Spring 2015 Status Update: Week 5

Status Update is back! Sorry for skipping out last week, I ended up falling behind on most of the shows and then having to catch back up on everything in a marathon, without having time to write about them.

Without further delay, let’s run them down.

Hibike! Euphonium #5 – This episode totally blew me away, prompting me to go full-out in writing a timestamped episodic post for it, which I recommend checking out!

OreGairu Zoku #5 – Tension has been building up for the past few episodes, and here we get some relief in the form of a partial resolution of some of the immediate issues facing the characters. Hachiman’s manipulation of Iroha into becoming Student Council Prez and his bandaid twitter account-fraud scheme to persuade Yui and Yukino to not run against her did end up panning out. However, despite what Yui says outwardly, we are far from out of the forest yet and Yukino doesn’t seem too thrilled either. The irony of the entire setup is how the characters were so absorbed in their ideals and relative standings to each other that none of them saw the alternate solution of just hanging out as part of the Student Council together, which became tragically obvious in hindsight.

A frame encapsulating the relationship between these two.
A frame that encapsulates the relationship between these two.

Zaimokuza had some great scenes with Hikki too, but the highlight of the episode for me was the reconciliation between Hachiman and his sister Komachi. Not only has she been the one who gave Hikki a reason to fight to preserve their group (an excuse really, to allow him to act in compromise) but she has provided solid emotional support to her brother, who isn’t in the best place at the moment. Komachi’s rapport with Hachiman has been naturally built up over the course of the show, the endearing scenes between them were always a joy to watch. I particularly liked how Komachi finds it so easy to understand and see through Hachiman’s behaviour, this is the kind of role that could only be played by a sibling that has had to put up with him for all these years.

[Commie] Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku - My Teenage RomCom SNAFU TOO! - 05v2 [E3D61B82].mkv_snapshot_04.44_[2015.05.01_14.24.07]
Aoi Yuuki (Komachi’s VA) is so perfect.
Unlimited Blade Works #17 – Man, I really enjoyed the first season of this show, but some of these recent episodes (with the exception of last week) have felt completely hollow to me. In all factors really, the writing is messy to the degree of plot points and character turns feeling close to arbitrary (I mean, even more so than before), and even the sole bastion the series had to stand by, the aesthetic production, just isn’t there. We had a fight on two fronts this episode, Lancer vs Archer outside the church while Rin and Shirou tag-teamed Caster and Kuzuki, this should have been both an exciting climactic battle (as Caster has been the looming threat in this route, like Berserker was in the Fate route) in addition to a character send-off to this pair of the likes Fate/Zero had in its second half, as many participants dropped like flies. It technically was those two things, at least on paper, but the actual result was a disjointed, incomprehensible mess.

[HorribleSubs] Fate Stay Night - Unlimited Blade Works - 17 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.41_[2015.05.02_21.06.19]
Well, some parts of this fight were fun to watch. I was expecting a lot more, so much time wasted on empty words as participants paused to gloat smugly, it felt like pulling teeth. Things should have ramped up from the fights in season one, these feel much weaker in both action and drama.
I don’t know if we just haven’t had the same talented fight animators that made S1’s action scenes great, or if there just wasn’t enough creative soul put into transitioning these written battles into a majestic vision on-screen, but there was definitely something missing. Short cuts of obscured clashes in distance shots interspersed with hammy dialogue do not make for an epic action scene, I found myself thinking “Fight! Just fight already!”. My personal hypothesis is simply that a lot of the animation cuts for various parts of the fight are simply missing entirely, either cut out so the episode could fit the timeslot, or still unfinished (the production has been noticeably less polished as of late) and omitted until the BD release of the series. Whatever the reason, it feels like I am watching an early beta prototype of a show that could have been much better. What a shame.

Aniplex.
Aniplex.

Knights of Sidonia S2 #4 – I talked about the abrupt change in tone this season has taken in more detail here. However this episode didn’t exactly continue in that vein (next episode preview indicates the crazyness will be back) since this week the entire focus was one gigantic, breathtaking battle scene, very much harking back to season one. The overt refrain of humanity on the brink of existence, even the smallest actions contributing to the survival of Sidonia (and perhaps the entire human race, for all they know) was front and center once again. The line that stood out was Yuhata’s “Please nothing major happen now” — really encapsulating how finely the humans of Sidonia are cutting it each time, the Gauna are such a threatening, faceless and utterly unpredictable existence, every battle with them could be the last, everything can so easily go wrong.

