Spring 2015 Anime – Week 5 Impressions

Goodness, I’m late! I apologize to the readers who expected a bit more consistency from me. I was ailed with sickness around week 3, and I got very, very addicted to Bloodborne in week 4. Now here I am, writing impressions for last week’s episodes. There have definitely been some notable occurrences over those two weeks. Kuroko’s basketball wrapped up it’s mesmerizing flashback arc and Blood Blockade Battlefront’s quirky, inventive directing style is continuing to satisfy as I wonder why it’s not as warmly received as it should be. But now we’re on to week 5. Plastic Memories made a huge impression that I’m just dying to talk about, while Fate Stay Night is starting to feel a bit less gripping. What a change in the tides, this is.

Blood Blockade Battlefront

Did some romance just creep into my stylish action anime? Why, yes. Yes, it did. Did it make me even more invested in this anime? Why, yes. Yes, it did. Romance, done in a two-part, was the central focus of this week’s episode, and complete with it’s funky soundtrack and unorthodox directing style, made it my favorite episode of the week, and of the series thus far.

The first of the two romantic storylines was between two new characters, and was one part Frankenstein, and one part crazy ex-girlfriend. I absolutely adored this. She wasn’t an antagonized crazy woman, but simply a woman madly in love. So much so that she genetically combined the best personality with the best attractive body to make her ideal man of machismo. Her voice actress was very distinctive and I still don’t know if I liked her voice or not, but I’m leaning towards it’s favor right now. Therefore, I loved pretty much every aspect of her character, though I don’t expect we’ll see her again in this show. That’s okay. She was written off perfectly. In and out within the space of an episode.

The second of two is the more meaty, and heartfelt one, which is between our main character, Leonardo, and White, the mysterious green-eyed girl. This was classical romance at it’s finest. Leonardo sprinting through the city to ask the question he nearly talked himself out of asking, the evocative motorcycle ride through the night-time city lights, culminating in a deeper-than-expected trip to the drive-in. Their romance went from being a cheeky snub that the anime occasionally threw a bone to, to a full blown coalescence of their two personalities.

Blood Blockade Battlefront is still the most stylish, confident anime this season. Steering from one disconnected episode to another with so much spectacle, everything is working for it to make this anime one to remember. I literally don’t understand it’s mediocre ratings on user review websites when every anime blogger is being thoroughly impressed by it. While I don’t know if it quite stands up to my favorites, it’s already the type of anime that I could see being someone else’s favorite already. It’s finger-snapping soundtrack and visually energetic style have not gotten stale in the slightest, and this week just solidified the fact that this is a great anime.

Episode 5 – 10/10

Dungeon Girls

Hestia is the character I jump between liking and hating the most. Her incessant, overabundance of love for Bell is slightly adorable, but very annoying. I am rarely annoyed in an anime that I actually enjoy, but Hestia sometimes hits that point for me. Just like Misa in Death Note. But every once in a while, she’ll do something that I’m truly fond of.

The girl I am a fan of is Lili, the supporter. She has an immediate depth that I like because of her distrustful past, and I usually like the whole, I’m deceiving you, but now I actually like you, thing. Bell’s chivalry and near-altruism is refreshing to see in a main character, and though I regret that it’s being used to essentially build a harem, I am always rooting for him when it comes to girls choosing him.

Enough about the girls, since they have nothing to do with my favorite part of the episode. I’m talking about that introspective “what is magic” scene where Bell meditated on what magic means to him. It’s a scene full of poignant expression that I didn’t expect from this type of anime. It’s the first sign of greatness that I’ve personally witnessed from this anime, and as such, makes me more hopeful for more like that in the future.

This anime has been a consistent improvement from each episode since the beginning, and if it continues, then it’s on it’s way to being a truly great adventure anime. The story has plenty of room to head in several directions, and that is what I’m most interested in seeing. Until then, we have just been treated to an enjoyable look at our hero getting all of his equipment and powers…and dungeon girls.

Episode 5 – 8.5/10

Fairy Tail 2

So this is the beginning of the Tartarus arc, huh? Well….I imagine when we actually get to Tartarus, maybe I’ll see what all the fuss is about, because right now, Fairy Tail feels entirely mediocre. I skipped writing about this anime last season because it was on a filler break, an anime industry practice that I completely disagree with. But now we’re back to the good stuff. The true to the manga stuff. And it still feels like filler.

Whoever these bad guys are, impeding our heroes’ progress are simply absurd. Their character design’s are very unappealing, their motivations are hardly gripping, and the way they fight is bare-bones and childish. On top of that, we have the random ability introduced that is turning our heroes into kid versions of themselves for no reason but to seemingly appease the fans. What’s stranger is that their voice actors and actresses make no difference in their voice for the kid form, making their battle cries even more awkward. The story of the episode amounted to one plot twist, and it’s something everyone could have guessed three or four episodes ago, meaning this entire episode felt like a wasted effort to progress the story.

