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.
Many folks I know ascribe to the notion of a “three episode rule” when it comes to selecting what to keep and drop around this time of the season. The productions have had some time to stretch their legs, jog a few laps, and we get an idea of who may or may not be making the varsity team.
Much like many fantasy sports groups though, I don’t use such trap doors to get myself off of a sinking ship, so none of these shows I am following will be traded away regardless of how enjoyable or terrible they are proving to be.
Kill La Kill (Episode 3)
I would say the advance reports from the Japanese theater that had a showing of this episode prior to release about it containing season finale levels of tomfoolery were completely on target. Ryuuko gets a proper up and tumble showdown with Big Boss Satsuki, transformations are had and new powers are unlocked. The kind of work, say, a standard giant robot action series drops when it wants to have a big finish to close one season before coming back to continue the story. Except in this case we are at episode three and are just trucking along.
Certainly the over the top representations of fanservice continue on, but think of that wording, as this is much of what we are working with here: representations of ideas on how people are viewed by others, how they view themselves, and how we in turn view the both of them. Satsuki, in her bombastic speeches in the throes of combat, explicitly talks about the values of the masses regarding the female body and what it means to her. The way the generic student body is shown swooning over her are juxtaposed against the animalistic drooling folks have regarding the more embarrassed Ryuuko, and so on and so forth.
We’re in a global entertainment culture where things like roleplaying games will routinely stoically show the highest level female character equipment massively undressing the characters to no emotional effect. We have two separate instances of wedding dresses being addressed, via Satsuki’s Junketsu uniform she utterly dominates and Ryuuko prominently staring at one in a daze during the Sukeban Deka referencing credits. These ideas on clothing representation are a topic the series wants to breech on a direct mechanical level.
If I am being perfectly honest, I think something very bad is ahead for Ryuuko. By the end of the episode we have her face stylistically taking on the appearance of Senketsu himself with the shadowing and she is practically spitting venom as opposed to the more heroically oriented statements she had made near end of episode fights previously. Something will probably blow up in her face as body image lessons are really tough, and she may very well take a potentially quite wrong one for a time as she interacts with the thematic ideas the show wants to deal in. I have a nagging sense Satsuki’s relationship to Junketsu will backfire on her as well.
Nagi No Asukara (Episode 3)
Introduce and execute. Pitch then sell. Hint, reveal.
I have no idea what is going on inside of P.A. Works at the moment, but between Uchōten Kazoku doing so critically well for me last season and then what this series has been doing with its keen respect for mechanics, I think we need to confront the possibility their staff has been abducted by mermaids, tanuki, and other creatures. And I am OK with this should the material continue to hold up.
We receive pretty much exactly what we needed at the correct time we really needed it: more focus on Hikari’s interactions and introspections so he isn’t just a one note jerk, quiet time between several characters, showing elements of the older fisherman’s back story and Tsumugu’s family history via a singular silent move taking mere seconds in the sunset, and the guy we saw Akari with wasn’t just brought up as a vague concept of an individual but rather directly in two separate scenes approaching him in different ways.
And Manaka reveals the continuing adventures of the fish knee were a lie all along!
So that isn’t even going to hang around long than necessary for purpose. Each episode of this series has continuously allayed my fears of just how wrong all of this could have gone in respect to being Crying Moeblob Mermaids: The Show. If anything, it is moving at an editing and narrative pace that would normally suggest a much shorter one season show, but it is scheduled for twenty six episodes. So we have a lot more ground to cover before we are through, and ideally it doesn’t stall out.
Miss Monochrome (Episode 4)
An episode all about Nendoroids, and what it means to have one made of you.
From a minutes of show to screenshots I take perspective, nothing really comes close to Miss Monochrome as it deadpans it way through its economic humor commentary.
The idea of her Nendoroid itself becoming more popular than her is a supremely interesting topic. There are more than three hundred of those things at this point, and given the way they are often talked about and referred to one would pretty much be forgiven were they to think the mere act of Nendoroid collecting was more important than the actual characters represented by them.
Her display figure toy sold out, and yet she herself has not achieved what she seeks in popularity or the level of personal interaction one would think she would be able to get.
This show says more in three minutes than some manage in a whole twenty.
Coppelion (Episode 4)
Oh, hello Coppelion. It is like you are here on queue.
Transcribing what happened in this episode is… difficult. We have more Very Dramatic Moments, most extravagantly showcased in the countdown timer surrounding the Professor.
Except the timer starts at under nine minutes, and skips whole chucks of it in extremely large places.
Suddenly it is under five minutes, four minutes, one minute, mere seconds, but without any of the actual timing to go along with it. Its so plainly manipulative that I can not bring myself to care.
