Posted on 31 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Re:Creators

If you thought Re:Creators had some big plot moments over the last two weeks, this episode just straight up racks up the series’s biggest body count by wiping out three creations from the storyline. While the last episode had some hilarious fourth-wall breaking jokes mixed with in with the action, it’s all serious business here as Selecia’s and Alice’s come into their abrupt end. Starting off with Alice, she was truly the muscle-head that Meteora described in the recap episode with the way she got removed from existence. While she did eventually figure out that Altair was the culprit behind Mamkia’s death and had a half-decent betrayal plan, I can’t ignore the sheer stupidity of punching herself to death after experiencing the firsthand effects of reverse causality. Like Altair said, she isn’t the main character of this story and her second-rate ending really slam that fact home. If I was her creator, I would also be balling my eyes in the hallway at how my own creation would stupidly allow her quest of revenge go unfilled.

While having any creation be erased is a big deal in a show like this, having a pair of characters from the same story out in a blaze of glory is a very bold move. Before their demise, I was reminded of how similar Selecia acts to Mamkia’s fight at the bridge as she tried to play both sides before committing to death by suicide pact contasy of the Infinite Giga Machine’s repulsive wave. I would have like to see Charon to have more development behind his tiredness of fighting but with ten other creations, their creators and the audience already hogging the spotlight, it comes as no surprise that he comes and go within an episode. There was also the matter of Selesia’s professing her love for Charon as it felt kinda hollow as we don’t see the comradery that the in-universe light novel series builds up. At the very least, Selesia went out with a bang as opposed to the self-inficted death of Alice.

After everything has been said and done, three creations have removed from storyline along with two and a half super fighting robots. Altair now stands alone against the remaining forces but if her one-sided fight with Alice is any indication, it going to be a real rough ride to dislodge her from her goals of world destruction. The very nature of Altair’s powers are exponentially driven by her fan base and I’m just waiting for that part for her to pushes a power out of her ass and completely wipes the floor with everyone else. Perhaps Magane and Sota can do something with their own unique powers of creation and causality because all the conventional upgrades of Meteroa’s team isn’t doing jack shit. In any case, reaching this point where all the plotlines and buildup explodes into a cluster bomb of a mess has been quite a long journey but we’re finally getting everything that Re:Creators promised it would be.

Posted on with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

Here are a few reasons why Hyodo Kiyoharu was the MVP of this week’s episode: he noticed Tatara’s fatigue and flat-footedness before the kid’s own coach. He kept his cool while everyone else was busy flinging petty insults or embroiling themselves in love pentagons, and provided his rival with both straight talk and sound advice. He watched his mom flirt unashamedly with a guy nearly twice her age, and somehow managed to retain his dignity. He managed to motivate someone as talented as Shizuku to dance her best with his mere presence. And he looked fly as hell with his sweater robe and crutch, even amidst a sea of tailcoats and bowties. If I were a judge at the Tenpei Cup, I’d call off the competition and just award Hyodo the trophy.

Unfortunately, I’m not qualified to evaluate ballroom dancing (or men’s fashion) – only to talk about Japanese cartoons. So despite Hyodo’s greatness, there’s one scene I really want to focus on this week, and that’s the moment when Sengoku instructs Tatara not to do the special Quickstep variation they’d been practicing for weeks. Even without seeing his pupil gasp for breath in the corner of the room just moments beforehand, Sengoku knows that Hyodo is right about his exhaustion. Tatara is already on the floor by the time he can speak with him, though, so Sengoku is forced to shout across the hall not to use their trump card (which would likely result in his collapse). What follows is dead silence, and eventually a shot of Tatara, who looks exhausted and embarrassed, but more than that, he looks crushed. He’s upset that his coach doesn’t believe in him, even though he’s shaking and sweating and barely maintaining his hold on his partner. This is a boy with prior self-image issues being told to alter his routine to account for his lack of experience and stamina; it’s no wonder he sobs and collapses in Sengoku’s arms after his neutered performance.

