November 24, 2013
Episode 83 of Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai) was enjoyable, and not just because it showed animation of sea turtles crying. I generally have a problem with any series that lasts this long. In my opinion, long series allow the story to meander and the production team succumbs to the temptation of adding pointless filler. Space Brothers is an example of this phenomenon, and I have considered dropping it more than once. The pace seems to drag, as concepts that don’t deserve entire episodes are given precisely that. Also “Mr. Hibbito”, might have been a cute idea, or a fun aside, or even useful for an episode or two, but it is really just filler and thus should stop.
All that having been said, there was something quite well done in this episode. The main premise was the effects of having told Mutta and Kenji that they are competing against each other for a single position on a moon mission. Kenji becomes cold (and hates himself for it). Mutta’s inferiority complex almost leads him to give up. All the while a side character was raving about sea turtles this and sea turtles that. The more sea turtles were discussed (sea turtles cry; sea turtles can’t breathe underwater; sea turtles are graceful; the sight of a sea turtle is considered good fortune; …), the more the viewer is lead to believe that an event with a sea turtle will be pivotal in leading the astronaut candidates out of their gloom. And yet that doesn’t happen.
What does happen is that a school of barracuda enter the area where Mutta and the others are constructing a mock moon base. We have been set up for a close encounter with a sea creature of some sort, but instead of a beautiful, empathic creature, it is scary and certainly dangerous. I wouldn’t say that the scene with the barracuda was everything one might want it to be, but with all of the build up, it is easy to see how it would be a transformative experience.
Obviously I do like this show, even when I can see it’s faults. At 89 episodes I’ve watched more Space Bros than I have other long-running series (Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Prince of Tennis), which I typically drop at about episode 50. I do wish the production team would do a better job at picking specific dramatic moments to develop, rather than handling EVERY hesitation, EVERY fear, EVERY question with the same approach of dragging it out so that it takes up a whole episode. This show would be much better if they trimmed the fat. There is a lot of good stuff underneath it, nevertheless.
October 21, 2013
Hello everybody. I have been taking a break from blogging, but not from anime! In the past I used to try to write a post for every interesting series upon having seen the first three episodes as a “taste test”. The last of the “first three” have just aired, or are about to do so.
Having seen the first three episodes of many shows this season, I conclude that the one I enjoy seeing the most one quarter of the way into Fall 2013 is Kyoukai no Kanata, a series about a meganeko blood mage, and the boy who loves her.
Kyoto Animation has done their usual spectacular job of animating the series — everything looks great, and this time there are actual fantasy action scenes (sword fights, yeah!) that get the KyoAni treatment, but they also throw in some amazing animations of small things, such as Ayaka’s hands while she was tracing out the occult circle. Remarks from around the blogosphere are mostly positive, including surprise that we already are pulling out a serious battle this early.
Other shows that I have enjoyed so far include:
- Kyousougiga — This show is great fun, and I really like the way the mythology is mixed with almost a Sci-Fi feel.
- Log Horizon – This show is holding up better than I thought it would. The story is starting to develop, and I think they are managing to build up tension without using the same — you die if you lose trope that has been used plenty already.
- Yowamushi Pedal — so far this one looks better than Ace of Diamond, the other sports-themed anime this season, but I often lose interest in these shounen sports shows, which have a tendency to go on far too long.
- Yozakura Quartet Hana no Uta – I went into this without having seen previous entries and find it pretty entertaining so far.
- Golden Time — I wouldn’t say this is one of the better shows I am watching, but the third episode certainly went in an unexpected direction.
I hope the rest of you are enjoying the Autumn as much as I am!
And thus season 2 of Chihayafuru comes to a close. This episode went very differently than I had anticipated. There little time was spent on reflections upon Mizusawa’s victories. Instead a lot of time was devoted to Chihaya’s injury, which turns out to be a serious condition requiring an operation and hospitalization. There was also some unexpected romantic development. In perhaps the most surprising development, however, Chihaya and Taichi get invited to the Fujisaki training camp by Coach Sakarazawa.
