Welcome to your weekly helping of Annotated Anime, the regular Japanese cartoon recap that's got hug pillows of every single one of its readers hidden away in secret footlockers and closets all over its sprawling volcano-cave headquarters. The things data mining can do these days....
Oh, where were we? Watching anime, right. We did that (while embracing thousands of eerily realistic hug pillows), and came away with words to say about Vividred Operation, Maoyu, Tamako Market, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Little Busters! Space Bros., Senran Kagura, Magi, Psycho Pass, Robotics;Notes, AKB0048, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure!
Vividred Operation episode 4
With a mechanical pace, Vividred Operation introduces to us the proverbial "Yellow Ranger" in the form of a computer hacker stuck at home. Himawari not only remotely controls that pair of robotic eyes in the common classroom, but she has hacked into the Manifestation Engine corporate computers, and discovered the secret of the Vivid-colorfuls. Her reaction is not unlike the dazzled navy and air force personel from episode one, gasping at how clumsy but dexterous little girls in the skies can battle huge monsters with relative ease.
Amusingly enough, Himawari is more interested in Dr. Isshiki's newfound body than anything Akane and crew can first offer, and matching that she might even be Grandpa's biggest fan on his research on the Manifestation Engine. A quick flashback and with Akane fulfilling her promise to Himawari to come back to her and keep her company during a pretty dark and stressful time, the two are able to get DOCKING per this Vividred Operation formula. The end result was one dead Alone, but is she like Madoka's Mami? Or Mami with Saber influences? That skirt plus metal boots combination is definitely a memorable thing for me, along with the overpowering beam weapon.
Vividred Operation gets credit for yet another creative plundering of an awesome character design combination, and a it is a visually pleasing end to yet another episode of the all-too-predictable. Leading us on at the end, we see the "Black Ranger" talking to a crow. Is that supposed to be like Princess Tutu or Nadesico the Movie? I can't tell. But what I could hope is that we're finally done with the introduction part of the show, and maybe finally we can get a move on to the main act.
Psycho-Pass Episode 15
Alright, the preverbal sh*t has hit the fan. Everything the Sybil System has built has started to come crumbling down. People are running around with Crime Coefficient blocking helmets, and the citizens are taking matters into their own hands, with disastrous results. Brutal results, just the way I like it. I only wish this part didn't happen so fast. Makishima's plans sure came to fruition quickly.
Perhaps my favorite part of the espied is where Makashima and his super hacker (cyborg) partner begin talking about Phillip K. Dick and William Gibson. The show really pulls ideas from Western science fiction classics, and gives it a nice shout in this scene. Comparing Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep to Blade Runner was a nice touch.
So, it looks like we're reaching the home stretch. Is this where Shinya and Makishima finally face off? Do we see the end of the Sybil System soon? Can society cope without control?
[Get your Crime Coefficient checked over at Funimation]
Magi Episode 17
With Aladdin having reentered the battle, things start to look up for Alibaba and the people of Balbadd. With a recharged sword in hand and the power of the Magi supporting him, he plunges his weapon deep into Kassim's chest before getting sucked into the giant djinn. Inside, he finds Kassim's consciousness, and learns the truth about his friend. Alibaba struggles to reach out to him, overcome with guilt for never being able to fully understand the pain and suffering he went through. Kassim realizes the error of his ways through Alibaba's guilt and love for him, allowing the young leader of the Fog Troupe to cleanse himself of the Dark Rukh at the cost of his life.
Aladdin approaches the grieving Alibaba and shows him that when people pass away, they don't disappear forever. Rather, they become one with the Rukh, allowing them to become something even greater. Alibaba sees his mother and father for the first time in years, and everybody in the kingdom who lost somebody to the war is briefly reunited with their loved ones. Kassim and his little sister approach Alibaba one last time, parting ways with a warm smile.
Looks like Magi got its budget back for the climactic episode of the Balbadd arc. There's not a ton of action to be had here, but the whole first ten or so minutes are beautifully animated. Alibaba's run up to Kassim stands out as an excellent example of what Magi can look like when A-1 actually puts the effort and money in. The art was super consistent this week too, making for a really pleasant viewing experience. It makes me sad that the whole arc wasn't handled this way, but at least we're ending on a strong episode. The show is starting to dig into the overall arc, so I'm looking forward to what A-1 has in mind for the final chunk of Magi.
[Catch Magi over at Crunchyroll]
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Episode 17
Esidisi is so gross. Eww. There is something special that animation brings to scenes of a character implanting themselves on spikes to let themselves attack with their piping hot arteries. Unique is one word. Gross is my choice.
Which has me rooting for Joseph even more so that he might maybe get this over with before I spew. Poor Loggins, eh? We hardly knew ye. However, JoJo's sass brings it to the table once again and he only has one more poisonous ring stuck in his body. Only now he has something else stuck on him. So. Gross.
