This week marks the pivotal turning point in many of my followed anime. Whether that’s a change in style, the way the story is developing, or a revelation that redirects the plot completely, I feel like this week had the most surprises. Kuroko’s newest game started in a completely different manner than the previous games. Death Parade DIDN’T have a death game this week. Aldnoah’s villain is finally revealed…kinda. There were also a couple disappointments this week, but nothing that caused me to drop anything. But I really am going to rip into Tokyo Ghoul. Just saying. So let’s begin with that actually, and work our way up to the best of this week!
Note: I’m behind on Nanatsu no Taizai because my preferred fansubber, Chyuu, is missing in action for that anime. If Chyuu doesn’t return by next week, I’ll jump ship to another subber. So sorry! No Nanatsu coverage this week!
Tokyo Ghoul Root A (Episode 7)
Could everyone who’s a fan of Mr. Gourmet just stop? There doesn’t need to be any more incentive to put this freaky constantly orgasmic nut into the spotlight. This episode, no matter how much ultimately could have transpired in it, was completely sideswiped by lengthy minutes of this man just doing his Kaneki-bating. It’s gross, and turns me off completely the longer it goes on. It’s like they think it’s a running gag…but it’s more like a relapse into the shows worst tendencies.
Unfortunately, outside of that overdrawn scene, this episode wasn’t particularly favorable anyways. One anticipated moment for me this entire season was Kaneki finally meeting Touka after his long, mysterious absence. An absence that I thought was full of purpose and ploy, but it turns out he was just “trying to get stronger.” Really?! The entire surprise turnover to Aogiri, the whole turn towards insanity with the centipede transformation, was just a result of strengthening yourself. I thought you had a plan, Kaneki. I thought you were putting things into motion. Planting seeds. Doing SOMETHING smart. So…there goes that. At least I got to see Touka wail on him a bit, because my sympathy for Kaneki has pretty much vanished. Touka still has much of my attention because she’s actually doing inspirational things like going to school, bettering her mind rather than her brawn, and so on and so forth.
The best bit, and the only part really worth mentioning from the episode is the character who IS moving chess pieces to her will; the author. I cannot figure out who’s side she is on, but she is attempting to trigger two things. One, she is egging Hinami down a treacherous path. I don’t know if she wants her to change, or go to Aogiri in her feelings of powerlessness like Kaneki did, so it’s definitely a mystery well introduced. The more obvious result of her actions is the investigators first lead on Anteiku thanks to her sly slip of information leading them directly to the cafe. This was a confrontation I did not expect, and it felt like a bold step compared to everything else that happened in this episode.
On the production side, the anime still looks stylish as hell. This week wasn’t gory, nor was it poetic, which are the two extremes that this anime sometimes seems to hit. And there’s one thing that’s starting to be overused, which is the vocal tracks at the end of each episode. The first time I heard it in an earlier episode, it was startling, yet pleasantly surprising. It made that ending very distinctive and it felt like Tokyo Ghoul had a bit of grace. Now, however, it feels systematic. It’s like, no matter what the ending scene is, just use this pretty ass song. It no longer feels purposeful, but extremely forced. So all in all, it was a subtle episode, which I mentioned were the ones I preferred, but this time it wasn’t the case. Mainly because Kaneki turned out to be more useless than I could have ever expected, and because Gourmet guy is becoming the quick-stop to a migraine.
Assassination Classroom (Episode 6)
So, I’ve been going on and on about this horrible Class E dynamic that just felt inferior to everything else this anime was doing. It felt like a tacked on, immature explanation as to why these kids are isolated from the other students. So what do I get this week? An entire episode detailing more and more about Class E. It did suffice, surprisingly. Class E isn’t the shallow stereotype they made it out to be before. It’s now a result of a nefarious principal and his oh-so-anime method of keeping his school at a grade A level.
Koro Sensei has seemed less and less like a villain with each passing episode. I didn’t even realize that until this principal was introduced, and he reignited all the aspects that villains are supposed to embody. He was cruel and manipulative, and like most good villains, he’s simply seeking something truly good natured, but in an entirely cold-hearted and unacceptable way. He doesn’t seem like a GOOD villain, as in, he’s very stereotypical, but at least you could argue his methods. There was some give and take again in Assassination Classroom, and I’m glad it happened before this anime came to a plot standstill.
But while the the plot is progressing at a jaunty pace, the characters are not. Karma was a brilliant introduction, and same with Irina, the femme fatale, but it’s very clear now that after each episode, all development of those characters is abandoned. It’s almost episodic wherein each character’s introduction ends up having no effect on the situation in the grand scheme of things. And Nagisa, I swear, is there anything he does besides narrate the whole “oh, that Koro Sensei. He’s so bad, but he’s so good.” schtick. I get it now. Koro Sensei is doing good things, but what are you doing Nagisa? And Karma, are you here just to chip in snide remarks whenever the time presents itself?
