Welcome to Annotated Anime, the weekly Japanese cartoon recap that presents to you, in the image above, a vision of the future. It's a damned dystopia, that's what it is.
Don't worry, though, it isn't scheduled to happen for another few generations! In the meantime, you can thrill to the prophetic glimpses of Natsuiro Kiseki, Fate/Zero, AKB0048, Moretsu Pirates, Eureka 7 AO, Sankarea, Mysterious Girlfriend X, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, Gundam AGE, Lupin III, Jormungand, Phi Brain, Space Bros., and a double-dose recap of Hyouka!
Natsuiro Kiseki Episode 10
Another week, another magic stone adventure; this time the four girls revisit the past as their younger selves travels into a time slip to revisit their older selves in a dare to visit an abandoned hotel during a typhoon. Now that I've spelled it out, this week's Natsukise seems like a handful. In reality it's just more of the same.
From the voice acting angle it's neat comparing the more mature teenager voices with the 10-year-olds. It's also kind of funny in how some of them do sound better than others at it. In reality it also has to do with how each character is written. Young Rinko is very timid; young Saki is a riot and clearly up to no good. Young Natsumi is a sweet little girl and it seems like Yuka hasn't really changed much.
As usual, we get to see a lot of awkawrd hijinks as the four older girls try to conceal the magical stone's secrets from both the younger girls and from the random pedestrians, mostly in the form of Natsumi's mom. The episode climaxes when the older girls rescue the younger girls from the typhoon swells, meanwhile leaving the audience trying their best not to think of the possible time paradoxes that may occur as a result.
If there's a great thing to keep in mind in this week's Natsuiro Kiseki, it's that we finally get some movement on the idol front--Yuka and team has been accepted at an audition! I can't wait.
Fate/Zero episode 23
I actually had to watch this week's Fate/Zero multiple times before I felt comfortable talking about the events that transpired and the composition of sequences. All things considered, it should be pretty simple; the focus of episode 23 is on two separate duels happening simultaneously. The key however is in the tone of both of these battles. Saber clashes with Berserker in a no-holds-barred brawl of rage and emotion while Rider and Gilgamesh have what can only be described as an honorable duel. The circumstances behind both battles are also inherently different; Gil and Rider are facing each other on their own terms, something that the servants in this war haven't had the opportunity to really do. Saber's conflict with Lancer, while certainly honorable, was never able to come to a proper conclusion precisely because they were little more than foot soldiers for their respective masters.
Gil and Rider, despite having opposing viewpoints on the world, are both true kings. They have followers who understand their immense power, respect them and are willing to let them do as they wish. Saber is forced to face off against someone she had considered a true friend. Therein lies the problem; she was a friend to her subjects, but never a true leader. The realization that dawns upon her face when she recognizes Lancelot is as painful as it is poignant when juxtaposed to Rider and Gil's slow paced battle; she was wrong and the proof stands before her, incapable of hearing any of her words.
Rider is given a respectable death at the hands of Gilgamesh, who surprises this episode via his honorable decision to battle Rider in a fair capacity and letting Waver live. Despite his overwhelming power and advantage over the conquerer, Gil never disrespects his opponent. His final words to Rider are especially powerful and a sign of the mutual understanding the two kings had between each other. This is all contrasted heavily with Saber's inability to break through to Lancelot no matter how hard she tries. Waver's evolution via Rider throughout Fate/Zero has been nothing if not a joy to watch. While the death of Rider was undeniably sad, there's a certain joy in seeing Waver finally come into his own, standing face to face against Gilgamesh.
On a production level, the artistry at work this episode was insane, including a very cool moment in which Saber uses a car as a shield. Even if you have no attachment to these characters, the battle choreography on display is worth the price of admission alone. The musical choices this episode were also inspired, pulling some of the best themes from the series so far. Finally, Ufotable's masterful planning of having this episode air on the day that Alexander The Great died was amazing. Another fun fact, Alexander died in Babylon. That's some meta for you right there.
[Catch the end of the Holy Grail War on Nico Nico]
Eureka Seven: AO Episode 9
So Japan is all like: "We have technology and stuff" and the Secret is all like: "Nu-uh, bitch" and started blowing shit up. Then Generation Bleu comes in and says: "Aw man, that sucks. Well, ignore civilians, let's grab our shit and roll out" and then Renton Ao screams: "No, that's wrong Japanese are people too" and then he disobeys orders and goes underwater to kill the Secret, and then Generation Bleu is all like: "Awww, not again!"
