Day: The first half of this year wasn’t so hot for anime, with some exceptions (Yuri Bear Storm, Shirobako), but, damn, the second half sure has made up for it! I bring this up since this week was another reminder of why this autumn has far exceeded my expectations anime-wise. Sure, stuff like Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans might be fast wearing out its welcome, but who needs that when I can have quality material like Dance with Devils and High School Star Musical?
Cara: This week features a chorus of pomeranians, a couple of bears and some decent action scenes – it was a good week for trash.
K – Return of Kings, episode 8
Day: I think slightly-grizzled priest being the final king is almost the best thing that has happened to K this season. It came out of just about nowhere while also making perfect sense, and it’s given things a good kick in the pants. Of course, for it to have had the effective punch to it that it’s had, the best thing the season did had to happen, which was the introduction of Jungle. As I’ve said before, I don’t find the disagreement between Scepter 4 and Homra at all compelling – a group that seemed to only desire chaos was a perfect move by the show… although the ensuing war councils between Scepter 4, Homra, and the Silvers could’ve had some trimming of screentime. This episode, too, was a bit too heavy on verbal exposition, even if we got a lot of intriguing information out of it.
Although I like Iwafune a lot more than much of the cast, the best part of the episode was the conversation between Munakata and Fushimi. I’ve never had any love for Yata or Fushimi, but the latter is the infinitely worse of the two. Munakata’s charge that the young man ditches out when the going gets tough and the implication that disloyalty is a key component of his character is absolutely on the nose, and for all Yata’s obnoxious habit of bristling at everything, he can’t be accused of anything worse than a bad temper and a chip on his shoulder. Peter doesn’t ship anyone down the river – that’s all Judas’s game. Even though some of what Fushimi says is legitimate, his terrible basic character means that there’s no reason to give praise for saying a few things that others won’t.
I’ve been mulling a bit on Jungle’s alleged goal – power for everyone! – for a while, enough so that watching Iwafune and Munakata duke it out while babbling at each other, I had a moment where it all clicked in my head. The disagreement over the Slates is really just a continuation of the clash between liberalism (in the classical sense) and fascism, isn’t it? Shiro is an ex-Nazi; the Gold King was an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army. Munakata himself isn’t directly linked to either fascist regime, but he buys into the ideology of how power should be allotted completely. None of these individuals wants to share the power of the Dresden Slates, believing that people will fall into chaos if they’ve got their own power from them. It really boils down to not thinking that the masses can be trusted. These folks have a very paternalistic outlook.
On the other hand, Nagare and Iwafune think that people should have access to the power of the Slates, which is, of course, ultimately about trusting people. Iwafune is a bit more explicit about it – he thinks people should have the ability to protect themselves, something he came to believe after the Nagasu Incident killed so many people.
Put in these terms, I feel uneasy about our Scepter 4-Homra-Silver alliance. I also feel like Homra is a weird fit in it, since they’ve always had that more ‘rebellious’ air to them. Shiro’s been treating people a bit like they’re children ever since he got his ‘real’ personality back, and, uh, he’s an ex-Nazi, so it doesn’t feel weird for him to be against sharing power with society writ large, but, yeah, Homra feels a strange fit for such a mission.
What’s the over-under for Munakata’s mortality, by the way? Surely he isn’t going to still be alive by the time the show ends, hmm?
Cara: I liked this episode. Sure it had quite a lot of expository dialogue going on, but the stuff being revealed was very interesting. I like how we got a bit of Iwafune’s backstory, it explains a lot about his current personality and why such a powerful King has opted to mostly take a backseat to all the squabbles over the Slates. Having your entire clan wiped out is a pretty understandable reason for wanting a complete break from your responsibilities, and backing any plan that would give more ordinary people the power to protect themselves from any future disaster caused by Kings going out of control.
Iwafune’s fight against Munakata was pretty cool, I like the Gray king’s powers – that powerful mist barrier coupled with expert marksmanship made for an interesting looking fight (with spinning camera’s galore!). Shiro didn’t really play much of a role, only moving to protect the exhausted Anna – seems our Silver king isn’t much good at adapting his plans on the fly, he was completely blindsided by the reappearance of one of the most powerful Kings on the opposing side and just let Munakata handle him. Although it looks like Munakata’s loss has had some direct impact on the state of his Damocles Sword – I don’t think the Blue king is going to last the season at this rate.
