At the end of the previous episode, there was a bit of speculation about Subaru. I mean, there is the golden rule of anime: a character isn’t dead unless this is confirmed. It looked like this was another one of those cases. What happened in the end was even better, though: consequences.
Usually when a character gets hurt majorly, he takes a bit to heal up and within no time at all he’s completely fine again, as if nothing happened. Subaru indeed survives, but it’s at the cost of him losing the ability in his legs. He will feel this for the rest of his life. I keep hoping for characters to die in anime, not for the sake of them dying, but for the sake of consequences: taking risks is risky, yet characters get away with them surprisingly easy. Having risks like these built up well does amazing things for the suspense of disbelief. In any case it does for me.
This episode was a really good aftermath. The show suddenly got really dark after the previous episode, and this episode really let this sink in, and shows how easy it can be to screw up if you’re thoughtless. The characters all have their own ways of dealing with that and I really liked that. I mean, those warnings at the beginning of the episode, about the realism and stuff. They might seem superficial, but in the long run they do add up to the believability of this series.
Now, let’s talk about Noitamina for a bit. By far the biggest disappointment of the upcoming Spring Season is what will be used to fill the timeslot that has for years stood for showcasing anime to an older audience. In case you haven’t heard it yet: it’s going to have a re-run of Katanagatari. I guess that that was the price that had to be paid for having two two-cours series at the same time. But with this, I now have a much better idea of the strengths of the timeslot. Let’s have a bit of a re-cap:
– 2005 saw the start of the timeslot, and it defined itself as a mature programming block with Honey and Clover and Paradise Kiss, two series about college students.
– 2006 saw it continuing this trend, along with it branching out to other genres, most particularly horror with Ayakashi – Japanese Classic Horror.
– 2007 saw the timeslot continue to grow and establish itself as a force to be reckoned with with Nodame Cantabile, Mononoke and Moyashimon, three really strong series that really pushed boundaries all around.
– 2008 was the height of Noitamina in terms of TV-ratings, with Hakaba Kitarou and Nodame Cantabile’s second season racking up massive ratings. The formula here still was very typical for the timeslot: there was a college series, a series about working life, an adventure seris and an avant-garde series with bizarre visuals.
– 2009 saw the results of two fantastic years, and the producers were able to experiment much more, leading to some of the most unique series out there that really stand on their own. In terms of originality it was a fantastic year, but especially Eden of the East and Tokyo Magnitude stand out here. Both really well produced and transforming the timeslot into a showcase for producers to deliver things with ambition without regard for the mainstream.
– 2010 was the best year for Noitamina ever. This influence of 2009 was really noticeable here as the series got the most freedom that they’ve ever had, even allowing it to expand to two series at the same time. Sarai-ya Goyou, Yojou-han and Shiki: all three were just fantastic and would not have been possible so close within each other without it.
– Then 2011 came, and it showed that such quality could not be kept up. Fractale and Guilty Crown were… disappointing. However, what was so interesting about the timeslot is that it had a whopping eight different series. The fun there was keeping track of all of them: awaiting what series they would come up with, and how they’d fare. Sure, it didn’t always go well, but it was definitely interesting beyond belief.
– 2012 saw more experimentation after that year, making this even more exciting. It returned to its roots again with Natsuyuki Rendezvous and Moyashimon, it tried out 2 full-cour series and it even went with something as Thermae Romae to fill up an empty month. It’s because of this excitement of keeping up with everything that I managed to finish nearly every Noitamina-series to date (the only exception being Nodame Cantabile’s final season).
Based on this, I think I now have a good idea of what would be the ideal format for the timeslot: mostly easy to produce yet ambitious 11-episode series, combined with your occasional 2-cour series here and there. This keeps the timeslot fresh with every season something new to look forward to, plus it’s good for variety. The past two seasons were great in showing that the timeslot can deliver two really good two-cour series at the same time, but its price: not being able to look forward to a new noitamina-series for two seasons long, it does hurt. And I think that the tactic of using reruns, will make it lose some viewers. Silver Spoon to the rescue!
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)