Musings and Reflections – Summer 2018 Week 7

One phrase impressions

Shingeki no Kyojin 3  Unexpected comedy and an unexpected hero (sort of)
Hanebado! – Ayano’s madness is unstoppable (for now)
Yama no Susume 3 – Cake time!
Banana Fish – LA, but no profit there
Sirius the Jaeger – I guess again a building-up…

Shingeki no Kyojin 3 (Ep. 4 /41/)

  • Strengthening the continuity with recurring characters is always welcome. And I miss Annie. Her poker face somehow was always entertaining.
  • Right from the announcement I began to wonder why did Erwin choose Hange to be his successor. The woman doesn’t seem to have a cold enough and calculating mind to be able to judge every situation appropriately. Speaking about calculating minds, why not Levi? Or does Erwin think that all this complication with Kenny makes Levi unsuitable to be the sole leader?
  • Dear Levi, you probably don’t even know how right you are. Us anime fans also know not a damn thing about your world. Then maybe hurry up and at least lead us to Eren’s basement or something?
  • I can believe that Marlo decided to side with Levi because of his self-righteous personality, but Hitch is a more difficult case. Maybe she just sided with Marlo by default because I don’t think she knows enough and cares enough about all this political stuff more than is necessary to lead a safe and prosperous life as far from all the titans and other troublemakers as possible. Still, the hardest to believe I found the part where the pair showed surprisingly little amazement at Levi’s claim about Annie being a titan. Your enemy (on paper) tells you something unbelievable and you accept it at the face value? At least question it, don’t change your convictions like socks.
  • Levi, as well as Hange last time, gets his opportunity to show his interrogational abilities. I guess Hange’s eagerness was a bit more surprising knowing that Levi already has a history of giving a pretty hard time to Eren. At that point I remember disliking Levi quite a bit. Later on he sort of gradually redeemed himself in my eyes and now, acting as one of the leaders, he’s fairly likable. And let’s not forget Hiroshi Kamiya.
  • More comedy than usual. By itself it doesn’t really fit the atmosphere of the harsh human drama that this arc portrays but actually I quite enjoyed these little skits. I guess you need some counterpoint to all this gloominess and seriousness. And it works.

Hanebado! (Ep. 7)

  • In the beginning during the exchange between Kaoruko and Ayano the stairs were used very well to show who had the upper hand. At first It was Kaoruko who was higher – saying she has some floor-mopping to do. However, Ayano climbed the stairs up and eventually her position became higher than Kaoruko’s. The latter tried some of her usual intimidation tactics but that simply couldn’t work – Ayano had climbed higher and her rather confident answer confirmed that it was now she who controled the situation.
  • Kaoruko’s attitude that she “only plays for herself” is another thing that makes her nearly indistinguishable from Connie. Kaoruko should try doubles just for fun.
  • To think about it, sports competitions really are a cruel thing. Many people prepare extensively and only one (or several at best) end up being happy about their results. Pretty much all of the participants leave thinking that they could’ve done better and now they have to prepare for another competition that sometimes might happen only next year. And time is limited so getting frustrated in some way is almost guaranteed. And people still participate. I guess it’s really true that the journey (i.e. training) is worthier than the result (i.e. a competition).
  • This super intense mind game between Kaoruko and Ayano reminds me of “I’ll Take a Potato Chip and EAT IT!”. Sure, psychology and rivalries do exist in sports but no one could object the fact that Hanebado is intensifying the colors. Do I dislike it? Nope. It’s really very similar to a mind game between Light and L in the best sense.
  • Another good point about the show is that even if it has such ridiculous stock characters by their character designs like Kaoruko and Connie, they aren’t simple villains for the sake of it. While I still don’t approve of either of them, it’s great that Hanebado gives both girls some friends who cheer for them. It’s not that Kaoruko is an absolutely evil overlord who will attempt to destroy the hero. Well, she does try to destroy the heroine but she still remains human. Sure, human with lots of issues, but that’s still better than the majority of cardboard cutouts that stand in place of villains in many anime. Kaoruko is a jerk and her teammates hesitate to cheer her on but they still do, and that shows that Kaoruko isn’t irredeemable. A jerk is a jerk, but a jerk comrade is still a comrade in the end of all things.
  • Well, it’s no longer Ayano, it’s some sort of machine. Her mother might like it but I prefer Ayano the human. Maybe Ayano snapped back into her “please the mother” mode and, putting sports before everything, is actually becoming sort of like her mother. And that’s a road I can’t recommend taking for anyone. Especially since too much confidence (Ayano is clearly not invincible beneath her mask of madness) may backfire  in a match with a more psychologically stable person, and that might throw Ayano in a position worse than she was before.
  • I really love the editing of the matches – I never get bored with the badminton. The cuts are fast enough to give a feeling of the real match and the intensity that a competition brings. And all this especially shows with the last hit of Ayano – Kaoruko didn’t see it and neither did we.
  • One of the criteria to judge a sports anime seems to be a question whether an anime makes you crave trying that kind of sport. In this respect Hanebado can’t collect the highest grades but the fact is that the show only uses badminton as a substrate for the character drama, so it’s not a conventional sports anime. It’s quite funny but last season’s Piano no Mori suited the idea of a sports anime way better than Hanebado. Was the former a better show because of it? Hardly.

