Summer 2014 Anime Season Weeks 6-7

Because last week I’ve covered the mid-season, this week the post will cover the last two weeks’ worth of episodes. The order will be arbitrary.

Weekly impressions for Akame ga Kill!, Aldnoah.Zero, Barakamon, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei!, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure , Sword Art Online II,  Tokyo Ghoul, and Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance) (Also, Avatar: The Legend of Korra).

Barakamon Episodes 6-7:

Barakamon anime episodes 6-7 overview

Pretty great stuff. This dealt with the search for the top, and with how precocious people can be so annoying to deal with, especially when you used to be one yourself, and you see in them how annoying you used to be – eager to challenge and chase everyone.

But here’s what you know once you grow older, they seek to beat you not in order to surpass you, but in order to gain your acceptance. The island’s kids have it much easier, they just tell you they want to spend time with you, and get to do so.

Handa got to be all sorts of cool, being sure in his ways, finding his center because his would-be disciple/challenger came upon him. He’s just not interested in doing what he “should” be doing, but to find and do what he seeks to be doing.

And we could all learn from that, especially if we create content ourselves. And yes, the kids are all so charming.

Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance episodes 5-6:

Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance anime episodes 5-6 overview

Episode 5 was the best episode in this series thus far, in terms of writing, I feel. We’ve had an issue arise, which didn’t make sense, or which seemed obvious, so the characters who are supposedly geniuses noticed it as well, and backtracked – wondering what it could mean that something happened, or that something did not happen, and they got to the conclusion they should’ve.

More than that, when we saw a scene that apparently didn’t do anything, something happened later on as to show us why it matters. All the police debriefing scenes ended up being meaningful. Seeing where the bomb is was meaningful because we had the solution to the riddle before it was asked, which further emphasized the riddles not being important, which was the perfect way to segue into the real riddle, and why the characters wanted their riddles to be easy to solve.

On the plot-level, we see our two “terrorists” whom the public doesn’t seem to fear aren’t looking to kill anyone and will risk themselves to not kill, though as they said to Lisa, they are terrorists. Anime is the land of the idyllic, truly.

Episode 6 wasn’t all that good. Yes, combined with episode 5 we have Five, which continues the whole theme of how our past comes back to haunt us (greek tragedy, y’all), but she doesn’t do the obvious backtracking Nine and Twelve do, and misses the obvious. We see her as a mirror to Sphinx, but also to Shibazaki, she looks to reach to the people she’s playing with, but only in order to crush them.

The real problem with episode 6 was that it had about 8 minutes’ worth of content, I feel, and mostly seemed to take up a whole episode so episode 7 could begin with the game in earnest without an end-of-episode hitting them in an inopportune time. But meh.

Here is episode 5’s full write-up, and episode 6’s full write-up.

Aldnoah.Zero episodes 6-7:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episodes 6-7 overview

This show is somewhat losing me. Not that it’s bad, it’s still pretty solid, but I am having a harder time mustering excitement and interest for what’s going on screen. There are very few characters one cares for, and rather than see them grow or reach a decision, or even tormented by their old pains in new ways, we just see more of the same. It’s like we’re in a time dilution field. Lieutenant Marito to me is the exception, but I’m always predisposed towards older characters.

Episode 6 was actually pretty good, talking again about how ridiculous war is, about how people look for glory when there’s no real glory to be had, about how everyone belonging to the other side gets blamed for no good reason. Marito’s voice of cynicism struck closer to my own thoughts on the whole notion of war, sacrifice, and heroics. That also tied to the first part of the episode, where the Martians acted as if the dead Princess is now a “martyr” whose death commands them to go to war, which will yield more casualties, who in turn will command the war to continue, for ever more.

Episode 7 reminded me of episode 2 again. We’ve stretched a fight showing how ridiculous the Martians are again, from what should’ve been 2-3 minutes to roughly 15. And if you thought that somehow we skipped the “Frenemies” part, then rest assured, the finale got us there. This episode was honestly quite boring and uneventful, as an episode, the final couple of scenes just ended with a bang to make you forget the drudgery you sat through for the twenty minutes that preceded. This series continues to have a lot of wasted time in each episode, and it’s unfortunate.

Here is episode 6’s full write-up, and episode 7’s full write-up.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! episodes 5-6:

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! anime episode 5 overview

Episode 5: This was quite an interesting episode. Naturally, it opened with an extra-heavy dose of fanservice, including actual squeezing action, because we can’t let No Game, No Life outdo us, right? Well, let’s move beyond that.

This episode made many callbacks to episodes 9-10 of the first season, and it even referenced that with Miyu’s resolve, showing what had been gained since then, trust, though Ilya narrating, “I didn’t understand how they felt, at all!” was just like episode 10, so a bit unnecessary.

