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.
Holiday travel shmalliday travel, time to try and talk about animated television with an even more animated dachshund trying to get at my keyboard!
Kill La Kill (Episode 8)
We revisit the ruins of the Matoi mansion, and there is nothing to see in that same basement we once met Senketsu in. Squeaky clean even, compared to the levels of debris and other destruction that had been there before. Our sailor fuku is under the impression the homeroom teacher is likely behind this, and it’s a valid point that links with my previous thoughts that Aikurou Mikisugi is potentially a significantly larger threat than we have thus far seen on screen.
He is so chauvinistic that he is merely exasperatedly tolerated by Ryuuko when she has not outright dismissed him, and yet is that not a most dangerous of patterns to establish in our interactions with such behavior? It builds false senses of security. He’s playing the long game.
He’s the only reasonable person who would engage in such cleaning at this stage, and I would imagine he is either looking for something or trying to engage in some variety of subterfuge. On top of that, given how this society is structured (living arrangements based on the achievements of the family children), the nature of the Matoi house has also slipped my mind, and how Ryuuko’s father could have had it while she was such a ravenous delinquent elsewhere. So that’s an intriguing series of things I’m sure he would have shed some light on had Ryuuko not rushed off while he was in his death throes!
As we have mostly a flashback and establishing episode for the Elite Four fights that are to come, it is fitting that our leads don’t really have anything else to do anyway. Mako, as she states, has nothing on the line due to her zero star status as thus does not need to engage in the week long assault at the school. Ryuuko and the Elite Four know they can essentially walk through whoever would be left standing. And they do. So they spin some wheels in the meantime, quite literally. A calm before a torrential storm.
We get a small glimpse of Gamagoori’s uniform capabilities, clearly more BDSM oriented in nature and absorbing punishment before release. Ryuuko would be giving them precisely what they want in attacking them. On a narrative level that certainly makes a nifty little puzzle for her to have to figure out on the fly, and thematically will have implications as well regarding her treatment of the situation in a series that has a lot of plates spinning regarding sexual politics and identity.
As Sanageyama will represent aspects of gaze when his time comes again, I am curious to see how Inumuta and Jakuzure are parlayed and transformed by which kinds of associations and themes.
Nagi No Asukara (Episode 8)
There must have been a firesale on blush this week, because it was definitely out in abundance.
Miuna also sounded and operated a lot more like a regular kid her age for this go around, as opposed to her for poetically grandstanding big episode from a few weeks back, so that was very nice to see. She worked well, even if the actual plot resolution regarding the jewelry she wanted to give could be seen from a mile away. It was cute.
That several of the stores deeper into the shore have signs declaring their possession of salt water I think is a really interesting narrative and worldbuilding piece. Same with the mermaid themes in the shop advertising posters for their jewelry. It goes with the success of the petition drive from our previous outing: the general population of the surface is far more accepting of our mermaid folk than we may have been led to believe at the start. We were only really seeing kids before, and kids are judgmental and hair trigger idiots about all kinds of things. Same thing with our grizzled old set in their ways men who are on the respective community leadership groups. Everyone else in the broad middle? Seems quite generally pretty alright about it.
Originally, this was framed as more of a “us versus them” with the sea as the good and shore as more oppressive, but we are transitioning to seeing that the inverse is likely the more appropriate lens. Saltflake snow on the surface indicates things are likely about to get very aggressive indeed regarding the sea lashing out.
Miss Monochrome (Episode 9)
We started this show we an idol dying in the arms of another in a fiery hellscape, and to that we have returned.
I wouldn’t have expected them to pull the eternal recurrence theory of universal order as a means of explaining itself, but here we are.
So those goofy human hunter aliens from several episodes back return, except this time they are actually successful and bring civilization to its extinction. Although, since this is technically the past, it would be their earlier arrival. Monochrome has survived through the ages and millions of years to get to this point where she feels that sense of inspiration and connection from Kikuko, but can not place why.
