Ed, you said you’d forego weekly reviews in favor of editorials, what gives? Maybe I should give you a forehead flick every time you change the specs!?
Yeah, pretty much. I’m ready to receive any number of forehead flicks if it means I get to do my regular spiel of sharing my weekly thoughts on anime, so sue me. At the very least, there’s a more manageable number of titles not requiring a split post to fit them all, so I feel more inclined to doing it more than before. Old habits die hard, I guess.
Anyway, we’re starting at week 3, because apparently I didn’t miss THAT much at the start of the season. So sit back and relax as we run through just what happened in week 3 of Summer 2017!
Made in Abyss
I’m just floored by the production of Made in Abyss, so much so that I’m preparing a short little piece on how lighting as a framing device works to define the visual language of the world of Made in Abyss. Even with the excellence of production aside, the story maintains a refreshing sense of adventure that ties in well with the coming-of-age themes that are forwarded by its characters, which are then mirrored in the exploration of the depths unknown. And I guess that’s precisely what makes a quintessentially classic fantasy adventure story. You can point out the show’s formulaic boy-meets-girl setup and how this leads to the protagonist searching for her long lost mother/father figure — sure you can talk about that all you want — but I think what sells me on this title is how it integrates this tried dramatic trope into something meaningful in context of the world of the Abyss. Much of the expository has helped to give a sense of urgency and consequence to the world Riko inhabits — that deeper levels correspond with greater dangers, and that the act of wanting to go to the bottom of the pit isn’t something to be taken lightly. And though Riko tends to dismiss such complications as a matter of course, the show effectively frames her show of confidence as something inherently weak in the face of the grandiosity of the abyss as a whole. In other words, this show isn’t out to evangelize Riko’s journey or anything like that — if anything, it highlights the folly and meagerness of her small dream to meet the very figure she looks up to as a fledgling red whistle. And there’s something tragically touching about such a notion that I can’t help but pray for Riko’s success and share with her in what trials await her in the darkness of the bottomless abyss.
And I haven’t even begun discussing the character of Reg, who serves more as an introspective “robot undergoing an existential crisis” sort of schtick — again, that sounds kinda used at this point, but hey, I’m willing to see how his appearance ties in to the mysteries surrounding Riko’s mother’s disappearance. That said, I’m really, really enjoying this show this season.
At one point during the episode, I had to stop and check whether or not the scriptwriter or directer for NEW GAME!! changed between seasons. Because quite frankly, the whole feel of the shows seems to have changed — and I mean this in a good way. More than just silly workplace shenanigans and out-of-context fan service, NEW GAME!! has been exploring reasonably valid career concerns from the perspective of both Kou and Aoba, effectively mirroring the past experience of the former when she was alienated after obtaining a position of lead character designer with the present situation where Aoba’s assumption of the role is met with an unintentional rivalry with the very person she idolizes. It appears that this show isn’t afraid to introduce obvious conflicts despite it’s supposedly bubbly outlook on life in the workplace — but this is quickly resolved within the episode in ways that probably still seem a bit more optimistic than it should, but is still an interesting exercise, nevertheless.
Still, what this means is that I’m quite enjoying the way NEW GAME!! has been experimenting with its characters by allowing new interactions that may otherwise have been relegated to the side in favor of quick comedic payoffs. One interesting pairing is that of Umiko and Nene, where we see some sort of adorable friendship bubbling up between two people who couldn’t possibly be any more different. And what’s touching is how Nene’s own personality rubs off on Umiko as she masterfully outwits Shizuku during a failed lunch-time attempt at trolling. So all-in-all, NEW GAME!! has been rather adventurous with its characters, which I’m all for, lest it forget how to be funny. Thankfully, it still is, and charming to bits.
Magical Circle Guru Guru
There isn’t really much for me to say about this episode other than it was consistently funny whilst introducing its new characters without undergoing so much as a hiccup. Besides, it’s not like I can squeeze out any deep interpretations from a show that is willingly making a mockery out of video games and JRPG sensibilities. That said, this show will always run the problem of not having any good gags or being simply too esoteric to have anything to show for it. Thankfully, none of that happens in this week’s episode of Magical Circle Guru Guru, and the tasteless “kukuri is nothing more but a butt” gag was traded out for Nike’s failure to recognize Kukuri in a one-piece. But I’m not under the illusion that this show won’t waddle into questionable territory as far as acceptable themes in comedy are concerned. In fact, I’m quite accustomed to the sort of toilet humor that titles like this imply, so I guess you can say it’s just a matter of time before one of those bombshell of a jokes gets thrown out that could scare off even the most well-meaning watchers of the series. But hey, at least this week wasn’t one of those weeks — and I’ll still be watching this show till the end, regardless.