Yama no Susume 3 (Ep. 7)

  • More shows should be made to promote this feeling of pleasantness. It’s iyashikei at its best. Of course every genre has its merits but the niche of shows that make you warm inside and don’t aspire to be anything else (heart wrenching drama, hilarious comedy or a serious character study) could expand way beyond its current reach.
  • This season seems to be interested in showing Aoi’s progress from the very beginning of the show. Earlier we saw Aoi’s relationship with school and her classmates and now we get reminded that she also works at the cake shop. As with school, Aoi experienced some changes, and they were for the better – she’s now more dependable and knowledgeable in the cake-lore. Speaking about the progress, Aoi looked surprised when she noticed that she got pretty good at her job. That’s true everywhere – you can’t track little changes and improvements in something you constantly do, it’s only when you’re able to recall your past self at the very beginning you may notice that you actually have accomplished something. It’s just like Hinata’s glance through the shop window, able to photograph the present situation and compare it with something she saw before.
  • As recently it has been shown that Aoi needs Hinata at school, now we see that Hinata (even with that healthy bunch of friends everywhere) still needs Aoi. The girls seem to be friends for life, and no other relationship at least at this point could be more important than theirs.
  • Somehow it’s always very satisfying when two characters meet that have no knowledge about each other but the viewers know their connection. It would be even nice if, say, Honoka’s brother worked at the same place as Aoi’s mom.

Banana Fish (Ep. 7)

  • It’s true that Ash’s statement that all parents are garbage could be applied to Max and his wife as well as Ash’s own parents. But such a philosophy doesn’t lead far. Does a person automatically becomes garbage if he gets a kid? It’s also true that nobody knows what’s the most perfect way of raising kids and children do suffer because of that. But I just want to stay optimistic and assume that at least the majority of parents want their children the best, even if they aren’t always able to achieve that or choose appropriate means. But there’s probably no better way than trial and error, and also listening to people you trust. Again, no knows the right way. You could assume that all the people are bad because they inevitably have some flaws. And that doesn’t lead anywhere good. The point is that such bold statements show that Ash clearly doesn’t have the healthiest outlook on the world  (which is quite understandable) and Eiji (and others, but mostly Eiji) will have to work very hard to sort out Ash’s psychological problems.
  • Framing as always is a joy to behold.
  • It’s a bit distracting when some characters are Asian and some are Caucasian and in the story there’s a rift (more or less) between them. That’s ok but character designs don’t make a distinction between the races. If not for his surname, I would never have guessed that Shorter was an Asian.
  • So, the trip to LA was extremely counterproductive. They got to the other side of the country and what are the results? Information-wise – nothing new(we already knew about that weird LSD-like structure), and on a negative side there’s also the fact that Shorter now has confused allegiances and Max’s family may be out of business soon.
  • Can’t Shorter at least tell everyone about his situation? It’s said that honesty is the best policy probably not without a reason. It’s not that he’s being watched 24/7. Eventually the truth will inevitably emerge in one way or another and then Shorter might have a pretty hard time.

