This week: difficulty with the ambiguities, interpretations and inconsistencies with the games in No Game No Life, the mounting evidence on why I think Yuuki has more problems than Kaori in Isshuukan Friends, envisioning what modern science and medicine would uncover about the mushi in Mushishi Zoku Shou, and looking at the differences between the late-90s and now with Ping Pong the Animation.
Best episode of the week: Mushishi Zoku Shou
Anime trending up this week: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?
Anime trending down this week: Captain Earth
Akuma no Riddle (Episode 6)
The assassins in Akuma no Riddle aren’t very bloodthirsty. Nor are they really creative. Nor are they really good. Nor do they really seem to care. Even at the prospect of performing an ordinary task and being granted a wish, the girls seem more content spending time with each other in the classroom and performing Romeo and Juliet. The general malaise and apathy expressed by most of the characters thus far illustrates these characters more as everyday schoolgirls and not cold-blooded assassins. And with this general indifference in their attitude, it makes it challenging or awkward to see them suddenly as the opponent-of-the-week when it’s their time to fail at killing Haru. I realize the anime wants to paint these girls in such a way to show this dichotomy (otherwise, there’s no point to the whole classroom/all girl setting), but it would certainly help their characterization if we witnessed the girls assassinating other people in the meantime before watching them suddenly transition from a pleasant and polite acquaintance to a world-renowned killer. To me, the transition is the most difficult, since we expect there to be some bloodlust, some creativity and some skill to these assassins, but you would never guess otherwise based on what we see in the classroom. The only hint we ever get that there’s more to their schoolgirl charm is when they have those evil grins with jagged shark teeth. Then again, maybe the girls are enjoying a simple life as a student and aren’t in a rush to complete their mission objectives. If that’s the case, then maybe the whole point of this anime is to soften up these assassins rather than to kill Haru.
Captain Earth (Episode 6)
Hitsugi no Chaika (Episode 5)
Okay, maybe not always, but it happens more often than not. And these girls are often paired along with scientific/medical experiments or something magical/spiritual to make their characters even more mystifying. It shouldn’t be terribly surprising to see another Chaika in this anime given the storyline and the frequency of these parallel developments in other anime, though it is refreshing to see the stark contrast in the personalities between Red Chaika and White Chaika. Pretty soon we’ll be introduced to a whole rainbow of Chaikas with an every wider array of diverse personalities. Still, the girls will all have a few things in common and that will be their mysterious nature, their white hair and their unique speech patterns. That’s just how it works for these magical white-haired clone girls in anime.
Isshuukan Friends (Episode 5)
Considering the perspective of the anime, you might think Kaori has the most problems of any of the characters. But if you think that, you’d be wrong. Clearly, the character with the most problems is Yuuki. Yuuki’s insecurity and preoccupation over everything Kaori is growing to be borderline scary. Not only does he do everything in his power to spend every day with her, such as attempting to avoid a conference with his teacher over his failing grades to now stalking with her when she’s out with a friend for the first time. His obsession is growing worse and worse every day and is slowly developing into a predator based on this behavior. What makes this situation even worse is that Kaori is inexperienced with friends and identifying these abnormal behaviors. What’s gonna happen if Yuuki asks Kaori to go out on a date and she declines? He’s not gonna take ‘no’ for an answer, like with what we saw with the missing diary episode (episode 4). Fortunately for the series, it is a lighthearted and innocent romance, so we shouldn’t see Yuuki develop any of these darker traits that would see him turn into a criminal. But still, this obsession and now stalking is getting borderline creepy. Hopefully the anime can address Yuuki’s mania over Kaori before the end, especially if his behavior continues to get worse.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Episode 6)
Say, given the frequency of Stand Masters in the present-day in JJBA and given that there’s quite a few ‘normal’ people with them, one has to wonder if there were Stand Masters all throughout history, or at the very least, during Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. Back when Ripple was the primary method of fighting, there could have been others around the world who possessed Stands that weren’t connected with the story and therefore, were just unknown to Jonathan and Joseph at the time. After all, we know that Stands are derived from Ripple (Stands are written in kanji as ‘ghost ripple’) and that Ripple is an ancient form of martial arts that has been practiced for centuries. Additionally, Stands in other time periods could have been used for methods other than fighting, especially if they were exclusive to monks during these two arcs. Still, the fact that Stand Masters were introduced in this arc and the fact that Joseph developed a Stand of his own (one that’s new to him now and not from Battle Tendency) seems to point that these are new and novel concepts, unique to this time period. Still, considering their connection to Ripple, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some Stand Masters throughout various points in history. Right now, there’s just no way to confirm whether it’s true or not.
Mushishi Zoku Shou (Episode 6)
What would modern science think of mushi? That is to say, what would science be able to uncover about mushi to us, from performing tissue extraction, DNA sequencing, and applying the principles of modern medicine, pharmacology and pathogenesis? We’ve seen mushi afflict ailments and disease and oddities on people, much to the same way bacteria, viruses and fungi affect people, so what would science have to say about the pathogenesis of mushi? Additionally, we’ve seen mushi cure these infections in various people, so what about properties of these mushi are used to combat these illnesses? What if there was a tablet that could cure some of these ailments or, even better, a vaccine or other form of preventive medicine. Then again, considering the stories of Mushishi and how the mushi are symbolic of the humanistic struggles, there might not be a cure or application for every mushi in existence. Still, I’m curious to learn the genetic and chemical make-up of these various mushi and would love to learn what modern science would have to say about these beings. Then again, given the setting and the characters, I suppose Ginko’s explanations are the closest we’ll get to molecular biology, biochemistry and phase III multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials.