Thank god for Natsu who’s stubborn nature almost mirrors my own reaction to this episode. The pointlessness of turning into a kid, and the blunt thought of just getting on with the mission. His line where he sympathized with Flare was the only genuine moment of the whole episode. The art and music are still running in high gear, but I can’t appreciate them when they are layered over such a small amount of substance.

Episode 56 – 4/10

Fate/Stay Night

Fate’s story is headed towards the climax of one of the bigger mysteries of the anime, and it’s kind of clear what that truly entails. It’s a twist that I like, but I don’t know if even that can compare to my favorite moments of Fate Zero.

We had two big fights this week. The first, between Archer and Lancer was a huge setpiece and had probably the most flashy effects of the season. It looked jaw-dropping, and felt riveting. All the fights of this series have been this way. After that was the showdown between Rin and Caster. (With Shirou and Caster’s Master being a rather uneventful fight.) This fight hid the fun surprise that Rin can actually physically kick some ass, and I loved the way she won by basically bringing a gun to a knife-fight only she brought fists to a mage-fight.

The other big moment was the fact that Archer has definitely been enacting his own agenda this entire time. Both acting as a triple agent, and having some personal vendetta against Shirou made his character interplay a bit more purposeful, but the plot is still kind of messy tying all these things together. Caster is finally out of the picture, and we finally got to see her without her hood on, and it turns out she’s a pretty, and innocent looking elf-mage. It really helped to send her off, rather than trying to sympathize with someone we haven’t even seen the face of.

Fate Stay Night has been stellar, though if I was judging off of story alone, my only commendations would go to the amazing world-building and the constant regal prose. The actual twists and turns, and climactic character moments have ranged, making this more of a hit and miss anime. However, it’s animation continues to heighten this anime and that’s always worth crediting.

Episode 17 – 8.5/10

Food Wars

Well, we finally know what a Food War, or Shokugeki, is, and it should pave the way for many spectacular food battles yet to come. Food Wars continues it’s fun, and erotic portrayal of the intensive hobby of cooking, and this week, we have a glimpse at the intimidating organization that Soma, our main character, must triumph over.

This week was another cook off between Soma, and a member of the Elite Ten. Soma won, but it was clear that both of these chefs are operating under heavy restrictions. We find out his opponent wasn’t “trying his hardest” and that Soma had the handicap of trying to make a dish similar in theme rather than making his best dishes. I am curious to see whether Soma will remain at this constant power level, and the whole point of the anime is other people realizing it’s the best, or if Soma will actually ever have to learn how to cook better. It’s the difference between Code Geass and No Game No life, where Lelouch had learn from his mistakes and improve, while Sora just seemed to have everything planned out from the start.

The orgasms returned, though nothing has yet been as provocative as the infamous first episode. Furthermore, the constant metaphors used for taste by having random scenes play out, such as a forest changing to spring for a festive flavor, or hippos crossing a train track for a repulsive, awkward flavor, are rapidly becoming one of my favorite things about this anime. I mean, the plot is still as straight forward as one can get, but the execution is still full of energy and splendor, and the characters have been fun. It’s still better than I expected, but it’s still not on any path to become one of my favorites.

Episode 5 – 8/10

The Heroic Legend of Arslan

The thrill of adventure finally kicks in now that the premise has settled in and the harrowing experience of war is behind us. Arslan is now journeying with new compatriots, and the cast is slowly expanding as the story jumps between Arslan’s traveling group and his kingdom. It’s hard to not draw comparisons to last season’s Akatsuki no Yona as we’re pretty much in a gender-mirrored situation right now. While Akatsuki no Yona has a more uplifting tone, and more crisp comedy, Heroic Legend of Arslan has the grit and realism that easily distinguishes itself.

The first main highlight of the episode was the invasion of the Lusitanian army and their valiant attempt to conquer a section of the Pars Kingdom. I was pretty happy with how this whole thing played out. The hostage situation was handled by an entirely unpleasant war general, so he felt like a step backwards. What followed was a war scene that clearly displays more of the awkward CG soldiers. Despite the animation, the battle became even more interesting as they enacted a strategy to rile the spirits of the slaves/prisoners of war within the walls. A cunning strategy that rewards my expectations of this being an intelligent war story.

The other memorable scene was the introduction of another new central character, the bard. A wily, deceptive man who instantly had me intrigued about his motivations. I liked his “song” a lot, and appreciated how it was more of a spoken word poem rather than what could have been an very awkward attempt at adding a sing along moment. I am hopeful that I’ll see more of this character next week. The cast is looking exceptionally strong now.

What holds the anime back is still it’s animation quality. Even with the gorgeous environmental art, the reliance of CG soldiers and overall generic direction style definitely doesn’t give this anime an ounce of style. This anime simply doesn’t feel like it’s from 2015, nor even 2010. This isn’t really a bad thing, especially because everything on the writing and development couldn’t be better, but when I see imaginative anime like Blood Blockade Battlefront in the same seasonal lineup, it does start to come off as a bit more bland than I’d hope for. It’s still been an easy recommendation to anyone who wants a serious and mature anime this season, and I don’t see signs of that changing.

