So, I’m trying out a new weekly feature here. Each week, I usually end up wanting to talk more about some shows than I do others, but wanting to talk about at least some shows nonetheless. So, when my anime week ends on Thursday with Ping Pong, I’ll be publishing some of my highlights from the week. These won’t necessarily the best moments of the week; in fact, I fully expect to find some huge frustrations and annoyances creeping into these posts. However, I’m hoping these posts will at least allow me an outlet to rant and rave as I need each week.
Welcome to Week 5!
Nisekoi, Episode 17: Oh, thank the heavens above that Chitoge is back. After three episodes with Chitoge relegated to a background role (two Marika episodes and one almost impressively boring Onodera episode), my tsundere blonde being back on screen brought an energy and sense of humor with her that Nisekoi desperately needed. She and Raku easily have the best chemistry of any other pairing, and Chitoge’s multi-faceted personality was on full display this episode (child-like, tsun, dere, etc.). She’s fun to watch, and always cute. I’m still certain that the art director of SHAFT is on the Chitoge ship, because she gets the highest number of money shots in this show by a lot. To prove my point, have a quick Chitoge gallery from the episode. #TeamChitoge
The Irregular at Magic High School, Episode 5: People in this show love to talk, don’t they? They really do. I’m not really interested in talking about the politics of this show, because with the sheer volume of words coming out of this show rivaling the Monogatari franchise, Nisio Isin’s writing, while it may be just shooting the breeze at times, at least passes the minimum litmus test of being interesting in its obtuseness. Mahouka, on the other hand, is just a bunch of people monologuing about issues and jargon so specific to the world that they carry no realistic relationship to the real world. That’s my main problem with this show; it’s so incredibly self-contained, self-focused and self-referential that trying to extend any of its philosophies and messages to the real world is foolish, because they belong solely to this world of fantasy. It makes for pretty dull listening, if you ask me.
One Week Friends, Episode 5: Basically the perfect time to introduce a new character. Hase’s still clearly struggling to find the balance between sharing Fujimiya time with other people (he’s honest enough with himself this week to admit he likes being special), but he’s obviously learned enough from last week’s fight that he is able to, at the very least, give Fujimiya and Saki space to become friends. And it looks like his decision not only gave Fujimiya room to make a new friend, but also had the positive effect of Fujimiya remembering him. The whole episode was littered with nice moments, my favorite of which was the silent slow motion footsteps of Saki moving towards Fujimiya at the beginning of the episode.
Black Bullet, Episode 5: After the hectic pace of the last arc, this arc starts off with a lot of pointless scenes. We got Rentaro training with Enju, which was cute but not really applicable to anything in the story. Then we got Kisara (Hocchan+sword=love) and Miori fighting in Rentaro’s apartment for no apparent reason. I wish they would just make up their minds and either just focus on Rentaro and Enju’s relationship, or actually give Kisara and the other characters some depth. On top of all this, we got really weird motivations from Rentaro, who apparently accepts the bodyguard job solely for the purpose of pissing off Seitenshi’s current bodyguards.
Hitsugi no Chaika, Episode 5: For the week, at least, Chaika will reign at the top of my Anime Power Rankings. The entirety of the episode could basically be considered the highlight of my anime week. It was a total encapsulation of everything I love about this show, and I love a lot of things: Chaika’s faces, Akari’s deadpan humor, the hilarious dynamics in Gillette’s group, and great action. The “Sticky” gag pretty much killed me; by far the funniest thing I saw all week. And then the face off between Toru and Red Chaika’s guard…”Give us our Chaika back!” “No, you give us our Chaika back.” And then the hilarious absurdity of two groups running away with two different Chaikas. And they did all this while moving the plot along and still revealing backstory on the Chaikas without a huge information dump. Everything we learned is by inference and logical divulgence, not flashback or a conveniently knowledgeable character. Chaika has already vastly exceeded my expectations of being a moderately entertaining fantasy romp by turning out to be a genuinely funny, interesting and charming story. Gah, I love this show.
Ping Pong, Episode 5: Man, what an episode. Number one order of business: Wenge is back. I’m really incredibly happy about this, because I was convinced his role in the show was done after last week. Everything seemed to be pointing that way, and yet he stays, alone and with flashbacks of leaving his mother. That’s right: in 5 episodes Wenge has gone from arrogant ping pong beast to a normal high school kid dealing with homesickness in a foreign country. And the excellence in the visual storytelling means that we get all that while Wenge has probably no more than three or four minutes of screen time this episode. He’s lost one game and lost his friend, but he’s still fighting to improve. The same cannot be said of Peco, who appeared at the beginning of the episode to have given up on ping pong and who definitely gives up by the end. Not what I was expecting of him, but it’s just proof that he’s still just a child. Sakuma, a villain last episode, now becomes a tragic figure as he is totally shattered by Smile. “You don’t have a talent for ping pong,” Smile says, following up on an image of a ping pong ball flying out of Sakuma’s reach. Devastating. Smile really is a robot. And Sakuma, broken, falls.
Frozen: Not anime, but a quick note on the most hyped movie of the last few months. I watched Frozen on my flight back from the UK to the US and I was not impressed. Sure, the music was nice, but as a complete movie, I found it much inferior to Tangled. I won’t go into great detail about what I felt was wrong about the movie, but here’s a quick list. 1) Prince Hans goes evil out of nowhere. 2) The set-up of stage of the movie was rushed. 3) “Let It Go” is emotionally inconsistent with the context around it. 4) The narrative as a whole feels like nothing more than a flimsy vehicle to deliver the musical numbers. It’s fine for that to be true, but I shouldn’t be able to notice it. It was an enjoyable watch, but nowhere near the masterpiece I had been lead to believe it was.