Which made me wonder who the next Blue king would be. Ceri is the obvious choice since she’s Munakata’s lieutenant and shares the ideals of Sceptre 4, but I couldn’t help but think the power-hungry Fushimi is more likely to step up to become a King. Just because, even if he doesn’t strictly adhere to the Blue’s ideals of order and justice, Fushimi is the only one willing to be brutally honest at all times with everyone regardless of their status and he’s clearly ambitious. But then again Fushimi is a professional shit-stirrer and proves to be a complete arsehole again when he defects from his second clan. I kind of think the Green clan will be a better fit for Fushimi though, they’ve got the tech that he excels at, but also revel in the chaotic battles that he seems to enjoy so much. Although part of me is wondering if this is some sort of elaborate ruse the Blues have cooked up – to get a man inside Jungle and manipulate things from the top of the clan. Fushimi is the obvious choice to play that role since he has a track-record of betrayal and has extremely relevant skills that the Green clan may be interested in.
Good episode, definitely looking forward to next week!
High School Star Musical, episode 7
Day: An excellent episode of Starmu! Even, perhaps, the best! It did drag at some points when it moved away from the sillier material, like when Hiragi was making broody eyes at Otori, but these scenes were thankfully few.
The music and dance interludes have all been pretty amusing, but the one for Team Hiragi was the funniest since it was worked into the episode in a way that made it clear that they were really and truly doing their musical number in the backyard of the mountain-set mansion. Previously, these routines have been inserted in a way that suggests that the characters are undergoing introspection and perhaps fantasizing, but are not really dancing around and singing. Here, though, they burst through gates marked “DANGER: BEARS” and pose on top of sheds. Maybe this is the difference between being a rising star and being a pretender?
I really loved Inumine. Team Hiragi, personality-wise, is obviously a reflection of Team Otori, with the same types represented, but Inunime’s doofiness is different enough from Hoshitani that I found it endearing. I cannot at all envision Hoshitani breaking through a wall, or consuming his weight in radishes. (They both, I’ve realized, remind me a bit of Italy in Hetalia…)
Although the red-head from Team Hiragi still pisses me off, watching the two squads work together was enjoyable. They must all be pretty stupid, though, to have tried to cover for the broken vase like they did. A bear did it? And they hid the shards under a couple of shirts, and left the shirtless boys striking poses as a distraction? Uh, yeah, great job, kids.
Cara: TRAINING CAMP! What a fun episode and a great way to get to know Team Hiragi a touch better. I loved that their musical number actually merged in with the flow of the scene rather than being a sudden cut away to an imaginary world of musical fantasy. But man that song – all the casino imagery and the lyrics basically boil down to “aren’t we fucking fantastic!? Look how bloody great we are at all the things! I’m going to dance on top of this shed.” Loved it.
Generally this episode just filled with fun, cute moments. Tengenji & Kaito being adorably tsundere to each other on the bus, Nayuki fainting into Kuga’s arms, Inumine’s Mr Bear song (Inumine being a goof in general actually), Otori bullshitting the boys about the vase being cursed and Hiragi casually backing him up, the male bonding montage – it was just a really entertaining episode. Keep being fun Starmyu!
Cara’s current Starmyu character ranking: Tengenji > Nayuki > Otori > Kuga > Kaito > Hiragi > Hoshitani > Inumine > Tsukigami-senpai >Nayuki’s sisters > Purple’s Playboy friend > Tatsumi > rest of Team Hiragi
Dance with Devils, episode 7
Day: Alright, I revise myself slightly – Lindo isn’t half-devil, he’s half-vampire, if his behavior this week is anything to go by. It would fit, too, with the occasional references to the fact that vampires and devils are both clamoring for the grimoire since it should prove the tipping point in their conflict with one another.
Speaking of that conflict, Loewen’s line of argument that Ritsuka should just let the devils have the grimoire since it’ll end the fight with the vampires struck me as odd at best. He’s already concealing the fact that activation of the grimoire will kill Ritsuka, so why not just go the whole nine yards and play it up as if Loewen isn’t aligned with either side and simply is concerned about Ritsuka’s safety? After all, in arguing that the devils should get the power of the grimoire, one is left with the question of what happens after the devils have vanquished the vampires – surely they won’t be planning to then put their feet up and relax at tea parties. But, then again, since Ritsuka doesn’t seem doubtful of the validity of the whole “this way the devils will win!” angle anyway, it doesn’t matter much that he was open about that, does it?
