Coppelion ends the way it begins, with a hopelessly messy and silly story taking the life out some effective moments.
There’s a few things that the show has done well, believe it or not. Up to now, the running theme that the girls are artificial humans, dolls, created to do mankind’s bidding without any thanks or recompense, had been bandied around a bit by Haruto and the crazy girls, but it simply felt like an unanswerable dilemma that was getting in the way of the overall story, whatever that actually was. But e12 has a very good scene between Shion and Kanon. The latter, who had been crushed twice by boulders, finds herself alive (which at the time was funny), in pain, and without any hope, and begging for her own death, but her artificial genetics are preventing that. It’s a perspective on their lives we hadn’t seen before, and it feels more real than, say, Haruto’s petulance. So, naturally, her sister drags her off to attack the good guys in that giant spider. That’s more like it.
Yeah, the spider’s encore was ridiculous again (though good to watch). As was the train nearly getting blown off the rails, undergoing sudden stops and starts, all while Taeko was performing a delicate C-section on the pregnant lady. Oh, and there was that water tank that just happened to be collapsing when the train passed underneath it. If you like that sort of thing, the final two episodes didn’t disappoint. Also, where did everyone go at the end? And what happened to the leader’s job, or that assistant, or when did Ibara’s arm heal up? And how can the crazy sisters repent if they’ve got serial killer genes? The more I think about it, the more oddities keep coming to mind.
I’m willing to allow a few nutty things in an anime show with serious themes, it often makes watching more fun, but there was a disconnect here. We saw it in episode one. The realistic art and the grim tone set us up for a certain type of show, then they plunk three under-equipped schoolgirls in short skirts down into it, two of which shouldn’t have been there. The sheer idiocy of that, and the weird events that followed, meant that we couldn’t take most of the serious moments, er, seriously. Just as well, as they were mainly maudlin tales anyway. It’s a shame because the action scenes were often very good, and there were a few interesting things they managed to get across to us. But not enough.
Coppelion had plenty of problems but the ending was adequate. Galilei Donna‘s finale was one of the weakest I can think of.
Both Galilei and Coppelion had some effective action scenes in it, so I thought there’d be a wild chase or two, some dramatic turnabouts and cosmic lightshows when the new source of energy is revealed. Instead the big scene happens in a courtroom … Okay, I thought, this is where Hazuki is going to show off her mad lawyer skills. After all, she spent the much of the series threatening to sue or prosecute people. Instead, all she does is sputter at the lies the bad guys are using as testimony.. Maybe she has a point; this is a weird courtroom.
The judge is asked by the prosecution to make a judgment then and there, with no deliberation. When mysterious testimony for the good guys shows up Hazuki starts grilling Francesco even though he’s not on the stand. Then Ferrari shows up and hijacks the whole thing. The judge doesn’t seem to mind. Their mother turning around and becoming good again wasn’t so bad, but when she does they play that heroic music they only use for big, positive events, and my heart sank. No big battles would occur. And so, Francesco is led off in cuffs in spite of the fact that he wasn’t even on trial, and then, the WTF of the episode, Roberto shoots him.
Why? WHY? Because Roberto wanted to seize control? Because Francesco knew too much? Because Roberto had a change of heart? Because they couldn’t work him into the episode any other way? I’m flabbergasted. This is plotting on the level of Allison to Lillia, and any of you who experienced that mess knows what I mean, and I don’t make the comparison lightly. Honestly, if I missed something important let me know. ANYway, after that, there’s more sketch hunting. The world energy crisis seems to have been forgotten, temporarily. Damn, this show had some potential, too. Hozuki, cute little girl-genius, could be have attracted a lot of young viewers to root for her, but I don’t think even young people could handle the unlikable sisters, Roberto’s blood-lust, or it’s overly simplistic way of showing a world crisis. A shame, too, because it looked good and, like Coppelion, had some exciting, well-done action scenes. Well, goodbye to the two biggest disappointments of the season.
For the past couple weeks I kept thinking: do I really want to watch another episode of Galilei Donna? Not really, but I did anyway. Happily, episodes 9 and 10 aren’t as bad as I had feared. Just a little stupid, is all.
