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.