Musings and Reflections – Fall 2017 Week 7

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Ep. 7)

     For a show that’s about nothing, this one certainly is enjoyable. Nothing happens but it’s totally alright. Walking a lot and baking bread can be described in a few words but as strange as it is, almost half an hour of it didn’t bother me at all. Right from the get go when a close-up of Chi is shown, we immediately recognize that she’s balancing, remember that she’s afraid of heights and wonder what kind of situation the girls are in. It’s surprisingly informative given that we see only Chi who moves only a little, and the surroundings remain shaded. Well, the surroundings. It’s quite funny because I remembered that ancient Windows screensaver with constantly moving 3D pipes. I’ve already said it, but continuity in slice of life shows usually is a great thing, and Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou manages to provide that. One or two references to past events don’t steal much time but instead make the story far more grounded. These loaves of bread for example – we immediately recall all the characters that we’ve seen so far plus that fish. The last one (Chi-shaped) also references that weird stone statues, so it’s both a reference and a comedic moment. For such a show various details are invaluable and I’m glad that this anime understands it well.

Kino no Tabi (Ep. 7)

     I can’t say I hated the episode but it certainly wasn’t likable. To start from the beginning, it’s not the first time that Kino in a show called Kino’s Journey plays a third-rate supporting character at best. In principle the show is not about Kino but about various countries that she experiences but only Kino is a tie between different episodes. The only way a viewer can be kept engaged is to find some likable people in the show, and the old anime tackled that way better, devoting an episode to Kino’s backstory. There however it’s not the case. For the newcomers to Kino’s world Kino probably seems a very bland girl whom it’s extremely hard to root for because we just barely see her and when we do, she only shoots people. This problem is even more acute with Shishou. There’s no indication whatsoever to who she might be to Kino and why should we care for her in the first place. I don’t even have to say that the older Shishou had a far more dignified presence in the old show – in this one she seemed just like an old hag. Again, why should I invest my time into seeing adventures of an old hag when she was young? Ok, moving to the actual episode. I can’t say if that companion of Shishou really did something illegal or he was just framed but the rescue operation was incredibly off-putting. First of all, was it really a better choice to stay back rather flamboyantly instead of running right away or hiding in some place? Yep, that ultimately let the pair to regain their valuables but that came with a cost of maiming people. I can’t stand this stance that if Shishou didn’t kill people it’s completely ok – she just brutally crippled a couple dozen of them. Do you really think it’s justifiable to make lots of people disabled only to get some of your stuff back? I don’t even mention how incompetent the police was. Come on, there’s only a couple of dudes (with overpowered shooting ability but that’s beside the point). How can you maintain public order if you lose all your morale and run away after a few bullets strike your shield? You have these huge shields for a reason, dammit. And don’t even tell me it’s actually “bad guys saw that they were doing wrong, repented and did wrong no more. The country prospered and everyone was happy”. Including lots of people in wheelchairs, yeah.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 7)

     Whoa, a pretty great episode. I’ve been waiting for that Dog-guy to appear for some time (well, since the OVAs) and appear he does. To be frank, each of big-and-unnatural-dude-shows-up moments were very powerful. At first the presence of the Dog felt mysterious and dignified – just what you need for a memorable arc, but only after a short while that spider-like creature attacked Chise. I remembered that amazingly animated spirit-boar from Mononoke Hime, and that alone speaks of quality. Humanizing sorcerers was also a right choice – a great opponent always should have his own problems and be relatable to some extent. And it’s so simple but effective – one short scene that lets you think what would’ve happened if not that Alice girl but Chise herself had been bought by the sorcerer. It’s a bit sad to say but the two above mentioned mystical creatures (as effectively as they were presented) were overshadowed by Elias. It’s no wonder that such a being has problems being a human. Well, it might just be his exterior and inside he’s just indifferent and calculating person, but at least the fact that he’s distressed enough to become like this speaks that he does value Chise maybe not as a fellow human yet  but as an asset that he’d rather keep undamaged to say the least. I wish more episodes had such strong moments when I can forget the comedy scenes that thankfully weren’t added to this arc (yet). Also the setting is as beautiful as ever. So yeah, eagerly awaiting the next ep.

