Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 4

Violet Evergarden (Ep. 3)

     I can’t remember the last time I saw an anime where a protagonist in class wouldn’t sit in the last seat near the window. Anyway, the story as a whole was quite likable. For the most part Violet still was a she has been – amazing in technical aspects of Doll-business but absolutely clueless about the emotional part. About this Luculia girl… Well, I have to say I’d watch another episode about her. And another. As much as there would be, though it seems like her story already ended, far too early. It would be amazing to catch a glimpse later on of how she and her brother are handling things though i doubt that will happen. I’d be happy if the show also addressed the post-war depression again in some later episode. It’s clear that some broken bridges seen in the first episode aren’t the only relics of war, but we have seen very little of anything else. Violet so far has no interest in the outside world, so naturally we don’t see much either, but it would be so fascinating to delve deeper into lives of ordinary people in this world. The biggest problem I got with this episode is that Violet was granted the graduation brooch. It is supposed to be a very strict school so I wouldn’t expect the teacher to give compliments for such tiny achievements. It was definitely an enormous step forwards for Violet, but do you really want to let someone like her loose because she was able to write three words after so many tries? And the school is said to have dignity because they produce the very best dolls. I think it would have been a better idea for Violet to gather her thoughts about how is she different from normal graduates and what does she need to do in order to improve. Well, in the first place I find it rather unlikely that Luculia stuck to Violet despite her robot-ness. Also I think a great opportunity was missed when Luculia wrote a letter as Violet dictated. Violet absolutely needed to read how her robotic thoughts were written by a girl who can actually feel. On the brighter side, the art remains gorgeous and there are countless tiny cinematographic tidbits that add quite a lot. Take for example the scene where Luculia’s hat flow away, just as her and her brother’s happy days were to end.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Ep. 3)

     Well, I just like the show. Say what you will about the age gap, but I can’t help loving the dynamic between Akira and Kondou, and that is only one great point among others. For example, the soundtrack is everything you should and could expect from a character drama based anime. I’m again impressed by the way the show emphasizes Akira’s wish to run, inability to do so and her emotions because of that. Even if she must stay away from her friends, it’s even harder for Akira to be near them, see them enjoying themselves and improving while all she can do is sit and do nothing. It’s nothing strange then that Akira chooses to pursue the one other great thing in her life (as she views it) – a relationship with Kondou. That is all well and good, but what really makes Akira a special lead is her determination to push her point as much as she needs. A usual romcom probably would’ve played an incident of confession for laughs and everything would go on as if nothing had happened, but Koi wa Ameagari no You ni goes beyond that and does it without hesitation. I also appreciate Kondou’s position – he clearly is interested, but he also has all this knowledge of a middle-aged boy – he knows that a serious relationship would be awkward and most likely socially disapproved, his kid also comes into the equation. At this point Kondou is just confused without a clear answer to his questions, and, even worse, left with essentially no space to make other decision apart from accepting or refusing Akira’s intentions, and at this point he’s unwilling to do either. There are also great scenes like Kondou staring to his windshield and understanding that he can’t avoid Akira’s emotions just as wipers can’t wipe all the rain. Later on it just feels genuine when Kondou tries to come up with ways that would absolve him from having to deal with Akira’s feelings, and at the same time he looks disappointed thinking that it might have been just a prank. Right before the show started, I said that I’m not really into the character designs. Once the girls of the track and field team got into one place, I noticed that the designs come as almost CLAMP-esque, with especially long and thin limbs. Well, necks are also not unlike ones in Ballroom e youkoso or Haikyuu. Bet when the story is so strong, do I really need to complain about anything?

