Spring 2014 Week 10 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

As usual, shows listed by order of my enjoyment of said episode, links to longer write-ups. Mushishi was here this week! But due to tests and such I had a bit less energy for this season, as it’s winding down, rather than winding up for exciting finales. Two episodes’ worth of Chaika, since I’ve missed it last week.

1) Ping Pong the Animation episode 9

Ping Pong the Animation anime Episode 9 overview

 

This episode is about the return of the past. Sakuma and Beach guy? Sure. But how about two friends who are going to fight for the top spot (assuming Peco beats Kazama), where one of them has knee-problems, and the other doesn’t want to harm his friend’s dream? Reminds you of Coach Koizumi and Kazama’s grandfather, eh? Smile had also been told that he’ll harm his opponent if he gives him the win, and Obaba had said Smile has no mercy, and is a monster.

But Smile is only a monster for Peco’s sake. I don’t think Smile smiled whenever he played ping pong, but whenever he played ping pong with Peco, and also with Sakuma. He smiled when he got to share in his hero’s hobby. Both Smile and Sakuma want to be more like Peco. Sakuma wanted the talent, and Smile wanted the joy. Smile had given Peco wins, which led to his dormant-hero-friend eventually being defeated and running away, so will he be able to give him a win, or will Peco manage to slay the Giant Robot and set Smile free without the robot self-destructing?

Kazama and his death of heroes will not be a hero for others, and yet he gave the “correct answer” for whom he plays the game in the open. Was it because he sees it as part of his job? Possibly. But perhaps Akuma’s words got to him and he wishes to believe in heroes still, no matter what he says.

Still, last episode had been great when Smile spoke of Peco, but this time, the segment Peco spoke of Smile was flat-out great.

I think this show is really great.

2) Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia) episode 9

Sidonia no Kishi / Knights of Sidonia anime Episode 9 overview

Last episode had been about how the undead aren’t the Gauna, but the characters and their past. This episode we’ve had Tanikaze ask “If you make a perfect copy of memories and personalities, what difference would there be between it and the original?” which again, isn’t about the “undead Gauna”, but about Ochiai’s brain, and about himself. If we clone someone, and even give him the same memories, is it the same person, or is it someone else? The show speaks for the nature of humanity which defies logic, where even the scientist says she’d say they differ, though logically there should be no difference.

And yet we have enemies in our midst. Hoshijiro’s clone, kept under lock and key. Ochiai’s brain-carrier, who is subjected to what is essentially torture for they cannot let the knowledge and their old traitor-friend go, and Norio, who had ran away, but is now seeing the promise of power, which he will hardly be able to let be.

This was an alright episode, mostly building up on what came before and for future occurrences. I like that they realized the only weight riding on Nagate’s fights is his rising in the ranks and simply gave us the results.

3) Isshuukan Friends (One Week Friends) episode 10

Isshuukan Friends / One Week Friends anime Episode 10 overview

“Does that mean he’s more important to her than I am?” – What Hase is really worried about. Hase is worried less about Fujimiya losing her memories than he is at how his hard work is undone in a single moment, meaning the “interloper” might be more important to Fujimiya than he is. Shogo always reminds him he’s somewhat of a creep, and there’s a reason for it.

Saki also noticed the change. She might not remember what she’s told, but she can actually read the situation, which is nice. Well, back to Hase-kun.

Hase is speaking not just of memories, but of friendship, which makes sense. Hajime said they’re not really friends, because he can’t tell if Fujimiya isn’t lying, or they don’t share a past. Hase is saying that being in one another’s presence adds layers on top of one another, and that being together is what matters. A naïve view, fitting for Hase.

“I’ll keep repeating this future, praying our destination will be a good place for Fujimiya.” – Hase’s selflessness is selfish. He purports to only do what she desires, but she wouldn’t be happy if he were to get hurt, and as we see in the beginning, he is actually filled with resentment, towards Fujimiya and himself, which he directs at others, even though they might sometimes even earn it. He idolizes Fujimiya. He doesn’t actually try to be her friend, as much as be next to her. He wants to be her friend, but it’s not what he’s actually doing.

Moving forward, cause there’s no other option, and realizing that’s exactly what friendships are. Of course, it’s unthinkable to Hase, but one can also stop being friends. Heck, that just might be why this new situation is bothering him so much. This whole show is about the never-ending strive for friendship, and how friendships very much are like all relationships, where you have to constantly reforge them, and here we have a conflict based on someone saying they hate Fujimiya (the goddess), and that people might stop trying, and give up on friendships.