So, is the grimoire ultimately about getting one’s period or parting with one’s virginity? Loewen’s puncturing of Ritsuka’s chest with his claws such that she bled suggests it could go either way. The bed he gestures toward, however, is somewhat bridal in appearance, which would suggest the latter. There’s an interesting little parallel with the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty in this. So, surely we’re all familiar with Disney’s take, in which the kiss awakens the slumbering princess. All very nice, yes, and isn’t it beautiful how consent issues can be papered over as it being mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. However, in the original, Sleeping Beauty is knocked up by the encounter, not something which is normally associated with mere kissing. Granted, in Dance with Devils, instead of being literally awoken by sexual awakening, Ritsuka will die from it.
It does put a slightly different spin on the otome game aspect of the show, huh? At least our heroine will have more choice, theoretically, over the whole matter than Sleeping Beauty did. But, gee, wouldn’t it be much cooler if Ritsuka could wield the power herself rather than merely shriveling up from it?
Oh, and, I must of course note before I finish up – the operatic pomeranians. Wow.
Cara: Well Loewen joins Shiki & Lindo down at the bottom of the best boy rankings. The others have been a bit grabby with Ritsuka, but Loewen is the first to actually grope and injure her (well until Lindo goes batshit and scratches her later in the episode). Loewen does get a pretty great song though – anything that includes a chorus of pomeranians and a metric tonne of forbidden fruit imagery gets automatic bonus points, as does his claim to actually be Cerberus!
Other random things I found interesting this week was Rem’s daddy issues (which are perfectly understandable given his Da appears to be an abusive giant eyeball), and how Ritsuka and Rem move to protect each other when Lindo goes into his vampiric rampage. Rem was always the frontrunner, but I think it’s clear at this point that the other boys don’t have a snowball’s chance of winning now. Oh and the reveal that Ritsuka herself is the grimoire & will die if it’s used……but I think the majority of us figured that out in episode 1.
Valkyrie Drive -Mermaid-, episodes 5-6
Day: I think Valkyrie Drive might be the trashiest show I’ve ever watched, other than hentai (and I genuinely think that Valkyrie Drive is trashier than a lot of hentai, even). Wracking my memory, of anime I am aware of, I think maybe only Seikon no Qwaser is on this show’s level… sure, there’s Queen’s Blade and Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls, but even those don’t seem to be quite as dedicated to trash as this. So, Valkyrie Drive – as bad as the breast milk fetish show, worse than the exploding-boobs show!
I genuinely don’t have anything else to say. The charm seems to be wearing off a bit for me – the sudden contortions of the show to make it not actually yuri have certainly not done anything to prevent that from happening. Not that I had anticipated a ‘proper’ yuri show, to be honest, but, ah, I can still get annoyed, can’t I?
Seraph of the End S2, episode 7
Cara: This was an action episode for the most part, but was mainly focused on shipping Guren & Shinya…..which I was fine with. Guren & Shinya have this easy camaraderie where they constantly snipe at each other good naturedly, while also displaying exemplary teamwork. They’ve clearly known each other for years and know just how the other ticks – they make a good team……which means that one of them (probably Shinya) is definitely going to die soon, because that’s just how these things go in Seraph of the End. I’d imagine some sort of heroic sacrifice inspiring a rage/grief powered comeback of some description……maybe with the eventual reveal that he wasn’t dead afterall! Honestly I’ll be shocked if this isn’t how things play out – Yuu arriving on the scene at the last minute probably isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference (unless Mika arrives at the pivotal moment).
But I do quite enjoy Crowley, the vampire noble they’re having so much trouble with, (even if I could do without his buxom minions – how do their strapless dresses stay up over those bowling balls they call boobs?), for his laidback attitude. He’s not as mustache-twirlingly evil as Ferid and some of the other vampires, and actually seems to be a pretty decent fella (when he’s not crucifying humans outside his office that is). So I am looking forward to the rest of this fight. At least something is actually happening now!