There is no doubt in my mind that the producers want to deliver a third season. They left things just as Taichi and Chihaya were about to enter the Fujisaki training camp. It is like saying, “the story doesn’t end here!” I was desperate, at the end of the first season, for a second season announcement, and couldn’t believe my good fortune when it came. Am I pushing my luck to ask for a third season now?
Bonus Service: Chihaya Ayase
June 22, 2013
With episode 24 of Chihayafuru season 2, the national high school tournament is almost over. I think I understand now why they wanted to pace this season as they did. The one thing we have left to find out is how Tsutomu “Desk-kun” Komano did in his match. It wasn’t quite a sweep, but Mizusawa High did quite well in the individul matches, taking first place in at least two, and possibly three ranks outs of four. If there are 25 episodes planned the final episode can be dedicated to the reveal of Tsutomu’s outcome and an emotional closing ceremony.
The first season ended with Chihaya’s regret that they would spend the next year as losers. This time we end the season with them having taken the national championship as a team, as well as several of the individual titles. In addition, we have some nice rank advancement, as was discussed briefly at the beginning of this episode.
We also have some cool things to look forward to if any more Chihayafuru seasons (or movies) get a green light. There is the upcoming Meijin tournament (probably best tackled as a season unto itself) as well as the promise of Arata moving to Tokyo.
Episode 23 of Chihayafuru season 2 splits the attention between two very important games. In the A-kyu tournament, two of the most important people in the world of Karuta are facing off for the title. In the B-kyu tournament, Taichi is ready to face down his final opponent … until Chihaya appears ring-side. Taichi instantly loses his cool, and struggles to end the match early, because he wants to release Chihaya.
Taichi’s desire is to support Chihaya, and let her watch the game transpring between Arata Wataya and the the Queen, Shinobu Wakamiya. His good intentions cause him to play recklessly, however, and then he loses confidence in his own ability to win against an opponent that Chihaya barely beat a few episodes back.
The episode had interesting perspectives on Karuta strategy (in both Shinobu and Taichi’s case, a decision was made to focus on winning certain cards, instead of over-committing in the face of a powerful opponent). There was also a surprising insight into the world behind the scenes, as Kanade Oe realizes that the reader for the B-kyu tournament is being graded for a position as a certified reader. Nevertheless, in true Chihayafuru style, the story comes back to the human and emotional elements in the end.
Chihaya and Taichi’s relationship in this episode is a little like the story of the Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Chihaya wants to be there to support Taichi in his bid for A class ranking, and Taichi wants to support Chihaya by getting her out of there and back to the battle between Shinobu and Arata. Each of their gifts diminish the meaning behind the gift the other person gives.
We only have a couple of episodes left. I’m going to be so sorry when this show is over!
June 9, 2013
It is time once again to look ahead to the upcoming anime season, to pick some shows to discuss, and to predict a show that will beat them all. As usual, I warn you, the reader, that this is my personal selection of shows that look interesting, and I have by no means included everything that is supposed to be airing (some 35 shows)! If you want to see a more comprehensive account of the upcoming season, check out a preview by some other folks such as Psgels, the Star-crossed Anime Blogger.
The shows included in the post are:
- Tamayura ~ more aggressive ~
- Gin no Saji (“Silver Spoon”)
- Rozen Maiden
- Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (“On Sunday, God Abandoned the World”)
Now that you know what to expect, let’s anime!
June 9, 2013
Space Brothers episode 61 covers Hibito’s return to Earth. I was very happy to see that instead of an entire arc dedicated to Hibito’s return from space, the series dealt with it in one sitting. By this point we were already familiar with the various possible problems, and the emotional backdrop to the events, but I was a little worried that the show would continue with its typical pacing. By handling the events of several days in a single episode, they managed to cover a lot of ground, and capture the tension and excitement. The result was a particularly good episode in contrast to some of the episode in this series that have dragged on too long.