This week: an analysis on whether the failed assassins live or die in Akuma no Riddle, the balance of fighters and Stands in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, a question of time or limited opportunities in Isshuukan Friends, and the perception of beauty and how it differs between people in Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii.
Best episode of the week: Ping Pong the Animation
Anime trending up this week: Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi
Anime trending down this week: Soul Eater NOT!
Akuma no Riddle (Episode 5)
Do the failed assassins of Akuma no Riddle die or simply just disappear? With three assassins now mysteriously vanishing from the Kurogumi class, and all in a rather ambiguous, off-screen way, the question continues to repeat itself at the end of every episode. Based on my limited research of the manga, it appears as though the anime follows in its foot-steps without being direct in either direction but providing subtle hints that could favor either argument. For example, the flowers left on the desks of the ‘expelled’ students are more accustomed for funerals and not necessarily appropriate for a student transferring. Furthermore, the anime portrays itself as dark and violent, so the theme of murdering the failed assassins at the end of every episode fits the profile of this anime. On the other hand, not every ‘death game’ anime kills its enemies, especially its female cast members. A central theme to the anime has been the topic of forgiveness, especially with Tokaku’s character changing from her time alone with Haru. Moreover, the anime is ecchi, from innocent yuri relationships to girls showering/bathing to Haru running around in her bra and panties for several minutes. You typically don’t see murder in an anime with considerable fanservice… but that’s not to say it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. And one final point, and the reason why I’m bringing this up now, is that we saw Haruki survive in this episode after failing to kill herself after the botched mission. You don’t really see an anime put that much emphasis into saving a character’s life just to kill them off-screen in the next scene with no resolution to their character.
At this point, the argument could be made either way and either could be correct. I believe the anime is depicting these exits in such a way to not reveal to the audience whether the girls are dead or alive at the end of every episode. After weighing the available evidence, from my perspective, I would argue that the girls remain alive after failing to assassinate Haru. Considering the themes of forgiveness, the fanservice and the emphasis we’ve seen on the girls singing their own ending songs, I would argue that the girls are all still alive and will reconvene at the end. And while this may not be true for the manga, which probably will continue long after the anime ends, I feel that such an ending would be more positive in attracting readers and expanding its fandom. So while this might end up being untrue in the end and the three assassins-of-the-week are dead, I’m willing to bet that they’re all still alive until the anime says, or shows, otherwise.
Hitsugi no Chaika (Episode 4)
Coffins are heavy. Like, really, really heavy. You always see images of four-to-six people transporting a coffin out of a funeral service, so why does Chaika carry one all by herself? The coffin is taller than she is and made of solid wood. Even if the coffin were empty (and not carrying her metal gun) it’d still outweigh Chaika by five-times her body weight. And I haven’t even mentioned that Chaika doesn’t drag the coffin around on the ground either; she supports the weight entirely on her shoulders and walks around unimpaired without putting any of the weight on her back or needing to leaning forward. The fact that Chaika can carry this massive coffin around without any assistance or support obviously means she’s the strongest character in this anime. Why she doesn’t overpower her opponents in close quarters combat is beyond me. But still, you can add her name to the growing list of young anime girls who possess the superhuman strength. Watching her carry that coffin around every day without a thought makes me wish I had spent more time at the gym (or possessed magical powers).
Isshuukan Friends (Episode 4)
With Kaori’s memory of her friends resetting every week on Monday, one has to wonder whether there is a race against time given the limited number of weeks in a school-year. Japanese schools, for the sake of this post, are roughly about 40 weeks long. That means that Yuuki has, at a maximum, 40 chances to introduce himself to Kaori before they finish this grade. However, we need to assume that several weeks passed at the beginning of the year before Yuuki summoned the courage to befriend her the first time and that several weeks have occurred since, through these four episodes. Although things are fine and dandy now and there is plenty of material left, one can’t help but wonder whether time will be an issue later on for Kaori, especially if she’s going to move/transfer schools at the end of the series (it’s what I’m expecting as the big finale for this anime). It might not be a pressing issue right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see time become a problem as the series progresses.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Episode 5)
The balance of fighters and fighting in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an unquestioned strength and bodes well for the evolution of Stand fighters as this anime continues. With an amazing selection of styles, personalities, abilities and techniques, the fighting in JJBA has been phenomenal and will continue to be captivating and fascinating each and every time, never leaving a dull moment for the viewers. This is particularly encouraging since there is no single character who is significantly stronger than the rest nor are there fighters with inherent strengths and weaknesses against each other (such as one type being super effective against another). Instead, the field is level and the outcomes of battles aren’t as predictable as in other fighting anime. Of course, as the series continues and stronger fighters/Stands appear, there will be some variability (Dio) and creativity (D’Arby) that will deviate from this small sample size and shift the balance of power to the most important characters. However, at that point, the sheer thrill and excitement that occurs simultaneously with intense and sensational battles should begin to outweigh the advantages of balanced fighting. That’s not to say the fights aren’t exciting now, but that this balance of fighters will begin to fade as Jotaro as his companions inch closer to Dio and his cohorts.
