Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 Notes – “You’re All Style and No Substance!” – Akiyuki Shinbou

(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)

Real talk. Last episode had been pretty, and interesting, but also self-indulgent as all hell. However much you wanted to get us to understand Ene, this was just giving her more time than was necessary, for fun. Or perhaps because you didn’t have enough material, so you wanted to drag it along. As a result, regardless of whether Ene was loveable or annoying, very little actually happened last week.

And although that episode was filled with nearly non-stop chatter, very little of consequence was actually said.

We’ve got a big cast, and I suspect each episode will be quite different tonally. Well, an episode without Ene is bound to feel different, so let’s see what we’ve got on our hands.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) Meet Momo. Silly and Loveable. Our Idol!:

Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 anime notes - Kisaragi Momo doesn't want to repeat a class

1) Exit Ene, enter Momo! Another genki girlAnother silly girl. Whom everyone seems to know, and who had been on TV. Quite a departure from our shut-in.

2) Ah, now we see why she’s known. Glamorous, larger than life. But her real self is helpless, as she had failed in the everyday task of getting to the bus on time.

3) “Kisaragi Attention” – This is almost like the burden she has to contend with. It’s almost like we’ve never left Monogatari. Last week we had “Transparent Answer”, referring to his lack of presence in life, or to Ene?

(Edit: Seems “Transparent Answer” is something else. That’s what the internet does when you look for answers on it. Last episode’s name was “Artificial Enemy”, which I guess is about how we are our own worst enemies. I still think it’s going to be relevant. Plot-wise, I wonder if it means the whole situation at the mall was artificially constructed to put Shintaro in a pinch.)

4) Oh my. Figuring the dates of birth and death next to people’s pictures in history books are meant to be “Combat Ability.” She filled all the columns in the test, but it makes you wonder if she had actually reviewed the material. Or as the teacher had said, it’s as if she lives on a completely different plane.

5) The horror of being a bad student! GAH! Stop it, the sounds, they are invading my ears!

6) “Teacher! Momo is grateful!” – And their whole act on the roof was quite something alright. Makes you think of a certain character and elementary schooler, or his sister.

7) “I know I said I’ll do anything, but this seems hard, I want to give up before even starting!” – That’s our procrastinator.

2) Alone in the Crowd, Alone on Stage:

Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 anime notes - Kisaragi Momo has no friends

1) No friends, casually said. I guess she shares that with Shintaro, last episode’s “hero”.

Wait. Shintaro’s last name is “Kisaragi” as well, is she Shintaro’s sister? Hmmmm.

2) “Everyone is envious of your ability to focus” – And now everyone is focused on her, and she loses her ability to focus on other things, such as studies? Hm. Update: Makes more sense now that you think it’s about how everyone is envious of her ability to focus everyone’s attention on her.

3) A man from an idol company, presenting a soft image, a repeated message, to a young girl. Or, well, just Shinbou being Shinbou. He can’t help it, at this point.

4) That agency name, “Natural Enemy” O.O They know they’re predators, “My Lawyer is a real shark!” as agood thing.

5) “Why does your art get any acclaim, it’s all style and no substance!” – Ah, the loser, finding something to complain about, shifting the goal-post, to where they reign supreme, which means putting down others. Is this also about Shinbou? I mean, sometimes, especially here, it feels his art is all style and no substance, and he still gets acclaim over it.

Attention as a finite resource. If one person gets praised, it means others get less praised. Idols, at the cost of the masses? But then she still became one, so I find it curious, since she’s obviously hurt by this “accusation confession”. Let’s see.

3) Running From Life:

Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 anime notes - Kisaragi Momo reaches a dead end

1) Momo’s decision to become an idol is accompanied by the same torrential rain as when they spoke of her father dying. Either her mother just died, or she is signing away her own soul and happiness for the sake of her mother. Her mother’s last wish was for her to do something she enjoys, but does she?

2) So… Momo is the cute hoodie girl from episode 1’s beginning? Sweet.

3) Momo, in full older sister mode. Welp, big sis mode confirmed (Probably gonna use that as a wallpaper).

4) Oh, now I get it. The curse of “Focus attention” earlier was a mistranslation or misunderstanding. Her agent talked about how Momo can focus everyone’s attention on her, not how she can focus her attention. So it’s a curse, she takes all the attention, more than she wants, and more than her share. Her eyes flashed red when she punched the boy, but it wasn’t for the punch, but for the hood slip and immediate attention-gathering.

5) Running away, from life, from herself. She’ll wind up like her brother, the shut-in. Another great wallpaper shot. And where does running away from your trouble land you? In a dead-end. Symbolism 101.