I’m glad that Ballroom continues to expose this side of Tatara, even if the results are sometimes hard to watch, because it makes him more human even as the shounen clichés pile around him. The Destined Rivals bit that he and Hyodo have going on is farfetched, though the show played it well this week by making Kiyoharu the voice of reason during an emotional scene. “Reality” is the title of this episode, and Tatara’s reality, as explained by his rival, is that he can’t possibly beat Gaju given his current lack of talent and conditioning. The solution is to allow Mako to outperform Shizuku, and that’s a plan I couldn’t be happier with, especially after two months of hearing that the man leads and the woman follows, the pair’s score is largely determined by the leader, etc. I don’t doubt the truth of those statements, since ballroom dancing is quite traditional, but when Mako asks Tatara to “make me bloom” at the episode’s end, it feels great to know that she’s allowing herself to command some attention for a change. That final line also carries with it a hint of romance, given the sensual connotation that blooming holds. Sengoku teased the two kids about a potential relationship midway through the proceedings this week, so I expect that their partnership may become a bit more complicated in the future.

Love is in the air for several other characters, as well, but Shizuku’s crush is the most interesting. She looked stunned after seeing Hyodo at the Tenpei Cup, perhaps for the first time since his hospitalization, which is a total reversal from her invulnerable attitude just hours earlier. Tatara tries to explain away Hyodo’s strategy as a plan to separate her from Gaju, but she still feels him slipping away, as she did back in episode two. Her resolve now is to impress her former partner, which is an okay development in my book. This is an unsanctioned event with nothing on the line for a seasoned pro like Shizuku, so what’s the harm in a little showmanship for the sake of the boy she likes? Besides, her desire to impress Kiyoharu is tied to her need to reach his skill level, and prove to upstarts like Tatara that you can’t waltz into this scene and start winning trophies left and right – pun very much intended.

Posted on 30 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

Now this is the kind of quality this show should be delivering. Very good, fights have more weapon clashes and we are getting some great character moments here. The opening scene made me actually want another Fate Prequel to cover the third Holy Grail War because it seems like some great things went down there. I mean for one it looks like Darius summoned Fionn mac Cumhaill and I do love seeing more Irish representation in Anime. I wonder if we can get Urobuchi and Nasu on board for a Fate/Zero 2. But then again it would be rather nice so see Type Moon move away from Fate and make a new goddamn IP for once. Still this is one of the few episodes that really captured what I loved about the parts of the novel I read. The epic battles and the servant interactions. I love Shakespeare strolling in and just commenting on what’s going on and Mordred having an easygoing chat with Astolfo before the two get ready to battle. As well as Chiron and Achilles testing each other’s skills. Fight are going on all over the place so the improvements in the fight animation was much appreciated. Finally this is beginning to live up to my first expectations. The Sieg portions were still boring as hell but at least everything else worked so damn well. Now they just need to keep this quality going.

Definite highlight of the episode was Fran’s breakdown and backstory. It’s things like this that I love this franchise for, taking a historical figure and humanising them. As far as execution goes that scene was done perfectly, barring some rather janky animation. Showing Fran’s memories with an old time silent film filter fit the mythos and gave it so much style. So Frankenstein’s monster’s story is different in the Fate universe than it is in the Frankenstein movies. However oddly enough it is closer to that of Mary Shelly’s novel. The general beats follow that of the novel in that Frankstein creates a monster and then rejects it. however in the novel it was due to it being hideous whereas here it appears Frankenstein was more revolted by the creatures mentality. Frankenstein wished to recreate the perfect humans, Adam and Eve. Thus Fran was supposed to be Eve which is rather interesting because there is a servant in this war that wishes to recreate Adam. However it seems Fran’s infant mind and general lack of empathy caused the Doctor to see her as nothing more than a monster and dismantle her.