If a television show wants to use a clock as a very direct means of enhancing and threatening a looming dramatic event, I think there is a very solid place for that. But the manner in which Coppelion continues to just desire to have Very Dramatic Moments without any care in the world at desiring to build them up in any way means they fall entirely flat. It just wants to race to the next Big Scene, because it figures if it throws enough in there, maybe one of them will actually stick and have a semblance of meaning.
Except the longer this show goes on, the larger my Teflon shield grows.
Monogatari Series: Second Season (Episode 16)
Summary Three, revisiting Black Hanekawa and both arcs from Nisemonogatari. I don’t mind these as much as other folks might; as I go weeks at a time without watching this series, having a little recap of things to jog some memories before I outright go dormant on it for a while is nice.
If anything, I am reminded how I thought Nisemonogatari needed tighter editing. For an eleven episode series, it often felt very stretched out. I like the design and shtick of Deishu Kaiki as a cheap con artist who is really only in the spiritual trinket business for fast allowance money from kids and I can appreciate wanting to focus on the Araragi sisters. But it often felt like it was merely spinning its wheels for large stretches to justify its existence as a TV show over being an OVA series or film project.
As we have already seen Yotsugi and referenced Yozuru elsewhere this season, ideally Deishu will come back into the series sometime soon. Maybe even at that same doughnut shop we last saw him at.
Non Non Biyori (Episode 3)
This is slowly developing into a surprisingly pleasant little series. We had our “meet the cast” episode, we had our trip to the candy store and focused on Hotaru’s “Sempai noticed me!” feelings, and now we mostly follow the Koshigaya sisters around and their relationship.
In concept, the plotting is all simple enough. Having to watch a bunch of rented films before you return them to the store miles away, wanting to head into the room of a family member for the night after a scary movie, breaking things and having to explain how it happened to parents, and “running away” from home where you still come back in time for dinner. So everything is execution, which it is fanning out like a well practiced hand of cards. It appreciates long pauses and scenery shots, keenly timing between lines of dialogue, heading down the way to climb through an irrigation ditch while a light harmonica plays on.
For what is at its core a Girls Doing Things show, it is managing its reserved rural pace and what it wants to do very well. I could also make definite use of the soundtrack in my background music rotation I keep for when I’m writing, cooking, cleaning, and generally going about my own life.
Gingitsune: Messenger of the Fox Gods (Episode 3)
I feel this was the weakest episode of the series thus far, which sounds terrible because it was not particularly bad. Merely less than the other two. We spend far more time out of school this time around, with a heavy focus on the spiritual side with the turtle herald and the two lion-dogs from previously.
Going back to what I mentioned last week, part of why this series was working for me was the mechanical aspect of juxtaposing the normality of modern life (such as all the school scenes) with the appearance of the spiritual. They felt more hand in hand and synergistic in mutually reinforcing each other.
Here we have primarily spiritual, with the heralds mentioning all the construction and the span of a human life disappearing in the blink of an eye before them given their own ages. And while that is all very relevant and important material, it was very tonally different and it did not gel with me as well. The previous two episodes were pulling more in the way of “show, don’t tell” in its approach to the spiritual side, while this felt like it was doing the inverse. And it looks like we are getting another new named human character and spirit next week, so I really hope this show does not outright lose track of what I liked in those first two episodes.
On the other hand, older gentlemen outsider duos such as Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets can be endearing in their observations, so it’s not like I am against the introduction of more characters or making the lion-dogs more prominent. I just hope it manages the balancing act better in the future. It is only scheduled for twelve episodes, and I would rather have more of the slice of life aspects over excessive character intros.
Gundam Build Fighters (Episode 3)
I find this series to be like eating craft store baking chocolate.
It tastes fine enough as a snack, in that while it really is not going to be very spectacular and might be chalky it will do an average job providing the rough flavor you are looking for at an affordable price of entry. Which is kind of a strange metaphor to be using, really, given how outright expensive Gundam model building is to take up as a hobby.
But it does continue to have some bright little pangs of genuine joy in all the tournament fighting and toy commercial shenanigans. Reiji’s explanation of his origin story being done via a series of full screen crayon drawings was nice enough, and that an entire bar of adult men in full uniform stood and saluted “Sieg Zeon! Sieg Zeon!” when Mr. Ral walked into the room was amusing.
I am also glad China straight up went into the Iori family shop, encountered Sei, and asked about models that might be more marketed towards girls. No blushing or finger twiddling or buying the model claiming it is for her brother who is with her. While she hasn’t had a whole lot of characterization yet, what we have seen has been pretty solid in terms of suggesting they want to make her into a not completely insulting and helpless young female character in what is definitely a male dominated series. As we’ve also been given the in-universe heads up that art and design play a large role in the raw power of the models, and her artistic inclinations have been shown and complemented on, she could turn into a strong competition contender.
I look forward to her model building. May she kick many robot butts.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.