That feeds into the most striking scene in the episode, as the Gauna Hyggs energy beam rattles past Sidonia, we see the monitors of the bridge flicker out into static as the entire ship is racked to its foundations violently. That beam would have completely destroyed Sidonia, but the already-wounded Tsugumi deflected the beam, and Nagate himself (who had been uncharacteristically standing by this whole time) went full hero-mode to destroy the Gauna core before another shot could be fired. We have yet to discover the true fallout of this battle, but the losses were indeed heavy. A heart-stopping episode.

[Underwater] Knights of Sidonia S2 - The Ninth Planet Crusade - 04 (720p) [F0B9EA30].mkv_snapshot_12.33_[2015.05.06_22.30.02]
This episode looked absolutely incredible. CGI allows for absolute chaos to play out on-screen, the dynamic camera and light effects make these fireworks-like battles in space work.
Ore Monogatari #4 – Hooray, thanks to Sunakawa’s blunt and no-nonsense nature, Yamato and Gouda can finally get together! That being said, I can’t help but feel my main reaction to those events was more one of relief than actual emotional catharsis. I appreciate the show for doing what it did, but it doesn’t justify the shoddily characterised misunderstanding that lead up to this. Unfortunately, the show’s penchant for simplistic character writing flared up again this episode. Yamato’s friends deriding Gouda behind their backs was transparent and hokey enough, but instead of resolving this in a mature fashion, Ore Monogatari decides to elicit change through external circumstances, the building is suddenly on fire, and only Gouda himself can save everybody and change their minds!

Yeah… this goes beyond just being some unreal situation I raise my eyebrows at before moving on — it was an incredibly awful and insensitive way to handle things so I’ll be dropping Ore Monogatari here. Creating situations that make Gouda look great and impress everyone around him while reinforcing his caricature as a dense lump of meat is a storytelling technique akin to, dare I say, a power fantasythe show’s left a bad taste in my mouth and I don’t find anything endearing about it any more. Despite this being a rare breed of anime where the couple gets together early, I don’t see myself losing much because I have zero confidence in any good romance being borne out of these characters when the show is wont to create lazily written melodramatic situations to use them in without really understanding how people work.

CEASLCtVAAAZrAx
You know who Sunakawa reminds me of? Sasuke.

Owari no Seraph #5 – The pace of the past two episodes has been slower than I’d like it to be. Last week was a fairly standard introduction episode for Kimizuki, so Shinoa has been carrying the show in the meanwhile as this training phase has dragged on for a little too long. This week’s episode looked really different though (turns out a different studio/animation director worked on it), the characters were just so… animated? Everyone was moving about in such an energetic way all episode, filled with all the little details of human motion that is pretty rare to find in most typical TV anime. This slightly rougher and kinetic on-screen display injected much needed vitality to a build-up episode of Yu and the others getting their cursed gear (placing us in a cliffhanger, yet to see how this dangerous feat plays out). The vampires have now declared war, so we will hopefully be seeing the story pick up in the coming weeks.

[HorribleSubs] Seraph of the End - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.08_[2015.05.02_17.41.19]

Assassination Classroom #15 – I think of this show as primarily a comedy, so when it tried to get serious about its morals in ep13 I was totally underwhelmed. This week was a demonstration of how to do something like that just right. The finals provide the perfect grounds for a rematch between E-Class and the Principal, last time he had tricked them out of a victory, but this time the stakes are ramped up to maximum, with the introduction of his son: the student council president and top student of the A-Class. He has it in for them all, not only is Koro-Sensei’s secrecy on the line, but the total freedom of all the students in his class. This manifests in probably one of the most entertaining goddamn scenes of the season as these two actors put on their most sinisterly evil voices, hamming it up in a total show for the audience, even freaking organs played in the background to add to the effect. Great stuff, this is the kind of absurdity I watch Assassination Classroom for.

