This Week: Kill la Kill, Nagi No Asukara, Miss Monochrome, Coppelion, Non Non Biyori, Gingitsune: Messenger of the Fox Gods, and Gundam Build Fighters.
I did not expect to get an honest to goodness anime Christmas episode during the season finale board wipe, and yet one showed up under the tree anyway. I must have been really good this year!
Kill La Kill (Episode 12)
To the surprise of I imagine a lot of folks, myself included, a lot of the expected pins did not actually happen to get pulled this week.
Ryuuko did not die. Mako did not die. Senketsu did not die even though the Banshi was cut. And so on.
I imagine that because it was so expected, it was decided to avoid going that route and merely potentially dance around it the whole time. It’s a fair play, and it certainly kept the tension high enough. I enjoyed that, as I still expect that rug to be pulled eventually. A ticking time bomb hidden away somewhere.
In related news, it turns out Nui did straight up kill Mr. Matoi as well. I had doubted that last week for legitimate reasons, but as it goes he was himself the inventor of the Rending Scissors. Fair play, and he managed to take out Nui’s eye for her murderous trouble.
Satsuki in many ways was the real main character of this episode. She’s a borderline paladin, with her immediate “I’m going down!” reaction to Ryuuko becoming worn by her own uniform and ensuring her team of lieutenants gets the student body evacuated. She has of course always been shown with such refinery forged will and resolve, but it is particularly so on display here given her command of the situation and ensuing reactions to everyone from Nui on down. She is a indeed framed as essentially a divine knight come down to slay a monstrous dragon. And when the opening for needing to avoid that bloodshed is opened, she holds firm and prevents outside intrusion to obverse the results lest there be unnecessary casualties.
I’ve been suggesting and mulling this for a while around here, but I still consider it a very likely scenario that Ryuuko may not be the primary heroine of this piece. Satsuki has a very large operation in play, and is one step ahead of everything regarding our lead character in everything at all times right down to knowing that Ryuuko would be too worn down after the Naturals Election to be able to stop her objectives regarding the western academies. And yet Satsuki’s goals and ideals are also regarded as essentially small potatoes by her mother.
There’s going to be a lot to unpack here regarding what all this will actually mean regarding the larger thematics of wearing ones clothes and the like, but it sets us up very well for whatever will come after the production break.
Nagi No Asukara (Episode 12)
I’m honestly rather surprised there wasn’t the wedding / Ofunehiki episode this week.
Given that everyone else in the schedule pretty much tends to head into this time of the year with a bang, even the ones that will continue into the next season, this felt like it was more of a “normal” episode even with the reveals that did occur.
We have Sayu and Miuna arguing over who is more evil for liking which boy more, our High Priest has come surface side to get some coffee (and a mouthful of flowers) with his daughter, Tsumugu doesn’t want anything to do with his mom even though she clearly wants to form some kind of connection there given her desire to get some food together or even just talk for a little while longer, and so on. Lots of family talk, and certainly the chat about the past that did occur between Akari and her father I thought was a nice little moment, right down to the small reaction of the cafe bartender.
Kids and some adults are already hibernating, and folks keep dwelling on how they look like they’re dead. Paricularly in the case of the kids, being walked down the streets cradled in arms while folks are in special concealing robes with torches. That’s some pretty heavy handed imagery though, so I’m not sure it needed to be harped on that badly, especially with the whole “we don’t even know if we’ll wake up” shenanigans nobody can seem to stop talking about.
For how often our mermaid school folks end up in their old classroom, you’d think it’d be more locked down or something. Especially since they are in there marking the place up with additional height growth charts now! Which I’m sure will come back around in some other scene from now later in the series.
Kaname continues to be a passive aggressive pain in the butt as he has been the last few episodes, dropping a point blank questions bomb as he did when everyone else is having a fun time. On the one hand I get it, because it is a frustrating situation to be in. But you’re only sabotaging your own case here kiddo. I’ve been there, I get it, but you can’t go doing explosive stuff like that which makes you look bad in front of the girl or you lose her before you even get her!
Maybe this whole thing where the mermaid team might wake up at different times comes into play regarding Sayu and Miuna’s feelings, since it could be all done in such a way where they are at more appropriate ages in the future.
Miss Monochrome (Episode 13) END
As a series, this show could really have ended on either of the previous two episodes and I would have figured that would have been fine enough for a short form series like this.
