Week in Review, 7/27 – 8/2

rokka ep 5

You know, its kind of sad, but I do get these things written far earlier in the week than when I’m able to sit down and take the time to post the already-written material. It’s surprising how much time ultimately is needed in order to do a blog post even with the text already all set. For example, I screencapped on another computer what I had planned to use as my intro image, forgot to forward it, and will now end up probably wasting fifteen minutes getting it all over again. (As it has turned out, I can’t get it because my IP address is for a country that does not have simulcasting for Himouto! Umaru-chan.)

I’m behind on Princess Precure. I think there’s an awareness on my part that it probably already had its high water mark that makes me less inclined to keep watching. Kind of ironic!

Himouto! Umaru-chan, episode 4

I’m not sure what happened with this show this week, but the episode aired on Sunday instead of its usual Wednesday. Gangsta also aired on Sunday instead of its customary Wednesday, but that appears to have been a permanent change, whereas Himouto is slated to go back to Wednesday airdates going forward.

If episode three was boring, and episodes one and two featured way too much of Umaru’s worst behavior, episode four has finally found a nice balance. Umaru spends a lot less time being a blobby brat (no temper tantrums!), and that allows for other members of the cast to provide their share of amusement, with the demented Tachibana Sylphynford stealing the episode, complete with her odd sound effects. Sylphynford isn’t a wholly new addition like Kirie was last week, as we’ve watched her prance around the screen with blue hair blazing as she declared her intent to defeat Umaru, but she’s worked in more organically here whereas previously her inclusion felt perfunctory at best.

But, hey, enough about that – let’s get to the important thing. TaiheixAlex – yes or no? I’m leaning toward “yes”, and hopefully you are, too.

Symphogear GX, episode 5

Nothing happened that we didn’t know was going to happen, but it was executed with the energy and cheese that Symphogear can be depended upon to provide week in and week out. Here’s hoping they also figure out how to get Maria back in the action soon – it’s a foregone conclusion that they will, but I want her sooner rather than later. I like all of the Symphogears, but Maria’s my favorite (Hibiki is a close second), so it’s been a bit of a drag to have her out of action excepting her effort with Gugnir when Hibiki faltered.

Rokka – Braves of the Six Flowers, episode 4

I wasn’t quite anticipating a locked room mystery, even with the obvious question of “Who activated the barrier?” that arose last week, and I’ll admit surprise that at the close of the episode everyone is still hanging around said room given that this series is only projected for one cours. Is there a second season potentially in the offing? There’s certainly the material for it – the collected sixth volume of the light novel was released less than two weeks ago – although pacing prior to episode four certainly fits with only twelve episodes. But this is all just speculation territory…

Anyway, best episode to take place entirely in one room since Mouryou no Hako! (MnH managed two excellent episodes in a row that took place in the same room, though, so Rokka isn’t quite at that high-water mark.) This episode was a good example of how to do exposition without going into “data dump” territory. We learned a lot about several of the characters, in particular Flamie, in terms of their backstory, but also in terms of their attitudes, personalities, outlooks… Not all of this came verbally, though – witness the variations in the way the various characters move and comport themselves, and it gives further depth to their characterization. Both Chamot and Hans are very self-confident characters, but for entirely different reasons, and it shows – Hans is accustomed to being crafty and agile to get the upper hand, while Chamot is simply used to being stronger than anyone else, and as such, while they both move about much more than any of the others, they do so in very different ways.

We’re no closer to working out who the fake is, although I do wonder if the fake and the one who activated the barrier are necessarily the same anyway. Putting that aside, my money is on Goldov as the fake. I think it’s likelier that a male is the fake due to the fact that all the female Braves are saints. In order to become a saint, a god or goddess has to pick the girl or woman, and Braves are usually (although not always) saints. As such, well, it’d be very odd if a woman in league with the Demon God could become a saint. Flamie on initial glance seems to refute this, but despite her background, Flamie came around to being anti-Demon God. Presumably given their superhuman powers, they have the wherewithal to know whether they’re picking a person who is going to go along with the agreed anti-Demon God program.

By the way, Chamot is one of the scariest characters this year. There’s been a glut of cute but scary girls for years and years across many mediums, but Chamot doesn’t feel like a tired archety

Shimoneta, ep. 5

Speaking of scary characters, wow! Anna is really scary! And she’s got that cute but scary thing going for her like Chamot, although she’s in yandere territory and that certainly isn’t the case with Chamot. But if Anna can’t tell the difference between love and lust, Okuma can’t tell the difference between admiration and love, as evidenced by his feelings toward and ideas about Anna.

