Spring 2014 Week 9 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

As usual, shows listed by order of my enjoyment of said episode, links to longer write-ups. Another week without Mushishi leaves us orphaned. Drama had been fairly good this week, while popcorn was being its normal popcorny-stuff.

1) Ping Pong the Animation episode 8

Ping Pong the Animation Episode 8 overview

This show isn’t messing around. It doesn’t throw surprise punches at you, but sets up the characters logically, and then lets them act out their natures.

Kazama doesn’t believe in heroes, which means that not only does he not look up to others, but he also doesn’t see himself as a hero. He doesn’t seek to lead his team as a “leader”, but as a symbol of unflagging prowess. He cares not for the psychology of it, and it seems he doesn’t care for them either. No heroes, but there is money, and there are symbols, symbols such as the school. His is a cold world, one of powers, and not people.

Kong versus Peco, didn’t want either to lose, but one had to. The way to make a line great is often by repeating it, a technique which Terry Pratchett is very familiar with. “I didn’t need to watch you, I’d know you’d win.” – First by Koizumi to Smile, then Smile to Koizumi about Peco, and one more time where it’s not said but implied – Kong’s Chinese coach leaves before his match is over, and takes with him Kong’s dream-plane, which is his ride home.

Kong tries to convince his coach he has a nice team, but he’s trying to convince himself. On his match against Peco we see this is where he wishes to be, and he even resents Japan, his Siberia.

The imagery of monsters and heroes continues. We’re nearly there, and soon there will be dragons to slay.

2) Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia) episode 8

Sidonia no Kishi / Knights of Sidonia Episode 8 overview

This was a really good episode, or perhaps it rated so highly on my weekly overview because much of everything else was so relatively weak? Probably a combination of both.

I honestly think of this show less in terms of an action show, and more in terms of a drama show, right now. In terms of plot, it’s definitely an “Action show”, but does that really matter? In terms of presentation, and the gravitas given to each scene, it feels more like a drama. Then again, drama is about how people interact and action is about how conflicts are resolved, so perhaps I should call it “An action drama show”? Perhaps.

This episode is titled “Undead”, and it’s about the vengeful dead, the hungry dead that wish to pull you to spend eternity with them. No, not Hoshijiro, we’re talking about the past here. Tanikaze’s “grandfather” who is his “father” from which he is cloned, who still haunts captain Kobayashi, for he was an ally, and perhaps the man he loved.

Tanikaze, who is an immortal who did not earn it, who is a ghost to “The Inner Council.”

And Hoshijiro, who haunted Kunato, because there is no undead more ravenous than guilt, perhaps aside from the past itself.

This was an episode where supposedly we’ve been given information, and clues to the puzzle – but it’s not a puzzle. We’ve received information that changed and deepened the intricate wave of relationships, but it was fine before as well.

A good episode, with good heft to it.

Also, I have some notes of my own for this episode, and this line I wrote has a nice resonance to it – Even on an interstellar spaceship, you cannot outrun your past.

3) Isshuukan Friends (One Week Friends) episode 9

Isshuukan Friends / One Week Friends Episode 9 overview

Most of this episode had been “the calm before the storm.” This show isn’t a slice of life, nor a romantic comedy. It’s not even a drama-romance, but a drama-without-romance-about-the-romance. Fujimiya and Hase keep having their fumbling “almost moments”. And though I noticed it before, this episode cinched that Shogo and Saki being a “sort of thing” is something the show is angling for, though I don’t actually have an opinion on that.

And then something happened, and I wanted to throw something at the screen and scream at the director robbing me of my warm fuzzy-wuzzies. I’ve seen people say that everything had been undone, but saying so after an episode where Fujimiya tells us “The journey is more important than the destination”?

Even if Fujimiya’s “journey” had been undone, her situation due to the people around her, her whole class treating her differently is markedly different than it used to be, and Hase isn’t in his old position either, after all the progress he had made. You see, making progress and being pushed back doesn’t feel the same as never having made progress to begin with.

I’m curious and anxious where it’ll go from here. At the absolute worst, the first 4 episodes would forever make an amazing OVA.

4) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders episode 9

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Episode 9 overview

I watched this episode after eating dinner. Yeah, it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences, especially as I keep noting on a weekly basis, this season JoJo is really pushing on the “Gore Horror” pedal.

What I liked this episode is that it cemented to me the new JoJo personality. Jonathan fought because he had to, as a honourable and suffering Joestar. Joseph was sort of a jester, outwitting his opponents, and fighting for fun. Jotaro? He’s an angry young man, who is keen to show people their rightful place in the world.

Face-first into the asphalt, if they mess with him. Enemies continue to be ridiculous. Can’t wait for the “Big Ones”, since we haven’t had a “serious mood” opponent this season yet, that did not become an ally.

5) Mekakucity Actors episode 8

Mekakucity Actors Episode 8 overview

I thought the last couple of episodes had been much better than most of what the show had done thus far, as while it had still given us mostly a couple of people in each scene, it actually had some emotional impact, it actually had characters caring for one another, and their chatter being reflective of that or continually providing us with new information. Well, the fact we’d actually been given some sort of plot helped, but it wasn’t the main thing.

This episode wasn’t as good as those episodes, and had mostly been there for plot purposes. You could easily say most of what we had this episode was characters explaining to us their pasts, and how the world works, and then trying to get one another to believe them, or listen to them, etc.

It dealt with some heavy stuff, on how each of our characters is alive because a loved one died for their sake, and yet it felt empty. The song at the end had some really good lyrics, and the beat was nice, as is often the case for the Kagerou Project videos, and they both got me a time or two, but the anemic delivery by the vocals sort of ruined the experience for me.

Yes, the plot is finally happening, and a couple of times thus far I’ve even been invested, but hardly enough, I’d say. Had it been the third episode, with episodes 6-7 being the first two, it’d have promised us much, but it being the 9th episode and how we spent the first 5? Again, I hope this show will manage to be “Above average”, when it all ends.

6) No Game, No Life episode 9

No Game, No Life Episode 9 overview

Hm. I am not sure what to make of this episode. Is it pandering to our wish-fulfillment, telling us we can’t get it, or a bit of both? “Most people can’t change, and we can’t change the world, but what we can change is how we react to things.” – So Shiro had a hard life in a world that wouldn’t understand her and would crush her dreams. The solution isn’t to change herself, which they recognize they cannot do (on one hand I agree, as people don’t change much, on the other hand – they still change?), so they change their disposition, and their behaviour.

It’s also a very cynical outlook, for lack of a better word. Shiro is ostracized for being smarter than her peers and even the adults. Sora’s solution to the same situation is to tell the adults not what they say they want to hear (him doing his best, and beating them), but what they actually want to hear – that he’s not so smart as to humiliate them.

Other than that, the episode is a whole bunch of Gambit Roulette. Heck, two weeks ago the show straight out told us – “A game is decided before it even begins.” The real fights in this show are to get the optimum conditions, going into a game, but getting said conditions is also a game.

The show focuses somewhat on plot, but since there’s no tension on whether the characters would win, whatever plot-tension there is is on how they’d win. It’s not about Sora and Shiro surprising the opponents, but about them surprising us, the watchers. It actually feels a bit meh, in that regard.

I actually suspect the whole thing is one big Gambit Roulette between them and Tet, and Tet has one of his own. And since the plot doesn’t matter, it means more time can be spent on memes and fanservice.

All that said, I quite enjoyed the Sora and Shiro flashbacks, felt alright.

7) Fairy Tail (2014) episode 9

I sorta liked this episode! We had fights, we had spirit, we had moxy, and we’ve had some feels! Though the feels mostly came from music.

But still, we’ve had music-augmented fights! Yeah, the show is really batting for a low bar right now, but I’m feeling hopeful we’ll get back to some of what made me like this show. Its animation is still lacking, and makes it feel somewhat like slightly animated manga-panels, rather than an actual animation project. But without Ping-Pong’s panache.

