Winter Sonata 0, Fairy Tail 2, Bantorra 2

In spite of the fact that my player (SMPlayer on Linux Mint) had a hard time with the file I watched the first episode (ep0, actually) of Winter Sonata. Apart from the fact that the live version was a huge hit in Korea and Japan I know nothing about this franchise. Argh, such lovely artwork being jerked around by this devil of an mkv! I guess I’ll watch it streamed next time.

I guess it’s episode 0 because it’s all setting and mood. We have Joonsang, a man with an apparent brain sickness who has moved to Manhattan, and Yujin, the girl he left behind (who’s now in paris), alternating scenes of walking in parks, in the rain, the snow, or among fallen leaves. We see kids playing, a man preparing coffee, little bits of life. They constantly are reminded of the other. The whole thing feels dreamy and romantic and filled with regret; they even manage to fit a love song in. It all might have been a little much except as I said the artwork is lovely, and it’s all prelude, anyway. I’m interested to see where it goes next, if we ever get it. I hear it’s run into production problems.

To completely change the mood I watched Fairy Tail 2 next, meaning I finally found a download that my player could handle. Less than two minutes in everyone in the Fairy Tail guild is fighting each other. Excessive fighting can be as bad as long stretches of nothing (I’m not comparing it to Winter Sonata. It just happened to be the show I watched next), but in this case I found all this over-the-top violence rather amusing. Of course, if I was in that guild I wouldn’t last twenty seconds … The subsequent adventure, rescuing another guild member, was also satisfying. I wish I could figure out why I enjoyed it when other shows of this nature tend to bore me. Maybe it’s the big-hearted nature of the whole thing. Yeah, they fight all the time, but they’re loyal to each other at the same time. Maybe.

Armed Librarians—the Book of Bantorra 2 reins in some of the mysteries of ep1. At the same time it blurs the lines between good and bad. The Church is battling the Library, using “meats” as their pawns. Meats are apparently the lowest caste on this world, “like cattle,” though who put them there is anyone’s guess; mine is that they are simply victims of this society. Then there are Humans and “Real Men,” as the Church leaders call themselves. Naturally you’re on the side of the hapless meats, especially Colio and his friends, who have been turned into bombs to kill the Library Director. In the meantime they question their motives even through the brainwashing, wondering what they actually are. People? Meat? Bombs? One of them, Relia, actually rebels.

Yes, all Library Directors look like this.
Yes, all Library Directors look like this.

All this should put your sympathies with the Library, but the aforementioned director, Meseta, isn’t much of a humanist either. She does not care what meats she kills if it protects the library or harms the church. Hence her killing spree near the end. This put her at odds with Volken, the hero last episode, because he didn’t want to kill anyone if he didn’t have to, meat or not. While the show teases us with moral ambiguity it continues to toss more oddities into its juggling act, but they will sort themselves out later. This is one of the better shows of the season for me. It’s constantly interesting to watch with characters who are showing some depth.

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