Spring 2016 – Week 3 in Review

I’m wondering if I should retime these week-in-reviews to mid Wednesday to accommodate the first half of shows, then a second week-in-review to handle the remainder. Because as it stands, there are just so many shows on my watchlist, that these week in reviews are getting really long. And that’s troublesome because there are times that I have quite a lot I want to say about certain shows, but I have to limit myself in the interest of not boring you to death.

And it didn’t help much that this week had lots of shows giving pretty good arguments to warrant further watching. It’s been a solid season of anime thus far, and majority of the shows that have been shaved off of my list were pretty easy to let go of. The remainder, not so.

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Any, enough of that. Let’s do this!

My Hero Academia

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Episode 3 of MHA makes it clear that this is no Batman story. Midoriya doesn’t remain Quirkless, but at the same time he doesn’t have a super power simply fall on his lap; he earns it though blood, sweat, and tears in full Rocky-esque fashion. There’s something very endearing in achieving your goals through sheer effort, and it may have been a lesson we’ve heard about many times in the past, but it’s a lesson that is worth seeing time and again. The downside to all of this is that the overall pacing is pretty much what you’d expect from a Shounen-manga adaptation. Bones is out to capitalize on this show, and that means creating this snail-like progression in order to stretch its marketability. This probably means we’re looking at a double-cour show — which isn’t really a problem per se, but to fans of the source material, this may mean that the story is simply trudging along. And this is true — MHA will need to up the stakes come the next few episodes if it wants to keep viewer investment, but that’s exactly what the fourth episode is looking to be.

 

Joker Game

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Joker Game shifts gears this week and pulls us out of Japan and in to the thick of the German occupation in France for Episode 3. Here, we are treated to the escapades of one of our mysterious Japanese spies, whose name I cannot remember for the life of me. And this is probably the point. It’s not so much about character investment as it is simply a showcase of how well-crafted these spy action/drama sequences can be. And this episode pretty much nails it. The idea that “spies can make a bomb out of anything”, as well as the tactical discussions from our resident spy, all of this points towards smart choices in direction that make it competent enough as a spy drama. It’s clear that Joker Game is going for a character vignette approach, and so we can expect more self-contained stories from each of our individual spies. This also means that the show will have to maintain a certain level of variety to prevent its premise from becoming stale and uninspired. But so far so good, and I’m quite glad this show is headed in a good direction.

 

Concrete Revolutio ~The Last Song~

Wow. There were no time jumps in this episode. Perhaps the linearity of it all made it simpler to understand, but even so this episode still showcased the sharpness and wit that Concrete Revolutio is known for. This time, the show ponders on athletes and how the government, in an effort to improve its international standing, began a project to “dope” these sportsmen using technology that turns them into super humans. Athletes are already quite “super human” in their own right, constantly challenging the limits of what is humanly capable. And this episode brings home that message — that in a world of super humans and monsters and constant bickering over what to do with them, that there are humans who still prove that humanity is a powerful force, capable of creating change, with or without the aid of the supernatural. Hitoyoshi understands the bond that makes humans and even super humans more intrinsically linked than others would think, and his clarity and insight is what allowed him to believe in Amato when others thought he would not make the ski jump. Concrete Revolutio has been laying down the philosophies that define Hitoyoshi, making it clear what sets him apart from the Superhuman Bureau and even the Japanese government. It’s only a matter of time before we get to see how these rivaling forces will eventually duke it out, and which philosophy will triumph in the end.

 

Kuromukuro

Kuromukuro was reasonably steady this week, focusing more on the anachronistic silliness of Kennosuke while giving us some little hints of what makes him tick. It’s obvious that he has a samurai complex to him, and when he’s not showing a soft spot for little kids like Koharu, he’s probably bouncing off of Yukina with silly bits of dialogue. This episode also did away with the mecha battles and went with a man versus machine using nothing but a sword. Apparently, people in this world like swords better than anything else, and if you’re not up in your big ass mecha, you’re probably flailing your own sword down at sea level. The show will have to move its plot variables more if it wants to keep viewer investment without having to opt for random battles with kidnapping cronies or whatnot, because as it stands, we still don’t have a clear grasp on what exactly these “demons” are. I really hope they get the plot moving further along, because that last scene with Kennosuke crashing in at Yukina’s house wasn’t exactly what I’d call inspiring. All we can do is pray.

 

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

I know I said that I was expecting the visual aesthetic of this show to dip over time, but I wasn’t expecting to see it happen as early as episode 2. That and the fact that it actually picks up between scenes, and becomes even better during the second half. Well, it’s not like the beautiful execution of the first episode (which was almost filmic) was something sustainable to begin with, but sheesh man… they could’ve spared to at least make the frames consistent. Apart from that, Ikoma is pretty much your prototypical seinen character. His brazen attempts at being recognized cause him to be exiled by his own people, only to be brought back in by Mumei, who then proclaims that he is like her — not a corpse, but not a human either; rather, something in between: a “Kabaneri”. Everyone is basically fulfilling a genre role here, so I’m not even gonna comment on my reservations regarding the whole characterization and how this sums up the plot as a whole. But I’ll be damned if Mumei isn’t one cool badass. Holy crap was that fight scene cool. Although her double-weilding guns look eerily similar to the 3D maneuver gear from AoT, I could hardly care less. When something looks cool, you just shut up and watch. We’re here to be entertained anyway. Plus, this is a show about zombies. Go look for your philosophical mumbo-jumbo somewhere else.