Meanwhile, those weird guys that came on the ship with Renton Ao are driving all wacky and weird and shit, but then they crash into another car full of Japan officials, but one of the officials inside was actually Truth in disguise! Truth comes out and says: "YO DAWG, YA GOTTA LOOK FOR THE TRUTH TO SEE IT" because that's his name and stuff, and then he disappears when no one's looking! What a clever dude!
After that, Renton Ao kills the Secret, fucks Fleur, saves the world! Huzzah! Roll credits, stop production, wrap it up folks. We're done.
Hyouka Episode 7
It's easy enough to excuse Hyouka's pacing because it's a mystery series. If you want to have a good mystery, you gotta keep the audience on their toes... and sometimes that means waiting to blow your load out at the final five minutes of an episode at the cost of the other 20 minutes beforehand.
What's odd for me isn't how every episode ends with Houtarou solving another mystery like clockwork, it's rather how simple, yet inexplicably 100% correct, he solves them. I knew that Chitanda and Ibara didn't really see a ghost hanging by a noose in episode seven. You knew that, I knew that, Houtarou knew that... though we're still willing to watch the episode to deduct exactly how much of a savant this kid is at solving useless shit. It's a plot device, obviously; this show would suck if the audience doesn't play along and suspend their disbelief once in a while. However, one thing this anime would benefit from is perhaps some more red herrings. At least then Houtarou wouldn't be viewed as some freak and we can cut back on some of that suspension.
What's stranger is that I'm still really enjoying watching this show. Lately, it's not so much about the mystery, but rather how the mystery is presented and systematically broken apart to solve. The presentation, the way the typography jumps around, the stellar colors and soft-glows... this series has a lot more better things going for it that its actual "mystery" portion. If I were watching this series as literally as possible and with the intention of "solving the crime before Scooby and the gang do", then I become pissed off. I tend to stay far away from being pissed off as much as I can (which is just a good rule of thumb), so my other alternative to continue enjoying this "mystery" is to focus on everything but.
Sure, Houtarou is a bit too good at connecting lines and only noticing key evidence, but at the same time his cool demeanor and thinly veiled attempt to appear uninterested in things is backfiring in his stupid face. Regardless, the motherfucker needs to calm down a bit with the mystery-solving. Now if only something were to happen to change the pace a little bit...
Hyouka Episode 8
...oh wow, look at that! A tiny adjustment in the plot can do wonders for this show, apparently.
There's sort of a meta-mystery going on this week, this time with our main characters taking on the role of the audience in an act of breaking the fourth wall. It's kind of funny, actually, how unintentionally this episode of Hyouka reminds me of myself watching Hyouka. Initially, the difference between this anime series and the movie made by Class 2-F is literally polarizing: Hyouka is a beautiful crafted anime that really appears to be only a mystery series in name only, while the fictional movie Mystery is a crudely filmed classic "whodunit", complete with obvious cliches and horrible acting.
However, the two deal with mystery using the same manner, or more specifically, the same rules. I would like to think that this whole scenario was just a way to mention Knox's Commandments and relate it to the anime, because upon close inspection, Hyouka itself holds those laws and commandments up to a tee, you just need to find some common ground. For example, Houtarou really does make a perfectly good Sherlock as soon as you figure that Chitanda is the perfect Watson. It's kind of silly that a Japanese anime, adapted from a light novel, about high schoolers and their boredom was secretly acting like and mimicking a detective story from the 1920's this whole time.
Of course, it still doesn't make it any better that these last episodes were as slow as they had been. The need to spread the mystery out is definitely noted, but I'm far too hyper and distracted to give that a shot. Fuck pacing and literary techniques that intrigue the viewer, I just want to see KyoAni shit out a lot of cash again to perfectly animate Chitanda in a hot spring again. Hot damn, was that a good episode.
Evidently, my need for Hyouka to become the show "I want it to be" is a bit selfish upon watching this new episode. There is now a goal and something that Hyouka is attempting to represent, and now that this side of the show has revieled itself, I now have an actual valid reason to appreciate how slow and carefully methodic it is.
Sankarea Episode 10
Boy, a full episode of back story. Good back story too.
Now, I don’t want to give too much away because that will kill this episode for you if you haven’t seen it. We come to find out about how the whole Sanka family becoming so dysfunctional. It all pretty much stems from the father, Dan’ichiro. Definitely a weird man to say the least. Ever since collage he has been the way that it is in some forms. That is until, he meets Rea’s mother. Then he goes even more overboard with the protectiveness. It almost seems sweet at first to think that he loved Rea’s mother so much for the sweet pure soul that she was. Only to have tragedy happen and Dan’ichiro falls into a deep depression. But then, he finds his shinning light in Rea.