Episode 5 – 8/10

Kuroko’s Basketball

Kuroko’s basketball comes out of the flashback arc with even more top of the line material. i was expecting a drop in quality once the story switched back to the game. Not necessarily in a bad way, but just a change in focus that naturally didn’t let the character personalities shine as much. Welp…I was wrong.

This episode started with a quaint visit of all of our not-so-famous Seiren members. It wasn’t them training, nor chatting in the locker rooms. This opening scene was a vignette of all these characters in their daily lives. Their families, their friendships, and the other 99% of the world that isn’t on the basketball court. It was something that immediately added a lot more perspective since the rest of this anime has pretty much transpired within a school or stadium.

After that, our heroes left their daily lives to enter the scene of the final game. A strong juxtaposition that should make the most robotic of men jumping with fervor and excitement. This is what we’ve been waiting for. The questions in my head were numerous. Who will score first? Will Akashi or Kuroko unveil something new? How long until someone enters the zone? That last question was actually answered in this episode. Kagami literally starts the game in the zone. I have to admit how much of a guilty pleasure that was for me. This game is firing on all cylinders.

Kuroko’s Basketball is nearing it’s precipice, and since the flashback art, has been nothing short of a masterpiece. It all rides on this game, both in the world of this anime, and outside of it. Kuroko’s basketball is a dominant force in the anime industry, and a disappointing ending would echo louder than a basketball bouncing in a silent gymnasium. Let’s hope this momentum can carry, and dare I say it, improve even more?

Episode 17 – 9.5/10

My Love Story

Wait…they are already a couple?! The week before last, romance fans across the world were surprised that the main character and the romantic interest, the couple that was the basis for the whole premise, successfully became a relationship in record time. This is now the first episode of actually seeing them as a couple, and many, myself included, wondered where the story would go since it seemingly reached what we thought would be the conclusion.

Turns out, this isn’t a happily ever after. Much like Clannad After Story, and romance in general, this is about much more than winning the girl or guy over. It’s about how they live and struggle with each other afterwards. Now, Rinko has to deal with introducing her strange choice in boyfriend to her other friends. Fate wasn’t as kind to Takeo this time, and he had to bear the brunt of several of their insults. Takeo, being an adorable lug, didn’t let the insults phase him as he has eyes and ears only for Rinko.

Their relationship is charming, and the story, just as much. Accompanying this is a feeling of aloofness in the plot points. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s different. Dangerous situations happen that serve to only let Takeo demonstrate his manhood. They are crazy events, like construction beams falling onto people or buildings catching on fire. Normally this would feel like uninspired, or overly dramatic action pieces, but it’s almost like this anime doesn’t care about that. The point of this anime isn’t the realism, it’s the moral. It doesn’t matter whether Takeo saves her from a fire, or a tripping over a step, it’s about Takeo being a bigger, better man.

The plot still feels unpredictable since our main couple are still together with no turbulence between them, and that alone makes me yearn with curiosity about what the next episodes could possibly be about. This episode continued the uplifting atmosphere and the brilliant character expression that I like this anime for already.

Episode 4 – 8.5/10

Plastic Memories

Okay, this, was an episode. This week’s offerings were both more than I ever expected from this anime, and in a completely different tone than any episode before it. I have no idea if this is the direction the entire anime is heading, or if this is just one dark, grueling episode to break up the fun. Whatever they are going for, they just delivered an unforgettable episode.

This week we learned about Wanderers, a phase that the Giftia androids enter after their lifetime expires. And the Wanderers kind of changed EVERYTHING. Now, instead of the simple notion of retrieving them before they die naturally. The introduction of Wanderers added a huge sense of danger and urgency to their job. We also got a lot of hints that an incident with a wanderer is what triggered a lot of the dysfunctional relationships currently plaguing the office.

We also got to see a Wanderer first hand, and it was not to be taken lightly. Crazed, mindless, and savage, these things tear away at human beings without mercy. All of a sudden, our characters were in a life or death situation, and our main character was thrust into way more than he signed up for. Unfortunately for him, he was put right in the center of the scuffle when he became the one who had to shoot the Wanderer down. We know little of his past, or why he was chosen for this position, but I am very curious if they expected him to be capable of dealing with thing like Wanderers.

This episode was heavy. A harsh dosage of reality for all of those who thought this was a peaceful sci-fi utopia where the worst problem was the sentimental connections between androids and humans. The world just got a lot more real, and I love it for that. I hope the tone doesn’t simply snap back to happy land next episode, but based on the way this episode ended, our hero won’t be forgetting what just happened anytime soon.

Episode 5 – 10/10

The absence of Seraph of the End is because I have decided to drop it. I didn’t like the main character at all, and the fact that his asshole way of thinking was actually bringing him towards his goal is simply a type of development I don’t care to watch. The action was fun, but the writing just became more and more trite. On my next post, I’ll be caught up on everything, so Assassination Classroom and Sound Euphonium will be back in discussion as well! Sorry for the lack of updates! And, as always, thank you to anyone who takes time to read these!


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