Posted on 31 March 2018 with categories: After the Rain, Currently Watching:

So what happens after the rain? The sun will shine again, and the sun after the rain is the most beautiful. _quoted by me.

But it’s exactly a sentiment this show manages to pull off. For fans of romance or for those who wish the two of them will be together, well, you’re about to be disappointed. I don’t know if it was Amaegari’s intention all along (because I don’t think it is), but in the end it’s clear that romance between them is always an illusion. Apart from the Hug and Tachibana’s confessions, there isn’t much of a romance at all, but instead about the bond they share together. Ameagari has shifted its focus squarely to their own ambitions for the last couple weeks now, so it’s natural to see that the show ends on this note. But still, they manage to pull off beautifully. At first, I was a bit afraid that the first half was too slow that Ameagari might not have time to make any meaningful impact. But boy, they did it with style. At this moment, Tachibana and Kondou has established such a strong, solid chemistry that every moment between them feel like a treasure, and that precise moment when Tachibana turns back and sprints into him is amongst its finest. I’m already tearing up as I write this, damn it. That’s the moment where everything comes together perfectly, a moment where all the motifs the show has been set up so far come rushing in together in the best possible way. Tachibana running. Kondou embracing and accepting her love, all the while acknowledges his love. After the rain. Tachibana in her work uniform. That soothing score. That gorgeous visual. Everything was flawless.

The rest of this episode isn’t that flawless, however. Here, in the final episode, Ameagari wraps up an unnecessary side story and produces many – for me at least- over-sentimental and obvious moment. Chief among them is the romance between spikey and blonde, the former doesn’t have much of a voice in an entire story. Its heart is in the right place, mind you, but when Nishida the blonde tears up after his not-confessions, it just becomes a little too much. The same can be said for the two freshman girls who reminds Haruka of her pass (isn’t it way too obvious? Look, they even sharing scarf like they used to) or the little flashback of Tachibana on the ground during the track competition, but still manages to finish the line. I had been watching real track competition before so I can certainly say to you that this is totally soap opera (This is how real life works). It’s nice to say the rest of restaurant’s members gathered together in this last episode, but it does raise me 2 concerns. First, we don’t get to see other faces beside this cast, makes me wonder how this restaurant can survive with the staffs this thin. And second, Kase’s role in the show is pretty under-used. I mean, Ameagari uses him up that one time for mainly negative impact, and then put him back to the background characters that doesn’t amount much. These are, for me, Amaegari’s most notable shortcomings.

Tachibana is again put into test how much running means to her, by ways of teaching Yuuto how to run properly. Witness her swinging her arms to show Yuuto how to run correctly is heartwarming and satisfying. Moreover, Yuuto has a chance to tell her about his promise with his Dad, the promise not to give up halfway and give everything his own. In other spectrum, Kondou put his best efforts to write. His matter now isn’t to write a good novel, but to dedicate his life to writing novels. Make it his poison (and cigarette ashes, it seems). Both Tachibana and Kondou have realized their fire and each of them has sparked that fire to the other. As they embrace, they promise to let each other know once they fulfil their own promises. A mature, lovely if a bit indecisive way to make a proper stop to this story, but then again life and relationship are indeed messy and indecisive that way. At least for Kondou and Tachibana, now they know what they want to do and try their best to achieve it. That’s a beauty.

Posted on with categories: A Place Further than the Universe, Currently Watching:

And Universe wraps up the best way it can. This finale, in truth, feels more like a victory lap where the plot can be simply summarized as the girls enjoy their last days in Antarctica before heading back home. Almost all the cast makes an appearance in some ways, and the girls have a chance to reflect how much this trip mean to them, how much they mean to each other and how much they have grown since the start, and of course, many goodbyes along the way. The first half turns out to be the most cute girls do cute things moments out of this entire show, where our girls go through the routine, enjoy the thousand year old snowcone, and play baseball with the rest of the team. There isn’t much arc for the girls anymore, consider that they have all gone through some kind of conflicts and have grown ever since. But nearly the end of the journey, Mari voices her (unreasonable) request: should they stay over during the winter as well? Of course, she knows better and Hinata quickly points out why they need to return to their world: they still have their own lives back in Japan, but nevertheless, all of them don’t want this journey to end. So they make a promise. A promise to go back here again, and a promise that their lives will cross again when that time comes.