 

Kiznaiver

Kiznaiver was absolutely fun this week, brimming with the zany antics of its lovable cast and inching along, almost pleasingly, with incidental bits of characterization and comedy, which makes this episode very effective in terms of investment. There were nice bits of dialogue between the leads, and their reactions were convincingly consistent with what we have come to know about them thus far. For example, when Nico figures out that using the Kizuna system can make the search for a seventh member much more efficient, we realize just how intelligent she actually is despite her eccentricity. Even their personal deductions regarding the life situation of their suspected seventh member shed a little light on how these kids tick, each consistently adding up to their individualities. As a character-focused show, Kiznaiver is doing an excellent job at keeping us invested in these kids. And the last scene served as a good hook into leading us towards the purpose of this entire Kizuna project. Whatever reservations I’ve had for this show are pretty much gone, now, and I’m willing to see where this ride will take me.

 

Flying Witch

The first half of this week was pretty much the lazy, suburban slice-of-life that Flying Witch was getting accustomed to. This time, we were treated to farming and pheasant chasing. The jokes were okay, if not endearing, but it was the return of the subdued magical aspects of the second half that brought a little spark back to the show. Here, we are introduced to Makoto’s older sister Akane, who is apparently a famous witch that travels around the world. Her introduction is as smooth and as natural as it can be, and the framing of Chinatsu’s reactions to her as a stranger echoed well as an indirect joke to her first encounter with the Harbringer of spring. There seems to be a self-contained language to the world of Flying Witch that continues to make it unsurprisingly fascinating. There are no heavy magical incantations or 3D glyphs here — just tin buckets full of wood splinters and clouds of ash. In fact, subdued is an understatement to how this show treats the element of “magic” and “witches”. But for what its worth, this show fulfills all of the basic tenants of what makes a slice-of-life effective and relaxing.

 

Macross Δ

I have to give it to my friend for pointing out some of the references in this episode of Macross Delta. As much as I’d like to appreciate this show as much as I believe it should be appreciated, my praise falls short in lieu of the fact that there’s a very strong genealogy of sorts behind its production. This episode pretty much follows the “maverick-rookie undergoes an initiation” route, but has a pleasing enough conclusion that ups the stakes further. Even Freyja’s self-searching and eventual harmonization with Hayate was a pleasing spectacle to see. It’s something very obvious but at the same time refreshing to see. With all of the variables in play, it’s now time to see how all of their training does in battle. I’m really excited for what this show will bring to the table every week, and so far it’s never failed to please.

 

Mayoiga

Mayoiga is finally getting somewhere by having its cast split into groups: one group opting to stay behind in the Lost Village, while the other attempting to escape. All of the thriller beats are starting to ratchet up, and the show is finally doing what it should have been doing much earlier on. When it’s ridiculous characters aren’t being their ridiculous selves, it’s definitely more pleasing to see them react in ridiculous ways to all of these thriller staples. For this show at least, we’re seeing some of the occult variety, including the “walking in circles” card to the “my dead daughter is running around” routine. It’s good to finally get a certain amount of suspects on the table, too. Masaki could be a red herring, but who knows. This show is really silly in general, but get past that and it could be a legitimately fun thriller.

 

Re: Life in a Different World from Zero

I specifically chose to comment last on this show because I’m just so utterly frustrated by it. Don’t get me wrong — the premise still amuses me, and this episode actually featured a brilliant fight sequence, complete with fluid animation and nice visual tricks like a first-person shot of Elsa’s movements. But what’s really just so irritating about this show is the MC — Subaru. Every time he thinks out loud, it lowers the stakes — it makes everything a gag. He’s aware that he’s in a fantasy world, and every time he gets the idea that someone could potentially die, he thinks of some ludicrous side-comment that throws any form of emotional investment out the window. He even goes so far as to break the fourth wall, or dance like John Travolta ala-Saturday Night Fever to gloat his (inglorious) victory. But if there’s reason to hate Subaru, it’s probably how ridiculously shallow his motives are for doing anything in the first place. I think he’s a horrible human being for trivializing death and mocking pretty much everything that happens in the show. There are times he gets it, but most of the time he doesn’t — and when he doesn’t get it, it just blows. The show could use a lot less of Subaru, really. But as much as I hate him as the protagonist, I hate myself even more for not being able to drop this show after that hook at the end. If only it wasn’t such a chore to have to get through this show every week.

 

Whew… what a ride. This week was pretty strong, save for a couple odd balls. I’m also watching Asterisk Wars, and I’ll be posting a review article for it in the upcoming edition of the Crunchyroll Newsletter, so look forward to that. I haven’t commented on it in the week-in-review posts simply because the posts are already too long to begin with. By splitting up the week into two separate posts, I just may be able to sneak it in for the upcoming week. Stay tuned!

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