This week: how altering one aspect of Captain Earth will greatly improve the anime, thoughts on why the setting is the best aspect of No Game No Life and how it makes it one of the best anime this season, rationalizing Chaika’s speech pattern in Hitsugi no Chaika and why it isn’t moe marketing and an example of visual details and symbolism in Ping Pong the Animation.
Just a quick note regarding the title of this review, I have named it the review for the third week since technically, this is the third week of the season and the third week of April. However, this is the first of my Weekly Anime reviews for the season, so rather than starting at 2 and ending at 12, I’ll be starting at 3 and ending at 13. Just because of how the anime aired this season, this is really the first week where these weekly posts are appropriate, but naming it for the second week would likely decrease views since people would think it is for two weeks ago (which will really screw things up once I fall behind later this season). So, don’t expect there to be a Week 2 post since this is the first one of the Spring, and I’m naming it Week 3 in order to increase clicks and drive more traffic. So with that said, onto the review!
Best episode of the week: Mushishi Zoku Shou
Anime trending up this week: No Game No Life
Anime trending down this week: Captain Earth
Akuma no Riddle (Episode 3)
How will Akuma no Riddle keep itself fresh with 10 more assassins to go through, especially with the ‘assassin-of-the-week’ style the series seems to be hinting at with the third episode? If every episode follows a similar pattern, with a new assassin targeting Ichinose, learning about their past and their wish and then being defeated by Tokaku and Ichinose and then being expelled/transferring/dying, the series will quickly become stale, stagnant and easily decline. I’m not sure what’s necessary for this anime to stay fresh since this a route that almost all death-games take and one of the reasons why death-games are among my least favorite genres. Also, considering that this is a school anime, I guess we might see some scenery changes like a beach episode, a field trip to a hot springs and other random stuff, so there’s that to disappoint us when the time comes. Hopefully Akuma no Riddle has learned from the mistakes of previous death-game anime and can figure out a way to survive for nine or ten more episodes. Otherwise, we might want to considering expelling this anime from out watch list if it just turns into mediocre garbage from here on out.
Captain Earth (Episode 3)
One area where if Captain Earth would improve slightly it would improve the overall anime greatly is in regards to how the anime views itself. Right now, Captain Earth takes itself too seriously and thinks of itself as dramatic, impassioned and gripping. In reality, Captain Earth is not. There are a number of elements in the anime that undermine this mentality, specifically the characters and its setting. There have been countless times where emotion and passion were demonstrated by the characters, but it has been relatively empty or failed to impact the anime in a meaningful way. And to add on it, the villainous duo from the moon weakens the serious style of the anime by being flamboyant in their appearance, personalities and dialogues. The heroes and the villains don’t match well with each other, and they both need to be either silly or serious for this anime to work. The setting is another issue that doesn’t match well with how Captain Earth sees itself. Every battle between the Earthlings and aliens is supposed to mean a battle to decide the fate of the Earth, whether it will be saved or destroyed or something. Yet, with all these battles, all we ever see are the main characters, GLOBE and the villains. It’s hard to weigh the consequences of their actions and the battles when Earth is never threatened, not with people evacuating, buildings being destroyed and characters or mecha dying. It feels artificial. It feels silly; to consider Earth in danger when all the battlefields we’ve seen have been in sublunar space. Additionally, there are other aspects which undermine the serious mentality of the anime, such as some of the comedy (Mutou walking around naked) and events (Mutou being naked [yes, again] in bubble, mysterious loli giving Daichi the gun). Because of all this, I see Captain Earth as a silly anime, and I haven’t even mentioned the silliness associated with giant mecha battles in space. However, the story and scenario and how Daichi act make it seem like Captain Earth wants to take itself seriously. The anime isn’t even in agreement with itself and that much should be clear to anyone watching Captain Earth. That’s why, once Captain Earth figures out if it wants to be serious or silly and acts on that, then we’ll see this anime improve significantly.
