Winter 2015 Anime – Week 4 Impressions

One third of the season is officially behind us. At this point, I should be fairly confident in which anime I’m following, but there are a couple that caused me mixed enjoyment this week. Tokyo Ghoul is starting to lose it’s psychological edge in favor of shounenanigans. Death Parade had it’s first episode that felt just a tad repetitive. That being said, one disappointing episode will never change my opinion of the whole series, but it does always cause me to have concern for the future.

Anyways, there was also plenty of enjoyment this week. Durarara’s latest episode was absolutely, and delightfully ludicrous, and Yona of the Dawn is still on it’s valiant climb towards being a respectable anime. Why, even Log Horizon appears to finally be ready to stop dawdling and get on with it’s story. From worst to best, like always.

Tokyo Ghoul Root A (Episode 4)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen so many battles in one episode. Unfortunately, hardly any of them actually had any impact. It was quantity over quality this week with Kaneki triggering his second transformation with nowhere near as much artistry and build up as his first one.

This whole episode was the jailbreak of Cochlea, the prison for ghouls. This should have, and easily could have been one of the most epic episodes. Even if it was just all battles, I feel like this would have severely benefited from having two episodes to conclude these events. Each fight scene felt rushed, was short on frames, almost absent of smart dialogue, and had bad directing and sound design. I don’t know if the director realized that the music was awkward because it was too quiet. Tokyo Ghoul’s fights haven’t been exactly groundbreaking, but they were at least a visual treat, but this time, it seemed like the animation and color was rather dull.

Two big things happened. One being the jailbreak itself that set forth a chaotic spree of battles, but the other climactic moment was the beginning of Kaneki’s next form. Only…this time I wasn’t quite as excited. I’m sure as hell ready to see more awesome character designs, but I’m not particularly happy that Kaneki is changing again, already. He hasn’t seemed to accomplish anything in his current form which almost makes it feel like a waste. And to have it triggered just because he came across a random foe who was stronger than him gives it almost no narrative weight. I was disappointed with this episode, and it lacked all the character interplay and charm the previous episode did, even if not a single bit of action happened in that episode.

Log Horizon Season 2 (Episode 17)

Thank whatever god that exists in Elder Tale that we’re finally out of this slump. Log Horizon is once again, on the move after a few grueling episodes of almost nothing happening. No more, please Log Horizon. So this episode began with our newest character, Shiroe 2, a vampiress with a very eccentric personality joining our youngsters on their journey, and she’s a right breath of fresh air. I feel like her likeliness to Shiroe has got to be plot relevant, but as it stands now, she’s just a delightful character to have aboard. She’s zany, endearing, and loves to be called a big sister. All good qualities in my book.

We also have a returning character traveling in disguise that joins the group. Seemingly innocent to the others, she is clearly pulling some strings somewhere, and it looks like she’s already got one of the boys uncomfortable attracted to her. The subterfuge is definitely kicking in. At first I thought the boy was just attracted to her because she’s a woman…but it seems that there might be more manipulation at play here, which lets him hold on to his dignity a bit better.

Finally, we got introduced to two new fundamental problems. One is the evolving problem in Akihabara which is a rift between it’s citizens causing effectively two social classes. The political discussion thereof was the writing I like to see from Log Horizon. We’re managing a world here, and scenes like that are essential to portraying that. Lastly, we were introduced to the Odyssey Knights. The problem they bring is a potential “miracle” that could cost people enough to regret using it. I always wondered how this world would react to a something akin to the forbidden fruit. And just like that, both Shiroe’s storyline and the young adventure’s just spiced up a satisfying degree. It’s about time.

Aldnoah Zero (Episode 16)

This anime would be dead in the water without Slaine. It’s a shame, because this ever-more ruthless character deserves a profound story befitting of his vendetta. Unfortunately he’s just one of those awesome characters in the midst of nothing but mundane anime. Inaho and Slaine are amping up to be the climactic competitors, yet I only care for one side. The imbalance definitely hurts any weight this finale is trying to pull. His unintentional charisma has really transformed this young boy into an intimidating man, and it’s a great transformation. I love seeing characters make the most happen with the smallest means.

Besides that, this anime was another robot of the week occurrence. This time it was team sandstorm, with a mech that causes a gravitational whirlwind that deflected everything. For the first time, I was actually able to completely predict the method in which the characters would use to defeat this new foe. I don’t think it means this show is being predictable, I just think this was a pushover of a fight. It mainly served as drama fuel for the alcoholic, trauma-ridden soldier who…got his mental condition healed…I guess? It was very quickly written off, which is in stark contrast, but equally bad to how agonizingly long it continued to show him falling victim to it with absolutely no change between each of these moments.

