Musings and Reflections – Spring 2016 Week 13

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Ep. 11)

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     Eye candy – that’s what the episode was. Wit Studio just knows how to visualize elevated emotions. The soundtrack also managed to deepen the meanings of the scenes very well. Sadly the story is not so polished – somehow the fact that Ikoma after his fall is not only safe and sound but he even hasn’t lost his glasses makes all his emotions feel a bit stale. Biba somehow managed transform from very dangerous and therefore bound and guarded prisoner to unbound controller of the scene, as if not one guard was able to escape all the panic and deal with him. Some effectiveness was lost transitioning from “gotta save everyone as fast as possible” to “nah, I’d rather cut my hair”. Anyway, with all pros and cons, the show deserves praise for being enjoyable. I’m already in my mind savouring all the visuals of the culmination. Even if the story’s end fails to impress, it’ll certainly look pretty damn good.

Sakamoto desu ga? (Ep. 11)

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     I’m very unsatisfied. Just how dumb people must be to want to go one-on-one with Sakamoto after countless times of failure? Why would anyone guess that a slightly melting snowball has some gunpowder within? Quite weird that we didn’t get a whole shot of Sakamoto’s snowman (I guess, snowwoman), if she was that big of a deal. Directing is also a bit lacking – any motion is just minimal and you can clearly see that it’s pretty much just manga panels with very little motion added. The whole episode is just a slow build up so Acchan could face Sakamoto (and lose miserably – how else?) thus maintaining Fukase as a grand villain who uses others to achieve his goals. Still, we have already seen countless times how Sakamoto overcomes everything and anything, so even starting to develop possible matches is leading virtually nowhere. I just haven’t seen anything that would point into Fukase being the least bit dangerous for Sakamoto or Acchan being even marginally competent to do anything. Oh well, looks like the next episode will be the last.

Flying Witch (Ep. 11)

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     I don’t know what the writer was thinking (and eating) to come up with a living (I guess?) and flying whale made of rocks that used to have some people living on it. Nonetheless, it was quite stunning. Even the CG of the whale looked pretty well. Yes, you can perceive that it’s not hand drawn, but it blended well with everything but gave the whale some otherwordly quality. I guess these days when CG still can’t replace the usual animation, it works the best when used to emphasize some creatures or things that are a bit alien to the majority of the setting. Speaking about other things, bringing Anzu back was a great idea – this town is just too small for all the characters not to run into each other from time to time. The episode managed to include moments of everyday life and some magical stuff – the main qualities that make Flying Witch a bit unique compared to other slice of life shows.

Flying Witch (Ep. 12)

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     Well, not very finale-esque, but I guess that’s only appropriate for a slice of life series. Many of the side characters earned a glimpse though overall nothing exceptional happened. Some fabric shopping and sewing looked very mundane, but that was bested by another appearance of pretty random creatures – earth fish that can also be air fish and like sake with some snacks. You probably can’t get more random than that. It would be hilarious if they can’t live in water. Still, weird as they are, they fit in the world of the Flying Witch and organic atmosphere which the show can clearly boast of is one of the crucial characteristic of a slice of life series. The show ended, but shots during the end-credits just screamed asking for a one more episode dedicated to the festival. And not only that – a second season would be a great present for anyone who enjoys healing anime and manages not to see Flying Witch as boring.

Musings and Reflections – Spring 2016 Week 12

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Ep. 10)

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      Well, that was quite a heavy episode, even for this show. Backgrounds further emphasized that, when after claustrophobic train interior very impressionistic looking sky was shown a few times. Not that I fail to notice the beauty of the backgrounds other times. Going to the meat of the episode, Takumi’s death was unexpected, but it was probably for the best – the guy might have more impact being dead than alive, even if the death itself wasn’t that emotionally effective since Takumi wasn’t the most developed character. I don’t know what goes in Mumei’s head, but it’s pretty weird – having explicitly stated that Biba is a liar and seen what he’s up to, she simply does nothing, remains Biba’s pet and looks genuinely happy when told that Biba won’t hurt his captives if they behave. Well, I’m not sure what’s the best way of action for her, but girl, you can run away, you can free the captives, you can do millions of things, anything but remain dancing to the tune of Biba. By the way, does anyone believe that Ikoma died?

Sakamoto desu ga? (Ep. 10)

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     Again, quite a mixed feeling about this one. I probably sound like a broken record, but the first part made a better impression in manga. Some jokes are just not that good when heard for a second time. Schubert was better off without sound – the actual singer’s voice differed too much from Sakamoto’s usual voice to be believable, the burp in the end also looked better in theory. Some moments are better imagined and conveying them can very easily break the spell of the whole joke. Moving to the second half, it was far more interesting to see that not only Sakamoto can think in this show. Hayabusa turned out to be not a rival but probably the most likeable and realistic person in the whole show. Nitpicking about only-in-anime moments (yep, two persons in the same coat certainly can look like one) aside, this episode provided not only some usual laughs, but also a bit of emotional hint, that when present, makes the show far more effective.