First, Anna’s treachery has to come out. There’s the usual gasping and “No!” business. Then, for reasons unknown, Roberto decides to have Anna shoot the girls herself, with his help, and we have the face-turn we all expected. And we learn that Hozuki had switched the sand in her hourglass, which makes me rather happy. When Roberto had announced that the one he took was a fake I thought maybe he just couldn’t get it to work, meaning Hozuki had some cosmic thingy in her. That would push the show’s impulse toward science and discovery further off the cliff than it already was. Well, it was off the cliff already, but at least the show tried from time to time.
In the middle of a big, well-done battle, we, alas go further off the cliff as Hozuki is transported back in time to Italy where she meets the young Galileo himself. It’s basically a bad “You were There” episode from here, as Galileo talks about his already-formed theories at length and Hozuki helps him build another flying machine (and after she leaves he never builds another one). He even has a telescope already! Meanwhile, Hozuki acts as a confidant and muse, and while they build together, in order to fly into the next angry cloud-thing that sent her there in the first place, she becomes the girl mentioned in the sketches. Since she’s a direct heir and much younger than him, there’s something insular and not a little creepy about this, but it does bring everything together.
In fact, it leads to a couple of nice scenes in episode 10, one on a rooftop, the other as they fly toward the cloud. The latter is especially nice because it’s basically two people who have grown to like each other and are about to part company for good, talking about their dreams and futures, with nothing but rushing wind and some unobtrusive piano music. But then that’s over, we’re whisked back to the future and another miraculous rescue and escape, only to be shot down by Interpol. Interpol? Who’s side are they on, anyway?
Kill la Kill 11 has the show finally bursting out of its Deva-of-the-week format, giving us something that even Satsuki didn’t anticipate.
This new girl, Harime Nui, floats in, Poppinslike, just as Ryuuko was about to bash into Uzu in their much-anticipated rematch, she then proceeds to dispatch Uzu while barely trying. This is the Uzu who almost wiped Ryuuko off the map the first time they fought. But she has the ability to locate the “banshi” of any life fiber uniform and unravel the whole thing. She is also Satsuki’s grand couturier, and doesn’t give a shit about anyone. As Senketsu whispers to Ryuuko, I’ve got a bad feeling about this. So do Mikisugi and Kinagase, who worriedly watch from a distance, and Satsuki, who leaves what’s left of the ring. I have a couple questions.
First off, I thought Uzu’s ability was to see everything, so why was he charging madly at Ryuuko the same way she was rushing at him? Well, silly question. So they can do exaggerated screams to heighten the anticlimax of Nui’s entrance, but beyond that, why couldn’t he see all this happening. And if Nui’s ability means only stripping away the uniform, and she’s not wearing any weaponry of her own, why can’t Ryuuko (or why didn’t Uzu) just take theirs off? Well, we haven’t gotten to Nui and Ryuuko’s fight yet, because they’re saving it for next week.
Also, Nui pulls out a half-pair of scissors of her own. And she claims she killed Ryuuko’s father. I don’t buy it. The retreating silhouette in the flashback looks like Satsuki to me, and her half-scissors is purple. On the other hand, she has motive. Ryuuko’s father might have been a clothes-making rival. A lot of stuff going on here. Oh, and Ryuuko defeated Jakuzure thanks to tuning her mind to her own something or other, thus spoiling the Beethoven Jakuzure was throwing at her.
As for Nagi no Asukara, I’m almost past caring. In episode 11, Kaname’s confession to Chisaki brings up a yawn. So do most of the other couplings and relationships. An exception might be Miuna, since she’s a little confused about her wants and too young to know what to do about it. The scene where she insults Akari to drive her back to the sea (where she’ll live) was dumb but sweet. Her crying jag later just felt maudlin. Akari’s request to combine the boatdrift ceremony with her wedding, and replacing the wooden sacrifice with herself was a nice idea and could go deliciously wrong if she actually does become a sacrifice. It would also be appropriate because these gods and priests they’re all worshiping seem like a callous, selfish lot, like all gods, actually, and it would be appropriate if the sea god decided to come out of its realm and devour her. It would liven up this episode where a lot of decisions are made, only none of them matter.