I really hope the students do more than this by the end of the anime. I’m not really complaining. I just have a greedy mindset in that I want every anime to reach for the proverbial stars of the best anime has to offer, and when anime goes on a complete discourse from that, I can’t help but vent. This means that Assassination Classroom is by no means, bad. It’s highly enjoyable, and completely bonkers in all the good ways. But this episode just puts another nail in the coffin of this being just another above average bizarre anime, and nothing more. I am, still excited, however, to see just what Koro Sensei is really up to. The mystery behind his character is well-placed, and I hope his revelations are rewarding.
Log Horizon Season 2 (Episode 20)
“Sit down and listen to all of our dreams and ideals.” is pretty much what this episode told me to do. The unrelenting downpour or character driven climaxes was still the definitive focus carrying over from last week leading to one of the most self-propelled episodes of the season, or at least since the episode with the enlightening “we are gamers” speech. Log Horizon is heading in a rewarding direction now, but it hasn’t quite recaptured the spark that got me into this series in the first place.
The highlight of the episode was obviously the characters and each of their little defining moments as we continue to zero in on our little bundle of young adventures. I have to admit, the characters are getting enough depth to make these large realizations of theirs pivotal, but it’s definitely a change from what the first season focused on, which was Shiroe and the effects of his research on the world. And as profound as the writers are trying to make this episode out to be, I am typing this now, only partially inspired by everything that happened in this episode.
Accompanied by the transitions between each character’s declaration of ideals was a pretty stellar fight between our cat musketeer, Nyanta, and not one, not two, but three dastardly opponents. This was the type of fight I like where the dialogue being spoken during the fight was just as relevant as the combat moves themselves, but there wasn’t really any build up with Nyanta to make this fight really satisfying on a character development level. It was just a fight scene with heart on top of a speeding train. And this girl with her music thing. I can get behind anything with a music focus, but I find the whole “making music for the love of it and the love of the people” to be quite melodramatic. It’s simply yet another strange occurrence where I’m clueless as to where this musician’s character fits in the bigger picture. And perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps this anime is just going along for the ride and making sure we enjoy it, as a likeness to the journey for journey’s sake that the kids are on.
Log Horizon is continuing it’s change in focus on uplifting character drama over the meticulous world building of yore. If this drama were as powerful or well-directed as other dramas this season, I would call it a good choice, but none of the characters having their moment of glory in this episode felt important enough to warrant said moment. It’s like Log Horizon is going on a large tangent, and glorifying it as much as possible, but no matter what, it doesn’t stop the fact that Log Horizon has felt aimless for weeks now, and this episode hasn’t corrected that, but only prettied up the distraction to the fact. I’m waiting for the plot to kick back in, because until that happens, Log Horizon is merely above average adventuring.
Durarara X2 Shou (Episode 7)
Durarara should get credit for it’s multi-lingual focus and having actual Russians as Russian characters. So many times there are characters from overseas, but they still act like a typical Japanese anime character. Anyways, that’s just a small bit of praise on something oddly specific, but let’s get on to talking about this week which pulled back the curtains on more characters. Our beloved Russian sushi joint was the hotspot this episode as we continued this sprawling plot-fest through the timelines of the the ones trying to off the head of the headless horsewoman. (Not easy said or done.)
Durarara is always difficult for me to discuss because I never know where the plot is going, only where it’s been and how it connects to itself. It’s truly an anime that I feel I can’t fully appreciate till it’s conclusion, but it does an amazing job of being entertaining throughout the way. A lot of times, I won’t realize that the character from timeline A is the same as that other character in Timeline B, causing me to get lost a lot of times. This isn’t really a fault with Durarara, but a misalignment of my own way of processing storytelling and the way Durarara gives it to me. Watching it weekly is not ideal, therefore none of the episodes have been quite as memorable on their own. However, the anime as a whole is just turning into one bigger and better spaghetti ball of awesome characters and deeply explorative writing.
The true standout scene of this week for me was the childhood story of Varona, the assassin. It’s the type of stuff I really like Durarara for, which are these psychologically driven tales of characters becoming something extraordinary through really dramatic means. This time, a story of a girl who sadly sees very little of her father. Her first moment of murder is accompanied by the first time she gets nurturing from her father – Conditional training complete and now she’s an assassin for fatherly bonds. Then, she takes it too far, like any kid trying to control the uncontrollable emotion of love, and ends up corrupting herself, becoming a ruthless assassin. Chalk up another character with an engrossing back story for Durarara.
