Summer 2014 Anime Season Week 11 (Anime Power Ranking)

Hunter x Hunter, I’m caught up! Two series reach their conclusions (finally), and other shows amble about.

Weekly impressions for Akame ga Kill!, Aldnoah.Zero, Barakamon, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei!, Hunter x Hunter(2011),  JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Sword Art Online II, Tokyo Ghoul, and Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance).

Link in titles leads to full-episode write-ups. Write-ups ordered by how much I enjoyed or thought the episodes were good.

Barakamon episode 10:

Barakamon anime episode 10 overview - Handa Seishu is having fun

This episode continues the ideas expressed in most of the series, but especially in the 8th episode, where Sensei watched over the grave of Naru’s grandmothe. Handa is part of the crowd, happy to help with building an anti-typhoon wall at the behest of Naru’s grandfather, how he has a phone-call while taking care of the girls as if they were kittens, how he goes with them to their spot to watch the fireworks…

And then he leaves, which makes it all that more noticeable. Handa fits in as if he’s always been a part of the group, so his sudden absence will be hard to countenance for them, to grasp. But that’s what growing up is, as Hiro shows as well – you grow up with someone and are used to spend all your time with them around, and then someone goes studying far away, showing you that “forever” was all too short.

We’ve also had general anime-esque “This is my first time in the festival because of my sheltered upbringing!” series of moments with Handa, but as in a slice of life series where you care for the characters, even if it wasn’t “special”, it was enjoyable.

Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance episode 9:

Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance anime episode 9 overview - Paying for the past

This episode wasn’t explosive in the non-stop action way I thought it might be, but it had “explosions in potential”, we’ve had the thriller mainstay of a bomb stopped at the last second, of making a deal with the devil, and gloating villains. Five remains a villain straight out of James Bond films and sucks the fun and quality out of scenes she appears in – even her FBI handler (on foreign ground) looked at her in askance and told her she’s making achieving their goals harder.

We’ve had someone discuss how he’s trying to do right by his past and those he harmed, which is again a reference to the classic Greek tragedies by Sophocles, and we’ve been told outright that the three surviving guinea pigs, Five, Nine, and Twelve aren’t long for this world. So their quest was probably to uncover the truth before they kick the bucket.

The final aspect of this episode, which was quite worthwhile was the discussiona bout betrayal and picking sides. Five sees the world in a very “Me and them” sort of way, so of course her presentation of the matter to Twelve was similar, in how he picked Lisa, he betrayed Nine. This wasn’t about betraying Nine, she told him, because he already did, but about accepting it, and betraying him again, or his prior betrayal would’ve been the worst of all choices – both abandoning Nine, and failing to rescue Lisa.

But as Twelve said last episode, he did this because they have no more time, and as the first and second episode said, they wanted to help Lisa this time because they still remembered being unable to save anyone as children. Letting the truth out might be “justice”, but saving Lisa would be their salvation.

Hunter x Hunter (2011) episodes 144-147:

Hunter x Hunter anime episode 147 overview - The Panda Assassin monologues

(Note, placement based on episode 147 relative to this week.)

Well, I said I’ll catch up when episode 147 came out, so I did. Episode 147 in particular was very interesting, as its first 8 minutes or so were a single existential monologue by the Pandassassin, who is such a noir-film character. That monologue was about the nature of the self, but what it was truly about, and which Gon talking to neo-Kite about cemented, was about paying for our past mistakes, learning from them, and making amends. It fit perfectly with my single most favourite line in Hunter x Hunter which appeared in episode 146 – “When apologizing to a friend, there’s a rule. You promise to do things differently next time.” It says there will be a next time (because you don’t walk away from one another), and it’s the opposite of “I’m right!”

Yes, it all ties together, and this is the true “closure” to Chimera Ants arc, but it makes sense it’s here, because that arc was so long and had so many ideas, that you needed more than one “finale” to tie them all up. But it’s also how this whole arc is. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but Alluka’s story is a metaphor to how the future generation must pay for the wishes and greed of the past, and if they were too greedy, then you’ll have more to pay than if they were modest, or cared for others.

Episode 146, due to the extreme emotional pay-off between Killua, Alluka, and Nanika (Something) was probably my favourite episode of Hunter x Hunter as a whole. It might not have been “the best”, but it was my favourite, and it helps that this is what I watch anime for, to a large degree.

We’ve also seen Pariston in his own way cared for Netero, he’s a troll, but because he knows someone likes being trolled ;-) One thing I didn’t like about the whole elections was a short statement by Ging, about how he didn’t see Pariston’s final move coming. I was “WHAT?!” because after Ging explanation of Pariston’s character in episode 144, of someone who doesn’t want to win but also doesn’t want to lose, it was painfully obvious to me that’d be the solution – someone who would win, but crowns the other victor, so he doesn’t get the position he doesn’t wish for, but he didn’t lose.

