To start installment #4 I turn to a returning series: GATE. Back to the fantasy world to wipe out old fantasy tropes with modern-day weaponry!
We start with Youji wearing a ridiculous outfit for a formal event, but it gets unpleasant after that as we meet Zozal, Pina’s brother and a nasty abuser of women for a scene more suggestive than anything season one had in it, but then it’s to a garden party where noble families greet and the husbands see what’ll happen if they cross the JSDF. After that it’s … I lost track. More intrigue, Mari meets a prostitute with wings, still more intrigue, and now there’s an earthquake coming. Even though hardly anyone around knows what that is.
So many stories going on it’s hard to keep track. Not only it appears we have to remember names or noble families and watch a lot of political shifting about this time. I’m not a big fan of that because I can’t keep anyone straight. Still, we have some central items of concern, such as that asshole king, and Zozal, not to mention the earthquake. They will help centralize the action for us. This week, though we got plenty of Youji and Pina, we got very little of the other fantasy fetish girls. I hope they’re not being phased out. Probably not. They take too much time in the credits.
I’ll just quickly touch on Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, about a young man out of jail who becomes an apprentice for a famous comic storyteller. Apparently the manga is highly respected and won lots of awards, and the first episode, double-length, is also very impressive. It even features a long scene where the young man, Yotarou, does almost all of a famous routine for a small audience. Even by then enough was going on that every reaction from those we had met in the audience (the mentor, his ward, and Yotaro’s former mob boss) took on significance.
Excellent work. It looks great, I like the character designs, and the show is taking its time to tell the story. Yet I stopped watching after Yotarou was finished with his act. I feel a little bad about this, and I might be missing out on the season’s best work, but I had absolutely no desire to watch any further. I wouldn’t let me stop you from giving it a try, though.
Bubuki Buranki 1 is pretty well done, too.
It starts in some magical land, or planet or asteroid, who knows, where twins, fearless girl Kaoruko and fearful boy Azuma, are visiting a giant thing they call Oubu, or maybe that’s the underground one. We learn that they’re magic users of a sort, and Kaoruko helpfully tries to help her mom and instead accidentally makes all the giant buranki stumbling around asleep to wake up. She sends the father and the kids crashing, with another buranki, to earth. Cut to ten years later in modern-day Tokyo, Azuma getting caught by authorities and asked about Oubu’s heart, rescued by other magic users, chased around a lot, and other stuff.
Okay, so I can’t explain the story very well. Nevertheless, it’s wonderfully told. The weird other world is slowly presented to us, wonder by wonder, and even though it’s jarring to shift to “reality” like they do (and the story gets a little pedestrian as well), I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It’s not just the crisp CGI they’re using, or the incredible backgrounds and other art, it’s how they use it to tell the story, the movements of the fleeing kids out of explosions, the grin of the killer who’s after them. Very well done. I’m worried the story might get predictable, urban kids on the the lam, after the Ghibli-style opening. But if it’s told as well as this episode one I won’t care very much.
Luck and Logic comes next. We meet Yoshichika in a flashback as he confronts some glowing beastie or another, and then it’s the present day, where he’s just another high school kid with a bossy little sister and okay dad. The show is coy about telling us everything, well, there’s that infodump with the new recruit, and the one before with the couples, okay, not coy at all, but I forgot about it all because it’s not terribly interesting. Anyway, a beastie shows up and he, with no powers, helps clear the area so that the magic-tech girls can take it out. He meets Athena, who returns his Logic Card and he can power up again to beat the beastie after it escapes the girls.
Okay, it sounds ridiculous, and it is. It’s also full of stuff we’ve seen before, and, judging from Shiori’s “You’re a side character now!” lines, the show is aware of it. I actually like Shiori the best this episode, but now that Yoshichika is fully powered-up now I wonder how much we’ll actually get to see her. The magical girls aren’t very interesting, and Athena, the other lead character, who makes a kissy-covenant with Yoshichika is the least interesting of the lot, or she’s drawn in a far less interesting than any character named Athena should be allowed to be. Still, in terms of story it wasn’t a bad first episode. It was told decently enough, though some of the animation suffers from CGI. But nothing much new here.