Summer 2014 – Week 4 Anime Review

rokujouma_no_shinryakusha-03-sanae-koutarou-ruth-theia-kiriha-karama-koama-comedy-pointing-blame-buruma-gym_uniformWhenever Week 4 was, probably a long, long time ago: thoughts and observations on the symbolism of darkness and light in Zankyou no Terror, questioning the accuracy and reliability of Touko’s special ability in Glasslip, becoming unhappy with the direction Tokyo Ghoul is taking in relation to its story and its content, and a short rant on student governments and school clubs inspired by Hanayamata.

Best episode of the week: Space Dandy Season 2

Anime trending up this week: Sabagebu!

Anime trending down this week: Captain Earth

 

Akame ga Kill! (Episode 4)

akame_ga_kill-04-tatsumi-bulat-comedy-romance-gay-uneasy-flowersAkame ga Kill! is bipolar. The two halves of Akame ga Kill!, couldn’t be more different. Everything that happens at Night Raid’s headquarters is completely carefree and lax. And then when they’re in the capital, it’s overly dramatic and heavy. It’s like they’re two independent anime combined into one series. It starts off with one half focusing on a humorous, happy-go-lucky, slice-of-life anime where friends get together and train and cook and spy on girls in their underwear. Then it becomes night and the anime goes Mr. Hyde with drama, action, superpowers, blood and death. It’s not a bad thing that the two halves are so different in Akame ga Kill!, but it is a bit strange at how stark the contrast is between the two halves and how they have virtually nothing in common.

akame_ga_kill-04-akame-apron-cooking-kuma_san-bear akame_ga_kill-04-akame-murasame-katana-sword-relic-smile-night

 

Aldnoah.Zero (Episode 4)

aldnoah_zero-04-slaine-terran-martian_soldier-gunWhen will they go on the offensive? Or maybe the better question right now, how will they go on the offensive? Provided what we’ve seen thus far, Inaho and the others are severely outnumbered and outmatched in terms of personnel, weapons and technology. In order to fight back, they’ll need to find some way to exploit these disadvantages, but they can hardly even think when they’re under constant assault. It’ll probably be around the time when Slaine joins alongside his princess, Asseylum, and Inaho for when we’ll see the Terrans go on the offensive.

aldnoah_zero-04-inaho-terran-calm-aloof-looking_back aldnoah_zero-04-seylum-rayet-asseylum-martian-princess-refuge-mysterious-disguise

 

Glasslip (Episode 4)

glasslip-04-yanagi-yukinari-comedy-punch-romanceTouko’s fortuitous ability to see the future is extremely opportune for Glasslip, but one must question how accurate this talent is given what we’ve witnessed thus far. Perhaps the most notable examples are the times where Touko’s talent has been incorrect or different than what she forecasted. One might assume then that Touko’s soothsaying is erratic and unreliable, and that this scatterbrained girl may be acting on assumptions that are imaginary. However, one might view this as just the opposite. Perhaps Touko’s ability is indeed accurate, but there are actions that occur that alter these events and change the future that she once predicted. Perhaps everything that we’ve seen from Touko’s ability is in fact the truth, but because Touko changes her actions between these two points of time, the event in the future is different. Right now, there is no way to test this theory nor does it seem like the anime will address this point in the near future. If only I possessed her ability would I know whether Glasslip would answer this question or not. Then again, if I had her talent at predicating the future, how would I know whether it is accurate or not.

glasslip-04-touko-yukinari-romance-friendship glasslip-04-touko-yanagi-friendship-love_rivals-conversation

 

Hanayamata (Episode 3)

hanayamata-03-machi-tami-student_council_president-student_council_vice_president-student_body_government-glassesI’ll never understand the student governments and rules regarding clubs in anime. Why is everyone so anal about all these details that are really insignificant and trivial? So what if a club only has two or three people? Why does it always need to be four or five? I can understand that there may be issues with funding if there are too many clubs, but why not restrict funding if the club membership is below the five person threshold? Why do they go out of their way to denies these clubs and the special interests that these students have? And why do student body presidents and disciplinary committees take their jobs so seriously? They take whatever minute power they received from the school and wield it like a mighty hammer of justice, striking down every student that doesn’t fit precisely in their mold of the proper or appropriate student. And it’s not just Hanayamata… I wish it were just Hanayamata, but this kinda bullshit happens in every anime with a student president (so every school anime ever) and every anime that revolves around an after-school club (also every school anime ever). There’s always this pointless and unnecessary drama. I don’t get it. I never have, and apparently, I never will.

hanayamata-03-hana-yukata-blonde-american-obi-surprised-cute hanayamata-03-yaya-unhappy-stare-gloom-dread-comedy