At the end of Kill la Kill 9 I wondered a few things. Mainly, is this going to be the format for the foreseeable future? Every week Ryuuko takes on another high-ranking student council member, she gets beaten up for most of the episode while we get the odd side scene about the bad guy’s background and whatever, then comes up with a strategy, or counterargument to the bad guys’ philosophy, or both, and wins. That will last three more weeks and I believe this show’s running 25 episodes. Even if you add in an extra episode or two to further develop a villain you still won’t get there. Besides, it’s too predictable, anyway. So what we’re basically waiting for now is the twist in the plot that will send things out of control. As for episode 9–predictable. I’m a little surprised that they’re going straight to battle two without any fuss, since we don’t know much about the new villain. Expect lots of flashbacks, or maybe that plot twist.
Coppelion 9 wasn’t all that ridiculous. Plans are made, forgotten resources (the granny) come back, seeds are sewn for the big finish. Not bad. The only nutty thing was the pregnant lady asking if the team could rescue a 1st Division soldier, the baby’s father, who really isn’t all that bad. Oh, and Aoi just happened to meet him while she was captive. How they’re going to recognize him when they’re all wearing gas masks is not explained, but it’s a problem the show’s had all along. It’s too hard to care about victims when you can’t even see their faces. The rest of the episode is about putting the plan into operation, that is, reviving an elevated train and using that to get to the rendezvous point, okay, that’s pretty ludicrous too. Meanwhile, the wacky Ozu sisters are back, purely evil and insane characters that make the legitimate, moral questions Haruto asks pointless, but whatever battle they’ve got in store now will wait until next week.
Galilei Donna feels like a filler episode, or maybe a “Kyoto in the winter” travelogue. The only story business worth speaking about was Anna’s continued treachery and her growing conscience, but these things were already known about and expected; we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. On the other hand, it’s nice that they were able to find one of those sketches without any bloodshed or sacrifice. The scenes with gramps were disgustingly touching. But what got me slamming my head against the table, Kuroko-style, was that the Goldfish was flying around like nothing had happened! I mean, it was trashed last week. It got shot at and fins and rudders flew off, and it crashed in the frozen tundra somewhere, and this week, almost first thing, we see it floating happily in the sky, maybe singing a little song to itself, like nothing had happened to it. Argh.
So Kill is routine, Coppelion and Galilei are more-or-less inane, it’s up to Kyoukai no Kanata to raise the bar for this viewing day, and it does.
We get three fights going on early. Izumi is squaring off against Miroku over Akihito, though we’re not certain why, yet, just that the boy has something special about hm, er, apart from being half demon, that is. Meanwhile, Hiroomi and Mitsuki are battling some big monster thing, but I’m not sure why. Finally, Mirai is rushing to be at Akihito’s bedside before he turns into … whoops, too late! This all happens on rooftops, building lots, and in the sky, and while we switch around we get a little more idea of what’s going on and why they’re fighting.
And then all the scenes are done with, with only the monster being defeated. Akihito’s gone off and others go to find him until they stop because it’s making little sense to them. Izumi delivers the big line, not really a surprise, but it obviously comes as a shock to Mirai, who had once managed to calm Akihito out of his demon-ness, and everything more or less stands still while we get some backstory. That the SWW and the Nase’s don’t like each other much is already obvious, but why they’re fighting over Akihito was still a mystery, at least to our young heroes who have been kept out of the loop. It boils down to him being actually really really powerful and nasty, and if his demon side prevails, he’s going to get nastier yet. Wait, that explains why you might want him dead, but both sides seem to have additional plans for his corpse. I’ve been rooting for the Nase side, not least because Miroku’s such an ass, but I’m no longer trusting their motives as much. At least not Izumi’s. Happily for us, neither do Mitsuki and Hiroomi now.