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 20)

     The episode was divided in two parts and the first one was not that bad. More insights into Akira’s past make her a far better character. Still I’m disappointed that we didn’t see how exactly Akira turned from a shy and envious admirer to a snake-tongued villain. There had to be some specific point that made her start actively bullying Chinatsu. Akira still cares about Chinatsu and I find it weird that even after all these harsh words she still hopes that Chinatsu will see her not only as a worthy competitor but also as a friend. Also it’s suspicious that Chinatsu at one point just ignores Akira and later on cheers on her. Not to mention that some time ago when Akira was first introduced, Chinatsu clearly was very susceptible to Akira’s manipulations. To put it in other words, major developments happening off-screen and not being consistent in terms of relationships are problematic if you want to have a good story. Anyway, even with everything I’ve said already, the second part was played mainly for the comedy, and not the very best one. Akira’s clinging to Chinatsu, her partner’s daughter’s behavior, all that pseudo-yaoi Hyoudo stuff – it all feels out of sync with the more or less emotional and serious beginning. Also, how can Tatara be sad that he lost one mark in the round? Seeing how many mistakes they made I’m even surprised they advanced at all.

Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau (Ep. 7)

     Well, that was actually boring despite the grandiose music. You can try as much as you will but nothing will matter if the characters aren’t likable enough (yep, I’m repeating myself but only because Kino no Tabi has the same problems), and that’s the main issue. Some guys like Chakuro and Lykos are ok but no more than that. On the other hand that pink-haired dude is so obnoxious and hateable that no matter how likable, no one can evoke equal amount of positive emotions. Everybody else are simply discardable. As with the first slaughter, when you know what to expect, everybody except Suououououou, Chakuro, Lykos and Ouni were already red-flagged even before the expedition began. And to be able to guess that correctly is boring. Was I meant to care when that old guy who some time ago preached mass suicide was killed? Why all the tears, I might even be content that there will be less characters with questionable decision-making skills. All these fight scenes don’t look particularly inspired. What’s so interesting in a fight when you can’t see anything? And people are just running here and there without any thought of taking a cover. Well, the expedition itself wasn’t that better. I appreciate that the show at least tries to rectify the power misbalance by stating that Whalers’ Thymia is far stronger but come on, how can a bunch of rural dudes who started training mostly a week before smash the whole security of professional soldiers and escape with only one minor wound for the whole team? Well, in the end the expedition ended exactly how it was meant to so at least that makes sense. What to expect the next episode? Lots of deus ex machina moments. I’m afraid that the good dudes (as many as they are left) will end up being victorious but only because Chakuro will do something heroic and that singing mystery girl (the song was nice but kinda out of place) will pull some totally unforeseen trick. Why did I think that pretty visuals would mean a decent story at the beginning of the season? By the way, now I begin to wonder how is it possible for all this greenery to exist on the Whale considering all these frequent sandstorms.

Advertisements

Kino no Tabi – it’s old but is it gold?

Alternative title Kino’s Journey
Studio A.C.G.T.
Genres Drama, Slice of Life
Source Light novel
Episodes 13 + OVA + 2 films
Season Spring 2003
Director Ryuutarou Nakamura
Music Ryou Sakai
.

    Why do people create imaginary worlds and stories? The answer would be because they think our own world lacks something. It might be that a person just wants to experience an alternative choice in his life or to see what would happen if some specific conditions would be provided. It doesn’t change the fact that even those stories that have very little in common with the everyday world are still built upon the rules that we know – sometimes they are altered, sometimes completely broken or created anew, but the fact persists. Then a person (other than the creator) who wants to experience such a new world needs to know what are the rules there. And because our world inevitably is the reference, the imaginary world by default works just like our own, unless stated otherwise. And that’s a statement I want you to remember because this time let’s delve into the world of Kino no Tabi (the old one), similar and yet vastly different from our own.

