Lie in April 19, Shirobako 20, Saekano 7

February 28, 2015 Leave a comment
One more time?

One more time?

Your Lie in April 19 shows Kaori deciding to have surgery which will be dangerous and maybe useless in order to perform with Kousei again. And she’s working out (in this case that means trying to walk) to keep her strength and stamina up just for that reason. And it makes me wonder at the phrasing. Not “play again” but “play one more time.” It’s as if the possibility of imminent death is now unavoidable. It sounds like the show is going to give us that maudlin ending I feared it would. Well, she’s not dead yet, and Kousei is an inspiration for her, as she is to him.

The arch rivals share egg sandwiches.

The arch rivals share egg sandwiches.

Meanwhile, Kousei, Takeshi, and Emi gear up for the big competition, meaning a lot of flashbacks of them as kids, in the same music hall. This week it’s Takeshi’s turn to perform, and it’s that intense Chopin etude, perfect for him, and he nails it. The second piece, well, we don’t hear it, but it seemed to be a letdown. Takeshi, too, was inspired by Kousei (also Emi) to work harder (so we get some scenes of him performing switched with Kaori struggling to walk), but the performance was also his declaration of independence, so to speak, as he works off the baggage that comes with admiration and frees himself to go his own way. I wonder if Emi will do the same when she performs next week? In the meantime, it’s nice to see these three rivals sit and eat egg sandwiches together before trying to pulverize each other in the dust–musically, of course. Your closest rivals are also your closest friends, and all that.

Seiichi's answer is no better or worse than the others.

Seiichi’s answer is no better or worse than the others’.

So far, Shirobako has pretty much avoided having a situation in their current project’s plot get reflected by events at Munashino, but episode 20 comes close. Not that the two have a direct connection. Aoi begins to ask everyone why they make anime and gets a dozen different answers, all from people who never really thought about it before. Meanwhile, Third Aerial Girls Squad’s main character is searching for a reason for flying. The manga hasn’t reached an answer yet so they have to invent their own, which also ties in nicely to watching scriptwriter Maitake and his “student” Midori, by the way. So they invent one for the character which, maybe, is one that Aoi was looking for herself, though the show is too subtle to state it directly.

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And we get some office drama as Hiraoka, who’s been a dick ever since he joined, gets into it with … whatshishame. Hiraoka doesn’t have a leg to stand on; it was a mistake to hire him and bring in those idiots at that other company. He later briefly ruminates about it, who the hell cares is this or that isn’t done, and I wonder why he’s even in the business at all. Well, he has a talk with the president and later apologizes, so maybe there’s a face turn for him. He’s the one that I’d actually like to ask “Why do you make anime?” Note that he leaves the room while Aoi is asking around. Also an odd scene between Midori and Hesitant Girl, where Midori answers one of Hiraoka’s gripes, but why invent a head cold and have HG have to come to her apartment to ask?

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Saekano 7 has a few scenes that don’t add up to much, and then tries to hand us a villain at the end, but I don’t see it working out. Lori, the villain, is an old friend of Tomoya and Eriri’s but they spurned him long ago for his underhanded attempts to work his way up the otaku ladder, or food chain. What he did isn’t explained well, but now he’s an important gopher or something for a prestigious circle, and they’re after Eriri’s talents. I don’t know how they’re going to convince her to leave Tomoya’s game. She doesn’t like Lori and has a past with Tomoya. Also, she’s made a commitment and she doesn’t strike me as the type who forgets those.

Naturally, all the other girls are within earshot.

Naturally, all the other girls are within earshot.

As for the other scenes, a pointless one where Eriri gets Tomoya to act out an 18-and-over script for her Comiket doujinshi. More amusing the sudden appearance of Izumi, Lori’s little sister and a perfect younger childhood friend model, giving all the other characters (who all happen to be there) a chance to be shocked and amused. It’s also interesting because it’s a new character midway through the series, when the show hasn’t even brought in the project’s composer yet.

KanColle 8, Maria 6-7, Koufuku 7

February 26, 2015 Leave a comment

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Kantai Collection 8 … (Quick lookup of the actual battleship. Hmm, now I know why they named that island “Truk.”) The story had Fubuki and the others gather at Truk, their farthest base, where they meet Yamato, an elegant lady with great power, who is prevented from going to sea because she consumes so much. I hadn’t made that connection between Akagi’s status and her appetite before. Naturally, Fubuki feels bad for her and tries to entice her to go into the water. The episode begged for connections to actual history. You can’t just say the name Yamato and not get overtones, after all. I wonder if we’ll get to see her in action again. Otherwise, it was a slight episode. I’m waiting for the big final arc they’re preparing for.