Shirase, after the tearful arc last week, really grows up this time. She’s both mature enough to give a heartfelt speech to the expedition team (that brings the cold Gin to tears), the speech about the place further than the Universe make people face-to-face with their own selves, the thing that she had indeed experienced. In addition, Shirase manages to loose herself a bit. She manages to smile. A bright and worry-free smile, unlike her creepy smile at the start of the series. Shirase has always been a bit broken character, but now she’s truly embraces it and let her Mommy issues finally to rest. She moves on to the next stage, stressed by the way she cuts her hair short. At the end on their way back home, Universe proves once again they still have some tricks left to play. The aurora view is truly mesmerizing and otherworldly, but the emotional bang comes from the unsent message her mother left, probably hours, or even minutes before she disappeared. The view of the Southern night sky come into display, and for that very moment, I bet Shirase’s Mom felt that it was all worth it. And now the girls all know that for sure. A bit too much of a coincidence, perhaps, but it’s still well earned.

As the girls head back home, like Yuzuki afraid they may not have the time to be together again. They will go back to their normal lives, with some new old worries and some plans to overcome. But now they depart each other with the understanding that they had shared something unique to each other, and that won’t never change. The last moment, Universe finishes with a nice, pleasant surprise: Mari’s friend Megumi is in the up North Arctic now, enjoying the aurora just like Mari did. Isn’t it nice to see a side character still grows and matures outside the scope of this narrative? As a whole, while Universe doesn’t really win me over, I don’t deny they are pretty good with building up and resolve their little arcs, and the trip along them to the end of the world is pretty rewarding. The full review will come up soon so stay still, folks, and thank you for join in with me for the ride.

Posted on 30 March 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Devilman Crybaby

It’s an exciting time to be an anime fan where new business models and players are making big waves within the animation industry. After debuting with the original and excellently-produced Neo Yokio, the juggernaut streaming service of Netflix has decided to revive the classic series of Devilman and gives it the full adaption treatment. By combining the sexual violence of its source material to the likes of Urotsukidoji and having big names like Masaaki Yuasa at its helm, the Devilman franchise makes a comeback into the western mindset after spending decades in obscurity.

For those of you not familiar with the Devilman series, it was a huge series in the 1970s where it tells the story of a teenage boy, bestowed with demonic powers, fighting against other unearthly horrors in an monster-of-the-week format. Subsequent OVAs attempted to follow the manga source more closely but could never finish the job. Devilman Crybaby makes a couple of liberal changes but the core story remains the same with Ryo and Akria teaming up to fight the demons with Miki supporting from the sidelines. Yuasa’s version adds a whole bunch of layers like the incorporation of track and field and roaming beatboxing freestylers . All those aspects are done quite well but perhaps the strongest aspect of having Netflix being the financier and distributor is being able to be very casual about its sexual and violent content. It was once said that:

There is nothing that arouses a stronger response in human beings than either sex or violence. A mixture of the two is very powerful indeed.

Unlike other anime where the mature content is done for the sake of being edgy, Devilman Crybaby uses its brutality to validates its darker themes as it progresses further along its story. I don’t want to give out spoilers but since the source is a 70s manga that influenced works like Berserk and Evangelion, there is nothing comforting about how everything plays out.   

