Impressions! Spring 2016, Week Nine

Like my performance on my last mock exam, some of this week’s offerings took a rapidly downward turn. Lots of good surprises too, though!

Re:Zero

I see some people complaining that Subaru’s relationship with these kids was never fleshed out, that it gets dumped on us for the sake of this week’s plot. Nonsense. It’s a vital aspect of his character, developed every week, that he cares about everyone unconditionally. His whole character and life is about dying in order to save someone else’s skin. All he did was spin a narrative so that Rem would believe he cares about them. He already cared enough about them to save them when he met them the first time.

Moving into the forest makes for some amazing tension; moving into the Witch’s territory gets us to see rem’s demonic side, and we’ll probably have Subaru reveal more about his witchy side too. I love how Re:Zero’s action never feels one-sided; Subaru handles the single dog in epic style, but even Rem’s awesome mace skills can’t handle the dogs for long. There’s a real sense of struggle in the fighting; the characters feel like the mortal flesh they should be. It’s realism within a fantasy realm, and it pays dividends for all the drama.

The plot remains mysterious and has me hooked. And there so much more of this show to come!

Boku no Hero Academia

Iida gets the spotlight this week, and all the hints we’ve had of him so far make the development really engaging. He has a proud heritage but is always so humble – contrast that to Bakugo, who wants to be No. 1 and grew up leading his friends – did he have any authority figures over him, like Iida always had with the heroes he grew up under?

A message is growing, of how important it is to have icons and not to make one of yourself. Have other people do that once you’re doing the right thing. Self-righteousness is the defeat of every righteous work. The emphasis on how easily some powers can destroy lives – how much easier it is to do that than using them to save people – only exacerbates my worry that Bakugo isn’t heading down the path of a hero.

And with the arrival of the villains, my focus is on him; will he fight with the rest, or have to fight the feeling that he belongs more on the enemy’s side?

Kiznaiver

I’ve never before felt such a u-turn in quality at the midpoint of a show.

Until now I’ve had a blast playing around with the subtle relationships blooming in the cast. Now, the show’s shady corporation has bluntly drawn the lines between them themselves – literally. The relationships are sidelined for the greater sake of Sonozaki and Katsuhira’s… whatever it is they have going on. There’s a conflict here between audience expectations and the reality of the show, but it feels so crudely wrought.

I was never ‘shipping’ anyone; all I wanted was to be in charge of thinking about the relationships myself. Any good story lets you connect the dots. I’ve liked the developments between our two white-haired blank-faced weirdos, but having them happen at the cost of everything else? Choosing to spell everything else out so clearly? Breaking drama we want to see apart when Kiznaivers are all about such subtle connections? What a mess. What an absolute mess.

Katsuhira getting side-tracked from Chidori’s confession (which didn’t even feel natural itself), and Sonozaki’s trajectory towards their location, was falsely epic in every sense of the term (holy moly those out-of-character corny-as-fudge facial expressions). I felt completely disengaged, robbed of what I’d been invested in and told that the real story is not at all where the show has been pointing at the whole time before.

Get your shit together, Kiznaiver. This episode sucked.

Flying Witch

More of the cafe, and more of a look into the beautiful service provided there. Kei’s fear of ghosts doesn’t seem to bother him, and meeting with all these magical figures, he’s appreciating that he’s far from normal now. Whereas Chinatsu feared a strange figure of nature visiting her house early in the series, she’s now eagerly bounding over to another.

Akane’s vignette was a great laugh too; a great example of how the flashiest magic she performs still has a great sense of stillness and subtlety to it, like the whole show. It gives a destination to what she’s been busying herself with while everyone else has been at the cafe.

I swear what the fox says in this episode is incorrect, though. Ylvis has shown us what sound a fox really makes.

Netoge

Last week could have been, drawn out a bit more, the climax to the whole show. And it feels like it was. This episode only gives us the girls goofing around and far, far too much fanservice. Our only real development is everyone getting more worried about Ako’s delusions: that she figures she’s married to Rusian IRL because he wouldn’t cheat on her IRL if they’re married in-game.

We can really tell that it’s Rusian that makes these characters tick. It’s what’s made him such an effective Harem MC. Without him, all the constant references to ‘Rusian could sort this out’ and ‘if only Rusian was here’ are starting to make me really uncomfortable with his character. An episode without Rusian should go to prove that these girls have some autonomy. Now the show feels more like a harem in all the wrong ways. The White Knight complex has been stretched too far.

Hopefully we’ll have no more overly-voyeuristic bath scenes. Such an extended look at naked bodies acting in ways to coincidentally emphasize their nudity doesn’t even work well as pornography; it feels so fake. It feels so wrong to be watching it when these girls get so worked up about Ako letting Rusian see them all bathing. So very, very wrong.

Kabaneri

It’s all quickly coming out into the open. Mumei was a science project. Biba is an asshat. The show wasn’t too subtle in pointing these expectations out, but it fulfills them in ways I didn’t expect it to. I said Mumei would get dragged away from Ikoma’s ideal of making her more human once she was with her ‘brother’ again, but I didn’t except how rough Biba’s use of her would feel, and how insecure she would be when carrying out his wishes.

It gives us, and Ikoma, hope that we can turn Biba’s figurative train of intention around, or derail it completely, even though the Koutetsujou is now tethered to it, its cast figuratively tethered to Biba’s wishes now as well. Biba’s brutality marks him as worse than the Kabane he defends people from; he only wants to use the strength of the living dead in order to further crush the weak. Eugenics at its finest. Hello Hitler-With-Awesome-Hair.

He’s even done his own Night of the Long Knives in slaughtering so many political figures. Maybe the Nazism comparisons are what the show itself is calling for.

Short-Cuts

  • Space Patrol Luluco. Our heroine doesn’t fit in wherever she goes for help, but it’s how people reach out for each other that matters – even if they use them as missiles.

That’s all for this week. See you next time!

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One thought on “Impressions! Spring 2016, Week Nine”

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