Aldnoah Zero (Episode 19)
The wonderful Slaine is the villain. We finally got there! This character’s progression through the ranks of position and power has ultimately culminated in revealing his true nature. This week was all about Slaine becoming what I think is his final character form. I think he’s done developing, but man is he such a powerful character. Now it’s a pair of iron sights between him and Inaho. Some would say this episode was slow, but as my long-time readers know, I’m quite the patient one with my dramas, so I had a ball this week with Aldnoah. Let’s discuss why.
Very rarely, do I get the treat of watching a character develop into a villain BEFORE I was supposed to know he was a villain. Normally it starts off with the evil mongrel attempting to take over the world or what have you, and then we are treated to a sympathetic flashback that shows how the villain is just a tortured, misguided being who’s heart used to be in the right place. No matter what, it’s coming from the perspective that we already know this person is the villain. Aldnoah did it completely chronologically. We get to see Slaine, the character who everyone sympathized with and rooted for, finally get what he deserves. Positions of power and recognition for his loyalty. However, due to some uncontrollable circumstances, he’s had to make one tough decision after another, becoming colder and more dead inside. His heart only opens to one thing now, and that is the princess, and now even that is corrupted. Slaine only wants her for himself now. His loyalty had developed into selfishness and his determination into ruthlessness. Voila, a villain, and I freaking love it.
So how does all of Slaine’s “promotions” affecting things. Well, actually, they just upped the ante of the entire war to a new level. The knights, once foolish, pride-blinded warriors who attacked of their own volition are now uniting under Slaine’s rule to use a much more effective method of attack. It’s no longer robot of the week. It’s time to face the evil foes as a unified force. Honestly, Slaine is the reason for every ounce of momentum in this anime. Inaho, what the hell are you doing? I still can’t believe the most robotic character in the anime actually got a robotic body part, but he is definitely still hardly budging the scaled in his favor. I’m supposed to love Slaine as a proper villain, but I should want Inaho to win more because the hero’s motives usually trump all. But Inaho doesn’t seem to want anything. He says he wants the princess, but it’s with the same tone as saying he wants fries with his sandwich. I’m truly afraid he’s going to ruin the finale, because I feel like he’s going to win…and i’m not going to care. Anways, I’m still excited to see what else Slaine has in store for us so I’m very much on board.
Yona of the Dawn (Episode 19)
That new opening song was officially released so go listen to it guys. Anyways, awesome OP’s aside, Yona just feels magnificent. It’s quite literally the biggest breath of fresh air this season as I do my lap of weekly episodes. Fresh doesn’t inherently mean excellence, but Yona is definitely not doing anything wrong anymore.
As we all could have predicted, Yona finally went through a lonesome journey all by herself. Okay, it was more like a perilous chore, but it still resulted in the same strong development, which is Yona becoming an independent, strong-hearted woman. This was the first time in the series where I felt what her loyal dragons felt: an admiration for her determination and bravery. Actually it’s better than bravery, as that famous quote always says. It’s the perseverance while in fear that truly impresses rather than the absence of fear itself.
The other thing I was waiting for was anything that hinted towards the Green Dragon joining the group, and we finally got the touching notion of the pirate leader closing up shop and letting her pirates become civilians with normal lives. The Green Dragon, despite his boasts of living on his own, is sure to join Yona at this point. He has warmed up to me considerably. He doesn’t seem like a mindless lady fawner anymore which was seriously getting to me, but he’s definitely the one character who reminds me the most that this is, at it’s very core, a Shoujo anime.
So the adventuring and development is solid. What else? How ’bout dat comedy? I do really think that this anime is effortlessly more hilarious than the other anime this season. It’s not a comedy, but it’s comic relief is constant and never out of place. Maybe it’s because the adventure itself is rather uplifting at times so humor always has a place to appear, but the foundation of this entire adventure is still tragic murder, and the strong dominating the weak. Yona’s futility is rapidly disappearing and that is easily the most exciting thing in this anime.
Parasyte (Episode 19)
Shinichi goes back to school! A school that I had admittedly forgotten about amidst all the cop drama and invasion of the migi-folk. This week seems to be heralding the endgame, setting up quite a scene with plenty of potential for spectacle and intensity. Parasyte has juggled it’s drama and action roots quite favorably so far, so I’m curious if this finale will wield the same balance.
