This week: why I detest the style of narration and extended “flashback” in Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, captivation with the advancement in fighting in Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, powerful, simple, and weird shots in Dimension W, and why I consider Koukaku no Pandora to be a slice-of-life anime.
Best episode of the week: Boku Dake ga Inai Machi
Anime trending up this week: Hai to Gensou no Grimgar
Anime trending down this week: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (Episode 8)
Although there are a number of faults that I can overlook with Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, I cannot forgive the series for this inexcusable “flashback”. There is a rationale and purpose for flashbacks in storytelling, and it doesn’t work when the entire series is devoted to this style or narration. Remember way back in the first episode when we we were introduced to Yotarou and Konatsu, characters who we began to identify with and understand their conflicts? That’s… that’s what this story is about, right? If not, and instead have this story be about Yakumo and Sukeroku, why even have that first episode? Why not start it off when Yakumo and Sukeroku meeting as children and then ending the series with Yakumo saying “I have a long story to tell…”, thus cycling the series back to the beginning with this “flashback”?
To me, a flashback serves a specific purpose when it relates to the immediate story by providing new information or a new perspective that is aided by visual accounts. A flashback is best when it’s short and concise and has an impact on the present. This, however, does not accomplish that. Rather, this flashback has dragged on for 7 episodes now and is clearly a majority of the series. And while I have enjoyed bits and pieces of this “flashback”, I can’t believe that it’s the only story in this anime so far. If it were up to me, I would have restructured the story to provide for specific flashbacks to questions that Yotarou and Konatsu raise to Yakumo, and used that to break-up this flashback into tolerable chunks. “Say, when did you first meet my father?” asks Konatsu. “Well, that’s a funny story…” replies Yakumo. “Have you always loved rakugo, sensei?” queries Yotarou. “No, in fact, I couldn’t stand rakugo at first,” answers Yakumo. “Walking down this street takes me back…” states Yakumo, reminiscing about his past and revealing wounds of his time with Sukeroku and Miyokichi. To me, that would be a more effective style of storytelling for Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and a way to blend the past with the present for all the characters in the anime. Right now, I’m really confused at why we even had that first episode. Why even introduce Yotarou and Kontasu if we’re never going to see them again? It really doesn’t make any sense. And as this “flashback” continues each week, with no account for the present, so too does my depreciation for this anime.
Koukaku no Pandora (Episode 8)
Is Koukaku no Pandora a slice-of-life anime? Given the episodic nature of the anime and given the topics of recent episodes – going to the mall, going to the hospital, being kidnapped by cartoonish villains – it feels like a slice-of-life anime with slightly more action, fanservice, and robots than other anime in this genre. Then again, the focus of Pandora is on the action, fanservice, and robots, so one could argue the opposite and that the slife nature of this anime is a result of the virtually nonexistent central story. But given how bland and boring the story has been, not to mention the fact that the anime seems to enjoy ignoring it, I think the episodic quality is a positive for Pandora. Consider the opposite where every episode is related to BUER and Cenacle Island versus what we have now. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be watching Pandora if it were more structured and centralized around a story. I personally am enjoying the anime because it’s like a slice-of-life anime, only more silly, ecchi, and full of cute robots fighting non-cute robots.
Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (Episode 7)
I am always delighted to see changes or variations in the setting of an anime and found the snowy, wintery weather to be encouraging for Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! And while such a change was necessary for the events of the episode, I adore diversity and differences in the setting of an anime, even for subtle changes like the seasons or weather. I mean, before, Subarashii Sekai had generic, unremarkable sunny weather, the kind you see in every anime. For this episode, there was snow on the ground, the sky was dark and cloudy, and everyone wore winter clothes. I know it isn’t much, but it’s a huge plus for me to see a show change or adapt its setting for a story.
Hai to Gensou no Grimgar (Episode 8)
The battles are easily the best aspect of Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, and the evolution and development of their skills, tactics, knowledge and experience has been fascinating and gratifying to watch. And given how this episode was devoted entirely to savagely murdering the goblins to avenge Manato’s death, I couldn’t be more happy with how this anime has grown and how the characters and their battles have developed. However, what worries me going forward is how much the anime will continue to deal with these battles and whether the party will ever move on from these goblins or these ruins. Given that the rest of the anime is touchy-feely with Mary and the others and how they resolved arguably the biggest story of the series, I wonder how much more fighting we’ll see. To me, Grimgar will rise or fall depending on its battles and this episode has taken it to the top. Hopefully it can stay here depending on how the story and the party progresses from here.
Dimension W (Episode 8)
Dimension W is a weird anime, and one of the weird things I want to highlight with this week’s episode is the frequent shots of characters with solid color backgrounds. These types of shots have been used in every episode and are used to highlight the character or a specific moment. By removing the background, these shots put all our focus on the character with only a basic, solid color and a shadow behind. These simple, yet powerful shots are unusual in anime and help add to the unusual nature and style of Dimension W. Honestly, I’ve always loved distinctive cinematography techniques like these in anime, and I hope to see it used in more anime in the future.
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (Episode 8)
My hope for the ending of Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is that, in the final episode, after everything is resolved in the past – no children are murdered, the killer is arrested and sent to prison, and there are no murders or arsons in the present – that Satoru is still being arrested. Satoru would ask why he is being arrested in the present when he’s not involved with any murders or anything. The police would reply they’re arresting him because he’s a 29-year old guy who traveled back in time to date a 10-year old girl. And Satoru would reply, “…oh, right,” as he heads off to jail.