Ito Junji: Collection (Ep. 4)

     Finally something that can really be called creepy. It think the first story came the closest so far to being Ito-ish. Body horror is something Ito can do really effectively (remember Uzumaki for example), and mysterious holes in human body are a perfect example of that. To be frank, such holes aren’t uncommon in manga – Shintaro Kago (you can check him out, though his ero-guro stuff is usually NSFW) used them, as did some other mangakas. Add some insects that may crawl in the holes and you have a perfectly disgusting horror story. As much as liked it, I can’t help thinking that much more could’ve been done. Everything still looks like moving manga panels and there’s barely any animation. The staff just didn’t go beyond of what’s serviceable and didn’t bother to accentuate the horror elements. For example why an eye may be seen through the wholes but not the brain? Why can’t any light be transmitted through a hand covered with holes? The insect part also felt like an afterthought and not a necessary element. And a random friend randomly decided to check out a random bookshelf and randomly found a random diary that contained the exact specific information he needed.  Really? Turning now to the second part, once again we returned to stories that are more laughable than scary. I appreciate the idea of puppets controlling humans but that’s pretty much the only positive thing I can say about the segment. Speaking about the character designs, I like these thick lines, though sometimes they make the whole picture seem a bit amateurish. And Ito, although easily accusable of his drawings suffering from  the same face syndrome, certainly can create attractive characters. I guess if they would look like everything else is in this show, I’d have dropped this anime already.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 16)

     When the title of the episode is “God’s mill runs slow but sure”, you know that you can expect the most basic stuff, only more of it. I get that the general purpose of the episode was to confirm that Chise really has friends now. A side goal was to set things up for the future – these two kids already seem important according to the preview, and I bet this not-that-friendly-looking centaur with a pregnant lady on him also weren’t put there without any reason. Ultimately it felt like a pretty much discardable holiday OVA, only aired at a very curious time. Sure, there’re shows that have their Christmas episodes in the middle of summer, but it still doesn’t look right. That pseudo-kissing scene also was weird. I guess the point of it was to be awkward (kissing with one of the partners having no lips?), with Elias being just curious and playful, but funny as it is, I find his relationship with Chise far more uncomfortable than the one in Koi wa Ameagari no You ni. Or maybe the age gap really means something – Kondou being almost 30 years older than Akira actually sounds more natural compared to Elias’s head start of probably several hundred years. This shopping trip with Alice seemed more meaningful – both apprentices getting on well may force some uncomfortable moments for their masters in the future. I’d really like for some scenario to play out in a way that Alice should side with Chise and go against both Renfred and Elias. Alice’s backstory was pretty standard tear-jerker so that also was less enjoyable than it could’ve been. I guess the important moments that could have consequences at least in the following episode could be compressed into 5 minutes or so. In the end despite this fairly cozy atmosphere, overall I’m afraid I expected something more.

Fate/Extra Last Encore (Ep. 1)

     I’ve no idea what happened. I was quite confident going in because despite having absolutely no knowledge about the original game, I do know something about Nasuverse, but that proved to be useless. An alternative setting is nothing new for the franchise, though I’m nothing but confused about this class about servants, casual burials, Shinji’s girlfriend, some stuff concerning the moon and that girl who seemingly was Red Saber’s Master before Hakuno. Kirei’s comment at the end about miracles happening certainly didn’t help as Fate’s lore is already far more complicated than necessary. Sure, I still have much faith in the series (Kinoko Nasu is on the writing team, so that’s a huge plus), but if I didn’t know anything about the franchise, I would’ve dismissed the show as yet another edgy battle royale that rarely achieves anything good. Now I guess I just need to wait and hope for the best. Speaking about the art, there’s lots of elements clearly of Shaft origin – fixation on the eyes, fairly empty 3D rooms seen from various angles, minimalistic architecture – you name it.  Though I’m not sure this all psychedelic ornamentation was necessary. And, finally, character designs are weird. Well, not per se, just very different from the canon as well as from Shaft’s standards. For example Rin may sound like her usual self but my brain still needs time to process the information that a girl that looks like Rin’s cosplayer is actually her and the real one isn’t hiding somewhere in the shadows. I guess the moral of this episode is that chess is a dangerous game. Don’t play it, kids.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m glad to see that I am not the only one who thought that this week’ episode of Junji Ito Collection was pretty creepy. Ugh…I really cringed at the way it all looked, and that was pretty disturbing. Too bad about the abrupt ending of the episode though 😢

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    Reply
    • It was probably the creepiest stuff the anime has shown so far, that sharp-toothed model included. There’s something fundamentally unsettling looking at such a disfigured human body. Well, let’s hope this episode won’t be the limit – the source material certainly has something to offer.

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