8) Black Bullet episode 9

Black Bullet Episode 9 overview

What actually happened in this episode plot-wise was pretty boring. This show still does Moe Slice of Life fine for me, but its comedy is atrocious 4th-grader humor level, barely. Also, this episode faces were half-drawn, which wasn’t all that pleasant to watch, but eh, it happens to most shows…

What I did find of some more interest were subtexts and things unsaid. The Promoter-Initiator town is called “A Festival”, a place where normal rules are put on hold. And so it felt, like a big Wild West place, where people have shoot-outs in the street, and kill one another as others cheer on, where criminals gather, and there are a whole lot of young girls – who can kill everyone else. A festival, an air of fun and lawlessness, and an atmosphere of danger.

We’ve had an upperclassman from the past appear immediately after being mentioned, and he seems suspicious as hell, we have death flags raised with an almost mutual confession and “I will keep you safe”, and we have a mention of how the best defense is offense, before our task leader is also shown in armour. Archaic armour straight out of the Samurai era, what the fuck was up with that? Almost feels like we’re having all these artistic styles so we and the fanart makers won’t get bored.

The final point is one I already noted, where Kisara asked Rentaro “Must you go after everyone with power?” – That’s sort of the way this game-world works. You go after someone with a higher rank, beat them, and get a higher rank yourself. You go after those with power, who are almost all crooked, selfish, and malicious.

Which connects us to the final point, the big one. The doctor told Rentaro “You should’ve become a politician if you wanted to change the world.” – But the shounen myth is that you can change the world by converting one person at a time, through the power of your fists. Of course, often our shounen protagonists use their fists on the movers and shakers of the world, but the myth is we can bypass the majority of the faceless people, and use power to assert our will, on one person, and so change the world. This fits perfectly into the duel nature of advancing in ranks.

9) Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magic High School) episode 9

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei / The Irregular at Magic High School Episode 9 overview

My full write-up for this episode clocked at over 3,000 words. It’s my longest episodic write-up to date of any show I’ve watched, I think. I think I’ve had a 3.2k word write-up not too long ago, but I can’t remember for which show, so we’ll assume I’ve dreamt that up.

You’d think that meant I’m all fired up about this episode, either positively or negatively, since I wouldn’t have written that much otherwise, unless I deeply cared, right? Well, no. To be honest, I’m quite surprised I wrote that much, because this episode was boring. It took me 1.5-2 hours to watch, and probably half of it was spent idling on Twitter until I noticed the open window at the bottom.

In terms of “plot events”, a whole lot happened this episode – Testing the flight-magic, learning of Tatsuya and Miyuki’s family situation, setting the competition to go, finding out Mikihiko has Spirit Magic and Mizuki can see him, andcomplaining on the ride. Yet it all felt as if it’s been nothing. I think so much happened that it felt as if nothing at all did. I can string a bunch of verbs together to give you a sense of urgency, but at some point they just become chatter.

If we distill it down to the narrative, then this episode was 60% Tatsuya being amazing, and some background on how this “Libertarian” world requires government money to stay afloat, 15% Miyuki being all about her brother and even other characters noticing that, 20% about explaining magic now that’d come into effect later on, with some creepy undertones – though I guess it beats the previous episode where foreshadowing is for what happens 15 minutes later in the same episode, and 5% more dire premonitions on Tatsuya’s situation.

need the competition part to actually start, yo.


Summary:

 

The middle of the road was comprised of most shows this week. They’d been enjoyable enough, but didn’t leave a big impression. Guess we’re slowly gearing up for the final arcs in each show, and it takes time to get going.

2 comments on “Spring 2014 Week 9 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

  1. Artemis says:

    I feel like Sidonia has, for the most part, been growing stronger and stronger as a whole with nearly every episode – and it wasn’t exactly shabby to begin with, either. I’m still enjoying Mushishi and (probably) Isshuukan Friends more, but Sidonia definitely knows how to impress. Having now finally dropped Captain Earth and Black Bullet, the only other spring show I’m still watching is Kamigami no Asobi… and though it’s plenty of fun for a fangirl like myself, I’ll readily admit that one won’t be winning any awards anytime soon.

    • Guy says:

      Nothing wrong with some fangirling :)

      Yeah, early on Sidonia was mostly about this “Mecha show” plot, which is nothing impressive. Even now, its forte isn’t in its story, but in the direction, and the small touches. The world-building, the interaction between characters, the small nuances carried out by acting and the camera, in how they react to things.

      CGI? Rotoscope? These things won’t stand in the way of making expressive characters!

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