She rebuilt herself and proceeded to hunt down Frankenstein in order to get him to build another like her. However no matter what lengths she went to(Even going as far to kill those around him, including his fiancee), Frankenstein always refused her. Her journey ended at the north pole where Frankenstein dies after years of running away from her and in her despair she killed herself in a funeral pyre. There are details changed here and there but overall this is indeed the story of Frankenstein’s monster though tailored to be more sympathetic towards the monster. It’s this history that makes this scene have so much impact. For Shakespeare provided an illusion of the only thing she ever wanted and that drove her mad for in her heart she knew it wasn’t real. For once Fran isn’t some weird moe addition to the story but a genuine character in her own right. Now if only the other characters can get such treatment.

I also really like how they handled Astolfo and his dilemma that he couldn’t take down the Gardens of Babylon because he’s fighting with a handicap. He has some sort of noble Phantasm that packs serious power but seems to require a hefty amount of mana. Thus if he uses it then he would end up killing a large amount of Homunculi from power drain. Of course at this point Sieg has freed to the Homunculi so he couldn’t use it if he wanted to but it does show that Astolfo isn’t willing to compromise on his ideals for a easy win. Having him and Mordred take each other was great as these two talking is amusing particularly on how easygoing they are about this fight to the death. These two honestly feel like two friends having a playful fight up until Mordred starts mocking Seigfried for dying for a silly reason. Astolfo doesn’t even disagree with her but nonetheless doesn’t take kindly to her mocking him for it. The thing is and this is something which Apocrypha has been criticised for, neither of these two are evil or in the wrong. You can see where both are coming from and I rather like that moral grey aspect of the series. Some have said that this aspect makes it hard to know who to root for as neither side seems to have good intentions.

On surface level it seems like we should be rooting for the red squad as the Black squad are the whole reason for this war in the first place. However the leader of the red squad Shirou is a shifty individual you can’t quite trust. At the same time the leader of the black squad is a former Nazi and clearly isn’t someone you want to win either. Then within these teams you have genuine good people on both sides who are fighting for their own agendas. It’s nice to have shades of grey and not a clear cut hero and villain but likewise I do understand how people may have a hard time getting behind it as characters goals seem to be rather scattered. In Fate/Zero despite having a large roster of characters their end goals are more or less the same, win the Holy Grail War. Here we have an even larger character roster and to most winning the Grail War is a secondary Objective. In fact out of what we could consider our main characters, Seig is just looking for some meaning in his life, Joan is acting as referee by obligation, Sisigou is just doing his job and Astolfo does whatever he wants to. Perhaps as the servants drop out this story could become more focused and strengthen as a result.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Made in Abyss

The survival training didn’t quite seem so bad in retrospect or maybe Regu and Riko got off lucky. The way Ozen put it, it seemed like they would be fighting for their lives constantly. But they basically had to take down a hippo like creature and forage for food. We did get quite a bit of info on how time in the Abyss appears to work differently from the surface as well as Ozen talking about the three active white Whistles. Considering they got extra detail it’s likely the next white whistle the two will encounter is Bondrewd the Novel while the other two are likely to not appear in this seasons runtime. While Ozen turned out to be a good ally despite appearing villainous, I think Bondrewd isn’t going to be quite so friendly. After all if Ozen wasn’t joking about a White Whistles duty to dispose of Relic’s like Regu then it’s likely Bondrewd will attempt to kill Regu.

At least we see what RIko’s mother looked like and we know who to blame for giving her a potato face. One really has to wonder just what Lysa saw in Toska for he certainly didn’t seem all that impressive for the couple of seconds he was on screen. Ozen’s reaction to it was rather amusing though and it does seem to be the case that she saw Toska as something which weakened Lysa’s resolve. However it seems that Lysa is still determined to reach the bottom of the abyss and made Ozen promise to prepare and send Riko down to her. This does throw a wrench into my previous assumption of Riko mistakenly thinking the world revolves around her as it appears it does to a certain extent. The episode ended well with Maruruks goodbye which was surprisingly effective despite their limited screentime. I guess the idea that Riko and Regu where the only real friends Maruruk had and possibly ever will have is enough to give their tearful goodbye needed impact.

