This week: concerns over the content and direction of Plastic Memories, determining a time and place for Arslan Senki, censorship in Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, and the wonderful return of Kakyoin in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Egypt Arc.
Best episode of the week: Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV)
Anime trending up this week: Arslan Senki
Anime trending down this week: Plastic Memories
Arslan Senki (Episode 3)
Whenever an anime is situated in a somewhat historically-accurate setting (think about the difference between Maria the Virgin Witch (Hundred Years’ War) versus Magi (One Thousand and One Nights)), it’s always fascinating to guess what era and geography they’re from. The easiest way to do this is to examine the various technologies of the anime, such as weaponry, mobility, and occupations. Architecture and scenery combine to play a significant role in determining the geography that the setting is based on, and food, government, and social policy aid in this area as well. For Arlsan, nomenclature plays a major role in helping determine the history and location for this anime, with Arslan being the title of several sultans in present-day Turkey. Pars, the homeland of Arslan, is likely derived from Persia. And given the symbolic patriarchal crosses on the backs of invading nation of Lusitania (the name of a very famous British ocean liner), I’m leaning heavily on the idea that Arslan is set in the era of the First Crusade in modern day Turkey. To confirm it, that setting seems to match well with the technologies, architecture and scenery seen thus far in the anime. Of course, given that this is a fictitious setting, not all of these elements will align truthfully, and there are sure to be some liberties taken within this anime. Still, it feels as though we can safely pinpoint which events in history have come to inspire or, at the very least, heavily influence Arslan Senki.
Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV) (Episode 15)
One of the events at Sakura-Con this year was the premiere of the first three episodes of the second season of Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. And as such, the last episode we saw was the one that aired this week. However, when rewatching these episodes, I’ve noticed a few differences between the version aired at the anime convention and the ones shown on Japanese television. For one, the bloody scene at the end was censored. Of course, most of that scene was left unmodified, but I do remember two cuts being altered for the television broadcast. The most obvious is when Gilgamesh turned to Illya, with one of the sword scenes cutting to black before showing the gruesome details. It doesn’t really take away from the impact or weight of the scene, but it was a bit odd, for me, considering I was expecting it again and not a cut to black. For those interested in what was censored, it’d probably be best to wait until the Blu-rays are out since I expect them to be included there.
Hibike! Euphonium (Episode 2)
I had never really considered this for a school band, but it strikes me as odd as the students are free to pick their own instruments. Although on one hand, I suppose it’s fair and right to allow the students to pick the instruments they want to play, especially if they have experience with those instruments… but wouldn’t that lead to an unbalanced orchestra? Doesn’t it matter how the students distribute themselves within the band and don’t all the new students flock to the popular instruments? To be honest, I was expecting this process to be similar to a sports team where coaches put people at certain positions for the best of the team, but maybe an orchestra is different. Then again, maybe once the students have their instruments and the director knows what they have, maybe then they decide what type of music to play since the instruments present will dictate what genre of music they can perform. Still, it’s a bit surprising to me.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Egypt Arc (S2) (Episode 39)
Although one of the main characters, Kakyoin never felt as strong or as bold of a character as some of the other prominent characters, often falling into the background during group scenes and having fewer stories than the others. Nevertheless, his absence in this Egypt Arc has provided us a perspective of how valuable his character is to Stardust Crusaders, and his return should be met with praise and fanfare. Perhaps Kakyoin’s greatest asset is how well he acts as an anchor for Polnareff and the others, rather than as an antagonist like Iggy. Whereas Iggy would wander off and be a total dick about it, Kakyoin was legitimately helpful and was respected by the others. His stand, Hierophant Green, also had use outside of battles, unlike most, though it’s this ability that allows him to extensively search areas, such as Cairo for Dio’s location, which likely was the reason he was left out until Dio’s mansion was discovered. I am excited to see Kakyoin back again and am looking forward to what he does as Part III is coming to its close.
Ore Monogatari!! (Episode 2)
Is there some requirement of romance anime/manga to have misunderstandings or miscommunications in them? Because it seems like almost every romance anime I’ve ever watched has its central story or some heavy plot device that revolves around misunderstandings and miscommunications between characters. And just two episodes into Ore Monogatari!!, here we are again with another misunderstanding between characters.
Plastic Memories (Episode 3)
Given the stark contrast in the focus and styles between the first episode with the second and third episodes, I’m beginning to think that Plastic Memories is an anime with three episodes worth of content that’ll be stretched over 13 episodes. The reason why I believe that to be true is because there was a considerable drop in content from episode one to episode three, replacing anxiety and unease over robots’ deaths to generic rom-com bullshit. Additionally, this episode erased all of Tsukasa’s development from episode one, devolving his character from one that voiced concern over Isla’s behavior to a clichéd comic-relief clown. To me, the direction of the series is heading in the wrong direction with these recent episodes. In other words, much of the content from these last two episodes could be cut as well as any episode like this, too. To put it bluntly, I think Plastic Memories could be reduced from a series of 13 episodes to about three or four good ones revolving around Isla’s story. Plastic Memories doesn’t need all this foofaraw with Tsukasa needing to act dumb or for there to be episodes without any progression. In fact, if this were only a 3 or 4 episode OVA, Plastic Memories would probably be really special. Instead, the series felt the need to stretch out this story and fill the gaps with nothing special that, at times, feels like its detracting from the anime as a whole. Hopefully I’m wrong about this, but I have a sinking feeling there won’t be much enjoyable content outside of Isla’s story.
