Winter 2015 – Week 2 Anime Review

the_rolling_girls-02-yukina-nozomi-chiaya-ai-photo-pose-friendshipThis week: analyzing the delicate balance between entertainment and realism in Shirobako, questioning the subjectivity of evidence and judgments in Death Parade, justifying what makes the setting so successful and vibrant in Durarara!!x2 Shou, and gushing about the unique personality in The Rolling Girls.

Best episode of the week: Death Parade

Anime trending up this week: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Egypt Arc (S2)

Anime trending down this week: Yuri Kuma Arashi

 

Aldnoah.Zero (S2) (Episode 14)

aldnoah_zero-14-inaho-robotic_eye-cyborg-space_suitInaho’s new robotic eye is pretty great, right? I mean, with this new robotic eye, he can create 3D images of girls (I’m assuming he’s been spying on Inko for a while now with that eye), he can calculate mass by watching something move, he can zoom with his eye (which must be really disorienting if he has his other eye open), and he can use it to detect fluctuations and variations in sound waves or some bullshit. It was essentially the difference in the most recent ‘Inaho-saves-the-day’ battle by being able to track the movement of these mecha by calculating the changes in wind (?) and the gravitation pull of tiny space rocks (???) to blow shit up. So tell me, if these robot eyes are so useful, why doesn’t everybody have one? Hell, why doesn’t everybody have two of these things? Imagine if everyone had these god-like robotic eyes that can pretty much do everything. The war would essentially be over now. Princess Asseylum would probably be cured by now. And the rest of the anime would probably fanservicey beach episodes, just like the creators always wanted.

aldnoah_zero-14-inko-inaho-embarrassed-yelling-blush-romance-cute aldnoah_zero-14-slaine-vers-knight-tharsis-kataphract-cockpit

 

Death Parade (Episode 2)

death_parade-02-onna-nona-quindecim-bar-drinking-alcohol-smile-cuteIs Decim really wrong? Did he really make a mistake? Considering how subjective the evidence is and considering how the material is presented to these arbiters, you could make an argument that Decim is correct in his judgment between Takashi and Machiko. In fact, I’m surprised that Decim did not explain his rationale further after Onna, his new assistant, countered him with her rationalization of Machiko’s actions. For example, Decim could have retorted that Machiko’s latest actions were only after she realized she is dead which then changed her behavior, her subsequent actions, and ultimately ended the evaluation period. Then again, that isn’t to say that Onna and Nona are wrong either; in fact, they’re probably more correct than Decim in this case. Still, I would have figured that Decim would rationalize his thoughts further, but I suppose that’s just the way he is. And who knows, maybe that’s the real story that this anime wants to tackle with introducing Onna to Decim.

death_parade-02-onna-assistant-mysterious-quiet-thinking-rational death_parade-02-nona-arbiter-quindecim-serious

 

Dog Days’’ (S3) (Episode 2)

dog_days_s3-02-shinku-nanami-sharu-heroes-priestess-dragon_forest-excited-adventureThe first season of Dog Days was dedicated to Shinku’s adventures as the Hero of Biscotti. The second season of Dog Days had a special focus on Becky, elaborating on her relationship with Shinku and also becaming the Hero of Pastillage. So, if the pattern continues, perhaps the third season will place a special emphasis on the third human hero, Nanami? The first two episodes of Dog Days’’ seems to be leaning that way, at least for now.   Each episode has put Nanami in a central role, pairing her with Shinku at the start, having them travel to Flonyard together, and then beginning the first adventure of this sequel with them immediately getting lost in the Dragon Forest. Nanami was never featured this much before, and was never seen alone with Shinku besides a couple of fights early on in Dog Days’. Perhaps the creators are shaping this season with Nanami as one of its primary characters? After two episodes, it certainly seems like this is Nanami’s season of Dog Days.

dog_days_s3-02-sharu-dragon_priestess-archer-scared-looking_up dog_days_s3-02-ricotta-biscotti-researcher-reunion-happy-running-arms_stretched_out-adorable-cute-dog_ears

 

Durarara!!x2 Shou (Episode 2)

durarara!!x2_shou-02-aoba-kururi-raira_academy-gym_uniform-first_meeting-bored-quiet-shyDurarara!! has one of the most dynamic and enthusiastic settings in anime, thanks principally to how well it manages its enormous cast. Not only do each of these characters have some degree of depth and a definable personality, but they continue to remain relevant to Ikebukuro even when they’re outside the primary storyline. That is to say, they continue to have an influence on Durarara!! despite not being in the immediate focus of the story. The reason for Durarara!!’s success here is that it continues to tie characters together for relevant reasons. Mikado and Anri are unsure in Ikebukuro to show Aoba, so they enlist help from Walker and Erika. Namie Yagiri, the main antagonist for the first part of Durarara!!, is still the underappreciated secretary for Izaya, but she provides an opportunity for exposition through openly spying on her boss and his twin sisters. Furthermore, the anime is continuing to build connections between characters even now, such as Emilia with Shingen, Shinra and Celty or even between Anri and Shingen in this episode. The way Durarara!! utilizes its cast is nothing short of exceptional and it gives the anime a unique feel to how the city lives and breathes. And as the series continues to grow, so does Ikebukuro, and the setting only continues to improve as a result.