As pointed out by members of this site, what remains a big problem with Made in Abyss is that the story is gearing up to get started and yet the series is nearing it’s end. There doesn’t appear to be enough source material to provide a second season and as anime is generally an advertisement for manga the likelihood of a second season would depend on the popularity of this series not waning. Made in Abyss, much like many other Anime, has a high chance of leaving it’s unfinished story without the ending it deserves. The only way to see the conclusion would be to start reading the manga but even then the manga could get axed and the ending would be rushed and unsatisfying. I don’t mean to say that Made in Abyss should have an anime original ending. But this does feel like a story that needs a second season even to just show the grown of Regu and Riko. As a last note Ozen apparently dislocates her back in order to sit at a table. Seems like a painful way to do things but being as old as she is maybe it helps with Arthritis.

Posted on with categories: Series which were Dropped, Shoukoku no Altair

Shoukoku no Altair ran a double feature last Friday to reclaim some lost ground after its brief hiatus earlier this month. I’ll be covering both episodes here, but this post won’t be any longer than normal. Truthfully, although Altair moves through its plot at a rapid pace, it’s often a struggle for me to generate worthwhile commentary about the series, and its latest offerings are no exception. This week, I watched as Imperial forces utilized a two-pronged attack to conquer Phoinike, after which point Mahmut was smuggled from the city and rescued by a friendly ship, recovered from a life-threatening wound for nine days, arrived in Venedik, and was granted an audience with their leader. That’s a lot of stuff packed into 42 minutes, but the show is so matter-of-fact in its presentation that I haven’t a shred of desire to speculate about its characters, or what fates will befall them. “The Sinking City” ends with Mahmut getting straight to the point (that’s all anyone seems to do in this world) and quizzing Venedik’s leader about the betrayal of their former ally, but I doubt the show will do anything other than handwave the question and jump to the next story beat when it resumes.

One curious sequence from the first of these two episodes occurs during its opening minutes, when an Imperial ship helmed by unwilling soldiers begins to take on water. Immediately after this scene, there’s a shot of Glalat (the blond nobleman) sharpening his sword with a whetstone. The implication is that Glalat sank one of his own ships, predicting that the disgruntled men within his ranks would use that opportunity to escape and beg Phoinike for asylum. For his ploy to stay on track, Phoinike would then need to fall for this obvious bait and lower the chains that restrict entrance to the city, allowing Glalat’s ship to break into the bay, but only if a tailwind arrived to push it through precisely as it began its approach. This is some Death Note-tier planning, complete with a character furiously scribbling nautical calculations on a piece of parchment as the scene unfolds. Of course, the Empire’s strategy is successful, but what was intended to be a pulse-pounding miracle of a defeat for our heroes instead feels ridiculous. Implausibility isn’t the only issue here, however – the bigger problem is that we know so little about the Phoiniken characters that the events around them have no dramatic weight, despite all that we’ve heard about the city’s past invincibility.

The second episode was marginally better, despite feeling like it was playing in fast-forward for most of its length. Kiros got the best material, including a runner where he tried to feed Iskender multiple times before finally managing not to get squawked at. The kulak and the eagle are two of a kind, really, in that they’re both slow to trust; Kiros was immediately suspicious of Abiraga, the red-haired leader of the fleet that picked them up, even after he allowed Mahmut to recuperate in his room for more than a week. Kiros’ mistrust is likely misplaced, as we audience members know from the OP that Abiraga will eventually accompany Mahmut on his journey, but in the meantime, his smiling opacity lends his character a dash of intrigue. My guess is that he’s another kulak, and that we’ll get some backstory sooner rather than later, but I’d be happy to be wrong on one or both counts.

Posted on 29 August 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, The Reflection

Hello everyone, apologies for the joint Reflection review, but driving 1400 miles from Texas to DC made for a busy weekend. I ended up late on episode 5 and just decided to bunch it an 6 together. Shouldn’t happen again and with that said, let’s jump into it.

