Back, during the Summer anime season, for week 11: defining acute mountain sickness and understanding its role in Yama no Susume Second Season, why I absolutely love the development of Asseylum in Aldnoah.Zero, questioning the balance of character development and death in Akame ga Kill!, and thoughts on changing the name of Hanayamata to Hanayamatasa.
Best episode of the week: Yama no Susume Second Season
Anime trending up this week: Tokyo ESP
Anime trending down this week: Tokyo Ghoul
Zankyou no Terror (Episode 9)
“And you think this will bring out the terrorists who we’re going after?”
“Of course it will. I don’t see how there are any flaws with this plan.”
“And you’re planning to play a game of chess with them once they get to the airport as a way to capture them and arrest them?”
“Yeah… about that… so when am I getting these bombs?”
“So your plan is to strap a bunch of bombs to this girl, put her in a Ferris wheel and wait for the terrorists to show up and save her as a means of finding out where the atomic bomb is located?”
“And if they don’t tell you, you’re planning on letting the bombs detonate, killing them and leaving the bomb somewhere in Tokyo?”
“That’s my plan! So, where are the bombs?”
My main question, nine episodes into Zankyou no Terror, is who is supplying Five for all these crazy missions, and who is allowing her to do so?
Yama no Susume Second Season (Episode 10)
Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is an ailment that occurs when people living at low altitudes ascend to higher altitudes at rates faster than their bodies can acclimate or adjust to the new environments. The cause of AMS is due to the decreasing partial pressure of oxygen (O2) at higher altitudes, meaning there is less oxygen absorbed in the body each time they breathe. In addition, strenuous physical activity like hiking demands a lot of oxygen in the body, so there is a greater need for oxygen at these high altitudes, too. Since there is less oxygen per breath and the bodies of the hikers are in dire need of oxygen (hypoxia), people will begin to breathe heavier and faster (hyperventilation). This hyperventilation causes more carbon dioxide (CO2) to be expelled from the body, especially with the low partial pressure of carbon dioxide at high altitudes. Carbon dioxide plays an essential role in determining the pH of the blood (in the form of bicarbonate) and breathing off too much carbon dioxide will cause the pH of the blood to rise (respiratory alkalosis). Additionally, there are other changes going on in the body, such as increased cardiac output, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased production of hemoglobin, and other physiological changes. These changes can manifest themselves in a number of symptoms, but primarily as headache, fatigue, and lightheadedness. This is what Aoi is experiencing right now on Mt. Fuji and why Kaede recommended she stop and rest at the inn. Now, you may be wondering why the other girls don’t have altitude sickness and why Aoi is the only one. In reality, all the girls are facing the same struggle as Aoi, but their bodies are acclimating to the difficult environment better or they are in better fitness than Aoi. Kaede, Hinata and Kokona are all dealing with the same environment as Aoi and may have milder symptoms than her, though we aren’t able to see it directly in the anime. Additionally, we also know that Aoi had difficulty sleeping the night before and that can contribute to AMS.
Acute mountain sickness is a very common disease in hikers, and I’m thrilled to see it used to such a dramatic effect in Yama no Susume. Seeing Aoi, and only Aoi, experience this now, while on the ascent to the top of Mt. Fuji, is going to do wonders for the anime. It’s creating a divide between the characters, between Aoi and her friends, and causing her to fail at her goal when everyone else could go on to reach the top. This moment will define Aoi’s character moving forward, not only for how she feels about herself and mountaineering in general but how Aoi feels about her friends who did not have as severe a case of AMS as she did. It’s heartbreaking to see Aoi go through these struggles because it will have a lasting negative impact on her character. Yes, even after her AMS is gone and she’s bright and cheery again, this moment will cast a shadow on her character until she finally reaches the summit of Mt. Fuji.
Sword Art Online II (Episode 11)
I know that Sword Art Online is an anime about virtual reality massive multiplayer online role-playing games, but when was the last time we saw the real world? Everything we’ve seen recently has been the BoB tournament in GGO and Kirito’s harem in ALO watching it. Everything has been within a game for the last few episodes now, and the scenes in the real world do little to contribute to the overall story line or Shino’s debilitating fear of guns. Compare that to the previous arc of SAO (ALO) which featured a number of scenes in the real world to develop the relationship between Kazuto and Suguha and for them to create drama with Asuna’s sleeping body. I’m not saying that this focus on GGO is necessarily bad, but it’s incredibly different than ALO and more akin to SAO when they were trapped in the VRMMORPG with no escape. It’s just an interesting transition between the three games with SAO and GGO being much more similar to each other than ALO.
Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? (Episode 10)
I was never ecstatic with the main storyline of Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?, being about the four girls trying to take over apartment 106. And I’ve never been really happy with the individual character stories that have taken over the anime with each girl getting their own arc to develop their characters and strengthen their relationship with Koutarou. However, these stories fulfill more to the series than playing silly games and never making progress with who is taking over the apartment. Yes, the various games they played were more fun and entertaining, but the really didn’t add to the series like the way these character arcs do. Now, we’re seeing a purpose to these characters and understanding why they are where they are now. They’re becoming meaningful and helping us relate to their problems and why they need the apartment so badly. And with that knowledge in place, now it’s time for the games for each character to take over the apartment. Now is the time for the anime to go back to the silly story about each girl wanting to take the six tatami mat apartment for themselves. Unfortunately though, I doubt this anime will receive a sequel since now is the time for the anime to shine with its various games about deciding who gets to keep that special, little residence.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Episode 24 [Finale])
The biggest issue with this season of JJBA is the lack of a true villain. While it’s true that Dio was sending every assassin he could find to kill Jotaro and friends, we never really saw the mastermind of this arc. Dio was relegated to a minor role thus far and his brilliance as a character was muted as a result. Instead, we had a lengthy series of secondary antagonists each week that never really built up to anything. Compare that with Part 1 and Part 2 where each fight was building up to Dio or Cars. Compare that to now where the final scene was everyone getting out of their car and posing in the Egyptian desert. With that in mind, I am anticipating the second half of Part 3 to be much, much better than this first half.