Meanwhile, Mirai finds her quarry and crazy demon, would-be boyfriend, and sets about killing him. What’s surprising about this scene, well, one thing, (the usual dazzling visual effects are no longer surprising, just great to look at again) is that she looks quite capable of doing it on her own. Hiroomi had mentioned before that only she could do it, though I can’t remember why, but I didn’t expect to see her have little trouble slipping through his attacks and inflicting damage on her own. But more surprising still is that she is resolved. Yeah, we had a crying in the bathtub scene earlier where she got sorrow out of the way, and there are a couple of times during the fight when they cheat and show us the real Akihito face behind the train track one, causing her to waver, but those are just lapses. Mainly she is relentless in what she is trying to do, even removing her glasses before the assumed final strike, maybe to cause the Akihito inside less pain. A very good scene in a very good episode.
Won’t be able to post much for a few days, so I’m pushing this post out and will probably not try to write about the other shows until next week.
Galilei Donna 7 is one of the more depressing ones, but there’s not much to say about it except that all the ships in this show function underwater, too, and Anna is secretly working for Roberto, which would explain why the bad guys always seem to wind up where the good guys are. Oh, and overwhelmed by the forces of money and power, Roberto manages to turn the Goldfish into scrap iron, and take the pendant away from the girls. Never mind Kazuki giving it to him, that little moral dilemma was pointless since he would have taken the pendant anyway, and probably killed them all. But it was a nice idea that the girls decide to continue on the journey to find the sketches, with no one trying to kill them this time, and find another way to this world-saving energy-saving source. It gives the show something to do, and will probably mean the pirates will come back, because how else are they going to get to Japan now that the Goldfish is trashed?
Non Non Biyori 8 is very pretty with its fall colors, but it suffers, not from having too much Komari, but too much about the same old things about Komari. She’s short for her age and is put upon by her younger and taller sister. And the first half of this episode is about how she wants be feel more mature, and how a neighbor named Konomi meets Hotaru and Komari and finds the younger Hotaru more sophisticated. Things get better when some girls go sketching, mainly because Renge’s in it, and while the show again suggests that she’s some sort of savant, not that exciting, I still like the character too much to care. Also, the show gets to show off more of its lovely background art, autumn forest variety. Later we go back to Komari, but this one is livened up by the process of drying persimmons. I didn’t know you did it like that. Hell, I didn’t even know people dried persimmons at home at all.
Teekyuu 32 comes in at 3.75 seconds per gag! That’s the spirit, girls! Though they repeated the nattou gag from earlier.
Nagi no Asukara 7 made me want to punch a few of the characters, and Hikari was not one of them. But is that a good thing?
I’m talking of course of the adults, the fat pigs who live both underwater and on the surface, and who insist on insulting each other and getting into fights over agreeing that the Ofunehiki should be started up again, which is what everyone else wants. I would also like to punch, for the record, that deadbeat priest who has great power given to him but seems to want to make Akari and Hikari miserable just to prove a point to their father. This isn’t the first time, either. Remember the attempted molestation of Manaka in the first episode? The man ought to be kicked out of his cushy job.
Now, with that FIRST batch of people (I believe the shitty priest is supposed to be comic and eccentric), I’m supposed to feel that way, especially when they break the statue the kids worked so hard to make and that they had all been admiring an hour before. And it’s a problem. This is beginning to feel more and more like Tari Tari rather than Hanasaku Iroha. The Big Plot they’re pushing is pushing the little ones to the side. Remember, they’re also trying to tell a love story, I think, though the triangle(s) haven’t made themselves clear yet, but most of these scenes barely stand out with all that shouting going on.
The stories come together with Hikari’s family, and they’re doing all right with that. Akari loves a surface guy, an old basic plot, but improved when we see it through the eyes of the father, and especially Hikari, who’s hot-tempered but young and malleable enough to change his mind. This still isn’t very new, but the creators are doing well with it. Unfortunately, other than the dynamics of this family, and, by extension, Itaru’s, everything is turning into a “kids want to put on a show but the mean grownups won’t let them” story, or a “gee, can’t we all just get along?” story, and I’ve seen too many of those already.