My Hero Academia
I dunno, but I felt that the pacing in this week’s episode of My Hero Academia was a little slow. We’ve gotten to the point that we’re just moving between sequences, but at the very least we’re treated to the results of Todoroki’s epiphany in his heroic efforts to save both Midoriya and Tenya. And then we’re treated to a role reversal where Tenya’s concept of the heroic attitude is steadily being eroded by an over-arching sense of justice to avenge his brother. “Justice” in this sense is challenged (yet again) by the show as one of the generic labels of a “hero”, which is the same sort of thing flailed around by none other than the hero killer Stain, himself. So on that note, I guess you could say the show is still remaining faithful to its examination of the Heroic Attitude, but man if there was only something I could do about this pacing. Anyhoo, it’s still tons of fun watching this show. Here’s hoping we get a reasonable conclusion to this arc.
It’s interesting that we get a little more background into what makes the characters of Mr. Kadota and Chitose a bit more complex that what we’re accustomed to, but I think I was most interested in how the show framed Chitose’s complex of sticking with tradition as an act of “running away”. Her own frustrations toward Mr. Kadota are born from her own inability to express herself in the way that he is able to, and how she feels somewhat guilty for abandoning her own hometown if only to get the one-up on everyone else. Mr. Kadota, however, is far more simple-minded than that, believing that showing people up is not a matter of taking to the city in order to “act like one from the city”; rather, it’s about making people listen up. It’s about waking people up and shaking them from the core that you can leave your mark. So as ridiculous as Mr. Kadota has been framed up to this point, I can’t help but feel a little sentiment towards his stupidly honest nature when he lets his guard down — and that’s something that Yoshino is able to pick up early on when she decides to bring back the festival to Manoyama. Mr. Kadota and everyone else has been running away from the past, unwittingly, and yet here is someone from outside of Manoyama who is suggesting to them to reconnect with a past they had only just recently lost. It’s an intriguing sort of irony when Yoshino, herself, is only just beginning to reconnect with her own town of birth, but perhaps by helping the people of Manoyama re-live that lost history, she can bring herself closer to saving her own sense of love for her home town.
Welcome to the Ballroom
A friend and I were recently discussing our thoughts on this episode, and I couldn’t help but point out that I felt the events were a little contrived. I mean, it’s one thing to convince Sengoku to train Fujita pro bono, but going so far as allowing the latter to take the place of Kiyoharu in the middle of an on-going competition is just bullocks. At least for the former, I understand how Sengoku accepted Fujita as a matter of spite, simply because he didn’t like the idea of someone belittling the effort required to become a professional dancer — heck, I actually lauded that stone-cold attitude of Sengoku, because it helped make him a little more complex as a character. But framing Fujita’s fortune in dancing on the spot by over-dramatizing his moves seems ill-deserved. Just because Sengoku saw a glimpse of potential in him when he saw “Shizuku’s ghost”, doesn’t mean that Fujita can magically do amazing things on the dance floor. But heck, this is a sports show we’re talking about, that’s standard fare. I take that, but at the same time I feel like at the very least in sports shows, the characters are inherently talented enough to warrant sudden spurts of gusto or ability; the same can’t be said for Fujita other than it’s just a stroke of luck — a fluke. Perhaps that’s what was intended, but the show frames it as nothing short of heroic — up to the point that Kiyoharu demands that Fujita “give it back”.
Now to be honest, I’m just nitpicking here. It’s not like I’m expecting perfection out of a sports drama, so regardless, I’m still enjoying the show. At the very least, the animation is incredible, and the pacing is reasonably sound — and that’s saying something even for a sports drama. So yeah, keep on chuggin’ I guess.
Katsugeki: Tôken Ranbu
Yeah, that’s footage from episode 2. In the end, I decided to drop it after realizing I was watching an anthropomorphic rendering of well-known blades to the tune of burley men with baseline, cookie-cutter, genre tropes. It’s one thing to get me interested into historical pieces of fine weaponry, but it’s another thing to create a narrative that doesn’t feel trite and far-fetched. So no, the show lost its charm for me early on, but that’s not to say that this show isn’t any fun. If you like action and sword fights, then I think this is a show that can deliver quite reasonably. Otherwise, it’s not my cup of tea.
There was no episode of Re:CREATORS this week, so I’ll save that for the next week. What did you guys think about the shows this week? I’m curious to hear your thoughts, as well. So until next time, ciao!