Scary glowing angel.

Scary glowing angel.

I’m finally caught up with Maria the Virgin Witch, and while a lot of story happened, I don’t have much to say about it. I will say that Ezekiel is now fully corrupted, deliberately missing Maria, or at least changing the angle of the piercing so that Maria was only injured. Why? Either she felt Maria’s stance was right (doubtful), or she showed compassion for a human being. Either way, Michel is pissed at her, but considering the stance of the angels is on some different (I won’t say higher) plane (I mean, take a look at Michel. There is no humanity in his appearance at all, and his eyes appear blind), and inhuman to us, I’m for once on Ezekiel’s side.

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The ambush of the English forces suffered for being confusing–I couldn’t figure out who was doing what on the French side, and from the low budget. It doesn’t take too many shots of soldiers jerkily waving spears around before I get tired of it. It was made interesting because Maria wasn’t interfering at first and it looked like one side would actually win. And even when she did show up, the soldiers fucked it up and a lot of soldiers died anyway, and more to come. And once more we hear the lie that without war the soldiers would go and do something else violent, so you might as well not stop them. Isn’t anyone tired of that shtick yet?

Kirin vs. saury.

Kirin vs. saury.

Koufuku Graffiti 7 features saury. The story this week is that Shiina has too much of it and so invites Ryou and Kirin over for a cookout, and they don’t want Ryou to do any work, because she always cooks for them. So, while she accepts and appreciates the kindness, Ryou feels a little left out. There is talk about how Ryou should learn to lean on her friends more, and how Kirin freeloads off her. So they cook a dish together later. But as usual all this nice stuff about friendship and kindnesses is secondary to the cooking and eating. This week is the closest the show has gotten towards being a cooking show. We see how to salt and cut the saury. Alas, we get more details apart from the grilling technique after that. Seems easy enough though. Make some X’s on it, sprinkle salt, and toss it on a grill …

Lie in April 18, Saekano 6

February 24, 2015 Leave a comment

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A lovely episode of Your Lie in April this week, mostly positive, with no major crises in Kousei and Nagi’s duo.

The main point of the performance was to show us how much Nagi has grown, how much more she can do now. Even while Kousei isn’t playing exactly the way they practiced she is rattle for just a second and adapts, using her natural abilities and her damn cussedness to keep up, and to take control when it’s right for her. It was a rewarding moment for us, well-executed as usual, to watch her, but I was just as interested in what Kousei was doing. He “could hear the notes,” which in the old days would have been fine, but he, too, has matured, and what he once thought was the norm is no longer good enough, so he works harder, bringing us to Nagi’s triumphant adapting.

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As Hiroko points out, they’re playing a waltz, so this back-and-forth between the performers makes perfect sense. One other idea is tossed out there; Nagi has been chasing her older brother’s back for years, and now Kousei talks about seeing Kaori’s back more often, as he struggles to keep up. The episode ends with a sweet scene between Kaori and Kousei. Kousei, through that performance, is telling her to dream again. But I wonder, as Kaori does for a minute, how performing beautifully can help a person who can’t play at the moment and may never be able to again. Well, it shows he was thinking of her.

Yes, Nagi, I think you reached him.

Yes, Nagi, I think you reached him.

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In Saekano 6, Tomoya and Utaha spend the night in a hotel. The gag is, of course, that they didn’t do anything naughty, but the show has a lot of fun teasing us with the potential. It all happened because Tomoya, after ditching poor Megumi (but turns out Eriri picked up the slack and gave Megumi some screen time to pout cutely), ran around until he found Utaha finishing up with her manager and heading for her hotel room. The last train already left, there are twin beads, so …

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When the episode wasn’t flirting with us, it was reestablishing the trust between the two of them, something that had been fractured for Utaha awhile back when Tomoya had refused to look at her latest book manuscript. Authors often have reading circles, so I think it would have been all right, but Tomoya had wanted to keep the distance between creator and fan, and I can understand that. But now the boy’s a co-creator of a sort, so the episode uses the metaphor of an illicit night to have the two creators collaborate on their project, and for Tomoya to insist that we can’t dwell solely on the past.