Alot happened during these 2 episodes, of varying levels of quality. First, lets talk about episode 5. We start with an introduction to some of those staying with Merchant and Trader. As suspected, they aren’t selling Reflected, but rather protecting them. Some of the scenes here are odd, with the lack of eyes and the silence, but I get its purpose. After this we jump to Lisa, searching New Orleans for Elen and real Jazz. Sadly, she doesn’t find much good Jazz. Eventually she finds a bar, where the child Elen saved is playing however! A bar fight ensues and the child manages to get Lisa out of there.

Little did either of them know however, Steel Ruler and the Racist Cop from earlier episodes are meeting on a balcony. Looks like the Cop does have much love for Merchant and Trader. As we see later on, this is all building to a final confrontation. We cut back to Merchant and Trader, who we now learn are named Vy and Michael. We are gifted with some nice backstory for the two, revealing their abilities and how Michael is blind. Loving the handicapped cast so far. We get some exposition with Elen about the types of Reflected, and some warm words towards Vy. Sadly not everyone is having a good time right now, as we jump back to Lisa.

Turns out, people are still after her and the child. A truck comes by and swipes them up, taking them who knows where. Taken to a construction site, it looks like they are being interrogated about Michael and Vys location. The child, of course, spills the beans and reveals their location in the swamp. With this info, the Cops gather a group and head out. They get on their boats and head towards the swamp, where they are intercepted by Vy, Michael and Elen. What follows is one of the more disappointing fights i’ve seen. Vy has her armor destroyed quickly, Michael is useless and Elen is the actually the most useful for once. As well, in the middle of the fight Vy is miraculously cured and able to control her powers!

All in all a disappointing episode, and Reflection doesn’t do much better in episode 6. We continue investigating the Allen family, finding more and more are kidnapped. Along with that, everyone in the mansion got taken behind their backs. How? No idea, but it happened. We do get to see more of the Japanese Idol group though, as we transition from one burger scene to another. Looks like they have been fighting their own battles and will soon be having a trip to America. Suppose they had to get involved in the plot somehow.

For the rest of the squad however, they next stop is San Antonio Texas! Nice place, but expensive to live in. Just as they arrive and track down some Allen’s, Steel Ruler and her group of evil Reflected arrive as well. Battles over the Allen family members occur, with our group losing each one and public perception going down. One amusing scene in all this is Lisa’s inexperience though. She pops her robot in the middle of a crowded shop, unable to move without destroying it. Love it when characters aren’t immediately competent.

With all these losses, X-On decides to call in a favor to try and even the odds. He calls in Jim, a private investigator and a friend of his. In just a few seconds on his computer, he tracks down one last Allen. An old lady in a barber shop named Nina. Some old texan lady banter occurs, Nina refusing to budge, before eventually being taken anyways. Our heroes give Steel Ruler the slip and head off to California to find Nina’s daughter. Once they do however, they realize their mistake. Steel Ruler was using them to find this missing Allen and now wants her for herself. But whats that? Whats that song playing?! Its I-Guy, the best character in the show!

He smashes through the roof, challenges Steel Ruler, and we end on a cut of grimacing metal headpiece. Am I excited? Alittle. For the plot? Hardly. But I-Guy is back and we get some more great music and a better character.

All in all, some packed but ultimately empty episodes. There were many minor things I could have pointed out, but with 2 episodes in a single week and my tendency to write more than I should, I wanted to keep it short-ish.

Expect a single episode cover next week! Talk to ya later!

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Kakegurui

I only just noticed it now but I see the opening of this series actually spoils the order which Yumeko takes on the student council. Likely because I skip the opening after seeing it once.(Unless it’s really good.) So this time we have an idol girl and if there are those who read my posts then you might know that I don’t have a particularly high opinion of idol culture. I have see many an anime which attempted to glamorise the nature of it as giving hopes and dreams or promoting advertisement for a good cause. Though that’s fiction and no matter how I try to think of the positives of idols, I really cannot see it other than the exploitation of young girls in order to strip lonely individuals of their money. For the music is frankly terrible and the underlying implications are rather sinister. Of course I am no idol expert so my opinion isn’t worth much as I have only experienced it through the lens of anime. Still I do wonder just what those girls think as they shake their fans hands and jump on stage to sing songs. For I wouldn’t be surprised if it was close to what Yumemi thinks here.