That’s… the same conflict this show had always been about. It’s the one truth Hase will not accept.

4) Mushishi Zoku Shou (Mushishi 2nd Season) Episode 8

Mushishi Zoku Shou anime Episode 8 overview

Slightly weaker than usual episodes, but still pretty good!

This episode to me is about humanity’s endless curiosity. Poke an anthill, then keep poking. Get burnt? Fine. Come across another anthill? Poke again.

And then the man-eating ants come, and eat your whole family, and you blame yourself. So what do you do when you come across another anthill? Poke it. Poke it and hope the ants get you, this time.

Ginko saving the family was also interesting. Rather than lead the snakes again, he brought forth a big wind. To chase away one calamity, another is needed. There’s always a price. A price for poking the anthill.

Episode still felt a bit more clinical than usual, but seeing Ginko’s doctor friend acting like a child was neat.

5) Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess) Episode 9

Hitsugi no Chaika anime Episode 9 overview

This was a pretty good episode. This episode flat-out told us that it’s about the value of memories. Magic Fuel is made of memories, so they spoke of their own memories, and how they shape them. Not just memories, but the past in general.

We’ve had a small moment where Leo the demi-human spoke of Gillette, and his past – his kind had been born and bred to die in place of “humans”, but they are sentient beings, so what makes them different? Basically nothing. They are slaves created to die, and that’s why they’re allowed to die. Heck, it’s war-time, people die anyway, right?

Leo’s moment wasn’t about Leo, but about Akari and Toru. They had been raised to be saboteurs. Raised to kill, and be killed. Leo thanked Gillette for giving him a new purpose in life, which is what Toru is thankful to Chaika for. Toru is a demi-human, and he’s now reclaiming his humanity.

6) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders episode 10

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders anime Episode 10 overview

I can’t use unclean bathrooms, so I can understand Polnareff. And then this showthis show is really ranking it up with the unpleasant stuff! :P

JoJo characters are loud and proud, sure of their ways. There isn’t much to separate the heroes from the villains in terms of mentality, of “honour”, of backstabbing one another. And yet, Polnareff telling Abdul he can remain “mature as always” as an insult, and which caused Abdul to fly into a rage was sad, and actually indicative of our culture.

Fun and ridiculous episode. Truly.

7) Mekakucity Actors episode 9

Mekakucity Actors anime Episode 9 overview

I am not sure why, but I don’t care much for this episode, after the fact, though thinking about what it had actually done this episode, it did very well.

First, this episode had finally given us true forward momentum, in the way of goals. It had to go way back and disclose the past of a dead character who is no longer able to share said information with the others to get there, but it did it anyway. This is sort of bad storytelling – up until now the characters had no goal, nothing to aim for. This episode had presented a goal that we as the viewers could appreciate, but which most of the characters have no way to know of. But it’s progress, at least now there’s a goal within the story.

Up until now it was a rescue operation, to save the loved ones taken, but now we realize that our world is under assault by an extra-planar tempting serpent who wishes to take over bodies and create medua on our world again for some hidden purpose! Wait, that sounds like the plot of a terrible B-movie, doesn’t it? Maybe even a C-movie :P

I did like the bits about how everyone tried to deal with the mother’s death. Even if the plot is in all kinds of shambles, the small bits of dealing with the loss and trying to put up a brave front so others will manage felt solid, and the black and white still-art pieces had been magnificent, perhaps even better than the mosaic windows last episode.

I also liked the part where we discovered why they’re all using “colours” and acting as if they have a secret treehouse gang – because that’s how Ayano had set up their group.

And yet, with all these things the episode had done well, the overall structure is somewhat of a mess. But at least we have one now, which we hadn’t until recently. Badly-structured motivations are still motivations, and badly-structured isn’t the same as badly-written, as far as the motivations themselves are concerned.

8) Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess) Episode 10

This episode had some action, and a continuation of many things we’ve been given hints for up to this point – the crazy militaristic lord getting leave to go and do battle, the craziness induced by the relics, the post-war world where the old store owner told Chaika and Toru to run to save themselves, but mostly to save his store from trouble.

This episode didn’t really advance the plot, or the characters, it mostly advanced the pieces so we could get plot revelations and conflicts later on. Yay mind-control! No, not really.

9) Fairy Tail (2014) episode 10

Considering the episode’s name was “Erza versus Kagura” there had been a notable lack of Erza versus Kagura :P Like 5 minutes of it, and most of it talking.

