Musings and Reflections – Summer 2016 Week 7

Orange (Ep. 7)

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    After finishing it I have basically one thought – I want more. It’s not that usual that an episode of an anime makes you both smile and think about almost shedding a tear. And frankly that wasn’t only this episode – strong feelings have been retained for a long time already and there’s very little that I could complain about. One of such things of course would be Naho’s refusal for no apparent reason to read the letter whole. I don’t know what kind of people read their letters only by one sentence at a time and resume only when it’s convenient in terms of progressing the story. Anyway, quite a few meaningful thoughts again could be gathered – like the notion that sometimes it’s difficult to help a person even when you want it very much but you just don’t know the way, don’t know the right words to say. And some words can really make a difference. Well, maybe I’m just still under the influence of watching an anime with something I haven’t seen before that I like it that much and maybe the spell will wear off after some time but for now I’m just happy I chose this show to watch among many others.

Tales of Zestiria the X (Ep. 6)

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   Weird. I don’t know who thought that 2 episode inclusion of practically unrelated stuff into an anime would be a good idea. That is if as the preview suggests, there will be no more Berseria (or Berseria related) episodes. Nonetheless in this way it’s just useless to talk about pacing, consistent character performance and other usual things. I understand that Velvet is the lead and on her own anime it would be at least ok but among other things – random jargon, random pieces of information and random events – it’s impossible to care about her as much as she looks to deserve. Not to mention a random (if that’s not random I don’t know what is) insertion of a witch who works as a comic relief and has a ridiculously long name but is useless at every frame. On itself the episode certainly looked good but my problem with CG still remained. The dragon looks anything but anime material. As in the last episode, the last few minutes were (also pretty random) AMV type of preview of the Berseria game. Again, unforeseen decisions of the staff leave me scratching my head once more.

Amaama to Inazuma (Ep. 7)

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   Yeah, after all, Tsumugi is just a child. It’s good to see (well, not exactly pleasant but rather fair) some domestic arguing that could have easily happened in any family. To make an argument both of the sides don’t have to be completely wrong. Some different perspectives on the same thing, oversights and not common preferences are just the stuff for such clashes, especially when on the one side stands an adult and on the other a child – differences in the worldview, different and incomparable experiences and situations when you can say only “yes, but…” make a very difficult road to understanding each other. Even when situations like this one happily ends with make some food together I’m quite amazed how Kouhei still manages to raise Tsumugi pretty well despite hundreds of problems. Well, I guess in the real world such a family normally wouldn’t be able to live as well but finding joy in little things and somehow living on through various difficulties with a smile and optimism is a strong message this anime carries.

91 Days (Ep. 7)

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    Seems that there is only one true mafia family in town. To be clearer, only one man, and that is Angelo. It’s difficult to guess if he is so smart after all or other guys don’t see a mastermind behind all the stuff and just trust in Angelo and get manipulated, or both. Having started his journey towards revenge on the Vanettis, Angelo looks to have done surprisingly well so far in making all of them suffer (or suffer and die). Family splitting (that of Fio’s and the Vanettis as the whole in the broader sense) looks to be one of Angelo’s better abilities. Especially in Fio’s case the border between good and bad deeds is very blurred and Angelo is getting more and more antihero-ish as the time goes by. When he will finally decide to pay the debt to Nero himself it’s going to be a very difficult time, and for the viewers maybe even more than for Angelo. Well, if he manages to get that far since his road to salvation is still very long – who knows what Fango may do at one point or another, what will don Vanetti do when the situation will become clearer, especially with Corteo who seems to have gotten a hold in the Vanetti family and that may prove to be a serious hindrance to Angelo because Corteo remains the nearest thing to his own family.

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Musings and Reflections – Summer 2016 Week 6

Orange (Ep. 6)

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   Again all the conversations between the friends feel so natural. Talking about petty stuff, everyday routines and just joking around sets the atmosphere really well. Hagita’s comment about Azu that without his glasses, his vision is so blurry that she looks like an angel is a great example of that – a tiny remark that in no way affects the story and once again cements the group and the viewer as someone who just might be one of the friends. As for the story developments, it’s still very hard for me to believe that older Naho just wrote “don’t invite Kakeru” and thought that her younger self would do that even not knowing the gravity of the situation. Is it so hard to write just one more line and make the request so much more easily accomplishable? Well, unless Naho had tried that in multiple timelines already and nothing worked – who knows what time travel stuff can lead to? Still, that’s just mine theory and unless it’s dis(proven), it doesn’t smell like a good storytelling. Usually I’m not the one to foretell twists in anime before they happen so the ending grabbed my attention even more. Even if I’m not sure if time travelling mix well with what Orange has already shown.