     The basics of an adventure story is to make someone travel somewhere and encounter some interesting people along the way. Kino no Tabi plays right into this vein – the protagonist Kino spends her time visiting various countries and noting their differences. The creator of the original light novel series Keiichi Sigsawa loves to travel himself and usually does that on his motorcycle so inevitably his heroine Kino does the same. The unusual thing is that Kino’s motorrad Hermes (yep, that’s how it’s called) talks from time to time. I don’t know how it’s portrayed in the light novels but judging from the anime, there’s a possibility that Kino’s wrong in the head (no wonder concerning her troublesome past) and because of that she imagines a completely normal machine talk. Sure, it’s only a minor possibility, but I can’t remember any scene where Hermes would have said anything important to any third party that Kino couldn’t. It’s never directly addressed, so think what you will. Still, Hermes only exists to keep company for Kino. To some extent it was a smart choice to have a talking motorbike – in this way Kino has someone to talk to but on the other hand Hermes doesn’t look like anything human so in that sense Kino still travels alone, so generally Hermes is there just to make Kino talk and express her opinions.

    As the story is episodic, the characters constantly change so it’s crucial to form a bond with anyone featured more prominently in order to connect with the show. Apart from Kino there’s only Hermes that may remotely be called a character. And it’s a talking motorbike, yeah. Even then Kino remains a mystery to me. Many people have compared Kino no Tabi to Mushishi and not without a reason. In both series the protagonists mainly act as lenses to enable the viewers to see their respective worlds. Sure, there’re huge differences as Ginko tries to help people while still hiding his personal thoughts and Kino usually is just an observer, trying not to interfere with anything. To measure anything you inevitably need to interact with it and as Kino usually avoids that, I’ve only gathered the tiniest and often contradicting impressions of her. One time Kino may ponder if it’s alright to kill some rabbits in order to feed a few famished travelers, a bit later she can actively make dozens of people (and maybe more) fight in a death match, so I just couldn’t form a consistent opinion on her – does she value life? Why is she behaving the way she does? Only a few times Kino formed a connection with other people and I can assure that during these times she was the most relatable and human. And I rather watch a show about humans and not some undefined entities that only observe. Especially if what they observe doesn’t really make sense more often than not.

      Now we come to the main point I have against Kino no Tabi – there’s not enough proof that all the different countries in Kino’s world work otherwise than countries in the real one (and why is that). You come expecting normal people who are able to think and come up with logical answers to their problems but it isn’t the case. People in Kino’s world are prone to be extremely oversimplified or just transformed in such a way that for me most of time they’re not even recognizable as people that I could relate to or care about their stories. And that’s even worse than, say, in a typical harem anime where no character can break from stereotypes. Kino typically spends an episode (or even less) in one country but in each and every one of them apart from one or two forgettable supporting characters other people make up a mob, a mass, devoid of personality and smarts. The simplifications of people, employed to act as devices for portraying specific ideas, don’t allow a single person from the mob to behave the tiniest bit differently compared to the majority. I don’t think it’s very realistic to travel to, say, Sweden and find that everybody is named Olaf, likes to play ice hockey and has a pet squirrel named Thor. Even worse, the mob usually acts in unbelievably dumb ways. For example (and beware of spoilers), two countries decide that rather than warring between themselves they would save some lives by regularly massacring a third underdeveloped country as a kind of sport. That way, everyone is said to be happy in these two countries because no more people are killed in war and they’re able demilitarize quite a bit. Why doesn’t anyone remember the land that the countries initially quarreled for anymore, why neither of the countries takes an opportunity to destroy the other one if the opponent’s power is diminished, why the people of the third country simply endure being massacred and neither retaliate nor leave is beyond me. And wasn’t a more simple choice JUST TO MAKE PEACE? It’s probably the worst I’ll remember about Kino no Tabi, but it’s just plagued by such more or less illogical complications that sure, do serve the exploration of thought provoking ideas, but on the other hand throw away all the relatability and realism. Maybe I’m an idealist, but come on, people can’t be THAT retarded, can they?

   Another interesting aspect of Kino’s world is that it’s very segmented. There’re practically no ties between the countries. It’s quite strange to have countries with hover-boards and also countries where a mere wish to invent something is frowned upon. Well, our world isn’t that different at a first glance, but I guess even someone living in the farthest corner of the world has heard that planes do exist. Technology usually like to spread, countries also tend to conquer as much territory as they can but in Kino no Tabi the countries are rather more like city-states that have no plans to expand, open trade routes or just explore further from their thresholds. I find that strange and it only adds to my confusion that Kino’s world initially seems just like our own but is certainly not. I guess if an animal has cat ears, cat nose, cat paws and even behaves like a cat, it should be a cat but in this anime even an object having all external human characteristics feels nothing like human.