If you are familiar with Yuasa’s unorthodox animation style, then Devilman Crybaby’s eccentric visuals should come as no surprise. It doesn’t have that crude design of Ping Pong the Animation, but lacks the fancy special effects that other studios strive for. Instead, it swings between the plain and psychedelic color palette, the strength to this anime is not found in the details but the unhinged motions of its characters and artistics liberties taken with the framing/composition of its shots. Like its animation, the music (composed by Kensuke Ushio of Koe no Katachi and Ping Pong the Animation fame), is just as unique with its elements of synthwave and an epic orchestral choir to the point like it came out of Hotline Miami 2‘s soundtrack. In keeping up with the insanity shown on screen, the soundtrack does a very job and only serves to enhance the show overall.

Devilman Crybaby is the definitive complete package of its source material but it doesn’t come without its fair share of problems. Clocking in at ten episodes, I had an issue with its pacing especially towards the latter half of the series when Ryo’s grand plan comes into fruition and things get very crazy. It goes far too fast in its escalation of conflict between the demons and mankind and in a few instances, I had to pause and read between the scenes to understand the what exactly happened in the final episodes. In addition, Ryo and Akira’s memories of their early childhood together should have been sprinkled in far earlier in the series instead of shoehorning it into the last episode as it seemed rushed to have the foundation poured in before the conclusion of their conflict. The second negative is the amount of Erglish thrown around as it becomes a distracting element for the story’s more serious moments. While Roy’s japanese voice actor is relatively decent in pronouncing his English line when compared to other anime (I’m looking at you Zankyou no Terror), there are some major speeches where his delivery fall flat in invoking the intended reaction from the viewers.

Devilman Crybaby is not a show for everyone. It is a vulgar, uncensored and sexually violent reinterpretation dreamed up by the surreal creativity that is Masaaki Yuasa. For those of you who are able to stomach such things or have a fascination with anime’s more unhindered aspects, this show is the shining example of the medium is capable of and the new business direction it is heading towards. However, for all its praises, there are just a few significant issues that holds it back from becoming anime of the year although it would easily a top ten list for any serious anime fan. In any case, Devilman Crybaby was an experience for me that I won’t forgetting about anytime soon.

83/100

Posted on 28 March 2018 with categories: Seasonal Previews

Some seasons feel like they have ended before they have truly begun but that last season really couldn’t have ended any sooner. It’s funny as the word bad doesn’t quite describe it as the anime last season was basically fine quality wise. But everything was of such mild averageness that it sucked the enthusiasm out of all the writers on this site, including myself. There wasn’t a single anime that I would consider great and far too much easygoing fluff shows that didn’t leave much of an impression.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel my friends as this new season just may make up for the old one’s failings. We got a lot of sequels admittedly, but they are sequels to interesting shows at least, some of which needed a sequel very much. Not to mention we got high potential shows which are not sequels. Last season it was hard to find anything worth watching but this season we may have too much we want to watch. Both are not exactly ideal but I much prefer the latter to former.

So same deal as last time. I check out all the source and staff and see what we might be in for. Poll down below to vote which shows you wish to have covered. Thanks to Mario for gathering images, helping out with the format and chipping in on a few shows. Also forgive me for the lateness of the preview but things have been very busy lately for me.

Which series should we cover for the 2018 Summer Season?
90 votes · 1399 answers
vote

 

The sequels/Shorts I don’t care about

Akkun to Kanojo (short)

Amai Choubatsu: Watashi wa Kanshu Senyou Pet (short)

Amanchu! Advance

Beyblade Burst Chouzetsu

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu HAPPY KISS

Fumikiri Jikan (short)

Hoozuki no Reitetsu 2: Part II

Inazuma Eleven: Ares no Tenbin

Koneko no Chii: Ponponra Daibouken 2

Ladyspo (short)

Lupin III: Part V

Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS

Omae wa Mada Gunma wo Shiranai (short)

Oshiri Tantei (short)

Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – Tootsuki Ressha-hen

Tachibanakan Triangle (short)

To Be Hero 2

Uchuu Senkan Tiramisù (short)

Souten no Ken: REGENESIS (prequel)

Wakaokami wa Shougakusei! (short)

 

Series I don’t care about

 

3D Kanojo


 

Studio: Hoods Entertainment

Director: Takashi Naoya

Script/Series composer: Deko Akao

Source: Manga

Hikari Tsutsui is a high school boy who is satisfied with the virtual girls he encounters in anime and games. He does not have many friends and he lives in his own world. One day, when he is stuck on pool cleaning duty, he is approached by Iroha, a “real girl” who is showy and popular with boys.