Durararax2 7, Aldnoah 19

February 22, 2015 Leave a comment
Mikado, you should know better than listen to Izaya.

Mikado, you should know better than listen to Izaya.

In Durarara x2 7 we get … more setting up. There seems to be two different stories going on now. One has to do with Mikado and the threat to the dollars. Izaya has conned him into doing something about whatever it is, suggesting that that Dollars would evolve into something beyond Mikado if he doesn’t get it in line. And that would apparently be bad. I’ve never figured out the Dollars’ identity myself. Mikado had created sort of an invisible group that was autonomous and acted out of good intentions, and that’s partly why most of the show’s good guys, some of them former gang members, have joined. But there are thugs acting under the Dollars name, now. But that was the case before. Does Mikado even have the power to fix it? Anyway, Izaya has him conned into doing something, which won’t be good for the lad.

Varona, meet Anri.

Varona, meet Anri.

Much more interesting right now is the other story. We get the background on Varona, the nutty, murderous blonde. She’s the daughter of a Russian gangster, and trained with Simon (the first real background we’ve gotten for him in two seasons) in her younger days. Not that it matters. In this part of Tokyo she’s just another nut, and not a nice one. So it was fun to first watch Anri turn the tables on her, and then Celty. I’d been looking forward to the latter for two episodes now. Next week it looks like Mikado get in trouble, or get conned some more, but I’d much rather watch Celty’s reaction when she goes home with Anri and sees that kid.

You know it's not looking good when there's an atomic blast in the background.

You know it’s not looking good when there’s an atomic blast in the background.

Aldnoah Zero 19 at least finds a release for one of its stories; the Vers ramp up their assault of Earth by, gasp, working together rather than going off half-cocked on their own. This changes everything. The biggest weakness Vers had was that they were idiots in battle. They had everything else going for them. You can thank/blame Slaine for this, as, in the other story, he has more or less taken control of Vers and is actually interested in running this war effectively. The reason for his autonomy is the announcement that Asseylum will marry him, an announcement that has the opposite reaction to what I thought would happen. I thought we’d be in for lots of infighting and treachery from rogue counts, but instead they’ve mostly gone “Yay!” and the few that haven’t aren’t worth mentioning.

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That is, until someone besides Slaine and that little maid learn that the real Asseylum has woken up. Apparently she’s lost a lot of her memories (though, apparently not about Inaho) and is safe to manipulate for now, but Slaine knows the dilemma he’s in. This might be the reason he’s escalating the war now; he hopes to get it done with so he can then turn to his upcoming troubles in Vers. Or perhaps he’s REALLY pissed off that Asseylum remembers Inaho. Probably a little of both. So next week I expect we’ll see the Earth forces retreating a lot and more of Asseylum remembering things or wondering what the hell’s going on outside her pleasure dome.

Categories: Aldnoah.Zero, Durarara! 2

Shirobako 19, Kancolle 7

February 21, 2015 Leave a comment
Yes!  Please-please-please-please!

Yes! Please-please-please-please!

Shirobako 19 starts by being sort of the Erika Show. She learns the situation, sends Aoi home, makes some calls, drags Hiraoka to Titanic where she she kicks some butt, tracks down a “bearded hermit” and gets him to cover episode five, and generally shows why Musashino is lucky to have her. For a moment I thought the episode would spiral into Aoi’s despondent thoughts about being not up for the job, but the show makes a turn away from that. Besides, Aoi’s too busy.

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Instead, we get a conversation between Erika and Hiraoka about Aoi, a world-weary talk between two anime veterans about harsh reality and why some people in the field don’t stop dreaming, between two people way too young to have this conversation. It’s made clear that these two people stopped dreaming, at least Hiraoka has, and now he bounces from job to job for reasons the show doesn’t explain. Aoi hasn’t been broken yet, and he hates that, though Erika loves it.

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Contrast that to a later flashback to President Masato’s longhair days at Musashino Pictures, and see a bunch of people working hard on an old show, not broken at all, and we see that some of them, years later, still aren’t. (Followed by a downright weird fantasy sequence where cartoon animals talk about keeping Musashi Pictures alive–a fantasy within a flashback). Meanwhile, two of the misfit independent artists talk about the long strange trip it’s been. A meditation on keeping your artistic sanity in a frantic, commercial, competitive field? That’s what the episode feels like, down to the ED with the old-school characters.