Sirius the Jaeger (Ep. 6)

  • After the last episode that was pure action, this one starts with some rather low-key stuff. Later on the show does put its foot on a gas pedal but anything substantial is left for the next time, so in the end this week proved to be not the most amazing.
  • Speaking about the antagonists, it’s not particularly interesting that all the vampires except Mikhail are simple stock bad guys simply because they are. A motivation like “let’s rule the world just because” isn’t what I’d expect form a competent character.
  • The bits and pieces of action again remain the saving grace of the show. The timing of the exchanges is very to my liking but the essence of all the action remains only a spectacle for the eyes because there is no way for, say, Yuliy to die (especially at this point), is there? The credit must be given to the show because it does try to have a darker side – with the high-rank military officer committing suicide as a form of responsibility or the bartender also coming to the end of his career. Oh well, these two were only marginal characters that nobody cared about, but I guess it’s still better than nothing.
  • Returning to the action, apart from the eye-catching choreography there actually are things to critique. The vampires come a dime a dozen and while that proves that our heroes are competent, at the same time it undermines the abilities of the vampires – only the higher-ups seem to have some reasonable competence and all these demon-monkey looking minions are being slaughtered left and right like it’s nothing. Do they have any brains to try to not only win but also to survive? Well, it’s true that a tactic of simply overwhelming your opponent with the sheer mass of attackers can be an option but it never speaks highly of the brass. I remember hearing stories that Russian soldiers during the WW1 were so badly equipped that, say, one person got only a rifle and another only some bullets. But that worked out because after one of them died, another could pick up what he needed. It’s an inconceivable tactic from the humanitarian perspective and while vampires probably shouldn’t be expected to be the pinnacles of brotherly love, it makes me question if they really have the resources to throw them so carelessly in the face of the Jaegers, and if so, why haven’t they overrun the world completely ages ago.
  • Another (sort of) problem with the action is that, for example, I see little reason why would Kershner attack Yuliy with a sword. Unless he wants to humiliate his opponent and underestimates Yuliy a lot I don’t think there’s a logical explanation to his way of doing things. If they want Yuliy dead, then why don’t they simply shoot him? For example Mikhail was hidden very well – one precise shot and there would be at least one Jaeger less to deal with. The only plausible explanation is that sword fighting makes a better action scene than a calculated bullet, but still, inability to work effectively and achieve their goals with the least possible effort are another points that make the vampires pretty pitiful as villains.
  • Thematically there was some stuff about revenge and the extent to which it should reach. These sort of ideas are indispensable to a show that is based on action and has little else to offer (well, except only the relationship between Yuliy and Mikhail) as otherwise I couldn’t think up any reason not to call the show a boring slog.
  • Meanwhile Ryoko got some scenes but she seems to be indefinitely stuck with her unrequired love. She acts sort of like an audience insert type of character and it’s expected of her to do little but I’m not particularly happy with very little development she received, if she’s such an important character. Her crush on Yuliy binds her to the main story (otherwise she has absolutely no business in the show) but Yuliy has no interest in her whatsoever. I hope that either this relationship changes somehow or Ryoko moves on, as now it’s just a dead end that we visit time and again.
  • I’m not a cat but I’m getting annoyed about not getting the damn box. There’s value in keeping some details a mystery but come on, we know nothing and characters know nothing and nobody knows anything and that’s a perfect breeding ground for ass-pulls. And nobody needs that in a show that’s already too much cliched.

 

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2 Comments

  1. This was probably the 2nd best ep of *Yama no Susume* so far this season. The mountain coffee ep is the best, being practically an ur-episode centering on Aoi and Hinata.

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