Week in Review, 5/15 – 5/21

brigadoon 17

Blog turned nine on Friday – wild, huh?

Seems… hmm. I’m not sure if I’m surprised that I’ve stuck it out this long, in part as I can’t remember at all if, when I started it, I considered potential longevity at any point. I think when I hit the four year mark or so I did wonder about the “how long?” question simply because by that point it’d been established that most anime blogs last only two or three years, but otherwise… Although, if I went back and reviewed anniversary posts, would these prove my recollection untrue? If I felt more curiosity on the matter, I could furnish an answer, but, somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter much which is true and which is not.

I suppose, I suppose, I suppose that, in some ways, that it has lingered onwards this long is itself indicative of some sort of triumph. Nine years ago, I was nineteen years old, and couldn’t picture myself in my late twenties, probably because I couldn’t imagine having that sort of future at all… It was hard to imagine that I’d still be alive. Sometimes I’m still amazed that I am, and occasionally I resent it, even… Things get better, things get worse, although I think that things on the balance are better now than they were then, and I’m nowhere near the nadir I hit a few years ago. Has blogging ever helped with this? Probably, even if I wasn’t necessarily blogging about these things directly. At the very least, blogging ended up steering me into a community I likely wouldn’t’ve found otherwise, and it did ultimately result in meeting someone I fell in love with and have built a life with. Those are certainly both important things. So – I’m glad I blog, even if I hardly have the output I used to, and that itself can be frustrating.

Anyway, though, anime.

Planning to watch A Silent Voice next weekend, since it’s becoming available digitally in the UK to-morrow. I really wish I could’ve seen it in-theaters, but the dates and locations simply didn’t work out for me, sadly. I read the first few volumes of the manga back when Crunchyroll was publishing it, and I enjoyed what I read of it even as I found it frequently emotionally-draining, so I’ve been looking forward to checking out the film for a while.

Bahamut: Virgin Soul, ep. 7

This was easily the weakest episode to date for this show. There was a lot of treading of water, surely in service of ending on a cliff-hanger, with the result that for all that this should’ve been dramatic, it felt fairly forgettable and bland. I found myself picking at the little details a fair bit (they’re trying to be surreptitious but Azazel keeps chilling out on the roofs of towers in a baggy cloak in broad daylight? and when the demons place explosive seals on stuff they immediately all run away frantically and guiltily right afterward?), which is a clear indicator that I wasn’t finding things much engaging.

And, while there’s been a lot of this show having sillier comedic moments cheek-by-jowl with more serious and grim material, this felt like the first time they failed to make it balance right. It’s definitely amusing to watch Azazel fail to get Nina to morph into a dragon despite multiple attempts, and one can argue it helps illustrate that his plan isn’t particularly well-crafted, but cutting from that to his compatriots beginning to panic and then to them being stabbed and crushed was discordant at best. Granted, this bit, too, felt artificially dragged out, which may have been part of the problem.

So, a bit disappointing! I’ve heard the first series began to stumble around this point, so I hope this isn’t going to prove a repeat in that regard.

Anonymous Noise, ep. 6

I like Miou. She has her moments of angst and anguish, too, but they seem appropriately in proportion to the things that are making her feel down. Miou’s got a raw deal in this show, since she isn’t the heroine, after all, and she’s always been smart enough to realize that Yuzu was never really seeing her all along anyway. (And the guy who is obviously in contention to be her replacement love interest is pretty darn dull, isn’t he?) I liked the whole earring thing – there’s a little bit of melodrama to it, but its the right level of it, and the whole thing is a believable sequence. And, damn, isn’t it nice to have someone call Nino out on her deranged behavior?

Speaking of deranged… oh dear, the whole guitar thing. It creeps me out that Kuze gave Nino Momo’s damaged guitar, and Nino’s own behavior toward the guitar likewise makes me uneasy. I was going to say that it’s the sort of thing which seems romantic when you’re fourteen, but creepy when you’re twenty-four (or older), but, then again, the steady stream of this kind of stuff in entertainment for adults makes it clear that this isn’t universal. Well, whatever – it’s creepy! Would you want someone in your life deciding to hand over discarded possessions of yours to someone they’ve decided should be given these items? That Momo is meant to be hung up on Nino doesn’t change that this isn’t a decision Kuze should’ve made for him.