[HorribleSubs] Assassination Classroom - 15 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.22_[2015.05.05_17.49.25]
And the glass begins to crack as they start villain-laughing. Bloody perfect.
Nisekoi: #4 – The prior episode looked kind of like garbage, completely flat direction, lifeless, badly timed comedy and poorly drawn characters who were barely animated. Unfortunate that we began the two-part arc about Chitoge and her mother like that, but this episode had things looking good again as the arc came to a reasonable close. Lots of cute and endearing moments here, Nisekoi continues chugging along.

Kekkai Sensen #5 – A great big fun mess of an episode, completely leaning into the wacky extremes of the show’s humour, this was a Bebop-esque gag episode through and through. However, despite enjoying parts of this one (such as the rain of flying debris at the end), and also finding Chain’s antics very amusing, I wasn’t impressed by this adventure, so I do register this as being the weakest episode thus far. To me it feels like the quality of an episode of Kekkai Sensen is inversely proportional to the number of times the dreaded on-screen ability text shows up.

[HorribleSubs] Kekkai Sensen - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_22.35_[2015.05.03_15.32.12]
This moment, however, was beautiful, and kind of makes me wish that Kekkai Sensen ditched the episodic japes in favour of just focusing on Leo and White. Alas, that is not a likely scenario.
Yamada-kun #4 – I have a love for school trip episodes, though here, most of that stuff has just been fast-forwarded through, the entire setup feeling like a loose justification to facilitate two or three key scenes needed to further the story. Well, and the one obligatory body-swapped bath scene, that had to happen at some point, it seems (though I would prefer the fanservice to not just play out as juvenile gags if it had to exist at all). The trip serves as a playground for another of Odagiri’s schemes to cause Miyamura to lose favour with the student council via manipulating Shiraishi through Yamada. Who, of course won’t let himself be blackmailed so easily, attempting to use his body-swapping powers on her to foil the scheme. It doesn’t work. In fact, through kissing her he seems to have gained a new power to charm people instead. This raises many questions based on the evidence we have, my personal speculation is that each of the seven titular Witches (of which Shiraishi is one) bestow a different ability upon Yamada when he kisses them, the body-swapping power just being the first one Yamada accidentally came across. It remains to be seen what the real deal is, but I’m interested to find out.

Show By Rock!! #5 – The truth comes out! The band members find out Cyan is from another world, but she is not the only one, as Moa has yet to speak up herself. This leads to some endearing little drama with Retoree, as Cyan fails to make the performance due to her other responsibilities. I wouldn’t really feel much for this show if I wasn’t bringing in the external investment from shipping these characters, but it’s fun enough to tweet about so I’ll continue watching.

[HorribleSubs] Show By Rock!! - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.58_[2015.05.06_21.44.52]

DanMachi #5 – Hestia and Bell continue being absolutely adorable together, as various background plot elements move into place without their knowledge. Bell also learns how to use magic, another demonstration of his quick ability to learn things in this world (which I don’t fully understand yet but I’ll just run with it). We seem to totally be in the realm of the 2nd LN phase most stories of this type go through. We are just waiting until the vaguely defined “bad guys” inevitably sweep in again, leading to a much less focused structure than the first arc had. The problem is that I probably enjoy these characters just derping about than whatever plot this series can throw at me anyway.

FIYAHBOLTO!
FIYAHBOLTO!

Jojo #41 – It seems this is the first three-part battle in Stardust Crusaders. Not much to say really, since I usually find the episodes where the new enemy is introduced far more interesting than the way the battles end, this all seems unnecessarily protracted. D’Arby junior was fun last episode, but I am already tired of him. At least Joseph berating Jotaro over not being able to play video games was funny.

Arslan Senki #5 – Losing interest quickly, there’s way too much time spent deliberating on every small turn of events, leading to unbearably slow pacing. When basic storytelling beats are sold as the sole dramatic reveals and there’s little to no spice to back them up, a show quickly loses momentum.

[HorribleSubs] Arslan Senki - 05 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.11_[2015.05.03_19.19.07]
Am I watching Akame ga Kill? The attempts at morality here aren’t completely binary, but they are so simply laid out and devoid of nuance at this point that it’s hard to take anything seriously.
Closing Message

Oof, writing this post did entail me being negative or mixed about almost every show apart from the top few such as OreGairu and Sidonia. Perhaps the karmic balance upset from Euphonium’s great showing caused the other episodes to be worse just to compensate? I refrained from watching Punchline, Plastic Memories and Grisaia to avoid swinging the scale too far one way, just so you know. Anyways, I hope next week’s bounty will be better, I don’t like having to be so negative.