durarara!!x2_shou-02-shizou-bartender-sunglasses-super_strength-blonde-angry-hates_violence durarara!!x2_shou-02-celty-dullahan-missing_head-black_smoke-heart_with_arrow_through_it-romance-cute

 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Egypt Arc (S2) (Episode 26)

jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-26-jotaro-cool-respectful-sunset-no_hat-messy_hairJotaro is a dick. Did he really just spend all afternoon and into the early evening digging a grave for N’Doul instead of going back and telling his friends that he successfully defeated the Stand user and that they could move and make sounds again and get out of the desert sun? Like, shouldn’t the first thing you do is go back and make sure your friends that are bleeding to death are okay? Or maybe tell Avdol that the Stand was ‘Geb’ an Egyptian god and seek clues about the other possible Stand users? Don’t get me wrong, digging a grave is respectful and honorable, but couldn’t he have done that after helping his companions?

jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-26-geb-stand-water-hand-desert jojos_bizarre_adventure_stardust_crusaders-26-n'doul-stand_master-blind-cane-listening-sound-eyes_closed-concentrating

 

Kamisama Kiss S2 (Episode 2)

kamisama_kiss_s2-02-kirihito-akura_ou-demon-looking_back-stareFrom here, Kamisama Kiss can go in a number of directions, such as developing Nanami’s spiritual powers or continuing the romance between her and pretty much every guy in the series. The direction that intrigues me the most, however, is the one on Tomoe’s past, specifically his relationship with Akura-ou (his demon buddy you see with Tomoe at the start of episode 1) and his romance with Yukiji. I am thankful to see that Akura-ou is back in the anime, in the body of Kirihito, since this means that the anime is intending to explore Tomoe’s past this season. Whether that is the main storyline or just a tangent remains to be seen, but I am looking forward to learning about Tomoe’s past and how he has evolved as a character throughout his life and throughout the series.

kamisama_kiss_s2-02-tomoe-familiar-happy-beautiful-sparkles-fox_ears kamisama_kiss_s2-02-nanami-earth_god-sulk-sad-looking_away-blush

 

Kantai Collection (KanColle) (Episode 2)

kantai_collection-02-third_torpedo_squadron-yuudachi-mutsuki-fubuki-jintsuu-sendai-naka-destroyers-light_cruisers-burumaIt might not be a surprise to some, but it’s a surprise to me how much fanservice there is in Kantai Collection. Considering its premise and its setting, I expected there to be some fanservice, such as damage shown by torn or ripped clothes and the inevitable bathing scenes, but not in this volume or in the form of numerous pantyshots. In fact, the main broadcast version for episode 1 was somewhat ‘censored’ compared to other versions with a comparison between the two below:

kantai_collection-01-fubuki-naka-mogami-comparison-uncensored-fanservice-panties-water

Still, despite the fanservice, Kantai Collection manages to maintain its somewhat-serious and militaristic themes. Again, I suppose that’s not a surprise to some when there are pseudo-military anime like Strike Witches, but I expected something more thoughtful and mindful than that with KanColle. Then again, there have only been two episodes, so maybe the anime will mature as the story and the characters progress.

kantai_collection-02-atago-fubuki-heavy_cruiser-destroyer-fanservice-bath_towel-boobs-comedy kantai_collection-02-shimakaze-rensouhou_chan-destroyer-bored-playing-desk-school-cute

 

Shirobako (Episode 14)

shirobako-14-ema-misa-midori-aoi-heartbreaking-quiet-disappointed-looking_away-bar-drinksOne of the paramount aspects of how Shirobako appropriately represents the anime industry is how it manages to skillfully balance realism with entertainment. Without the value of amusement, scenes describing the industry in Shirobako would become monotonous and lackluster, concentrating on disclosing as much information without any flare or character to lighten the mood. Without it, these scenes would feel heavy and dense, and leave the audience feeling tired or bored after a while. And this is where entertainment or amusement comes in. Shirobako uses these variables to its advantage, and it’s able to create scenes that are humorous to watch while still being educational and realistic.

shirobako-14-kinoshita-aoi-director-production_manager-restaurant-meeting-sulk-depressed-realistic-entertainment shirobako-14-tsuyoshi-takumi-enjo-audition_meeting-comedy-entertainment-realistic-anime_industry