Joker Game (Ep. 12)

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      Well, talk about some anticlimactic ending. The episode was everything except a finale with all the answers and farewells to the characters. Oh wait, Joker Game hardly had any interesting characters. The only thing that may have hinted that this was the finale was some shots of all the spies together. Apart from that it was just an ordinary story. Yes, it’s good to see that not every one of the group was able to live the hard life of a spy, but please, put those things in some other place, not the last episode. Some women also may have been presented a reason to be offended as Yuuki generalizes abilities of both genders not that justly. What can I say? A man died, a man resigned, a man finally finished the series and is quite glad it ended with though some bitter aftertaste is left.

Musings and Reflections – Spring 2016 Week 11

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Ep. 9)

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      Biba’s philosophy has been grounded by his actions, but I’m not sure if his perspective makes any sense. Yes, he’s a bad guy and I don’t agree with him, but his position doesn’t sound like it makes much sense, even in his point of view. Ok, he’s grudging over some past thing and because of that all the genocide should be seen as a revenge. Still, if he’s up to destroying all the cities, where would his resources come up from? How come none of his subordinates think anything about killing fellow humans and styling it as a liberation? Is it really worth to set Mumei against Biba himself – some brotherly love filled words and probably he would have had one more Kabaneri at his side. I’d think it as an advantage, even if Biba doesn’t give a fig about her. By the way, how could a giant pile of dead bodies smash down a brick wall? Well, all the action was here, but the progression of the story somehow didn’t move me very much. After all, all the massacre we have seen before and this episode brought in very few new developments. Probably setting Biba up as someone more of a tragic hero and not a mad villain would have been a more interesting choice.

Sakamoto desu ga? (Ep. 9)

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     To be frank, I was bored. Comedy wasn’t the shiniest thing this time and apart from that… Well, I guess finding out how some girls (and Kubota, how without him?) met Sakamoto again speaks about his originality and not that ordinary way of thinking when it comes to helping others, but we’ve seen that. Yes, it may be cute, or worth some applause, but Sakamoto has done way more entertaining deeds than that. Moving to the second part, was I supposed to get emotionally invested into some middle-aged housewife chasing high-schoolers? Changing genders by different clothing without anyone noticing is possible only in fiction. And really, what was the use of this segment? Watching someone showing some restraint towards something they shouldn’t do seems a good idea in theory, but I just don’t care about our housewife. Sometimes the show manages to throw some quite well made  a tad emotional stuff or some ideas about morality between its usual bits of comedy, but this time I’m sorry – for me it didn’t work.

Flying Witch (Ep. 10)

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     I must be in quite a grumpy mood this week, for even my favorite show of the season didn’t manage to impress as much as always. Somehow I just felt disengaged, especially in the first half. I think the best Flying Witch has to offer is interactions between its characters (which of course were present this time and were pretty enjoyable), some light-hearted comedy (which was not that apparent) and all the everyday life of a small town with all the nature and some magical stuff around. All these things were absent from the first half, so maybe that’s why it felt a bit filler-ish. All the apple-tree narrative was a lot closer to my liking, as all the lush scenery got time to shine, but it wasn’t really something as interesting as many things we have seen before. Only 2 episodes are left and I’d appreciate very much something a bit bigger in scale, to make a finale to be remembered, if it’s possible while not straying too far from the usual mood.

Joker Game (Ep. 11)

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     For once Joker Game showed that the life of a spy isn’t always rose-colored. Even if that comes from a fairly unpredictable accident and not from some professional hazards. Also, another quite satisfying piece of news is some scraps of the true backstory of Yuuki. As if the show itself has finally thought that cheating its viewers isn’t the best way to attract them. On the other hand, I’m not totally convinced that all of this story could possibly happen in the real life. The show loves conveniences, and this time wasn’t different. I doubt that German agents would have searched all the body thoroughly and missed the microfilm. What about Yuuki coming directly to retrieve it? Would he do the same thing for another spy half a world away? And all the circumstances that allowed him to see the body alone are very fortune based. Yet, aside from all those ramblings the episode had its own flavor and wasn’t my least favorite one.

Musings and Reflections – Spring 2016 Week 10

Flying Witch (Ep. 9)

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     And that was as good an episode as any. Despite the episodic nature, I really appreciate all the ties that connect separate stories together – some reminiscences about the last episode, an appearance of Inukai and a mention of the Mandrake this time. Quite funny that all these ties add a lot of realism to a show whose main character (and not her alone) is a witch. This week all the events weren’t that memorable, but all the little scenes and funny outcomes made up for that more than enough – chemistry between Al the hamster (or whatever he is) and Chito, Akane’s sleeping poses and all the part about Nao being Kei’s girlfriend, pretty useless gifts from Burkina Faso, even the breast size joke somehow didn’t feel out of place and that doesn’t happen that often. Well, if you need an example of a healing anime – you need not look any further. I just would like to know at least something more about all the witch stuff.

