THIS WEEK: Kill La Kill, Nagi No Asukara, Space Dandy, Pupa, and Gundam Build Fighters.
The first week all of my winter shows are firing at once, so this should be it for my docket for the rest of the season.
Wizard Lawyers: Perry Mason Murder She Wrote Witness for the Prosecution seems fun, but I'm purposely holding off on that one for a potential rainy spring weekend or something.
KILL LA KILL (EPISODE 13)
For a post production break episode for a series that has generally been gargling gasoline, this one was pretty easy going in a lot of ways. Slower, melancholic, the Academy is preparing to basically go to war but Ryuuko can't even bring herself to get out of bed let alone really put on her uniform again.
Prepwork, then, in more ways than one.
Since our new arc seems to want to be more about REVOCS and Satsuki's goals for conquest (which, given her mothers dispositions, do not seem to necessarily be one and the same), we need to lay out ideas again. Sailor uniforms and the like are effectively military outfits, turning students into soldiers, clothing as representative of an original sin of mankind.The new three star uniforms are not complete for Satsuki's Elite Four, so they'll need to wear the new standard two star uniforms in the mean time, and yet mentioning that this will help them mature further in their various capacities.
Mako's "I wish i could go, but I don't want to" and the antics of Nui Harime have put her in a position of forced labor for the war effort by Gamagoori, so I'd actually be interested in if that means he takes her along or not. He seems to like / tolerate her well enough, and it would physically separate her more from Ryuuko, which could easily have been part of Nui's plan. The opening for actually fighting her, of course, arrived a bit sooner than that departure, and Senketsu has now been cut apart.
It's kind of nice, in that it was a sleepier episode that was not banking as much on Raising The Stakes and the like as the previous ones had been, so the expectations of this event were fewer.
That said though, as Senketsu is now in chunks to be woven into multiple other uniforms, it'll be interesting to see what effect (if any) his body has on the war effort and then whatever this would mean for Ryuuko's efforts now that she really is "naked" as it were in terms of comparative levels of power.
NAGI NO ASUKARA (EPISODE 14)
Looks like the production break did a number to the folks here; we're five years into the future!
I would also like it if the new intro did not immediately ruin who lives from previous events, but this is a larger problem a lot of productions tend to have. It does not excuse them for following along, but it is an industry frustration of mine at times. At least hold off on the intro for another week, or design it in such a way where the folks are on a different animation layer and can be seamlessly flipped back on and worked in as they reappear in the production.
I both loved and hated this episode in so many ways.
I enjoyed the slower pace of it, the quietness that permeated through so much of it as everyone has grown up more and everything continues its wintry march toward a doomsday ice age. I liked having the characters placed in new life situations as a result, such as Chisaki and then seeing over time why it was that she had come to be visting and bathing Isamu Kihara in the hospital. I enjoy the prospect of the teacher having a new crop of students, and seeing what comes from that as he recollects various things to folks like Miuna. I like the idea of scientists coming in to do studies on the sea villages.
That's all great, I like that bunches.
The dialogue could have used another run through an editing team in places, as sentences like "everyone changed so much, and it's only been five years" get into that goopy expository canyon where one is telling rather than showing things. But, you know, on the whole I can generally be pretty forgiving when one is dealing in massive time skips such as this, as one does want to get everyone up to speed quickly so they can move on to whatever the Cool Stuff they wanted to do in the new setting happens to be.
That said though:
Quoting from my Google document I jot notes into as I watch things, my literal excerpt from the end of the episode was "Hikari moon race what the bullshit." Which is factually untrue, at least for now, in that they did not actually come from the moon. But I really would have liked that arrival sequence to, at minimum, be put off an episode so the future without him as we see it could gel a bit more. Not only that though, it raises an alarming number of sirens for how this series may want to handle drama in the future.
A lot of folks have said to just trust Mari Okada to handle things, and Iwell, don't.
Admittedly, the only series of hers to completion is Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, so I don't have much of a personal track record with her work. But, in that one, she had been handed the keys to a long running franchise, took it for a fantastically fun joyride, and then crashed into a smoldering pile of narrative wreckage at the end. And that's a case where there theoretically would have been more editorial oversight than Nagi no Asukara likely has. So, I'm at least kind of concerned.
But I hope I'm wrong.
SPACE DANDY (EPISODE 2)
This week we switch away from Watanabe as writer over to Dai Sato, so that was a promising thing from get go given how last week went down in terms of material not quite hitting the mark.
Even so, I think Space Dandy might have this weird trend where the first half of the episodes turn out not as nice as the second half. Like, really clear cut "after the commercial break" levels of shifts. Which, admittedly, if you are going to have to pick between the two one should much rather want the episode to ramp up and improve over its duration so folks leave happy rather than the other way around.
