminder of all the character growth we’ve seen of her since she was hit by that fateful semi-truck.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (S2) (Episode 23)
Although the djinn are revered and respected in the setting of Magi, they do have casual or humanistic personalities that undermine their grandiose or intimidating nature. No, I’m not just talking about the comedy scenes when Kouen was threatening Aladdin, but that they are informal with each other, even in the presence of a magi. Perhaps the best example of this was when Leraje (Kouha’s djinn) was pleading to Aladdin to keep the history of King Solomon a secret and with Astaroth interjecting. It’s not something you’d expect from the djinn who are almighty and always shown in such magnificence and power. However, by showing these humanistic qualities to them does make these characters more likable and relatable, especially since they still are supreme, colossal spiritual beings. It’s too bad we don’t see the djinn more often since they seem to be more interesting than most of the other characters we’ve seen lately.
KILL la KILL (Episode 23)
Are Ragyou’s hair Life Fibers or has she always had naturally luminescent hair? Like, her bright, rainbow-colored hair does emit light and doesn’t seem to be generated by anything external, so everything that produces this light must be within Ragyou. The only things I can think of are that it’s either due to the Life Fibers that she’s fused with or maybe she’s always had bioluminescent hair. All the flashbacks of Ragyou have been muted with a filtered color, so it’s impossible to tell if her hair was shiny back then. Additionally, you can’t tell if or when she became combined with the Life Fibers either, so it might not be an immediate reaction and the results of years living with the Life Fibers. The one thing we can say for sure is that Ryuuko’s hair does change when she combines with Senketsu, going from a single streak of red in her hair to about fifty-fifty red and black. Perhaps something akin to Ryuuko’s red and black hair is going on with Ragyou, but I assume that this is something that will be unanswered by the time the anime concludes.
Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (Episode 10 [Finale])
The story of Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha could easily be divided between Inari’s story and Uka’s story. The two halves of the series dealt with very different characters and their very, very different problems. Inari’s story is standard for a school-setting with friendships tested, romances never realized and the occasional issues with superpowers. Uka’s was more along the lines of young adults dealing with issues, like relationships, marriage, status, especially considering how Uka is a relatively high god in her society. However, unlike the story of Inari which revolved around somewhat normal humans, Uka’s stories revolved around rather silly characters and a society that is difficult to relate to. The two halves of the series were radically different from each other thanks to these two settings. I must say that the Inari half was more attractive and intriguing, though that isn’t to say I hated Uka’s half. Still, I wish the series spent more time on Inari and her issues and how she solved them with Uka’s power than dealing with Uka’s problems of laziness and not wanting to find a husband. I’m not sure how much better the anime would’ve been, but I know it would’ve been better with more of a focus on Inari than splitting it even between Inari and Uka.
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren (Episode 11)
I wish that, when playing around with their coins and rocks and make-believe, that the characters of Chuunibyou actually summoned a real demon that appeared before them and began destroying Japan. I wish the whole series built up to a twist like that where they actually bring a monster to the real world that spreads darkness and evil across the land. Not only would it be hilarious to see something like that completely undermine the entire series, but it’d be fun to see Rikka’s reaction since she’d still be lost in her chuunibyou world and not realize the ramifications for her actions. That and it’d be fun to see Rikka attack some giant demon monster with her umbrella for a few seconds before it gets bored and wanders off to destroy a bridge or knock over some buildings. Man, that would’ve made Chuunibyou awesome. I would love that so much.