Week in Review, 4/20 – 4/27

brain powerd ep 19

Honkys, man.

Ha, bit late on this. This has been slowly taking shape on my work computer this whole week, just never feel like working on it by the time I drag my sorry carcass home.

Rankings of current shows:

  1. Haikyuu!
  2. Akuma no Riddle
  3. Dai☆Shogun – Great Revolution
  4. Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
  5. Can’t Poop at Magic High

I dropped everything else except for Sidonia, I’m just behind on that. WIXOSS sucks and I’m bored of it. World is Still Beautiful is lingering shots of naked shouta, gross. So it goes.

Can’t Poop at Magic High, ep. 3-4

So, I’m going to go for the positive first – episode three had the really creepy scene involving Miyuki knocking perfect ani-ue unconscious when he didn’t respond to her enthusiastically, something I quite liked since I like the idea of the incestuous sentiments rattling around as being a result of demented family dynamics. Episode four also had some uncomfortable scenes between the two, including ones where other people around them seemed unnerved by the vibes the pair give off. Going back to the first episode, remember that Miyuki notes in her monologue that her family told her that she owes her life and continued existence to her elder brother, and it is implied that this has been impressed upon her from a young age, so I find her sycophantic bearing toward him entirely in keeping.

But, hey, unfortunately everything else is either meh or outright crap about these two episodes. Episode three isn’t as bad, but episode four is positively drowning in info-dumping of the driest sort, with jargon getting casually vomited out at a rate of roughly two unexplained terms per minute. I wish to note, too, that I have a pretty high tolerance for “info-dumping” – Mouryou no Hako had two straight episodes of characters sitting around a table and talking, and these were probably my two favorite episodes of that anime, and Fate/Zero’s infamous “dudes walking in circles and talking” didn’t faze me in the slightest. Even I, though, was bored senseless by the seemingly endless verbal exposition of these episodes, and I almost didn’t even manage to finish episode four.

Of course, this is to say nothing of the sudden appearance of the author’s right-wing sentiments that surface in such jarring fashion in the final portion of the episode that it makes the likes of Ann Coulter’s writings look subtle. I had become aware of the fact that the author of the original LNs was a hardcore right-wing nationalist, and I’d heard that his leanings were clear from the LNs, but I was still taken aback by how suddenly, clunkily, and unsubtlely “grr, lower-class people are such haters and laze boxes, uguu” was introduced into the story. It also feels incredibly weird to have a story in which a clearly discriminatory system in introduced, we are shown instances of folks lower on the foodchain being treated like crap by those higher up, and then we are told point blank that those with lesser ability are just being resentful of those hard-working highly-skilled people. So lol @ any of you who thought that we’d be watching the Weeds get liberated or something since they should just be quietly accepting of the fact that the Blooms frequently treat them like crap and also just be totally fine with the fact that no matter how hard they work they’ll never be paid as much as they are. Apparently this is the anime of Paul Ryan’s dreams – complete with a teenaged boy telling a grown woman how she should dress. I suspect it may be all downhill from here.

Escaflowne, ep. 1-8

Once upon a time I saw the first three episodes of this show in severely butchered form dubbed on (if I recall correctly) Fox. Even back then, when my family had only had non-dial-up internet briefly and stuff like blogging was barely existent, I knew that quite a few people were excited about Escaflowne coming to American TV. Three or four weeks later the effort was dead, testament to just how fully the thing had failed, and that was all I’d ever experienced of the show – unlike with “Card Captors”, I didn’t go out to get the subbed DVDs or video tapes to watch the uncut version, likely since although I did like Card Captors, the Escaflowne dub didn’t interest me at all.

Here I am over a decade later and I’ve finally made my way to watching this show. And, man, bros, I legit really like it! This is a bit of relief, too, as I’d been assured that it was great and was a bit leery of discovering to the contrary, especially after I’d gone to the trouble of getting the DVDs from the old Bandai release of the show. I do wish Hitomi was slightly more active, as sometimes I get a bit bored with her saying the names of the guys in varying tones, but she does a pretty decent job on the whole of being a useful member of the cast – it’s made pretty clear that without her both Van and Allen would’ve died very early in the show.

