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Oct 27

Fall Anime – Week 2

Magi: The Kingdom of Moe

Week 2! Ignore the fact Halloween and November are rapidly approaching and some series are up to their fifth episode, and instead spend some of those earlier nights reading our anime opinions! Steping up to the plate once more is Alexe, Mike, Phil and myself, with us again discussing Magi, Strike the Blood, Kill la Kill and Kyousougiga. If that seems a little light in such a big season, don’t worry, we’ll be covering a few more shows in the near future. And if you want to write about things (which you totally do), get in touch with me or Reaf and we’ll hook you up. I didn’t promote this in the society for nothing. ;D

Alexe on… Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (ep 2)

Episode 2 of Magi season 2 opens with Aladdin’s announcement that he is going to leave Sindria and go to the country of magicians Magnostadt. Even though Alibaba and Morgiana say they will go with him he refuses to let them, mostly because of Magnostadt’s laws won’t let them in and also because he wishes them to follow their own paths.

This causes some conflict, particularly between himself and Alibaba who cannot understand why Aladdin would leave them behind. Even though in the first season it took a while for the three main characters to become a team (The three became a team during the Balbadd arc of season 1) they have remained a team ever since, even sleeping in the same bed together. So Aladdin’s announcement is a shock to them.

Aladdin on the other hand has several reasons to go to Magnostadt despite the dangers he may face there. Firstly he wants to get away from Sinbad. This isn’t because he distrusts Sinbad or thinks he’s a bad guy but rather like he also doesn’t want to be tied down (Like being Sindria’s Magi). Another reason is he could potentially learn more in Magnostadt than he could from his teacher Yamraiha.

But the most important reason is the way Magnostadt treats normal humans who cannot use magic. We find out from Sinbad that there is discrimination in Magnostadt between mages and regular humans. This combined with Princess Dunya’s past as a princess of Magnostadt nobility which was destroyed by the mages lead Aladdin to make the decision to go to Magnostadt.

There is one more reason, which we don’t find out until the end of the episode, and that is that Aladdin sees similarities between what is currently happening in Magnostadt and what happened to his home land. This is the first time Aladdin tells someone about his home land, though he does not reveal much saying that is so far away that no one has even heard of it, in fact Aladdin’s character is shrouded in mystery the only thing we know about him was that he and his Djinn friend Ugo lived in a place called the ‘Sacred Temple’ before they decided to leave and search for the other Djinns.

Leaving Aladdin and Magnostadt behind we have Morgiana. Like Aladdin very little is known about her home other than that is called The Dark Continent and is home to her race called the Fanalis. During a training session with her teacher Masrur she decides to ask him about it, he encourages her to go but warns her that she may be disappointed as not a single Fanalis actually remains there. Putting that aside I really like the animation during their sparring.

And speaking of sparring a big part of the episode I enjoyed was Princess Kougyoko’s and Sinbad’s sparring match using their metal vessels.

Metal Vessels are objects, weapons, jewellery, accessories etc that contain a Djinn. Dungeon capturers may use the power of their Djinn through their metal view via ‘Weapon Equip’ which transforms the metal vessel into a weapon associated with the Djinn or ‘Djinn Equip’ which transforms the users’ entire body to give them features of the Djinn and its powers.

Now the whole reason for their match was so that Sinbad could evaluate Princess Kougyoko’s abilities, he practically goads her into revealing her ‘Extreme Magic’ (their strongest ability). There was lots of discussion of Kougyoko’s character after this episode relating to her sparring match, some seemed to think she was crazy others thought she was just dumb. I don’t think she was either, rather she was excited.

Towards the end of the episode during her conversation with Alibaba we find out that she is the daughter of the current Emperor of Kou and a prostitute. She was kept at a distance in the palace and the only ones who found her to be a warrior of useful ability was Kou’s magi Judar (or Judal) and her older brother Kouen. However even then she was not taking very seriously, the first time we meet Kougyoko is during the Balbadd arc of season 1 when she comes to Balbadd as the arranged bride of King Ahbmad so that the Kou Empire could seize control of the country. Unlike her cousin Hakuei she is seen as having little importance or use, Sinbad is the first to talk to Kougyoko as if they were equals, granted that he probably acted that way to get her to reveal information, and she loses herself in her own excitement.

I really like the animation in their fight scene, it ’s fast and reflects Kougyoko’s state of mind, as well as the fight scene I really like Kana Hanazawa’s voice acting in this scene as I thought it really got through how much Kougyoko had lost herself in her own excitement.

This fight was also the first appearance of Sinbad’s Djinn equip Zepar, a Djinn with the ability to send others to sleep immediately. Though I was disappointed that the anime did not show this scene:

As it really shows the more sinister side of Sinbad as he starts to collect more characters to use as pawns, even the scene with Hakuryuu where he agrees to aid Hakuryuu against the Kou Empire doesn’t feel like Hakuryuu has gained an ally but rather Sinbad has gained another pawn to use.

