Let’s start with the “perfect shot” from this episode (NSFW-ish). Just so pretty. It’s also saying a lot that these two are holding the Earth in their hands so lovingly, because they love the Earth, even as they are forced to abandon it.
The past still have power, but it’d be a mistake to overstate it.
This is a continuation of last week’s episode of modern humanity in general, and Japan in particular, renouncing their past, renouncing their obligations to the world and to its inhabitants. You’ll note how Devilo says “introductions are etiquette where I come from,” we are told they’re as much “devils” as yokai, and then you realize there might be some pacts being broken here. Also, “The Pied Piper of Hamelyn,” right? He only led the kids astray when the deal that was made with him wasn’t upheld. Same here.
(There’s an updated chronological timeline at the bottom of this post.)
I actually had this write-up 90% written for 3 days, but just didn’t put in the last 10% and didn’t release it. My bad. Been feeling badly, so aside from not finishing the post, Kuromukuro, this week’s Joker Game, and Kagewani are missing. Enjoy! I’ll try to get to comments this weekend, on the Snow White with the Red Hair post as well.
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). This time ordered by “tiers”, in each tier most shows are about equal for me, organized alphabetically within tiers. Was a weird week in a way.
Tier 1) My Hero Academia / Boku no Hero Academia Episode 4:
Can only punch once before he’s out ? The new One Punch Man, now +heart!
It seems as if My Hero Academia operates in “Tick-Tock” cycles, where we have an episode that’s mostly build-up and is slow, and the episode that follows cashes in on all that build-up, giving us cool action sequences, tearful thematic moments, and the desire to watch the next episode right away. Thing is, as good as those “uptick” episodes are, the time until we get to them is frustrating. I’m not sure whether covering these 4 episodes in 2 would’ve been workable, or if covering them in 3 would’ve had good stopping points for episodes 1-2, but there’s definitely an uneven quality to the show due to its pacing.
The original title for this piece discussing Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime in Japanese, and “Akagami” in this piece from now on) read as “Transgressively non-Transgressive Shounen Romance?”, but as “transgressive” is not a wide-spread word, I opted for readability. But this piece needs some unpacking of terms, which will be brief. “Shounen” and “Shoujo” are demographics, with “shounen” referring to young boys and “shoujo” referring to young girls. How do you know a series’s demographics? You look at the publication where it’s released. This also means that over time “shoujo” and “shounen” have grown, at least in the west, to mean certain genre conventions. Though this is “wrong”, this colloquialism is what this piece will use (I wrote about anime/manga demographics before). As for “transgressive”, we’ll get to that soon enough.
Akagami’s anime adaptation ended its second season recently, and after watching it, I thought it is as shoujo (remember: aimed at younger girls) as they come. It’s serialized in a shoujo publication (LaLa DX), it centers around a super-capable commoner heroine, it has a love at first sight encounter in its very first episode, with the super-capable and handsome prince, and the show has all the necessary associated sparkles for the lovey-dovey sequences, balls, gowns, declarations of eternal love and loyalty and not a lot of romantic conflict or plot-progress and external conflict (we’ll get back to this). And yet, watching the second season something suddenly became apparent to me: This quintessential specimen of the shoujo genre conventions might actually not be one?
(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 the two seasons of the anime series. I think due to the nature of the story, these spoilers should not impact enjoyment of the show.)
Before anything else, I want to make it clear that I had a lot of fun watching the last episode of Kabaneri, as well as the first. It’s propulsive, and full of funny moments. Are all of them supposed to be funny to me? I doubt it, but some are, and I’m never laughing at the show too hard. And yet, I’m going to focus on some of the things I did not like, because the things I do like are mostly about pacing and direction and general atmosphere, or just the very subjective feeling of fun I’ve had. There’s not a lot of words for me to say about it other than to just say it is so. But when it comes to the episode’s writing, and some meta-concerns related to that, which I liked considerably less, I actually have a lot of words to say. So, keep in mind that I’m enjoying the show as you read what is to follow.
