Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episode 8 – Masks and Mirroring.

How could this episode have only been 21 minutes long (sans OP/ED)? It felt as if I’ve watched 4-5 episodes’ worth of material, with how much was covered, as the episode was split into several segments, each mirroring with other parts of the show, and the characters kept reflecting and contrasting, swirling by one another as the episode kept weaving about them, and as the story wove about us. So let’s get to it, bit by bit. Though it might get messy at times, because you can’t speak of one without the other, of the future without the past, can you now?

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 8 - Yakumo (Kikuhiko/Bon) tells Sukeroku (Shin) he wants to be alone

The episode opens with what this show is best at, setting up a feeling of a time and place. It’s a beautiful sunny day. A great day to spend outdoors. Bon doesn’t like the sun much, so it might be all fine and good for him to spend the day indoors, with his rakugo, but for all those other people? That’s quite a sacrifice, spending this lovely day, watching him. Watching his rakugo. A nice day for a social outing. A nice day for some culture.

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED Episode 8 – Seeing Through the Tears

This episode made me realize, I want to protect that smile.

Not just Kayo’s, but child-Satoru’s as well, and if there’s anything episodes 3 had shown us, which last week’s episode had reiterated again, Satoru’s still a child, and was never allowed to grow up. Well, seeing him in this happy situation, and Kayo as well, and I’d like them to be suspended in it forever, warm and fluffy and everything.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 8 - Hinazuki Kayo hands Funjinoma Satoru his birthday gloves

I guess this is a good way to make us care for the tension and thriller – you can make us care because it’s just well-directed, but it always works better when we supply the dread on our own, and the show just feeds into it. We supply it on our own because we sympathize with these kids, and want them to have a happy life. A life without cliffhangers. On that note, I’m very happy this episode didn’t actually end on a cliffhanger, and no, that final confrontation doesn’t fill me with tension. I mean, does anyone here think Satoru’s mother can’t control the situation? I suspect that the teacher raised the option of Kayo staying with the Fujinumas, indefinitely, and perhaps this confrontation is to get Kayo’s mother to agree, before the Child Care Agency will take her away.

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Winter 2016 Anime Overview – Weeks 6-7 (Anime Power Ranking)

I’ve barely got any shows to bring up this time around, as I’ve dropped most, and Ajin didn’t get the subs I’m waiting for yet this week. I guess I’ll cheat a bit, and even though the main focus would be week 7’s episodes, I’ll throw a few words about last week’s episodes as well, where relevant.

As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst). Though it might be a bit more “tier”-sorted this time, as I’ve got some ties I don’t want to pick between.

Tied 1) Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED Episodes 6-7:

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 7 - Hinazuki Kayo on Funjinoma Satoru's fatal flaw in the hideout

After episode 5 hadn’t been as good at maintaining the tension that this show lives off of, in part because its direction felt relatively flat, certainly compared to the heights of the first 4 episodes, episode 6 was much better, though not as good as episodes 2-4, and episode 7 was a true return to strength. It coincided, though perhaps not by coincidence, with the return to the past – as Kayo, and her fate, feel much more tense than anything that happens in the present.

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Fate/Zero – Flawed Characters, Urobuchi’s Style, and Series Composition

Fate Zero anime 2nd season posterWhen Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary) ended in late 2013, I wasn’t terribly pleased with it. Beyond anything else, I thought that it could’ve easily been better, if not in terms of poor directing in its last two episodes, and its mismatched tones, and other issues, then at least in terms of emotional investment in a certain event, and thus in one of the two main characters of the story. It felt frustrating, that a show missed its mark with what could’ve been an easy change. And that in turn led me to solidify my thoughts on why I wasn’t as invested in Fate/Zero which I watched a couple of years prior – I felt that the show, which wasn’t bad, could’ve been so much better.