The good thing about this show is that the manga is complete so this could very well be a full adaption. The bad news is this is overdramatized shoujo nonsense where people get bent out of shape over the slightest of trivialities. There are likely those who might find it engaging but as for myself I just look at this over idealised version of love and shake my head. I can’t really see the relationship in this one as anything natural and more comes across as teenagers getting all over excited about pure infatuation. This is the director’s second show with his first being Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru. Series composer fares better with her most recent work being “After the Rain” in the current season. She also did Snow White with the Red Hair and Flying Witch so this looks to be in good hands on that front. If you happen to like Shoujo manga or anime this this might be for you but most certainly not for me. I hate shoujo with a passion.

 

Aikatsu Friends!


 

Studio: Bandai Namco Pictures

Director: Shishou Igarashi

Script/Series composer: Yuuko Kakihara

Source: Original

The new anime will have a theme of “Aikatsu with your friends!” and will center on a new protagonist named Aine Yuuki, who is good at making friends, and is enrolled in Star Harmony Academy’s general education track. She befriends Mio Minato, the school’s top idol, and becomes an idol herself.

Aikatsu Friends is a 38 episode show about idols in a high school and boy do I sure have no interest whatsoever. This is a spinoff of Aikatsu which is a show that had 178 episodes…oh my god. Look, I just don’t see this franchise having a story that requires 178 episodes to tell. I sure do look forward to the day the idol craze dies and hope it isn’t replaced by something more annoying. Director and Series composer did nothing of note. Sorry about not putting a lot of effort into this one but let’s be blunt, if you aren’t already into this series I am fairly certain this show isn’t going to suddenly convert you.
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Posted on 27 March 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Mahoutsukai no Yome, Reviews by Lenlo

Fantasy is a rather prolific genre in anime, with a vast majority of Isekai and Shounen fitting snugly into it. Most take place in their own unique setting, either Amestris of Full Metal Alchemist or the made of world of the latest Isekai trash. Few however try to set themselves in our world. To peel back the mystery of our own myths and legends of lore. Mahoutsukai no Yome attempts to do just this. To bring magic into our regular dreary world. However it Mahoutsukai stretched itself to thin, attempting both a fantasy epic and a sweet character drama, only to fail at both.

Lets jump in!

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Posted on 25 March 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Mahoutsukai no Yome

Welcome to the finale of Mahoutsukai no Yome, a rather lackluster end to a rollercoaster of a series. For the last time, lets jump in.

To put it simply, Mahoutsukai chose to end with a whimper rather than a bang. This may sound harsh, yet nothing in this ending really had much weight. Chise solves her Cartaphilus problem with the typical Shounen “I will hit you to fix our mutual problem” attitude. Ashen Eye is brought back in for a 2-minute meaningless combat scene, as if his involvement with Cartaphilus was some great hinted mystery. Chise gets stabbed through the chest, sings a song, and suddenly everything is A-OK. And of course what little emotional value the scenes had is immediately undercut by the great destroyer of Mahoutsukai, the Chibi. It all compacts to create an ending that just falls flat. The largest contributor to this ending however isn’t any of this specific episodes many failings, but rather the structure of Mahoutsukai as a whole.