AKB0048 episode 18
Perhaps for the first time in the show's 18 episodes to date, Makoto, the ugly duckling of AKB0048's core understudy cast, gets her moment in the spotlight, inaugurating her swan-hood with a literal swan dive into a giant reactor pit.
I think it's saying something that the fan to inspire Makoto to greatness was most attracted to her constant failure and general incompetence (and well-picked insert song). One wonders if, had he been an actual person/wota fan of real-life AKB, he would one day turn on his idol if she ever did do a duckling/swan turn.
Coupled with a general escalation in AKB0048's "aura" as actively aiding various planetary revolutions in the name of entertainment and all the freedom that entails, I'm getting some strange Star Wars vibes from this episode, for some reason. Maybe it's a fall into a garbage compactor or the Death Star-like feel of the space station the understudies infiltrate, or the fact that the "Assault Mic-Sabers" are lightsabers. Or I could just be playing too much Old Republic.
Either way, I do have to admit that the insane excess of AKB0048 makes it a tiny bit easier to reconcile liking this show while decrying its *ahem* antics in "meat-space". If only actual idols were as pure - and literally superpowered - as the 2D characters they voice.
Trivia: There is in fact a "Minami Minegishi" in AKB0048: The former-successor photographer who speaks in the Japanese equivalent of Pig Latin. The character, though, is voiced by professional voice actress Sachiko Kojima (who played Monad in Ergo Proxy and Sayoko in Bamboo Blade).
[The Anime Network has no trash compactors for you to fall down, but at least you can watch AKB0048 on it]
Robotics;Notes episode 15
Almost every week I expect for at least some part of Robotics;Notes' growing ball of looming crises to hit the proverbial fan, and nearly every week, it doesn't happen. And yet, the show remains just as entertaining and engaging as it was the week before. That's saying something.
Perhaps it's in the way something actually does happen, but not the thing you were expecting to happen, or were waiting to have happen by the end of the whole run. In this case, after seeing the beginning and end of Tokyo's robot uprising (which had all the nonexistent menace of a Dalek attack), I'd have expected something more along those lines, but instead I got a detailed examination of Airi, the little Rie Kugimiya-voiced AR girl living inside people's IRUO apps.
It's a little weird actually seeing things from a data-based perspective, as Airi must. It's kind of like being blind and only able to perceive the world based on the descriptions someone is feeding to you. So to her, a dilapidated bedroom is as clean as it was when it was brand-new, because no one was around to update the location data. And if not for the big plot twist in the basement, the true lesson from this episode of Robotics;Notes would be "Keep your data updated in case a virtual loli needs it".
That's reason enough for me...but it's still good that they threw in the new revelations about the Kimijima reports and whatnot. Also, some genuinely touching moments this week (Frau really IS the best girl!) give me a feeling that a flag's been tripped, and that now, finally, the big chunks of crap are heading to the rotating blades. Will I be right? Only time can tell.*
*No spoilers in the comments, please. I haven't played the game.
[A white tropical AR Christmas happens over at FUNimation]
Maoyu episode 5
It's not quite the action scenes I was hoping for (and that the OP sequence implies at least a bit of), but we do have a taste of the Hero's adventures in Demon World. Surprisingly enough, the Hero's character development seems to imply that the more he actually understands his place in the Brave New World and how he'll build it, the less violence we may actually end up seeing.
That's actually a very interesting take on what we expect of the epic quest (and it implies that the truly epic quests are the ones that change the world without violence), I can't help but feel a bit bummed out by a lack of hot, level-99-I've-got-the-Ultima-spell action. Just once, Maoyu! We needs it!
The romantic bits are good, to, as well as the Hero's creative application of teleportation spells and the return of the Demon King's Hero Hug Pillow. They still feel a tad forced and awkward, but in a way, that's exactly how they're supposed to feel. I find it best to think of their romance as a marriage that started too soon, and became a long-distance relationship before they had a chance to get the short-distance parts down. It's the kind of romance you imagine two people with goals would have, the kind of thing they can't just drop their respective quests and duties to pursue. And when that's the kind of weight that needs bearing, sometimes a clumsy dance in the moonlight will just have to be enough.
[Find your own Hero Hug Pillow (dancing action sold separately) at Crunchyroll]
Space Bros. Episode 43
That's it guys, we're all becoming astronauts. A clunky suit and a space diaper are but minor drawbacks, as we'll be saving lives on the god damn moon! Wait, what do you mean there's no space program in the UK?
The episode marked the end of the 'Hibito is up to some serious shit' arc, and of course he's still around to talk about it. I say this like I was certain about what was going to happen, but mere minutes before he saved himself, I was still thinking that this was the end for the guy. His air ran out, he could barely breathe on what little there was left and he'd collapsed. You don't get more dead than that.