4) Loose Ends:

Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 anime notes - Kido Tsubomi

1) Ah, confused her with green-hair hoodie girl.

2) The Post-ED section brings it back. Shintaro has Ene as a constant companion. Momo has all of her rabid fans. The people around them just accentuate how alone they are. I guess the other red-eye “number-colour” people will be their “home”.

BTW, that “monster” from the stories? Really reminds me of Hoshimiya Kate from Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~.

The post ED story has something we all seek, validation by others, of our existence. A shut-in fears rejection, at times, so will not venture for confirmation. The president of the arts club wanted validation, and resented those thattook “her share”.

That next episode preview, which was quite long, will we finally meet up with the others? I sure hope so.

Post Episode Thoughts:

Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 anime notes - The Monster

Considering how Momo has issues, and considering the naming convention of the episode, as well as the artistic and directorial direction in this show and episode, it feels like an arc of Monogatari. Except, in Monogatari, you get 3-7 episodes per arc, because you need them. Monogatari and this show both have a lot of talk that covers nothing, or that uses up a lot of time to set atmosphere, and to obfuscate what really matters. But with enough episodes, you get enough of the talk that matters.

This show, they could’ve cut down on everything that doesn’t matter, but didn’t. So we are left with a lot of atmosphere. We keep having cute and energetic girls. We keep having a lot of stylistic touches. We have touches of the supernatural, touches of loneliness, and of seeking a group of like-minded individuals. We keep seeing this group behind the scenes.

Yes, they’re taking their time, they’re dragging it on, so we’ll feel rewarded and glad when things are revealed. But the fact you’re drawing reveals out doesn’t mean you should waste the time you are given up to that point.

Akiyuki Shinbou, “your art are all style and no substance.” ;-) I am sure you’ve been self-aware of how this statement fits there.

Return to the Mekakucity Actors Episodic Notes page.

7 comments on “Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 Notes – “You’re All Style and No Substance!” – Akiyuki Shinbou

  1. Artemis says:

    I honestly had trouble watching to the end of this second episode – if anything, it felt even more self-indulgent than the first, and practically screamed “trying reeeally hard to be artistic and alternative!” Definitely dropped now.

    • Guy says:

      I felt it had some more going for it, and well, it was less annoying. But I can get where you’re coming from, the whole section between Momo and her teacher, and the very heavy-handed abstract gramophone imagery. I guess without Ene talking endlessly and filling up the screen, he had to fill it with something else.

      I definitely feel a lot of it is pacing-related. The same stories are told in songs that are 4-5 minutes long, and it just fails when stretched to cover 20 minute-long episodes. I think 12-14 mins would allow for the same story with less “fluff”. Perhaps have 30 min episodes but with two stories in each.

  2. Reyna says:

    I didn’t particularly enjoy the second episode either for a variety of reasons (pacing and animation style are up there at the top), but here are a few pieces of information that might be a bit helpful:

    The episode titles of Mekakucity Actors are all derived from the song titles of the corresponding Kagerou Project series, which the anime is based off of. Artificial Enemy was one of the first songs to be released, focusing on Ene’s relationship with Shintaro. Likewise, Kisaragi Attention is a song revolving around Momo, hence the random insert song with her running away from the crowd with Hibiya, that younger boy she bumped into.

    The “Nature’s Enemy” card is actually a reference to the producer of Kagerou Project. The songwriter Jin goes by the username Shizen no Teki-P (自然の敵P) on the site which the songs are released on, a name that directly translates to “nature’s enemy-P”. So while the agency is definitely creepy, the name isn’t really a reference to that characteristic.

    Also, like you mentioned, Shintaro and Momo are brother and sister. It’s made pretty clear that Shintaro is a shut-in; with her father dead, mother hospitalized, and brother locked in his room every day, Momo decides to become an idol to try to support her family, though evidently she hates the consequences.

    • Guy says:

      As I said to Artemis above, the originals are 4-5 minute long songs. I know there’s a manga, but it definitely feels a lot of the dross is coming from trying to fit it into 20ish minutes of content. I think 10-15 mins would’ve worked better, and perhaps they should’ve gone for 30 min episodes, each covering two songs.

      I definitely feel this is the same sort of situation as Log Horizon, Shingeki no Kyojin, and to some degree Nagi no Asukara, they have to work with the current episode and season structure, so they have a few episodes where things are stretched, or which should’ve been cut out entirely, and their presence hamstrings the series.

      Thank you for the tidbit about the “Nature’s Enemy”.

  3. Carol says:

    I had nothing to do so I watched episode 3, you can understand what was going on in the first two episodes there and decide if you like the anime or not.

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