Slaine’s arc is perfect. The animation is still great, and the dialogue is still fairly sharp. However, there is a lot keeping me from loving this anime, and I really wish, with every week that passes, that it will finally up it’s game. We’re running out of weeks, Aldnoah. Get on it! No amount of slickly produced music will get you through unscathed without making a big change.

Durarara Season 2 (Episode 4)

Durarara is quirky, but I never considered it quite full-on wacky. That is, until this absolutely bonkers episode aired that pretty much flooded me with all kinds of crazy character moments and on-screen chaos. This season in general has really stood apart from the previous season for it’s uppity nature, higher focus on comic relief, and overall energy of the characters. I definitely don’t remember Celty being so vivid. And I am obsessed with the two twins. They are adorbs.

Normally the intersecting stories of Durarara cross paths in graceful ways, slowly connecting the bits of mystery surrounding the main plot line. This episode, however, just rammed them together in one massive motorcycle chase that involved bikers crashing into black webs, bodies popping out of body bags and joining the fight, and more and more characters getting caught in the clusterfuck.

I am really happy that they had multiple instances of characters literally exclaiming, “What the hell is going on.” because this was a cacophony even by Durarara standards. And yes, I did enjoy this nonsense a lot, because it was still full of all the Durarara characters I love. It’s almost like the writer’s took a break and just let their characters run wild for an episode. Well done Durarara.

Parasyte (Episode 16)

Parasyte continues it’s effortlessly clever action romp with a bit less momentum then it’s first cour, but still enough momentum to be satisfying nearly every single episode. This one was no exception. At the end of the last episode, the unrivaled threat before us was a potential three-parasite-in-one being. This was already unheard of, and was a great cliffhanger. Now in this episode, increase that number to five, and grant it awesome adaptive abilities like growing legs capable of running as fast as cars on the highway.

I have lost count of how many times Migi has been unintentionally cute, but he did it again this episode and I truly can’t get enough of it. His many forms and shapes, and awkward delivery of intelligent lines in the weirdest ways is the most charming part about this show. The highlight of the episode was the development of this fight, however. It was tactical, and methodical, just how I like my fights, and it kept throwing the advantage to each party like a game of hot potato. As the fight ended, it was clear for the first time. Shinichi may just be too weak in his current state. They have evolved too much. It’s a nice take on the standard Shounen power level, in the sense that rather than an arbitrary number, we actually have a feasible, and fully developed reason why the hero is overpowered.

However, the story of Shinichi, and his downward spiral has been either missing or repetitive, as of late. The writing and acting are still good, but the drama is actually at a standstill, leaving only the strategic action to carry the anime. I don’t mind that, but I would love for the drama to kick back in, and not the same old stuff Shinichi has been dealing with. It looks like my hopes may come true with the subtle nods at a division happening between the mother parasite and her organization. I like this. I love when mutiny and individualism happen even in the enemy camp, so I can’t wait to see what comes as a result of this.

Kuroko’s Basketball Season 3 (Episode 4)

One half comedy gags, the other half classic Kuroko intensity, this week’s episode finally kicked off the game we thought we were at when last season ended. I always appreciate this anime’s unwillingness to let go of it’s comedic values, and this episode went for a few minutes of just straight fun n gun with it’s characters.

We got a nice scene with Aomine and Taiga, the former of which I was very curious about since we last saw him punching a guys lights out. Like classic Aomine, he doesn’t seem perturbed by it at all. It’s a shame that he’s not going to be in a game for the remainder of the series, but then again, he had pretty much the best presence of them all so far, so it’s time for the other’s to get their share of the limelight. Speaking of sharing the limelight, it’s also not 100% focused on Akashi. We are also getting equal attention to the three uncrowned kings that comprise most of their team. Each of them got a dedicated introduction, and thankfully, all of them are quirky in their own way, and rather likeable characters.

And finally, the game started. Two generation members besides Kuroko are finally squaring off for the first time, and it’s the first look at Akashi, the supposedly best player on the team. So, did Akashi go buck wild and slaughter the opposition? No, actually. Believe it or not, the game isn’t such a one-sided affair. Part of this is the methodical nature of Akashi. He’s not the type to go in guns blazing, but rather the type to analyze and observe before making any big plans. However, there’s this heavy chill in the air that is having everyone on edge, and it’s that Akashi has much MUCH more to show us before we see his true potential. This episode went further into the game than I thought it would, but it still ended with me begging for more. Kuroko’s does that to you.

Yona of the Dawn (Episode 16)

Yona continues it’s amazing reversion from mediocrity with another awesome episode. I’m really enjoying this series right now. Not enough to forgive it for it’s atrocious beginning, but enough to confidently say that it does become a good anime. Similar to Chaika, Yona is just chugging along at it’s own confident pace instilling good writing, action, and comedy into everything it does. I’d say it’s a bit better than Chaika at this point, actually, but still just all around good, with nothing particularly incredible.