Hanayamata (Episode 10)
We know why Hanayamata is named Hanayamata – Hana, Naru, Yaya, Machi and Tami – all two character Japanese names – but why couldn’t the anime be named Hanayamatasa (or some variation) to include our favorite club supervisor, Sari-sensei, who also has a two character Japanese name. Yes, the anime is named after the girls who dance in the Yosakoi Dance Club, but Sari is an essential character since the club couldn’t exist in its current form without her as a teacher. She’s proven her worth to the club too, time and time again, especially in this episode by securing a spot in the Hanairo Festival after registration ended. And Sari has warmed up to the club itself, too. As she continues to spend more time with the girls, she’s become engrossed with yosakoi dance and has even practiced with the girls when she isn’t sexually harassing them. Sari might be the sixth most important character, at the very least, but she’s still an integral person to the club, the girls and the anime. I can understand why her name is not included in the title of the manga and anime, but I strongly believe her character has done enough to warrant a spot… you know, if the mangaka ever decided to change titles or make a sequel (can we get a sequel, please?) or something.
Glasslip (Episode 11)
Hina is the best character in Glasslip. No, it’s not because she’s a particularly great character but because everyone else is rather flat or tame as characters. Hina is the only character right now that brings any type of energy or performance to the screen. She provides value through her entertainment and quickly improves the scene through her humor. Everyone else in Glasslip is calm except for Touko. It’s like everyone is hiding their emotions or having trouble expressing them. And while it does work to prevent the anime from being overly dramatic or artificial, it just feels empty. That is to say, you’re not going to see characters bawling or fighting or overreacting in Glasslip (thank God), but you’re not going to see anything resembling drama either. And in this lackluster environment, Hina thrives as a character thanks to her bubbly personality and comic relief. It’s easy to see why Hina is the best character in Glasslip, though there isn’t much, if any, competition from the other cast members.
Barakamon (Episode 10)
Aldnoah.Zero (Episode 11)
I particularly enjoy the development of Princess Asseylum. When the series started, she was naïve, idealistic and weak. She stood on the sidelines and watched. She talked, but her words had no weight. And at first, she was fine with that, wearing a disguise and pretending to be someone else – someone who wasn’t important. She figured they would end the war with her having minimal involvement (once they see that she’s still alive, they’d stop attacking, right?). But as the war dragged on and more and more lives were lost, Asseylum chose to change her ways. She wasn’t forced to change at this point, but chose to take a more active role in ending the war. He began to act like a princess instead of a pedestrian, and discarded her disguise. And as a result, her character began to develop a little, but she was still the naïve, idealistic and weak princess that we saw at the beginning of the series. Now, with the United Earth HQ being bombarded after her plea for peace was rejected, we’re seeing Asseylum experience genuine character growth. For the first time in the series, we see her become angry at the weakness of her character and the rejection of her ideals. She’s realizing now how little weight she has despite being in a position of power and that her longing for peace means nothing to the people around her. So she’s changing. She’s taking an active role in the story now. She’s even getting in a kataphrakt and heading out into active combat. Asseylum isn’t there yet, but you can see she’s getting there. And with a second season in the near future, we can hope to see more of this Asseylum rather than the one we saw throughout this first season. Unless, of course… you know… unless something happens in episode 12…
Akame ga Kill! (Episode 11)
However, the question with any character that’s given a face, a name and a few lines is how well they serve a purpose in the series or how well they’re developed as characters. For Sheele and Bulat, we understood their role in the anime and had a couple minutes with their backstory to understand their motivation and purpose. And then that was it. For Dr. Stylish, we had even less. And for many other characters, they didn’t even last an episode. Is this adequate for these characters? Is what we’ve seen enough to make us feel bad for when Sheele and Bulat die or for us to feel satisfied when villains like Dr. Stylish dies? It’s hard to say given the massive number of characters and the limited time for each, but it feels like all these characters that keep appearing are a little empty. It’s like the series realizes a character will die soon so they go over their history to try to make them seem deep or complex. But that’s not really good storytelling or character development; in fact, in a series like Akame ga Kill!, it’s a harbinger of death or the opposite of how you want to develop a character. But then again, if these are all just throw-away characters, why even bother to develop them when they’re just gonna die anyway? I am torn on the subject because I want to learn more about each character, yet I know that 90% of the cast will be dead before the anime is over, and there’s no point in spending too much time on a person when they’re will only have a chance to impact the series for a few episodes. The happy medium, and what I truly want from the series, is better storytelling when trying to develop these characters and understanding how to better utilize each person early on rather than waiting for their final moments before adding purpose to their character. Really, the only one I’ve been happy with so far is Bulat, but his development as a character never really satisfied me, especially early on when all he was known for was being gay. Hopefully the series continues this pattern and begins to develop the characters early after their appearances since watching underdeveloped characters like those mentioned at the beginning of this post is never really substantial or noteworthy.