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Posted on with categories: 2011 Anime Retrospective, Yumekui Merry

Here’s psgels’ original review of Yumekui Merry (he hated Working’s guts, which is fair enough)

Now, to the main meal:

Working’!! (A-1 Pictures)

Fans from the first season (like me) will have a lot to like in this second attempt of Working. The comedy is pretty consistent throughout its course, some are even sharper than the first. As Working is a character-driven show, the humor works mainly because they always stay true to the characters. Even they manage to get way with humor that has creepy and unsettling details (a groper or a kidnapping for example. What cut the edge is that those accusations are probably true), and even repetitive gags still provide good laugh because they’re well-timed. This second season also works better as an ensemble cast. I don’t enjoy that much when the last few episodes of the first season focused on Souta and Inari, for example. Here each member of the main cast receives a spotlight, they make a good use and explore one of the cast’s main trait (my favorite is how useless the manager is). Moreover, pair them up and any random pair has their own appeal. If you wonder the chemistry of between some unlikely pairs (like Souma and Inari, Satou and the Manager) would be like, you won’t be disappointed here.

The settings of Working are even more minimum this time. Except from couple gags from Souta’s house and certain alley on the street, all the events happen within the space of this family restaurant. There are some new members (3 and a half to be exact) and each of them add their own weirdness, in other words, charms to this likeable cast. My favorite new addition is the cameo Otoo’s wife. Short but sweet. She’s the nuttiest case of all. Souta’s family members, while in the first season feel like they are from different show, become an ingrate part of this season, especially whenever they appear at the restaurant or meet with the other employees.

But the most drawback aspect of Working still lies in its format and structure: it’s a middle-season sitcom comedy. I’m glad that there is a strict continuing to the plot, but I can’t say the same to the relationships’ development. The cast is still at the same place they start off the season, and when Working actively stall some plot progression (like the encounter of Yamada’s siblings), it feels rather irritating. My feeling is that they’re playing too safe with these relationships that afraid to break the status quo. How about progressing those relationship and make the cast deals with it? Furthermore, the humor don’t work when the show pushes too hard. Like I mentioned earlier, I still feel uneasy with the way Souma tries to separate Aoi and her brother, or when Aoi forces Otoo to sign the adoption paper. In the end, all of its issues have more to do with the structure. It’s the middle of the pack so understandably, plot doesn’t move much forward. Aside from that though, the quirky characters still rule the day and the humors still as sharp as ever.  This will be one of a rare franchise that I’ll be sad to see it ends.

Rating: 78/100

Yumekui Merry (J.C. Staff)

Well, I might be the only one who thoroughly enjoy this, considering how lukewarm Yumekui Merry received in its run (the director himself even admitted so). Straight to its most impressive parts: the visual direction is pretty awesome. The background arts for each of the dream world is distinctive, varied and has a lot of personality. There are plenty of creativeness in shot selection and the fight sequences, although limited, are animated fluidly. The characters are expressive and while those character designs fall into the tropey side, at least here they stand apart from each other. I guess those shot angles can be a hit and miss for other viewers, but for me I can feel the staff putting their efforts to make something different. The eye-popping visual reminds me a fair bit of Flip Flappers, which I absolutely adore. The score, however, remains unconventional and while sometimes it works well, other times it feels too alien with the screen. All in all, the visual presentation of Yumekui Merry is more experimental than your usual anime dose, but with so much love, skill and attention put into it, it remains gorgeous, distinctive and inventive.

Yumeikui Merry deals with dream as its main theme, but don’t expect any serious exploration to the nature of dream and such. It’s more concern with fighting the dream demons who use human as their vessel; and explore many interesting cases around that. I enjoy the way the show builds its characters. Those pairing between the dream demon and its human host have their chemistry, and I also prefer the way the show keeps using these characters after their case is done. The cast, consist of two mains and several friends surround them, have time to build up their characters slowly and gradually by the final arc I am pretty invested into their development. The main duo, namely Merry and Yumeji, have great deal of development (especially the former) and their chemistry together holds up as the story progresses. I don’t really like the depiction of some of the villains, however, especially the last bosses since the show makes them overly heartless and psycho without fleshing them out.

