Weekly Round-up – Xanatos Gambits, More Ham, and the Importance of Silence

You know what? I really don’t have much to say about some of these shows week to week, and they’re just taking away space for me to talk about the more interesting ones. So consider My Teenage RomCom SNAFU, Red Data Girl, Muromi-san on the Shore and The Devil is a Part-Timer! dropped for the purpose of these Round-ups. With the exception of Red Data Girl (so, so boring) I will still be watching these shows, so I may write about them some weeks if there’s something I want to say, but for the most part I won’t be writing on them.

Alright, enough meta-blogging.

Oreimo S2 8

There’s no way I’d stop writing about this train-wreck.

I love a good Xanatos Gambit as much as the next guy, but it just feels a bit silly and melodramatic when applied to drama. Of course, this is assuming that’s what this week’s cliffhanger, if you could call it that, is leading into. I guess it could just be Gotou having terrible self-confidence, which would be pretty funny in its own way, but somehow I doubt it.

If this were a standard RomCom where Kirino was a haramette, rather than the protagonist’s sister, I’d assume this was all some convoluted ploy to make the protagonist realise his feelings for Kirino and thus push him down the “true” route. Ok, now I’m kinda hoping Oreimo is going that way anyway, that would be a whole other bag of hilariously bad.

Who knows though, every character in Oreimo is a big bag of contradictions and incomprehensible motivations.

The Eotena Onslaught 8

Violence against Eoten children, Shingeki says YES

Please tell me everyone else saw that end of episode twist coming, too, the hair was too similar to be a coincidence. That aside, I come to The Eotena Onslaught for two things, mainly, some nice looking animated action, and a nice dose of grimdark oppression. Unfortunately these two points of enjoyment tend to work against each other since a one-sided battle doesn’t make for very interesting action viewing, but giving the humans too much of a chance eases off the oppressive atmosphere. I’d like to talk about the grimdark aspect a little, particularly in relation to one of my few anime-related guilty pleasures, Gantz.

Mild Gantz spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk. Seriously though, in the scale of the entire manga, these are pretty tiny spoilers.

I call Gantz a guilty pleasure because despite enjoying it, there’s a whole heap wrong with it to the point where I think you’d be perfectly justified avoiding it altogether. I stick with it, though, because it satisfies and certain fictional itch that I’m yet to see another anime or manga scratch so well. Gantz is easily at its best when everything is balls to the wall terrible. Characters are dying indiscriminately and in horrific ways, some of which we’ve spent some time with and have maybe even come to like, every glimmer of hope is thoroughly crushed and horrible methods are used to (barely) escape horrible situations. There’s something bizarrely cathartic about reading something so thoroughly oppressive, I guess it makes the small victories achieved shine all the brighter.

Unfortunately, Gantz seriously undermines the looming, erratic threat it presents by introducing the possibility of resurrection within the context of the bizarre game in which the characters are trapped. The permanence of death removed, everything becomes a lot harder to take seriously. The relevance of all this to The Eotena Onslaught it that I feel this latest plot point, wherein it is revealed Eren can turn into a Eoten, seriously undermines the sense of threat that has pervaded this series up till now in much the same way as Gantz’ resurrection plot point did for its own series. It provides an easy out for any dangerous situation. Gantz redeemed itself somewhat by luring the audience into a false sense of security with the meaninglessness of death, then yanking away the resurrection lifeline when the stakes are at their very highest, and I’m not saying The Eotena Onslaught won’t also find ways to keep the threat level high, but in my book anything that cheapens death is a step in a bad direction.

Valvrave the Liberator 7

Valvrave is all about chewin’ the scenery

This week’s episode was largely filler, so I don’t have a whole heap to say about it. Wouldn’t you know it, letting a wanted criminal just wander around freely actually comes back to bite the galaxy’s youngest independent state, and we get more homoerotic undertones between Haruko and ERRRUUUUEERRRRUUUUFFFFUUUU!!! (L-Elf). A side character is killed off unceremoniously but they are probably gonna be vampirised and become a Valvrave pilot. We also get a small glimpse into whatever hilariously push-button back-story L-Elf has no doubt been assigned.

As long as the camp keeps up, so will my enjoyment.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet 8

Just look at all these characters I don’t give a toss about.

I have more issues with this week’s episode than I can poke a stick at, so let’s just jump straight to the main one. I don’t care about these characters. I care a little about Ledo and Amy, but no-one else has been given enough time or characterisation for me to really give a damn about them. This week tried to give Ridget some much needed characterisation, but it did so while simultaneously taking her through what feels like her main character arc, or at least a bit part of it. The overarching message was trite and uninspired, but all that is secondary to Gargantia’s prime failure of not engaging me with Ridget as a character before trying to take her through her arc.

Let’s not forget, this is a person that was sold to us as a sexual object in that awful beach episode long before there was any attempt to sell her to us as a character, this is how little respect the production team has for the characters, so why the hell should I have any respect for them? Maybe they were hoping that flashing some cleavage and embarrassed blushing at us would be enough for us to engage with her. Fortunately, being English, and therefore utterly repulsed by the slightest sexual urge of myself and everybody around me, I am immune to any callous attempts to touch my heart through my wrinkly undercarriage1.

The Flowers of Evil 8

The same scenery has a different feel now.

The six minutes of relative silence at the beginning of this episode was an interesting choice, as much as I’m sure it’ll piss many people off. There are a bunch of noteworthy things about it, and Shinmaru over at The Cart Driver gives an interesting interpretation of it as a slow re-entry into reality, of sorts.

I certainly wouldn’t contest this interpretation, but I’d like to add a few things. Firstly, it’s not exactly silence we’re getting, we have some dull, muted, drawn-out tones that fill the scene till Kasuga and Nakamura part ways, and at this point the background music cuts out and we start to hear some miscellaneous morning sounds, birds chirping etc. There are two main, and somewhat contradictory elements I feel this scene is conveying. The first is isolation, which, considering what Nakamura and Kasuga just did, is hardly surprising. Whether or not Nakamura really cares is one thing, but the consequences of his actions are no doubt slowly dawning on Kasuga as he walks home with Nakamura, which ties into Shinmaru’s point about the scene being a slow re-entry into reality.

Interestingly, I think the other main facet the scene conveys is that of a mutual connection. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we don’t hear morning sounds till after Kasuga and Nakamura part ways. This is their own little world, and just for a little while they are the only two people in it, holding hands, everything else is just dull, homogeneous background noise.

After Kasuga goes home, he sets out for school and we get a repeat of the opening, though with different audio. Besides the obvious points, like the slow building crescendo that mirrors Kasuga’s own building anxiety, something I found particularly noticeable about the scene was that the same background felt different than when we saw it in the opening, and I imagine it feels different to Kasuga, too. It’s the same town, yet it’s instilling dread and anxiety instead of tedium and boredom. After all, what we see is as much determined by the lens through which we view it as what it is we’re looking at, and without an objective lens, what we perceive is forever a mixture of the two.

1 : Line taken from the wonderful Yahtzee

About alsozara

This entry was posted in 2013, Muromi-san on the Shore, My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected, Oreimo S2, Red Data Girl, Spring, The Devil is a Part-Timer, The Eotena Onslaught, The Flowers of Evil, Valvrave the Liberator and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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