Well, if Your Lie in April chose to go that route, I don’t think they could have done a better job.
But it still bothers me. Basically, Kaori’s function in the show was to inspire Kousei, then die. It’s a cheap way to produce emotions no matter how well it’s done. And it reduces Kaori to secondary status within the cast and demeans all of her charm and vitality, replacing it with “tragic heroine.” The show got some mileage out of the uncertainty of her death; we didn’t really know until the grave scene with her parents, though Kousei’s tearful “goodbye” at the end of his performance should have tipped me off.
And that scene was beautifully done. Kaori had wanted the operation so she could perform with Kousei one more time. And in a way, she did. The imagery when Kaori appears with her violin is clear and bright. The creators knew better than to interfere with a lot of words, so Kousei played much of the piece with no interior monologue, just letting the music play until nearly the end, when she fades away. After that, the episode manages to keep an appropriate mood as it tied up loose ends. We learn what the “lie” actually was (loved Kousei’s reaction), we see Tsubaki refusing to back down on love, i.e., the important things. Other bits, like who won the competition, did Kousei get into that school, the show doesn’t bother to tell us. Not important.
As I said before, I never warmed up to the doomed heroine story in this show. It smacks too much of eighteenth-century romantic-era morbid obsessions, but considering the repertoire everybody in the show performs, maybe it was inevitable. I also don’t like the concept that Kousei is forever drawn to doomed girls for the same reasons. But happily, this show was more than that. I appreciated the mostly positive, not depressing views of Kaori in the last episode, with the occasional joke and slapstick thrown in. In fact, the show used humor to lighten the darker scenes extremely well. No, this show played with morbid thoughts, but, like Kaori, and thanks to her, Kousei, it refused to give in to them. Nice job, everyone.
The bulk of Yuri Kuma Arashi 10, apart from flashbacks, has Lulu taken into Kureha’s home, where gets a bath and some tea, and tells her the details of what had happened, all of which we had pretty much figured out or they had told us already: Ginko didn’t interfere to save Sumika because she was jealous of her. And Lulu had jealousy fueling her own betrayal of Ginko. Throughout this, Kureha appears pretty calm, as if she was ready to let the past go and accept what had happened, and forgive everyone involved, apart from Yuriika, maybe. Poor Lulu, no longer friends with Ginko, never friends with Kureha, and she even gets her yuri approval terminated by saying too much. Well, she’s probably safe on the other side of the wall.
So I was a little surprised when Kureha tells Lulu that if she saw her again she would shoot her. Perhaps it was because Kureha had just risked her life in order to deliver her to that door to Bear-land. I suppose it was just courtesy to someone who had helped her. Still, it surprised me. But the big surprise comes at the very end, when Kureha is apprehended by her classmates for being a bear-accomplice, and then we see her … standing trial at Judgemens! That was maybe the first “Hah?!” I’ve blurted out since episode one or two. Does Judgemens even have jurisdiction over Kureha? Or is the truth that Kureha is actually a bear? … Nah. Anyway, it looks like she’s going to stand trial on both sides, but the perhaps corrupted Ginko is still waiting her chance in the bushes, so who knows? Does anyone ever know with this series?
Your Lie in April 21, after the events at the end of #20, feels partly like a cheap shot. Yes, Kaori had an attack and was in intensive care for a while, and it was hit or miss. But she recovers enough that he and Kousei can spend a little time on the hospital roof eating canales, while its snowing. And she tells him about the surgery. In terms of the story, the only reason for the attack was to send Kousei into another blue funk and stop practicing for the big contest. We are shown images of Takeshi and Emi practicing, in order to get the point across. So it’s another pep-talk of sorts from Kaori, who’s facing something worse than any of Kousei’s blue funks. She even plays an invisible violin which Kousei somehow manages to hear, before predicatably collapsing.
Then, as usual for these situations, the contest is the same day as the surgery. Cheap plot device aside (and ignoring the fact that both Kousei’s performance and Kaori’s surgery are left unfinished, meaning we could tune in next time and watch one or the other go disasterously wrong … argh), it’s actually one of the better scenes. Kousei’s performance is less fiery but maybe more informed and mature than the others, and this time he not only thinks of Kaori, but realizes that there are a lot of people in the hall who are rooting for him, who are a part of his life and musical recovery. Whether that will make a difference in the scoring … who cares. Don’t know if Kousei does. He’s now got more important things to play for.