I am interested then in how much Manager Maneo’s previous gift of a premium battery that allowed Monochrome to stop the alien return invasion in the present may have altered things, if at all. This also implies that Monochrome has always had such capabilities to defeat the aliens, but they were somehow rendered either useless or unutilized in the past. This is further complicated by the matter that she had also achieved idoldom of some stature, and the differences that could or could not make for the survival of mankind.
Unless, of course, the previous destruction of human civilization was preluded by an accidental battery charging action by Monochrome which chased them off for a time. In which case, everything is still going according to plan. We are seeing elements of a larger narrative at work, and it could try and pull a fast one on us.
Coppelion (Episode 9)
The editing in this show has always been a mess, but it felt significantly more jarring this time around. I feel we had at least two or three episodes worth of events cramed down into twenty minutes.
Even in the first two, we smash cut from Haruto outside, back to the Planet, then traveling outside, a wind event, chatting outside about the need to fly, and then back at the Planet planning for a two group split up. My sense of geography was being tossed all over the place.
Likewise, the show continues to not understand there is extreme benefit in actually holding on to your cards before you play them. Ibara mentions the Ozu sisters will wake up soon? Immediate jump cut to them doing so. Taeko breaking down crying and having something resembling a character moment regarding the delivery and handling of childbirth procedures? Boom, zip, resolved.
Sure these are things that were going to happen anyway, but it helps so very much to give them room to breathe and to keep the audience wondering when. Of course granny was going to call in to assist Taeko, but at least give the poor girl a moment in the show to get to sell the actual weight behind how she feels. Otherwise it’s like I’m watching an abridged version of a much longer show, all of the highlight reels but none of the space or smaller content to really make them worth anything.
On the extremely rare plus side, our consistently sentimental robotic butler No-Sense gets the full Mad Max treatment with battle armor and high caliber weaponry. He has been the best actual character in this show, so it is nice that he won’t just be left behind.
Monogatari Series: Second Season (Episodes 17, 18, 19, and 20)
As I go for weeks at a time without watching this show, there tends to come a point where I begin to wonder if I made the right choice, or if I can just sneak a peek for something. Here, with the Shinobu Time arc, I did find I was glad I waited.
The lack of an arc specific intro sequence for each of the episodes, while in reality a result of agencies and recording contracts clashing, I found to be rather effective when consuming these all at once. They flowed effortlessly and easily. It did also require that those short amounts of time be directed towards at least a little more of the actual show, which is great when it finds so much of its strength in just having the ability to stretch its legs and talk.
This was a bit of a strange arc for me given who takes up so much of the duration, as historically I am not particularly a super fan of Mayoi or Yotsugi. Or, I suppose, I’m not really a fan of all the lolicon jokes and tomfollery that tend to follow when the former shows up. Regarding the later, she has been growing on me more, as she had extremely minimal characterization in both Nisemonogatari and a little earlier this season; she was taking up space, but was not very much defined. Now we see more of what she does regarding her views and concept of time, particularly in the sense that she put off the assigned task she had so as to listen to Shinobu’s story while earlier stating that the nature of her existence required her to be repaid by Koyomi immediately after saving him.
Shinobu’s backstory focused episode was elegantly presented, and while I’m sure on the one level it helped the production team as panning shots over a series of excruciatingly long wallscroll images help shave off total animation time due to the intro sequence complications, they felt right. This is a story bordering on legend from a very long time ago, of a vampire recounting a personal time when they were akin to a god, and the slow and methodical scrolls over the long images showcasing those times were juxaposted strongly with the actual animation bits of where the camera focus would snap back to her and Koyomi having interjections in the present. It works mechanically, and I would say it is easily one of the strongest episodes in the franchise in terms of execution. Just because we are watching an animated show, does not mean there is not strength in that which is not animated.