This post is going to cover an assortment of topics, as they all tie into one another. It will mostly revolve around and use Fate/Zero, both as the object discussed, and as an example for these other topics: Series composition, the act of deciding which part of the story will go where in the story, and how much space it’ll receive. Story structure with regards to revelation, character involvement and emotional attachment, and Urobuchi Gen’s specific quirk in this regard, and some thoughts on how it might tie to Visual Novel writing, as well as thrillers and tragedies. Hopefully these topics, and how they’re interwoven, will all be interesting.

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for Fate/Zero, and as Fate/Zero spoils Fate/Stay Night, that will be spoiled as well. There’ll be meta-structural spoilers (I’ll discuss the form of the storytelling) for Gargantia in the Verdurous Planet, Madoka Magica, Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary), and Psycho-Pass’s first season.)

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED Episode 7 – Innocent and Childish Superheroes

Last week’s episode revolved around trust, and this episode, well, it revolves around being a superhero, or in other words, being a child.

This moment where we’re told Kenya asked Satoru whether he thought of Kayo’s “solution” is emblematic of Satoru’s problem. Satoru is supposedly an adult, but what he wants to be is a hero. He finally admits it. He doesn’t care how foolish he looks, but he’ll go for justice. He’ll save people. No matter the cost, even to himself. He was about to potentially kill Kayo’s mother over it as well, right?

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 7 notes - Hinazuki Kayo on Funjinoma Satoru's fatal flaw in the hideout

And Kenya was needed to talk sense into him. I actually mentioned this in my episode 3 mini-write-up, but Satoru isn’t a 29 year old man in an 11 year old boy’s body, but an 11 year old boy, who was trapped in a 29 year old man’s body, who’s now back in his original body. Kenya is far more of an adult than Satoru is. Kenya doesn’t act not because he’s a coward, but because he recognizes that there are repercussions, and limitations to his abilities. Satoru doesn’t think things through, when he sees something he needs to do, or wants to do, he just does it, like a superhero, like achild. Kayo was supposed to die on March 1st, but then died on March 3rd, after his intervention. And even if Kayo somehow survives, how will that end up saving his mother? He’s only postponing things, rather than resolving them. He’s buying time, but after he’s done so, he’s no longer actually looking to solve the case.

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Winter 2016 Anime Midseason Overview

Mid-season of the anime season of Winter 2016 is upon us, so time to round up how I feel about the shows I’m current on, or decided to put on hold. A round-up telling you what I think is worthy of your time, or not, and where it’s at. This season I managed to not only pick up less shows than usual, but quickly drop what is “averagish”, so let’s see how it panned out.

Tiers are in-order of enjoyment/evaluation. Within each tier the order is alphabetical.


ERASED / Boku dake ga Inai Machi:

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 3 - Fujinuma Satorou and Hinazuki Kayo under the Christmas Tree

BokuMachi is a rare thriller that fires on all cylinders and keeps you engaged non-stop. Even when you’re not worried about the impending doom that you know is coming in a way only a time travel thriller can create, you are drawn into the intimate mindset as we follow protagonist Fujinoma Satoru, both as a failed manga author who cannot proceed with his life, and as he returns to his life as a 10 year old boy. The directorial work in this show is really good, and the show is peppered with artistic shots, shots that heighten tension for the most part, but also ones that just look great as Satoru spends time in his old haunts, and the feeling of watching an old movie is invoked, an old movie that one then stars in.

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Anime Direction and Over-direction – Panning Shots in Grimgar

The lateral tracking shot and I have had several encounters lately, particularly in Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED in English), where the use of the lateral tracking shot by director Itou Tomohiko, to symbolize a specific aspect of a time-travel story, where the protagonist pushes his way from out of the frame back in, clawing their way to victory over the frame itself, over time, reminded me of its use in Hosoda Mamoru’s film, where Tomohiko was the assistant director. The lateral tracking shot has more good uses, which you can check in Every Frame’s a Painting video on the subject, focusing on another of Hosoda Mamoru’s films, Wolf Children. Here’s a video showcasing the moment I’m speaking of in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time:

The rest of this piece will be about the direction in Grimgar in general, and some musings on the Lateral Tracking Shot, which in this show is more often a “panning” shot. I’ll make use of moments from episode 5 of Grimgar, so there might be some scant spoilers for it in the form of an untranslated video segment.