This episode opened up with quite a grim tale. Gritty, dirty, and not afraid to connect with the lowest scum of humanity, we were treated to a peek into the mind of the man who is errr, trying to peek into the mind of Shinichi. Anyways, we got to see his little back story which was a highly evocative portrayal of monsters among men and how it “takes one to know one.” While it was hauntingly effective in it’s presentation, ultimately, the scene didn’t result in much since the convict just said Shinichi is clean after all. Yet it was in such a peculiar way that the cops didn’t really seem to change their opinion at all on whether Shinichi is a bad guy or not. Well, that’s not true because they approached Shinichi at school. Let’s talk about that bit o’ learning first, though.
Shinichi returning to school was kind of a breath of fresh air from the constantly muddled and troubled persona that is Shinichi. It was nice seeing him trying to fit in with all the uncaring students. Yet, just as I was thinking that, the cops came to the school to ask Shinichi for help, and we learn that the students aren’t all that uncaring at all. They all vividly remember the massacre that happened at school. It’s worthy to note that this may be the first time since the events of the premiere episode began where the students and Shinichi were very much alike. All of them are putting on fake guises that seem insensitive, or unknowing of what happened. Something Shinichi has unwillingly been doing for months, or weeks. I don’t really know how much time has passed. It made the students seem like Shinichi’s family, which is all the more cruel that his destiny is to protect them away from their relatable nature.
Finally, we have the cops making their boldest move yet. A public appearance of riot police is no small matter, and they had a pretty clever plan in action in order to sniff out the parasite amongst the fauna. But how clever is it? That is the question that rings above them all this episode as it ended with the police pointing out the first red flag of the citizens walking out of the evacuated building. This could lead to two things. Either the woman is a parasite, and the plan continues as they all hoped. OR, and this is what I personally think will happen, this woman is completely clean, and their method is flawed, meaning when they shoot her down…it’s pretty much cracking open Pandora’s Box in this shindig. Needless to say, I’m very eager to see just how correct their first brave assumption is.
Death Parade (Episode 7)
“Oh no, it’s the slowest episode of the season!” says others. “Oh yes, it’s the one with the most intricacy and development!” says I. Here’s what immediately came to mind. Death Parade has long since proven it’s not a one trick pony, despite how awesome that one trick is. If that wasn’t apparent, then this episode should clearly have made it so because this episode didn’t even feature a game. It didn’t tease a game. It didn’t even care if a game was going on or not. Death Parade has a lot more story to tell than the oohs and aahs of the flashy contests between the dead, and this episode proves it.
So we start out this episode with a lot of keen observation. The story kind of tells itself through the conversations between the characters. Ginti is now curious about the oddities of this world and Decim’s assistant is finding a lot of surprising connections with this children’s book. It instantly takes me back to the days of Naoki Urasawa’s Monster and it’s astounding usage of it’s mystery around a children’s book. Monster is one of the most finely crafted stories in anime so I don’t know if Death Parade will hit THOSE heights, but we’re already at a level of storytelling that makes Death Parade feel like a surefire favorite of mine.
So the big revelation, or at least the most interesting development is that even Nona is not one to entirely conform to the rules of the job in that she’s enacted her own little experiment, with Decim being a legitimate result of that experiment. When we’re talking about putting human emotions into a dummy, the scope of character storytelling becomes huge, and the execution is crucial. So far, it has felt like a solid start. Decim had his most promising little focus thus far with his creepy, but so-meaningful-that-it’s-adorable hobby of crafting dummies of everyone who visits as a way to remember them. Finally, we meet the final missing character of the opening. Forgive me, I thought it was a guy, but it is indeed a girl. Either way, she has so far just been another distinctive personality amongst the group, and the more the merrier.
Death Parade is doing everything right. Some would argue it’s not doing everything as best as humanly possible, especially because this is the surprise hit of the season so critics are preemptively being harsh, but just when Death Parades seems like it could settle and let an episode echo the subject matter of the previous one, it goes and expands the lore and universe even further. There’s no better way this anime could have gone I feel like. I deeply look forward to the next one. Oh, and Nona is probably my anime crush of the season. Yup…
Kuroko’s Basketball (Episode 7)
It finally happened. Thanks to the numerous techniques introduced throughout the fifty-plus preceding episodes, we finally had a game segment that would be utterly incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t seen the whole series. In literally five minutes, they threw so many crazy abilities at us that the game instantly felt like Kuroko’s just rocketed to the next level. There’s no way anyone could just jump on now and really grasp the full scope of this anime. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just kind of funny to imagine people try to make sense of Kuroko’s vanishing drive straight into a phantom shot, countered by Kisei’s perfect copy of Midorima’s perfect shot as well as Akashi’s Emperor Eye. Could you repeat that sentence to someone who hasn’t seen this anime?!
