Anime Weekly: Winter 2016, Week 9

In which things, aside from one prominent outlier, stay mostly the same.

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime

Someday, I will learn to leave inferior sequel series alone and just rewatch good things. Today is not that day. But, lest you get the wrong idea from the combination of this opening paragraph and the lead image, let me note that Akagami no Shirayuki-hime is unequivocally not one of those shows. In the last few weeks I feel my thoughts on Shirayuki-hime have really started to come together in a coherent fashion, and if I have get out of this blogging slump I’m in, I think I’ll have some really substantive to say on the series as a whole once it’s finished. In particular,the idea of unchanging people has been recurring with far more frequency than I expected it to, confirmed that Shirayuki-hime‘s chief concerns are not really those of “telling a story,” per se. It’s not even what I would consider “character driven,” as it seems more interested in changing the world around Zen, Shirayuki, and the others than in changing them.

I think that’s okay. Good, even. We humans are kind of terrified of stasis (and not for good reason), but the facts are that the changes we experience are constantly minor—and constant. This is the kind of reality Shirayuki-hime depicts, the little ups and downs of relationships. In this week’s episode, specifically (and aside from Ando’s continued use of the window motif), the real highlight for me was the moment when Shirayuki says she wasn’t worried about the marriage interview. It’s a recognizable impulse, to downplay your own emotional turmoil to keep a strong face, but in this case in backfires when it causes Zen confusion and worry. Of course, they work out the misunderstanding and reconcile, but that little motion of weak humanity… I loved it. And I love this show. This is one of the “sames.”

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

Grimgar is another show that’s dealing with the little piece of humanity that bump up against each other (although I don’t love it the same way I love Shirayuki-hime). And the fact that it’s coming via Ranta is cool, because Ranta doesn’t really deserve it, all things considered. He’s a jerk, hard to work with, and thoughtless. His perspective on the party is the antithesis of what Haruhiro is trying to create in the void Manato left, but just because he’s different doesn’t mean he’s entirely wrong. He’s certainly not completely right, but neither is Haruhiro. The really interesting thing about the situation, as I see it, is that Haruhiro’s ideas about being a party and a group of friends necessarily means that he’s inclined to give ground to Ranta, but Ranta’s ideas mean he’s never going to do the same. It’s an uneven, and Ranta’s a fool if he thinks they can continue on like this without serious consequences down the line. But, to some extent, you have to feel for Ranta—the way he is now, he’s likely not going to be happy, no matter where he goes or who he’s with. (This is another “same.” Duck.)

Yume continues to be a joy, かな~.

This week the subs for MahoPri got released earlier than normal, which means I have two episodes (5 & 6) to talk about! Although… both episodes kind of covered the same ground, so that doesn’t mean I have twice as much to say. It’s not a bad thing, though, as we’re continuing to explore Riko’s insecurities as a magician. Precure isn’t really a show you should go to for nuanced characterization and journeys, but it still typically does a really nice job of taking its characters seriously and sympathetically. I think Riko’s character is such that she could hover dangerously close to being insufferable, but the material with her sister this week was a nice pivot from her tantrum from last week. I don’t expect she’ll ever entirely give up her mild tsun traits, but I think we’ll likely see a much more confident, fun-to-watch Riko in future weeks. Now for some Mirai drama… (Duck.)

It’s been a long time since Rakugo Shinju has been this far down the list and I want you all to know that is in no way a judgement on Rakugo‘s quality this week. After last week’s vivid colors and flaring emotions of separation, anger, and pain, this week was all about the stark and drab and empty appearance of loneliness. It wasn’t just Kiku’s climactic performance and his willing(?), thankful(?) adoption of solitude, but everything about the way the episode was shot and handled. From Kiku’s rejection of the student to the current (now deceased) generation’s Yakumo’s death and guilt over his name, Rakugo plumbed into the depths of isolation—but it seems it can only stay there so long, for humans are built to be in community with each other. And so we see Kiku take a break from his beloved rakugo to seek out Sukeroku and Miyokichi… what will he find there? A child. The sheer product of human togetherness, no matter what pain it was borne out of. (Duck.)

(Goose!) The outlier appears! It’s Konosuba! As I said in the comments last week, you guys were wise to warn me of episode 9. It was… huh, not quite as bad as I was expecting it to be, but it was still deeply uncomfortable in many ways. To be honest, I do think there was more to this episode than just off-the-rocker uncontrolled fanservice and nasty attitudes, but what was there was buried somewhat deep. There was almost a sense of bitterness to the scene of Kazuma in the succubus shop and the scene with Darkness in the path was profoundly horrid without gloss. Somewhere in there, with all the “pick your sexual perversion” and the “inability to distinguish between dream fantasy and reality, and the ugly effects thus enacted on a real person” and the “boy guards the fetishized deliverer of his sexual fantasy form actual women” is a pretty scathing, maybe even angry, critique of otaku sexuality, but I think it unfortunately got lost in the execution. So it goes.

GATE S2 10 Shandy Pout

The rest of the week, as I’ve said, kind of held par for the course. ERASED started really nicely (so nicely that I actually wrote my weekly column for Crunchyroll on it!), but then dove straight into emotionally empty (albeit it totally fun) thriller camp. Haikyuu!! continues to use three-deep flashback in the most tension-breaking way possible, while Durarara!! x2 spun its wheels for yet another week. I couldn’t honestly tell you what happened in this week’s GATE besides Lelei being good and Shandy (whose name I finally learned by tweeting it a whole lot) being good, too.

