Winter 2015, Week 9: Highlights of the Week

Another really good week, and a new challenger appears on the list! I’m in the midst of job applications/interviews time, so wish me luck!

Rolling Girls

Your Lie in April, Episode 20: Lots of ranting this week, sorry!

Akatsuki no Yona, Episode 22: Whoo boy, that was one good episode.

KanColle, Episodes 1-9: As per my midterms tradition, I marathoned some random fun show for kicks in the middle of midterms week—which was, this time, KanColle. To be entirely frank, the show is far from gripping, but there’s a nice level of comfortable entertainment that shows up in episode 4 with the Kongou sisters and then never leaves. Overall, the conflicts (and even, sometimes, the actual battles) aren’t all that compelling, but KanColle is much more about settling into watching some familiar characters go about doing their cute girl stuff. The weakest material thus far has come when KanColle has attempted to go for the dramatic (the early loss of…uh..Kisaragi and Mutsuki’s subsequent collapse, Fubuki’s jealousy at Yuudachi’s remodel), but everything else works pretty well. The battles are fun enough to not be boring and Fubuki has turned into a much more interesting lead than I thought she would be at first. And then, of course, there’s the transcendent Kongou, without whom I fear KanColle would entirely sink.

KanColle

Durarara!! x2, Episode 9: Just more of what makes Durarara!! itself this episode—crazy misunderstandings, manipulative people colliding, and an absurd number of different plot lines winding together and spinning off in different directions. The adult gangsters are still the most difficult group of people for me to get a handle on; there are so many of them running around that I have trouble actually knowing who is allied with who and who has hired who. Chances are good that Izaya is the one “bullying” Varona, which means she’ll eventually get roped into the wider implications of this conflict. What really makes me happy, though, is seeing Mikado, Anri, and Celty all together once again. Now if only Kida was back…but that’s asking too much, isn’t it? Oh, and we’ve got Shizuo running around after an Izaya who appears to be leaving Ikebukuro—where that chase will end up is anyone’s guess.

Durarara!! x2

Shirobako, Episode 21: Ah, man, Shirobako just being very good, once again. This episode actually felt kind of long to me (not in a bad way) with all the different things that happened—working with Hiraoka, the roller coaster scene, the first watch party, and the director actually getting the storyboards done in time (funny story, I have a bad feeling about this). It’s really nice to see that Aoi has mostly come to a satisfactory place in her struggles to find her sense of purpose in an industry driven by the twin engines of creativity and business realities. Hiraoka, then, actually ends up feeling like a really neat foil for Aoi thematically. If Aoi is the production incarnation of the creator’s passion, then Hiraoka is the creator’s battle against the insanity of deadlines and creative desolation.

I still don’t forgive Hiraoka for being such a wet blanket, but I do really appreciate Shirobako taking the time to detail his character—I don’t understand people like him in real life and, honestly, I’ve never taken the time to try and understand them. So, thanks, Shirobako. You made me think a little bit more about the people I run into and how I can be better about trying to understand where they’re coming from. That’s a pretty special thing and not many shows do that. And now for the weekly Best Girl album:

Death Parade, Episode 9: Episode of the Week! To be honest, it feels pretty weird to add a superlative like “episode of the week” to something like this. This episode was complex, winding, hopeful, and brutally depressing. In the end, Decim didn’t need any games to drag out the darkness in either Shimada or Tatsumi’s souls—Tatsumi was more than happy to reveal his own and push Shimada to the exact same point. But what a farce of a judgement. Shimada once put down the knife, once took the path that would have lead him to reincarnation and back to his sister. All he got for that was another chance to take the wrong path and that time the temptation was too great. Really, nothing here was new to us. We’ve already seen that the games are designed to push people until they turn dark, and push and push and push even when they refuse to turn. But it’s still a choice and the fact that we have seen people who have escaped with their good selves in tact just serves to emphasize how unfair the process is—standardization, as Kurokami says, is impossible.

