Week in Review, 5/9 – 5/15

macross delta 6

“Gal pals”

Whenever I finish an episode of Macross Delta, I marvel at the fact that my spouse can stand to watch it with me since I spend the entire time making comments like, “That’s a very lesbian outfit.”, “Walkure means ‘lesbian’.”, and “The power of lesbianism!”. I enjoy myself very much watching it in this fashion, but I can’t imagine it makes for a fun experience for anyone else.

Big Order, ep. 5

I wish more people were watching Big Order, as I feel deprived of the enjoyment of witnessing other people react to its various ludicrous and stupid developments on a weekly basis. It’s also thus far been one of those shows that is nearly perfect example of a bad anime, as it manages to very little well (the perfect bad anime example remains Vampire Holmes). From episode two onwards, it’s been competent in terms of visuals and animation, and the voice acting is fine, so it isn’t a complete disaster, but that’s where the damning with faint praise ends and we hurtle straight into damnation.

In this episode, Big Order moves beyond simply weak storytelling to outright bad storytelling. This is perhaps unsurprising given that this show has apparently so far compressed four volumes into five episodes, and is careful to not cut the important bits, like the rock girl groping and rubbing all the steamed-out boobs and nipples of the female cast. She does this because she loves mountaineering, and, of course, mountains and breasts are both peaks! Makes perfect sense. But, anyway, the storytelling – the seams are showing here from where jumps have been taken in events, and it results in a steaming, baffling slop in the middle of the episode which involves, among other things, sister-screwing. It also very casually tosses off that, hey, by the way, Eiji’s conquered all of Hiroshima, something something yakuza. Then it dumps us into a crappy deeto sequence where, uguu, Rin is slowly forgetting her thirst for vengeance in favor of thirsting for something else. But, uguuuuuuuuuu, another guy can use the domination technique Eiji can and gets Rin to want to kill Eiji again?! Oh no!!! This is very, very sad. Rin and Eiji were getting along and indirect kissuing! Cry for the fact that another man has NTR’d the biggest idiot in the show. CRY.

Oh, yeah, and you know the insta-pregnancy from the previous two episodes? Yeah, uh, so, her pregnancy disappeared. Well. Whatever.

Kagewani: Shou, ep. 6

Kagewani’s been such a disappointment this season. This episode was a trite story about the plant boy from last season trying to go all Pinnochio on us, with the icing on the cake being that his murder of his bullies last season is rewritten as his power just going out of control. Kagewani’s first season wasn’t perfect, but it at least knew what it wanted to be, while here it’s been a non-stop veer fest, complete with comically melodramatic attempts to jerk the audience’s heartstrings.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, ep. 5

The first half of the episode was about as subtle as a lead pipe (“But that’s how Araki is!” ok, fine, but I guess then Araki isn’t exactly my bag), but I did enjoy the second half of the episode as we moved away from people on the train making cranky faces because Mumei says stupid things from time to time. Honestly, I do like the way that Mumei is handled in this regard, as doing a poor job at “acting” like a person; she’s not, apparently, used to being around “regular” people, and she isn’t really capable of thinking it through enough to fake it, either. Her approach to the problem of how to get the train through a blockage underscores the latter, as she’s simply bored with the idea of tactics any more complex than diving in headfirst to shoot anything that moves. This makes her frequently frustrating to watch, but it’s so much more preferable to her having been flawless. It also would’ve made if difficult for her to be a foil for Ikoma, who is far less powerful than she is but far more thoughtful.

Sailor Moon Crystal III, ep. 6

I simply didn’t have the time to do this any justice, to my chagrin, as I’ve enjoyed blogging this episodically so far. In a reminder of how far we are from the bad old days of Sailor Moon Crystal’s “first” season, there were a lot of nicely composed shots this week, and overall good visual direction. We also got a couple of incredibly fabulous outfits out of Haruka and Michiru, always a good thing in my book! Putting Haruka into skirts, if anything, actually ups her butchiness. And it’s like I’m twelve years old all over again! Sighhhh.

Although SMC still sticks pretty closely to the original manga, I think there was a slight change in the mix here. If I’m not misremembering, the scene with Makoto and Minako being knocked out by the death plant originally featured Makoto’s kouhai instead of Minako. It’s not a big change, but I was a little bit disappointed, as I quite liked her adorable kouhai and his obvious admiration for her. Ah well.

In other news, whoa, Ai Maeda as Setsuna? I didn’t quite catch on in the previous episode to this, but it feels quite weird to have Mimi Tachikawa as the voice of Sailor Pluto.