“My weakness killed X” is not the same as “I killed X”. I mean, yes, “Blame for” and “Responsible for” and “Did it” are what heroes’ grief, or enemies who are turned into allies is all about in shounens, but when a true antagonist blames someone like this, we all see immediately how it’s ridiculous.

More talking, and talking, to uncover the background plot.

10) No Game, No Life episode 10

No Game, No Life anime Episode 10 overview

In terms of either plot or characterization, nearly nothing happened. The whole ramifications of memory-exchange were incredibly botched, and often glossed over or forgotten, unless it’s part of the game (Gambit Roulette!), but you can’t really expect deep sci-fi from NGNL, right?

So what did this episode give us, for the most part? It had given us people forcing others to be subservient, and more bathroom scenes with the hose acting as binding, and physical gags or references to other shows. More time with the show just being the show.

In terms of its “plot” or games, it pulled the same shtick it did a couple of times already, where a mediocre episode where we only spent time with the characters ends with a semi-cliffhanger, so it’d grab people’s attention and they’d go “AWESOME!” which even if the cliffhanger is, it’s mostly to forget that the episode wasn’t.

This week’s cliffhanger was solid in a narrative sense, but also required. This show made a lot of noise about how victory is assured before the game even begins, and set its protagonists as super-good-job™. That means it has to do semi-ass-pulls to get to the basic narrative structure of interesting conflicts – that whoever wins is not known before the fact. And then I expect we’ll get a Gambit Roulette! Because this show isn’t really about whether victory is up in the air or not as much as it’s about selling that appearance to us, the audience.

I’m fine with it, because that’s what we watch such shows for, but they don’t have to try and keep selling it. The hard sell hurts them for no good reason.

11) Black Bullet episode 10

Black Bullet anime Episode 10 overview

This was a pretty bad episode. First of all, while I like most of the OST pieces, just shoving them in doesn’t actuallywork, you know? Also, this episode had roughly drawn, or half drawn faces and bodies in about half the scenes, if not more. I bet that with the action finale coming up, they are already pushing effort into it, which meant this episode just looked half-assed.

Yes, in terms of plot and theme, there is something to be said for a show exploring the same theme rather than whipping us about, but this is not “exploration”, it’s just being presented with the exact same message, or question – “Humanity is terrible, so why are we protecting them?”

The girl bit fell more than a tad flat, maybe due to not seeing it happen. I did feel a twinkle in my eye, but just barely. This episode felt phoned-in.

*) Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magic High School) episode 10

(*) due to not having watched it yet,  not sure if I want to. Last week’s episode covered 2 whole chapters (well, from the half-point of one to the half point of another), and a lot happened, without feeling significant. This week’s episode covered half a chapter. And some people are seriously suggesting they shouldn’t have had 7 episodes for the first 2 books, but 12, if not the full season for one book ala-Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. I mean, I’ve read the novels, I know what happened.

I mean, I can break it down for you, but what is there to say? Miyuki is a prude, but especially when she notices someone her brother is looking at, which ties into the part uncovered by the anime, of how due to global cooling showing skin is socially unacceptable in the world of Mahouka.

We have how Tatsuya saves Mikihiko and the whole bit about trusting adults and authorities, though he hardly does so himself. Tatsuya also saving the bus, and indeed, where are the faculty members? Adults for the most part are either villains or to be ridiculed in anime series in general, and this show is no different.

The Elder? I was sure he had a beard. I wonder if I imagined that in the novels, heh. Another case of “In the land of the blind, the squinty man is king!” – It was a beat neat, how the magician without peer actually resorted to a simple trick of suggestion to confuse everyone. Showing us that there’s more to wisdom and trickery than raw power. Shame it never actually matters. And of course Tatsuya realizes what is going on, and his magic (power!) would let him see through what his wisdom wouldn’t.

And then of course, the part that made me sigh even in the book, the whole “Miyuki is so hot she’ll turn straight girls into lesbian sexual predators.” Come on, it fed into the whole purple prose, and also continued how much Miyuki demanding attention and having all eyes on her was also a thing in the narrative of the ball, and last episode during the presentation of the delegation, which the anime skipped out on… I truly have no idea why even adapt this sequence. I guess this show knows it doesn’t have much more than Miyuki’s boobs, so it pushes them for all it’s worth.


Summary:

Another week where the popcorn, nearing the last stretch isn’t delivering, so we gotta hope the last 3 episodes do deliver, and where the dramas are racing full-steam ahead.

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