[Side B] Winter 2017 – Thoughts on Week 5

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Oops. This post is obviously really late.

Part of the reason is because of work, and the other is because I had to do a last-minute translation check that had me up late at night over the weekend.

So yeah, I’ve only JUST caught up with the shows of last week for Side B as of this writing. The last reason for the delay is because I watched Koe no Katachi (also known as A Silent Voice) at the cinema today. My thoughts on that in a separate review, but yeah — let’s get down to talking about how Side B did (last) week!

Scum’s Wish

It goes without saying that I’m thoroughly impressed with what this show has accomplished over the past five episodes. It has been consistent at framing passion and sensuality as an inherently flawed, well divorced from the typical platonic that serves as the dramatic staple of your everyday romcom. And perhaps for this episode, I was most impressed with how the show successfully mirrors Akane’s modus operandi with Hanabi’s blind search for insurance against solitude. The opening of the episode alone brings to light the circumstances that have built up Hanabi’s childhood crush into an adolescent obsession, but it’s this same displacement of self-worth in an object of affection that contrasts to Akane, who values herself through the devaluation of others’ objects of desire. You may be hard-pressed to imagine someone like Akane even exists (and if she does, what she’s doing in the academe), but her position as a teacher versus the student Hanabi is an interesting conflict because it clashes with our own preconceived notions about generational standards. We’re expected to respect figures of authority, and though intellectualism HAS challenged the established norm, Scum’s Wish embarks on a far more blatant depiction of a corrupted figure of supposed virtue, but at the same time the mechanics that propel her actions are similar, if not the same, as that of Hanabi.

And I brushed on this mechanic in my last post when I mentioned that this show frames passionate love as a destructive emotion. There are fleeting moments of self-discovery, but every pseudo-revelation is trampled on with Akane’s counter-argumentative worldview. I can go on and on with the analysis of how this show is tackling many sensitive veins regarding student-teacher relationships and adolescent sexuality, as a whole; but suffice it to know that this show is just owning the show at this rate. Perhaps the only worry I have now is where they will go with all of this. What revelations are there in store for Hanabi, and how do we reconcile this show’s worldview of relationships with that of our own?

ACCA: 13-Territory Insepction Dept.

*nom nom nom*

I’m loving how ACCA makes up for its otherwise dull premise with constantly inventive environments wherein the show takes place. This week, Jean makes his way up to Birra, which sports an almost Nordic-like feel with its Alpine peaks and snow-swept plains. The dialogue remains ever so smart, opening up lots of room for speculation whilst allowing Jean some air-time to actually play a bit of detective work, himself. For the past few episodes, Jean seemed to be a little uninvolved with regard to his situation as a point of interest for many people in power. But in this episode, he’s beginning to realize the precariousness of his situation, especially after realizing that Nino was tasked to spy on him. But Jean seems to be an auditor in every sense of the word, literally understanding Nino’s position; he only asks him whether or not he works for ACCA. In Jean’s mind, it’s not an issue of his friend spying on him without him knowing, nor is it an issue of trust. Jean seems to operate in the interest of a justice that is still figuring out whether or not the ACCA setup is, indeed, needed as an institution in this age of peace. And much of his assessment revolves around his experiences throughout the various districts. And this is why I think ACCA is such a fascinating show — we’re invited to derive our own assessment as to the validity of ACCA as a structure given the peculiar setups of each individual state, what it means to uphold this structure in the interest of peace, and furthermore, what it means to take such a structure down in the form of a coup d’etat. And I think that’s a pretty smart use of dramatic framing that makes political strife a lot more relatable and immersive — similar to shows like PSYCHO-PASS which actually challenge the simplistic disestablishmentarian mindset of typical seinen shows.

 

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

This show seems to be much clearer with its episodic content when it’s focusing on a particular thematic element: case-in-point, episode 5 focuses on Tohru’s own exploration of human civilization and her attempts at understanding it. Well, you could say that that is the general theme of the show, but this episode was far clearer in depicting Tohru’s earnest desire to understand not just Kobayashi, but human’s in general through her conveyed thoughts and active participation in human activities, like checking out real estate. Tohru at this point plays the role of the outside observer, obviously stating the many flaws of human existence. But Kobayashi plays a nice counter role in rounding out the otherwise pessimistic observations in a rather positive light. In fact, I rather enjoy the bouncing of mindset between Tohru and Kobayashi because it plays around with our own set of ideals with regard to the situations they’re put in, and how there is merit to both frames of mind. Retribution in the workplace is sweet, as Tohru shows, but Kobayashi understands the concept of order, and respects status quo not because she’s forced to or because she has no voice (she openly talks back to her senior, anyway), but because it’s far more pointless to be passive aggressive in the first place. And this is where the comedy actually serves to balance out the otherwise droll interplay of ideas, helping to reduce the monotony and tediousness of the topic.

