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Nov 20

Fall Anime – Week 5

Dude looks like a lady~

Getting ready for those next-gen systems? Seems so weird to think in mere days the Xbox One and Playstation 4 will be upon us, and that 360 I’ve had for 6 odd years will be “last -gen”. But this isn’t Video Games Society, its Anicom, which means its time for another batch of reviews! Y’all know the drill by now, Alexe gifspams Magi, Phil muses on fanservice in Kill la Kill, I make up for lost time in Galilei Donna (no Kyousougiga this week sorry, just not had the time >_<), and Mike watches men beat each other in Hajime no Ippo Rising and then… men in spandex beating each other in Samurai Flamenco. Rest assured that we have your man-beating needs well and truly covered here.

Phil on… Kill la Kill (ep 6)

We start this episode learning some more about ‘The good guys’. Turns out they’re an organisation called ‘Nudist Beach’. That’s about the only answer we get, and Ryūko doesn’t buy the name (though after she leaves we find out it actually is their name…for some reason).

Aside from that we find out Satsuki has had a large shipment of life synchronization thread delivered in preparation for some as of the moment, undisclosed plot. Satsuki herself disappears part way through the episode to see her mother who wants answers regarding Satsuki putting on Junketsu. This causes her to miss a match between Ryūko and Sanageyama (the deva responsible for the sports clubs). We also find out Sanageyama used to be leader of a gang, and fought Satsuki years ago during her conquest of the various schools/gangs which goes as expected. The flashback is done in a rather interesting way, with the whole thing hued red and gives an impression of two samurai duelling (albeit one of them is incredibly hot headed)

The fight between Sanageyama and Ryūko reveals some interesting information, for instance ultima uniforms are able to transform. Sanageyama also has his own special skill called ‘Heaven’s eye’ which basically lets him anticipate any move someone will make by observing the subtle movements they making leading up to that move. When everything seems lost Ryūko comes up with a plan, she cuts part of Senketsu off which then turns into lots of little pieces and covers Sanageyama’s eyes. This allows Ryūko to easily defat Sanageyama. After the fight we see Ryūko taking care of Senketsu and we find out he feels pain and we’re again reminded that Ryūko is the only one that can hear Senketsu.

We cut back to Sanageyama who has a request for the leader of the sowing club. We cut to Satsuki back from her trip and not impressed at the sight of Sanageyama, after hearing about his loss, and refuses to let him take on Ryūko again. He says he has plenty of resolve to fight and shows Satsuki his resolve (though we don’t see anything). The following morning Ryūko is issued another challenge.

The fight starts with them both transforming and Ryūko employs the same tactic as last time, only this time it doesn’t work. A glimpse at Sanageyama’s face (and one flashback later) reveals that he has his eyes sown shut as part of his resolve. He is now using his mind’s eye, which combined with his now heightened senses (that developed overnight?) he has a miraculous ability to perceive things.

The fight is good and employees some clever tricks such as making Sanageyama bigger to make him look more intimidating, using dull colours all around to give the impression that everything is going badly. The music is in keeping with this and we get the serious impression that everything’s going horribly wrong.

So. God. Damn. Pretty.

Before Sanageyama can finish the fight, his uniform “overheats” causing his transformation to stop and Ryūko uses the chance to escape. Sanageyama gets a new uniform with the promise it shouldn’t overheat again and we see him and Satsuki at the end in a mirror of a scene earlier in the episode. The impression Sanageyama gives is that while earlier he felt he could take on the world, whereas now he knows what’s with his power, and he’s very aware of how much more powerful he has become and in just this one short scene we see how much he’s changed and grown as a character.
Overall an interesting episode and shows things are starting to heat up. This week’s episode title / song was ‘Don’t Toy With Me on a Whim’ / “気分次第で責めないで”

Sean on… Galilei Donna (eps 2 and 3)

I’ll admit it, I phoned in my ep 1 review of this last week, mainly because I hadn’t seen the episode in a month, so I rewatched it along with the next two eps for this time so I had a better track on what was happening and how the opening flowed.