I do tend to mentally groan a lot when it comes to certain joke topics that have been tapped too many times in recent memory, and in that department I really am exhausted of social media humor due to the raw amount of it that has been spat out. I've been tired of them for several years now, actually, and there's only so many Space Twitter jokes I can take in succession before I start wanting to check my own phone because the episode is slowly losing me. But that's a "me" thing, and such circumstances merely mean a certain cooling off period is required and they're funny again, so who knows what I'd think in five or ten years.
Even so, despite his phone shenanigans I think Meow is my favorite member of our crew so far, love pillow and all. I think the way his character works, as he is fundamentally the straight man when compared to Dandy's routine, allows him to function better for me in the dubbed version than the subbed one.
The Phantom Ramen Chef housed them all though, with a well told personal story and endearing interactions with our crew. By far the highlight of the episode, and proof of concept that the series will be just as capable of being quite touching or serious should the need arise, which is a great card to be able to show us this early while we are still getting all of the episodic building blocks in place.
Something that I have found interesting, in reflecting on these two episodes so far, is that I have been less interested in the journey the episodes take as opposed to the destinations they lead to.
In a lot of cases it would tend to be the reverse, and I'll certainly stomach a whole lot more Space Twitter jokes so long as it means great conversations over a bowl of ramen an entire wormhole away.
PUPA (EPISODE 1)
The good news for Pupa is that after multiple network issues last season, the ensuing weeks of delays and "We'll let you know where we're showing this as soon as we actually know ourselves" level of hiccups,it well and truly finally got itself broadcasting.
and promptly blew all of that potential lead-in hype right out of the window.
Unlike a lot of folks, I was not really miffed by the short format running time. I watch a lot of shorts every year, and I think it is a good place for a lot of things. Two of my favorite shows of last year were shorts! So I'm with it on that front, and there are definite ways one could approach a horror series in four minutes or less chunks every week.
This, unfortunately, is not one of them. Characters are haphazardly thrown in front of the screen, multiple cuts to material being handled in the most ham fisted of ways (chief among these likely the random shot that is supposed to tell us of the abusive father of our leading kids, but is handled with all of the subtly of a Family Guy cutaway gag), and a monster that looks about as convincing as the "Oh this was actually the silliest rubber monster suit with a zipper" antagonistic force from the Doug's Nightmare on Jumbo St. episode of, well, Doug.
And it was heavily censored to boot, with the primary gore scene of the episode covered in so many blobs of impenetrable darkness that I may as well have been sticking my hand in one of those mystery Halloween black boxes where you rummagearound and try to figure out what the squishy object is. Man, if there is one thing this series potentially had going for it, it was the "Too Hot For TV" thing that likely intrigued a fair number of folks over the previous months and allowed for a lot of free word of mouth advertising, which is doubly great given that horror productions in general tend to get really minimal budgets for that kind of thing. I'd be really interested in seeing whatever the streaming numbers look like on the back end for things like Crunchyroll, as I imagine the viewership numbers are going to drop like a lead brick after this initial episode.
I'd like to think that Pupa will be improve, but, realistically this is likely not going to happen given the multiple levels of problems present in just this one showing. That's going to be hard for it to try to overcome. But, I suppose, even with cutting my shows back I will still have a weekly punching bag for the time being.
GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS (EPISODE 14)
This week was part recap, part Mario Kart, and part Dawson's Creek.
On the latter end in particular, we have Aila flopping around listlessly in her hotel bed looking at data on Reiji, tracking him down outside the doctors office, and it's all the sort of thing engineered to make folks want to shake one of them and go "figure it out!" In which case, I mean that as a compliment.
On the recap end, we have the whole "lets talk about the entire competitive cast in a restaurant, where they stand, and what they did to get here" sequence, which is fair and goes along with the new intro and ending bits. I do think it is kind of awkward when a scene like that happens though, and then pretty much our next big line of scenes is watching all of those same characters each individually accomplish a new thing (in this case, winning their heats in the multiple racing events going on).
Since it is basically just the tail ends of each of their races, there is no sense of weight to any of them, and we're pretty much assured they are each going to win because of the previous lineup rundown, so that chunk felt like a large amount of extraneous material that didn't really enhance a perception of anyone or move things along in any fashion. It all just sort of . happened. Which is an odd choice, in an episode that seemed to be straining at budget cuts all over the place given the amount of panning shots, cutaways, and speedlines.
Mr. Ral got to get into a fist fight with a secret agent dude though, so it is great to see our mustachioed wonder non-dad ready to throw down for the purity of Gunpla battle and the like.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.
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