    Sometimes it’s clear that the anime was adapted from a light novel, even if at the time light novels weren’t as popular as they are now and the market wasn’t oversaturated with similar stories with little artistic quality. Why does Kino always have to ask if she can ask a question? It’s pretty annoying to say the least. Annoying as well are the questions exactly repeating the statements (just like “I’m a plumber” – “Oh, you’re a plumber, right?”). It might work to start conversations in the light novel but in the anime it definitely feels wooden or at least outdated. After all it’s sort of understandable since at the time typical anime used to be that much slower paced.

.
Excerpt from the OST: some track featuring Pachelbel's Canon in D

   Kino no Tabi also definitely looks like it was made quite a while ago. The visuals do nothing but scream about belonging to early 2000s. Character designs can be very simplified, as much as something come straight from some Masaaki Yuasa work, only the animation isn’t as impressive. Kino herself looks very bubbly and gender neutral (which has some point), far from Kino in this new ongoing reimagining of the story where the protagonist didn’t manage to withstand the attack of moe. Having nothing but pastel colors and especially many browns might make the old Kino look muddy but usually the show just feels cozy. Well, mostly color-wise, because there definitely are some unsettling stories. Still, the overall aesthetic is a consistent one, and that’s for the best. If we discount that weird scanline filter. You know what I mean.

   Moving on, it’s difficult to say anything about the soundtrack because it hasn’t been released for some reason. Yep, there’re some bits and pieces scattered on the Internet but even so I’m not inclined to spend time looking for it. As far as I recall, the soundtrack was good in a sense that it seamlessly fused with the stories, that is it wasn’t noticeable at all. On the other hand a great soundtrack should be able to stand its ground alone and be an equally important part of the story, and I can’t say that about Kino no Tabi. The single memorable scene sound-wise was when the famous Pachelbel’s Canon in D was used. That music may suit pretty much any non-action scene anywhere so it fit here well also. It’s just funny that a single more prominent track wasn’t made by Ryou Sakai who’s responsible for the whole soundtrack.

    If you haven’t seen enough of Kino, it’s not over after the TV series – there’s also an OVA and two films (each half an hour long). The OVA is half an episode long and feels different from the main show only because of that. Just like the creators at the last second found out that what they had made doesn’t extend to the full length and then nobody had any idea what to do with the remaining time. The first film defers from the usual formula by being sort of a prequel. Remember girly Kino with long hair and a dress? If you liked that, the first film is a must. It’s interesting to see how Kino started travelling but as with the TV series (as well as the OVA), the mob just isn’t smart at all. It’s nothing but annoying when people are so pedantic that a problem (that can be lethal to someone) isn’t dealt with properly with only because some in this case ridiculously unimportant rules say so. The second film signified the first time when Kino no Tabi left its initial studio – it was produced by Shaft and it feels hardly like a Kino. The character designs are updated (Kino’s coat is very battered for example) and Kino looks far more mature. The story also isn’t anything to write home about. It has some interesting elements but in the end it’s unfinished and feels just like the rest of unsatisfying episodes of Kino. As you probably know the ongoing reimagining of Kino no Tabi is also an option, but at least for now its quality doesn’t feel that satisfying.

Updated Kino from the Shaft film

    It’s immeasurably hard to tell a story that has some philosophical elements that would be thoroughly examined only in one episode, a decent wrap up and relatable characters included. Probably each episode of the series could be extended to its own separate show because the ideas behind are truly capable of that. Now it’s sadly quantity and not always quality. For me simply abstract ideas weren’t enough – they only can reach a viewer when they are organically embedded into the world of the story, and that’s precisely what I feel the anime lacks. Almost every episode I can summarize in a way of “Oh, that’s a rather interesting thought… but why the hell is that person so dumb?..”. I guess if Kino had been less of an enigma and the inhabitants of the countries had been less simplified, it would’ve been a show to my liking. Still, I must acknowledge that there’s a gold nugget in probably every episode, only it’s covered with a huge layer of dust. It’s up to you whether you have enough commitment to find it and not be too judgmental about the dust.