Kantai Collection 10 had me confused for most of the episode. First, Fubuki was sent back to the main base to get remodeled. But then when she gets there it’s all about training hard so they’ll remodel her. Weren’t they going to do that anyway? So she’s running countless laps and nearly getting killed in a recon mission to gain more strength, and I’m scratching my head. Then the question of why Fubuki was so important to the still-missing commander comes up, and everyone, I mean everyone, doesn’t know. She tries hard, but … And then Akagi and the other carrier nearly kill her in training to see if she’s up for escorting her, and she finally gets it right after a dozen tries. I’m not sure I’d want her as my escort vessel, myself. But at least we get an answer to the remodeling question: you have to glow first.
Not much change in Your Lie in April. Everyone’s still getting the rug pulled out from under them. Kaori continues to die, adding an attack of some sort right when Kousei and Ryouta come to visit, right after Kousei admitted to Ryouta that he was in love with her. To make it even worse for Kousei, and us, the show adds an unpleasant coda to the black cat motif they’d been doing this episode, starting with the one he tried to rescue as a kid, then the happy, content one behind Kousei and Tsubaki, and then, well … A bit of overkill, so to speak.
Tsubaki’s story this week is partly a retread; she’s already had her rug pulled away over Kousei. Of course he doesn’t think of her that way. So we walk in familiar ground while their scenes add lemonade motif into their flashbacks, which I prefer to cats because lemonade doesn’t get killed, and this episode has death and doom looming everywhere else. And thank heavens for Tsubaki: she makes a move, and she makes it in a wonderful Tsubaki way, by going roundabout with Kousei about his feelings for Kaori, then telling him that she should love her instead. Then she kicks him and runs off. Just what the show needed! I’ve heard some gripes about the show’s comic bits, but without them this would all be a wearisome exercise in the joy of music, and pointless romantic-era-dripped death.
Shirobako 21 starts with the theme from last week, “Why do you make anime,” and takes it in a different direction: “Why the hell is Hiraoka making anime?” I suppose it’s the nature of the show to want to dig deeper into the psyche of the man who replaced Tarou as the biggest thorn in Musashino’s side. In terms of plot, Segawa asks to not be assigned any more work from Hiraoka or Titanic Productions (a name that should have sounded ominous from the beginning). Aoi has to handle the complaints while keeping the production line rolling. It’s more of a setup for a bigger crisis, I think. There are lots of scenes where animators and whatnot work hard and finish on schedule, setting us up for a whammy down the line. Everyone there works with the fear of another Jiggly meltdown.
I admired Aoi last week for not letting the “What do I want to do?” question get to her, but this week she can’t avoid it. I wonder about it too, since she is basically administration and not talent. True, Aerial Girls Squad would not get finished without her, but she doesn’t actually create any of it. With all the crap Hiraoka throws at her (and kudos to her for not backing down), Aoi has to be wondering more. But most of the time the show gives the characters the answers they need, and a visit Isokawa’s new company shows her how another person supports the creative talent they have. So it looks like Hiraoka will somehow be brought into the fold, although, in spite of Yano’s talk of how passionate he used to be, I’d still kick him out the door. Does that make me a lousy anime producer?
How many episodes of Saekano are there, anyway? I assumed it was one season–most shows like this only go that long–but they’ve got so much business to take care of I guess it’s actually two. Otherwise they wouldn’t have an episode like this, where Tomoya and Megumi go to help Izumi sell her book at Comiket, since the only point of it seems to be to establish Izumi’s raw talent and to get Eriri jealous. As for that, I’m on her side. Tomoya, you know it’s impolite to praise an artist when another is in the room, or something like that. Nice contrast there, since Izumi earlier talked about how she loves meeting people with the same interests. Her view is more open than Eriri’s. Maybe if the latter didn’t have her parents manning her booth … Meanwhile, Megumi, in her usual deadpan fashion, tosses out some of her funniest lines yet. Oh, since I muttered about symbols in Shigatsu, Eriri loses her hat. In the first episode, Megumi lost her hat. Are thy working on a hat theme?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Aldnoah Zero 16 concentrates on two people. Slaine, of course, because he’s arguably the main character now. And, of all people, Marito.