I don’t blame Yumemi for hating her fans, if anything she has good reason to. The level of obsession they have is quite creepy and much like she said, they aren’t even listening to her music. These are the kind of fans that would burn her albums at her mentioning a boyfriend. (That even happened with an anime when one of the characters revealed that she had a previous relationship. The demand for idolised girls to remain “Pure” sounds much like a contradiction to me. For the only reason they want her “pure” is so they can imagine dirtying her themselves) Still I find her plan to reach stardom through the idol industry to be rather fascinating yet highly unlikely. From the 5 minutes I spent searching google I can’t find any Japanese idol that broke into Hollywood Cinema. Nor would I think one would be looked upon favorably as that would be more the Justin beiber or Miley Cyrus path to fame. I mean sure you would be well known but not very respected. Looking at her goals, her idol career would be more a blight than a blessing and she would fare far better if she just learned English and started Acting.

Anyway Yumeko does her usual thing of removing any safety nets from the bet which appears to been helped along by another member of the student council whose attempting to shake things up now that the student council president…has taken a helicopter…to engage in important business…(Alright Aidan, you know it’s dumb but let’s just roll with it.) Though honest question, what does student council work actually entail? I have seen plenty of series where they apparently do paperwork and it’s supposed to be a rather busy job but I am having a hard time thinking of what they actually do besides allocating club budgets and organising school Festivals. I fear I may have gotten rather sidetracked in this episode post but well it could be summarized as just introducing the new Council member and her challenging Yumeko to a bet. We don’t know what the bet entails but we do know that if Yumeko loses then she will be forced to become an Idol duo with Yumemi under the name of “Dreaming Creaming Girls”. As a side note, while I didn’t find evidence of Japanese idols becoming Hollywood stars I did find a few articles detailing Japanese idols who became Adult Video stars. That name might be rather prophetic of your future profession Yumemi. Of course the big thing here is that can Yumeko sing and dance, or maybe that doesn’t matter?

Posted on 28 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Princess Principal

We have a much-needed backstory of The Princess and the Pickpocket in the Black Lizard Planet this week. The actual case of week 8 was reduced into some minor scenes, but now I become more certain that the main boss the spy girls have to face in the end will be the Duke of Normandy; as once again his personal agent, Gazelle, was up to no good this time around, trying to trick Lord O’Reilly or whatever his name was, defecting to the Commonwealth to trap him. How the hell the girls figure out the whole evil scheme just by recognizing Gazelle is anyone’s guess (maybe because they’re… spy?), but no problem at all since the real juicy part of this episode lies in the Princess and Ange’s backstory and her interaction with the poor kid that remind Ange a lot of her childhood. Three weeks in a row Princess Principal slows down the pacing for more character developments and while the previous two added little to the main story, this one provides a backbone of Ange and Princess’s tragic “love” (see the heart-shaped door frame when the two girls playing piano together?) and with that story we can identify how the Princess has been struggling to become who she is today.

Alright. The juicy part first. Ange and Charlotte indeed swapped places when they were small – being around the same age with same features and same eye colors and everything (hey, they might as well be a twin). One from the royal and one from the dirt poor. The kinds you always see in fairy tale. But this isn’t your regular fairy tale, as the real Princess received a real hardship when she went out of her kingdom and then they got separated after all the high-spirited talks about becoming a real Queen, healing the world and what not. In a serious side though, the flashback gives us much more context about the relationship between Ange and the Princess now; and it’s rather heartwarming to finally learn that the very reason Princess wanted to become the Queen is because that was exactly what Ange wanted before the separation. All their conversations make sense now in retrospect. I also like the way that Ange not only appreciate the Princess for taking her role flawlessly, she also understands and admires her friend for all the hardship the Princess has gone through in order to survive – in order to act and behave like real Princess.