A great way to understand this is by examining two scenes with differing amounts of entertainment to demonstrate how well Shirobako uses this key feature. For example, when Miyamori and Kinoshita met with Atsumi in the restaurant, the scene had a low amount of entertainment, thus giving it a serious and heavy feel, while the audition meeting scene had extensive comedy while still being representative of the industry. Both scenes are realistic, to a certain degree, but this is more difficult to manage when the scene is meant to be hilarious. The audition meeting scene was rampant with jokes and parodies about the axillary industries, thanks primarily due to some phenomenal work by Takehito Koyasu, but because the scene captured how these other influences are attempting to sway the anime industry to promote their own profits, it made the scene both hysterical and informative. By contrast, the scene with Atsumi was highly informative, describing how an artist values and appreciates his work, but the scene was not nearly as entertaining, making the balance less noticeable. Then again, the scene was never meant to be amusing, so it’s important to factor in where high amounts of humor can be used and cannot be used. The scene with Atsumi was meant to be serious, so Shirobako used an appropriate mood to supplement the content presented. That isn’t to say the balance between realism and entertainment is unimpressive when compared against the comical scenes, but it does demonstrate how well Shirobako manages the two in serious scenes, only using humor in small doses, careful not to tip the scale in the wrong direction. The point is, Shirobako is outstanding with handling these elements, and it’s able to use it to its fullest advantage. Because of how well Shirobako is directed, Shirobako is able to be both entertaining and realistic in how it describes the many features and aspects of the intricate and amusing anime industry.

shirobako-14-midori-writer-college_student-setting_composition-interview-suit-serious-cute shirobako-14-shizuka-voice_actress-seiyuu-waitress-sad-disappointed-optimistic

 

Soukyuu no Fafner – Dead Aggressor: Exodus (Episode 2)

soukyuu_no_fafner_dead_aggressor_exodus-02-soushi-battle_commander-siegfried_system-leadershipTo me, the most important feature of any mecha anime is that the mecha are distinctive and memorable. Without it, the central element and the main selling-point of the anime are virtually lost. The best the anime can hope for at that point is to simply be mediocre. Thankfully, for Soukyuu no Fafner, the mecha are notable and have a pronounced effect on the anime. Compared to other mecha anime, the Fafners as a whole have their own defining characteristics through their appearance, their interfaces, and their fighting styles, to create a style that is unique to this anime franchise. It may not be my favorite style, but it’s a step in the right direction for Fafner, and it’s a step that’s essential for every mecha anime to me.

soukyuu_no_fafner_dead_aggressor_exodus-02-maya-fafner-pilot-mecha-serious soukyuu_no_fafner_dead_aggressor_exodus-02-rina-fafner-pilot-mecha-looking_up

 

The Rolling Girls (Episode 2)

the_rolling_girls-02-nozomi-yukina-circle_eyes-crying-screaming-comedy-rollercoasterThe Rolling Girls bleeds personality. The entire anime is an imposing statement of its individuality. Its vibrant aesthetics, enticing motifs, charismatic animation, enchanting characters, ridiculous setting, delightful comedy, and sensational fights are all an integral part of this wonderful anime’s charming personality. Sure, you might try to make comparisons or try to find analogous examples between other anime, but everything about The Rolling Girls in these first two episodes is really its own. It’s distinctive. It’s in a category all by itself now. And it’s only just the beginning. The introductions set an exceptional foundation for this anime to build from, and it will only grow up from here. The creativity, imagination and artistic ingenuity have been incredible in these first two episodes, and I am excited to see what happens with the main storyline of this fantastic anime.

the_rolling_girls-02-masami-maccha_green-best-goggles-determined-serious the_rolling_girls-02-nozomi-determined-helmet-tears-motorcycle

 

Yuri Kuma Arashi (Episode 2)

yuri_kuma_arashi-02-lulu-ginko-kureha-bears-eating-licking-lily-lesbian_sex-symbolismGiven what we’ve witnessed in the first two episodes of Yuri Kuma Arashi, it seems that there are two methods of eating. The first, and probably most remarkable, is the “eating” that’s done in the human-bear form, popularized as ‘lesbian lily-licking fellatio’. The second form of eating is actual eating, performed in the chibi-bear form where the bears actually kill and devour the humans. It’s interesting to note how the two styles contrast each other at this point. On one hand, you have the yuri style of eating which is strictly reserved for successful completion of a sexy bear trial while the other one is without the prior consent of Life Sexy and bearkind. On one hand, you have a form of eating that is analogous to love, and the other is genuinely hate. I’m curious to see if these two styles will eventually overlap or share elements with each other, given how they share a few similarities at this point. However, given the fact at how differentiated they are at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these two forms of eating eventually evolve into separate entities, becoming more like love and hate.

yuri_kuma_arashi-02-lulu-ginko-bears-disguise-transfer_students-spotlight-grin-fang yuri_kuma_arashi-02-lulu-ginko-bears-chibi-cute-crown-maid

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