Winter 2015 – Week 4 Anime Review

shirobako-16-aria-character_design-style-emotion-pencilA while back, whenever Week 4 was: appreciating the change from producing episodes to producing an anime series in Shirobako, teenager mecha pilots who actually act and behave like teenagers in Soukyuu no Fafner – Dead Aggressor: Exodus, questioning Lulu’s character development in Yuri Kuma Arashi, and finally realizing why Fubuki is the main character of Kantai Collection.

Best episode of the week: Durarara!!x2 Shou

Anime trending up this week: Soukyuu no Fafner – Dead Aggressor: Exodus

Anime trending down this week: Kamisama Kiss S2

 

Death Parade (Episode 4)

death_parade-04-decim-arbiter-bartender-roulette_board-quindecimConsidering that this limbo has existed since the dawn of humanity, if not longer, I wonder how the Quindecim and other locations in purgatory have changed throughout the millennia. Did the hunter-gatherers who die come to this modern, sophisticated bar and play video games? Did people who predate alcohol suddenly wake up in an elevator, walk into a bar, and listen to Decim speak a language surely no one would understand?

“Yeah, I know you’re just discovering agriculture and whatnot, but here, play this special version of Street Fighter to see who gets reincarnated. Oh yeah, we also have clothes for you if you want.”

What about people from the Heian or Edo periods, how did they react to such a distinctly westernized setting for which they play billiards or air hockey? Or even, depending on how this anime progresses, what about thousands of years in the future when the state of humanity is at the boundaries of our imagination? An analogy for this would be if someone who dies in the present would be sent to some ancient Roman locale where everyone wears togas and they raced chariots or played knucklebones or something. Actually… I’d like to see chariot races in Death Parade. Is it too late to make a suggestion to the writers?

death_parade-04-onna-assistant-bar-alcohol death_parade-04-misaki_tachibana-mother-actress-video_game-arcade-light-glow-smile

 

Dog Days’’ (S3) (Episode 4)

dog_days_s3-04-adelaide-couvert-friendship-squirrel_ears-tail-star_pupilsHow do chairs work in Dog Days? Considering that the entire population of Flonyard has tails in one way or another, ranging from Vert’s tiny bunny tail to Couvert’s giant squirrel tail, one should really question the necessity of the backs to these chairs. Take Couvert as an example and watch how she sits in chairs. Her tail is so enormous, she always has her ass on the edge of her seat and with her tail off to the side. Why hasn’t anyone realized this and designed chairs that are suitable for her body? Why hasn’t she complained about how uncomfortable these chairs are? Does anyone actually use the backs of these chairs either? I can understand for some of the smaller tails, maybe, but it seems counter-intuitive, especially in Pastillage, when everyone has huge squirrel tails. Please, won’t somebody think of the tails…

dog_days_s3-04-valerio-excited-blush-pervert dog_days_s3-04-adelaide-angry-furious-looking_down

 

Durarara!!x2 Shou (Episode 4)

durarara_x2_shou-04-erika-otaku-anime_advertisements-noThe various anime advertisements and references in the backgrounds of Durarara!! are a staple of the series, dating back to the first episode where Walker and Erika were wandering about Ikebukuro with a cardboard cutout of Horo from Spice and Wolf. It’s nice to see that the advertisements are still there, and it makes me wonder what kind of deals or agreements are made between owners and studios to have their anime appear in Durarara!!. It also makes me wonder why we don’t see this in other anime too, especially ones that revolve around anime or otaku culture.

durarara_x2_shou-04-celty-shinra-dullahan-physician-motorbike_helmet-love durarara_x2_shou-04-anri-mikado-blush-hotpot

 

Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch) (Episode 4)

junketsu_no_maria-04-priapos-viv-incubus-witch-comedy-afraidSince Priapos’ missing penis seems to be brought up every episode as one of the few jokes in this anime, let’s talk about it a bit. From what we’ve seen, an incubus is a magical being that doesn’t need to eat or drink, so it doesn’t seem like Priapos needs one to urinate… or that’d be a separate issue altogether. However, Priapos was originally an owl, and he can still transform back into an owl, so does he gain and lose a penis every time he changes forms? What about the bodily functions of him as an owl, does he still need to eat and drink? And is it just a penis he’s missing? Is it intended that he impregnates the women he sleeps with? If not, then why does he even need a penis if he can pleasure women some other way? He can still be of some use if he can seduce women to serve Maria’s purposes of ending or avoiding war.