When I said in the last post that we now have two parallel storylines, I didn’t think the anime would develop the second one so much, but this episode was the first that was entirely absent of Yona and her gang. It was all focused on the new king and just figuring out how he works. Put simply, he’s my kind of king. He doesn’t throw his weight around, and doesn’t mind appearing foolish as long as he’s secretly getting the job done. He’s capable, and as the general of the earth kingdom says, he may be even more dangerous than the previous king because of his deceptive skills.

The mock battle that transpired for the most of this episode was also pretty enjoyable. It embellished the act of the game and turned it into a pretty interesting battle. It was more a clash of strategy over skill, which I’m usually a fan of, but the real delight was seeing the King fight. He would simply run away, but it was apparent that he had other plans in mind, and watching the general piece it all together was a simple character mystery done really well. I’m truly excited to see the next episode now because i’m interested in both plot lines completely, unlike say…Aldnoah, where I only care about Slaine.

Your Lie in April (Episode 15)

This episode had a lot of small moments that didn’t seem to amount to much until I thought about this episode in hindsight. We actually were treated to a lot. The drama between Tsubaki and Arima finally beared consequences with a surprisingly well-done break up scene. I had long since given up on this anime being able to portray legitimate drama outside of the subject of music, but I was thoroughly impressed. The follow up scene was her seeking Arima for shelter, which admittedly wasn’t a good idea, and he comforted her, which also isn’t a good idea, so we’re not done with this struggle yet.

Then we were shown a new character, who’s first appearance came from falling out of a tree. I don’t know if I like her yet, but I’ll take a fresh face at this point because it’s been a while since we got a new secondary character. I believe she is teased to be Kaori’s sister, which will definitely lead to some interesting, and assuredly hilarious scenes. There’s now some kind of clash between the two pianists who adored Kousei that was only briefly touched upon, but I’m glad they are still in the picture because they have very strong personalities.

Finally, we got the gut-clenching finale to the episode. The revelation, and first ever desperate portrayal of Kaori. I had to tell myself I asked for it when I wished for her to drop the facade already. Well, she did, and it was absolutely harrowing. The directing in this particular bit was exquisite. The constant phasing in and out of focus, the edgy angles and composition, as well as the atmosphere and mood made this possibly the darkest scene of the anime so far. Kaori is just as haunted as Kousei..and now these two seem even more in need of each other. Is it Kousei’s turn to help her now? I would like that twist, actually.

Death Parade (Episode 4)

Let me first say, before I start sounding all negative, that this episode was still great. Death Parade, on average has been nothing short of excellent. We have unfortunately for me, finally hit an episode that didn’t thoroughly wow me. Death Parade, in the first three episodes, had two key things that this episode clearly did not have. Balance and progression.

As far as balance goes, I’m speaking with the tonal brevity of the subject matter. The way we weave into sad, funny, and intense moments of the episode, and how they synergize to deliver a truly developed episode. This time, things stood out a lot more awkwardly. The memory flashbacks were immediately tragic, almost to the point of melodrama. Really now, starting the first flashback with a mother saying their child is better off dead is kind of jumping the gun. There was comedy, which definitely rounds out this anime, but it was kind of independent. It was funny, just because, rather than effectively accentuating what we already have. And then, the violence kind of escalated unnaturally fast. It all just felt as if the director wasn’t quite as meticulous with their work this time around.

And then we have progression. Episode 1 gave us our astoundingly brilliant premise. Episode 2 showed us how this Quindecim works, the capabilities of it’s employees, and the inner-workings of the death games. Episode 3 introduced us to a wider tonal variety showing that it’s not all dark and deathly at every turn. Episode 4, unlike the previous three, didn’t give us anything new in that respect. A new game, with a new pair of victims…but that’s a shoe-in from a writing standpoint. There were no further character introductions nor any extra insight into the minds of our heroes. There was one small thing that I believe is hinting at the fact that Decim is being forced to do things he doesn’t quite agree with. If that gets expanded upon, then the seed was planted well, but until then, this episode was the most “empty” one compared to the other three.

Death Parade is still awesome. This episode doesn’t hurt the others in retrospect, but the pacing that I once thought was perfect, has now been slightly tarnished, which means that I hope this is just a one-time thing, and not a sign of slowing momentum. We already know we get to meet a new Quindecim employee next time, so that’s already a good start!


2 thoughts on “Winter 2015 Anime – Week 4 Impressions

    • I’ve been seeing good stuff on Shirobako. It may be one I start once it concludes. Bakuman, another anime about production of manga and anime, is near and dear to my heart, so I am hoping Shirobako is reminiscent of that!

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