With the basic character profiles set in the first episode, these two focus on getting the story rolling. Its only an 11 episode series, afterall. In the second episode, we learn there’s more than just sky pirates who want Galileo’s inheritance, as the police and buisnesses become involved, all making their plays as the little sister (their names are too similar, trust me, this is easier) is forced to charge in in a mini goldfish mecha and save the day.

Afterwards in numero tre, with the somewhat inevitability of all three sisters being on board the goldfish ship finally reached, they each have to come to terms in their own way with living in a world that’s against them, and we all learn how ultimately their bloodline has unfortuantely left them in the middle of a raging energy war.

So its perfectly fine to kill kids, death just “happened” to them.

Yep, those random scenes of sky pirates attacking some arctic Eden Project at the start of episode one weren’t just for show. Adnimoon, the leading energy resource provider, want to keep their monoploy by any means necessary, using sky pirates to obliterate their competition and reign supreme, while chasing after the alternate energy source supposedly discovered by Galielo, the Galielo Tesoro. Yep, its all a big quest for a mcguffin, and the various drawn mcguffins that lead to it.

Plot aside, this show does seem to be taking some interesting developments with the characters. Alongsidethe random Galileo fangirl who’s now with them and is our main source of information on what’s going on early on and provides a little uneasiness in the ship as no-ones used to her presence, you have the sisters plight, with the middle one going through a breakdown as her lovely teenage world falls apart around her and watching on as her other sisters shine, and there’s also some interesting playoffs between Adnimoon and the sky pirates, some of whom are sick of being toys for the corporation.

You’d never guess she’s the angsty character

Its not all amazing though. Besides the sterotypical “shower walk in” scene, there’s also the fact that apparently money does buy everything, with Adnimoon getting a 13 year old girl wanted nationally, buying out an entire local police station (including bringing RPGs into the building), and their own mechs. There’s also a lovely part where after said RPG-using psycho has our sisters trapped, he proceedes to politely wait while they have a domestic, and the other question of how the lil programmed an AI that’s smarter than her. Oh, and the first mcguffin’s clue was in plain site and yet somehow are genius youngster never noticed it. Whatever.

Oh gee I wonder if this thing could be a clue

But despite those niggles its still interesting to watch, and I look foward not only to seeing how the sisters quest for the Tesoro unfolds, but also whether the parents side of the story is expanded upon. The show’s certainly setup to lead them by the wasteside, but a few of the things that happen to them make me think otherwise.

Oh, and if I didn’t say it before, Synchromanica? Amazing opening song, I’m off to listen to the full version now, so… next!

Mike on… Hajime no Ippo Rising (eps 4 and 5)

Ok, what?!

First and foremost I want to make it clear that these episodes were great and better than that they were funny, incredibly funny. So I don’t want anyone to believe that I disliked these episodes. Having said that, what the hell did I just watch?!

So last week’s episodes had us looking toward the next bout, with us learning more about the supporting characters and showing the recovery period of our main protagonist Ippo. This week’s showed more build-up to the bout in question bout, then the majority of the bout itself and let’s just say that in spite of me being able to describe it that simply, I have no idea what transpired here. While Ippo’s fight from the previous match-arc was very serious, very powerful and very nerve-racking; this fight (that starred the show’s main comic relief) was in a word, hilarious. In both instances, I was still left with a familiar feeling to this show of not quite knowing how the fight will conclude, however it was for vastly different reasons.

This show once again proved to me that it can do humour incredibly well, by integrating the comic relief’s character seamlessly into his boxing style with highly amusing results. Simply put, it’s weird, very weird, like hits you in the face with how weird it is as the animators prove what a budget can look like if you pile it all on to one character’s movements for a single episode. To even attempt describe it would be insufficient and I would recommend these episodes to anyone just to check out how bizarre it is at times. I am completely serious.

