This week: Flashbacks, sickening patriarchal undertones, more abuse of poor ol’ Darwin and I still can’t decide whether or not Valvrave is a parody. Enjoy!
What’s more, I’m now doing a video version so you can enjoy my flowing verse read out to you personally in my Shakespearean tones. Being serious, for a moment, the video version is pretty rough at the moment (I have no experience with video blogging or video editing, and am not really much of a youtuber in general), so any constructive criticism would be much appreciated.
Red Data Girl 6
It was hard competition between that screen shot and any number of the ones I took of the various pieces of sickening rubbish this episode spewed regarding gender roles. I know this is meant to be a bit antiquated with all the kickbacks to old Japan, so characters having these views is fine, but I just don’t detect the slightest bit of disapproval from the way these scenes are directed. What the characters feel and what messages a show is propagating are not necessarily the same, but it feels like they correlate here.
That aside my predicted pattern of even numbered episodes being interesting is a least halfway contradicted by episode 6. As usual the supernatural parts were the most intriguing, and the cliffhanger at the end of the episode looks like it might lead to some interesting developments. Also, it was kind of fun to see Protag get drunk, the girl needs something to chill her out.
The Devil is a Part-Timer! 6
Ok, so there’s some remnant plot stuff happening in the background, but for the most part this series really does seem to have just gotten its drama out of the way in one short, quick burst. Not sure whether this is the way the original light novel did it or if this is just the adaptation staff trying to change things for the better. Either way, I wish we could have just skipped it altogether. Urushihara is a fun new addition to the current character chemistry, and I kind of like the idea of this show keeping it fresh by gradually adding characters that contribute different things to the comedy dynamic, but really he wasn’t worth the shitty episodes we went through to add him to the roster. It would have been much better had they played off his whole introduction for laughs and just stayed away from anything serious.
That said, this show is mostly back to form, and it’s definitely growing on me. It’s still not laugh-out-loud funny, but episodes like this are pretty consistently amusing. So, yeah, stick to this stuff, DPT, and you may even be a stand-out of the season.
Oreimo S2 6
Oof, this show. It was always problematic, but this episode was possibly even worse than episode 4’s loli fanservice pander-fest. It’s a bit late, Oreimo, to start pretending this is genuinely about fraternal duty and non-incestuous sibling relationships. Then there’s the horrible patriarchal undertones this episode had, where Kyousuke being an over-protective dick was played off as correct, and caring for his sister.
This show being out-right offensive aside, it just isn’t very fun to watch a bunch of emotionally retarded people fumble about with each other in the most indirect ways possible. Kirino and Kyousuke never just talk, or say what they’re feeling, and it is infuriating. Their whole relationship works around Kirino intentionally or unintentionally giving Kyousuke hurdles he has to jump to earn her approval and it’s all a little sick. Oh, and more hints that Saori is into Kyousuke as well.
So, the question is, are harem antics what this show really needs right now? I wouldn’t say so, they don’t even resemble two barrels to the back of the head.
Muromi-san on the Shore 6
This show still has moments of absurd comic genius, but they’re a little too few and far between, even for these half-length episodes. I couldn’t really say I recommend it, but if you want an amusing show to fill 15 minutes of your time, you could do a hell of a lot worse that this.
The Eotena Onslaught 6
I’m not gonna say that episode wasn’t good, but man, this show could benefit from a little subtlety. Little kids murdering slave traders is more than a little unbelievable, and that’s without one of them gripping a knife so hard as to break the hilt and stomping the floor hard enough to smash through the floorboards. I actually had to rewatch that scene to make sure I wasn’t tripping, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I kinda feel I wasn’t supposed to be laughing at that point.
The same goes for Mikasa’s badassery. It’s cool to see a competent female character in one of these action shows, but her effectiveness against the Eotena is seriously diminishing how threatening they are, and it feels a little incongruous with how inefficient Eren’s entire squad was despite being quite skilled and competent, as far as we’d been shown.
Don’t get me wrong, lots of it is great. The animation of the Eotena is visceral, smooth and all round great. The soundtrack is fantastic. The underlying story is confronting in a lot of the right ways, but it’s that old problem that the better something is, the more glaring its flaws are. We should also never forget that nothing is above criticism, so I think it’s worth pointing out the flaws, no matter how good a show.