Coppelion 7 isn’t all that bad if you don’t count the ridiculous things. I can get the leader (who claims he isn’t) of the 1st Division deciding to stick all the waste into the sarcophagus, as they call it, and then blow it up to cause all of Japan to get radioactive. That’s just evil genius thinking and appropriate, especially with his evil laugh and tattered cape flying behind him, but who’s going to do all the lifting? There’s a lot of waste to get in there and even a handful of coppelions would take a long time to haul all the barrels, even with those evil crazy girls we see at the end helping out. But I can forgive that one in terms of plot. What’s harder to understand is why they separated blood type by school grade. Did it ever occur to any of them that Ibara might need a transfusion before? Why on earth would they do such a stupid thing? And finally, Taeko is able to perform delicate surgery to save Ibara’s life, yet the thought of delivering a baby in perhaps the cleanest, safest place in Tokyo freaks her out entirely. They hadn’t thought they wouldn’t have to deliver a baby out here, she says. Just like they figure Ibara won’t need a transfusion. Other than all that it was a pretty good plot-building episode.
Galilei Donna 6 isn’t much better. The good girls, the bad guy and the pirates all descend on one hospital for one purpose or another. We get a lot of morality speeches and a cautionary tale about giving away your birthday feast to some beggars who are only going to steal stuff when you’re dying, anyway (and why the feast? Wasn’t there any other food in the house they could have given him?). So now we know Materazzi’s motivation. We later get to see what he’s learned when he just starts shooting people in the hospital because there are too many people in the world, anyway. A lot of other people in the hospital were wielding guns. Where did they go? A side note comes from those two Cicinho stooges and how they were saved by their boss, so have unswerving loyalty to him. I guess Roberto thinks that way, too. The moral dilemmas (We’re cold! Cut off the life support systems on the upper floor!) pile higher and higher for poor, distraught Hozuki, and when she snaps and acts her pendant decides to put on a light show and save the day, and finally Hazuki gets her medicine. Amazing that the girls knew which jar of medicine to pick, but that’s hardly the most ridiculous thing about this episode, or this series.
Last week’s Monogatari SS, with that beautiful artwork panning by why Shinobu gave a rather sad monologue about part of her life and someone she met, and how they were pulled apart, felt elegant and dignified. As for this week:
While we get back to the worrisome plot in episode 19, the whole thing is made livelier by Ononoki, Shinobu and Mayoi being in the same room. Araragi, the old pervert, considers it a dream come true, while we watch with big smiles as three of the oddest characters in the entire series go at each other while they try to figure out what to do about that void. My favorite bit must have been when Mayoi comes to and starts ordering the other girls around, and they actually obey her–for a moment. But the girls biting Araragi wasn’t bad either, or how one will start giving a speech while the others strike poses and more or less freeze. A lot of fun to be had in these scenes.
Alas for our fun, the void returns, and while Ononoki transports them away again, it seems that the spiritual link between Araragi and Shinobu has been broken, which presents us with something interesting for the plot, as in order to rescue her from wherever she is they may have to confront the void, rather than running from it. But it also must feel very sad for Araragi, since he’s at least temporarily lost a part of his soul, not to mention a lot of his super vampire powers. I, for one would feel very bad about losing the vampire girl who hung out in my shadow and took baths with me. I guess we’ll have to see what that girl who knows everything who isn’t Hanekawa says about it.
In Galilei Donna 5, the hunt for the latest sketch is more of an excuse for the girls to interact with people in a town in the Netherlands which has been cut off from the main supplies of fuel, I suppose because it isn’t efficient for them to lay pipes or something. Anyway, we meet Ludger, who leads a pack of rebels, and thus we get a nice, dull moral battle from him and Hazuki. Meanwhile, Hozuki befriends a boy named Theo, a fellow gadget freak, and later his would-be girlfriend Karen. It’s all rather lighthearted for too long, so you’re just waiting for the tears to flow, and they do near end, but only after Ludger had decided to sell out and doom everyone to certain death. This was so unbelievable, such a complete turnaround for the character, without a hint of foreshadowing that it pretty much pulled the rug from other the tragic events that happened after. A shame. Theo and Karen were decent characters who deserved better.
