Oh dear, I’ve done it again.
Only this time, I’ve come back from the dead in a reasonably more fashionable manner. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, exactly one year ago, I stopped writing on this blog because I attended a conference in Singapore, which really threw my viewing schedule in for a loop. As much as I wanted to return to writing the moment I got back, work crept up on me, and the result was that I ended up taking an unexpected hiatus from blog writing for well over four months.
This time around, the culprit is the very same conference, only this time it took place in London. I figured it was quite fortunate for me to be in the UK, and that my viewing schedule would proceed unperturbed… only to discover that Holiday Inn Express has this weird internet usage policy that kicks you off if you’re hogging too much bandwidth, or if you’re simply trying to sync up your laptop, smartphone, AND Switch all at the same time.
So yeah, no animu for a week.
But yeah, I don’t want this to be another disappearing act, so I took it upon myself to make up for lost time. To be honest, I’m probably going to limit my thoughts a bit, because I really… really want to write more editorial articles. But yeah, I’m rambling at this point.
Anyway, hope this explains the sudden disappearing act. But enough talk, and let’s discuss just what happened these past two weeks in Side A of the Spring misfits!
My Hero Academia
When My Hero Academia isn’t trying to showcase a formulaic shônen battler episode, it’s often returning to Deku and his introspective approach towards what it means to be a hero. In principle, this is what defines the show and serves as its own raison d’être in the populist genre of superhero fiction. And I’ve mentioned before that Deku‘s trials underscore the laborious pathway towards become a hero, and that regardless of all backgrounds, we can all become heroes regardless. His need to wrestle with his own adoptive quirk is testament to the nature of stewardship — that we are all empowered by a force greater than our own, and that we should not hesitate to recognize those that give us more than just physical strength; rather, a deeper, inner strength, as well.
And I explicitly repeat these points because the show FINALLY decides to recapitulate them for the first time in its second season. I think this is precisely why I enjoy this show so much. It’s not the bang and fluff or the eccentricity of quirks that sells it — it’s Deku’s tenacity and ability to overcome his own anxieties; in particular, Deku’s anxiety over Todoroki’s declaration of war over becoming number one. Deku may have been obsessing over the fact that his own motivations seem trivial compared to Todoroki, he realizes that responding to Todoroki’s rivalry means setting himself to his own personal objective. This isn’t a competition of who has the greatest dream — it’s a competition of who has the tenacity, resolve, and ability to obtain it. And that’s not to say that winning against the other invalidates that other’s dream — dreams can never be invalidated. So long as there is the drive to make it become real, then the dream is still a dream worth pursuing.
Attack on Titan (Season 2)
Continuing from my previous rant on Attack on Titan’s choice of narrative delivery, I’m also not particularly a fan of the constant time switching. I understand how flashbacks can be useful to sort of explain a sequence of events or give context, but Attack on Titan tends to deliberately show scenes in the present time without context, only to use flashbacks to convey explanatory narratives that don’t really drive home anything other than… an explanation. I can imagine that there’s a sort of shock value ascribed to this style, but that’s partly due to the visual cues that Araki goes for when depicting events in a reverse order. Maybe once or twice is fine, but I feel like this style has become someone excessive throughout this season, making the scenes feel contrived. To drive this point even further, the speculation of certain members of the scouts being accomplices to the titans (I won’t spoil it) felt so random, it was practically bizarre to see all the characters over-reacting to what was essentially a conspiracy theory. Even the flashback sequences felt like they weren’t intended to leave any clues alluding to their supposed theories, which leads me to believe that the story and direction is being thought up of on the fly.
It’s this clumsy sort of narrative execution that makes me feel, more and more, that Attack on Titan is cashing in on its ability to create an experience of terror rather than a sensible narrative. But after all is said and done, I can’t deny the fact that it is good at what it does. It’s a suspense show that loves the occasional splatter of blood. And for that reason, it remains a pretty solid show.
As much as I would like to applaud this show for its attempt to actualize a more sobering depiction of worlds colliding and the deeper ramifications of character creation, this show simply has too much exposition. These past two episodes of Re:CREATORS has been nothing but explanatory monologues care of our resident bookworm/budding VN addict Meteora, which brings me to a new problem for this show: it’s heavy reliance on Meteora’s far-fetched assumptions. It’s actually quite amazing how everyone — creator and created, alike — seem to believe everything that she says is a matter of fact. I’m not sure if it’s a matter of charisma or something like that, but even high-ranking government officials are brought to a consensus after she brings up her earth-ending prophecy. The plot is just moving too swimmingly despite evidence to depict a brewing conflict in the background. And then we get a cliffhanger regarding Sôta‘s purpose in this all when he recalls where he’s seen this so-called “military clothes girl” before.