But perhaps I may not have to be, since I have a few non-seasonal anime related posts in the works, and those should hopefully be coming out soon, please look forward to them!

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4 thoughts on “Spring 2015 Status Update: Week 5

  1. Arslan Senki: I can see what you mean by the plot slowing down to a crawl, but I personally don’t mind it that much. The characters aren’t that developed but I love them so far, and I’m a sucker for these kind of setting that I’m fine with spending more time just highlighting basic stuff. I don’t really care about the villain army and the new bard, but the guy asking to get arrowed is a pretty cool scene despite being predictable.

    Assassination Classroom: Yeah, despite having the word assassination on it this series is best when it focuses on the comedy. Apart from the thing you mentioned, I also love how the pitcher suddenly goes into hype presenter mode when introducing the A class, the VA is doing a good job.

    BBB: I don’t know if I’m going full circle or what, but lately I find myself absolutely fine with episodic stuff in my anime (perhaps Seki-kun and Space Dandy is to blame?) Sure, having more depth to the characters and their relationships would be great, as they have done with Leo and White, but everything else is so cool I don’t mind something like that every week. Things like how they present villain’s atrocity with the Heinz ketchup and everything, makes everything even more creepy to me.

    DanMachi: Apparently according to LN readers they cut out a bunch of things that develops the setting and the plot that might have made it more interesting, but to be honest like you the reason I’m watching is to enjoy the characters derping around together.

    FSN: I remember being really into the VN when I played it years ago, I wonder why it isn’t very engaging to me now? There really is something missing, but I’m not sure what is it exactly. Maybe they need to take more liberties in order to make the adaptation better? The stuff with Caster old master was anime original, but I don’t exactly hate it. Maybe they really do need to spend less time talking and more time fighting, perhaps not being able to speed through some of the awful dialogue like in the VN is why it’s less enjoyable now.

    Sidonia: Yep, this episode is just full on fighting, and it’s really cool to watch too. That being said, as always it’s always Nagate who saves the day at the end, and while that’s to be expected, it really makes the rest of the no-names seem completely expendable.

    OreMono: I still like this because I like the characters, but I find myself agreeing with your complaints. It seems that despite doing the groundbreaking thing of having the couple actually get together as early as episode 3, the rest of the usual bad shoujo trope (such as shallow girl friends or melodramatic situations) is still present. Also yeah, despite this being shoujo the stuff with Takeo seems like it’s taken from a bad shonen power fantasy (especially with some stuff in ep 5 too). I won’t stand for saying Suna is like Sasuke though, maybe the whole cold to girls bit but he has much more common sense and friendship than the ninja.

    Yahari: Komachi is the best imouto, of that there is no doubt. Still, this may be the first time where Hachiman is flat out wrong in his actions. Sure, his methods is questionable and the solutions is temporary, but at least he usually clearly sees through the heart of the matter. Here he completely unable to see Meguri’s idea, and seem to misunderstand Yukino’s intentions. And that’s what make it worse, Yukino is no longer mad as she is disappointed. Which reminds me of what sensei said about how it’s good to have people scold you as it shows they still care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woah, first time I’ve gotten such a long comment. Thank you, and I hope you don’t mind me replying with a long comment too, I certainly don’t mind discussing these shows:

      Yeah, I still like Prince Arslan himself as a character a lot, though we didn’t get that much of him this episode. Also, despite me placing it in the lowest spot this week, I will still be keeping up with the show, it’s shown the potential to be good in prior episodes and a setting like this is rare, so I’ll not be giving up on it too easily. We’re definitely in for the long haul though, this is a 25 episode ride.

      Despite having a large ensemble cast, and only a few A-list VA’s, Assassination Classroom has just had really good acting all around, my favourite performance overall though is definitely Karma. He is just so fun to watch, though Nagisa’s coming into his own slowly but surely too.