Death Parade

Absolute Duo, Episode 10: First off—Darkray Disaster!? DARKRAY DISASTER!?!? Is this just not the most perfect blend of LN silliness and sensitive character writing ever? Is this not Absolute Duo? At this point, I basically feel like I’ll be saying the same thing at the end of the show as I was at the beginning: Absolute Duo has absolutely no reason to be as not-terrible as it is, but that’s the reality. Whether it was Usagi-sensei laughing at the graduated students or Tachibana crying in the shower or the lovely moment of Julie comforting Thor after his dream (no fanservice, no silly reactions, just understated intimacy), Absolute Duo continues to miraculously nail its small character moments alongside the absurdity of the plot. A killing game with your students? Are you kidding me? It should be so absurd. It shouldn’t work. But because Absolute Duo neither revels in nor treats these silly things like their entirely serious, instead just running along with them in a matter-of-fact manner (just like the way it handled Thor and Julie saving each other last episode), it works. Again, huge kudos to the adaptation team. This is the triumph of good creative choices.

Absolute Duo

In a Sentence:

Rolling☆Girls, Episode 9: Production in the dumpster, Chiaya’s a freaking alien, other things went on—next episode, please.

Log Horizon 2, Episode 22: Wow; wasn’t expecting for Log Horizon to start touching on endgame (heh) stuff already, but with talk of going home it seems the end of the series is in distant sight.

Garo, Episode 21: I was kind of hoping Garo had forgotten Ximenia in order to reduce the risk that she dies horribly like almost every other female character in the show, but looks like no such luck.

Assassination Classroom, Episode 8: More fun in the sun with this show—a very nice way to wind down after the intensity of Death Parade and Garo.

Garo

13 thoughts on “Winter 2015, Week 9: Highlights of the Week

  1. It was a really good week.

    Durarara shifts gear again to produce more crazy fun. Then you have Death Parade‘s superbly told story, which could be its darkest episode yet. Garo is just Garo with ok-ish fight scenes this time and plot development that I crave for more and more (though the issue with Leon and Emma hasn’t been dealt with, yet, which I hope they get to soon.). Yona with its explosive goodness in both characters and story progression.

    Good week like this makes me want to start writing about anime and have a deeper engagement and involvement.

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    • For sure! When I watch stuff like this week’s Death Parade, I think I’d explode if I didn’t have the blog around to help let off some of my mental steam.

      I’m (sadly) pretty sure Garo has no intention of returning to anything directly related to Lara or that night with Emma and Leon. Seems like they were basically just plot points within the wider narrative that needed to be hit rather than events whose implications the show really wanted to deal with.

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      • But… all the opportunity to make Garo an even better anime! =(

        If only they make use of it to create greater implications that drive more character progression… I’d really love that.

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  2. Its kind of depressing on the fact that Shirobako became more and more insight of my future work environment (artistic or otherwise) and not taking account of the fact that the series is sugarcoating things ;__;

    Btw Bless thanks to your positivity, I picked up AbsDuo and you know what? I kind of enjoy it. Tropey as heck sure, but there are subtlety that makes it entertaining.

    If Kancolle is the show you decided to marathon late game, I think I’ll check out Garo once the season is over.

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    • Honestly, I think a large part of Shirobako’s message (especially with the introduction of Hiroaka) is that you can, at least in some small part, choose the way you want to think about your workplace. Now, of course Musani definitely appears to be a good workplace environment and lots of places aren’t, which I think is an implicit point the series hasn’t actually directly addressed: the people you work with and the place you work at matter. They matter a whole heckuva a lot. And this is something I can validate from my own work experience: even if the work you’re doing kind of sucks, if you’re doing it with good people, it’s much easier to stomach than good work with crappy people. So, yeah, find a good workplace! (Heh, if only it were as easy as that…)

      Glad you’re liking Absolute Duo so far! It shouldn’t be enjoyable, but it is—I’m absolutely certain the series is a massive improvement over the books.