I was hoping for something different and more inspired from Aoki this time around, but sadly, this show isn’t living up to those expectations.
Alice & Zôroku
All’s well that ends well, I guess, is all I have to say for this week’s Alice & Zôroku. Although I will admit that the fight sequence was both amazing and ridiculous — but that’s a good thing as far as this show is concerned. I still think that the disparity between the show’s attempts at mixing Sci-Fi with slice-of-life is a ludicrous proposition, and any argument to prove the merits of such an undertaking are lukewarm at best with what this show has given us thus far. Regardless, I’m still curious to know where this story will take us.
To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy Yamada-Elf’s tropey introduction, but after seeing how she interacts with all the characters she encounters, she’s steadily become one of my favorite characters in this show. Everyone just seems to bounce off of her really well, and the comedy ends up becoming funny to some extent. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for Sagiri and Masamune, whose interactions are just awkward and cringey. But hey, I stopped viewing this work as anything deep and tried appreciating it for its stilted comedy, and so long as Yamada is in the picture, it’s actually quite good. Otherwise, everything else is unavoidable crap.
I’m not sure what this show is trying to do, now that it’s attempting to throw in some elements of mystery and suspense into the mix. As a gaiden story, it’s doing a good job of being a peripheral (unimportant) story, which means that me caring for this added bit of narrative should imply something more consequential. And yet, I feel like none of the implications of the scenarios are sinking in, precisely because the show assumes viewer investment through the guise of being related to DanMachi.
And this is where I bring in my comparison with A Certain Scientific Railgun. For all intents and purposes, that show was a spin-off as well, but it focused much of its time building up its four main heroines as characters independent of the main franchise A Certain Magical Index. And because of that, I (as a viewer) felt more invested when events happened to them.
The same can’t be said here. And that sucks because I really WANT to feel happy for Lefiya after she finally casts that awesome spell; and I really WANT to feel like the murder of some random Lv.4 person means something dire to the people of this world. Unfortunately, I can’t.
I think JRPGs work despite having a fundamentally basic story simply because the story is only a premise for the gameplay to unfold. That’s not to say that JRPGs can’t have an immersive story — it’s just that they can work, even without it. Case in point is Breath of the Wild, which had a very barebones story when you think about it, but works insomuch as it creates the premise for an open-world story.
But the same cannot be said for an anime production. Without the interactive component of an RPG, the story is just that — a bland, fundamentally basic story. And I think this is one of the reasons why I find Granblue Fantasy utterly boring. I can go on about how interactive play enhances viewer experience in a game despite a simplistic story, but I’ll save that for an editorial article. Otherwise, yeah… this show is just so boring.
And there you have it! Now it’s off to watch Side B and hopefully get some reviews done in time for the mid-season run down. And then hopefully some editorials? Here’s hoping. So until next time, ciao!
I agree with you about Sword Oratoria. I’d really like to care about what is going on, but I just don’t and as a result I’m increasingly dissatisfied with the viewing experience. Pretty sure I’m going to drop this if the next episode isn’t amazing.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I feel the same way with regard to dropping it. But I think the first to go is Granblue fantasy. It’s just so boring, I literally dozed off a bit during the latest episode. :s
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m finding Granblue more mostly harmless than anything else. It isn’t exciting but I’m not that bored either. Still, it is kind of on par with Sword Oratoria and I think if I drop Sword than I will start seriously considering dropping Granblue as it will start looking much weaker.
I barely got through the first two episodes of Eromanga Sensei. In fact, the only reason I bothered is because my son reads a lot of manga and promised me that things got better. They finally did, too, with Elf’s arrival. So upon that we agree. Unlike you (seemingly), I’m loving the mixture of slice-of-life and weird acid trip that is Alice & Zorouku. Even the interlude episode was cute. . .I think that it’s all the weird stuff that makes the simple moments that much more powerful and meaningful when you watch them–at least when I watch them. (Besides, how can I not love Zorouko?! It’s like they stole my reflection right out of my mirror!))
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think I lowered my standards for Eromanga enough to actually enjoy it for the nonsense it contains. I still can’t accept the ridiculous relationship surrounding Masamune and Sagiri; otherwise, the comedy is actually acceptable. It’s frantic and a bit off the wall, but at least it’s comfortable with the sort of humor it’s trying to establish.
As for Alice & Zôroku, I think the show as a whole is a weak argument to justify mashing two disparate genres together. I’m actually all for it if there is some cohesiveness to it, but the show lacks this. I mean, I agree with Zôroku’s counter-arguments, but he indirectly invalidates the show’s entire sci-fi premise, making things seem trite on an even meta level. I’m sure there are other ways to go about making these two genre mesh, but as far as I can tell, Alice & Zôroku is struggling to make a convincing argument.