And for me, this part is where the episode truly shines. A certain conman, in the name of Kaiki Deishu from the Monogatari series, argues in Nisemonogatari – itself meaning Fake Story that (sorry for mild spoiler here: you don’t need to read the next sentence if you don’t want to be spoiled, for others, highlight the sentence) – the fake (like himself) has to spend much more effort to look like real and in a process become more real than the real thing.  It might sound like some twisted argument but it’s a kind of argument that I happen to agree with to a degree and here, it makes a whole lotta sense. The poor Pickpocket who suddenly becomes the Princess, who couldn’t write before or couldn’t read any single musical note, had to try harder and harder in order to match with the Princess’s image; along with a constant pressure that if she slips in any moment, she’d be uncover – and in a process, herself becomes the true Princess. The fact that she never regards herself as the real one, but tries hard to become perfecto make it all the more tragic. Chise realizes immediately (very great little moment there) that the Princess doesn’t enjoy all the hard trainings – those simply have become her duty. But when she said the same lines that Ange proposed long ago, it’s the talk of the real Princess – and to me at least, she becomes the REAL princess now.

It’s also nice to see Ange opens up to another little girl, Julie, who reminds her so much of her past. She goes such length to not only teach the girl how to pickpocket, but tell her the story of her life and comes to her factory to rescue the girl and advises her to stay in the orphanage. I don’t know if people notice but the painting that Ange finished (while spying) has Julie smiling in there. I also love the tiny little moments Princess Principal constantly place on other girls: how Chise wears warm clothes on the second night (wait, is she ninja or is she batgirl?), Ange has to dress up as the Princess and Beatrice gets angry at Dorothy because she brought booze to the mission and how the Princess’s hands were shaking while she was riding the horse. It’s a legit visual storytelling right there and I hope Princess Principal relies more on these little moments and sweet interactions than pulling the rug out under our feet with life-changing twists and turns.

Posted on with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

This week Ranbu gives us a character-focused episode, in a self contained little story. Good, but with its problems. Lets jump in!

Ranbu starts off with the 2nd Unit teleporting in to Kyoto in style, falling from the sky as swords. The mission this time? To protect Sakamoto Ryoma during the Taradaya Incident, where he was almost caught. No doubt, the Retrograde Army plan for him to be captured, ruining his plan to bring down the Tokugawa Shogunate. As it turns out, Ryoma was Mutsunokami’s former master! Clearly, Mutsunokami is the focus of Ranbu this week.

Because of his association with Ryoma, Mutsunokami knows all about the incident and how to plan around it. This puts our 2nd Unit on even ground with the Retrograde Army, as now they know that path to defend. Strangely however, Mutsunokami wants little to do with Ryoma. He wants to avoid meeting him again, perhaps because he fears how he would act? Or maybe what he would say, affecting the future? Regardless its an interesting character point. Soon after they lay out their plan, night comes and everything starts.

Police surround the inn where Ryoma is staying, setting off the Taraday Incident. Ryoma and his guard flee, with the 2nd Unit taking out the Retrograde Army as they appear. Shockingly competent, the 2nd Unit takes care of everything quickly and quietly. However it wouldn’t be an episode with the 2nd Unit if nothing went wrong. A Retrograde slips past and attacks Ryoma, doing who knows what. We next cut to Mutsunokami fighting some simply Retrograde, before turning a corner and seeing a terrible sight.

In a very nice scene, we see Ryoma fleeing from a horde of police, alone and unable to fight. Lights behind him, as he trips and falls to the dirt, Mutsunokami debating whether or not to jump in. After a short speech from Ryoma, he does just that. Running into the fray, defeating the police and saving Ryoma. They flee together, slowly opening up, Mutsunokami fixing his hands and protecting him. During some of their scenes together you can see how alike they are and how Ryoma influenced Mutsunokami. When Mutsunokami finally talks, Ryoma even remarks on their similar accents. After these bonding scenes, Ryoma is lead back to the Satsuma Clan house, only to run into one final group of Retrograde.