    I believe, this anime

 1

Could’ve been worse

     I think Kino no Tabi is worthy to be experienced. Sure, there are many more enjoyable shows but if you find yourself drawn to some deeper stuff and have some free time  – do try out the show. Despite my rather harsh opinion many people appear to have enjoyed Kino no Tabi quite a bit, so at least in order to broaden your general knowledge of anime the show is recommended.

     Have you seen the old Kino no Tabi? Are such older shows able to stand the test of time? How do you think the old show compares with the new anime?

 

Musings and Reflections – Fall 2017 Week 6

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Ep. 6)

     Well, I guess this show slowly becomes my favorite out all the other seasonal shows. It’s only a second human that the girls encounter so that should make this episode special. And it definitely feels special because there’s so much stuff you can read out. Ishii is a nice parallel to Kanazawa – both of them are very passionate about what they’re doing but this world isn’t really a place to pursue such hobbies. All of Ishii’s work similarly to Kanazawa’s in the end is lost but both of them are able to acknowledge that and move on. It can even be said that Chi and Yuu were the catalysts that saved both Kanazawa and Ishii from continuing their passions and in that way set them free. Stories of these episodes nicely mirror the main idea of the show – you can do all you want but sometimes it’s not meant for you to succeed. Nevertheless, there’s still hope, there’s still life after a failure. Again it’s very striking how the girls are able to live in such a world and not be crushed by it. Especially Yuu seems absolutely content with what she has and there was not a single time that she really understood what her saying “hopeless” truly means. When you think of it, it’s truly amazing how positive the show is despite featuring such a dystopian setting.

Kino no Tabi (Ep. 6)

     To me the episode seemed heavy-handed. The idea was pretty clear but the robe of this metaphor wasn’t flawless. For example, it’s obvious that these merchants must be portrayed as evil as possible because then it’s more powerful when the slave-girl’s beliefs are tested. Still, I think that the authors went too far by making the merchants unlikable. It’s fine and commendable when you create a truly hateable character but is it really the goal of the show to annoy me so much that I would consider skipping the episode  altogether because of that? Yep, that horrible brat was something. I’m also confused about the stance of the merchants towards the slave-girl. Everyone detests her to the point of thinking of killing her for fun but then isn’t it strange that some dudes try to talk to her like a normal person and even suggest fighting them from time to time? The slave-girl herself seems to be pretty stupid. I can take that she doesn’t know how to use a rifle but asking others how to die? Well, if she truly wished for that, there’s lots of those hideous CG plants around, please turn on your brain and take a bite or two. Irony aside, still it was a fine episode. Struggles of beliefs that tell to die with physiological urge to survive was portrayed pretty nicely. I only doubt that the last segment showing the future was really needed. It’s ok to know the girl survived but leaving everything ambiguous and a road of self-discovery still ahead also might have been a decent choice. It’s a little nitpick but lines like “as you know” should be banned entirely from every single storytelling medium. And you know you have a problem when the main character of the show barely shows up and is never missed.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 6)

     At this point I’m concerned about the relationship between Chise and Elias. It’s ok that both of them feel comfortable with it but for the viewer who knows how real relationships should work it doesn’t really feel right. The problem is that Chise doesn’t know better and thinks that everything she gets from Elias is enough and everything’s ok. For her it may seem so but Elias himself confessed that he doesn’t know how to emphasize with humans and therefore everything he does for Chise is just a calculated wish to get some perks for himself. Elias is using Chise plainly for his own amusement to perform an experiment and it’s doubtful that he feels anything real for her. Yet. So yeah, Chise might be happy that she found a shelter but it’s not real, there’s no heartfelt emotion from Elias’ part. Chise deserves far better than this. The other thing I want to talk about is of course Titania and Oberon. The Queen’s entrance surely felt polished and majestic (though was it really necessary to focus on her chest?). Oberon on the other hand didn’t feel dignified enough to be a king. I understand that Fairies might have a more playful side to them but I’m not sure that it should come in the way of making them look kingly. Fairies by definition should feel nothing like humans do so including these chibi comedic moments virtually destroys all the presence that impressive Titania’s coming in had. Again and again the show seems to be doing the right thing, but not right enough to become truly great.

