Weekly Roundup – 2014/03/08

Shows discussed: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren; Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha; Kill la Kill; Mikakunin de Shinkoukei; Noragami; Sakura Trick; Space Dandy.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 09

You're not really chuunibyou'd if you don't have a mecha.

You’re not really chuunibyou’d if you don’t have an imaginary mecha.

I’m under increasingly strong impression that everyone but Rikka, Yuuta and Shichimiya are little more than background. I think it’s incredible how static they are – I’ve lost faith in possibility of Deko, Nibutani, or, and it’s been hopeless for a long time, Kumin or Makoto, being developed in an actually meaningful way.

Chuunibyou Ren wants to show that building a real relationship is not easy. Notice the resemblance to a harem genre trope – sole guy among girls. But instead of usual galore of comedy and fanservice, the whole thing is turned on its head – the relationship between our hero and heroine is emphasized to such a point that everything else is reduced to being just a decoration and occasional laugh.

I’d understand if there were no side arcs, no filler episodes, no distractions from the main story. There, however, has been plenty of those – and in light of the paragraph above, what value do they have? Minimal, I’m sad to say. If, in a series that bases on plot and character progression, events of side arcs are disregarded as soon as next week, there’s no way that they can build into something meaningful.

Alright, back to the actual episode.

Chuunibyou Ren 09

Rikka wants to be both Yuuta’s lover and chuunibyou companion – it’s alright, that’s the series is about – finding your own kind of love. Yuuta tries to explain to Touka (yesss, Touka’s back!) what he loves about Rikka. The explanation is not precise though – is it Rikka’s ability to see the world in a creative way? Does he love her because of her chuunibyou?

Chuunibyou is a defense mechanism. An escapism thing. In the first season, Rikka clung to it to cope with the death of her father. Then resumed to live half-way in fantasy world, because not doing so is outside her comfort zone. Have I got it wrong? I thought that the second season is about fighting with that very comfort zone. That’s what Rikka’s relationship with Yuuta is all about, that’s what we see as viewers – Rikka becomes more and more self-reliant, she slowly loses the need to resolve to chuunibyou.

But, if we were to continue the assumption of the first paragraph, overcoming her chuunibyou would mean for Rikka to lose value in Yuuta’s eyes. Therefore, she decides to be both his girlfriend and his companion, with a plan to reactivate Yuuta’s chuunibyou once again…

It’s sad. Was all that development for nothing? And I can’t say I approve with the message.

If we try to see it from her point of view, she has every right to bring Dark Flame Master back to life. Yuuta’s standing is that it’s embarassing to live in a fantasy world. For Rikka, however, it’s become natural; an augmentation of an everyday life. It’s understandable that she wants for her boyfriend to experience it in the same way.

In that light Shichimiya’s reason for dumping Yuuta’s in the first place becomes clear. For some reason, she could not live in both of these worlds – the concept of clear distinguishment of being able to be in a relationship  or being able to live in fantasy is hers. She couldn’t be with him, because that would mean, she thought, that Yuuta would lose a part of his life she valued so much, and she couldn’t bear the idea. Now she sees what she’s lost.

I don’t know though. Chuunibyou‘s logic is sometimes beyond me.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha – 08

Inari, Konkon, Koi iroha

Ooooh, Touka is more than just a angst-filled meat bag. Not a real surprise, though; it’s high time he got something more going on. Sadly, the whole episode failed to deliver something more than predictable romance advancement and rather naive events of Inari’s impersonation of Uka.

With the exception of introducing Inari’s god-dad, Susanoo, of course. Space-dandier.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha 08

Kill la Kill – 21

Kill la Kill 21

Oh, it’s been sooo good. So damn good. It’s been one of the most intense eps I’ve seen in a long, long time. All I can hope for is that it won’t stop, and will somehow, miraculously, keep awesomeness until the end.

I love how, even though there has been plenty of dialogues, it was all wrapped around action, either fighting or unusual screenplay.

I love who has Satsuki become at this point. Or rather, how we see her character; how she shines in a different light.

And I love the comedy, self-mocking, and narrative craziness.

Kill la Kill 21

A true hero! (ノ゚0゚)ノ~

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei (Engaged to the Unidentified) – 09

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei 09

Not quite boring yet, but they’re pushing it. The whole misunderstandings thing has been going for a long time now, and it’s not getting fresh as it is growing repetitive, and due to sheer amount, overwhelming. However, at the end of the episode things start to clear up, romantic side of the plot takes the steering wheel, and it’s definitely a good change. About time.