Mushishi Zoku Shou (Episode 5)
Considering all the strange and haphazard inflictions or diseases we’ve seen people succumb to in Mushishi, I often wonder why humanity hasn’t died out yet. Perhaps that statement is a little too blunt, but how different would humanity be without the help of Ginko or the other mushishi? The frequency in which we see people contract these ailments from various indigenous mushi suggests that there is a need for wandering mushishi to save peoples’ lives. Without them, the rate of death (or disappearances or disability) would be significantly higher and in people of young ages, too. And given that these people live alone or in small hamlets, the morbidity and mortality of these young people would spell disaster for population growth or even sustainability (depending on their skills). So really, how does mankind persist in a world such as this?
No Game No Life (Episode 4)
I’ve always obsessed over the use of color and lighting in anime, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I am fascinated with and adore the imaginative and inspired use of colors and lighting in No Game No Life. The anime illustrates its world through a kaleidoscope of vibrant gradients and the end result is backgrounds and environments that are both curious to look at and spectacular when looked at. The use of lighting is also remarkable, helping cater to the lighthearted quality of the show and helping augment the fantasy-setting with differing colors. The series even uses the absence of light to its advantage, too, such as when Tet abducted Sora and Shiro at the end of the episode. In terms of its visuals and how it presents itself using colors and lighting, No Game No Life is one of the most impressive anime that I have seen lately, perhaps the most since Watamote last year. So while No Game No Life may be mediocre with its character designs or mundane with its animation, the visual style, with bizarre colors and dazzling lighting, moves it from being another ordinary anime into one of the most gorgeous shows of the season.
Ping Pong the Animation (Episode 4)
Everything thus far in Ping Pong has revolved around singles table tennis. The games have been sensational and enthusiastic, gushing with emotion and purpose. There is no question that the story will continue with a focus on singles matches but is there also the opportunity for doubles matches? We’re constantly reminded of the emphasis on teams and schools and nationalities in Ping Pong and the protagonists are a pair of boys with contrasting personalities that would make for an interesting duo. Additionally, the advent of doubles Ping Pong would provide a differing style on how to examine Smile and Peco as characters. It could also potentially introduce a new conflict given their styles of play and how invested they are in their games, helping provide a new avenue for character growth that would otherwise be impossible through singles matches alone. However, since this anime follows the story of a completed manga, I suppose I could spoil myself the mystery and read ahead to find out whether doubles will ever be a thing in Ping Pong or not. Nonetheless, I still would be interested in seeing a doubles match in Ping Pong because it would add another dimension to the already thrilling matches of this incredible anime.
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin (Episode 4)
Why aren’t more people or corporations or organizations after the treasures in Nanana’s Buried Treasure? You’d think, given the unbelievable nature and ability of these treasures, that there’d be people tearing up the island over these world-changing devices… but no, it’s just a handful of high schoolers who are after these priceless artifacts. And given their proximity to high-traffic areas and the age of social media, you’d figure there’d be more interest in these items than what’s currently shown. I would imagine that there’d be this level of interest if these treasures were hidden in a mountain temple or in some lush, dense jungle, but these treasures are housed in schools and tourist destinations in a metropolis. Like… wouldn’t somebody have stumbled upon these things sooner and realized their potential? Maybe the story needs to progress more before we can answer these questions, especially behind who hide these treasures and designed their trials, but it’s pretty absurd that no one else is searching for these things besides a small party of teenagers.
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii (Episode 5)
Beauty is relative. This quality is distinctive to whoever is judging whether something is beautiful or not, so beauty to one person might be unbeautiful to another. So for someone like me who finds beauty in bright, sunny days, I find it interesting to see that almost everyone in the Sun Kingdom finds beauty in overcast skies and downpours. To me, I find the Sun Kingdom to be beautiful on its own, with clear skies, warm weather and gardens around the palace. Rain, however, doesn’t necessarily hold that same level of beauty to me, especially in an arid, sunbaked desert. Rain goes well when there are snowcapped mountains or emerald forests to go with it, not with dry flatlands with minimal vegetation. So to me, it’s odd to see the anime put such an emphasis on the beauty associated with rain when I’d much prefer sunny days. However, as mentioned before, beauty is relative, and so to people who have never seen rain or experience it infrequently, it must hold some special value to them that I would otherwise ignore. Furthermore, Nike’s manipulation of clouds and rain have their own special beauty to them, too, such as putting a halo (or ring) around the sun for her ceremony. I do find those scenes beautiful, but probably to a different degree than what everyone else sees or feels. Regardless of my perception or that of the characters of this anime, The World is Still Beautiful uses and emphasizes beauty in truly interesting and meaningful ways, and it will be interesting to see what else the anime depicts as beautiful and Nike tries to reveal her world to Livius.