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Nov 05

Fall Anime – Week 3

Strike Out the Blood

November already? Won’t be long until carol singers plague the streets and I’m huddled next to a radiator in my dressing gown. But in the meantime, there’s always more anime to watch and talk about! This week we’re changing things up a little. Its the usual four writers (please join us in writing about stuff, please), but Mike’s given up on Strike the Blood, and is now enjoying Hajime no Ippo Rising! Otherwise, its Alexe on Magi, Phil on Kill la Kill, and me on Kyousougiga. Hit the jump and lets get this started.

Mike on… Hajime no Ippo Rising (ep 1)

Oh my god this is so much better than Strike the Blood!

Hajime No Ippo takes place in a realistic type modern day Japan (or at least and anime interpretation of it) where we follow the life and times of our hero, known only to us a Ippo, as we strive to see him become the very best like no-one ever was and become the champion of pro boxing.

While it would be very easy to label this show as a “generic sports anime” (a genre that usually loses me instantaneously) and move on with my life, I genuinely believe that doing so would be a disservice as I believe this show is not generic in the slightest. Rather than it being about an underdog who has to fight through all odds and rebut the naysayers, it instead decides to follow our protagonist after he has already won. This is a refreshing take on the genre as it allows the story to unfold a lot more naturally and explore the character’s motivations and reasons for always striving to be better, making them more believable as a result.

If this show does have any real downsides, it would be that Ippo’s motivations themselves are actually a little generic, in so much as the death of his father at a young age has pushed our protagonist to become a champion in order to make his father proud; however even this is executed with originality and restraint. It would be very easy to say that his father was the champion and he therefore wants to match his father’s accomplishments, but this is not the case. His father was a fisherman, a big strong guy to be sure, but when he tragically dies out at sea (and I must stress the word tragically, since the whole back-story is legitimately heart-rending), Ippo vows to make him proud through the means that he himself has, rather than foolhardily trying to match his father’s accomplishments. This is a very plausible, fresh and convincing take on the same sad, old story, and I like it very much.

The animation in this is sublime. Coupled with an interesting (without being ugly) art style, you really get a sense of weight to the characters, and a sense of power during the boxing bouts. While it DOES do the standard overzealous and over the top thing that modern anime is plagued with, it seems appropriate and as if it’s got its reasons for doing so, making it feel totally in place and necessary.

For a show that actually has very little plot, there is actually a surprisingly large amount of narrative as it tells us the story of how and why Ippo got to this point and why it’s so important to him that he maintain his title. As a result of this, the show has no real antagonist; yes he has the opponent that he has to defeat, however they are never really framed as an “evil” to be overcome. Instead, they are shown as a kind of respectful adversary that has their own reasons, and their own motivations for doing what they’re doing. This makes for some exciting viewing as neither side is going to be obviously victorious and you find yourself picking a side to root for, a feat that most anime are completely unable to do and usually don’t even try in fear of getting it wrong.

This show is a surprising hit for me as it uses the sports aspect as more of a framing device rather than the be-all and end-all of the runtime. This will therefore keep me watching for the foreseeable future and if things continue down the path that was set out in this first episode, it’s one that I would emphatically recommend to anyone.

Alexe on… Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (ep 3)

Episode 3 begins with Aladdin getting ready to depart from Sindria; Morgiana says she will join him as far as the kingdom of Actia as she is travelling to her homeland thanks to Hakuryuu’s encouragement. The two of them regret that Alibaba had not spoken to them since Aladdin decided to go off on his own but nevertheless they board their ship and are seen off by Sinbad and the eight generals.

There’s just one thing.

Alibaba secretly got on the same ship.

Due to things being awkward between the three of them he never got the chance to tell them they he was joining them. So he sits in a bedroom waiting to surprise them.

However he chooses the wrong one as Aladdin and the gang choose the room next door.

Mortified he goes to join get them but stops thinking he could make a more dynamic entrance and so he listens to their conversation.

However, much to his horror the group seems to have forgotten about him that is until Hakuryuu asks Aladdin and Morgiana of their opinion of Alibaba.

Sure that his friends will praise him Alibaba listens closely…only to have his dreams crushed by Aladdin being indifferent towards him and making fun of his un-popularity with women. Morgiana too recalls a highly embarrassing episode in the Balbadd arc of season 1. Alibaba is crushed and reduced to a sobbing mess on the floor, only for the door to open to reveal the grinning faces of Aladdin and Hakuryuu.

Honestly this episode should be called ‘Alibaba get’s trolled, multiple times’. Aladdin apologies saying it was just a joke because Sinbad had told them he was coming, everything was made up. Except for what Morgiana said that really did happen.

After being asked why he had come along he reveals that he is going to Laem to train as a gladiator and learn about magoi manipulation from a nomadic tribe known as the Yambala after learning that the quality of his magoi had changed. Well actually it’s Hakuryuu that tells Aladdin and Morgiana about the Yambala with his constant interrupting.

After this we have a brief scene back in Sindria where Sinbad hold a small party for the groups’ teachers and the three of them argue about whose apprentice is the best.

