Wow, I haven’t written for a while. So yeah, this post covers anime that aired about a thousand weeks ago. Still the articles are worth reading, trust me. In fact, some of the topics in this weekly review include: thoughts on blending the real robot and super robot genres in Aldnoah.Zero, appreciating the use of futuristic and alien technologies in Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?, questioning Lisa’s role since the first episode in Zankyou no Terror, and trying to find the best episode to define Space Dandy.
Best episode of the week: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Anime trending up this week: Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?
Anime trending down this week: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal
Akame ga Kill! (Episode 7)
Although I tend to dislike various idiosyncratic details of anime, especially if they parallel substandard writing, plot holes or general disarray, I do have a soft spot for whenever characters follow their instincts. For whatever reason, whenever a character does something based on instinct alone, I often enjoy it. As we saw with Leone in this episode, she followed her instincts and avoided falling into a trap against Esdeath. One might view the writing in this situation as inconsistent or lacking in explanation, but that’s exactly why I like it. I frequently criticize anime, sometimes unfairly, when they are not clear with a motive or reasoning, and that could be argued in this situation. However, what I enjoy about these scenes are that I understand gut feelings all too well and can relate to a character that decides for or against something based on these impulses. So while I am relatively unhappy with Akame ga Kill overall in terms of its writing, I did find this scene in particular to be one of the better in the episode, albeit it being for only a few shots.
Aldnoah.Zero (Episode 7)
Aldnoah.Zero is an anime about Real Robots fighting against Super Robots. If you are unfamiliar with the terms, Real Robot is a genre of mecha manga and anime where the mecha are largely governed by normal physics and realistic technologies. These robots don’t fly around or possess magic weapons, but instead are giant machines that feel heavy (watch how they walk, you can actually see their weight) and seem realistic. And as you might guess, the Super Robot genre is the exact opposite. These are the mecha that fly around and possess magic weapons and armor, often ignoring the real world and being born from the imagination of the writers and mechanical designers.
In Aldnoah.Zero, the Kataphrakts for the United Earth can be defined as Real Robots while the mecha fighting for the Vers Empire are entirely Super Robots. As you can already tell, the Super Robots clearly outclass the Real Robots and dominate in every fight. In this episode, we saw Hellas’ six flying forearms decimate the United Earth forces without much resistance. As a result of this inherent disadvantage, Inaho and his compatriots must find employ alternative strategies to combating these overpowering mecha, such as exploiting weaknesses or setting specific traps. It is a fascinating commentary about how the two sides differ in terms of their strategies, especially since you rarely see Real Robots fight Super Robots in the same setting. The writers have a solid foundation in what makes each genre appealing to the audience and are utilizing these aspects to their advantage when scripting the fights. Aldnoah.Zero forces the two sides against each other, and the result is a remarkable examination about the difference between these two mecha genre.
Barakamon (Episode 7)
Perhaps the most charming aspect of Barakamon is that the characters behave like people. That is to say, instead of watching an anime about anime characters, Barakamon is an anime about people. Whereas most anime have characters that feel like specific anime stereotypes or archetypes, you could believe the people in Barakamon are people… for the most part. It isn’t perfect nor is it trying to be, but the personalities and characteristics of the cast of Barakamon is more genuine and realistic than virtually every other anime this season. And this aspect of the characterization is a huge reason why I enjoy this anime as much as I do.
Glasslip (Episode 7)
Incorporating background characters into a story is a quick way to win me over with an anime. Hina Fukami, Touko’s younger sister, was a tertiary character throughout the first half of Glasslip, only present in a handful of scenes and voicing about a dozen lines. Now, she’s suddenly relevant to the main cast of characters and contributing to the content of the story (though she’s still primarily fanservice, what with that swimsuit and all). Still, it makes me happy to see the anime spend some time growing and incorporating new characters in its story. Without Hina, I probably would’ve found this episode to be stale. Instead, Hina adds a new dimension to Glasslip and helps alter the dynamic due to her relationships with the characters and how she influences their actions. Utilizing Hina in this role is a great development for Glasslip. Not only does it bode well for future episodes by adding another performer to the stage, but it also shows how to develop a background character into someone important. I’m looking forward to what Hina brings to the rest of the anime.
Hanayamata (Episode 6)
For an anime that prides itself on yosakoi dancing, you’d figure the dance sequences of Hanayamata would be dazzling displays of spectacular art, animation and choreography. And though the dancing animation we saw in this episode was an informal performance, a spontaneous moment born from the curiosity of inquisitive schoolgirls, I honestly expected better. The opening sequence for Hanayamata is features a few difference dance sequences and the motion and emotion are lively, energetic and passionate. The animation comes to life in the opening and that’s what I have come to expect with Hanayamata. And with so little dancing up until now in the series, I was expecting the first performance to be something similar to what we see every week in the opening. But no, the dancing animation was just very plain and ordinary. Of course, this wasn’t a live performance or anything, but I still wanted more from Hanayamata. Hopefully this sequence was more a tease than anything else, since I am expecting some brilliant animation from Hanayamata when the girls dance for real.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Episode 20)
Why do they let the assassins go? What’s to stop them from attacking them again later? Or worse, what about killing other innocent people? We saw it happen already when they decided to let Steely Dan Dan of Steel go and he immediately endangered the life of a little girl. I can understand that Jotaro and the others are ‘good guys’ and are trying to show forgiveness, but still, show some intelligence.
Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? (Episode 6)
One aspect of anime that always fascinates me is how people imagine futuristic or alien technologies. Whenever an anime is set in the future or deals with alien visitors, like we see in Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?, I always find myself interested in their ways of living, the technology they use and how they use it. Theia and Ruth are from a distant planet named Fortorthe and have utilized a number of interesting technologies since their introduction to the series. We’ve seen spaceships and battle armors, teleportation and levitation, and even display screens that appear out of nowhere. Of course, given Theia’s status, we aren’t sure if these are everyday technologies or if these are reserved for the elite and royalty. In either case, the technologies don’t readily impact their lives compared to what we are accustomed to. That is to say, the lifestyles of Theia and Ruth are similar to what we see on Earth. The spaceship and teleportation are used infrequently as a means of transportation, the levitation helps reduce burden and decreases spills, and the display screens are similar to smartphones. We haven’t seen technologies that significantly change their lives either, such as technologies to feed them or rest them or extend their lives, like you see with other anime that deal with the future or aliens. Of course, these technologies don’t really impact the characters or story all that much, but it’s still interesting to see the byproducts of different people’s imaginations.
Space Dandy Season 2 (Episode 7)
I doubt there will ever be one episode that accurately defines Space Dandy. Given the diversity, creativity and lunacy of the series, I think it’s impossible to describe the series with just one episode. However, the seventh episode of Space Dandy 2 serves as a good example of what to expect with Space Dandy. It doesn’t capture the bizarre elements of certain specific episodes, but this rock and roll episode captures the brilliance and amusement of the series while showcasing the talents of its characters and their wacky adventures. Of course, given that simple criteria, many other episodes would also fit that description… but there’s just something special about this episode that makes it one of the best in this young series. I suppose the writer of this episode, Kimiko Ueno, is one reason why I adore this episode so much as she has consistently written the best episodes since the Deathgerian and zombie episodes. It’s her talent and understanding of the series that really speaks to me and what makes this episode one of my favorite. It is impracticable to define Space Dandy with just one episode, but the rock and roll band episode is likely the closest we’ll get to encompassing all of Space Dandy in just 24 minutes.
Sword Art Online II (Episode 7)
Although the story is remarkably better in GGO (which really isn’t saying much), the actual game of ALO is much more enticing as a watcher of Sword Art Online. ALO is much more engaging and social, a game where people work together to take down monsters instead of hunting and hiding and camping and sniping each other. Yes, the competitive aspect of GGO is appropriate for the Death Gun story, but it doesn’t make it more entertaining or interesting than the vibrant world of ALO. And with the side story inside ALO in this episode, we were offered the chance to look at the game uninterrupted by an asinine story; we saw online characters doing something fun. And guess what, that was the highlight of SAO 2 for me. Hopefully Death Gun’s death gun will backfire and kill him and end the story in an episode or two and provide Kirito the opportunity to go back to ALO and improve the series. Or better yet, why not just ditch Kirito and Shino completely and just focus on ALO for the next 19 episodes? I can dream, can’t I?
Tokyo ESP (Episode 6)
If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not a fan of mascot characters. Certain mascot characters are fine when they are more than just comic relief or perverted sidekicks. Peggy and Happosai Yodani Roshi aren’t the kinda mascot characters I like. They were making this anime tough on me with Peggy earlier, and now they’ve added a perverted panda that teaches martial arts. Great… just great.
Yama no Susume Second Season (Episode 6)
Isn’t Fuji, the tallest, most prominent, most picturesque and most distinguished mountain in all Japan, a little ambitious for the middle of Yama no Susume? I can understand that it might not be the most difficult mountain to climb, but isn’t this the kinda mountain you end a series with? Don’t you usually do small, unknown mountains close to home first and then build you way up to the biggest, best mountain for the finale? Why are we doing Fuji already when we have 18 more episodes to go? Are they planning on doing Everest next and then finish with Olympus Mons?
Actually… I’d like that if they went to Mars and climbed a mountain that’s 22 kilometers (14 miles) tall and about the size of France. Here’s hoping for Olympus Mons before Yama no Susume is over!
Zankyou no Terror (Episode 6)
The first episode was a tease; it suggested a much larger role for Lisa than what we’ve currently seen. The first episode provided us with some introspection to her character, as we heard her thoughts of Nine and Twelve when she first met them and against after being rescued following the collapse of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Not only that, but her perspective toward Nine and Twelve mirrored our own and the storytelling from her point-of-view would be relatable to the audience. Not only that, but her escape from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building was arguably the highlight of the first episode and her decision to leap to Twelve (thus committing to him) after refusing to leap for the bullies into the pool provided an excellent backdrop for her character to grow and mature.
But since then, we’ve been reserved to watching Nine and Twelve play silly games with the police and now a friend from America, Five, is here to play games at an airport. Lisa’s character has had some interesting developments since the first episode, but she’s largely been relegated to a background character who provides comic relief and eye-candy for the male audience. You would think this anime would have more of a focus on Lisa’s character given the amount of content and attention she received in the first episode, but it hasn’t materialized like that episode would suggest. Fortunately, she’s found a role in the series being an accomplice to Sphinx and appears to be destined for something great soon. However, with the series half over, it’s hard to say how much of an impact she’ll have and whether the resolution of her character will be satisfying or not. Then again, I suppose I should wait until the end of the series to finalize my opinions instead of just relying on speculation at this point.