Hitsugi no Chaika (Episode 2)
Giving cute, moe anime girls curious speech patterns, like uguu or de geso, is nothing new for anime. Neither is making moe girls silent, mute or unrealistically quiet. And given the frequency and pattern of these incredibly moe elements, it shouldn’t be surprising to see a handful of these girls every season. So with the arrival of Hitsugi no Chaika, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising to see our main heroine, Chaika, speak Japanese with an abnormal structure. However, unlike her compatriots of speech impairment, Chaika doesn’t seem to be speaking as a way of appearing cuter and therefore attracting a mini-fandom or a horde of followers (though I wouldn’t be surprised if she already had one). Instead, her fragmented speech pattern, one where she communicates her messages primarily with nouns, is likely the result of some event related to her past or some detail linked to her characterization. Her style of speech is vastly different from the other moe counterparts and, while some might consider it cute, there are hints that it is related to her character rather and not just a marketing ploy. If that’s the case, then we might see her speech develop and improve throughout the anime or learn the reason why she speaks in such a fragmented and difficult way as a part of her character maturing. Perhaps it could be that she is indeed a foreigner (given her style of clothes as a gothic lolita, that could be one possibility) or she was secluded from society and unfamiliar with speech. Whatever the reason and whatever results from this, it seems that there is some creativity and meaning behind the way Chaika speaks. And given how often this stereotype is present in anime these days, it feels somewhat refreshing and innovative to see an unusual speech pattern like this have a purpose behind it.
Isshuukan Friends (Episode 2)
After watching the first episode of Isshuukan Friends, I thought to myself that this anime paralleled Chihiro’s story from ef – a tale of memories in a number of ways. After thinking about how Chihiro addressed her issues of anterograde amnesia (slightly different than what Kaori has), I thought that Yuuki should probably watch ef and learn to help Kaori like how Renji helped Chihiro. The first and most obvious thing that came to mind about Chihiro was her diary. And what did we learn this week with Kaori? A diary. Bam! Maybe someone recommended that Yuuki watch ef or maybe he’s seen it already. Regardless of whether this has some inspiration from or reference to ef, it’ll be interesting to see how these two anime compare and contrast in terms of how they address the issues related to memories and how their romances develop.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Episode 3)
One of the aspects that makes JJBA so entertaining and so much fun is that it is unpredictable. For people unfamiliar with the franchise, all the extreme and wild developments keep the series fresh and exciting. Every new detail and development is electrifying and remarkable. Even simple aspects have a heightened sense of drama, purpose and meaning to them. And unlike the previous two story arcs, these first three episodes have been a nonstop rollercoaster with little to no downtime and everything serving a purpose or greater meaning. Because of these developments and this style of storytelling, everything that happens has some degree of entertainment to it. And since there has been a timeskip and the advent of new powers (Stands), there has been more material to cover which has helped make this anime the most entertaining of this young season. What’s even better is that we know JoJo’s will be able to sustain this pace and this level of excitement for quite some time, too, since we’re still in the infancy of Stardust Crusaders.
Mushishi Zoku Shou (Episode 3)
I’ve always thought that the girls in Mushishi were hot, but never to the point where they’d burn the skin of a guy they touch. Ok, haha, lame jokes aside, I originally watched this episode at Sakuracon with a number of other anime bloggers and personalities from the ani-twitter community with Mushishi director Hiroshi Nagahama providing commentary. Not only was Hiroshi Nagahama a marvelous and beloved host, for airing this episode during the anime convention, but he provided some remarkable insight into the production of the episode and aspects that were meaningful to him. That isn’t to say he provided commentary over the course of the whole episode, but he pointed out aspects of the episode that stood out to him that I wouldn’t normally pay attention to otherwise, such as how happy he was with the animation of the snow falling. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect that he mentioned during the viewing was that no one on the production team wanted to watch the episode until it was completed because they did not want to cry in the middle of production. These details uncover another layer of passion and opinion that we don’t often consider when watching or reviewing anime and that is the thoughts of the fans in the anime industry. Hiroshi Nagahama is just as much a fan of Mushishi and anime as the rest of us (and quite big on American superheroes, too), so to hear his input during an episode was quite a special and remarkable experience.