Back to the group, we have a montage of their sea journey followed by an attack by a sea serpent which Alibaba takes care of. It’s a shame they didn’t actually show the battle after seeing him being so pathetic at the start of the episode it would have been nice to see him being cool.

As the group approach the port of Actia Morgiana notices something strange, the port is on fire. A voice from above commends her excellent eye sight and they look up to see a boy floating above
them. The boy demands their ships cargo and when the sailors demand to know who he is a ship appears from under the water followed by more floating boys, he then reveals that they are pirates.

And that’s about it; I don’t really have much to say for this episode.

Except that Hakuryuu has one the best damn troll face ever seen.

Sean on… Kyousougiga (ep 2)

Oh you tease. We’re still not at the present day yet, despite the opening of the show building hopes up, but what we do get is an expanded backstory for Koto, going into way more depth than the original ONAs. So sit back kids, its storytime again, because trying to analyse anything properly in this show is nigh on impossible right now.

Where were we then? Ah yes, Koto. Coming from Planetary General Agency Shrine, tasked with looking after the multiverse in some unexplained way, we see her part ways with her master and his black and white spirits as he goes off somewhere, before rolling back the clock a few years. Or do we? She wakes up from the sequence to be further back in time. Foreshadowing? I have no clue. Either way, we get to watch some of Koto’s school life, which mostly seems to involve her beating the crap out of her friends, rivals, teachers and anything else that gets in her way in the name of training for… something. Her master, whom we later find out is her father, the master of the fox (hence why he wears the mask) seems to take a more laid back apporach to raising her, rarely intervening.

She’s not the only special kid around though, they’re several noble families whom are mentioned throughout, and the priests have all taken a liking to her despite her violent tendancies…

We also get a look into her being special from an early age her, as the scientists (looking similar to those from the Mirror Captial) examine her, and the red and blue spirits that adore her, as opposed to the mocking black and white ones from the start.

And then as night falls, good old Kyousougiga remembers it hasn’t messe dwith your mind nearly enough, so we see Koto head off to a locked room in which lies some familar drawings.

I don’t even know how. Koto falls asleep in front of… Koto, and the show again decides to have fun with possible dream sequences as she wakes up, chases a certain black bunny, re-enters that room and finds her dad in the chair, asleep and crying. Before she can help, Koto the bunny gets to him and then seemingly merges with her, ending with her waking up in the chair and kyargh. And don’t even get me started on how they both know of the Mirror Captial which was shown being a creation of drawings in the last episode unless that was also this world but then oh boy here we go.

There’s also a final “present day” segment but its all reused footage, presumably there to fill the final minute or two and try to help the viewer not be completely disorientated. And there you have it, you learn a little more about Koto’s mindset and why she chases the black bunny, and just who her master is, while having many more questions like the objective of Shrine, why all the masked people were shunning her and just what the heck are the Ten Flawless Commandments.

Maybe we’ll find out next week when we focus on Kurama, maybe not. Probably not. Because while this show is still a treat to watch and figure out, the pure distilled essence of the original seems to have dimmed a little with the jump to a more regular format. Its not bad, far from it, the nighttime stuff in this show was brilliant and I couldn’t even tell you why. Its Toei, they’ve had 75 years to hone their craft. But it’d be nice if the show felt like it had a direction, instead of chasing its tail.

Phil on… Kill la Kill (ep 4)

If this was any other show this episode would be considered filler. Last episode left the impression we were in for a fight of the week style show, and here we are this week. The plot of this week’s episode is straight forward, one day each term, all the no-star students have to make it to class on time. Seems simple, when the school siren goes off at 4AM the students have to bypass the various traps that have been laid out, and get to school for homeroom at 8:30AM. If they fail, they’re expelled.

This weeks Pulp Fiction references!

That’s pretty much the whole plot of this episode. Ryūko is without Senketsu (most of) this episode as he’s being cleaned, but Mako’s family (Dad, Brother and…dog) say they’ll take it to here, however whenever they’re near, Ryūko’s pyjama bottoms (that’s what she’s wearing in the meantime) keep getting pulled down, flashing everyone her panties. Naturally.
The only other thing worth mentioning is that we learn that Senketsu appears to have some control over the person who’s wearing him (or at least, he can resist). This is shown towards the end when someone steals him and tries him. The thief however finds they are unable to move, as Senketsu doesn’t wish to harm Ryūko.

Overall it was an enjoyable episode, and as mentioned at the start, if this were another show it’d be considered filler, but for Kill La Kill? Pretty much any other week it seems. There were some humorous gags in there and the level of crazy we’ve come to expect from Kill La Kill. Role on bext week.
This week’s episode was named after the song “とても不幸な朝が来た” meaning “Dawn of a Miserable Morning”.

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Another week done! Don’t forget to buy your memberships if you haven’t already, its just a fiver for a years worth of entertainment! Also join TV & Movies and go to see the new Thor film with them a week on Wednesday because its a Marvel film and we all know how awesome they are. That’s my shameless advertising out the way, so catch y’all next week where we’ll have some more stuff here alongside the usuals, such as the noitaminA shows Samurai Flamenco and Galilei Donna!