Coppelion 6 continues the show’s trend of having interesting things to say, along with a compelling setting, and screwing it all up with the action. In this episode we once again wonder what the hell Aoi is doing on this mission in the first place, as she goes out of the sanctuary and immediately gets captured by the 1st Division, who apparently want Coppelions. They don’t explain why, so it’s intriguing … but you know the reason will be inane or trite. Then Ibara, of all people, proves to be as stupid as Aoi, falling for that “Go ahead, shoot me!” line and getting blindsided by a different soldier. Later she nearly gets caught again because she has apparently forgotten everything she once knew about hostage situations, or combat.
The interesting bits come from the leader of the “Planet,” who both rails at the society that put him in that situation and then abandoned them for fifteen years, and supports the girls in whatever they do, and at least isn’t as stupid in combat as they all seem to be. Haruto, the Cleanup Crew guy, isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, either, but he gets to force home the concept that he and the other Coppelions were raised and used by the same society who made this mess in the first place, a position which works well against Ibara’s equally strong faith in humanity, even when it nearly gets her killed. As I said, there’s some nice stuff bubbling under the surface here, but it’s being so badly handled I don’t really care too much.
Coppelion 5 makes me wonder just how many people are still alive in Tokyo. Now we got people holed up in a comparatively luxurious “planet” at JASA (why can’t they just say JAXA?) headquarters, which I suspect won’t be so luxurious once the inevitable battle hits it. And we got the 1st Division, the “ghosts of the SDf, with tanks and guns, going around shooting at people for no reason the show is willing to tell us. Which all sums up the latest story arc. Ibara and her pals are off to help the JASA people when the 1st Division show up and start shooting. They can actually aim, too. Taeko is wounded and out of commission. So we got a wounded girl and a woman about to give birth as our helpless victims of the week (or two). In other news, the Prime Minister is a jerk and so help won’t come for a few days, oh, apart from that oy we keep seeing in the credits, whom I don’t trust in the slightest. And Ibara keeps having nightmares about perfectly normal high school life. The show better start explaining a few things soon. They can start with the 1st Division and why they’re shooting at people.
There were four times in Galilei Donna 4 where Kazuki ran out of the room. Alas, the first three times it was in a huff, as she decided to make clear to everyone all over again how unhappy she is and how jealous she is of Hozuki. Happily, the fourth time was when she rushed back to the park to beg smelly old Hans to let them use his Micro-Doctor to save Hozuki’s life (Hoz was injured in the funniest injury scene that wasn’t meant to be funny that I can remember–BOING! BOING!). There she got a chance to talk about redeeming herself and keeping family together and whatnot, while every second could have counted for her sister, probably to convince Hans, who certainly would have come anyway, without any speeches. After that, Kaz gets even more proactive and pilots the Goldfish when the pirates discover her. The pirate leader again backs off for silly reasons. Well, good for her, at least she’s no longer whining, but at this point the show feels like it’s going through the motions of an action series. You can expect any clues they need to come out of the bushes and grab their ankles, as Hans does. How convenient! He has the second drawing! I certainly didn’t see that coming, no sirree! Geez. When bad guys come to get them the show tosses the girls a new weapon or we learn some hidden strength or resolve. It looks like this series might fall into noitaminA’s “Wasted Potential” category (#6, C, Guilty Crown, etc).
The problem with Nagi no Asukara is not that the story is too convenient and pat, it’s that I still can’t figure out what all this business with being underwater has to do with anything. With a few changes this whole story would be as effective on dry land. All I’d really miss is the pretty undersea scenes. Well, episode 5 works out nicely, taking care of the Akari/Itaru story, or rather, helping to clarify a few things. Akari dumps Itaru because it’s for the best, while we’re reminded that she’s making another sacrifice for someone else’s happiness, and blaming herself for being a kid about wanting something. But this causes Monotone Miuna to get upset and run off, so we get a desparate search scene. Turns out she’s just afraid that Akari will go away like her mother did. To me, that doesn’t explain the outright hostility she exhibited but at least they’ve reached an understanding. Hikari adds a nice note to it by telling her big sis not to pretend to be his mother (ouch), but to go be Miuna’s mother. Pretty good stuff. Now they just have to figure out what to do about that banishment business. Meanwhile next arc will probably involve the Hikari/Manaka/Chisaka love triangle, Hikari’s speech about not being afraid to love will certainly be referenced. But again, why underwater? Well, why not?