Having said this, the Miou material elevates this episode enough that I do think it’s one of the better ones.

Brigadoon, ep. 15-17

Good lord, what a depressing show. Marin finally manages to get home but encounters a Japan which is reminiscent of the country in the latter days of WWII, as everything is falling apart, there’s little food, little shelter, and no sign that things will ever get any better. At points, this all starts to border on overkill, as is especially the case when an older girl who’s looked out for Marin in the past berates and physically beats her over an attempt to steal bread. This is pitched as the other girl preventing Marin from betraying her own principles, but Marin is twelve, on the verge of starvation, and has been denied safe harbor in a refugee center – what on earth are principles at that point?

I want to say more, but it also feels impossible to at this point; I do wonder how much further things can bottom out from here, as there’s a good chunk of runtime still to come and things have been getting progressively worse and worse. I’m wary of gloom occurring for the sake of gloom rather than in service of a larger goal… it can be quite difficult to walk the line appropriately with downer material, after all. Oh, I don’t know… I find myself beginning to wonder what the thinking was behind making this show and what the staff were trying to get across with it. Probably best to leave these questions until I’ve actually finished the whole thing off, I suppose.

Starmu S2, ep. 7

Complications caused by a refusal by characters to communicate in what are ultimately pretty simple situations are usually pretty irritating, but the whole thing with Hoshitani and Nayuki here is ridiculous and goofy enough that I actually found it funny. I am a little troubled to discover that Nayuki’s apparently nearly as daft as Hoshitani, though – boy, you’re the shy, soft-spoken one, but I really did think you had more than half a brain…

Lovely to see Ageha get smacked down, although I am not looking forward to watching him sulking around next episode, as I dislike him on the grounds of his creepiness. But I suppose we’re going to be stuck with quite a bit of him for the rest of the season, anyway, as its obvious that he and Hoshitani are rivals even if the latter doesn’t quite recognize that.

Hoshitani flipping over his interactions with Otori given his recent realization + Nayuki flipping over his interactions with Hoshitani given his misplaced fear about Hoshitani’s food preferences = moments among the closest we’re ever going to get to actual confirmed BL in this show. Sigh. Poor Nayuki; you even confessed last season and only got some face-holding out of it.

White Hunger

(Aki Ollikainen)

A woman sets off on foot with her two children during the Finnish famine of 1866-68 with the intent of reaching St. Petersburg and what she hopes will prove to be salvation for herself and her kids.¬†Unrest and resentment is building throughout the land, though, and those she encounters are by turns hateful toward the starving masses and dismissive of her plans. Meanwhile, in the capital, bureaucrats convince themselves they are doing the right thing in avoiding providing food aid, and continue to dream of a glorious future for Finland – one that demands that citizens stop being “lazy” and weak.

Bah, the epilogue for this book completely threw me off-balance, as it tossed my feelings about the whole thing into disarray. It just seemed pointless and shifted the events of the narrative from being accurate to the harshness¬†of the historical event at the center of the book to having been excessive and as if someone was smacking the reader while shouting, “ISN’T THIS SO AWFUL? ISN’T THIS SO TERRIBLE? ISN’T THE WORLD A CRUEL, CRUEL PLACE?”.

Prior to this point, this is a well-written novel, so perhaps skip the epilogue completely? Admittedly, close to the end of the primary narative, I was beginning to have some misgivings about the way female characters were treated… However, the epilogue seemed to crystallize this sense in a way that I don’t think would’ve been the case had it dispensed with the epilogue entirely. It’s difficult to discuss this directly, though, without spoiling things, though. I do think that on the whole it’s still a pretty good book, but, again, I would advise skipping the epilogue.

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2 Responses to Week in Review, 5/15 – 5/21

  1. DerekL says:

    I loved Miou this week too… Gave a bit of grounding to a show that’s otherwise filled with crazy.

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