This is all told by Rea’s step mother Aria to a tied up Chihiro. It’s an unfortunate story with some small twists that I didn’t really see coming. This is why I’m not going to spoil anything here. In the end, we finish off with Chihiro finally meeting Dan’ichiro. He is even more passionate than ever to protect Rea. Even with the crazy look in his eyes.
[Get tied up at Funimation]
Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 10
Uh-oh, there’s trouble afoot. Looks like we have a new challenger for Tsubaki’s heart.
His old crush from middle school runs into him at the bookstore. Except that he didn’t recognize her at first with the shorter hair. It seems that she just broke up with her boyfriend and decided it was time for a new do. We have all been there, right? Anyways, they chit chat for a bit about everything but Tsubaki says that he didn’t have a girlfriend. Not a wise thing to do. Well she breaks down talking about the relationship that she was in and a bit of drool comes out of her mouth. As you can see, we are heading in that direction. She asks him if they can meet once in awhile to talk. You know, to help ease the pain of losing a boyfriend. Tsubaki agrees on the condition that he taste her drool. It could be just me but that is not really a negotiating factor that I have ever come across, but it’s this show so it’s OK.
She agrees to let him taste it but Tsubaki can’t go through with it because of his bond to Urabe. Then, he does the dumbest thing you can do. He tells her his girlfriend’s name. Dumbass! Now it’s the time for meddling in other peoples relationships because Hayakawa now wants Tsubaki. Time to take those old feelings and turn it against him. What will Tsubaki do? Will he go with the crush that he had all three years of middle school or will his love of Urabe be strong enough?
[Meddle at Crunchyroll]
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia Episode 10
Niiya spends most of the episode reliving Yuuko's past. More importantly, he gets to peep in on her changing and such. Perversions aside, it's interesting getting a look back at what Japan was like 60 years ago. I don't know if it's accurate, but it looks about right to me. Yuuko spends the early part of the episode taking care of a girl who's come down with the disease that will eventually lead to her sacrifice. Yuuko and her sister overhear the town elders discussing the hopelessness of their situation, finally deciding that they need a proper sacrifice to appease the gods. The superstitious bastards hear a bell on Yuuko's wrist and the girls are forced to run away.
Unfortunately, the jerks take the girl that Yuuko was taking are of, which leads to Yuuko following them back into the school. The mob tosses Yuuko in the hole in the future Paranormal Investigations club room. The fall breaks her leg and she's left alone to face whatever was in the shrine. Yuuko dies hungry, cold, angry and alone. She comes back as a ghost, with a separate personality that is filled with her hatred.
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE Episode 35
The message capsule that Asemu plants on the AGE gets examined while Kio suffers from some internal conflict. Kio talks with his aunt, who helps distract him from further wangst. The AGE system pops out the AGE Orbital, a sexy device that makes the AGE faster and even more powerful in space. They also crack the video capsule, which has Asemu doing his best Harlock impression in telling the Diva's crew about a cursed treasure called the EXA-DB, a database that holds weapon data from the past. The piece recovered by Ezelcant is how the Vagans got their mobile suit and warship info, finally explaining how a backwater colony on Mars is able to fight with the Earth Federation. Fundamentally, it's just another maguffin that the Vagans and Federation will have to fight over.
Speaking of fighting, the Diva gets caught in a pincer attack between Zeheart and a fat Vagan. Things go as expected, even after Zeheart uses his new X-Rounder controlled bits and tries to capture the Gundam. It's sad how far down the pretty boy has gone. He's at about Jerid level, only he's supposed to be one of the main antagonists. Hell, the fat, obnoxious Vagan managed to do more to the Gundam, which is conveniently timed to the end of the episode. Things don't look too good though, as Sunrise has felt the need to telegraph what happens yet again with the episode preview. Hmm, when you title your episode The Stolen Gundam, I wonder what the hell will happen.
AKB0048 episode 7
Despite not having a combat or concert scene (though CG dance practice goes a little way towards fulfilling the latter need), AKB0048 still managed to bring out a hefty dose of crazy by dipping into mystery surrounding how successors - that is, the girls that take on the names of original AKB48 members - are chosen. And guess what? Successors are chosen by aliens. Soul-reading aliens who exist for the sole purpose of marking the presence of a true idol. I tell ya?! And let's not even get into the whole thing where the alien cavern is "sacred ground" and all. Or the fact that Chieri's the daughter of an anti-entertainment weapons merchant.