But again, my wonder is where this will be going. Since the show picked a more narrative approach — laying the foundations of a back story and perhaps something more dramatic once the themes come full circle — how will all of this conclude? Or better yet, how should it conclude? I honestly feel like this show is a super wild card at this point. It’s fun, sure, and it has meaning hidden in it if you look hard enough. But I just can’t shake the feeling that his will be another Kannagi or Amagi Brilliant Park. I know I’ve said that before, but mentioning it again just proves how worried I am at this point. I hope this show can provide something a little more satisfying.

 

Little Witch Academia

I was a little disappointed in this week’s episode of Little Witch Academia, given introduced a theme on the relevance of magic in the modern era as a means of forwarding Akko’s agenda in becoming a witch people will look up to as a source of hope. It’s an earnest statement, but the means of getting there was both round-a-bout and haphazard. Apart from jittery sequences at the start where things just happened, the reveal in this episode just felt so anti-climactic, it almost felt like the whole thing was a joke. Sure, the show is supposed to be a little cartoony in terms of overall plot (and by cartoony, I mean there is some leeway for suspension of disbelief for the sake of comedic/dramatic delivery), but for some reason, it just didn’t work with this episode. Plus, I’m getting a mixed message with regard to what sort of character Diana is supposed to play. She was gaining some texture in the previous episodes, but this week’s show seemed to play on her more tropey side, pretty much dismissing whatever amount of attachment I had for her as a more complex “ojousama” character.

Despite these complaints, the overall feel of the show is still fun, albeit declining (yet again) in terms of polish. But then again, the sloppy animation style has its own charm to it, and blends well with Trigger Studio’s house aesthetic. So yeah, it’s still fun times in the land of Little Witch Academia. A hiccup or two is to be expected, but I still hope this show does better next week.

 

Gabriel DropOut

And finally, we have this week’s episode of Gabriel DropOut, which introduced a new character, Tapris. Her introduction is as tropey as her angelic and demonic upperclassmen, and I’m actually hard pressed to say what exactly her role is as a character. As a “straight-laced” character, she’s pretty much an overlap to Vigne’s character, and placing her on equal footing with Satania makes for no big difference in terms of comedic trade-off when we talk about Raphiel using them for her own entertainment. Perhaps the only unique character attribute I’ve seen her use (which isn’t even unique from a slice-of-life comedy standpoint) is her obsession over Gabriel. In particular, I liked the part when she confiscated a candid shot of Gabriel in the sake of “justice”, when it’s obvious that she’s secretly a voyeur. But again, this isn’t something entirely novel. Heck, the entire segment of Tapris vs. Satania was a drawn out mess of stupidity, I felt like a weight was taken off the moment it was finished. Sure, there are a few easter eggs here and their (hint: ToraDora), but that doesn’t make anything in this episode any more amusing than it already is. Quite frankly, this episode failed to capitalize on a new character and stuck with a highly predictable gag segment that showcased a poor character match up. Again, I really don’t know what the point in introducing Tapris is at this point, and if the show can’t figure that out and actually use her in a way that adds to the comedic value of the show, then it will doomed to obscurity before it even reaches the end of the season.

 

Whew! Glad I finally got this out. I need to empty my head so that I can focus on my thoughts on Koe no Katachi. I was honestly quite surprised when I watched it, because I was expecting a love story. But tickle me pink, it’s NOT a love story. Yeah, so more on that in my official review. Until then, ciao!

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One thought on “[Side B] Winter 2017 – Thoughts on Week 5

  1. Remy Fool February 14, 2017 / 13:51

    I still need to get to binge watching Kuzu no Honkai. I’m glad you’re enjoying it thus far.

    ACCA is subtle yet meaningful. Every Tuesday has been a little brighter now that I caught up to the show.

    Maidragon definitely seemed more put-together this episode. I guess the overarching theme helped. Just like with Flip Flappers and all other simulcast shows, I guess we’ll have to hold our breath and see exactly hold Maidragon will conclude. Your fears do sound plausible which is troubling.

    Not much to say about Gabriel DropOut. Tapris did feel like a useless add-in, but at least she had different dynamics with the other characters compared to Satania.

    Liked by 1 person

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