Episode 147 was definitely interesting, and unusual, but what was usual for the Hunter x Hunter franchise is where an arc’s penultimate episode feels like its real finale, and the last episode feels like the beginning of the next arc. The elections themselves weren’t all that interesting to me, but the whole Killua-Alluka situation was superb.

Sword Art Online II episode 11:

Sword Art Online anime episode 11 overview - Kirito drops the thriller-bombs

“We are who we are, and we are who we used to be.” Though not a quote, that’s how one could summarize the discussion between Sinon and Kirito. It continues the trajectory of accepting who we are – not necessarily as thinking it’s good, but being aware of it, and that our online selves aren’t separate from our offline ones, which was discussed between Kirito and Leafa (Suguha) during ALO.

Kirito didn’t get over what he did, and his talk with Nurse Aki was all about accepting that he did it, and there’s no moving past it. You can “contain” it and accept it as being the right decision, but you still got to live with it. Sinon, once she’s been given a goal, moved back to being the efficient MMO-veteran and master-sniper, thinking of plans and ramifications, back to getting shit done, it did feel a bit fast, but you’ve gotta kill Death Gun.

All of the above was relatively hard to remember, because the show wouldn’t stop panning all over Sinon’s butt and crotch. Yes, it’s to later show us how uncomfortable it should be for Kirito when they see it’s all caught on camera, but man, was it so wasteful, and distracting, and terrible in the way anime often is.

We’ve seen everyone back in ALO discuss the content we know. The one takeaway here is that now Kirito is in a hospital, and Asuna will threaten people in order to be there for him, as a reverse of the ALO arc. We also see how good at information-gathering Yui the plot-device is. Both of these things also play a part in the series’s future.

I do think this episode and last week’s might have been able to be had in one episode, or nearly.

Tokyo Ghoul episode 11:

Tokyo Ghoul anime episode 11 overview - Kaneki Ken being tortured

I really wonder about the world this series takes place in. Ghouls with military experience, did they masquerade as humans? Are there military forces that accept ghouls knowingly? They had to evacuate a whole district of Tokyo, how did the situation get to this, and where’s the army?

Well, the fight action was solid, but it felt like a bit more animation in the fights, and perhaps some more time to draw the fights could’ve helped. As it were, the fights didn’t have stakes individually, but rather as a whole enterprise. I did appreciate how Touka realized Amon’s focus on her is because she killed someone dear to him, and so the chain may eventually be broken.

Kaneki being tortured though, and the effect it’d have on him, interested me more. Continuing with the introspective angle, and the horror angle, and also yes, how one replicates onto others what was done to them, which is part of the horror-tale of werewolves and vampires, and yes, sexuality as well. This also ties once more into the chain of revenge mentioned earlier, how one kills others’ dear ones because theirs were killed. It all fits very nicely, thematically.

Oh yes, that “weird kid” and the angry leader of the police force? Such terrible caricatures, and I wince every time they’re on screen. So tonally jarring.

Akame ga Kill! episode 11:

Akame ga Kill! anime episode 11 overview - Doctor Stylish believes in his underlings

An action episode. It was all action, and it wasn’t very deep, or exceptional. It was fighting without anything else, really. That’s not very good, or very bad, it’s just average. It’s the show staying true to its nature. Including the villain turning on his “allies” in order to gain more power. Everything lower on the list just had a lot of flaws this week.

This episode did remind me of Power Rangers though, in how the main cast is allowed to be defeated, when they want to introduce a new character to save the day, and also get the other characters to appreciate their strength and trust them faster. “Plot armour” goes down, only when you want to introduce a new saviour, heh.

Aldnoah.Zero episode 11:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 11 overview - Jeep action

The Little Jeep that Could… fly to Hollywood.

The last two episodes of this series were quite good, and then this episode had to come along. I was tempted to place this episode higher, certainly above Tokyo Ghoul and Akame ga Kill, and perhaps even above Sword Art Online, but that’s because this show is pretty, and it appears confident, that it has more depth behind its content. But that’s exactly the thing, it’s all this gloss that tries to draw my attention away from just how emptyand devoid of soul this series is. It has a lot of content that discusses some nice ideas, but it doesn’t do them justice. It somewhat makes me miss Valvrave the Liberator, especially the first season (sans thatscene), because that one was actually fun.

One of the things that really annoyed me with Suisei no Gargantia’s finale was how it was “A dumb Hollywood finale, straight out of Michael Bay’s films”, which I don’t have a problem with on its own, but went against what the show was doing. Well, this episode, and a lot of the season in general, made that one seem like nothing. “The Little Jeep That Could” is a good way to look at it, a jeep that leaped out of an open runway, had a rocket fired at it, and then served for someone to climb from the running jeep to a running flying battleship…

We’ve had the required smug Martian pride over how helpless humans are, coming from Saazbaum who spoke to us how looking down on Earthlings is something Martians were manipulated into. We’ve had the Martian assault, that looks like it’s been copied from the machines’ assault on Zion in The Matrix Revolutions, but even emptier here, we’ve had Slaine running around, never where he wants to be where it matters, cause only Inaho gets to be a protagonist.

