Week in Review, 7/12 – 7/20

eccentric family ep 2

Boys will be girls.

Time to bring these back again since I’m actually getting to watch anime on a regular basis again, which hadn’t been the case for a while. I will be rolling in some stuff here that I actually watched prior to this week since gasbags gotta gasbag. But, as an aside before I begin, here are the shows I’m following this season in order of my enjoyment of them:

  1. Free!
  2. Symphogear G
  3. Watamote
  4. Day Break Illusion
  5. Eccentric Family

I’m surprised to realize I’m enjoying Free! the most since its first episode was pretty blah, but I’m doing a bigger post on Free! either later today or sometime to-morrow, so not gonna explicate upon that.

I might check out Gatchaman Crowds, too, but haven’t gotten around to it. I dropped Fantasista Doll, Makai Ouji, and Sunday Without God; there were some bits in all three that I found mildly of interest, but nothing that made me feel like sticking with them (this was particularly true of the dull Makai Ouji).

Symphogear G, episode 2

Pretty bummed this isn’t being streamed by anyone, but not really surprised. I really love it, and pretty much anyone I ever convinced to watch the first season totally loved it, but it isn’t a show that performed terribly well outside of Japan. Oh well.

So, Hibiki is getting a tragic backstory, it seems, which makes complete sense since nothing of the sort was ever suggested in the first season. This being Sapphogear, though, I am perfectly happy to overlook such a thing, since this show is best when it is the most incoherent (see: shooting the moon to get back at god). However, if we have to watch Hibiki being all uguu angst for a while, gonna be really nonplussed, since that is about the least interesting thing that we could watch.

Anyway, more shots of Miku looking sad and hoping the best for Hibiki as she fights are a good thing in my book, so thumbs up on that. Thumbs up, too, to the battle songs in this episode; Nana Mizuki remains a great vocalist, and the others are as thrillingly bad as one could ever hope for.

Day Break Illusion, episodes 1-3

I can’t really explain why I like this show. There’s a lot that just isn’t good at all about it – the thing doesn’t have a subtle bone in its body, and the pacing is enough to make the Sailor Moon manga look like Yokohama Shopping Log – but I am enjoying it regardless. Someone had questioned my enjoyment of it since I detested the misery porn of Madoka Magica, but the fact is that the characters here haven’t really actually suffered, and even the moments where sadface occurs, its so ham-handed that I can’t really take it seriously.

I do like some of the elements of the story so far, though, and that is what has kept me engaged. I like the idea of magical girl powers being passed down along family lines from mother to daughter. I also find it intriguing that the issue at stake isn’t that the girls could themselves die but is instead focused on that they are ultimately killing people – and that the people who get possessed and then killed are then completely erased from existence is utterly disturbing. I like that Akari has a somewhat split-personality from when she is transformed versus untransformed, although the show unfortunately walks that back a bit in the second and third episodes. And, hey, I absolutely LOVE that one of the girls is a magical girl just for the paycheck!

But, like I said, the pacing is just wretched. Nothing elicits any feeling in me because it all happens so damn fast that it feels totally artificial.

By the way, what’s up with the recent spate of shows with Itarian titles?

Watamote, episodes 1-2

If Gou from Free! is the fun self-insert character of the season, Kuroki is the funhouse mirror held up to the viewer in their ugliest hour, and while I find her endearing, I also find myself cringing frequently. Kuroki is a deluded weirdo, an anime otaku girl who has finally been let go to the extreme end of the fandom spectrum, a beautiful antidote to the Kirinos and Haruka Nogizakas of the world. If anything, she inclines me to feel onee-san-ish toward her – I want to take her hand, and tell her that it’ll be ok since I’ll help her learn how to socialize… and I’m not gonna pretend its something I’ve always been particularly good at myself.

In the meantime, I love the dark comedy going on here. I also am happy because not only is this not the cutesy otaku girl thing here, it is not the “shy girl with no friends suddenly has lots of friends and/or hot guys!” thing like with Kimi ni Todoke or The Wallflower or I Am Here!, either. I mean, really, stuff that noise.

Eccentric Family, episodes 1-2

I can’t really say how I feel about Eccentric Family as yet. I can say that I like the characters, and I like the setting, but I’m not terribly sure about… well, I was a bit bored during parts of the first episode, and the same was true of the second episode. I couldn’t help but wonder why I was supposed to care during some of the bits, even as I could recognize that they are part of what is being built up. I can’t really explain it properly, to be honest.

Now, maybe it is simply that its P.A. Works doing something that is fairly different from their previous works. I’ve said it before many times, but I’ll mention it again – I don’t like P.A. Works. The only show I ever finished of theirs was Angel Beats, and that hails from when I made myself finish things even when I wasn’t hot on them. Everything else has either bored me, or actively repelled me. I also utterly loathe their super-shiny, clinical approach to animation. So perhaps I am drawn in at the moment since its taking a different tack than usual… at the very least, the visuals make me pretty happy.

Speech Grapher, episodes 1-7

I started watching Speed Grapher because its available on Netflix. That really is it. Netflix doesn’t have a huge offering of anime, but this was one of them, and the description was bizarre (guy gains the power to blow things up with his camera!), so I decided to give it a go.

Speed Grapher is best when it is most off-the-wall. Speed Grapher sucks when it tries to be more serious. As the show has gone on, it has tried to be more serious, and that is itself seriously disappointing. I much prefer watching a woman chow down on diamonds than I do on introspection about human suffering, thank you.

The best character in the show is a loose canon cop who is walking cheesecake, and who fulfills the fanservice quotient for the OP. She’s a total nut, and delightfully so. In one scene, the lead guy has come to her to retrieve his camera, and she handcuffs him to her bed and tries to wheedle him into sex. He ends up passing out because he’s gotten blown up and chased around, and her initial response is to be pissed off and express her disbelief that he’s done such a thing instead of getting all worried about if he’s ok or not. It’s hilarious. She also spends a decent amount of her screentime shooting people in the face while gleefully remarking, “Self-defense!” She is a terribly problematic character, but I friggin’ love her anyway.

Perhaps interestingly, the only groups of people in Speed Grapher who never have members of their group depicted as bad people are gay guys and drag queens. I would never call the depiction of these characters nuanced, and Funimation’s approach to their voice-acting is frequently borderline-offensive, but it is curious to me that they are the only ones who are universally shown as good people.

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One Response to Week in Review, 7/12 – 7/20

  1. Stef says:

    I seem to hear a lot people say that they have difficulty caring about what’s happening in Eccentric Family. Curious, eh? I don’t have this problem myself. I think it might be because the audience isn’t totally let in on who the characters and what their problems are. It’s all very suggestive and progressive and not in-your-face. So I guess you could have trouble at the beginning relating to them if you’re not used to that sort of storytelling. I’m sure you won’t have this problem once the plot starts and a clear(er) goal is defined. Maybe.

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