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 19)

     Oh well, a backstory of a character I don’t care the slightest. Of course, some yuri-style infatuation always spices things a little but was that really necessary? The main story concerning this oh-so-important competition barely advanced and having such a slow pacing certainly doesn’t add any tension or excitement. Akira’s backstory might have been justifiable if she had been shown more previously. Now she’s just a random girl that once was friends with Chinatsu and now just teases her and tries to destroy her psychologically. Why should I care how did she become like that? She’s just an obstacle Chinatsu needs to overcome and nothing more than that. It can be argued that the flashbacks also gave some light to Chinatsu but I don’t think we understood her any better – she always has been that tomboyish gal with some attitude. Well, I can’t really make these accusations since the flashbacks shouldn’t be over – we still don’t know what exactly made Akira so bitter that she forsake her adoration of Chinatsu and instead started causing problems. The background music that appears at various unimportant moments have come to irritate me because of being repetitive. Ideally a double-length show should have a double-length soundtrack. There’re other aspects I’m not happy about so adding music to the list would be very sad.

Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau (Ep. 6)

     A pretty typical calm-before-the-storm episode. It’s a halfway point and the show dares to introduce a flashback in order to flesh out a sort-of-important character? Well, you’re late. At first it was interesting to see Ouni as a mystery but slowing the preparation for the fight down even more with some backstories that doesn’t do much good isn’t what I want. This is exactly the same problem I have with the latest Ballroom episode. That Ouni’s friend was fleshed out more but what are the odds that he won’t end up being killed during the invasion? The show loves giving some random dudes minimal characterization, then assuming that it’s enough, and then killing them and hoping for some impact. The same red flags apply for those girls that tried to be nice to Lykos. At least the mood was kept just right as the crew were anxiously waiting for the attack. This all slice of life stuff didn’t feel right paired with the tense atmosphere and while I’m sort of not happy about that per se, in the grand scheme of things it makes sense. But a national celebration of throwing sand? Have you ever tried pouring send left and right into the eyes of random people? Who got the idea it would be fun? Chakuro’s motivations remain his dead waifu and his new sewing tsundere waifu which feels quite flat. Well, it doesn’t matter because many will die horrible deaths and any peacefulness will be retracted from the story for a few upcoming episodes.

 

Musings and Reflections – Fall 2017 Week 5

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Ep. 5)

     And I thought that it can’t get even more low key. From now on any time I need to relax I know for sure what to watch (and which episode). The girls from time to time say that they should hurry lest their food finished and it seems that they have some final goal. Yet even reminders that they shouldn’t stay in one place for long don’t seem to work. And why should they? The girls are having a good time enjoying every single minute of their journey. That by itself is fairly optimistic because anyone would be hard pressed to laugh in such a gloomy environment with lots of destruction left and right. So I guess it makes me appreciate such commodities that I have – a roof above my head for someone else might seem a luxury. The third part of the episode also nicely connected with the first one – you don’t need much stuff in order to play and create a pleasant moment or two, you just have to think. The naïveté of the girls and their ability to enjoy the world as crumbled as it is something to think about. Let’s don’t forget to take a breather from everyday hustle and enjoy life as much as we can.

Kino no Tabi (Ep. 5)

     A bit unexpectedly I liked the episode more than previous ones. Well, it wasn’t that impressive but at least there weren’t as many problems I usually have with the show. The idea of the first part was very bare-bones – people make their heroes what they want them to be and not what they were. Maybe some elaboration would’ve made everything more enjoyable but probably the source material also didn’t dwell that much on this notion. The second part however went further than merely stating an idea. The story, albeit predictable, felt far more touching than usual Kino no Tabi fare. Once again it’s hard to get invested into characters you see so briefly (this time even less than for an episode) but this sort of a tragedy of the Eyebrowless Dude and the White-haired Woman (how old is she by the way?) did manage to show how unlucky some people might be. But then there’re some questionable details. First of all, why would the king send his own daughter to spy? Isn’t that too dangerous? Then why would this girl keep lying after her return to her lover? Wasn’t it easier just to tell “I’m back but the people hate me so let’s move out together quickly and secretly”? And then comes the big reveal that the Dude himself was lying. I understand that it might be comfortable for him but come on – shouting “Where’s my lover?” everyday should be pretty exhausting if he’s truly right in the head and she’s right here. Maybe the problem the show addresses is that sometimes we get sort of comfortable in situations that can be so easily changed for the better but we just don’t even try. Still, the metaphor is handled a bit too heavy-handed because I don’t really see the point in both of the lovers lying to each other when they can easily throw their disguises away and be far more happier. On a side note the white forest with red leaves definitely looked impressive.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 5)

