After taking a break during last season, it’s time to resume the weekly overview. I usually post these on Wednesdays. Sadly for this season, very few shows have had their premiers in the “anime week” that just ended. So instead, I’ll spend more time talking about each of the entries. What I thought of them, and my thoughts on their content (themes, direction, etc.)
First impressions for Yuri Kuma Arashi (Lily Bear Storm) and Kantai Collection (KanColle), as well as the weekly opinion on Parasyte: the Maxim (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu).
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.
1) Parasyte: The Maxim / Kiseiju episodes 12-13:
I feel this show suffers from being talked about weekly. It’s a slow process, and multiple episodes just remind you that stuff is going on with the parasites, so there’s not always a very concrete “thing” to speak of, in terms of plot or otherwise. It does remind one of the earlier Hunter x Hunter episodes, in that sense.
Since I didn’t write about earlier episodes, and since it’s related, I’ll begin with something from last episode – Shinichi is a normal boy. He’s a normal boy, having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. “I can’t cry, so I’m broken.” – Young men who can’t cry aren’t at all rare. He’s traumatized, and he’s reacting like this. Also, sometimes we act as we feel we’re expected to, so we act “normally”, but we might mistake what normal is, is it the abnormally normal (how Shinichi is acting), or the so-called “normally abnormal” (falling apart).
The other part is the core of a lot of narratives, and especially psychological horror and more reflective superhero tales. For a while now, there were similarities between Shinichi’s progression and Spiderman/Batman. The first death of the family member to shock them into picking up the mantle, people whom they tried to protect and failed, weighing on them, and filling their resolve. But this is always about price, about how much you’re willing tosacrifice to keep going.
And that meant you can’t just be passive, have your losses be something that happens to you. And so, Shinichi has to make the choice, Shinichi has to be the one to sacrifice, and he sacrifices Murano.
Of course, with how quick he regains his emotional composure, he seems fine now, but we’ll see how it goes.
Before we proceed further, a small note. “Danzetsu” can mean both “Separation/Severance” and “Extinction”. So it might be the “Barrier of Separation” and “Court of Extinction”, and the other one as well. Since each subtitle picked just one meaning for the term, I feel it’s important to note.
I happened to look over my week 1 thoughts for shows during the Summer 2014 season, and the show that I was the most reminded of was Aldnoah.Zero. I certainly hope they won’t end up the same (or at least how Aldnoah.Zero’s first cour ended). What do I mean? Yuri Kuma didn’t grab me. It had a lot of interesting pieces, and interesting symbolism, but it was interesting in the sense of “Hm, I wonder what it means, or where they’ll go with that?” but there was no moment screaming “I must know!” at me. Furthermore, there was no moment the plot grabbed you, unlike Penguindrum’s first episode, and unlike Utena, we still don’t know any of the characters at all, to be interested in them.
Yes, we’ve had a small tidbit and revenge motivation given for Kureha, and someone came across the bears munching on a girl, but none of that was meaty in this sense.
So, what was there that I liked? First, something that I pointed out in my writeup for the first episode of Tokyo Ghoul, and is something usually related to horror stories, though Yuri Kuma doesn’t really feel like horror, but it does feel like the other half of it, and also to the related story of Red Riding Hood, or to Claude Levi-Strauss writing about taboos and Structuralism. That is how stories of werewolves are stories about sex, stories about sexual awakening. And here we have bears and sexual awakenings aplenty! The fairy tale motif is strong, and fitting here. Rumpelstiltskin and Cinderella are both about sex as well, and Cinderella even incorporates “fur”.
And then there’s the other theme I picked up on, which seemed obvious to me, but which I’ve seen everyone else wondering about the allusion to or ignoring, and that is “soft social pressure”. The girls keep speaking about how you have to stay together, how you can’t stand out. A relationship seems like it’d be frowned upon, and especially a homosexual relationship, though it’s unclear at this juncture which one it is (we’ve also not seen a single human male thus far). “The Silent Storm” that was referenced? It was the hand that cut down the lilies, the hand that cut down the yuri, that cut down their love. To me that “Silent Storm” was the collective name for gossip, disapproving glances, and other ways to shut down those who stand out – “Be invisible, or the bears will find you!”
“Be invisible, be meek, be around other girls, or your sexuality will be taken away by the bears!” – Bears who could either be one’s own sense of sensuality, or “The Other”, potentially standing in for men (as in Red Riding Hood). But regardless, that’s the punishment for sexual awakening, or perhaps what causes it.
I found it an interesting episode. I don’t think it was bad, as a first episode, but it also wasn’t very good. How it’d been as part of the show as a whole, rather than as “a first episode”? We’ll have to wait and see.
I haven’t dropped a show after a single episode since Winter 2014, but here we are, and I’m dropping this show. Copying my post-episode thoughts for the episode:
KanColle is a fine show. It does the “cute girls doing cute things” where the focus is on the girls, and on the cute, and not really on the “doing”, because as we all actually know, “Cute girls doing cute things” is more about “Cute girls being cute”, which is passive.
The CG was interesting, in how in some scenes it was really sharp, and the fact you could notice it wasn’t hand-drawn was actually nice as it made things “sharper”, but towards the end, when the characters were done in CGI rather than their surroundings or objects, it made it look like the characters were puppets with ill-fitting strings. It made me think of RWBY or “that episode” of Mekakucity Actors, but no, it wasn’t nearly that bad.
The fights were pretty sweet in how they were set up, even if they didn’t actually carry weight, not just in terms of not having stakes (as we don’t yet know or care about anyone), but in that the moves seemed too airy, and none of the blows truly seemed to strike. They looked nice, they were flashy, but they weren’t “good” fights. Still the best part of the episode for me, aside from some lovely backgrounds.
But here’s the thing, although it’s a fine show, whose plot is basic and gets out of the way because plot only gets in the way of “cute girls being cute”, I don’t actually enjoy such shows. I thought I’d check it out, because one of the previews was nothing but action. I also didn’t know how plot-driven it’d end up being. But this isn’t the show for me, and no reason to fault it for being something other than what I enjoy. And no reason to make myself watch this show when it takes me 90 minutes to get through an episode.
So while not a lot aired thus far, what did you think of what you’ve watched this week?