Impressions! Summer 2016, Week Two

The season’s in full wing and I’ve got a bit more to follow than usual. Maybe the seasons are getting better. Maybe I’m just broadening my tastes. Whatever’s the reason, there’s a lot to look forward to for months to come!

Orange

Transchronological communication isn’t exactly easy. Naho thinks the letter doesn’t understand her, but she comes to realize she didn’t respect how much wiser her future self is on everything. In another act of humility she swallows her awkwardness and opens up a closer bond with Kakeru. She tries, instead of giving up, like she gave pinch hitting a try last week. Youth is a time for trying. We regret most the things – the people, moreover – we never gave a chance.

All the ‘mother’ jokes for Naho reached a tearful climax for me as Kakeru opened up about his own mother. In trying to keep his smile alive, Naho is also fulfilling his mother’s old role. It’s so easy, getting caught up in our own troubles, to forget that people around us may need love and care far more than our cares or worries need us.

Naho’s an inspirational heroine already, but still conflicted. She wants to overcome the letter, but at the same she’s following its advice. She’s becoming a mother figure to Kakeru, but she’s more headed towards becoming his wife. How will she reconcile these things?

Saiki Kusou no Psi Nan

A sports-anime parody kicks off this week’s shorts. All the ‘epicness’ of Saiki’s classmates is rendered ridiculous next to his epic struggle against not wanting to exert himself at all. It’s brilliantly written irony, interspersed with other jokes that come faster than Tim Vine’s one-liners. The anecdotes about ‘likeability’ portray a rigid standard to social life that we can feel all too familiar with, and continue to present Saiki as a God-like outsider and cynic on all matters of normality.

Then romance is taken apart. The comedy of Saiki’s lover not knowing her thoughts are open to him, and the irony of her inventing narratives when the story we’re watching is all under Saii’s control, was brilliantly controlled. The final short presents how everything in this show is not just about Saiki, but because of him. He makes the unnatural seem natural so that he blends in, but he is also constantly making normal cliches feel abnormal to us, so we can laugh at them.

Saiki continues strong. Funny how I’m more excited to see what this gag anime wil ldo with its cast than I am for Rewrite’s comic efforts.

Mob Psycho 100

Psychadelic visuals? Check. Deadpan-versus-overenthusiastic comedy? Check. Overpowered protagonist with an already developed conflict? Double check.

The sheer energy this adaptation is full of is enough to ride the story to success on its own. But the setup is also amazingly smart. Kageyama doesn’t fit in his world but has powers that ought to let him rule it. Reigen is a failure pretending to be a celebrity. He’s holding back his apprentice to save his own skin. No bullshit self-imposed limitations in this shounen; our hero’s ceiling so far is a dynamic character relationship that already looks fit to break.

The understatement of Mob’s powers and the overstated mockery of Reigen’s salt obsession keep hammering this relationship into the heart of the show. As annoying as Reigen is, his desperation to look cool at Mob’s expense is really relatable, and it helps characterize our hero as the humble powerhouse he needs to be to inspire us throughout the series.

A few ghostly foes spell out the difference in power between these two; I already can’t wait until Reigen’s ruse falls to pieces.

Amaama to Inazuma

We pick up right where we left last week. Kouhei’s already trying to cook, but there’s still a sense of distance between him and Tsumugi. Cooking at Kotori’s however, brings them together. They make up for their weaknesses, and all come down to the level of children, from Kotori’s name in black marker under the table to Kouhei advocating the use of cookie cutters instead of knives.

Koroti may copy Tsumugi’s cute face, and parallel her in many ways, but Kouhei is coming to understand his daughter the most through letting her take the lead. He’s a worrywart, but with the help of Kotori he’s seeing more and more how Tsumugi’s carefree enthusiasm is something that needs to be nurtured. It makes good food, and makes that good food better.

Still, I’m sure Kotori’s relationship with her mother is not quite what it seems.

91 Days

So Fango’s a masochist. Makes a lot of sense. His love of pain is made to look infantile, which feeds into many notes of maturity and the lack of it this week, setting the thematic scene for Bruno’s journey into adulthood through his revenge. The use of prayers and the difference between the Vanetti’s pseudo-holy manner and the Orco’s atheistic lack of grace makes for a thrilling conflict of sinners.