I want to take a moment to talk about the aftermath of last week’s game since the episode ended with the game-winning shot, and not a second more. Shutoko’s defeat was one of the most noble losses of the series. The way the team bowed to their fans in addition to the team, and then that awfully moving conversation in the hallways where Midorima’s right hand man apologized. And finally, Midorima, the unshakeable member of the Generation of Miracles, shedding a tear over his defeat made a truly touching moment.
I saw a lot of preconceptions about this game from the forums I occasionally visit and I gathered that the general consensus was that in the manga, this game wasn’t enjoyable by a majority of the readers. While the game just started in the anime, I don’t know if I’ve seen the reason why it wasn’t so enjoyable yet Right now I can only pinpoint the biggest change which is that the techniques being used are now like a relentless flow of abilities as the game becomes dictated by these zany variables. I personally think it’s really cool. It does seem like it’s overdoing it a bit, but when has Kuroko ever tried to be tame? As I say all the time, Kuroko’s Basketball is a guilty pleasure anime that’s animated so well and directed so forcefully that you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.
What if this game does suck though? This season already started off with my least favorite game in the series, but at least Akashi and Midorima’s game after that was absolutely THRILLING. This match seems to be that way too. Seiren came in with the focus of scoring so fast, so early that when Kise hits his stride, they’ll be too far ahead to catch up. Then Kise hits his stride after the first damn shot. That’s just incredibly nuts in all the best ways. This episode felt like you couldn’t even stop to take a breath the second it started. I love Kuroko’s Basketball. I always have. It’s directed with the polish of the best hero/villain anime, so I don’t care if it seems like it’s all too over-the-top for basketball. It’s not completely unrealistic, nor is it entirely grounded in reality. It’s the sweet spot where fantasy derives from reality. Where things are real, but look fake. That’s the middleground Kuroko has found, and if those techniques do take an upturn in frequency, it only equates that the once slow and methodical chess game Kuroko was, is now doing a first ever attempt at speed chess.
Your Lie in April (Episode 18)
First off, just look at how damn pretty this anime is. Okay, now read. So this week was another performance episode, and wowza. What a profound scene, that was. Your Lie in April is a bit of a roller coaster of quality. When it peaks, it’s the record breaking thrill ride everyone in the world would line up to experience. When it plummets, it turns into a heaping mess of melodrama and aimless narrating. This week, luckily, was one of those peaks.
This time, it was a duet. Something that I’ll admit thinking when first seeing the scene begin, was that having two of them there wouldn’t make much of a difference. That the song will still sound like a song. I’m glad at how wrong I was. They used this duet, as both a plot-relevant character dynamic, and a brilliant feat of production, to wonderfully paint a battle between these two stubborn pianists. The whole point wasn’t for them to perform as they had practiced, it was to use this limelight as a battlefield for the two of them to argue, debate, and converse with each other through the expression of their half of the duet. Kousei intensified to make a bold declaration, and Nagi responded in kind.
One thing that makes it abundantly clear why the manga source material won prestigious awards is the narration used in the anime, which I’m guessing is directly transcribed from the manga. The words of Your Lie in April are just as evocative and full of poise and grace as the music itself. All throughout this performance scene, the two of them narrated beautifully about several things. About a reason for playing music, their places amongst their friends, heck, just life in general. It was a resounding bit of prose that quite honestly gave me chills. Because the words are naturally at a higher level of expression and sophistication, when they are used at the wrong time, the melodrama comes out awfully strong. It’s not always like the trash bag artfully blowing in the wind like in American Beauty, but when the words are used at the right time, the scenes are absolutely unforgettable.
The performance was actually only the first half of the episode, and afterwards we were transported back to the typical anime pace and Kousei learned that Nagi was Takeshi’s sister. A moment that I was waiting for with a wry smile because I figured it’d be quite funny. And it was. I don’t like the jokes about Nagi having a thing for Kousei that much since this doesn’t feel like the type of anime to throw it’s love triangle around anyone who enters the scene, but as long as it’s just for comedy, it’s fine. Kaori also deserves a huge mention. Apparently she was closer to giving up than I thought, but hearing Kousei’s duet it burnt a whole new spark of inspiration into her. Her character really is becoming more tragic, and EVERY time that ending clip starts and I see her in the water, I can’t help but just get a rush of sorrow. It’s a really well done ending if I do say so myself. I don’t know how long till this anime gets to another episode like this, but just like last time, I’m along for the ride until it does. And I feel like the next performance we see will indeed be the last in the series. That’s just depressing. TILL NEXT WEEK!