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Story-wise, Kantai Collection 7 is predictable. Kaga and Zuikaku, the two carriers, still don’t get along, Fubuki doubts her leadership abilities (as well she should: why didn’t she order the two carriers back instead of letting them bicker?), until a crisis brings them all a little closer together. Well, Kaga wasn’t in the battle; she had taken a torpedo that would have sunk Zuikaku and so was in the hot tub, but there was plenty of self-recrimination and guilt to go around anyway. On the other hand, the battle scenes more than make up for the story. Like the others, they’re clear, fluid, and exciting, even if you sort of know what’s going to happen, and you really don’t. Since they sunk that one girl earlier you know that they could do it to anyone. So we watch those great-looking battle scenes with a touch of worry. Most of the time it’s worth going through the Fubuki self-doubt and the other, petty, land-based bits for it.

Durararax2 6, Aldnoah 18, Yuri Kuma 7, Koufuku 6

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

 

Well, she just arrived.

Well, she just arrived.

Durarara!! x2 6 has its usual lot of scenes, as usual, but very few plot points get covered, and nothing has reached a head yet. The episode mainly sets up the fact that everyone’s looking for that little girl, Akane, for various reasons. But we don’t know the important thing–why she got attached to Shizuo in the first place. We also learn that the blonde who attacked Celty is a hitgirl, part of a duo looking for Akane. Now, I can enjoy the irony of Celty hunting for a girl who’s actually at her place, but I really want to see the confrontation between her and the blonde, who has idea what Celty is, so I hope she doesn’t change her mind and go home quite yet. Meanwhile, that other gang has not yet acted on the Dollars, and all we know is that some people claiming to be Dollars have been messing with that other gang in Saitama. But that’s all last episode’s news. Meanwhile, One other thing I want to see if what’s going to happen between Anri and whoever’s just busted into her place. But again, nothing really happens. The whole episode is like this. And too many chatroom scenes.

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Meanwhile, in Aldnoah Zero 18, a couple of things do happen, and it’s not just another meaningless battle between the Earth Forces and another smug Vers Count, a scene that’s meaningless except to show Marito performing well in battle. We also get the duel between Slaine and Marylcian. No surprise that Slaine wins, but he had to use some guile to do it, and I’m happy not least because Marylcian’s idea of dueling is to fire off a bunch of little robots to do the fighting for him, but because now Slaine continues his rise by getting all of deceased Marylcian’s property. But after that the fake Asseylum announces she’s going to marry Slaine, so his slow rise to the top is now a quick one.

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The biggest thing, however, happens after that. It’s an excellent little scene. At first I thought for sure Lemrina was going to kill Asseylum and was trying to figure out what that would mean to the plot and after all the new episodes do we REALLY need her anymore but wait wouldn’t that throw most of the first season’s work on her character out into space like where Marylcian wound up oboy this is intense is she really going to push that button ..? And then she doesn’t. … And then … Once again Aldnoah Zero shows us how to keep a plot churning.

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Yuri Kuma Arashi is taking its sweet time moving the story forward, but maybe we’ve taken an important step in episode 7 in getting Kureha ro realize that Ginko was that childhood friend. Made especially hard because Kureha had forgotten she even had one. So it takes a series of clues, like her mother’s well-tempered love song, the book, the ginger honey milk Lulu prepares to signal one thought and then the next. I’m more curious about why she forgot in the first place. And there’s still the unanswered question about her mother’s death. One of these days Kureha will look at what Ginko sometimes wears around her neck and make a connection. But Kureha isn’t the quickest of humans, we’re learning.

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Elsewhere, Kaoru has rather a shock awaiting her in her lover’s bed (shock–get it?). There’s still apparently a bear on the loose that we haven’t accounted for. I suspect it’s the one who actually killed Kureha’s mother, because I can’t imagine Ginko doing it. Also, there’s that threatening note to Ginko, saying they know what she did. But Ginko is a criminal bear, remember, so there are a lot of things she probably has to account for. But maybe she DID kill Kureha’s mother. Finally, there are the flashbacks, the most memorable being the church that the young unloved ginko is dragged to, where they are told to defend the borders from those evil humans in the name of lady Kumalia, who, er, is human. And Kureha is the human form that Ginko … worships, which could be considered another type of love. So are Kureha and Ginko’s loves different? Elsewhere in the flashback we learn that bears can exclude, too, and we get a trippy battle scene.

When it comes to food, the girls don't mind breaking the fourth wall.