However, I’ve got some mixed feelings about this. The romantic development is just as naive as it can possibly be; no, it’s even more than that. Kobeni actually falling for the guy feels like a bad joke going on for too long. Meh, it’s shallow like most of the genre.

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei 09

Plot twist! She’s been a hidden tsundere all along!

Noragami – 09

Noragami 09

Yeah, it’s one of the best episodes this show had to offer…

…because this whole Yukine shit is over. Not only. But mainly.

It’s not just the kid who has issues. It’s the series in general. Instead of developing into a good-paced action show, which it clearly aspired to be, the enemies/nemeses are either paper-thin (phantoms) or not even used to their full potential (Bishamon). Perhaps it’s too early to judge, there is a new arc with new bad guy incoming.

Instead, we got a show of an angsty dude portrayed in an unbelievable, unrelatable way, and his selfish acts/arc pushed everything else aside. Alright, it’s a cool idea – opting for more psychological take in an action-themed universe, but hot damn, I hate how it was executed.

This whole Yukine arc could have been condensed to a few good episodes, instead of going around for more than a damn month. I don’t get it. There’s so much potential in this universe, why, oh why, can’t we see some of that?

Sakura Trick – 09

Sakura Trick 09

I don’t like how Haruka fuels Mitsugi’s feelings. I think it’s still going on just to be the basis for jokes, because that is just silly, but it’s become quite tiresome… Girl, even Shizuku embraced her feelings, when will you stop that self-doubting and ‘what am I thinking?’ nonsense? I know, that’s how she does things. But come on, I’d like to see something new. Now she has three months to make some magic happen.

And yes, a breath of fresh air! There’s an extra story, focusing on Yuzu and Kaede. Didn’t really push anything, but felt relaxingly different.

Sakura Trick 09

Certain areas of her body are apparently anti-gratvitational.

Space Dandy – 09

Space Dandy 09

I had written a rather negative opinion, but after seeing this, I’ve decided to scrap it, rewatch the episode, and write again to give it some justice.

Art style (Dandy’s and Nyan’s style as well, it feels somewhat weird) has changed upon the arrival on a new planet. The audio switched to gimmicky, alien bleeps. These have been, in retrospection, a clear hint stating: This is something new. This is not your usual Space Dandy. Don’t expect it to be.

And we need that foreword, that explanation, to try to enjoy this episode to its fullest.

What we are immersed this week is obviously not story, which has been reduced to a mere pretext for the episode; it’s not the characters; it’s the mood. The visuals and audio. Yes, they’re out of ordinary and quite special, but… I don’t think they’re not good enough to make up for lack of pretty much everything else.

They’re supposingly stylized after the 60’/70′ aesthetics, the era of the hippie movement, or at least that’s what the mid-episode break wants me to believe. In result, they’re colorful, contrastive, but I’m overwhelmed by all that, there’s just too much perception noise! What’s really tricky is the realization that there wasn’t really a scene with a lush color palette. They were kept simple, but it was the palette themselves that changed from view to view, in the same scene, and at times it just felt messy and random, not well designed.

It’s funny though, because I did not particularly appreciate the episode on its simplest, WYSIWYG level. It wasn’t that interesting. It did, however, show some value when I started to look at the little details in how is the show constructed. There were little gimmicks here and there (like grayscaling-out Dandy in the Code D lair, etc.) I’ve found interesting.

Note: change of tone of the episode resulted in puzzlement, and when I changed my mindset to a more serious one – because that’s how I thought I should approach this episode – the occasional jokes came out rather pitiful.

That’s the issue with episodic series. One week they work, another they don’t; it’s unpredictable and unforeseeable. But at the end of they day, I’m still looking forward for the next week.

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3 comments

  1. How can you criticize Noragami for paper-thin villains and bad pacing and then gush over Kill la Kill? I think you might’ve mixed the two up…

    1. The way I see it is: KLK somehow manages to build a great show with very clearly defined, cartoonesque cast, and it is these characteristics that make they seem flat; What it does, however, is that it delves into their motivations, very deeply placed in their psyche, and that’s why it works. Besides, the show does a great job in many aspects, unlike (subjectively, of course) Noragami.
      Noragami relies much more on the supposed depth of its characters. That’s why I have an issue with this show – all that stuff that has been going with Yukine took so much time, and I think unnecessarily, that all these other personas introduced besides the main trio are left nearly unattended. The show introduced a certain number of clearly diverse and interesting characters, and then did not use them to full potential.

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