     Well, it was heavy. I guess out of everything we’ve seen so far this episode has to be my favorite. The story itself is just sad because anyhow you look at it, you can’t really judge that Matthew guy. Sure, looking at the final result he definitely wasn’t an angel, but where exactly is the boundary you can’t cross in order to save your loved one? The visuals also nicely accentuated the uncomfortableness of the story, starting with that disgusting Elias’s lick. Well, it somehow was the most unpleasant thing I saw probably the whole week. Somehow. Details like what was left of Mina slowly dripping from Matthew’s hands made another nice touch with the anime probably overpowering the manga. This whole expedition for Chise should’ve been particularly hard because a whole multitude of beings either chose to die or ask to be erased completely without any regrets. For anyone troubled as our protagonist coming into terms with death is a very hard task. At least Chise now clearly values life, something she wasn’t able to do before. No wonder since awkward gestures and just weird behavior of Elias still makes Chise feel very valued, and that poses a question what was her life before. After everything I still have an inquiry – what of the present sorcerers? Were they really necessary apart from trying to plant an idea into Chise’s head that what she feels is nothing more than a Stockholm syndrome? And what, they just left? I guess it definitely won’t be the last time we see them but having someone antagonistic for once ended too anticlimactically.

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 18)

     You know this competition is completely different from others because of the dramatic dressing. Let’s talk about synchronizing everything for the common goal. In the very beginning the announcer tells to prepare for tango, the background music also picks up tango rhythm, Chinatsu wears a red dress and everything seems to heat up. And then she tells that she’s cold which is completely at odds with both the visuals and the sounds. Sure, this line is insightful but I think that it’s a horrible choice to place it here, where after a motivation speech (which also associates with hotness) the pair could have gone to give their best performance. Also after such a tension-building segment the announcer strikes again with “Hey folks, next is waltz”. Waltz definitely isn’t a dance where you need all this heat and tension so the initial building up seems to be for nothing. Still worse, the real tango comes later on. If you start with tango, you build everything for tango and show the tension as much as possible, not jumble between different moods. Even if getting into sync for our pair was the most important thing of this episode, it was attenuated by all these comedy moments (various families coming to watch) and all the commentary of Hyoudo and the lot. I don’t know if there’s a better way in principle to show both the dancing and its commentary but endlessly cutting back and forth gets repetitive real quick and also steals lots of attention from the focal point – the dancers and their emotions. In the end it feels like just another competition among other competitions, with the stakes being as low as ever.

Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau (Ep. 5)

     “We will absolutely sink the Whale and kill all the people on it. Oh no, a girl got an arrow to the knee. To the infirmary, quick!” Argh. Please don’t change your opinion like socks, you are leaders of the society or are you not? Oh well, as much as I do enjoy the visuals, there’s constantly something wrong with the story. Well, it’s not always something as bad as inconsistencies but just some not that believable decisions. What’s with the mindset “I’m so ashamed that I must ask poeple to fight for their lives”? Come on, you’re on the same boat – you either fight or you die. As Suouououou said, there should be something else about the attackers because total destruction on a basis that someone else is just different seems pretty weak. I guess the most interesting part was when that Neri girl proved to be something different from an ordinary human. It appears that the Elders knew about that so if Neri opposed the sinking from the start, why didn’t she say anything directly? Or did she want to remain concealed as much as possible? Well, there might be some logic to this one (and others) but at this point I’m not buying the story. It’s just too complicated when it has no need to. At least that that one-eyed gatekeeper is voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya so that’s another plus to the show.