What did we have here, though? We’ve had the nature of magical girl shows explored, and I think I have an inkling on what is to come (anyone who read the manga don’t say anything, not “You’ll see” or anything, thank you) – Ilya said she became Archer because she had a problem she couldn’t overcome and lost her hope – that’s a metaphor to all magical girls ever. Something is wrong, they have a wish they can’t handle on their own, and BAM! Powers! Of course, later we realize it’s not powers but who they are inside and friends, but first, it’s powers.

And then there’s what everyone’s missing. Ilya wanted to have a normal life, right? She expected to be free once Rin and Luvia got the cards, but then they came back. And what did Ilya do each time she couldn’t handle things on her own? She merged with Archer. So now, she wants her normal life back, so what happens? She splits. There’s regular Ilya with considerably less powers who could go to school, and there’s “Fighter Ilya”, with full powers and then some, who could keep Miyu company so she wouldn’t have to fight alone.

In other words, Kuro isn’t some anomaly, it’s just Ilya using her powers the way she always did. And this episode actually ties it all together, and ties us back to the first season, and to the magical girl genre as a whole, which makes it good stuff. We also have some stuff about the Nasuverse, in how magic is dark and twisted – in the end, true power stems from one’s personality and friends.

Also, all the shots of Kuro on the rock near the ocean were very pretty, and her scenes with Miyu reminded me of scenes from Madoka: Rebellion. Similar offers as well.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! anime episode 6 overview

Episode 6: Meh. Seriously. Well, the last two thirds.

The first part of the episode is a pretty great fight. The action in this sequence was both great and a bit weird. Is it CGI? Is it the pretty aggressive shifts in perspective? I’m not sure what it is, but it both feels slightly weird but also pretty great to look at. Solid stuff right there, though not as impactful as the epic fights from the first episode.

But then, then we’ve went to an extended bath scene lasting the last two thirds of the series, coupled with an infodump that didn’t really contain much material that was interesting or relevant in terms of themes. I guess you can’t have a show within the Nasuverse without magical technobabble.

Yes, there was one bit that was important – magic is dark, and is about sacrifice. For every single thing you do, someone has to pay. There was also some commentary about the main franchise, in a way: Kuro is The Holy Grail, and as she told Miyu in their earlier fight, what she does is cheat, she brings about the solution without thinking it through or going via the intervening process.

That’s what wishes are. Wishes are cheating, and they tie into how in magic there’s always a price. That’s a worthwhile message, but I dunno, the way the episode handled all the chatter coming out of nowhere was underwhelming.

Kuro’s acceptance and Ilya hugging her and all, was it pure shounen “nakama!” or was it more like a Moe Slice of Life tearful reunion? Hard to tell.

Tokyo Ghoul episodes 6-7:

Tokyo Ghoul anime episodes 6-7 overview

Horror, shounen battler? A bit of both. It’s that part where the protagonist feels helpless, and people, innocentpeople, die. Now we realize what world it is that we live in.

But in a shounen battler sort of way, our protagonists decide that they will pay the price of being shunned by their peaceful allies, and they will fight back, to defend themselves, and their friends, and to have revenge.

Also, the early part of episode 6 had Touka looking like a fallen angel of vengeance, and she looked great. Especially in her intolerable solitude, which led quite nicely to her going alone against their enemies in episode 7. Of course, the “enemies” are for the most part humans who seek to protect their kind and peace as well.

What do?

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders episodes 19-20:

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders anime episodes 19-20 overview

“Lali-ho!” what a shit-eating baby, literally, eh? JoJo was a lot of fun these two episodes, and it seriously continued with the whole “horror movie atmosphere” thing it had going on lately. Caught within a dream where you could die (A Nightmare on Elm Street), clowns and an amusement park?

It also takes horror to the psychological realm, where a character is thought of as insane by the other characters, and is no longer sure of himself, as he prepares to kill a baby? And the baby’s acting was actually solid. Baby was a good JoJo villain, gloating, making things last longer as it was sure of its victory, only for it to be turned around by Kakyoin.

These last two episodes were quite funny, to be honest, to see all the antics going on, and the shit-talking carried out by the baby as it toyed with the gang. Also, it seems we can’t go more than two episodes without someone being forced to lick something, and an arc without a dog being mutilated :o

Sword Art Online II episodes 6-7:

Sword Art Online II anime episodes 6-7 overview

Episode 6 put all the thematic cards on the table, how Kirito and Sinon are similar, how they’re both berserkers, the nature of past trauma, and the nature of strength and the relation between the virtual world and the real world, especially as when it regards the source of strength.