In this final segment, we get some pretty scenes and a quick fight. Little occurs here story wise, but Mutsunokami has quick but well done fight in an alley way. With the fight over, Ryoma is turned over to the Satsuma clan, and the mission is over. All in all, an above average episode, but with the lack of a final arc I am concerned how Ranbu is planning to end the season. I am not sure what sort of final mission would be satisfying to end Ranbu when it had little overarching story.

Still, we have 3 episodes left, so the only thing to do is wait. See you next week for another episode of Ranbu!


Posted on 27 August 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

It’s nice to see an anime episode that tackle on the everyday life’s problems of people who experience hearing loss: ya know, having trouble with boss, can’t hear what the waiter says, don’t realize the train’s delay announcement, relying on flashlights for delivery, sleeping through the whole freaking Alien invasion… She said she has been stuck under rubble for a week now, but doesn’t Katsumi the scientist just met her performing back then?? Any attempt to make sense with the plot will prove to be difficult because there’s no such thing as coherent plot or backstory in this tale of the deaf singer. Instead 18if this week uses this story as a foundation to teach us about the importance of hearing, and to its large extend the importance of communication and then sheds some developments to our main Haruto. This episode of 18if was handled by Takaaki Ishiyama, the director of the new religious movement Happy Science-produced The Rebirth of Buddha; Chaos;Head and Tomoe ga Yuku, all of them were… terrible, but he’s on form with 18if this week. Overall, this week is a disjoined episode with dialogues that sometimes too “important” for its own good, but I quite enjoy its messiness and its original visual style.

The director has total control on the visual front of this episode and it fits well with the theme of the story. At first, in one of the Witch’s version Haruto and the Witch are in striking black and white world, but when he switches to another version of the girl the background is soft and naturalistic. The bar where Katsumi heads in remind me a lot of Paprika’s bar so it goes without saying that the interior design of the bar is my favorite part out of this week. As we reach to the end, the color becomes more prominent with strong, but in-control color palette (you can see all of them in the screenshots above). They nail the sound effects right as well. As this week is all about deafness and an ability to communicate with other through sounds, many decisions towards the sound effects are spot on: from the purposeful captions of every lines, the blurred dialogues that Haruto, like us, can’t hear properly to the soundless, only background music of the montage of our deaf girl in real life (significant what she can’t hear). The audiovisual in this episode 8, to sum up, is very effective that further elevate the story.

As the deaf singer points out clearly when she talks to Haruto, it’s a desire to communicate, to able to express and hear what others speak that made her wants do to deaf singing, and only Haruto can hear what she says. Somehow, the conversations progress into the need for communication, as she presses that people only like to hear what they want to hear (a bit stretching here, but… okay) and thus Haruto can’t hear what her other version says is because he doesn’t want to hear praise and good words (what? What?). I get the overall message but somehow those speaking lines just twist around like a twisted knife that I can’t really get into their train of logic. It’s important though that properly converse to each other make the most of communication’s effectiveness (only 7% into the actual meaning behind those words, the remains are facial expressions and the way the words are said – including tones, vocal pitch…) so yep, I kinda understand the underlying message of 18if this week, even if I feel it was heavy-handed at times.

We have a brief flashback of Haruto regarding his past life, or to be more exact, how other people perceive at him; from the kids who deny playing with him, to the parents who flat out tell him that he was a drag to the teachers (I assume) tell him that they were disappointed in him. Truthfully, I think those are just purely his perspective, the way he feels others’ impression towards him due to his lack of communication; but the sequence is so vague in context we hardly know anything concrete. I don’t even think that it’s his “real” life to speak of and I think it’s about time we need to learn who Haruto really is, don’t you think?

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