And yet, Miss Monochrome aims to be a Christmas tradition by placing the full bore of a series finale on a Christmas Eve airing and with a full blown holiday wishlist of things for her in tow. And as the whole series can be watched in less than an hour, I really couldn’t be happier about that design objective.
Objectively, it delivers on the logical enough end of what the series had been using as subtext regarding hard work and economics. Late nights coming home from a convenience store job wondering if your family member is asleep, even if they are a Roomba, that sort of thing. “Trying your best” is all well and good, and yet it rarely personally feels to ever deliver her the desired results towards being an idol.
Leave it to Santa then to set some things straight, as he notes that such work will always be rewarded. Monochrome may be an android who sings about batteries and the like, but gosh darn it she has been pretty good this year when it comes to a Naughty or Nice list.
So she gets her little recording session. She gets a debut CD right down to the manufacturing and inspection process. She gets a snazzy signature outfit. And she gets to sing her little song in the holiday decorated shopping district and do her dance in a light snowfall. Manager Maneo earned every bit of being able to cry at the sight of all this, the dude has been a workhorse the entire program.
And to all a good night indeed.
Coppelion (Episode 13) END
Christmas Day, and I get to watch Coppelion.
I’d say this is like getting coal in your stocking, except coal has the capacity to become diamonds. No such hopes or luxuries exist in this void however. There is only more Coppelion.
Our Iron Spider Mach 2 Zombie DLC Reloaded is on the loose again, and yet gets shut down pretty much just as quickly as the last time. Not much in the way or trading blows or back and forth of a “Will out heroines really make it?” struggle, since they just do the video gamey answer again of just shoot at an environmental hazard and be done with it. Some final boss fight, and yet alarmingly apt from what I see from a lot of actual video games these days with their Quick Time Events and all.
Something is going on a the conference center, but we’re not really told what. I’m assuming it’s an argument about Division 3 just running off to the disaster zone, but apparently it’s something worthy of an act of treason given the dialogue? AWOL, maybe. Treason is a tall order. Geographically, there is also no sense of actual time or distance, as apparently it would take twelve hours to get from the conference venue to the Coppelion team by air. From where in Japan would that possibly be, given the aerial hardware they are using?
In other news, we reflect on Haruto’s “relationship” with Ibara, we speak of friendship with enemies, and in the mix we rember we had a childbirth to resolve. This was actually the only part of the episode I was really interested in seeing, even though there was no real chance this show was going to let a baby die. It doesn’t have the writing chops for that. Yet it disappoints even in this, as we do not even get to see any of the tension or drama that could be squeezed out of such a tense moment to pull off during the whole Iron Spider Jiggy Wiggy Wah Wah Dance fight. It’s just, pop, here they are. We have twins, congrats. I feel nothing, for the show itself feels nothing.
Taeko is gratefully offered the ability to be a godparent and thus name the kids, and she does an expected surprise and “Oh this is so sudden…” response… so Ibara just jumps right in, steals the thunder, and names the kids for her. And everyone is cool with it and we move right along. Which pretty much sums up a whole lot of how this show handles anything in a nutshell right there. No Sense gets to be a fully battle armored robot butler babysitter now though, so best of luck to him.
I originally put Coppelion on my docket for this season because I figured even if it was really bad, I could maybe finesse something of a reasonable end game commentary about it given my own time living and working in a nuclear disaster zone. But as a full package, the show is so dreadful that I’m not even sure anything I could whip up would even be a compelling desire for anyone else to read.
Non Non Biyori (Episode 12) END
Ending as we started, we are back to springtime with lots of nature scenes prominently placed on display with light musical over the affair.
It does not want to go out with a big finale or a grand exit, but it was achievable and in keeping with the idea of bringing the whole thing full circle.
Hotaru and Komari get their little bento picnic exchange in the field, which was nice to see. As what tends to happen a lot in these incidences, sempai’s cooking remains as terrible as ever and it is up to their dedicated admirer to choke it down no matter what. The show itself seems pretty aware of how expected this all is, so it cuts several times to more thoughtful pictures of the countryside while the characters talk it over.
In a lot of other anime this would be a cheap production trick, but given the whole pace of the show and how much it has clearly liked showcasing its landscapes they can actually get away with it. It is hard to call something a “background” when the foliage shots are so frequently in the main focus and center of attention.