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED Episode 6 – Trust Revolution

This week’s episode was very much a continuation of last week’s episode, in terms of themes. You can read some thematic discussion I did on last week’s episode here. But if we boil it all down, it’s all about trust.

Ever since the first episode, I pointed out how part of what stopped Satoru from being able to grow up, to advance with his life, was the wound opened in him when his friend Jun was found guilty for the series of murders, but it’s not the murders themselves, or even how the adults tried to wrap up the children under the cover of childhood and ignorance that kept him so imprisoned, but that authority figures would not believe him, both the institution as symbolized by the police, and the personal hurt, where his own mother did not believe him.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED anime Episode 6 notes - Katagiri Airi on the pain of not being believed to

The case of Airi’s parents breaking up over stolen chocolate was a tad ridiculous, there’s no real doubt about it, but what it was all about was how lonely and betrayed her father felt when his own wife wouldn’t believe him. The stakes might have been tiny, but the pain over someone not believing you is real. And so he ran away, or was driven out, by his friends, and by his family, because if they don’t trust you, are they really your friends, are they really your family?

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Winter 2016 Anime Overview – Week 5 (Anime Power Ranking)

Another week, and since proper subtitles for a show I was awaiting began appearing, and as my docket keeps dwindling, I actually checked out another show! This season’s “average” shows are falling behind, but the new show might be a keeper.

As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst).

1) Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Episode 5:

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime Episode 5 overview - Sukeroku and Yakumo after their performance, cross-dressing Kikuhiko

If it weren’t for the premiere, with the knowledge (or is it?) that Konatsu is Miyokichi’s child with Sukeroku (Shin) rather than with Yakumo (Bon), and that Bon and Shin had a falling out, of one sort or another, this episode would’ve been just another building block in a solid and endearing drama, a coming of age story of a couple of young performers trying to find their place in the world, and what they mean to one another, and how to handle frustration, jealousy, and attempting to help one another in spite of all of it. But as it is, there is a very clear sense of impending doom. A tragedy will come upon our cast, and if not a tragedy, then revelations that will lead to much drama.

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Letting Go of Worldly Desires en Route to The Nuclear Throne

I’m a competitive gamer. I play for fun first and foremost, but I also play to win. Always have.

I play games for fun, which is a good thing, because losing doesn’t frustrate me overmuch, and even if I get frustrated, I do not get angry, I do not go on tilt. This is a good thing, because even if I’m not entirely without talent in video-games, and my siblings and cousins would come to me now and then for aid with video games, I’m not exactly talented in those games either, certainly not mechanically. The progress I make in such games is usually through much trial and error, growing wiser in the way of the game, gaining game sense more than mastery over the mechanics themselves. It also means I tend to do better in games where manual dexterity plays less of a role, such as turn-based strategy games, or non-video games, such as miniature wargaming, or card-games.

Nuclear Throne wallpaper

Thrice over have I benefited from not going on tilt, from not getting overly frustrated when losses come (though some losses do frustrate me, I’ll make no lie, as that’s part of the competitive spirit). First and foremost, some of the fun is sucked away from the activity if it frustrates and angers you, and you’re certainly not happy at the moment. Second, in many games, you could have won, had you not gone on tilt, and so one loss leads to another, and that to another yet. Finally, since my skill came from playing those games many a time, or at least thinking of them, frustration would’ve had me play them less, and so I wouldn’t have gotten better. And I usually learned more from losses than from victories, which meant one has to be willing to tackle on their loss, not try to ignore it.

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