Somewhere between the two, Ikoma and Takumi are such dorks. Such fun goofballs. Hollering and clasping over their successes. No, it’s not funny that they do, but how they do it is almost straight out of a shounen manga. But from that we go onto just how dumb Ikoma is sometime. Or rather than dumb, he does things without relaly thinking them through. Last week we had him cutting his hand to draw the Kabane without thinking through of how it’d hurt, and let’s not return to the auto-asphyxiation scene.
(Though this piece uses Kabaneri’s second episode as its focus, it also shares some ideas I have about how a certain brand of anime deals with its ideas. The “GrimDark “”Seinen”” shows.)
Did we really have an episode with zero time-skips? I guess we did. So, let’s talk about what this episode has been about, which is two things, the first of which I’m surprised I didn’t see coming, and that’s sports. The second is the relationship of the past and the present.
So, sports. This episode’s historic event is the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympic Games. Sports are an obvious topic to discuss when it comes to military, national pride, and the tension between nationalism and individuality. Wars have started over football in the past. Wars and hostilities have ceased for the sake of athletic competitions (and this is part of the legacy of the Olympic games in ancient Greece. And fascist regimes have, just like democratic ones, used these events to try and bolster national pride. All of these have very much been at the forefront here, which will be more relevant as we go into the second part of the episode.
(There’s an updated chronological timeline at the bottom of this post.)
Third week is here, and only a couple of premieres were left. This show is ridiculous, I mean, due to the earthquakes in Japan, Sakamoto and Kabaneri were both delayed, and I still found myself almost overwhelmed by the number of shows I’m covering. I didn’t get to watch Joker Game this week, because of how busy I am, and how tired watching shows in one-episode increments makes me, but more on that in the overview at the end of this post.
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) Concrete Revolutio Episode 15:
I wonder if such an episode could have taken place in a show other than Concrete Revolutio. There were elements here that could’ve existed in Samurai Flamenco but didn’t. The raw number of topics brought up was very Gatchaman Crowds-esque, and the spin on history was necessary. So, what did we have this episode, if we boil it down? How we’re shackled by society and expectations, and how the quest to not be beholden to others is the quest to end society, or remove ourselves utterly from it. But not because we want to be “free”, but because the specific laws in place constrain us. So, we deal with how idols and superheroes are shackled by public expectations, and discrimination against homosexuals, and those who go against the government, and superheroes. Because all of these go against the order of “How Things Should Be™.” Idols are so powerful and so held in line because they are the epitome of how things should be, how people should be, how they should be kept safe. Not from harm, but “under control”.
In case you’ve missed it, FLCL (pronounced ‘Fooly cooly’), which originally aired in 2000-2001 is getting a direct sequel, which will air in 2017. Most people’s response has been “Why?” I sought to calm these people down by reminding them that no matter how bad the FLCL continuation is, they’ll still have the original, untouched. But is that really true? One of the reasons Tolkien’s estate had been so reluctant to allow for movies to be made off of his work is the knowledge that the total mindscape of a franchise is indeed affected by all that it contains. Then again, look at Psycho-Pass’s 2nd season, or Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the argument is that the new people in charge of the franchise don’t really understand what made it good to begin with, and don’t understand its core messages. So we use this argument to do away with dissenting evidence. Then again, we also see this argument with reboots such as female Thor, or black Spiderman, etc.
And this is what it really comes down to; just as we dismiss the latest creation as outside “canon”, for not getting the original, we fear that somehow, we’ll be the ones left behind, where the newest creation will reflect on what the original has said and ruin it for us – not just our memory of it, but what it even said to us. And this is one of the reasons fans of source material are so often unhappy with adaptations: There are as many narratives on what the material really says as there are people who consumed it. This is unsurprising, because we filter the material through our own understanding of the world, and our own media preferences, until the effect of the media on us, through us, is as unique as the experience of having consumed it (and might be different should we revisit the material later on).
(This post will have very light OreGairu (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU in English) seasons 1-2 spoilers, mostly of a meta-nature, discussing where the story went rather than its details.)