Sinon keeps saying how the two worlds are separate, but she doesn’t believe that, or she wouldn’t be trying to obtain real world strength via the game, and the people she calls “strong”, such as Kirito and the Machinegun user from episode 2? It’s because she believes their strength transcends the game.

Episode 7 was mostly taking a break before the big tournament starts. The main question here is whether killing someone with good cause is right or wrong, the answer seems to be that it’s right, but so is living with the guilt, or thinking of everyone else it saved, rather than focusing on those no longer alive. And we’ve had a very awkward scene between Sinon and her friend, Shinkawa. Two kids who have no idea how to talk to other people and how to share emotions, and yes, it was more than a tad creepy.

Here is a small editorial on episode 6, and here are mini-notes for episode 7.

Akame ga Kill! episodes 6-7:

Akame ga Kill! anime episodes 6-7 overview

Scheele, no! Even though it wasn’t entirely earned, since I really liked her in episode 5, I was sad to see her go in episode 6. And now I’m growing fond of “big sister Leone”, so I know she’s probably not long for this life either.

Episode 6 truly was “GrimDark to the MAX!” in all sorts of ridiculous ways, but I found Seryuu interesting, not as a character (though “super crazy HanaKana was interesting on its own), but because she’s “Justice Girl”, and, well, she’s not a villain. She’s someone doing her job of chasing down assassins.

She is the epitome of blind justice, and how one who chases justice to the exclusion of all else could be terrifying, especially at the hands of unjust rules-setters.

Episode 7 continues the very split nature of the series as a whole, how they care for one another but should be ready to die, how they say they won’t die and train – how naive it all is. And yes, seeing Exdeath just wants lovewas a bit silly as well.

*) Avatar: The Legend of Korra Season 3 Episodes 10-11:

They’re not messing around, in terms of scope. World domination, killing world superpower leaders, great bending fights, and Korra and Asami being badasses together. Still one of the most enjoyable parts of the week for me.


Summary:

Last week was pretty great, with emotional and narrative strengths for most of the shows I watch. This week though? At least three episodes felt as if half of their run-time was wasted, and that it’s just taking a deep breath for what is to come. I hope that translates into several strong episodes in a row, because that’s what “build-up” means, otherwise it’ll just be a great shame. I didn’t enjoy a bunch of those episodes as much as I could’ve, but I’ve watched 100 episodes of Hunter x Hunter (2011) over the past 8-9 days, so it’s alright, I guess.

 Question: How do you feel about “set-up episodes” where it feels not only not much happens, but that it’s all drawn-out?

4 comments on “Summer 2014 Anime Season Weeks 6-7

  1. mechtroid says:

    I’ve always seen them as a necessary evil, and a great example of the tension in pacing between episodic and marathon viewing. I mean, yeah, ZnT ep 6 was pretty slow and light on content, but if I had been watching for the last three hours, I would have liked the breather before diving into what looks like a constant escalation in the next few episodes. Hell, I originally started with anime by watching naruto, and even THAT level of filler and dragging things out doesn’t feel that bad when you’re watching 12ish episodes a day. The problem, of course, being as soon as I tried to watch the show episodically, I kept on asking myself what changed each week, and the answer was always “very little”.

    Honestly, I’ve felt that (rare and singular) complaints about a slow episode in a series is a good sign, because usually that belies the fact that you’re still wanting more, and you like what happened before. Two episodes in a row or so? Then you have a problem.

    • Guy says:

      Honestly, I’ve felt that (rare and singular) complaints about a slow episode in a series is a good sign, because usually that belies the fact that you’re still wanting more

      Eh, it could also mean you’re disappointed with what’s given. You want more no matter what show is there, or like me, you feel that wasting your time is the worst crime a show could make.

      Yes, when you marathon 12-20 episodes in a go, you notice less when you don’t get progress, because at that stage you do get progress, but to me the constant fillers or “non-content” is actually more annoying there in shows like Naruto, where I groan at seeing the same content 3-4 times with all the flashbacks or recaps. That I feel I’m wasting more of my time in it.

      I’m also not sure it’s a necessity while marathoning either, can always take a break when you feel you need one, and no, I think it just deflates things too much. But it’s an interesting take.

  2. jimmydorry says:

    Great to hear that you are catching up with HxH!

    Who is your favourite character so far, and who was the most interesting? (I purposefully made the distinction there)

    • Guy says:

      Hm. I think I like Kurapika the best. Most interesting? If not Kurapika, then someone that picking them would be “cheating” because we don’t know much of them like Biscuit, or Mito, but honestly, none of the characters are actually very “interesting”. They’re all iconic archetypes that I’m well acquainted with by now and who are only now (towards the end of Chimera Ant) really showing any change. But then, it’s still only really between Kurapika and Killua, where there’s any real choice to be made for “interesting characters”.

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