      I’ve found myself comparing BBB to Cowboy Bebop a lot, but I do rather like those other two shows you’ve mentioned too. I don’t like episodic shows in general, mostly because of structural reasons, but if it can deliver with consistency every time like Bebop did, then I won’t mind. (Also Cardcaptor Sakura kept me going for 70 episodes :D)

      In the case of DanMachi, it’s just so easygoing and comfortable that I can see myself coming back each week even though I’m not exactly impressed by it. Eina is also very cute, which helps.

      I’ve played the first route of the F/SN visual novel, (and seen the old anime) so I know how hard it is to adapt multi-route VNs that are packed with so much detail into animation. I thought this Ufotable adaptation would be the one everyone would be happy with, akin to how Fate/Zero is treated, but it seems like that may not be the case. This also makes me cautious about the Heaven’s Feel movies, we still don’t know the format and it definitely isn’t going to have a runtime as long as this UBW series, so it might be even worse off. Regardless, this time I may actually go and read the HF route of the VN after this anime is over.

      After season one, it’s been made pretty clear that the series is clearly treating Nagate as a super-competent LN-hero type. I actually think it works in this season more due to its different tone, it clashes less.

      Haha, the Suna thing was just a joke :p it’s just that the way all the girls reacted to everything Suna did with admiration and everything Takeo did with disdain really reminded me of the Naruto/Sasuke dynamic from the early episodes of Naruto. In reality, out of all the characters in Ore Monogatari, Sunakawa’s the one I like the most, his nuggets of wisdom and relationship with Takeo were the most interesting part of the show to me. Also, I have heard about what happened in episode 5…. not impressed, I don’t think I’ll be coming back to this show.

      Lastly, as for Yahari, I agree with you, but I’d put more emphasis on Hikki being misguided rather than /wrong/. Feels like his current attitudes are wilfully blinding himself from taking actions that might benefit him (and people around him) the most. The next episode is already out, so I gotta get on to watching that, cya!

      Like

  2. I don’t mind at all, in fact I’m gonna reply with a long one too ~

    Yeah, I really .ike Prince Arslan too, and Narsus is also very interesting too (always have a weakness for these tactician types). I think things will be more interesting again when they go back to the capital and we focus on them. And yes, knowing it has 25 episodes makes me feel fine with them going a bit slow, there’s still plenty of time to tell its story (though obviously not the whole story).

    I agree, if only because Karma and Nagisa are the only students I actually know the name of (actually I know Isogai and Kayano too, but I only remember the former because of his name, and all I can remember of the latter is green hair+flat chest). I’m actually more interested in the teachers, Koro-sensei and Karasuma is really entertaining to watch.

    I think there’s enough there to sustain at least a cour before it gets boring and stale, but yeah hopefully they give a bit more focus on more character development stuff like with Leo and White. And yes, Danmachi is very comfy to watch, all the Friday anime I’m watching is actually like that – which is perfect after a long weekday.

    Again, I’m not smart enough to analyze what exactly is missing with the UBW adaptation – it’s like everything there should be good with great production value, but it’s still not that engaging to me. I don’t even hate it, but there’s a reason I’m still several episodes behind. I thought the reason was because I read the source material and already know what’s coming, but apparently its’ more universal than that.

    Yeah, it’s already obvious from the first season, but I really wish the other characters has their moment to shine too. I don’t know, with so much death (the first ep of S2 alone already killed 3 pretty major characters) it feels the core cast is actually pretty small, and even then not all of them had great character development. I’m still in as long as the space battles are still there and as good as the last ep, but I feel they can do more there.

    Oh yeah, that comparison for Suna is pretty accurate, but honestly it’s pretty common in other anime too.

    As for Yahari, I honestly don’t see that much difference between misguided and wrong, but yeah I suppose the former is what I meant. I already watched the last ep, seems like there’s less to analyze from this one since it looks more of a build up episode.

    Like

    1. The other character I really like from Assassination Classroom is Ritsu (the Robot/AI thing), the episode in which she was introduced is likely my favourite thus far. Also, I’m still holding out hope that UBW will end well, I don’t actually know what happens yet, but I hear some crazy things end up going down. As for Sidonia, I’m not sure if I watch it for the characters primarily in the first place, it’s more just the general atmosphere and setting that interest me.

      Lastly, I would just like to say that I really appreciate your comments, it’s great to know people are reading and engaging with my posts.

      Like

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