Tales of Zestiria the X (Ep. 5)

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    Well, I’m confused. Not as confused as when I first watched the episode and went straight to the forums and wikis to find something – anything that could explain what I had seen. It’s difficult not to have the slightest notion about what happened and why when I haven’t played any games of the series and started watching the show on a whim without any previous knowledge about anything in the universe of the story or plans of releasing new games or the ones released. Someone probably has the right to ask why the hell I’m watching it then and why the hell I am even complaining, but albeit I understand that the anime was given green light only as a form of an advertisement in the first place, I believe anime should be approachable to anyone regardless of the source material, either its form or its vastness. Anyway, the setting itself looked pretty interesting, even if the characters looked every bit like they originally belonged to a random conventional fantasy RPG. Still, that, the fact that the new storyline interrupted the old one very randomly and all the technical unexplained stuff (like various kinds of exorcists or whatever they were) aside Velvet could become an interesting character after all.

Amaama to Inazuma (Ep. 6)

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    A party with many people, eh? I’m all in. For some time I felt I was a bit bored because of nothing happening in the field of character development. Not that I expect anything extraordinary to happen – Kouhei will just become a more skilled cook and Tsumugi will appreciate that – that’s basically the outline of all the story. Surely I enjoy interactions between the daughter and the father but it was already time to add something yet unseen. Now when we have five people the need is fully satisfied, even if the latest two additions will not be featured very prominently, as they themselves noticed that they, being a lot better cooks than Kotori, Kouhei and Tsumugi, may mar the enjoyment of doing something by yourself for the first time. Really, when you become adept at something you just forget how everything looked when you started doing it and as it was probably for yourself long time ago, a new person in the field might experience much joy in accomplishing the tiniest feats that you no longer even notice and put very little effort into.

91 Days (Ep. 6)

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    This show and Orange – if they remain of the same quality as they have been, I’ll have a very difficult task to decide which of them I like more. Both feature very interesting stories, even if they are nothing to compare in terms of setting and characters, and suffer a bit because of not that flawless production. By the way, both of the last episodes featured some kind of a twist. The one in 91 days however was resolved and I can only applaud the writers – that’s how you make an imposing mafia related story. Still, I wonder if Angelo really should have told his true name so openly – a stray word from don Orco and all Angelo’s revenge might have gone to the litter bin. I doubt Nero, as trusting as he had become, would have let everything be. The segment with Fango and his cooking preferences probably was a bit over the top. It might have well suited Baccano but it’s not that believable in the more realistic world of this show. Not that I complain – Fango sure is entertaining.

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2016 Week 5

Orange (Ep. 5)

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     So, the elephant in the room that is all the time travelling stuff finally got addressed. Yet I can’t really say that that part seemed organically embedded in all the narrative. Just like you can’t simply cut a part of Steins;Gate and paste it in any high-school romance anime. Further explanations that are bound to happen may seem even more alien and I’m almost getting worried about it. Apart from that pretty strange element in terms of all the mood of the show I still continue to watch Orange with a smile on my face. Yes, it’s nothing special, but the group of friends just feels so genuine and lively. When love comes up in such a close knit circle some not very happy things may occur but these guys look very able to withstand it and to help each other whatever the cost. Returning to the time travelling, if the theory of multiverse is really true, I feel grateful because in some universes Naho will (hopefully) end up with Kakeru while in others she will remain with Suwa who is sure to have earned much respect.

Tales of Zestiria the X (Ep. 4)

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     When I try to listen to the dialogue and think I inevitably remember some RPG. The storytelling also clearly points out to the source material – all the NPCs (especially Mikleo and Lailah) assume guiding roles and tell the protagonist what he should do at a particular moment. I wouldn’t be very surprised if any of them would start telling which button combination I should use for Sorey to do one thing or another. And still I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not. Sticking to the original usually is a fine thing but I don’t know if this particular story as it is is suitable for anime medium. Final fight looks to be Sorey versus that Lord of Calamity (in other words a huge dragon) that will probably be an achievement in terms of CG in anime. CG in this show definitely looks as amazing as it could probably look anywhere but frankly for me it still doesn’t look organic with the 2D characters. Maybe Ufotable should have decided which they should do – a full CG anime or a usual one. In most cases nowadays CG is very easy to spot in any anime and if it isn’t used to create a specific feeling of dissonance within the world of the story it doesn’t really help to create immersive atmosphere, just as it’s with this show.

Amaama to Inazuma (Ep. 5)

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     A new character any time brings much freshness to a show and Amaama to Inazuma needed it. For now Yagi’s appearance wasn’t anything special but a possibility of some versatility in the narrative and opportunities to progress the story that happens between cooking lessons is a welcome addition. I wonder if I could decipher one particular segment of the OP and guess that Yagi will befriend that one friend of Kotori. Cooking with more characters may be an improvement. Another improvement that already happened – it was the first time as I remember that Kouhei and Kotori messed up something beyond repair. That adds a little more to the realism as truly pretty much anything that involves baking or cooking may turn amiss if you are inexperienced or don’t pay close attention. Anyway, the show still doesn’t fail to bring a smile upon my face because of little exaggerations – you don’t usually become so excited when something you are doing succeeds but the characters seem totally immersed in their work and experience every little success to the fullest. Truly, what can be better than to see someone so overjoyed when their efforts pay off so well?