Otherwise we get back to the original considerations when we first met everyone for the differences between city and country life. Renge’s family owns a mountain. Doesn’t everyone own a mountain? City folks must surely own mountains. And so on and so forth, lets go pick some flowers so we can get more of those great plant shots in to be able to roll us out on.
I can appreciate that as a final episode, as even for a light situational comedy it knew it would be a stronger card to go out this way rather than reach beyond its means. Small goals and achievable moments has been its entire deck, right to the end, so well played by all.
Gingitsune: Messenger of the Fox Gods (Episode 12) END
I’ve been back and forth on this program a lot this season, probably more than any of the others on my list. I feel then the finale on show here and what I then took away from it all probably is entirely fitting and appropriate.
In that respect, I suppose there really was a cleansing ceremony, but probably more in regards to how much I may actually soon forget about the contents of this series.
Suitably, this was the kind of episode that wants to pretty much drag out as many folks as possible as we have gotten to see over the course of the series and give a sort of send off to the whole gang. That’s good, I like that sentimentality, and they often are able to provide pretty good closure to end a show on without actually giving concrete enough closure to scare away potential additional sequels for a studio to pump out should the program have done well.
In this case though, we have such a large cast of folks and such a small run of a series that they were all crammed into, none of them really feel like old favorites or good friends. Everyone is just sort of… here, each for their little bit gag before moving on. Makoto chastising Gintato about not seeing his friends doesn’t really make sense to me because, in my mind, Gintato was right: He doesn’t really have a whole lot of friends. No Makoto, the two monkey characters we met for part of an afternoon once do not count. No, the turtle we interacted with for one episode does not count. They have the capability to become friends with time, certainly. But they are not, at present, friends. That takes a lot of dedication, and while an honorable pursuit I did not feel the show was really giving such characters that really palpable sense of relationship building.
It is a lot of how I feel about the social observances or spiritual nods the series tries to make sometimes as well, as statements this episode like “Priests are popular, but folks tend to keep their distance” or how it only matters if one believes in gods rather than them actually being there are prime for any kind of follow up. Yet they just float on by. Meeting a character does not inherently make them a friend and making a twitter length observation on life does not supplant what it can be enhanced by with just a little more care. I saw in this program so many windows that begged for further explorations or being touched on just a bit more, but it just didn’t deliver on the promise it had for me.
The show wasn’t an offensive experience by any means, but at the end of the day I’m left feeling pretty airy about the whole thing. Chalk it up to it trying too much, having too many characters, to short of a run, or anything in between, but it rarely provided me much to hang on to while I was watching it. Never enough to slip into hate watch, but I never really looked forward to it either. In turn the comings and goings of this world are likely to easily slip from my memory in the times to come.
Gundam Build Fighters (Episode 12)
“We sent an auto-controlled Gunpla into the battlefield” is not a statement anyone responsible for running a global mega tournament should really be making that leads to positive results.
I know this will now be the third week I’m harping on this, but in this case we actually have direct manipulation of the battle system by the Plavsky Particle System Engineering CEO to get the 1/48 scale Mega Size Model Zaku into play .The origin of it was then announced by the actual broadcasters and the in-show fans all seem pretty OK with this level of tomfoolery to something that should have some pretty rigorous standards at this level.
I get that Antagonist Tournament Organizer is a standard enough plot engine for this kind of show but still. Had it knocked anyone out, that should be a massive controversy, and that it was so blatantly going after a single unit should be a problem in its own right. If Gunpla battle systems exist in this world at this level, one better believe there’s a lot of folks with serious cash on the line at minimum, to say nothing for how bad I feel for any intern trying to deal with the internet social media fallout.
The same goes for the whole notion that the PSSE standard bearer was told by his handler that their only goal is the championship, and they did not need to assist in defeating the giant Zaku. If the whole system can just be rigged at will (including tournament seeding, which we also saw), and the seriousness of intent is there, why is there even this concern? Just engineer things the way they want for whatever reason and be done with it. It clearly is not won by PPSE every year given the previous champion, but it just feels so silly that all of this information about their involvement in their own tournament in just out in the open. I would care more if their participation was more secret, rather than outright public knowledge.
I feel this show has been stuck in the mud for a few episodes now with this whole rigging the system thing and how it has been played, which is unfortunate because this is where things should in theory have been really be heating up. Perhaps once we are back to duels next week things will be more compelling.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.