Of course, much in the same way the Mayoi Jiangshi arc earlier this season was not really about Mayoi, Shinobu Time is not truly revolving around her, and she is indeed completely absent for large portions of these four episodes. The real focus is on someone else. It is with coming to terms with something that has been hanging in the background for some time now, and an error in need of correction.
Regarding that, I do think the way in which that sequence played out, in the choice to be more reserved than the more explosive arc finales we have seen thus far this season was all an appropriate send off. It is likely the kindest way it could have been resolved, and I think that sense of sweetness will be a key bit of a breather prior to the final arc of the season, one that is already setting itself up for something big given the headlining title of Hitagi End.
Non Non Biyori (Episode 8)
We have reached the point where the in-show season has matched up with real life, so it’s autumn all around until we transition into winter.
Unless you live in the southern hemisphere, of course, but I suppose the front end of the series would have had a similar effect.
This was essentially a Komari episode, as she navigated between the different scenes and groups, and I think this is to the benefit of the production. It finds its strength in having a pacing that allows for a character to weave their way amongst the rest of the cast at an easygoing speed and have their small character moments and reflections or reactions. It often feels too “busy” when the whole gang is together for whole scenes at a time, but maybe that’s because that tends to not jive as well with light recorder background music and the lovely rural landscapes. Suguru still has not spoken an audible word, but the ways they keep that aspect going (such as visibly moving his lips but us hearing nothing due to his electric guitar) feels more natural than the anvil it otherwise could be contrived to be.
I could see it doing another round of character rotations like this, and we’d pretty much be done with the season. But there might be a sea monster next week given the preview, so who knows.
Gingitsune: Messenger of the Fox Gods (Episode 8)
This was the most engaged I’ve been with an episode of this series since our initial two.
No Satoru infodumps dragging on for ages, no Haru screaming shenanigans, no crazy monkeys. Some nice honest to goodness recognition that there were characters introduced ages ago we haven’t done a whole lot with.
Hiwako wanting to get a present for her father is a totally normal thing to see unfold that was nicely wrapped up with a little flavor of the supernatural at the end. Yoshizumi getting a dramatic bump up in screen time did not seem out of place or oppressively presented, but organic and part of this story. A small story, but the kinds of little windows into the worlds and lives of these characters that can talk about aspects from the past without neglecting that there are individuals we should be focusing on in the present as the heralds even consider those aspects in relation to the future.
These are the kinds of episodes I was hoping the series was going to have more of. It is simultaneously nice to see again while at the same time a reminder that we really did go quite off the rails for a time, didn’t we?
Gundam Build Fighters (Episode 8)
The more gobbledygook variety of anime mecha writing was on deck this week. Lots of roundabout talk regarding the science of Plavsky particles, a parade of new characters and names, that sort of thing. Stuff that will certainly be important later, and it wants to dance that carrot around on a stick in front of us, it just goes about it rather ham-fisted because it also doesn’t want to really say too much at the moment.
So let’s talk about Other Gundam Shows.
The American Qualifier bout, as the showcase battle of the episode, I think was notably interesting in that the previous American champion, Greco, was piloting a modified Tallgeese model utilizing aspects of the one from Gundam Wing and the one from Endless Waltz. That series pretty is/was the face of Gundam to the USA, and the Cartoon Network premier of that film was their second highest viewed program of all time. Bandai royally faceplanted on that momentum, and no other Gundam series has done as well over here since. As such, I feel the use of the Tallgeese here is a nod to that, both in its selection for the older American champ and then having him thoroughly destroyed by the Sengoku Astray.
On a simulator note, Aila Jyrkiäinen reminds me heavily of Allenby Beardsley from G Gundam. Each is a female pilot representative of a Nordic country (Finland and Sweden, respectively), ridiculously well trained from a young age to hone their piloting craft, and Aila’s helmet may indicate something similar to the Beserker System. Given the care taken to Gundam history so far, that is too many little things lining up for me to not be intrigued by this.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.