No Game No Life (Episode 5)
The games in No Game No Life are a double-edged sword. While I did rave about the idea of bending the rules with traditional games two weeks ago, I failed to mention the opposite: normal games would be mundane or boring. With the fifth episode of No Game No Life, we were treated to the traditional game of blackjack, which turned out to be pretty tame and uneventful. Furthermore, the rules of the game were left to be ambiguous, something that played to the advantage of the spectacular chess match but cheapened this card game. For example, the rule of winning back two-and-a-half times what you bet isn’t always true with one-and-a-half being the most common. Additionally, if Sora and Steph were playing by casino rules, Steph probably would’ve had eight decks of cards in a sleeve to prevent Sora from counting cards. And even if we ignore those two details and Sora wins two-and-a-half of what he bet in that final round, Steph would still have some chips left over and the game would not be over. You know I’m getting pretty petty when I’m counting poorly-drawn poker chips in an anime and arguing about how it’s unfair, but that’s the level of boredom I reached when watching this match. I couldn’t enjoy the game in this episode; it was ordinary. And instead of enjoying the wacky, silly game-of-the-week in this episode, I was too busy focusing on the flaws and realism instead of immersing myself in this delightful fantasy setting. I suppose the point, if there really is a point to this long-winded review, is that the games are what will make or break No Game No Life. These events and scenarios are a double-edged sword that will elevate the anime to greatness and sink it into monotony. However, with characters like Steph, Sora and Shiro guiding the way, I’m willing to place a bet that the games of this anime will finish with more wins than losses.
Ping Pong the Animation (Episode 5)
The manga for Ping Pong ran from 1996 to 1997. It took almost two decades for the manga to be adapted into an anime. And quite a bit has changed in the world between the final chapter of the manga and the first episode of the anime. Think about all the changes in technology, from cell phones to video games. Think about the different corporations and their logos. Think about even the changes in the rules of international table tennis, a significant rule change that occurred in September 2001 when they changed the scoring of matches from 21-point games to 11-point games. As a result of all these changes, and many more that were not mentioned, Ping Pong the Animation is probably quite a bit different than Ping Pong the manga. From scoring to cell phones to video game systems to the internet and even to Pepsi’s logo… are all updates from the 90s that reflect the world we live in today for Ping Pong. The manga may have taken place in the 90s and many attributes reflect it, but the anime is taking place in the present based on the observed technologies, corporations and how table tennis is played. It shouldn’t be terribly concerning to see an anime of this caliber updated after such a long break between the manga and anime, but it’s something worth pointing out for people who never paid attention to the differences between Enoshima in the late 90s and Enoshima now.
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin (Episode 5)
While Nanae Island is hailed as a paradise for teenagers, an impressive technological marvel where teenagers are a commanding majority of the population and a significant force on this floating metropolis, there are some major issues with it. And actually, when factoring in everything together, Nanae Island kinda sucks. The island is incredibly isolate and features limited transportation opportunities, meaning if a disaster strikes (massive tidal wave, typhoon, fire), then the students are stranded there and it would take quite a long time for other rescuers to respond and reach the island. The island is also probably ridiculously expensive, considering all the space is 1) limited 2) modern/new construction and 3) floating in the ocean (just think about the transportation costs of shipping all those materials/people/food/fuel/products). The cost of living on Nanae Island must be the highest in the world. Furthermore, the demographics of the island are probably not ideal either, especially when school is not in session and all the students leave to return to their families in Japan. Much like what happens in small college towns in the US, I could see the population of the island decrease by 75% during school vacations. Imagine the immense shift in employment and purchasing power (for example, how to staff restaurants or stock grocery stores) over those periods of time. And let’s not forget the poverty that we saw in this episode, likely a result of these and other social factors occurring on the island. To put it plainly, who would want to go there and spend maybe over $60,000 a year to go to school there on this troubled island versus going to an equivalent school in mainland Japan? I guess whoever is crazy enough to hunt Nanana’s Collection is a good enough answer for me.
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii (Episode 6)
Considering Nike’s ability to control the weather and summon rain at will, why aren’t all the princesses of the Rain Principality sought after as prizes? Imagine what the princesses could do for arid farmlands or cities where water is scarce and a resource more valuable than gold. Think about how they could travel the world and help end droughts that cause starvation, turmoil and violence. Imagine what they could do to prevent rain from occurring, by diverting floods and storms elsewhere to save the lives and property of countless people. Imagine what they could do to the world and the lives of everyone in it. They would be among the most valuable and powerful people in the world. However, they girls are all severely underutilized, with three of them residing in a small principality and the other married to the Sun King. You’d figure that with such an outstanding power that the princesses would regularly tour the world and use their magic to make the world a better place. We see it somewhat with Princess Nike helping out the people of the Sun Kingdom, but what about the other three and all the other issues going on in the world today? What’s the deal with them?