91 Days (Ep. 5)

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    91 Days returns to the mafia business. This episode again showed how complicated that might be – yesterday’s enemies turning into uncertain allies for an offer of a very risky and nearly impossible job to be done in exchange, a brother is content with sacrificing his sibling for the good of the family without even consulting others… Yep, it’s a spiderweb and a marsh that the characters should walk very carefully. And of course Angelo can’t forget his revenge. Probably the most important development lately has been Nero’s notion that “Avillio certainly won’t betray us”. I would be glad if it would be possible to make our revenger content while also retaining Nero alive. Well, since don Vanetti is out of the reach and the fourth member of the killing party is yet to be named, Nero’s friendship is one of the most important treasures of Angelo. Out of all I watch this season, this show certainly has the most potential to make things interesting and to drive the story any way it wants while retaining the right atmosphere and this beautifully complicated world of mafia.

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2016 Week 4

     Well, yeah, I know it’s all stale stuff but my Internet connection hasn’t been very friendly with me for some time. I doubt these thoughts will be interesting after all this time but anyway, just for the record:

Orange (Ep. 4)

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      It almost seems like Naho was able to read some of my complaints and address them right away. Even though we still don’t know much how Naho’s character changed during all those later years and the circumstances of her writing the letter, it’s still good that her younger self finally admitted that being forced to do anything without even considering how difficult or even undoable it might be is not a very pleasant situation to be in. Suwa again showed some skills in understanding people a bit better than his peers and it feels very consistent with the fact that he and Naho got married in the later storyline. Still, the most unexpected and ridiculous scene proved to be that of Kakeru’s confession that Naho couldn’t understand correctly. How else? Anyway, it’s just a gender swapped version of pretty much every romcom when not the brightest protagonist is left awkwardly and the girl after her confession runs away. Production remains on a verge of becoming a problem. I just couldn’t not notice some CG students walking around or just doing stuff. Yes, it’s probably cheaper this way and better than to have still backgrounds or only sketch level animation, but still.

Tales of Zestiria the X (Ep. 3)

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   Oh man, I just didn’t expect anything so similar to a typical mahou shoujo transformation. Yes, it’s probably cool when you play the game, but considering all the realism (if that’s even worth the effort), do you really need to change your clothes when you start using a magical sword? Sorey’s backstory doesn’t interest me the most of all the things that are yet to be told, but some explanation why he alone of all the people can see the Seraphim would be very welcome as soon as possible. Also, it was a bit weird to see that Sorey’s main motivation of becoming a Shepherd was to explore all the caves in the world. He just was content with the thought that as a side job he could pretty much save the world. And last but not least another quite odd thing – I mentioned some time ago that Kotori from Amaama to Inazuma shared the same VA with Shirayuki and that brought back many memories. It appears that as Shirayuki’s voice and personality was sent to Amaama to Inazuma, her body found a place in this show. What will happen during the next season?

Amaama to Inazuma (Ep. 4)

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      It didn’t look a very long episode but I can’t say that I was just glued to the screen and couldn’t think of anything else while watching it. The episode was basically a cooking solution facing the problem of Tsumugi don’t enjoying green peppers. When I think of it, I didn’t fancy some vegetables very much myself while I was a kid but such a problem now seems quite unusual. Probably the worst thing I can say of any vegetable (with very few exceptions) is that it might have no taste at all (tastes like soap as the saying in my country goes). As this problem doesn’t appear in my life I can’t say the episode was very touching. Still, it emphasized the single father situation even more and added some more realism. Apart from that, Kotori’s classmate that shows up in the OP finally made her appearance but it was of no consequence. Frankly, the show more and more resembles a recipe book and even if I’m not against it, at least some more original or unexpected framework would make enjoyment levels higher.

91 Days (Ep. 4)

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     That was very enjoyable in quite an unexpected way. The episode didn’t follow that quite complicated mafia family storyline and was centered on travelling of Nero and Angelo. I’m quite surprised how much was told – some joking around with kids, Nero’s memories of his first job (of course it being the obliteration of Angelo’s family), that Mexican guy and all the stuff with him. The episode felt a bit unusual compared to the previous ones but that isn’t something unrequired. More jokes than usual were used and were placed pretty well. “Show don’t tell“ philosophy was explored effectively portraying, say, Angelo’s reaction to Nero’s story or a weird sympathy that I felt around the end for the Mexican’s dog. Angelo, even he knows some tricks to make children laugh, tries to distance himself from Nero as far as possible but I doubt he’ll remain as determined to take his revenge since Nero’s outgoing personality makes him look in more of a positive light despite anything he had done as a mafia family member.