Unless you're in an anime, anyway. He must have seen that robot coming and just decided to mess with us all to build up the suspense. As much as I think he should have died for the sake of a more interesting story, there was no way a JAXA/NASA endorsed show would end up that way. But man, what if he did? Space tears would have been had. Just imagine how emotional Mutta's eventual moon landing would have been! Time to get to the fanfiction, I think.
[Space pugs can be found on Crunchyroll!]
Little Busters! Episode 17
We may have had Space Bros. lighten up the mood, but here comes Little Busters! to bring it back down again! Once again I can't help but make a futile attempt at not diving through my PC monitor to try and help console Haruka. Her could-be Dad is such a bag of dicks, but perhaps not as much as her actual family. I mean seriously, what the hell are those flyers all about?
"We don't want our family name tarnished! I know, let's tarnish our family name! I mean, it's not technically ours, but no one will remember we're a branching family!"
Finding out that Kanata has it rough isn't much of a surprise, but she also didn't have to be such a mean asshole over the whole thing, either. She likely thinks that Haruka has it easy, so I'm going to assume that beat-up girl in the opening is probably her. It also likely has something to do with Haruka acting up, to explain the hate somewhat. I dunno, speculation once again! Oh, and there's Kanata dressing up as Haruka to cause trouble. Low blow, twin! I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the conclusion of this arc, I'm really enjoying it!
[Wafu! Nano desu Crunchyroll]
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai Episode 4
As much as I enjoy this show, I always dread coming to write my opinions on it. Not because I worry that they'll be different from your own, but really, what the bloody hell is going? Sasami watches a video of herself, except it isn't herself and she's actually some lump of flesh? But now she's a rabbit called meat? Tama also got abducted by aliens before making friends with them and keeping the government at bay. Her brother has a camera for a head...
It's hard to see where this show is going, what with the slice-of-life style story structure. There's going to be an over-arching theme of Sasami's parents trying to get her back, but I don't think we'll see much in the way of plot progression until the back-end of the series. For now, we get to see her Dad dress up as a popular idol. I'm pretty certain that's going to be more traumatic than having to bath with your siblings at that age. That's just a hunch, though.
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou Episode 17
Valentine’s Day episode can hit you pretty hard in the heart.
It is also the day of Aoyama’s audition. So all in all, Sorata is in for some trouble. Love triangles are always hard to balance in friendships and love. Sorata is finding this out first hand trying to handle Aoyama and Shiina. It seems that his heart is still with Shiina overall, but Aoyama is pushing back hard. I do admire Sorata’s ambitions to make sure everyone is happy. His passions come out a bit more this episode while helping out Aoyama. Have to say it hit me pretty hard.
On the other side of this, Shiina is trying hard to understand, well, feelings. Again, this just irritates me so much that they make the character this oblivious. This time though she actually understands how she feels about her and Sorata’s relationship. It actually catches Sorata off guard. Then there is the hand holding at the end that ends with a generic response. Sorata needs to start making decisions about which one he is going to choose soon. We are running out of episodes and I need closure damn it!
[Chocolate giving at Crunchyroll]
Tamako Market Episode 4
Anko heavy episode ahead!
The festival has arrived in the market place and everyone is gearing up for the festivities. Everyone except for Anko, who has other things on her mind. The level headed sister seems to have a small crush on a boy in her class. So much so, that she blushes and hides from him when she sees him coming. Adorable. She does try to go to the museum with him and a group of friends, but winds up helping out with the festival instead.
As cute as this episode was, there was not a whole lot to it. Mainly it felt more along the lines of a filler episode at best. This is not to say I didn't enjoy watching it, but it was pretty boring. I mean the only real thing we got out of it story wise is that Anko likes a boy. A whole episode of it. Hopefully better things will happen in the next episode. As of right now, I feel like they fed me burnt mochi.
[Festival time at Anime Network]
Senran Kagura Episode 5
Now we are getting somewhere.
The Serpent Academy is finally getting all this teasing done and is now ready for an all out fight. This is what I have been waiting for since the beginning. From the start, all I wanted was a big boob fighting anime. It’s taken five episodes to do it but it’s finally here, at least, the start of the main battle anyways. The Serpent girls have infiltrated the Hanzou Academy looking for the other half of the legendary scroll. This scroll has tremendous power if the two halves are brought together. We’ll see if this actually happens in the show or not. My vote is for not.
One new thing we get is to see what the den mother of the Serpent girls looks like. I do have to say that she doesn't look half bad. Thanks shower scene!
The fighting looks to continue on to the next episode so I know that I am pretty stoked for the next one. Finally some action is going on and the show will hopefully just get better...hopefully.
[Hang upside down at Funimation]
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