The last major feature of the episode is the relationship developments between Alibaba and Kougyoko, and Morgiana and Hakuryuu. There are lot’s a similarities between Alibaba and Kougyoko and at the end of the episode the two of them become friends. It’s worth noting that, going back to season 1, if Alibaba’s plan to make Balbadd into a republic had fallen through and he was forced to become King it is highly likely that he might have married Kougyoko. As for Morgiana and Hakuryuu the two are very different, Morgiana lived most of her life as a slave whereas Hakuryuu lived in the Kou palace, even if his father and brothers were killed by Al-Tharmen he cannot compare to Morgiana who doesn’t remember her family at all.

All in all episode 2 was a good episode in my opinion with lots of nice animation and voice acting.

Sean on… Kyousougiga (ep 1)

After last weeks (re)taster into the world of Kyousougiga, this episode provides some much needed backstory on a few of the characters and the world of the Mirror Captial Kyoto. Try to keep up, I’m only gonna explain this once.

In the (probably) real world, there was a priest called Myoe. He could draw things and make them come to life, meaning everyone was afraid of him. He drew himself a city and a black bunny, whom was a god. Said god bunny made a pact with a bodhisattva to give itself a human form so it cxould express her love for Myoe. They went on to draw a family, featuring Yase and Kurama, along with human child Yakushimaru, whom… was probably adopted?

Anyway, people are scared, so the head priest tells them to go away. So they do, into the drawn city, where everything remains perfect because it was drawn that way. Sadly, buddhist pacts don’t last forever, so Koto the bunny has to leave, and Myoe refuses to abandon her so leaves too. Flash forward to present day, where Yakushimaru has grown into… Myoe! Or a replacement one, while he waits for them to return. But when that day comes, its not god Koto that appears, but our little leading lady, whom is… also called Koto. And she’s chasing down a black rabbit! I’m sure you can put two and two together.

Weirdly enough, the show makes a lot more sense now. The first half is mostly redone footage from one of the OVAs, but the latter seemed to be all new (or if it wasn’t, I don’t remember it). Due to the nature of the episode being more exposition, there’s less of the insane action from the 0th one, but the rest of the show’s flair isn’t diminished, from Myoe being mocked by the gods themselves to those poor animals whom have to watch him “have fun”.

Talking of Myoe, this show really does give a sense of perspective as to why he’s more downbeat and resistent to the insanity of it all. A regular human in an unharmable world of drawings and make-believe, watching others remain steadfastly the same while he grows and matures, he has a unique perspective of an outsider looking in, while his other Council of Three brother and sister were already made of the same stuff.

Overall, this episode exists to answer a few of the myriad questions the show has, while also posing new ones along the way. What is this Shrine Koto talks about? Why is Kurama hanging out with the science guys? And who the heck was that person with Koto in the beginning? I can’t even remember if any of these are answered. But you’d be a fool not to watch along and try to piece everything together yourself as events unfold.

Mike on… Strike the Blood (ep 2)

I’m just going to come right out and say that I did not like this episode.

Episode two finds our characters attempting to establish themselves in the world that was set out in episode one. We get a frankly minute amount of information about the sequence of events that lead our support lead (Himegari Yukina) to the situation she’s in right now, whereby we then set about following the couple around for the better part of the episode while the writers attempt to build rapport between the characters. This all leads up to an actually relatively interesting (and dare I say, exciting) climax which goes along way to explain the boundaries of magic in this universe, but by that point it’s too little too late.

The key issue here is actually nothing I groaned about last week, as in a frankly stunning change of pace, fanservice is kept down to an absolute minimum and the only time when its seemingly put in for no reason doesn’t derail the plot. However the only reason it manages to do this is because of my main problem of this week’s episode which is very simple; there is NO plot to interrupt!

Seriously, I can sum up the plot of this one in a single sentence: The two of them go shopping and suddenly have a fight for no reason. That is it. I know it looks like I’m oversimplifying this, but you have to understand something first, a standard anime episode of anything tends to go for 20-25 minutes. This episode fits pretty much in the middle of that time and the characters still spend about 13 of those minutes, shopping. Beyond that, we’re introduced to a couple of new character’s in our lead’s little sister and his teacher who is totally 26 years old even though she looks like a middle schooler (yeah, you stay classy Japan), but these characters offer nothing beyond exposition and just make the episode drag even more than it already does.

I would just like to clarify that I have no problem with “slice of life” type anime, if handled correctly they can become a type of character study where you as the viewer can get to know and care about your characters and the issues they face in their day-to-day lives. If that’s what this episode was going for, it typifies everything wrong with the genre as it is slow, tedious and contributes absolutely nothing to character development as our characters are exactly the same at the other end of it without any real development beyond “they like each other now”.

