This Week: Kill la Kill, Nagi No Asukara, Miss Monochrome, Coppelion, Monogatari Series: Second Season, Non Non Biyori, Gingitsune: Messenger of the Fox Gods, and Gundam Build Fighters.
The problem with deciding to write about currently airing shows this season is I found myself convinced into picking up three more, even if they won’t all be week to week affairs (that’s what I like to tell myself).
Monogatari finished an arc, so I actually get to talk about that. Pupa is still missing. But otherwise, all things being equal, while this will be long I think I have a solid foundation for these posts for the rest of the season.
Kill la Kill (Episode 2)
If the first episode was slamming the pedal to the floorboards, I found this one to be more akin to a power slide. Which is not to say it is going out of control or off the track, far from it. Rather, it is moving in for where it wants to go and using its early aggression as a means of building more strength and improving its position.
We get to meet Mako’s family, we see more of the homeroom teacher (boy howdy do we), we are given more of the mechanisms behind Senketsu and see some of the heart of goku uniform production. All of this will be important, these are Things We Will Be Making Use Of, please read the in-flight safety guide and remember to apply your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
I appreciate how Senketsu is cogent enough to give explicit timers. He knows the limits of how much blood he is draining, and I can rest assured that the show should now not pull random “…And then Ryūko randomly ran out of blood fuel and passed out in the middle of the fight” escapades for a Dramatic Defeat in a Big Fight going forwards. Senketsu does not say Ryūko can not fight, but a two minute warning is a two minute warning. And I am sure those timers will be tested in the future. And I am certain they will be thrilling. And now genuinely dramatic should she lose.
I have seen reports the third episode has already been screened to a select group of folks in a Japanese theater and they are absolutely sworn to secrecy on the content. The word that has gotten out is that we are at Season Finale levels of material, and it is only episode three. Good golly that is what I wanted from this production; put me squarely in the Retro Old Person Club if you want (I don’t mind, look at the username I keep), but Studio Trigger Is Here For The Cartoons I Remember.
Nagi No Asukara (Episode 2)
I said last time I hoped the fish knee was going to be a consistent character.
Then the fish knee swam away this week, complete with a cheeky little “See ya!” line.
Manaka covers up where the fish knee used to be and lying about it still being there, hoping for another curse.
Meanwhile, we learn more of the mythology and the backstory that makes up this world, and things which had been hinted at previously are already starting to bubble up. People are getting into internal emotional knots over wanting things to always be the same as they are now, to stay in the sea or leave for the surface. Akari’s personal romantic situation was not only brought up, but given a degree of direct address already in the commotion at the temple. Hikari gets systematically told off. This is all great to see. I could practically hear the little wind up gears on this toy get turned, and at some point it will get to do… whatever it does when it lets itself go. We shall cross that bridge when we get to it, but at the moment I have a steadier faith in this show than I did last week.
Tsumugu will need more dialogue. I am certain that will happen of course, as he is a prominent male romantic lead, but at the moment he has fairly robotic efficiency. But given that he does not seem like one to emote much, he is going to need a lot of words words words to get me to see where he is coming from.
Civil enough guy, otherwise. Is interested in how the fish knee is doing.
Miss Monochrome (Episode 3)
This series continues to amuse me in its short form little dry humor.
Ru-chan the Roomba returns (and gets to turn into an Iron Idol suit), somewhere off-screen some school children had a really oddball Meet An Idol day, and Monochrome gets to experience the power of premium batteries.
I do not think this series would work the same were it a longer full length show. The shorter three to four minute duration makes it more keenly timed for the delivery it needs, and more notably it restricts the ability for the sheen to wear off. It stays punchy. It is essentially a single weekly sketch bit. With some economic subtext.
No more, no less. Monochromatic. It clearly enjoys being that, which I appreciate.
Coppelion (Episode 3)
Of the shows I am following, this is the one I dread the most each week. I watch it more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. I think I’ll be able to make an interesting discussion out of it and nuclear fallout by the end.
That said though, the writing in this show irks me. Statements like “Are they also a death row inmate like you?” are the sort of blunt expository dialogue that isn’t so much weaving me into the world as it is just telling me things. While stylistically there are swell ways and reasons for repeating a word or phase multiple time for effect, there is only so many times you can get away with saying “Monster Crow” in the span of a few minutes when referring to a stealth bomber without sounding really bothersome. And I don’t think that is a translation issue, as the consistency of how much such things are occurring is that this is a structural condition of the show itself. Which is a shame, as it clearly wants to have Highly Drama Scenes, but it doesn’t have the characterization and scripting to really get me invested in what’s going on. It’s just set pieces being executed. The show itself feels like an awkward puppet show. Which, despite the thematic links to Coppélia, I don’t think was the point.
Monogatari Series: Second Season (Episodes 12, 13, 14, and 15)
“And thus the story comes full circle. Welcome back. Did you have fun?”