And that about covers it for me. I’ve banned myself from playing video games during the week to keep myself more productive, so I’ve gotten back on track with Dennou Coil and have started Gunbuster (which I kind of wanted to do a weekly series on, but my early impressions are that it wouldn’t hold up to that kind of analysis well). I’m also clipping through Puchimas, which is delightful if you’re an idolm@ster fan, and eying finishing up the second half of Fullmetal Panic soon.

That’s about all from me, but here’s a picture of a robot balancing on one foot with tires on its head.

 

Gunbuster

8 thoughts on “Anime Weekly: Winter 2016, Week 9

  1. I agree about KonoSuba: it read to me as well as a satire on certain attitudes rampant in anime fandom/otaku culture, but it undermined its own message with that Kasuma/Darkness encounter.

    Erased meanwhile seems to have gone into its plot resolution phase and the villain comes as no surprise, but the crudity with which it was all set up stood in contrast to the first half of the episode. I don’t think it ruined the series, but it is a reminder that at heart it remains a thriller first.

    Grimgar: what to do about a problem called Ranta? I do like how he isn’t just a jerk, but a jerk with a point, even if perhaps in the long term his contributions to the party do not weight up to his awkwardness in working together.

    Two series that haven’t gotten much love from anime bloggers, Oshiete Galko-chan! and Nijiro Days, continue to impress in being able to create new humour or drama out of the well worn high school setting. The first is one of the most honest depictions of actual teenage conversations in anime, the second is more conventional, but handles high school romances realistically, rather than going for the same cliches every other series has gone for.

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    • Ranta strikes home with me, as I’ve known folks like him over the years… Not really willing to be part of the group, but more than willing and able to pull his own weight. As much as you want them around for the latter, the former makes the whole experience unpleasant. Grimgar once again goes above and beyond by bringing things out into the light that other shows just let slide.

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    • Hit ‘Post’ too fast… need a second cuppa joe.

      Yeah, Erased 10 stands out from what has come before by being rather crude in it’s execution – and by introducing a cliffhanger we already know the resolution of. Or, maybe we don’t… They’ve already shown us that timelines can be changed, as the details of Kayo’s death changed between his first and second jumps in time.

      Going to watch 11 later this afternoon with great interest.

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  2. I love how realistic Grimgar is, especially the exchanges between Haruhiro and Ranta.

    Sure, Ranta doesn’t want to ‘play’ the all lets-be-friends-and-do-this-together thing, but he himself know this, even admits it. I’m also willing to guess that he knows about the consequences of his ‘unfriendliness’, which is why he make sure he can pull his own weight in the party, and do his role sufficiently well. Not to forget that he was pretty shaken up when Manato died, even though he acted like it doesn’t matter at all.

    Him choosing to be the one who can handle an enemy by himself (and as a secondary tank) might stem from his unwillingness to be buddy-buddy with the rest of the party, and honest it might just be the best way for him to contribute. He doesn’t need to add more to the already high level of friction in the party by being forced to fight side by side with others.

    I think his wishes are to be respected. If someone just doesn’t want to be friends, you cannot force him/her. Would it be great if he’s willing to fully accept them as friends? Of course. But it doesn’t mean that he’s bad if he do what he is supposed to be doing.

    He’s still a jerk with his attitude, but I think that’s as far as it goes, if he can continue to play his role well in the party that is.

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  3. I think one can legitimately argue about Akagami’s lack of dynamism or ‘interesting plot’, but I don’t mind, and I’m not even really enamored by the Shirayuki-Zen ‘ship (or any kind of ships in this anime). There’s just something distinct and organic in the way these characters interact and support and each other. I do wish for more spotlight on the herbalist team tho, really like all of them.

    Out of curiosity, what “kind of analysis” you’re looking to do at the moment (and/or for what kind of show)?

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  4. This week in anime and manga, I:

    …enjoyed She and Her Cat 2

    …enjoyed Marshmallow 10

    …enjoyed Aokana 10

    …liked Konosuba 9 apparently quite a bit more than you did. Not that it wasn’t uncomfortable – it was – but a situation like Kazuma put them all in should be uncomfortable, and for what the episode was trying to accomplish I thought it largely succeeded. My opinion of it is pretty close to the writeup from Rabujoi’s reviewer here: https://rabujoi.wordpress.com/2016/03/09/konosuba-09/

    …moved Dimension W to my drop list, as I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t watched it since week 3 and didn’t feel like going back

    …started re-watching Madoka Magica after I saw that your buddy Bobduh’s begun doing episodic reviews on it, and was quickly reminded of just how ridiculously good it is, which made me once again feel very happy that I’m a magical girl fan and get to enjoy shows like that

    …stared wistfully at Rakugo Shinju on my CR list and resolved not to fall any further behind

    …noticed that our brand new copies of the Food Wars manga were starting to arrive at my library. So I borrowed the first four volumes, devoured them all in about three days, put my name on the list for the next batch, and am now even more hyped for season 2 this summer

    (side note: Food Wars is one of seven manga that I’ve suggested to our library’s YA materials buyer in the last three months, along with Assassination Classroom, Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun, A Silent Voice, Orange, Yowamushi Pedal, and One-Punch Man – so far she’s bought all of them except YowaPeda. My anime club kids often complained about how outdated our manga collection is, so they’re very happy with me right now.)

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    • (Ridiculously behind again, the consequence of having an actual social life… so this week, I’ll just be commenting.)

      If you haven;t read Orange, I highly commend it to you – especially with an anime adaptation coming down the pike.

      We also picked up She and Her Cat, and though it’s rough in spots it’s still very much worth watching. Ep 3 hits even harder than 2.

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