Last week: analyzing the literary conflict in Yuri Kuma Arashi, appreciating the non-linear yet logical storytelling in Durarara!!x2 Shou, acknowledging the effectiveness of the “business card” introductions in Shirobako, and thoughts on the contrasting fashion and sexual themes in Junketsu no Maria.
Best episode of the week: Durarara!!x2 Shou
Anime trending up this week: Kantai Collection (KanColle)
Anime trending down this week: Aldnoah.Zero (S2)
Death Parade (Episode 3)
Although Death Parade dwells in rather serious subjects, there is some lighthearted humor in the anime thanks to the wonderful chemistry between Decim and Onna. The host and hostess of the Quindecim complement each other well, in that they each cover for the other’s flaws; Decim’s familiarity and understanding makes up for Onna’s inexperience, and Onna’s humanity and emotion are the missing ingredients from Decim’s stoic and heartless personality. The outcome of such a partnership is a pleasant balance for the two lead characters. Furthermore, since the subjects of each episode are primarily subjected to discouraging, gloomy or woebegone misfortunes, it’s up to Decim and Onna to provide the comic relief in a series such as this. And while the primary focus is on the stories between the two fated participants, the humor is utilized well in this series to provide unexpected breaks in the overall depressing mood. It adds another flavor, another spice to the series and helps highlight the differences between the indifferent Decim and the expressive Onna. And as the series continues, I think it will be these differences are what Death Parade hopes to explore with this new season.
Dog Days’’ (S3) (Episode 3)
Remember when the Hero Crystals first appeared in the seventh episode of Dog Days’ (S2)? At the time, they seemed like they were just some silly mechanics that were introduced as a joke. As the episode went, all the girls were afflicted by the power of a giant demon rat and turned into younger, childish versions of themselves while Shinku and Gaul were given superpowers that made them look much older and much manlier. The joke there was that the ages of all the characters were distorted while also giving the characters a method for defeating the demon and for all the girls to rip their clothes and end up naked again. Fastforward from 2012 to 2015 and we’re seeing the Hero Crystals again in Dog Days, but with a decisively more serious tone in nature. Here, the Hero Crystals are the deciding factor in destroying the parasitic demon. Furthermore, Becky and Nanami each have their own Hero Crystals now that give them these silly transformations that make them look much older, too. And while the joke in the appearance is still there, the mood of these Hero Crystals is entirely different. And it marks a step in a different direction for Dog Days. While Dog Days’ (S2) was almost entirely fun and games and fanservice, Dog Days’’ (S3) is attempting to describe a story with its world with significant and consequences and fanservice. And looking at how the Hero Crystals are used in this episode of Dog Days’’ (S3) is a great indicator for how this season will be different than Dog Days’ (S2).
Durarara!!x2 Shou (Episode 3)
With so many energetic characters and such a dynamic setting, it only makes sense for there to be multiple stories occurring at the same time. And as one would expect from such a lively world, Durarara!! has adopted and perfected a tremendous method of non-linear storytelling, where every individual line is not necessarily chronological but instead, logical. In the end, all these discrete storylines and all these distinct characters blend together to form a single coherent story about the special inhabitants of Ikebukuro. For example, with this third episode, you might assume that it occurs after the events of the second one and even the first episode since that is typical for a majority of methods of storytelling. In reality, the content of the three episodes occurs almost simultaneously, and there are clear markings where each diverges and reconnects. This style of non-linear storytelling is crucial for the success of Durarara!!, and everything it has done up to this point has been sound, consistent and coherent.
Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch) (Episode 3)
The contrast in fashion between Maria and her cronies and the rest of the cast is rather striking. While everyone else in Junketsu no Maria is mainly dressed appropriate for the time-period (there are too many people wearing footwear at this time period), Maria and her friends wear tight, revealing outfits. Although Artemis is the most notable example when it comes to sexy clothing, Maria’s skin-tight dress barely reaches her thighs, and Priapos, Maria’s incubus, is by far the least clothed of all the males in this anime. Considering the emphasis on sex and virginity in the anime, there should be no surprise to see fanservice in the how these characters dress, especially with Artemis who uses her seductive body for adulterous purposes. Still, the ecchi clothing is a huge contrast to the historical accuracy of the anime given how well Junketsu no Maria works to incorporate so many fine details about the period and setting into this story. And while I’d argue that the conflicting dress works against the historical aspect of the anime, it does well to differentiate Maria from the rest of the world, given her views of war and religion. In fact, it might be ideal to have Maria and her companions stand out so well from the rest of the characters considering that they are unalike anyone else. Because of this, it makes sense for Maria and her friends to dress so differently than everyone else in Junketsu no Maria.