Shimoneta continued to get smarter in this episode, which is a big plus since its opening episode had me quite worried. Kujo’s remark about how boys’ idealized image of girls/women is bound to be shattered at some point underlined last week’s implicit message that the ideal of the pristine and pure woman is bad for all parties since it leads to warped and stunted sexualities.

I would be lying, though, if I didn’t admit that my favorite part of the episode was the feint performed by the high school girls at the forest to clear the place of guards.

Prison School, episode 4

WHAT A WRENCHING EPISODE! I’m sooo annoyed Kiyoshi didn’t go after Chiyo and tell her what was really going on, but I also think it was silly for him to not confess at the start of their date that he had snuck out. Sure, she’d probably then worry about him getting caught, but she wouldn’t be under the impression that he was doing something weird like sniffing her blazer.

Oh, next week will be agony…

My Wife is the Student Council President!, episode 5

There I was, just about to hit ‘play’ on the latest episode of this season’s best-kept secret. A horrible noise erupted from the far end of the apartment… someone was ringing from downstairs. I sighed – it was getting to be like clockwork. I got up, shut the dining room door behind me, and walked to the intercom, “Allo?”

“Deutsch Deutsch Deutsch Deutsch Deutsch Deutsch Deutsch Deutsch Deutsch Deutsch.”

“Uhhhh sprechen zie englisch?”

“Nein.” An awkward pause of ten seconds, “DHL!”

I went downstairs. The pain of a language barrier ensued. My name wasn’t on the box – this wasn’t the latest Yuri Bear Storm DVD! I pointed to another building, “Asoko!” The man stared and I stuttered, realizing my mistake. I pointed to the address on the box, pointed to the placard on my home, crossed my arms and said, “Nein!” I then pointed to the other building again, pointed at the box, and declared, “Ja!” He smiled and left me in peace. I returned upstairs to my boobular crappy anime. Somehow, the spell was broken.

Gakkou-Gurashi, ep. 4

I liked this week’s episode, but something about it frustrated me intensely. No, it wasn’t “Why does this mall have a twelve week supply of cornflakes and milk in a storage room that also has a bathroom, a sink, bedding, and furniture?”, nor was it, “What are they doing about the dog poo?”. It was – “Why don’t they just make the subtext text here?” Miki and her “gal pal” Kei have so many moments that clearly hint at a romantic attraction between the two that shots like immediately below feel like baiting:

[screenshot pending – screencapped on other computer…]

Surely someone will insist that I’m being unfair for wanting to “drag that sort of thing” (to quote someone who made a comment on another post where I complained about a show’s refusal to make explicit the teasing it was doing) into this show. However, if the show isn’t the “right” place for it, then why bother with including any subtext of this sort at all? Have Miki take cover with her grandmother at the grocery store instead of with a classmate at the mall and the matter vanishes.

This aspect nagged at me, but Gakkou-Gurashi remains the best horror anime there’s been in ages. Zombie stories aren’t an area of horror that typically interests me (with some exceptions – The Forest of Hands and Teeth was really good), but this show has an excellent sense of tension and the solid characterization necessary to make the stakes matter. Wish more of the horror we get in anime was like this.

Red-haired Snow White, ep. 3

Well… let me put it to you this way – I don’t like this show enough to bother getting a subscription to watch it in simulcast. Once again, though, I found myself thinking I should be watching Sainkoku Monogatari instead. At the same time, this is one of those cases where I feel that I might be being unfair about it given that so many others really adore this show. The whole “your hair makes you a hot commodity!” thing really bothers me a lot, even as it didn’t have any presence in this episode. It’s such a typical shoujo plotpoint, and one I’d love to see expurgated from the ‘genre’ completely.

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1 Response to Week in Review, 7/27 – 8/2

  1. JekoJeko says:

    The pseudo-romance between Miki and Kei was well-placed, imo. You might think you’re the only survivors of this apocalypse, and the thing you may be craving more than anything is comfort, both physically and deeply emotionally. That can easily translate into imagery that looks ‘baity’ when it is merely the proximity that girls can have with each other as friends, proximity which Miki would desire of Kei being so close to her, making their parting more tragic as Kei clearly didn’t value it as highly. I’m no stranger to how Japanese girls can act this way towards each other with no thoughts of romance.

    Over-familiarity with ‘that sort of thing’ can breed contempt for it, which can make it harder to enjoy these notes of love and affection. It’s hardly a subtext if it’s so blatant; it flouts the definition of the word. What we have here is just affection – the holding of hands in bed, for instance – used for Miki character development.

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