Ultimately, like any sports anime, the matchups come down to a battle of paradigms and while this was apparent in the first bout, it is far more obvious to the casual viewer here as the two combatants represent opposite ends of the scale from one another, however still manage to mirror each other exactly. One is driven by a devotion to the sport; the other is driven by devotion to the woman he loves. One is driven by the glory of winning; the other is driven by the level of challenge. What I’m trying to say is that each fighter is evenly matched, making for an interesting bout yes, but frankly expected at this point. What’s interesting is that by the looks of things, the underdog is winning this one (at the time of writing this, the fight has not yet concluded), however try as I might, my suspension of disbelief won’t let me believe they would go to a “to be continued” if it were that simple. Having said that though, this show has continued to surprise me again and again, so to say that anything is still possible at this point would be somewhat of an understatement as I still have genuinely no idea who will emerge victorious from this one.

Everything about this show seems to have been crafted for maximum effect and I believe the intro is the best example of this. While the visuals are just your standard anime montage (and I have no idea what the actual words are since my version doesn’t have them subbed), the music and the singing voices is definitely worth noting. It may not be as adrenaline filled or as fist-pumping as some other anime currently on the market, but I believe that this works to its benefit, as rather than going for something angry or powerful, it attempts a more inspirational approach. This is far more effective than the more obvious options that a sports anime would go for and just goes to further prove that this show can do a lot more with the same old tired formulas we see these days, especially out of this genre.

If you’ve read this far down the page you’ve probably noticed by now that I like this show, I like it a lot and not just for the seemingly obvious reasons. Usually a show with this little plot deters me, however I find myself not only caring about these characters (both the protagonists and antagonists), but the show as a whole is constantly surprising me, never goes for the obvious hooks and to this day remains an all-around enjoyable experience.

Alexe on… Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (ep 7)

So after last week I can promise this review will probably be a lot shorter.

Anyway episode 7 begins with the group, now minus Hakuryuu eating together in a tavern. Morgiana still trying to come to terms with what happened between her and Hakuryuu is eventually
coerced into eating some food by Alibaba and eventually gets her spirit back as the group enjoy the evening frivolities.

As they walk back to wherever it is they’re staying Alibaba suggests that they make one last stop, however he insists that Morgiana does not go with them. He explains the situation to Aladdin and the two of them abandon Morgiana to discuss things ‘man to man’ (and Alibaba demonstrates the amazing ability to stretch his limb, you think he would have used that before).

As it turns out they abandoned Morgiana so they could check out the towns red light district and visit a brothel. Unbeknownst to them Morgiana follows them, becomes angry at Alibaba’s frivolity and storms off back to their hotel (I guess) without Alibaba or Aladdin any the wiser. She does however leave a small crater in the ground outside the brothel.

Inside the brothel Alibaba and Aladdin enjoy their time surrounded by beautiful women. Alibaba requests their most popular woman and we are introduced to Magaretha.

Beautiful isn’t she? Alibaba was quite stunned by her.

Alibaba being the butt monkey of the series never gets old.

The next morning the group go their separate ways, Aladdin flies off on his flying turban and Alibaba departs by ship. Before he goes he gives Morgiana a spare household vessel in case the bracelets on her arms ever break.

As Aladdin flies towards Magnostadd he lands near a group of caravans as using the flying turban requires him to use lots of magoi which leaves him tired and hungry.

The driver of the caravan allows him to ride with one of his passengers when Aladdin presents him with a sack of money but only on the condition that he does not disturb the important passenger.

As Aladdin travels in the caravan he remembers Yamraiha’s advice to keep his identity as a Magi as secret from the mages of Magonostadd as they would probably perform horrific experiments on him if they found out.

Aladdin tries to introduce himself to his fellow passangers but the caravan is brought to a stop by murderous bandits. The mercenaries travelling alongside the caravan attempt to defeat them but they are defeated by the bandits magical tools. Aladdin himself wonders why magical tools, which are considered rare, seem to be making their way into the hands of people such as pirates and bandits. He goes to fight the bandits when suddenly the caravan is cut in half from the inside.

From out of the caravan a boy with long pink hair carrying a large sword appears, he berates the bandits for throwing off the mood of his journey and asks if they’re ok with the death penalty.

He then proceeds to murder almost every bandit, whilst laughing maniacally with a huge smile on his face.


As it turns out his large sword is also a metal vessel with the ability to grow larger, a feature he appears to have some trouble with at first but this turns out to be act and he splits the ground beneath the remaining bandits feet.