It’s like the series knows I only watch it in full arc bursts, and now that the Nadeko Medusa line is complete I get to rip into it. When I was summarizing my thoughts on this season a few weeks previous, I mentioned that I really enjoyed how the mechanical aspects were being played around with compared to what the series had done before. It’s been experimenting and doing new things. And in Sengoku’s case, she had what I and many others considered to be the weakest series of episodes in the original set of Bakemonogatari arcs.
How fitting then, that she gets what I have found to be the strongest series of episodes in Second Season. We spend so much time with her, someone who we never really got to see a whole lot of previously. We get more insight on how she thinks, operates, her pressures and stresses. We lose our time with her as well, given the storyline. And we see her get to perform one of, if not the, largest subversion in the series so far. Hanekawa’s arc was virtually scrubbed of Araragi, Hachikuji was herself practically missing from her own arc, and Sengoku gets to kick the ever loving stuffing out of Araragi and Shinobu. They do not get to win. They do get to be repeatedly stabbed, infected with venom, and bleed all over the temple field. And left there. And that’s The End. They have well and truly lost to an apparition and to Sengoku, far more than Black Hanekawa’s shenanigans or Kanbaru’s arm ever caused. For so long the quiet one and below the surface, she has ascended beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, to full on Final Boss status complete with a post credits showdown movie trailer. And I don’t even care if that last part was done tongue firmly in cheek.
Something I really have never fully gotten into when it comes to this series though is everyone’s unbridled and continuous acquiescence towards Senjōgahara. Sometimes it makes sense to me, other times it doesn’t as much, and this was a time where I was leaning more on the second footing. I get why her threats work in cases like talking down Kanbaru or Araragi, or her manner of speaking intimidating the hell out of the softer and mannered Hanekawa. Senjōgahara – Sengoku is a different vector though. While her request to delay killing because as a borderline god Sengoku now has all the time in the world is reasonable on its own, but Senjōgahara’s deux ex machina style desires popping in and folks just going along with it is really starting to rustle my suspension of disbelief. Which I really hope it is something the series aims to tear down whenever her time comes around.
Non Non Biyori (Episode 1 and 2)
I have seen it described by some that this is the kind of slice of life Girls Doing Things show maybe one would enjoy if they were an elderly retired lady.
Well slap me upside the head and call me grandma, because I am enjoying the pace of this and it works especially great when played next to Gingitsune. The scenery is lovely, deliberately timed jokes like Renge calling out the tanuki and trying to make it do a trick are endearing, and it is an all around nice break in my week. This is the kind of show that can get mileage out of just making an entire episode about the one lone rural community candy store and it doesn’t feel out of place or stretched. It’s rural in a very keen going nowhere fast style, and for now that’s all it needs to do.
I appreciate how Suguru, the one lone male in the five student school, was completely obstructed in the first episode before giving him a proper name and face in the second. Hotaru’s “Sempai noticed me!” feelings towards Komari are endearing enough, and that the second episode ends with her making a full blown Komari plushie is… interesting. Maybe it wants to go somewhere with those ideas, or maybe it just wants the sight gag. I dunno. It could go either way. I can’t imagine actual romance (this is a Girls Doing Things show, the figurine buyers wouldn’t stand for it), but I imagine there’s room for a thunderstorm night where Hotaru can’t get to sleep and chats with the plushie, or a sleepover where it turns up somehow.
Gingitsune: Messenger of the Fox Gods (Episode 1 and 2)
Sometimes I feel I overuse descriptors like “mechanics” or “mechanically interesting” and whatnot when saying why I like something. But I think there is something to be said about making good use of toolbox tested equipment to craft a trusty piece of work, be it either in classic execution or using old things in new ways. Gingitsune I feel falls into the former category, and it has a big old fluffy nest to curl up in.
By having Makoto consistently head off to school and leave the shrine, to have this mundane environment given the same weight and attention, it breaks the show up and allows the mystical elements to retain their strength. Gintaro is a big fella, but one would not want him to be in every frame. He would become too normal, and his magic would be lost.
A show like this needs to retain a certain sense of mystical whimsy and heart, or it just would not function well at all. The otherworldly would become bland. And I feel Gingitsune is managing this very well at the moment in its quiet admirations, standard modern high school problems, and Gintaro’s gruff exterior hiding his squishy orange loving heart. You just want to pull everyone in and give them a “Come here you big lug” style hug.
Gundam Build Fighters (Episode 1 and 2)
This series takes the childhood idea of getting to kick faces in and do awesome stuff with your robot toys and makes that its central tenant along with a heaping dollop of Do Your Best and The Power of Friendship. That’s fine, that’s all it needs to be. Stick with that plan. It amuses me in a more classic Saturday morning cartoon fashion. I might let it build up a few back episodes at a time though.
I do like how it is primed to be able to showcase multiple units from entirely different eras against one another, and be almost a little history lesson or general celebration of Gundam as a whole outside of Turn A Gundam. We’ll get to probably see old classic mobile suits run up against each other in a sort of Dream Match environment. There is more than enough design material to work with given the strength and age of the franchise, so, it should be pretty well set on that front.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.