When it comes to food, the girls don’t mind breaking the fourth wall.

Koufuku Graffiti 5 gave us the traditional pleasures of summer, and episode 6 brings us the other side–the oppressive heat. And Ryou’s AC is broken. It’s a lot of scenes showing us the girls deal with the heat in various ways, mainly food of course. So we get eel over rice, ice cream, and azuki soup, since Ryou and Kirin are kind of perverse. It all works its usual happy magic, save for a bit with Ryou and the freezer which went on too long.

Kantai 6, Shirobako 18, Lie in April 17, Saekano 5

February 14, 2015 Leave a comment
The 6th Destroyer Group makes curry.

The 6th Destroyer Group makes curry.

Kantai Collection 6, a silly filler episode about a curry contest, didn’t bug me too much. Since there’s a, er, fleet of characters to deal with it’s nice to see how they react to each other. The trouble is, apart from people Kongou, who is not only taller but dresses differently than the others in their schoolgirl/military uniforms, I can’t tell most of them apart yet, much less remember who is in which squad, and then there was the reorganization last week. This week we get more different group as we follow the 6th Destroyer Group in their brave quest to make the best curry on the base. I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it took before I realized I wasn’t watching Mobile Unit Three or whatever they’re called these days. As for the curry contest, the usual for this sort of show, though it did make me hungry for curry. Too bad about this diet … My favorite bit was Hibiki wearing that repaired pot on her head; it reminded me of Chino and Tippy. And one of the others makes cute noises sometimes.

First day of dubbing.

First day of dubbing.

Not much to say about Shirobako 18, but one thing I’m beginning to appreciate is how they not only give us the details of making a professional anime, but they show the human side as well. Sounds obvious, but it means we get scenes like the first dubbing session, the ritual of introducing everyone and giving little speeches, and, for added fun, working with the nervous newbie who’s playing the lead but is too wound up to get her lines out the way she did in audition (though you’d figure she’d be even more nervous for that). And we get to share in Aoi’s pleasure when the newbie gets it right.

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Elsewhere we have crises, of course, people not following through with their jobs, convincing an old drunk guy to do a job, and a trio of problems which hit Aoi all at once. I hate it when I get blindsided with new problems when I’m trying to deal with one already, so I admire Aoi’s reaction–brief panic, getting a hold of herself, dealing with the small problems quickly so she can concentrate on the big one. Which leads me to a final thing I like: they make a good story out of what is essentially a business project. Some people screw up, others step in, completely routine, and they make good drama out of it. Which explains why, when Erika appeared, I went “Yesss!” What other show could do that simply by having a character return from personal leave?

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The big statement in Your Lie in April 17 seems to be that there’s scary stuff out there and while you might not want to deal with it, eventually you’ll have to. First we got Kaori FINALLY telling Kousei that she might be dying, and that naturally puts him in such a funk that he once again can’t visit the hospital. Well, I can understand his problem. What DO you say after a revelation like that? Ryouta finally drags him to the hospital. We also have Tsubaki, who’s at least honest with herself now to admit she’s in love, but can’t come to grips with the fact that he’s leaving, to the point of following him after graduation. Nao’s trying to talk her through that.

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Finally, Nagi has a big scary festival performance coming up, and this time it’s Kousei and Hiroko doing the pep-talk. What Nagi REALLY ought to be scared of is what’s going to happen when her brother sees her coming on stage with Kousei. Well, good thing all these troubled people have friends. And let’s not forget about Kaori. The episode sort of did, even though Kousei’s helping Nagi for Kaori’s listening pleasure. It’s almost as if the show can’t face the impending tragedy, either.

Utaha writes a dating sim.

Utaha writes a dating sim.

Saekano 5’s best moments come in the first half when all the main characters are together. Eriri is trying to get a rise out of Megumi for her character designs while , in the back of the room, Utaha seems constipated over the story, and the snarky lines fly. Even Tomoya gets in a good one now and then. Then we get a nice encapsulation of the game’s bizarre story, draft one. It’s not exactly downhill after that, but the endless script-fiddling scenes don’t have as much going for them, though I’m glad to see Tomoya isn’t coasting on this project. The “date” scene isn’t livened up by Tomoya’s realization that the mall opening is like Comiket, because it’s too different from the first half, and we’re waiting for him to have the inevitable revelation of how to fix the script. Though the glasses scene was indeed very sweet.

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