No Game No Life (Episode 2)
Although the characters are fun, the story is amusing, and the colors fascinating, easily the single best aspect of No Game No Life is the setting. Not only is the setting influential to the characters, the story and the colors, but there is a high level of detail and effort that helps make this world seem more vibrant and lively than most fantasy or online-game worlds. Keep in mind, we’ve only seen a small fraction of this wonderland and there’s a whole new world to explore based on that picturesque montage in the first episode where we saw a wide array of diverse environments, cities and people. We’ve already been lectured about the history and mechanics of the world, the various societies, kingdoms and magic, and seen where the story will go based on the decisions and actions of the main duo, Sora and Shiro. Furthermore, with only a fraction of this world complete, we’ve yet to really understand the other social hierarchies and economies of this world as well as the games they like to play. We can already expect these different races and societies to have impacts on the characters and learn how to better cheat at board games and card games in real life (provided it’s not all magic). And given what we’ve seen thus far, there’s a good indication to predict that this world will continue to impact the anime greatly in every episode. I’ve always been a sucker for phenomenal settings and No Game No Life will end up being one of my favorite anime this season if its setting continues to expand and unfold like this.
Ping Pong the Animation (Episode 2)
Details and symbolism are quite prevalent in Ping Pong, one of the reasons why it’s one of my favorite anime of the season. One such detail that I’d like to point out is in relation to how the anime depicts Smile’s robotic personality. Through the story and through his speech, we see how Tsukimoto acts and behaves and can understand why people call him a robot. However, the anime helps us understand this visually too through a simple aesthetic detail. When the anime wants to show Tsukimoto as more ‘robotic’, we see his glasses as pale, white displays rather than seeing his human eyes behind him. Instead, without his eyes visible and a pair of white glass on his face, Tsukimoto looks more ‘robotic’. It’s such a small and simple detail but it has a remarkable impact on how we view his character and how it supplements his personality as one that is robotic. Now this isn’t the only minute detail or symbolism going on in Ping Pong, like the hawk, the hero and the butterfly, but each has their own meaning and purpose for the characters and story, especially as we move forward. Keep an eye out for these details as they will continue to build up throughout the anime and continue to play a role for both the characters and the story.
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin (Episode 2)
Is Nanana really bound to her room and, if so, what happens if she tries to leave? The main reason for this question is wondering what Nanana will do once the treasure hunting and thrill-seeking becomes the main aspect of this anime. Will Nanana be left at home and be moved to a minor role with Juugo and the others out having fun elsewhere? Or does Nanana have the power to leave her house (and just not tell anyone) and join her new friends on their wacky and exciting adventures? Or maybe she’ll be stuck at home with a walkie-talkie or headset and barking orders over the airwaves. Whatever the means, I have a hard time wondering what Nanana will do if her character is indeed bound to the room once the anime begins moving in its new direction. Hopefully Nanana will be able to leave after one or two of the items is found since it would be terrible for one of the better characters in this anime to be left out of the fun and adventures on Nanae Island.
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii (Episode 3)
The world is indeed beautiful in The World is Still Beautiful, but I do wonder if we’re embarking on a journey too quickly with all the political turmoil, espionage and threat of war with our limited understanding of world history, geography and current affairs. Then again, the anime could be presenting to us this information on a need-to-know basis or we could be learning about the Sun Kingdom through the eyes of Princess Nike who is as unfamiliar with this as we are. Whatever the reason, I do wish we saw and understood more of the world before we began to see dukes and earls and other kingdoms since these names and relationship fall on deaf ears without any meaning or understanding behind them. However, given the quality of writing and the direction of the anime, there may be some reason why we have such a limited understanding of the world. Obviously this aspect of the series can change rather quickly if we receive a history lesson (for the better) or if someone from somewhere does something (for the worse). Hopefully we’ll learn more about the world as we need to learn about the world, but it wouldn’t surprise me if something complex arises before too long since we’re facing a number of nations at the brink of war with the Sun Kingdom and Principality of Rain at the middle of it all.