It turns out that the boy is a prince of the Kou Empire Kouha Ren, after the fight Aladdin gets to know him but tries to stay on guard because he is the prince of an enemy empire.

However after the travelling montage it does seem like they become good friends (Kouha’s even braiding his hair by the end of the journey).

After nine days of travel they finally reach Magonostadd, Kouha bids Aladdin farewell and good luck before leaving him.

Aladdin goes to where mages have to go to get into the academy and performs the entrance check (the use of borg/bolg) thanks to the magical tool Yamraiha gave him he is able to enter the academy
without suspicion.

Meanwhile the dean of Magonostadd Academy Mogmett meets with Kouha Ren.

And there ends the episode. Next week the Magonostadd arc finally begins.

Mike on… Samurai Flamenco (eps 2 and 3)

(DISCLAIMER: It is very obvious in reading this review that I have not learned the character’s names. This is not a reflection on writing or characters, I just haven’t got around to remembering any of them yet).

At the point of writing this, this show appears to be somewhat of an anomaly for me as I do kind of like it, but I’m still finding it hard to pinpoint exactly what I like about it. It’s strange, but not off-putting; it’s slow but doesn’t seem to drag on. It seems to exist in its own little world, ignoring all outside influences, but willingly accepts that outside issues exist. It has such a bombastic, superhero-fuelled opening, yet once it gets going it quietens ALL the way down. What I’m trying to say is that the grip one is supposed to have on this show is somewhat of an enigma; however this seems to form up into a strangely compelling concept and interesting execution.

Episodes two and three appear to form into a sort of mini-arc. I use the term “sort of” because I feel like this show “sort of” defies plot structure as stuff just seems to happen. At first, we seem to get further insight to our model protagonist’s motivations for donning the costume and becoming the Samurai Flamenco character. Again, I find myself using the qualifier “we seem” because the motivations discussed seem both somewhat ridiculous AND entirely keeping within character. Simply put, one time someone stole his umbrella and because that is such a minor and commonplace crime in japan, it went unnoticed … this lead him to his life devotion to crime fighting.

If you feel like the “that escalated quickly” meme would be appropriate here, then I would tell you to slow down, stop googling and read the rest of the review because it’s not applicable. This is the kind of show that knows it doesn’t have much by way of backstory, so it attempts to drag it out as much as possible by only one detail at a time. Last week it was childhood obsession, this week it was a missing umbrella. If this show has any real points in its favour, it can say it has my attention now, purely based on me having no idea what it will come out with next.

Now I know that our lord and blogmaster Sean completely hates it when I do this, but I have to once again break out the comparison to past media. As the arc continues, it displays yet more similarities to the film “Kick-Ass”. While before it was somewhat subtle and based on plot framing, this time it seems way more blatant. with the hero persona beginning to rise in popularity through (get this …) Samurai Flamenco stopping a crime in a public area and getting caught on camera, which then goes viral. These comparisons continue into the later part of the arc whereby it appears that these videos are starting to inspire OTHERS to action too. This isn’t even and understated comparison and makes me genuinely wonder if the writers are actually TRYING to rip the plot of “Kick-Ass” off.

If I had one major criticism of this mini-arc, it was that the second protagonist (the police officer) gets somewhat pushed to the side as we focus solely on the development of the model. There’s nothing really WRONG with this, however the character does seem somewhat pushed to the side and only there as a wall to bounce exposition off of throughout the entire arc. This is a shame because I found his utter bewilderment and concern for the model’s safety actually quite amusing and I’m sad that it may be gone already. Having said that though, all-in-all I actually liked these episodes more than its first-episode counterpart and can find very little else to ACTUALLY fault it with.

I still maintain that this show will not be to everyone’s taste, however I will also maintain that I believe that everyone should watch at least this far to decide that for themselves.

——

And so another week draws to a close. If you want a cartoon fix instead of anime anime anime, give Reaf’s article on Korra S2 a read (although I should say he’s had by far the most negative reaction to it out of peeps I know watching it), and I’ll endeavour to make sure this goes live in a more prompt fashion next week instead of slipping further back. >_>