 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Episode 17)

jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-17-hierophant_green-silver_chariot-standsHow do the Stands talk to each other? When Silver Chariot, Hierophant Green and Lovers were inside Joesph’s brain, they were able to communicate to each other. But why? Weren’t Polnareff and Kakyoin right next to each other in the real world? And what about Lovers? How was Steely Dan able to communicate with them through his Stands? Does this mean that Stands speak in real time in the real world normally? Is there a constant echo of a person and a Stand talking, not to mention the person and the Stand listening, too? That’s like Jotaro saying ‘yare yare daze’ and then hearing it 4 times at the same time. No, really, how does this work?

jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-17-star_platinum-jotaro-stand-pinch-fast-reflexes jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-17-lovers-stand-tiny-insect-fingers-claws

 

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? (Episode 3)

rokujouma_no_shinryakusha-03-theia-kiriha-comedy-punch-cross_counter-buruma-gym_uniform-fanservice-boobsRokujouma no Shinryakusha!? is actually fun. I’m actually enjoying this anime. And this is exactly the reason why I’m uneasy about Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? heading into the future. For one, I don’t want the anime to become a harem. Please, don’t become a harem. I know that once the series heads down that path, it’s a slippery slope and the anime will slowly devolve into love triangles and drama and other stuff that is the opposite of fun and enjoyment. The other point that I am nervous about is when the novelty of the anime will wear out. So far, it’s been amusing to watch the characters play cards and then participate in an obstacle course, but I’m wondering when the series will start to feel repetitious and when it reaches its climax. Given that this series has 15 volumes of the light novel published, I’m hoping the series has a few ideas to keep itself fresh for the duration of this anime. And since the anime is slated to be only 12 episodes at this point, there’s a good chance that the series will stay enjoyable from start to finish. We’re already through with a quarter of the anime and it’s been above my expectations so far. If Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? can continue at this pace and keep up with this style of humor, then I won’t be afraid to call this one of the surprises of the season. If not, then that’s unfortunately what I expect of an anime of this style and caliber.

rokujouma_no_shinryakusha-03-harumi-koutarou-romance-holding_hands-blush-harem rokujouma_no_shinryakusha-03-yurika-magical_girl-crying-unfortunate-unlucky-unloved-tears-twintails

 

Space Dandy Season 2 (Episode 4)

space_dandy_2-04-dandy-sunglasses-pompadour-awesomeOne of the greatest assets of Space Dandy is that is s survey of diverse art styles, animation techniques and sakuga. Every episode features a new and different animation director (along with different overall directors, writers and other integral positions) and each new staff is able to instill their own artistic touch to the anime. And though this episode appeared to look normal or standard for Space Dandy, the episode contained an uncanny amount of highly detailed, extremely animated sakuga sequences. Of particular note was the song and dance at the end, but the episode featured brilliant animation throughout. The remainder of episodes might not all be as distinctive or as illustrious as some of the ones before this, but Space Dandy has done an outstanding job of diversifying its talent with these special artists and the visual style and appearance of these episodes the direct outcome of such an endeavor.

space_dandy_2-04-sofia-queen_bee-idol-singer-finger_over_lips space_dandy_2-04-sobakasu-freckles-alien-glasses-braids-nerd-geek-blush

 

Sword Art Online II (Episode 4)

sword_art_online_2-04-sbc_glocken-gun_gale_online-virtual_city-cityscape-tower-massive-impressive-greyWhy is the starting city of Gun Gale Online, haphazardly named SBC Glocken, so massive? Although the cityscape, the landmarks and the immense size are all impressive and intimidating, does a virtual city need to be so large that it takes the better part of a day to walk from one shop to another? Just what exactly is in all this wasted virtual space? And why is the transportation system within the city so shoddy and inadequate? Is there really no system of teleportation or instant travel or even fast travel besides motorbikes? What’s the point of forcing someone to run for 10 minutes to get from point A to point B? I could imagine if this were a battlefield or arena or a dynamic environment, but this is a city where people shop, relax and hangout with each other. It doesn’t make much sense. Then again, the basis of this complaint is derived from the senseless and pointless drama of Kirito needing to drive Sinon to the arena, so maybe I should be voicing my frustration to that rather than to the virtual city, SBC Glocken. Also, I can’t get over how stupid of a name the city is, but that’s an entirely different criticism.

sword_art_online_2-04-kirito-ggo-kagemitsu_g4-kouken-lightsaber-beam_sword sword_art_online_2-04-kirito-ggo-fn_five_seven-semi_automatic-handgun-firing_range

 

