Impressions: Winter 2016, Week Six

Had some technical hitches for the last few days, so again: this is a Monday thing. Mondays just don’t like me enough yet to allow it.

In other news, I’ve somehow managed to get out of my WordPress cave and write for my student newspaper. Check out my article on why Japan has a lot to answer for!

Myriad Colours Phantom World

Seems only weak-willed girls are allowed fantastic episodes for character development.

Again trapped inside an imaginary world, we see so much more interplay between psychology and illusion, between a character and how they characterise their self and situation. Again, in this space, every physical and magical action on Kurumi is a sign of a far more important struggle going on in her head. She needed to find the confidence to fight her own battles, regardless of having a giant bear to fight them for her.

It’s a great little narrative. Parodying magical girls at the end, Kurumi gives us an explosive battle that fits the emotional intensity of her triumph, not some daft boob-groping like we’ve seen from sporty-thing-with-breasts (still not calling her a girl).

Fighting with your greatest weapon, and not behind it, is always the way forward. Now she won’t hide behind the group either, and can stand as one of them, and as one of our integral cast.

Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu

At least it was aware it was pooping out a great big turd of a trope. But following that awareness, this episode could have done a lot more to take advantage of challenging and parodying fan-service tropes. Instead they were a fitting but nevertheless predictable backdrop to some of our club’s development.

The most unwelcome cliche was Yuuka’s overreaction to Bunta’s neglect of her, but perhaps that’s the point. It’s hard to get interested about the tear that had opened in the club since it’s such an overdone conflict for an anime relationship, but it feels like Kuroda’s drawing of Yuuka and Bunta into this world of bishoujo games is drawing their friendship into it too, and putting them through dynamics normal friends or lovers would never have to go to.

It’s melodramatic, because they’re writing melodrama. They now have beach trips with emphasis on their tits because they’re living in a world where everyone has beach trips with emphasis on their tits.The fan-service felt uninspired, but it ends up serving as a conflict for our club rather than an aspect of rest.

What happens if Bunta goes any deeper into this world? Will Yuuka follow him when she starts to do voice acting, or will she reject this ‘wasteland’ for what they had before? Criticisms of Bunta not lacking anything at the start are beginning to be compliments to the show’s emphasis on how much he’s losing by putting his all into this project.

Will it all be worth it in the end?

GATE: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri

Itami’s suspended; may GATE never be. I won’t hesitate, however, to give the show its commendations.

Lelei’s quest for the rank of master is one we can immediately root for. Her sister is less enthusiastic, but we can sympathise with her situation just as much. Some critic is surely criticising her introduction of being an info-dump of her troubles; but that’s what she’s forced to do, given that Lelei has never even mentioned she has family before. She’s shoved out of Lelei’s life, Lelei’s dreams, and the narrative as a whole. A great use of structure as storytelling.

Meanwhile, with the dragon dead, we can shift more focus to the narrative that’s been building bit-by-bit in the background; everyone’s desires for power, glory or revenge are bubbling to the surface. Viewing every party neutrally in the politics, as GATE allows you to, makes further conflict and bloodshed seem the greatest enemy. Blood has already been spilled in the palace once to beat down arrogance; now, at the height of the peace talks, both parties must find a way for it not to be spilled again, until they find the arrogant bunny responsible.

How will these two stories clash? What consequences will explode from the poisoning? Starting a new arc can be tricky, but GATE has me hooked.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi

Satoru’s words to Airi as he was taken away might have seemed a little cliche, but they were immensely fitting. I’m glad I trust Airi too, because we can’t really trust anyone else. Watching Boku Machi makes you feel like a fugitive, on the run from the plot’s unstoppable power to turn the tables and stun you to the core.

The theme of responsibility also deepens. Satoru’s thoughts on how much the world is paying for his mission, and how that comes alive in his manga, clash brilliantly with Airi’s understanding of the subjectivity of perspective; an understanding that mirrors our own, as the adult-child dynamic and lack of ‘truth’ available to the authorities points us to the limits of human experience.

On that note, Satoru paralleling Yuuki and drawing the viewer’s attention to the injustice of the onlooker’s whispering is another step on Boku Machi’s road to challenging conventions of adult-child relationships in manga and anime – perhaps in Japan in general. It’s too easy to see non-parental closeness between maturity and immaturity as a warning sign, as the crowd does, but we know Satoru only means well. The existence of paedophiles and child-murderers is given another dreadful consequence; the extent to which our society punishes innocent adult-child relationships in fear.

Now, how are we ever going to catch a killer almost literally on the side of the law?

Short-Cuts:

  • Ojisan to Marshmallow. Wakabayashi’s brother is a great comic character right off the bat. Also, no weird poorly-recorded cooking show!
  • Ooyasan wa Shishunki! Chie may have extremes of maturity and youth, but she’s only recently getting adapted to the middle-ground, her school years. Who knew a nightmarish bento could make so much progress?

On the Catch-up List:

  • Durarara!!x2 Ketsu. STILL. HAVEN’T. FINISHED. TENNNNNNNNNN.
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Still meaning to try it out, still yet to have the time to get up to speed.

Current theme music: Vanic x Zella Day – High

 

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