Bruno goes after Fango, and takes the opportunity to take out a more personal target after he fails. But the family of mobsters he’s up against are tougher than he expects. Vanno isn’t all talk; he dodges his own grave, and now Bruno is the one facing his, if he can’t wriggle his way out of this suspicious situation.

Amazed that the revenge is starting so quickly – and failing so quickly too.

Kono Bijutsubu

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This show about an art club has a problem; it’s really good. It proves it this week with a series of well-connected scenes that flesh out Mizuki’s love for Subaru. They’re funny and endearing, and tackling Subaru’s possible ‘lolicon’ side just further reveals that it’s the endearing he loves. But the problem is its cliche faux-lewd comedy. It doesn’t need it. Like KonoSuba didn’t need Darkness moaning about being violated by turn-based combat

Maybe ‘3D girls’ don’t appeal to him because they’re all about such vapid kinds of idealized physical romance like kissing and being held like a princess. The 2D can’t try to hug you or kiss you. What Subaru really likes is distance. Maybe that’s why he’s so deadpan about Mizuki’s pantsu. But these occasional moments still make for ‘comedy’ that takes me out of immersion into Mizuki and into an attempt at voyeurism which I quickly want to shut down.

At least it’ll be a while before the fanservice episode hits our screens.

Rewrite

Not only is our bland, self-important prat of a protagonist a pervert; he thinks he ‘belongs’ somewhere just because he manages to rustle together a harem. Isn’t it nice being the center of attention? And now one of the girls is even validating his perversion, and the emphasis is on that validation. All you get for being a creep is a knock-out punch that just yields laughs. Let’s take molestation lightly! It’s only fiction, after all!

It’s only possible to take Rewrite lightly, but I’m not sure if I’m even comfortable doing that. Without the over-dramatic dream sequence at the start of the last episode and the monologue that ends this week’s, this could be a relaxed, middling slice-of-life paradise with a bonkers fantasy plot you aren’t supposed to take seriously. The bedroom invasions had some genuine comedy this week, and though they often centered perversion, they offered little bits of characterization. The ribbon-girl has a physical form, and is now conscious of how big her role in the ‘plot’ is, given that the most the protagonist has done with her is grope her. And she seems fine with that too.

Some people watch trainwrecks. I might just watch this week by week just to witness a train that can’t even start.

Re:Zero

These arcs have broken Subaru down more and more, but the carnage of the mansion and everything he relates to in this world takes him to the deepest depths of trauma. But even trauma isn’t an escape; the Joker-like madness of Betelgeuse, named after a star associated with warfare and death and rebirth, becomes his escape. His purpose. Subaru’s never had an ultimate antagonist until now, and now he may have a chance to develop into a real hero. It seems he’s been reborn as one.

This was a traumatising twenty-five minutes. These witch cultists have an incredible presence, their leader ridiculous power. But it was the scene of Subaru watching some great beast rise from the mansion, holding onto a girl no longer fanatical like a demon, himself no longer fanatical like a demon, that froze me for the longest. The mystery of how things became so out of control, what the Ordeal is and how Subaru will have any chance of preventing it, has gripped me like no other story has for a while.

Subaru’s insanity really has been too sane. He needs to get crazier if he wants to battle Betelgeuse, and stop this unstoppable abomination from awakening.

Short-Cuts:

  • Bananya. At what point will a ‘customize your own Bananya’ game be released for Android. I want one.

The Drop Zone:

  • Qualidea Code. Just like its easily-destructible enemy, the reasons to care about anyone in this show are Unknown too. Zero conflict in a constant state of conflict. Every time someone throws money at media like this, a kitten with more characterization than Qualidea’s protagonist dies.
  • New Game! Nothing inoffensive, but nothing interesting either. The pacing’s settled down and its too middling for my tastes. The comedy is predictable, the characters already feel like they’re running in circles, and the mileage already feels like it’s been exhausted. I should spend the time I’d use watching this on getting my own job instead.
  • Amanchu. Got nothing against it, and I might binge it some time later. I just don’t see it fitting into my weekly watching this summer.
  • Ozmafia!!. Why did even pick this up.

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

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