Summer 2014 Anime Season Week 5 (Anime Power Ranking)

This week wasn’t really hot. All episodes were serviceable, but there was very little that was just “good”, sadly enough. Moved these to earlier in Wednesday, so there’ll be no mention of Fate/Kaleid S2 this week. The list is slightly less-organized in terms of “like” this week, as it’s mostly one big mesh.

Weekly impressions for Akame ga Kill!, Aldnoah.Zero, Barakamon, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, , Sword Art Online II,  Tokyo Ghoul, and Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance) (Also, Avatar: The Legend of Korra).

The list is organized by how much I’ve enjoyed each episode, and the link in the title is to a more thorough write-up on the episode. For first impressions it means mostly more about production and presentation, but also about themes.

Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance episode 4:

Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance anime episode 4 overview - Shibazaki Kouichirou wants to connect

I’ve figured it out! This show is House M.D. the anime! Well, what I mean by that is that just as House M.D. isn’t a mystery show, but the mysteries are only there to move things along in the drama, here the mysteries aren’t the real point either. Yes, Oedipus’s story, and how our past comes back to haunt us and is inescapable might be the point, but the real point is the thriller-atmosphere. The specific riddles? Don’t matter as much.

Also, another thing that should’ve been obvious, and yet I’ve somehow missed it – Nine and Twelve are the Sphinx, when their final riddle is solved, they will die. They’re not Oedipus, though metaphorically I think they are. So, is Shibazaki Oedipus? Is his past going to catch up with him?

This episode made it clear that Shibazaki is a mirror of the kids, and that his oafish friend is the mouth of epiphany, in the same vein as House M.D. and procedural “riddle shows”. But also that the big theme is very much about communication, about wanting to be understood, and make a connection.

Barakamon episode 5:

Barakamon anime episode 5 overview - Everyone relaxing together

In a sense, this episode was very much a continuation of last week’s episode. On one hand, it felt oh-so-short, too short, without numerous portions, just two. On the other hand, Handa being immature and somewhat of a chuunibyou is once again a point being made – he idolizes his super-powers of calligraphy.

The gags in the beach portion relied for the most part on physical and visual gags, but Naru being distraught over Handa potentially having a girlfriend in the first part, and Handa’s big heart in the second half made up for it all. You just want to hug everyone here. Handa is immature, and that’s part of his charm. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and even his anger and high-handed “Teaching Technique” come from his love, for calligraphy, and for all the kids.

Sword Art Online II episode 5:

Sword Art Online II anime episode 5 overview - Bloodthirsty Sinon

Kirito is somewhat of a jerk, not the nicest guy around. This season doesn’t let you forget it. He’s playful, but even though in a game, everyone else around him is anything but. The bloodlust of the mooks is only there in order to reinforce that Sinon is harder than all of them, and more bloodthirsty to boot. The game’s mechanics reinforce the relation between the real world and the game, so Sinon’s “split-nature”, even mentioned by Kirito and Sinon themselves seems to be interesting, if not weird.

The action was “meaty”. They sure spent a lot of time with Kirito pressing his lightsaber into that other guy’s chest. Meaty, and goes along with the instinctive fear Kirito had to overcome before charging into gunfire. This isn’t “just a game”, but a reality simulator.

And yes, we’ve seen before how this season is about Sinon wrestling with her past, and now we see how Kirito will have to fight the demons of his past as well.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders episode 18:

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Cruaders episode 18 anime  - Joseph Joestar is distraught

This episode was weird. When everyone but Joseph started laughing like a maniac towards the end of the episode, I was completely with Joseph, and then the reveal, and Joseph saying how it’s subverting the show’s tropes, which are his values? Priceless.

Also, enjoyed Joseph as old Indiana Jones not being trusted by the new generation. And just so you’ll know, being on a camel as it rises or descends is pretty darn scary. I think I was around 8 years old the first and last time I’ve been on a camel trek.

Aldnoah.Zero episode 5:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 5 overview - Asseylum and Slaine meet

This episode was sort of weird. I’m not sure what they were going for. The main thing I’ve got that actually happened was we continued Marito’s arc about how false hope is ruinous, and how he blames himself for surviving. Heavy stuff. And that Slaine is now known by some of his enemies, which would make things rough for him.

Other than that, we’ve had the Emperor take a stand, and then without the situation changing at all he went back on his decision, which was weird. I hope it was only to make his rivals feel at ease as he lures them into a trap, but it could easily backfire and get his granddaughter killed again.

Also, Inaho continues to save everyone, in the nick of time, with solutions that had no foreshadowing or mention before. I don’t have a big problem with it, but it’s cumbersome and inelegant, and giving the explanation first, or hinting at it, would just make it all go much smoother. The show also continues with silly humour, is it a way to show the characters are trying to relieve pressure, or just a mishandling of atmosphere? Even if it’s the former, it might be easy to miss.

Also, I want to throw it out there, but the visual design of this show, the architecture – great stuff. Not as stylized as Zankyou no Terror’s usage of lighting or as inspired as its camera-work, but still worthy of mention.

Tokyo Ghoul episode 5:

Tokyo Ghoul anime episode 5 overview - Tsukiyama Shuu is crazy

Touka is cool, and Miyano Mamoru continues to have way too much fun playing a completely deranged and flamboyant villain off his rocker.

Nishiki’s backstory, combined with his girlfriend’s, shows the reality the ghouls live in, that the world isn’t so simple, and that even monsters have their boundaries, especially when they’re called “monsters” for being different or being forced to survive, rather than wanton cruelty. That’s what Tsukiyama is there for – to show the difference between one who has no choice, or who lost faith in the world and is looking out to protect themselves, and one who is cruel for the sake of their own amusement.

Kaneki Ken, the main character, didn’t really do much. He’s there to show us the world, and show us he’s willing to trust and make sacrifices for the sake of others. Regular shounen protagonist fair.

Akame ga Kill! episode 5:

Akame ga Kill! anime episode 5 overview - Esdeath wants to be satisfied

I found myself caring for Schele’s story. Well, not the story itself, but it still contained enough sadness that even if it was unearned, I felt something. The backstory itself wasn’t terribly interesting, and characters made to feel somewhat “unfeeling” usually don’t engender much care. Noto Mamiko is really not at the top of my list of voice actors, honestly.

Then we’ve had the “Justice lover!” who has a weapon and works with the capital. Will she become an ally? Will Tatsumi be forced to kill her, or will she sacrifice herself for Night Raid? Who knows. Apparently the manga-readers were much excited about Esdeath, but it was just too much of a caricature – big bad overpowered general who makes the enemies lick her boots naked and kills hundreds of thousands of people. Whatever.

There just wasn’t much in this episode. The Justice Fighter soldier was the best bit, and Schele’s story? I liked the result, even if it wasn’t entirely earned.

*) Avatar: The Legend of Korra Season 3 Episode 9:

Everything converges, all of our enemies come together. With so many enemies, who even needs allies? Philosophical disagreement, rather than just a grab for power, and then there are those who just wish more power. Bending fights continue to be awesome.


Summary:

Popcorn, and very little but. Nothing blew my mind, and a couple of things were tiring. There’s always next week, right? I might hate myself for it, but I might give Nozaki-kun another try, and try out Sabagebu.

 Question: Mid-season is upon us, any show you might pick up based on positive chatter that you didn’t try originally?

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