Now, the most criticism this show has lies in its original ending. As of its airing, the manga was still running (it’s still running NOW), so the anime creators figured that it might be a better idea to have their own way of to end the show. The reception of this ending was poor, citing the lack of conclusive ending, rushing towards the plot and plot holes as the main issues. I have a different opinion. Sure, it could’ve been better, but just like how I feel about the anime-only characters and its original ending in Blood Blockade Battlefront, this one I can see how the show properly builds up its arc towards the ending. Take an original anime character Chizuru for example, her characteristics are clearly defined, she supports the plot well and in the end her arc aligns with the climax pretty well. I can see some plot threads left unexplored (like all the development regarding Yumeji’s literature club members), and it is indeed rushed, but I am satisfied with the way this show wraps up. My overall feeling to Yumekui Merry is the same as Princess Principal from last year: brilliant in parts, stylist and excellent art and animation, but having a lacklustre closure that hopes for the next season that never come.

Rating: 82/100

Again, I’d like to hear your thoughts about those shows. The next one gonna take awhile, since I want to spend some time to catch up with those Netflix shows, plus the next season coming up means that realistically, the next one will be up after the First Impressions period. Next post, I’ll investigate a show about a bunch of faceless aliens and a show about a cute little rabbit, yep, the IDOLMASTERS and Bunny Drop will be up next. See you then, folks.

Posted on with categories: After the Rain, Currently Watching:

What does it mean to be special to someone else?

That question just bugs me when I watched the recent development of Ameagari. Maybe it has more to do with what I experience in my real life, but Tachibana and Kondou’s relationship has gotten to that “special” category so I might as well delve into it. The question, to be more precise, is about the extent of letting some stranger become a great part of your life, be it best friends, lover or somewhere in between. Most of these developments come natural, you don’t question it, it just happens. It takes a situation where it doesn’t work, or in this particular case, where the two seem to be in two different world, for us to really question the very nature of what ‘relationship’ entails. I am certain that this episode pretty much confirms that Ameagari won’t make them a couple, in fact last couple of episodes the show moves away from the romance into “friend” territory. But how have their relationship been shaping so far? It’s clear that Tachibana sees Kondou as someone special to her. I’m most impressed with Tachibana’s recent actions, she moves from aggressive, clearly invading Kondou’s comfortable space in the first few episodes to pushing him towards his most comfortable but long forgotten space – writing the novels. She has changed from a slightly negative to become a positive force for Kondou.

But what’s about Kondou? Is Tachibana someone special to him? I can’t tell since he’s always the one who goes with the flow, who is content with whatever direction he finds himself heading. The two impressions that he does feel about her though, that she reminds him a great deal to his own youth, and that she’s willing to read his novel. I reckson it makes sense that the last development Ameagari want to explore, is him telling her how special she is to him, and gets her literally back on the track. At this point, they produce such a strong and unique bond to each other that everytime they’re together is a feast to watch.

That is to say that the real magic of Ameagari is when the two of them together, so naturally this week, when the show digs into each character’s story, doesn’t impact me much like when they’re together, but it’s still a well-developed one nonetheless. On Tachibana’s side, after seeing another girl breaks her own personal record who had the same injury as Tachibana, Haruka visits Tachibana while she’s working, and lays everything down to the table. She wants her back. And when she’s back, they can be close friend like they used to. I don’t agree with Haruka’s method at all, but it does affect Tachibana, since she still isn’t quite sure what she likes better. Running or her love affair. Or even more pointedly, she’s afraid of going back and experiencing that loss again, the feeling of young hope crushed down by injury and disappointment. This for me is a grounded, albeit a bit late to the game, issues that Tachibana has to face.