We’ve had a somewhat hysterical sister-fit from Inaho’s sister, accusing him of being crazy and just doing what he wants with a straight face. Lemme tell you a secret, characters commenting on how a character isn’t a good character or has faults doesn’t suddenly make it good writing. Inaho did have some points, mainly that inaction would lead to the exact same situation that his sister is worried action would lead to, with them dead.

But Inaho is the voice of logic and calm, and the rest just get to act randomly – Asseylum realizes it’s not her fault the Martians assaulted, since they were looking for a reason to start a fight anyway, right? Well, two minutes later she says it’s her fault again. Rayet randomly decides to help Asseylum, just to show us “progress” or whatever, and of course we have “IRONY!!!” strike again, as Magbaredge hears Marito say to Asseylum’s handler how he shouldn’t abandon her, even if it costs him his life…

This was an empty episode with lots of explosions, and whenever it actually invited me to think about it, it was to its detriment.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! episode 10 – Finale:

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! anime episode 10 overview - Illyasviel von Einzbern

The OVA, it’s writing itself.

That the season’s only big fight was cut in its midst didn’t help, that it wasn’t actually very long or all that special this episode didn’t help either. And then we went back to nonsense Nasuverse discussions, including a bluffed time-paradox to stop the fight, promise of a newClass Card, and more Moe-Slice-of-Life at school and then between Illya and Kuro.

Fans of the series assure us that the next and already-announced season will have all the action, but fans always promise that, and they also said it of this season.

This season had a lot of “anime comedy” and “moe slice of life” which were ok, but not much more, fan-service so blatant as to make the first season seem tame, and next to no actual action content. 5.7/10.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders episode 24 – Finale:

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders anime episode 24 overview - Finally reached our goals

The journey’s more important than the goal, but make it worthwhile.

So, we hear those teeth are harder than diamonds and not even Star Platinum could break through them, how will our heroes survive this new pinch?! Well, Star Platinum breaks through these teeth. No trying plenty of things, no dramatic poses or trash-talk, he just does. This was such a let-down of a season, it had some nice moments, and the horror atmosphere was solid, but none of it actually added up, and the JoJoettes just didn’t actually do anything.

The early episodes were ok, but then bupkis. No drama, no melodrama, just padding and fights that are over by a straightforward application of force without much behind them, or not enough to justify their length. 6/10. “Ok, I didn’t suffer too much, with some fun moments here and there”, basically.


Summary:

I’ve tired of this season. It doesn’t help that many of the shows I’m covering are essentially shounen battlers, which even if I enjoy watching, I don’t enjoy watching an episode a week, or discussing it. I might pick up more live action shows from my backlog for next season or something. It was an ok week. We’ve had action, none of which impressed me, and the non-action in Zankyou no Terror was also a bit weird. Maybe I’m just in a weird mood?

3 comments on “Summer 2014 Anime Season Week 11 (Anime Power Ranking)

  1. Artemis says:

    Honestly, the only reason I’m continuing to watch Aldnoah.Zero at this point is because a) it’s very pretty and b) there’s so little left to go anyway so I feel I might as well finish it off. I think the series has had some nifty moments, but as a whole I guess I’ve been politely bored. I’ll be honest – if I didn’t like the artwork as much, I’m fairly sure I would have dropped it several episodes ago.

    Also, random prediction time for SAO II: I think the nurse is actually the second Death Gun, and her ‘watching over’ Kirito is just an ultra-convenient disguise.

    • Guy says:

      What do you mean Aldnoah.Zero is nearly over? It’s only the first half ;-)

      More seriously, yeah, even as I placed it in the 7th spot out of 9 this week, I was really tempted to place it as high as spot 4-5. I think the show deserves like 6.7/10, but I keep having the urge to give it higher – because it looks so slick, and it keeps acting as if it’s about all those things… but then it doesn’t deliver. Is it worse to say you’re about all those things and then not deliver, or aim low but deliver what you say you will?

      Aldnoah.Zero is definitely getting carried by its appearances, and I’m talking more than just the production values.

      As for your SAO prediction, I know the answer so I won’t say either way, and just remind you of something Kirito said last week – Death Gun doesn’t shoot at him with his pistol, but only at Sinon.

  2. Namhur says:

    Perfect encapsulation of my feeling toward Aldnoah. It is still somewhat entertaining for me, thought the more i think about it, the more disappointed i am with the series from what it could have been.

    Regarding this week episode thought, i don’t really mind. I already expected it to be a set up for the finale for the first half, so yeah it’s definitely going to be a lot action and explosion.

    Here’s to hope the second half will improve.

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