My Youth RomCom SNAFU 6
We have the same problem here as we do with Oreimo, and light novels in general I guess. It just isn’t entertaining watching problems that could be really easily solved be fumbled by a bunch of really inept, emotionally retarded teenagers. Like The Devil is a Part-Timer, My Teenage RomCom SNAFU seems determined to just do its drama early and get it over with. That said, I’m sure there’s plenty of angsty backstory still to be had from Yukinoshita, at least.
So yeah, this was a pretty bog standard cliche episode. We had a mock date, contrived a few reasons for Yukinoshita to momentarily go dere on Protag, had a “touching” reunion, then set everything back to the status quo. We also had more attempts at being deep with all the silly ending things and starting over tripe towards the end of the ep. It’s not like I really expect more at this point, but you’ve got some fun elements, show, don’t bury then too deep.
Valvrave the Liberator 5
This week, watch as I go further insane continuing to try to work out whether or not Valvrave is taking the piss. If it’s not, that certainly leads to some very unfortunate implications. It says not only that an entire development team can happily rip off every popular anime trope they can in as cold and calculating a manner as possible, but that they’re happy to splice this with some of the most poisonous gender portrayal I’ve seen in a long time, along with some of the most blatant and jarring fanservice to ever insult our collective intelligence. So yeah, fingers crossed Valvrave wants us feel this way, because if not, this is coming across less as an anime, and more as an argument for the selective culling of portions of humanity.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet 6
Just as this week’s ep started to make me feel like Gargantia was getting back on track, BAM, female protags dancing erotically around with skimpy clothing. Otou-san puts it well:
Seriously, experiencing lust can and should be an important aspect of the humanising therapy Ledo has been undergoing on the Gargantia fleet. I really want to defend some of these scenes thus, but I just don’t see it. I don’t see it being used to draw anything out of Ledo’s character, but even if it was this is too much. It’s a real shame, too, because Gargantia is exactly the sort of slice-of-life I could get into, but these really dumb, exploitative, superfluous elements just keep booting me right back out of the experience.
The rest of the episode was pretty good, if a little meandering. The whole introduction of Ledo to non-military employment has been a drawn out a little unnecessarily, to the point where I don’t really feel like we covered much new ground. Just experiencing life on the Gargantia fleet is so enjoyable I don’t mind overlooking the slightly off pacing. The cliffhanger at the end of this episode is interesting and I’m quite looking forward to where they’re gonna go with this.
The Flowers of Evil 6
It’s really hard for me to judge just how good this is, in a way, because while I objectively admire the direction, and as a fan of the original manga, love the story and characters, knowing exactly what’s going to happen week-to-week definitely takes the edge off. I think it does show that the story relies on the shock factor, perhaps a little too much. It’s not that there isn’t more to it than that, it’s quite a deep narrative, thematically, but assuming one was paying attention and pondering it all, there isn’t anything so cryptic or confusing that anything much is gained by a rewatch. It’s the same reason Madoka doesn’t stand up that well to a rewatch.
The blame can’t all be put on the original story, either. For someone willing to radically change the art style, and who outright claimed there was no point in doing an adaptation if it was going to be a carbon copy of the original, Nagahama Hiroshi hasn’t really made any radical changes to the story itself. The first episode was seriously different in how it was presented, but since then it’s felt like a blow-by-blow retread of the manga, as well as I can remember it (I read it pretty darn recently). What’s more, while the camera angles and direction is pretty great, it hasn’t been vary varied. There were a whole heap of lingering shots of the city in the first episode that really conveyed a lot, but I haven’t noticed the direction trying to be as visually expressive since. It still is, but I feel it could go quite a bit further.
Me, levelling criticisms at The Flowers of Evil? Novel, I know. Really though, there are very small complaints in the face of what is still what I consider to be far-and-away the best series of the year thus far. What’s more, being up-to-date on the manga, I can tell you things are going to go to whole other levels of screwed-up, and it will be a glorious ride all the way down the rabbit hole.