#1 by LGM on April 25, 2015 - 9:12 PM
About Hibike! Euphonium;
I have two younger brothers that joined their own orchestra bands when they were at (two different) high school. What I know is that yes, you do get to choose what instruments you want to play but ONLY from a numbers of instruments that needed a big number of players.
Some others instruments that are important but needed less players like the drums or Tubas, they would required the students to be experienced or at the very least show determination, usually by asking the students to buy their own instruments straight off to make sure they don’t quit easily.
They actually won’t mind too much what the students what to play, because orchestra bands can have different numbers of various instruments. More trumpets this year? Make them the main tune. More flutes this year? Make them the main tune instead.
& all in all, the band will always need more players of various instruments because you might have enough trumpet players now, but next year you might not. So having a B team is always variable.
#2 by Joojoobees on April 26, 2015 - 8:05 PM
They did say in the show that the more popular instruments would require an audition. In other words, you could only pick your own instrument when there was nobody else playing that instrument. The story follows the Bass section which has some serious holes, so there is no competion for those instruments, but it looked like there was a tryout for trumpet.
#3 by avvesione on May 3, 2015 - 9:05 PM
Thanks for bringing that up. I did notice there was a tryout for trumpet but not for the others. I also suppose it’s true that for people who are new to bands and instruments that they should get to try and see what they like before they commit to an instrument that they like and want to play. I guess that the opposite it true for sports where they tryout for a team and then are assigned to a position.
#4 by avvesione on May 3, 2015 - 9:03 PM
Interesting. Thanks for the information, especially how it relates to my question and how other schools deal with this issue. I appreciate the comment!
#5 by LGM on April 25, 2015 - 9:18 PM
About Ore Monogatari!!
Well, at least THIS romance anime/manga have a valid reason to have misunderstandings. Big-kun there have all his past sweet hearts fall for Handsome-kun there. It is really hard for him to believe somehow, this time its different.
#6 by avvesione on May 3, 2015 - 9:06 PM
You’re right that this anime has a built-in excuse for misunderstandings, but it’s still a misunderstanding nonetheless. Additionally, Takeo could be written without the misunderstanding and always be dumb around girls thinking that they might always be into him. I’m not saying that the misunderstanding isn’t necessary, just I want more romances without them.
#7 by Guang Min Lye on May 3, 2015 - 10:24 PM
Well, guess the mangaka for the series agree, you know what I mean if you saw episode 3.
#8 by avvesione on May 4, 2015 - 12:00 AM
Still, that doesn’t mean that won’t be misunderstandings in the future, but at least the issue seems to be resolved for now.
#9 by Marina on April 25, 2015 - 10:29 PM
I’ll also raise a hand for past experience in bands and orchestras from grade school up through college. I remember beginning my music education back in 5th grade, and yes, I was allowed to choose my instrument. Before we really had to choose, the high school band came in and performed, then later followed up with introductions of their individual instruments. If anything, it was that performance that was the deciding factor for the students–any instruments not represented there probably didn’t get any takers. I chose percussion because of my piano background which would allow me to easily pick up any of the mallet instruments.
As for Ore Monogatari!! and the seemingly necessary “oddity” for anime–isn’t it simply just more interesting? Plain Jane relationships probably wouldn’t interest young audiences, who are more into romances for drama. A misunderstanding or miscommunication is a brighter draw at a glance. I’m not saying I’m part of that crowd, since I would certainly be interested in a show that tries to display an honest relationship full of all its ups and downs.
#10 by avvesione on May 3, 2015 - 9:11 PM
Thanks for the information on your history with music and how it parallels Hibike! Euphonium. I can see the similarities between what happened to you and what happened with them, so I better understand how it works versus sports (my background).
As for the second point, I think you’re right that romances with drama are popular among younger audiences and that misunderstandings are a common source for drama. Pretty much all the “popular” romance anime that I’ve watched in the last 6-7 years have had these frequently, so many it’s a popular thing in Japan. Still, misunderstanding are a relatively weak storyline that forces unnecessary drama and has no lasting impact once it’s corrected or resolved. To me, misunderstanding in romances are just filler arcs, used to draw out the series when they don’t want the romance to progress.
#11 by donkangoljones on April 26, 2015 - 11:25 PM
Euphonium ep2: in my experience, we were allowed to test out and choose our own instruments when I started band in middle school, and they expected you to carry that same skillset with you into high school as well. The only competitive determining factors for us was our “chair” in the group. First chair getting the solos and most difficult and prominent parts, while the melodies and such were filtered down from there. So this set up comes as no surprise to me, except I could expect Japan to be less lenient with such things.
If the band director wanted to pair things down for competitions, I’d expect it to be a matter of who made the cut to actually perform through their observations of practice, and testing on those parts through the competition over what chair you would be.
Plastic Memories ep3: I’ll reserve my comments on Plastic Memories for now. I thought episode 3 was rather silly, but there were some developments shown to help explain why Isla acts so oddly, besides her ever present deterioration. Though I agree with you, at the point, the material and the world-building along with it, need to progress greatly.
#12 by avvesione on May 3, 2015 - 9:15 PM
You and the others who shared their experiences really opened my eyes to band competition (or lack thereof), so I am thankful for the many responses. It’s interesting to hear your experience and how competition was really focused on the chair.
Like you, I am still holding out that Plastic Memories will improve, but I don’t think it’ll be able to improve enough. I think it’ll improve in certain areas as the anime progresses, but I don’t think it’ll improve everywhere or improve enough to mask the other deficiencies.