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  3. ” Absolute Duo has absolutely no reason to be as not-terrible as it is, but that’s the reality. ”
    I know, right?

    About Shirobako, and Hiraoka. He’s hard to watch. I’ve known him, I’ve worked with him, and at points I’ve been him. Being Hiraoka isn’t necessarily a permanent condition. But when you enter a field that seems from the outside a playground, the relentless grind of the actual work, or the BS you must endure in order to actually DO the work can wear you down. A career in a creative field is a series of deaths and re-awakenings. The re-awakenigs make the deaths worthwhile over the long run, whether that’s re-discovering your passion, or packing it in and moving on to something else.

    It may seem obvious here, but Shirobako has me thinking a lot about my own work life over the years. How I found myself doing a weird job that looks from the outside like farting around.

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    • Absolute Duo: It’s basically at miracle status already.

      It’s nice to hear you say that being Hiroaka isn’t necessarily permanent. Losing a passion forever is probably one of the greatest personal tragedies that can befall someone, but perhaps most passions can’t really be buried that deeply. I doubt we’ll see Hiraoka experience an awakening in the time we have left, but to be able to bring that outside knowledge into the show is hopeful. Thanks for sharing! ^_^

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  4. In trying to reduce the wall of text, I’ll try to talk more about the anime I watch that Iblessall haven’t covered, and less about the ones he already talk about. As such, let’s start with an anime I think most here doesn’t follow:

    Yu-gi-Oh Arc V 46:
    Yeah, he’s officially Yami Yuya now, and he’s terrifying. Also, that ace monster is completely ridiculous, but it’s as expected of a YGO protagonist. Glad to see more of Serena’s background, and her finally clear out the misunderstanding in talking to Yuzu. The switch is sure to bring more trouble to Yuzu though, let’s hope Serena got what she needed out of it at least. And the stuff at the very end…yeah, they’re putting ALL the plot points together here, and I’m going to enjoy the chaos that comes out of it.

    Btw, if any of you are really bored or curious about the newest iteration of Yu-gi-Oh, I can’t recommend Arc-V enough. It’s not just good for an animated advertisement of a children’s card game, it’s legitimately good anime to me. If you can get through the typical cliches and craziness that a YGO series brings, I really think this has the making of the best YGO anime.

    Shirobako 21:
    Even before this episode I don’t hate Hiraoka that much (Funny Story still tops that list comfortably) but it’s nice to see how he become the prick he is now. And really, his character is very realistic IRL, and not just in an anime workplace. In fact, most of the anime staff is probably more like him than the enthusiastically competent staff of Musani, so it’s nice for Shirobako to highlight this – sometimes it seems they’re painting too pretty a picture of an anime workplace.

    Log Horizon 22:
    With this episode, I’m feeling that hype I usually got back in season 1, and it’s been sorely missed. Of course, now that I got the hype back there’s only 3 episodes left…

    Durarara 10:
    Personally, I feel the first half is going a bit slow, some of the stuff there seems already shown in some way in the last ep. The second half is Durarara (or more accurately, Ryogo Narita) at his best though. And yeah, I’m with you, Iblessall – the Russian assassins are unique enough on their own, but I still haven’t really got a handle on the adult gangsters. I hope they delve deeper on their characters later, especially the yakuzas.

    Assassination Classroom 8:
    For a show with assassination in its title, more than any other anime this feels like the most feel-good, relaxing anime I’m watching this season. It’s just fun and east to watch, and the last ep is no exception.

    Saekano 9:
    Well, at least they show the Oppai Loli doing something else that’s not being a harem member, let’s hope they keep it that way. Still, while it’s not especially bad Eriri’s conflict doesn’t seem that original, which makes me doesn’t really care about it – as usual, Kato is always the best part.

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    • I’ve heard from others as well that Arc-V is pretty darn good. What with Pokemon XY also have turned into a better show, it seems kids’ shows are perhaps going through something of a transformation?

      It’s kind of ironic that a show literally about assassinating a world-destroying monster has become the feel-good show of the season. Anime, you’ve done it again.