Watching Escaflowne, I can’t help but think that Sunrise was a fundamentally more interesting studio in the mid to late 90’s than it now is – Sunrise of this era brought us the likes of this, The Big O, Cowboy Bebop, Infinite Ryvius, Crest of the Stars, and Brain Powerd, among others, and while the last one there is pretty bad,

Brain Powerd, ep. 18-21

What is there really to say at this point? Brain Powerd continues to be sexist, racist, heteronormative, and stupid, just like it has for all the preceding episodes. Sure, the racism had more or less quieted down for a set of roughly ten episodes, but here it comes back merrily with Chinese bandits in bamboo hats shouting about not wanting to have anything to do with “whitey” after admitting to the audience that they’ve been thieves for generations. Oh, and the Americans, a.k.a. those whiteys the Chinese want nothing to do with, suddenly are the bad guys. The U.N. is also implied to be generally bad, although here they resemble something like from Left Behind or its various apocalyptic fiction brethren. Usually I just laugh at this sort of stuff (inexplicably the U.S. has fifty-two states in this universe), but I honestly feel irritated here. Maybe it’s due to the larger fact that every single nationality except for Japanese is depicted intentionally as being idiotic, greedy, and malicious (the “intentionally” bit is key given that the primary cast comes off mostly like assholes and jerks due to poor characterization – I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to think well of Hime, what with the show setting her up as a demi-goddess, but she has a speech at the start of episode twenty that is jaw-droppingly awful and quite revealing of a serious lack of empathy on her part). “Right-wing nationalist” isn’t one of the terms I tend to think of when I hear Tomino’s name (it seems likelier prior to Turn A Gundam that he just hated ALL of humanity), but this shit certainly smells strongly of just that.

This isn’t to say Brain Powerd is wholly without merit. I did initially think the mechs themselves were boring, but I’ve grown to like this aspect of the show, the whole idea of these mechs as being organic creatures with their own wills and fears, and that they are children who themselves are maturing and growing across the course of the show. I’m also fascinated with how thoroughly a reaction to declining birthrates and fears of demographic collapse the damn thing is, but that’s a post I’m percolating for the time being.

Haikyuu, ep. 4

Oh dear, this wasn’t a very fun episode. Lot of inspirational speeches, and my personal bête noir, a sporting match that drags out. I’ll also note again that my feeling regarding the female manager of the team is that if the female characters are going to be nonentities who exist only for the male characters to have a target for their adolescent lusts, then I’d rather dispense with them entirely. (On a sidenote, I’m pretty sure half the reason these female managers exist in manga/anime about all-male sports teams is in order to reassure certain segments of the audience that these intense boys aren’t in any way intense about each other in some ~illicit~ fashion.) That being said, it’s not as if one episode is enough to make me dislike a show I’ve been enjoying, so I’m just looking forward to the next episode.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara, ep. 3

The cast continues to be varying shades of dumber than your average chunk of sea glass, which is a plus in this case, but big negative points for the whole “she hates guys!” thing from the initially strict girl I’ve already forgotten the name of. Where’s the brave fansubber who had the lead think to himself, “A typical misandry flag!”? Brave hero, brave warrior, where art thou?!

So we’re up to… let me figure it out, Princess from Shit Kingdom, Garters, Ladle, Hotpants, and now we’ve got Misandrist and Robot. Robot is mildly amusing, what with her head rolling off and her insistence that part of being a schoolgirl is having a piece of toast hanging out of your mouth in the morning (anyone know where this trope started by any chance, by the way?). So, shit, bros, that’s six haremettes! Adding two in one episode? Man, this guy is a total fucking champ! Guess we will get everyone from the ED after all!

Oh, and since a lot of folks have been wondering about why girls pissing themselves has been a thing lately in fanservice shows, well, I figure it’s just part of that larger desire to make the love interests as helpless as possible – poor things can’t even control their own bladders!

Akuma no Riddle, ep. 4

I saw someone else stating that Haru reminds them of Nagisa from Strawberry Panic, so I wanted to second that, although Haru strikes me as more deliberately obtuse whereas Nagisa was more simply not a sharp girl. Actually, when I first saw this pair I thought of Nagisa and Tamao, although Tokaku isn’t anything like Tamao past the hair color similarity.

The assassin this week had a cute chest. Also, the bomb that was triggered to go off with the fridge door opening, and the one in the juice bottle were fairly clever. I guess I’m so used to anime pretending that characters have done really smart, amazing things by simply having others around them expound upon how brilliant their actions are that it’s a nice little surprise to come across something genuinely clever.

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One Response to Week in Review, 4/20 – 4/27

  1. Escaflowne contains some of my all time favorite mecha battles. I don’t think that you’ve reached the most epic one yet, but you might come away from the show with the same opinion. I do wish they made Hitomi just a little more interesting myself.

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