Kondou’s side is a whole lot brighter, Chihiro visits his home uninvited and from there, they share a great times together reviving their old passions. Kondo always looks at his old pal as a more successful version of his, but in truth, Chihiro is far from happy. The install success of his book (that makes its way into film adaptation) makes him feel vary, both because he himself doesn’t regard it as his best, but also the on-going pressure from his publication and his fans. Visiting Kondou is a way for him to revisit his own passion, why he wanted to write in the first play. Once again, another people encourages him to write. The reason he has put writing off is not because he doesn’t have anything to write, but because he’s afraid that his writing will let his young, passionate-self down. But like his friend Chihiro said, the only solution to this is just write.

From what I gathered, there are still 40 plus chapters yet to adapt and we only have 1 episode left. There is a high chance that the anime (plans) and goes for original route, with honestly I think for the better. Whichever way the two end up going, I’m sure I will remember them fondly.

Posted on 24 March 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

It’s time for our doll Violet confronts the past with the present: accepting the job in the midst of the war zone. Seeing the war caught up to her while she begins to move on could serve as an interesting character study case, but in truth this episode runs much more straight-forward than that. She accepts the job (against the company’s decision) to meet the guy who happened to be named AIDAN whose whole unit, including himself, was ambushed right before Violet arrives. Violet Evergarden makes damn sure to tug your heartstring, I tell ya, and one of the easiest and most effective way is to make the characters likable and then kill them off. The only problem is, we don’t spend that much time to know this Aidan guy so it’s hard for me to feel for him on a personal level. To make a matter slightly worse, the whole time this guy was thinking about Maria, his childhood-turn-lover back home, but then when it comes to the time of writing letters, the show pulls stuff out of its ass and include his parents, whom we never have any proper introduction before. At first, the way he addresses it, I assumed that the parents are deceased but in the end, they have the same amount of screen presence as Maria, which for me is a bit weird on how Violet Evergarden decides to focus his feeling on only Maria beforehand.

At least Aidan experienced the true terror of war before he himself becomes a dead meat. Staying in busiest war zone, his team got ambushed and being killed one by one. Suddenly, Violet descends from the sky to save the day, defeating the whole enemy team without much sweat. If you have a feeling that Violet is playing a superhero type, let me inform you that the Light Novel does it in a way flashier fashion. In the book, she kills the enemies, writes the letter in the middle of the burning forest, and carries Aidan while killing the army units that surround them. This anime version tones down a lot of over-the-top set-piece, including the bits where Violet faces the enemies unarmed and manages not to kill any of them, and I’d argue it’s for the better. Having her transcript what he says in the abandoned shed at night, air-type his words work much quieter and more effective than if they go all out. The way the letters are formed, in a bit of stream of consciousness way where Aidan slowly slips away and where his memories blurs in with the present help transfer the emotional weight successfully. Aidan is also the first person to comment positively to Violet’s mechanic hands and asks for her hands in his final moments for a… ahem… human warmth. I believe the message here is that Violet has transformed from in robot in human body into a full-fledge human with emotions, and even now her mechanical hands have the warmness of human heat.

Violet Evergarden again makes a good use of it post-war backdrop. This week they delve on the anti-peace faction, which was first introduced on episode 8. I have a feeling they are going to be more prominent in later episodes, but for now I don’t like the way the show handles those characters. They’re one-dimensional as best and the only thing we learn from them is how ruthless they are. Maybe the existence of Violet the super-soldier mode was there for a reason: to kill those war-loving un-remorse bastards. But in here, we can see how far Violet has transformed. She’s not a soldier anymore (but these skills certainly help), she’s a Doll who would go ANYWHERE to meet the clients; and would do her upmost to write letter and deliver them. The last scene where she delivers the letters to Aidan’s parents and Maria, she meets with grief. She feels vulnerable because she can’t save life (she used to only taking lives), but as she learns from the thankfulness of the receivers, she has done enough. Without her, there will be no message and Aidan’s sentiments towards the ones he loves will be lost forever. Another job well done for Violet, and the show itself.