Both stories are straightforward. Slaine, the new count of whatever Saazbaum was count of, and a mongrel and mangy cur to his fellow counts, is fully aware of the enemies he has now, so he decides he needs to change some minds by doing a brilliant solo mission and destroying an Earth base. That turns the heads of everyone in Vers; now, no one can say he’s a traitor, or an ineffective soldier. That the battle was boring is not the point. It’s gotten so that Earth can’t win anything at all unless Inaho is there.
Inaho, meanwhile, was doing his hero bit again at the expense of yet another Vers count who saunters in with his own superweapon which looks unbeatable until … Actually, I figured out its weak point before Inaho muttered the answer to us; I’m rather smug about that. But this fight was actually a prop to get Marita and his PTSD back in the show. While he doesn’t take out the Count himself, he draws it away to a safe place so that Inaho and that satellite (what’s he doing up there?) can take it out, and in order to do that he has to not only face those flashbacks but fight through them, which he does. So, yeah, good battle scene, nice ending, but it’s really one man’s battle with his memories that is the setpiece.
As for 17, the “Dawn of Intrigue,” the intrigue is interesting on Inaho’s end, sending Mazuurek back to Vers to do some spying without telling anyone higher up, insubordination or treason, surely, tells us that he is working for no one else but that princess in a cage, Asseylum, and his heroics up to this point are secondary to that. Choosing the conflicted Rayet to help was a splendid choice; it will conflict her even farther and plot-wise, who else could he turn to. That he was spotted will also help confuse things.
Slaine is, for once, the victim of intrigue. Marylcian challenges him to a duel. Actually, at that point I began to lose interest. No way Slaine will lose. He’s got too much on the ball. Besides, he’s a main character. There’s a possibility that Marylcian has something more on his mind, like exposing the false Asseylum, but frankly, no one in the Vers empire apart from Slaine has shown much in the way of guile. Well, convincing Lemrina to let him visit WAS a pretty smooth move, pushing her buttons just the right way. I suppose the show could have Slaine lose, or somehow get disgraced, and have to work his abilities in another way, which might be interesting, but I don’t see it happening.
Your Lie in April 16 jumps about from Kaori’s possible impending tragedy and Kousei’s odd bonding with Nagi. The former is full of strange disconnects because she still refuses to tell him the extent of her illness, and Kousei is unwilling to face the extent of it. So when they’re together it’s mostly the happy bright girl with little hints, like the dropped bottle or the crying on his back during the ride to the hospital.
Save for one striking moment, when in the middle of a comic scene where everyone is accusing Kousei of getting too close to Nagi, Kaori suddenly lashes out. That, apparently, he can’t ignore, and later he visits her in the hospital she releases a bit of the melancholy (I can’t remember: has Kousei read that book?) that she usually only displays when alone. Most of the episode’s comedy comes with Nagi and her desire to destroy Kousei, though I can’t see her trying to go through with it now. Bonding and all that. Also, she’s a very silly person and I don’t think she’s capable of meanness. Jealousy, drive, passion, yes, both she and her brother. Hate and revenge? Nah.
Durarara x2 5 starts a new arc in its own fashion.
It’s the usual hopping around, and you can’t be sure whether the people you just saw in the scene, or in the chat room, are going to be important or not for the story. You figured that little girl had to be because she stole focus being cute, framed in the window like that, but what about the quick takes in the chat room? Will they be important this time, or are they just there to chat? How about the people who didn’t show up this week, like Kasuka and Ruri? Is Masaomi really back in the game, or will he continue his vacation now that he made his phone call?
The plot building up isn’t very pretty. The weakest part of the first season, to me, was the gang fighting, and it looks like that’s going to happen next week. All I can hope for is that something weirds it up. This being Durarara, happily, that’s a given, and that cute little murderous girl has got us a good start with the weird, as does that blonde they haven’t introduced yet decapitating Celty … Uh, does she know Celty’s secret which isn’t that secret anymore? The whole thing is narrated by Namie, who keeps saying that none of these people are on the level of Seiji, so I’m wondering why the show even bothered.