Impressions: Winter 2016, Week Four

So this a Monday thing now.

Realised I was only managing to cover Ooyasan wa Shishunki! each week because I was posting late – it airs on Sunday…

GATE: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri

Somehow the magic of GATE has made me take warrior bunnies seriously.

The plot at work with them is, however, getting a little confusing. But it’s an intrigue within the show, so I can’t complain about being about to connect to the victims of deception by feeling out of the loop myself.

Feels like so many parts are moving together so succinctly, like a modern, well-oiled military machine, albeit with the chaos of fantasy making nothing certain or safe. It looked like the first fight left us with death; we still can’t be sure if either combatant will join the story again. The first-person effect in that scene was exhilerating.

The issue of Tuka’s illusion also came to a head satisfyingly quickly. It’s always worrying when a new season invokes a new character dynamic and, while you like it, you’re worried it’ll stick for too long and become ‘the thing’ for these 12/13 episodes. Nope – GATE moves fast, like a well-oiled military machine.

Did I use that analogy already? Well, I like it.

Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu

A great run-down of the many basic – ‘tutorial’ – issues a beginning artist faces. What to do in a slump? How to not work too hard? How to manage multiple commitments? How to get inspiration? What to use inspiration for?

Andou’s reduction into the cast rather than sticking out of it was welcome. Her obsessiveness works well in the flow of the plot, but not when its centred on her.

Myriad Colours Phantom World

That’s right, it’s got its real name back. Hard to admit it, but this episode was a stand-out success.

Take away all the gimmicks – all the silly, boob-massaging powers – and remember that KyoAni is in charge of bringing these characters to life; take out all the fanservice, even, and we get something that shines. Finally our characters enter and solve problems because of their characters. 

Last episode’s ending led into a more complex struggle for belonging than last week’s review anticipated, tying in Reina’s domestic situation with her school life and showing how one affects the view of the other, giving way to some fantastic emotional engagement. Her problems with her parents were enhanced by how we only saw them through seeing their opposite in the bunnies; comfortable, endearing and strongly centred around the theme of family.

The pastel art style for the dreams was innovative and made for a convincing expression of childish illusion, and another window into how Reina’s mind works. For once the art and the plot (not ‘plot’, mind) connected rather than give off the feeling that one was severely disappointed with the other.

Ruru’s still as annoying and useless as ever, though. She gets all the lines that state the obvious and only affects the plot in stupid ways. Maybe she’s as meddling as the other Phantoms but there’s no comedy to help us swallow the sickly character design. Still can’t stand the mockery of intellectualism that she also brings.

A pleasant surprise this week. More like this. There’s plenty of time to keep delving into the cast’s deeper personalities, and hopefully this was just a taste of what’s to follow.

Ojisan to Marshmallow

Wait, wasn’t this a romance?

A little fleshing-out of Hige’s marshmallow obsession was a good idea, but its delivery brought little comedy. The factory-workers’ conversation ended the short on a rather unexciting note. We need Wakabayashi to make this work; it’s their relationship and use of the premise, not the premise alone, that we come to see.

I’m still scared of the cooking show at the end, even if they’re now featuring in the anime too as factory workers.

Ooyasan wa Shishunki!

A slight sense of re-using old premises, but it’s still as fun and fluffy as ever, like our hero’s futon. Interesting to see some jealousy developing in Reiko too.

Also recently discovered the skill of watching one of these shorts while I microwave something for dinner. Feels clever.

Divine Gate

One show this week ditched its fanservice and offered a compelling story; Divine Gate, this week, ditched a lot of its strong suits and didn’t have much to replace them with.

The plot is getting more and more scattered, but not in a way that grips. That and the number of similar-looking members of the Arian Race got me confused at a number of points. No wonder everyone thinks Aoto is the murderer – Aoto looks like everyone. That is, except for the other distinctly-coloured members of the core cast. Their personalities are starting to show shallowness though. Red-hair is angry; Green-hair is calm. Hoping those two get more development, else they’ll get stale quickly, and Midori is a real charm for the show. The focus on Aoto is starting to get unrewarding.

The mystery of ‘Blue Christmas’ was introduced but given no suspense – no time for suspense – before an ’emotional’ reveal-all flashback that failed to pack any punch. Could anyone buy the moment between dying father and weeping son in the mall? Whoever did those key frames probably wasn’t buying it from the start either. The scene itself was cliche, but the characters were almost expressionless. Dolls of memory, rather than the living pictures a flashback ought to treat us to. Midori’s flashback was way better.

Even the big fight scene didn’t feel that great, with a random robot coming in and the poetic narrator saying some state-the-obvious stuff that was, for the first time for me, completely in the way of what I was enjoying. I’ve been nice to you, Mr Poetic Overtones. Don’t get cocky.

But after all that, the reveal right at end killed the questions the episode had been propagating – they were a better hook than the most basic option that the killer is his brother. That’s the obvious we want to avoid, or at least complicate.

It was also strange to hear none of Aoto’s subconscious. Makes it feel less like a running thing, which harms the continuity of his character. He had plenty of moments this week when the setting should have gone all gleamy so a pre-pubescent sadist could grind his emotional gears. Maybe his addiction to the Facebook of Divine Gate is driving him away from his inner self?

Nah. It just felt all over the place this week. The 3D animation is starting to look shit too.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi

A beautiful conflict of continuity versus change runs rife right until the end, permeating all the rising happiness with the knowledge that things might not be different after all. You can never control the future on your own.

A face-off between the mothers was well overdue, and further reminds us how important it is to save Satoru’s mother and her amazing lips. Kayo’s developing domestic situation, behind closed doors, felt exciting to half-witness. I felt in Satoru’s shoes, feeling that things are getting better but in ways that one can never truly see. Such is the nature of trying to change the future – forces are always at work behind the plot you’re familiar with.

The conflict of voices also continued, with Satoru accidentally saying even more dumb stuff out loud, making for a fantastic character flaw. Perhaps Satoru wouldn’t make all the progress he does without it; is it his subconscious telling him to stop holding back, stop being a ‘fake’, and be upfront with the girl he wants to share his future with?

Seeing more interaction with the girl Satoru made cry last week suggest she may play a more important role in the future. Her character is incredibly likeable despite having behaved like an asshat and cried like a baby. She breeds intrigue. On the other hand, with Kayo getting more and more endearing by the end, the tiny note of her absence at the end, like the tiny note the class would be given before carrying on with school, was all the more painful to be left with.

Simply spectacular so far.

On the Catch-up List:

  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Meaning to try it out, yet to have the time to add another show to my watch list.

What did you think about everything this week? Disagree with any of the above? Have your say in the comments below!

Current theme music: Shawn Wasabi + YDG – Burnt Rice (feat. YUNG GEMMY)


4 thoughts on “Impressions: Winter 2016, Week Four”

    1. It doesn’t look to be in the style of most modern anime either, like Boku Machi. Abnormal art is often a sign for innovative storytelling success, though never a prerequisite.


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