      Happy to hear Kato is still rocking on! Now if I could only get someone to edit out all other parts of the show for me…

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  5. Aaand… the weekly wall o’ text…

    Aldnoah Zero ep 9; Well now, Slaine’s chickens have begun to come home to roost (he’s now got both princesses well and truly pissed at him) – and he’s slipping into the classic “to protect you I must kill you” madness.

    Kan Colle ep 10; It’s interesting that you see it as kinda CGDCT… While there’s certainly elements of that and SOL, I see it as more of “Magical Battle at Magical High” type show. Still, you’re correct in that it’s sometimes a struggle to watch, for me mostly due to the abundance of bland generic-ness. All too often it’s got the flaws endemic to the Magical High School genre and the flaws endemic to game adaptations, and the flaws of shows that absolutely must tick certain boxes to appease the pre-existing fanbase. But dammit, Fubuki-chan is just so earnest and kawaii…

    KimiUso ep20; commented on your blog entry this week.

    Koufuku Graffiti ep9; Back to SOL and food with an increasing heavy (platonic?) yuri subtext, basically what this show does best. One oddity, this felt more like a series finale than a prequel to the same… And when are they going to introduce the neighbor?

    Saekano ep8; Last week I thought the show stumbled by cutting Eriri’s arc short, but the writers were more clever than that – it was part one of a one-two punch, and the second punch was thrown with good deal of power behind it. A very good ep, but it again reminds me of how few episodes remain between now and ep 0. But I have increasing faith in the show.

    Shirobako ep 21; Hiraoka’s arc has been one of the best of the cour… And am I the only one who noticed Shizuka shushing Aoi when she tried to introduce her as a voice actress?

    No comment this week: Sailor Moon Crystal, The IDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls.

    Other news this week;

    Weekend before last, I was sick and flat on the couch, so I marathoned Love Live!. Very timely since you wrote a blog entry on it shortly thereafter.

    Started reading The Starting Point, the first volume of a two volume biographical anthology of Miyazaki. Frankly, it’s tough going as it’s not a conventional biography – it’s a collection of interviews, essays, and speeches. Good stuff, but hard to read, so it keeps getting set aside for other things. (Plus, the phrasing and pacing seems… off. Miyazaki-san has a unique way of expressing himself, which is some of it, but it also feels like the translator wasn’t too good or experienced.)

    Also – Sakura Con is just three weeks and change away and I’m starting to get excited. Got our hotel reservations and my lens rental in (I’m a photographer, and cosplay photography is a big part of why I go). I’ve started marking character shoots I want to go to, and am eagerly awaiting the schedule to come out so I can start picking panels.

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    • Man, I’m jealous! I’m not normally a big convention goer, but I really, really wish I could go to Sakura-con this year. Kana Ueda’s appearing as part of a BlazBlue panel, and there’s a Yuki Yuna screening event/Q&A with Haruka Terui (voice of Yuna-chan) and the show’s producer – those two things alone would make the whole weekend worth the trip for me.

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      • Fortunately, Sakura Con is our local con. 🙂 (We live just across the Sound from Seattle.)

        I’m so hoping that the dub doesn’t suck and that Netflix picks it up… I’d love to recommend it to some friends.

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    • KanColle: I think that blandness you describe is what makes KanColle feel like a CGCDT show to me. It’s almost rote in its unexceptional nature, but I find it quite comfortable and easy to watch in its predictability. Fortunately, the execution of the tropes is committed enough (and notably lacking in self-awareness) that it comes off more endearing than tedious to me.

      Shirobako: Nope, I noticed that, too. Another devastating moment courtesy of Zuka-chan. Aoi telling people her friend was an aspiring voice actress probably would have just made Zuka seem desperate, something she is, but can’t appear to be.

      And sweet, you’re heading off to a con! I live in the Midwest (and I’m a poor student), so cons are pretty much totally unavailable to me at this point in my life. Maybe someday! I think I’d have to have someone to go with, though.

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