junketsu_no_maria-04-maria-witch-calm junketsu_no_maria-04-ezekiel-angel-angry-looking_back

 

Kamisama Kiss S2 (Episode 4)

kamisama_kiss_2-03-tomoe-familiar-drunk-sakeThe second season of Kamisama Kiss is a testament to how much Tomoe has reformed and matured over the 500 years since his split with Akuraou, his demon partner-in-crime. These flashbacks to Akuraou are evidence of how destructive and malicious Tomoe was when he was a rogue youkai paired with Akuraou. Of course, Tomoe wasn’t quite on the same level as Akuraou, but considering their companionship, not to mention everything we heard about old youkai Tomoe in the previous season, it shows how malign Tomoe once was. Now, contrast that to the Tomoe that we’re accustomed to, the familiar who serves Nanami at the Mikage Shrine. The two personalities couldn’t be further apart with the former Tomoe being completely selfish and the modern Tomoe acting selfless. Just about every episode in this season of Kamisama Kiss has done well to demonstrate just how much Tomoe has changed, even if most of the proof has been indirect. And not only does it help add significance to Tomoe as a character, but it also places some weight on Mikage, the previous God of the Mikage Shrine who helped tame and improve Tomoe into the familiar we see today.

kamisama_kiss_2-03-kirihito-akuraou-evil_smile kamisama_kiss_2-03-ookuninushi-deity-god-izumo

 

Kantai Collection (KanColle) (Episode 4)

kantai_collection-04-kongou-shimakaze-fubuki-battleship-destroyer-hug-friendship-fumeBefore the Kantai Collection anime, I would only recognize a few of the character. Of course, the most notable and prominent was Shimakaze, but most of the aircraft carriers were recognizable too, especially Akagi and Kaga in their kyudo (traditional Japanese archery) outfits. Recognizing most of the other girls was challenging since they are depicted in various school uniforms or sukumizu, much like any other anime franchise, but there were a few I could promptly distinguish as Kancolle. Tenryuu’s character design is probably my favorite, so I was able to identify her as part of Kancolle, but I’d always struggle with just about everyone else if they weren’t equipped with their battle equipment.

When I heard news of a Kantai Collection anime, I figured the main character would be one of those famous characters, like Shimakaze or Akagi. After all, Akagi was the star of the first PV that was released last summer, with Kongou second and Fubuki kinda just being there. So consider my surprise when the main character of the first episode is some newbie destroyer in a standard serafuku named Fubuki. I immediately thought to myself, what’s so special about her, why not Shimakaze or someone more interesting? Maybe it’s just her for this first episode and they trade off? Well, after finally meeting Shimakaze, Akagi, Kongou, and most of the fleet… I can understand why Fubuki is the main character now. Although I might enjoy the anime more through the perspective of Shimakaze or Kongou, Fubuki is an ideal character to lead the anime since her personality matches well with the other girls and both the comedy and action themes present. It makes sense to me now, and I think Fubuki would be the only one for Kantai Collection to work the way it does.

kantai_collection-04-fubuki-shimakaze-destroyer-fantasy-blush-happy-embarrassing kantai_collection-04-kirishima-hiei-kongou-haruna-kongou_sisters-battleships-introduction-explosions-smoke-dramatic-awesome

 

Shirobako (Episode 16)

shirobako-16-aria-character_design-emotion-body-facesTo me, the best thing about the second half of Shirobako is that it focuses on an entirely different realm of anime production than the first half. Whereas the first half of Shirobako focused on Aoi being a production assistant (PA), working on episodes and going from episode to episode, the second half of Shirobako, with Aoi now the production desk manager (PM), focuses on the production of a series as a whole. Instead of focusing on the construction of an episodes and highlighting the difficulties and hardships, the second half of Shirobako looks at how an anime series is created as a whole. For example, in the first half, we saw that there were issues with keyframes being wonky and how the inbetweeners would have complications and that the animation in that scene would suffer. Now, we’re seeing issues with the character designs, which not only could cause problems for the keyframe animators and inbetweeners for every episode but also create challenges with the artistic design and personality of the anime. It’s absolutely wonderful to see how the anime is continuing to create new content for the viewers in this second half, especially since the first season was all on the micro-scale and the second season is all on the macro-scale.