Kantai Collection (KanColle) (Episode 3)
Since I am unfamiliar with Kantai Collection, I do not know how many ships a player can have in their navy at a time. I am assuming six is the magic number for each squadron since every skirmish thus far has featured six – and only six – ships at a time (though the first episode had a fleet of 3 squadrons and thus, 18 girls). But given how many girls there are in Kantai Collection, I can’t help but wonder how they plan to use them all. Or maybe I should phrase this question: do they plan to incorporate all the girls in this anime? There’ve been a handful of girls in the backgrounds of scenes, so maybe the anime is planning to use cameos as a means of highlighting the entire cast. But even with that plan, that would mean a large cohort of girls in the background doing nothing in every episode to meet that demand. And since the anime seems to be focused on the adventures of Fubuki and the Third Torpedo Squadron, the rate of background girls in each episode will need to be absurd to include everyone in this anime. I’m really curious to see how Kantai Collection manages this huge cast and if every ship makes an appearance in one form or another.
Shirobako (Episode 15)
The way Shirobako introduces its characters is one of my favorite aspects of this anime because it places an immediate and pronounced emphasis on each person’s job. Whenever a new character is introduced on screen, a block of text appears next to them that displays both their name and their occupation. It’s like receiving a quick business card of everyone in the anime. Not only does it help us connect a name to a face to a job, but it shows how important these jobs are within Shirobako… that as soon as you meet someone new, you get their name AND their job. Furthermore, Shirobako continues to display their names and occupations the first time you meet these characters again in future episodes, with this trait being extremely noticeable at the start of the anime when everyone was new. It’s a minute detail that has a considerable effect on this anime and demonstrates how significant these positions are, that as soon as you meet someone, you’re introduced to their work as well. The reason why Shirobako constantly reminds us who is an animation director or production assistant or voice actor is because the anime wants us to know who these people are and how they work together to create an anime. What’s even more impressive is how this method of information actually works and that when you begin to learn a character, you also begin to learn their work. It’s amazing how well this unique characteristic of Shirobako works, and it’s one of the details that I admire the most in this anime.
The Rolling Girls (Episode 3)
One of the most fundamental qualities of the setting in The Rolling Girls is how each nation is distinctive and distinguishable from each other. Considering that The Rolling Girls takes place in a Japan where every region is fragmented into an assortment of countries, the anime needs each land and each population to be unique compared to the rest. Even better is how The Rolling Girls uses the appropriate local cultures as an accent or emphasis to each country’s personalities. For example, this episode took place in Tokyo and parodied the otaku culture by having everyone cosplay in this country. The first two episodes featured a war between Tokorozawa (in Saitama prefecture) and Higashimurayama (in Tokyo prefecture) and highlighted the difference between Tokyo and its neighbors. And given the wide variation in culture and customs between prefectures in Japan, you can figure that The Rolling Girls will use this to its advantage and make every new country feel different from the rest. Not only will it help provide evidence that the girls are in new places, but it will help highlight the diversity and distinction within Japan – one that provides a new focus on what makes these other areas of Japan different than each other. For someone who is always curious to learn more about Japan and its cultures, I’m excited to see how The Rolling Girls uses this setting to highlight the individual cultures and personalities of these various “countries”.
Yuri Kuma Arashi (Episode 3)
The literary conflict in Yuri Kuma Arashi is not human versus bear… it is bear versus bear. While it’s true that Kureha is actively fighting against all bear-kind, there is a considerable conflict between all the other girls who are after Kureha. In fact, almost everything in this anime has been bear against bear at this point, especially with Mitsuko’s involvement in these latest episodes. Even the Yuri Trials are a conflict between bears, or rather bear versus bear society, with Ginko’s and Lulu’s decisions to feast or famine based on yuri bear laws (with the added layer of Life Cool arguing against Life Beauty). I’m beginning to think that the narrative of Yuri Kuma Arashi isn’t so much of one where humans are against bears, but one where bears are against bears with Kureha as the prize.