Posted on 23 March 2018 with categories: A Place Further than the Universe, Currently Watching:

For a show that sells on the idea of turning your normal life upside down and enjoy the youth to the fullest, the second half of Universe instead delved a bit too much on the friendship side that don’t speak much to that central theme. In this episode, the theme comes back with a bang, results in arguably its most emotional effective episode yet. Appropriately, the title of the episode is the same as the series’: A place further than the universe. The last place of Shirase and the expedition’s team’s goal. The place where Shirase’s Mom disappeared 3 years ago. The final destination. It’s also appropriate that Shirase is the main focus of this, because she’s the main drive for this trip to happen after all, and I’m glad that Universe pulled it off. For Shirase, the moments she got call out of class and received the news of her Mom disappearing, it all happens like a dream. A long dream she couldn’t wake up. I can relate to that not only because I’ve gone through this before, but also because it marked a point of no return for Shirase. Nothing would ever be the same for Shirase after that and ever since then, she pushed herself hard so that she can come to the place where the spirits of her Mom is still around.

But there’s also this other fear in Shirase, the fear the she would feel nothing. The fear that once she reaches the goal, there won’t be anything special and there won’t be any thing left to reach. Like, what’s next after that? Chasing her Mom dream to Antarctica has always been her own goal, probably to escape the pain of losing her at such young age and being left alone. If she can’t find anything there, will she be in that dream forever? She admits that she doesn’t feel anything special or overly connected to Antarctica, it’s just… like in a picture book. I like the way Universe acknowledges this. The most alluring aspect of a trip to Antarctica is the idea of going to a place faraway, not necessary the place itself. If you aren’t prepared, you’d end up disappointing, and even if you are, like Shirase, there’s no guarantee that you’d end up enjoying the place. That said, Mari offers a valid counterpoint to Shirase’s crisis. It’s about the journey rather than the destination. It’s about going together and experience these things together that make this trip worth it. Admittedly, that message is nothing new, every other show does this but I prefer the way it presented here. Mari’s point isn’t meant to change the way Shirase feel, it’s only serves as one’s perspective. Just like the way Gin told Shirase that she wanted to come back to Antarctica is for herself, “But when we run around on the injustices of reality, they’re the only things that can break through, make the impossible possible, and allow us to proceed on.” Shirase ultimately is the one who has to overcome her doubts herself.

And the girls, plus Gin and that other girl go to the inland trip to build an observatory deck, the idea that was originally from Shirase’s mom. In there, the girls experience the weather condition that I would have expected when I hear about Antarctica: extremely cold, vast ice of nothingness, and blizzard that could easily claim one’s life and change many other’s lives, and godlike sun pillar. The closer to the place where her Mom disappeared, the more Shirase sees fragments of her Mom here and there. It’s just like these moments still linger there, stuck in times. Everyone would claim (and rightfully so) that the episode’s climax where Shirase opens her Mom’s laptop is the most effective moment, but for me, it was the sequence before that. It was when the other four girls rush out to find out something, anything that could tell them the past existence of Shirase’s Mom. Now it isn’t her own journey anymore, but her goal is aligned with other girls. Now it is when the friendship theme merges together flawlessly with “finding goal and achieve goal” theme. The moment from Shirase saw their own photo sticking in the laptop, to when she types correctly the password the second times (it’s her birthday) and her own emails keep flooding up the screen, together with that soft, tender song are such a great way to conclude in high notes. Those unread emails are the statement that her efforts in those 3 years are indeed, real, and now she has to face the fact that Tanako is truly gone, and its’s the more heartbreaking when you notice that the reason her Mom went back to the base and disappeared might be because of this laptop and those emails (one thing though that bugs me is that they have wifi there in the middle of nowhere?). Also appropriately for an episode that feel like a closure, we don’t have any OP or ED this week. Everything ends in such tender note, and… we still have one more episode left. Now, what’s next?

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