One thing I will say in this show’s favour is that the animation is great, and when its not doing constant unnecessary fanservice, you are able to see it shine through as the movements look natural and the magic employed looks powerful without being too showy. This is a feat that many current anime are unable to accomplish quite so easily so for that it should be praised, but it’s nowhere near good enough to save the show.

This show (and in particular this episode) commits the cardinal sin of entertainment media, not that its bad, not that its nearly unwatchable, but because its boring. I just wanted to turn it off because it was sending me to sleep in it’s giant lull of a mid section. Simply put, I will continue to watch this series for the time being; however I will not waste my time reviewing it unless something amazing happens in episode 3.

Phil on… Kill la Kill (ep 3)

So let’s just dive straight in, Kill La Kill episode 3:

Pretty much the tone of the episode right there

The episode starts with a flash back to Satsuki’s (the Council President) childhood. Her father shows her a dress and says “This will be your wedding dress”, while we’re left to ponder those words, we see the dress is similar to senketsu, Ryūko’s uniform and that it’s called “Junketsu” or “Purity”.

Back in the present day class 2-A is still doing history and learning about Hitler. Ryūko’s staring daggers into the teachers back wanting more information that he clearly knows. She follows him after class but loses track of him. After she finds a note attached to her friend Mako, she meets the teacher after school.

Here’s where we find out the homeroom teacher was working with Ryūko’s father to overthrow the Kiriyuuin family and stop their plan for world domination. They planned on using the Senketsu, which is known as a “Godrobe”. Here we learn that the special the godrobes and ultima uniforms are made with something called “Life Fibre”. These are “fighting fibres that have a life of their own”, Ultima uniforms are made with a percentage of them (1 star = 10%, 2 = 20% etc.) while godrobes are 100% life fibre. These fibres enhance human abilities drawing out super human like abilities.

Just a perfectly normal way to treat your friends

We then cut to a scene where we see a new ultima uniform being made, a 5-star one, thus made with 50% life fibre. Unfortunately the test subject goes berserk, showing that not everybody can wield these immense powers, and that being able to wield a godrobe is truly special. Afterwards we see Satsuki returning to her manor, deciding it’s time for her to put on Junketsu.

Then it’s time for shenanigans at Mako’s house, where after a few minutes the characters comment how it seems Senketsu has “goose bumps”, which is later remarked to be in relation to Satsuki putting on Junketsu, showing that the uniforms are aware of each other’s presence.

What are friends for if not boasting about your exhibitionism in front of the whole school?

The following day Ryūko and Mako head into school, where they’re greeted by Satsuki and her new godrobe. The two characters transform, with Satsuki’s awakened godrobe being just as full fan service and Ryūko’s, and a fight ensues. The fight is well choreographed and visually stunning (fan service aside), and Ryūko is slowly getting beaten down. During a moment of downtime Senketsu enigmatically says “you have yet to put me on” during a rant about how Ryūko will pass out due to blood lose soon. The fight continues and we get some spiel from Satsuki about how she could care less if the uniform makes her virtually naked, and would in fact get naked if that was required to wield the uniforms true power.

However, before she can deliver the finishing blow to Ryūko and before the home room teacher can step in; Mako joins the fray and starts explaining how nobody can be a bigger exhibitionist than Ryūko (seriously).

Satsuki decides she’s heard enough of the nonsense and proceeds to bring her sword down to deliver the final blow. Ryūko blocks the attack and thanks to Mako realizes she’s not been wielding Senketsu correctly. After activating Senketsu again the fight resumes, this time with Ryūko and Senketsu able to take the offensive. This also includes a new number called “Sword Scissor – Decapitation mode” which entails the sword scissor splitting in half, and a new blade the same size as the first emerging, to double the length of the blade.

After being on the ropes Satsuki gets her head back in the game and the two gilrs proceed to land solid blows on each other and clash with their fighting spirit. Ryūko declares she’s going to crush Satsuki’s ambitions, at which point Satsuki says prove it, she’ll send every last club after Ryūko, and if she can beat them the two will fight once more. With the declaration of war, the episode ends.

This episode defiantly felt like an improvement over the first two. It had some semblance of plot for the show however it then decides to shoot itself in the foot in the end by essentially saying “we’re turning into the fight of the week show!”, thus removing any “plot” from the show for a while. It was said earlier but the fight between Ryūko and Satsuki was truly well done, the fight was nicely animated for the most part, and the soundtrack was there to back it up at the right moments. Now we just wait and see how long it takes to finish the “fight of the week” arc.
Also because I pointed it out last week I’ll keep doing this, this week’s episode was called“純潔”or “Purity”.

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Boom, there ya go. We’re always open to new people who wanna talk about their shows, so be it weekly thoughts or a general review on something from the past, get in touch with myself, Reaf or the committee and we’ll get you all set up. And as I said, hopefully we’ll have some more shows next week. With Mike giving up on Strike the Blood I’ll have to find something else to make him suffer regardless. Until then!