Tokyo ESP (Episode 3)

tokyo_esp-03-rinka-esper-white_hair-white_girlIn anime where characters have superpowers, you often never see multiple people wielding the same special ability. The only time such an occurrence happens is when several characters have trained under the same technique or discipline or when characters obtain the powers form others either by learning their skills or by absorbing it. But Tokyo ESP has obviously never heard of such a rule or it wouldn’t have two characters with the same teleportation ability. It is refreshing to see an anime ignore this law since it will allow the story and the characters to evolve in a way unique to the other superpower fighting anime. For one, it’ll force the characters to be creative with their abilities and require them to change their abilities in order to fight each other. It also erases the advantages and disadvantages inherit when one person controls an ability and the other does not. I’m hopeful that Tokyo ESP continues with this pattern and we’re able to see multiple characters wielding the same powers in order to showcase intelligence and tactics during the fight. There’s nothing that levels the playing field better than giving the two rivals the same ability and forcing their intellect, creativity, perception and comprehension to win the fight.

tokyo_esp-03-kobushi-esper-black_fist-boxer-fighter-bandage_over_nose tokyo_esp-03-edoyama-leonidas_parody-reference-father-beard-scar

 

Tokyo Ghoul (Episode 4)

tokyo_ghoul-04-itori-ghoul-black_red_eye-friendly-pointingThe focus of Tokyo Ghoul should be on Ken’s adaption to life as a ghoul and understanding the society of these monsters, not trying to fight random villains and whatnot. Tokyo Ghoul presented itself with a somewhat distinctive setting where a society of flesh-eating monsters lived in the shadows of urban Japan and offered us the opportunity to observe and study said culture through the eyes of a newcomer, Ken. Not only that, but with Ken being half-human and half-ghoul, the story of Ken would offer us a unique duality where we could compare and contrast the lifestyles and culture of humans and ghouls alike and why they fight and how they could coexist. But no, this freak wants to eat Ken and now they must fight him or something stupid. Really? That’s what Tokyo Ghoul is gonna become? That’s disappointing.

tokyo_ghoul-04-shuu-gourmet-mm-ghoul-insane-crazy-another_outstanding_mamoru_miyano_performance tokyo_ghoul-04-ken-half_human_half_ghoul-black_red_eye-smile-crazy-bloodlust

 

Yama no Susume Second Season (Episode 3)

yama_no_susume_2-03-kaede-aoi-hinata-kokona-friendship-hiking-view-awe-inspired-happyFor an anime about mountain climbing and one that emphasizes gorgeous scenery and breathtaking landscapes, the background art could be much, much better. While the illustrations are satisfactory or acceptable, the art and the style of the backgrounds feels a bit lacking when viewed in comparison to the reaction of the girls. For example, when the girls first view the majestic and specular Mt. Fuji, the scene is a bit crude and lacks detail. The trees in the foreground are depicted with blotches of paint and the city in the valley is featureless and blurry. The focal point of the scene, Mt. Fuji itself, features more effort than anything else, with its visible ridges, but the rest of the scene is just ‘meh’, if not worse. Now that’s not to say that the background in every scene should be photorealistic or life-like, but it should be better when the girls are appreciating the views or scenery, especially when they’re in awe or inspired. Unfortunately, this art style is probably here to stay since the backgrounds don’t often change midway through an anime. The wish should be that the animators use better techniques or put more effort and detail into these views as the series continues.

yama_no_susume_2-03-mt_fuji-fuji_san-scenery-landscape-mountain_view-sunny-trees-art yama_no_susume_2-03-aoi-happy-cup-water-hiking-moe

 

Zankyou no Terror (Episode 3)

zankyou_no_terror-03-lisa-runaway-free-open-light-daytimeThere is a significant emphasis on darkness and light in Zankyou no Terror. In fact, the anime stresses it to the point where the darkness begins to feel heavy, that it carries weight and closes off the characters while the light acts as the opposite. Darkness and light have often been used symbolically throughout the history of storytelling, cinema and anime, so there are a number of interpretations or meanings for this imagery. One that comes to mind for me is that light often represents knowledge and understanding while darkness is linked to ignorance and naivety. This could be the explanation for symbolism used around Shibazaki’s character, where he’s solving the riddles in darkness (during the police briefings; in his office) and then explains the answers in clear, bright light (on camera, broadcasted throughout Japan). However, you see the emphasis of darkness and light for the other characters, too, including Arata, Touji, Lisa and the other members of the police department. For example, with Lisa, you could argue that she was trapped while living with her mother (dark) and then became free when she ran away from home (light). Similarly, we’ve seen Arata and Touji live in darkness in their apartment whereas their past, when the two were just children, was filled with light in that sterile and clean facility. For each and every character and situation, the weight of the darkness and the weightlessness of light may represent different meanings or themes. It’ll be interesting to see how this symbolism is used throughout the anime and how its significance is illustrated visually.

zankyou_no_terror-03-arata-nine-darkness-light zankyou_no_terror-03-shibazaki-detective-darkness-thinking-riddles-mysteries

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