That screenshot up above is very telling. Is it a comment on how the real-world AKB48 members' standing is determined by "external forces", like the sales-baiting "elections" (the most recent of which Original Yuko Oshima won), or perhaps their ultimate, reverential deference to Sensei-Sensei - who may or may not be reppin' for AKB48 creator Yasushi Akimoto - up there dictating lyrics and calling for stand-ins like the Wizard of effin' Oz? Am I reading too far into this? Why is it so much fun to do so?
This week's sanitizing job is also rooted in the selection process, and not just for successors, but stand-ins. Tsubasa says that it's all based on skill and soul rather than seniority, but if some scandalous tell-alls by former members are reliable, the true case may be the opposite. That said, tendencies towards tenurocracy may be tempered somewhat by the very "external forces" I mentioned above.
But getting back into character, it must really be tough for current TakaMina, finding out that her successor's already been chosen. Think about things from her perspective. In this world, one where these girls are almost literal idols, it's probably the highest honor one can think of to be considered approximate in soul to one of these canonized pop stars. It's a world where an entire family lineage is based around inheriting the identity of Tomomi Itano. Now think of how hard it must be to retire from that kind of position. Add to that the way AKB0048 members graduate and are "never seen again" (at least in the case of famous center members). You'd feel like you've tripped some kind of death flag, too.
Moretsu Pirates episode 23
It's cool and all that this dramatic plot makes sense: armed pirates are a decent way to test new warships, but the best part about all this is Ironbeard. Though he's arguably the most "traditional" space pirate encountered so far, his sense for theatrics is as refined as any of the current show pirates. In space, no one can hear you scream, but he'll be damned if he won't make you hear the sound effects coming out of his ship, even if he has to hack your PA system to do it!
Also, a galaxy-wide pirate council, brought together by one man's desserts? I'll take that.
Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine Episode 10
Saying that this episode was trippy is an accurate description on many levels, but god damn are those owl people terrifying! We seem to be getting to the whole point of the series and the focus on Fujiko, and it seems her childhood was just as bad as we'd imagined. There were many things that were not stated explicitly, but we now know that she was at least experimented on. What these experiments were, we can only guess, but they likely involved dangerous hallucinogenics like the one used throughout the episode.
In some ways, Lupin is the perfect character to use in a plot like this. His comic humour helps to blunt the harsh hitting story of Fujiko's past, while never going so far as to make a mockery of it. It's hard to explain, but I'm confident in saying that it's working very well and that I'm really enjoying the series. Let's hope the rest of the episodes keep this up.
[You can watch this show for free on Funimation? What a steal!]
Jormungand Episode 10
As was easily guessed from the end of the previous episode, this one begins in an absolute bloodbath. Koko and company manage to take out everyone besides the leader, who manages to escape with a hostage. Strangely enough, the guy with the family didn't get killed or injured. Well played, but I can't help but feel it's a matter of time.
After avoiding missile fire and anti-air attacks, Koko successfully delivers her 'cargo' where they wanted to be, but decides to go back and save the hostage. Of course, this isn't without roping Scarecrow into things, having him deal with the backlash and transport of the dragon himself. Another good episode, and it's always good fun to have the military veterans showing the inexperienced how to do things!
[Get loco with Koko over at Funimation]
Phi Brain Season 2 Episode 11
Exhausted from their regular activities, it's decided that the gang will go and relax on a private island. Pretty convenient, is it not? Still, it was great to see the group away from the stressful events taking place at school, though it was pretty obvious that this was going to be a bit more than a beach episode. That doesn't stop the swimsuit montage, but it beats spending an episode on it.
The group is quickly distracted by a mystery, which our hero doesn't fail to get involved in. They begin exploring the island, eventually stumbling their way into an even bigger discovery. I'll keep quiet about what happens next, but it's certainly one of the most startling episodes yet.
[You could watch this on Crunchyroll, or you could do something more fun, like watch anime]
Space Bros. Episode 11
Some may argue that this show is going a little too slow, what with all of the exams and not so much space, but I'm really enjoying it. It's nice to see the somewhat ordinary guy go through all these trials just to become an astronaut, and I'm somewhat fascinated by the whole thing. I'm sure there's some creative license in this too, but who cares, it's fun!
Namba drops the bombshell that he knows what the time is, regardless of not being able to show any working. While the others assume it was a guess, he's confident that he knows he's right. Did you catch how he knows? I can say that he likely isn't wearing a watch, and if you want a hint, skip back to where he stares at the coach driver! Very cool!
[This show is blasting off again via Crunchyroll]
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