Joker Game (Ep. 10)

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     There have been worse episodes. As even the poorest attempts of overarcing plot were buried last week, we are back at one-story-at-a-time format. The whole time is spent digging the backstory of Yuuki, who is the most recurring character and practically the best we could hope to get in a place of a protagonist. Still, an old menacing guy who just sits in the shadows and appears only to give a dramatic speech and show that it’s him behind all the spies is not what I would call a very likeable character whose backstory would be worth investigating. Yes, it makes more sense emotionally than to have a backstory of any of the spies, but still. And, when the end of the episode comes, it appears that all the things that were being dug up during this whole time may or just simply may not be true. Talk about rewarding experience. Yes, it shows how Yuuki has planned everything and that he’s a spy-god but come on. As a side note, by the end I somehow felt a bit fond of this Westerner spy and somehow was relieved that he pretty much escaped. Well, it’s virtually impossible to see him again. Oh well.

     On a completely unrelated note, these past weeks have been quite full of various things for me to do and that doesn’t look likely to change for some time. Sad as it is, watching anime has taken probably more than a back seat in my schedule, but everything passes away sooner or later, so as soon as free time is back on the menu in larger portions, my blogging activity will resume. Especially since I’ve been gathering some ideas for a while that just need to be elaborated and written down. Well, have a nice day!

Musings and Reflections – Spring 2016 Week 9

Flying Witch (Ep. 8)

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     I didn’t expect a continuation from the last episode, but it happened, and as always, it wasn’t a disappointment. Well, it was not as interesting an episode as the last one for sure – the setting stayed the same, some random hosts and guests appeared and I would have loved to learn a lot more about those instead of just seeing them. I guess at this point the mangaka was still building up the world with many future possibilities so more characterization will be left for manga readers only. Well, not that I don’t enjoy the show. At least it was good to hear some references to past events – Harbinger of Spring and  the Mandrake incidents both. The fox scene was made a lot funnier to me by one particular song that also questioned the sound of fox-speech. I wonder if the mangaka has heard it.  The part after credits felt a bit random, but maybe that’s just Akane for you – playing with enhanced food coloring and stuff.

Joker Game (Ep. 9)

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     I bet there was hardly a single person who would have questioned the survival of the D-Agency. As always, whatever the opponents think, Yuuki and his lads are just a step (or maybe more like a mile) ahead. Yes, it’s cool to have some intelligent spies, but when they succeed no matter what there’s no joy of accomplishment. I certainly wasn’t rooting for the other agency, but neither did I for Yuuki’s guys. Well, maybe a little, but just because in terms of likeable, charming and fascinating characters D-Agency scores 1% compared to 0% of their opponents. It’s not that I feel the need to empathize with the Agency, the show just mildly suggests that “well, if you have nothing else to do, then maybe, just maybe, you could like them. Please?”. Conveniences don’t help either – how would the “student” have known exactly what antidote to take? And that he needed an antidote or not say, a bullet-proof vest? I guess that was Joker Game probably at its worst. Surely next week there will be an improvement, right? Right?

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Ep. 8)

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      The conflict appears and escalates. A bit more about Mumei’s past is revealed, but even if she wholeheartedly accepted Biba’s philosophy back then, it doesn’t seem very bright of her to follow him unquestionably even now. Yes, he (in her thought) made her strong and therefore alive. Yet, Mumei has traveled a long way with the Koutetsujou crew and actually helped them. Her role as a bodyguard in this light doesn’t really follow the philosophy that only strong survive and you must become strong yourself to remain alive. Mumei has shown that she is not the most clever girl, but doesn’t her beliefs and her actions feel contradicting? Blindly serving a man and unquestionably following his orders while his reasoning doesn’t really work? If the brother himself was such a fan of strong people, why his whole train is not stuffed with Kabaneri? We know who the villain is, but still Ikoma’s judging a person only by one action without any context wasn’t the smartest decision. Apart from all the tension the most interesting thing for me will be the unveiling of what exactly happened all those years ago that made Biba wanted dead.

Sakamoto desu ga? (Ep. 8)

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     Somehow this week I wasn’t drawn in at all. No matter what villains the show will try to throw at Sakamoto – be it his classmates at first, Mr. 8823 later and now this Fukase guy – there’s no question if they all will be defeated. Yes, there’s some intrigue in how exactly that will happen, but still, any attempt to build any suspense is doomed from the start. Yes, the series is a comedy and I know that logic is not the main aspect, but for example, those two bad classmates behave like a bunch of idiots – why would you blurt out anything before even looking who stands behind the door? Hayabusas’s rescue party appeared out of nowhere, not to mention no one even spotting Sakamoto’s disguise as a tree. I get it, that’s exactly the point, but that’s just not my kind of humor – it’s more silly than funny. The show is really difficult to become invested emotionally in when the main guy is just an all-perfect alien and among others there’s just hardly anyone with either enough brain or enough characterization. There’s just no one for me to cheer on, to identify as or just to feel like a friend with. I guess I just have a different mindset than any of them.