shirobako-16-yumi_iguchi-character_design-happy-laughing-cat-glasses shirobako-16-rinko_ogasawara-keyframe_animator-gothic_lolita-smile-calm-mentor-advice

 

Soukyuu no Fafner – Dead Aggressor: Exodus (Episode 4)

sokyuu_no_fafner_dead_aggressor_exodus-04-reo-sui-mimika-mecha_pilots-uniformsWhat irks me about mecha anime is how they try to pass off their pilots as teenagers. Often, these characters feel like adults or mature soldiers despite being clean-cheeked youngsters who look like they don’t own a razor blade or acne cream. Soukyuu no Fafner understands this and presented its new generation of Fafner pilots as prodigy teenagers who – get this – act like they’re actual teenagers. Sure, these kids are special, but they lack that maturity that you always see in other mecha anime. For example, the contrast between their excitement and the parents heartbreak is easily the best evidence to show how these kids are still kids. When the teenagers got their assignments, they were excited and were concerned about the names of their mecha and the paint schemes. Not much longer after that, we’re meeting their parents, breaking the news and watching them react with heartbreak and anxiety. The kids are kids and they don’t even realize their lives are at stake. Their parents, who understand what is happening and what might happen to their children, react with such sober and somber emotions. I love it. For once, we have an anime where the mecha pilots are kids who act like kids. I hope the next step that Fafner takes is to show these kids what the battlefield is like and for them to realize that everything from here on out, even the names and color of their mecha, is no longer a game.

sokyuu_no_fafner_dead_aggressor_exodus-04-reo-sui-mimika-mecha_pilots-surprised-novice-young sokyuu_no_fafner_dead_aggressor_exodus-04-miwa-child-excited-happy-cute

 

The Rolling Girls (Episode 4)

the_rolling_girls-04-chiaya-yukina-ai-nozomi-friendship-road_trip-journey-adventure-photoIs it wrong for me to admit that my favorite part of this episode was the comic shown during the ending credits? It was something so simple yet unexpected and all the while completely delightful. It described the story of the girls riding from Tokyo to Nagoya. Not only is it a little gift describing the events of what happened during their trek, but it provides a bridge between episodes 4 and 5, meaning no downtime at the end of 4 or the beginning of 5. Additionally, it described a quite series of events in a brilliant comic style that provided some content and humor while the ending credits rolled. I wish, oh I wish, how every episode had a cute, little story like this. Or better yet, I wish every anime had stories like this at the end of their episodes for their ending credits.

the_rolling_girls-04-ai-chiaya-pillow_fight-pajamas-underwear the_rolling_girls-04-chiaya-scooter-phone_booth-open_world-journey-adventure

 

Yuri Kuma Arashi (Episode 4)

yuri_kuma_arashi-04-lulu-bear-smile-blushSo this episodes narrated the story of Lulu, who was once a egocentric, immature princess bear who never realized the gentle warmth around her. Thankfully, we were able to see her struggle through such hardship to overcome these flaws and develop into the altruistic and thoughtful bear that we see today… or not. Has Lulu really matured since her days as a young princess? No, not really. She’s still a selfish and self-serving bear who seeks her own pleasures and fulfillment first, second and last. It’s actually rather bizarre to consider the events of this episode, one that was supposed to highlight her character and how she has changed since running from her kingdom to pursue the ‘promised kiss’. Or perhaps, it wasn’t meant to show how she changed, but to rationalize her selfish and self-serving nature. Maybe it was mention to put her personality under a magnifying glass to expose her flaws rather than to show how they’ve healed. Whatever the reason, the result is quite clear that Lulu hasn’t really changed all that much or hasn’t changed in a significant way since her days as a princess.

yuri_kuma_arashi-04-prince_milun-happy-adorable-cute-bear_ears yuri_kuma_arashi-04-lulu-princess-childhood-bear_paws-crown-gao

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  1. #1 by safohen on February 18, 2015 - 5:01 AM

    Could you do a review of Naruto shippuden(minus the filler episodes). I would appreciate it since most of the stories on my blog are inspired by anime.

    • #2 by avvesione on March 31, 2015 - 9:30 PM

      Sorry, I haven’t watched any of Naruto, so I can’t commit to watching all those episodes and writing a review.

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