Macross Delta, ep. 6

*grits teeth* Ok, fine, Hayate has managed to become tolerable and even somewhat decent. The impending love triangle is still very much odious, but Hayate’s mere presence no longer inspires malicious thoughts on my part. It helps that he’s taking things a little more seriously and that he doesn’t bite Mirage’s head off when she tries to comfort him toward the end of the episode (unlike how he reacted when she tried to do the same for Freyja). In fact, this whole portion of the episode is fairly refreshing, as things don’t get mired in mopery in the wake of Hayate’s first combat kill.

On a larger picture note, while I’ve seen a fair bit of comparisons to AKB0048 for this entry in the Macross franchise, and while there certainly are some big items the two share, I find it much more reminiscent of Aquarion EVOL. Windermere reminds me of Altair, in terms of politics and visual design. Altair goes for an industrial look, while Windermere is happier with being a planet of the space!Alps, but both are dominated with white and grey tones. Both, too, are very male – female Windermereans certainly exist, but they do not seem to get to be in the halls of power much. The contrast between the protagonists and antagonists also parallels, as Vega and Ragna are neon-hued and have women playing active roles in places of power. And there’s definitely a gender angle at work in both, as EVOL had Altair trying to kidnap women from Vega to help re-populate their dying world, and Delta’s got a destructive male voice versus redemptive female voices. (Arad is also a far less actively bizarre version of Zen Fudo.)

Speaking of male voices, Mikumo’s comment on the Winderemere prince’s voice just makes me all the more curious about what her end goals are, since, as I said last week, I’m not totally convinced that they line up with anyone else’s. (Well, you know, her goals other than continuing to build her own harem under the guise of leading an idol group.) At the moment, she’s playing a role similar to that of Messer, in that she’s behaving rather brutally toward Freyja as a means of getting the girl to get her crap together. However, she’s much, much more unsettling than Messer could ever manage, so I like her a lot more – tough-love male characters are so common that its difficult to make them interesting even when a “unique” spin is attempted, and there is no unique spin to be had here. (Of course, the Macross franchise doesn’t seem too fantastic at this character type, anyway.)

For all that I enjoyed this episode, though, I am really, really dreading the full arrival of the love triangle. Truly.

Kiznaiver, ep. 6

Aha, I called it! Maki’s backstory really does involve The Gay! A+, jackpot. I’m fairly dismayed at the whole “Maki is a manga author!” aspect, though – goodness, if you went by anime, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the average age of manga authors is roughly seventeen. Placing it within the bounds of a contest makes it a little less irksome, but not by much. The discussion Lulu and Maki have in the flashback toward the start of the episode had me thinking they’d run for president and vice president of their junior high’s student council, and while, ugh, student councils, it wouldn’t’ve been quite so eyeroll-inducing.

I honestly don’t like, either, the way the whole thing is unfolding in terms of Yuta’s role in it. It’s all running the risk of Heterosexuality to the Rescue!, and that’s fairly tiresome. Goodness. Surely we can get past ripping plots from 1950’s pulp at this point? I’d rather Nico were the one making the inroads that Yuta’s managing – and, no, not even in a yuri sense.

The Lost Village, ep. 7

I quite enjoyed this episode. It managed to be genuinely creepy at bits, like the shiny happy people routine when Mitsumune showed back up, and the final scene was a great demonstration of human weakness and the mob mentality. After lighting torches to hunt down a teenager, tying her to a stake and then attempting to torture her by tossing water on her, suddenly people get cold feet because someone’s whipped out a knife. People mumble about not having actually wanted to go so hardcore on the girl, which is interesting considering they took the time to carve stakes to stab her with themselves. But for all their mealy-mouthed sad noises about a girl being potentially stabbed, none of them are admitting that they were wrong in the first place, either – it’s all focused on how the way things have developed have made the persecutors feel, not about the effect of their actions on their victim.

The obvious argument at work in The Lost Village is that it’s cluster of people who are mentally damaged in some manner, and have reverted to childish thinking (I’ll run away from home!) instead of facing up to their traumas and hang-ups (I’ll note that I’m not comfortable with this set-up for the stalking victim or the sexual harassment victim since it ignores that their issues are tied into societal problems of not taking threats to women seriously, but that’s a different issue). But arguably being a “well-adjusted” member of society doesn’t have much to do with whether one can resist the pull of the mob, so even if these folks can work through their problems, this isn’t something which can be expected to change. Maybe instead of hemming and hawing about exact pronunciations of things, or pettily sniffing about only wanting to tie a girl to a stake and not to stab her, they’ll all be more active participants in mass nonsense like Lovepon is.

By the way, I saw someone suggesting that The Lost Village could be a critique of the Japanese mental health system (whoa, get ready, I’ve never even tried this before):

This is an intriguing idea, and while I’m not quite convinced, well, I am intrigued. I think that The Lost Village probably thinks its manner of treating mental anguish, though, isn’t a half-bad idea.

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