This Week: Kill La Kill, Nagi No Asukara, Space Dandy, Pupa, and Gundam Build Fighters.
We once again have bears and robots in the same week, but unfortunately not as bear robots. Shame, that. One had a pretty swanky shirt though.
Kill La Kill (episode 14)
In the grand scheme of things I suppose it doesn’t really matter, but I was kind of hoping to get more of a sense of the three unconquered schools before the Raid Trip went about its merry business. How they may have structured themselves, how they’ve been able to hold out for so long, what kinds of attempts had been made on them in the past (in any), etc.
We did kind of get some of that with the focus on Takarada and his rule over Osaka and how he can impact and command the non-student citizenry, but there is always that voracious desire for more. He has made for a fun little miniboss though, so I’m glad it seems we will likely be able to get another episode out of him next week.
To that point, while the assaults on the other two schools were visually entertaining (Composite meat armor as a cultural heritage defense! Rulebooks as the weapons of outsiders!), they were also very short due to how much material this episode was covering. We have Ryuuko coming to terms with Senketsu being torn apart, the Raid Trip groups deploy and we see each of them fight, some cutaways to Mako, back to Raid Trips and Ryuuko smacking down virtually everyone across three cities who had Senketsu’s fabric bits.
It’s a lot of ground to speed through, and it makes the non-Osaka locales feel kind of expendable, in a “Why was this important again?” kind of fashion. Which, you know, Ragyou Kiryuuin does seem to feel Satsuki’s plans are kind of small potatoes and / or misplaced, so this could be a sort of execution that leads to portraying that in a more palpable fashion from some speech later.
Something the series has been doing a lot of up to this time is essentially groundwork. So many things that can very easily led to very snappy future followups or rich thematic elements. And we have certainly had some, such as Satsuki’s thunderous exclamations on how she views clothes and the female body. We are going to be rapidly rapidly reaching a time though where the program hits the “put up or shut up” phase of things come what may in the next several weeks. And I think it is equipped to handle that, should it so choose. But it is going to need to start making those bombing run calls sooner rather than later.
Now that it seems as though we are at a point were Ryuuko needs to figure out how to take out Satsuki enough to get what she wants without Senteksu’s Kamui capabilities, which would fundamentally be akin to fighting naked, ideally we have one hell of a runway to actually launch from.
Nagi No Asukara (episode 15)
“I want to protect his smile.”
Lying is bad for you Miuna. Well, perhaps it is not fundamentally a lie so much as it is merely not the full truth. Either way, your mom should have taught you that! Especially since you are trying to get with her brother.
As it goes then, be it due to the shock of how the Sea God made their mark five years ago, the encroaching ice age in the time since, and so on, things seem to have mellowed out a bit on the surface in terms of how they have been viewing their sleeping sea village neighbors. We have the formerly more antagonistic fishery collective speaking of being able to have some great sake with them, and the surface has been playing the same song over the seaward speaker system at five o’ clock every day for all these years. Only missing or appreciating what you have when it is gone and all that.
Thankfully, Hikari is not actually taking his awakening in full stride or with any kind of “I now have all the answers” heaven sent shenanigans. The kid is confused and angry. Good.
For all the concerns folks like Chisaki, Manaka, or indeed Hikari himself have had about changing as thematic element, Hikari has due to circumstances been forced to remain just as he was all those years ago and placed in somewhere very much the same and yet radically different without much of a personal sense of time advancement. How he navigates that going forwards will ideally be interesting, given the differences between Chisaki and Miuna after all this time and what they or their feelings can come to represent for him.
Space Dandy (episode 3)
Honestly, when the television ads for this week’s episode were playing (which is still a weird concept to me to get used to again), I kept hearing Dandy’s english delivery of the “I’m on this” line as him actually saying “Gozongas.” I heard it correctly in context, but, you know, “Gozongas” would still very much fit in with his character and how he was physically preparing himself at that moment.
That, and we are still harping on the notion that the mere mentioning of the word “boobs” is hilarious. Gotta get back to Boobies, I don’t need oxygen I need Boobies, a giant boob monster, and so on. I wonder if this is going in be one of those things where we eventually drill our way around so much that the joke somehow finds new meaning.
I’m not even really sure it has to though, in a certain sense.
I enjoy Space Dandy, but is a kind of puzzle where I’m kind of not sure what to do with it yet in terms of writing. For example, my breakdown of that first episode was mostly about personnel and the like for instance, or my own feelings on meta humor, rather than much the show itself. It is a Late Night Anime that kind of fits how western Late Night Cartoons operate. And it is, well, airing at the same timeslot as those things. It wholly works in that respect, and yet, is sort very odd as a result because there is a kneejerk reaction to want to squeeze critical juice out it due to the names in the credits. With the rotating staff carousel however, perhaps it would be more suited to talking more about various creator styles?
To draw a different comparison, things like gdgd Fairies are fundamentally the same as how Space Ghost Coast To Coast operated for instance. And I adored me some gdgd Fairies this past year, the second season was in my top anime of 2013. But I’d be totally lost if I tried to do episodic breakdowns of it.
…Space Dandy could well be in a similar boat?
I could be frustrated that I don’t know how the Gogol Empire’s plans involve Dandy….but, why? As in, this is the kind of show that wants to give lines like “They’ll eat you until you’re dead,” a universal space translator that gives the vagina penis face monsters silly voiced lines about “…get all up in our face with your fancy guns that don’t have batteries!” and a transforming robot with a Hawaiian shirt.
This weeks episode literally finished with a Looney Tunes style End card.
And that is, you know, totally ok.
It still makes for television I have set to DVR each week, because I’m enjoying the English dub far more than the subtitled version as it is genuinely sillier and punchier in script. I’m just not sure what to write about when it comes to a week by week breakdown, much like gdgd or how I would ever attempt to handle something else on the Adult Swim programming block like American Dad.
Pupa (episode 2)
Oh deary dear dear dear.
Incidentally, “dear” is on letter off from “bear,” and we sure did see some bears this week.
More specifically, we have little stuffed bears as placeholder representatives of the family household our leading brother and sister duo grew up in. And that, on the one level, is not a terrible idea, using a series of cute animal plushies as a means of representing what should have been a far happier childhood time that went to far darker places. That said, we end up with things like Utsutsu remarking on how his dad used to beat their mother, and it is visually portrayed via one stuffed bear kicking the other as if like a cardboard cutout. Complete with a little “cute” squeaky noise.
In better hands, a scene like that could even work as a means of attempting to juxtapose the horror and subject matter of domestic abuse in an unnerving and “adorable” visual fashion. What matters hugely to that though is timing and shot framing. And Pupa has no sense of either.
To give the best example from this episode, there was monster form Yume’s concern that her brother may see her as this bloody and murderous beast after her rampage from the last episode. Immediately then, with no pauses or quietness for weight, we have Utsutsu show up just over her shoulder calling out to her, as the camera then pans back over to her eyes shifting to the side of the frame.
That’s the kind of shot that begs for a “Whomp whomp whomp” comedic sound effect or something after the fact. Because it is very silly in how it is constructed and portrayed. But not in a “We set this up intentionally in a way so that you as a viewer would feel conflicted emotions as the narrative and visual storms compete in your mind.” It’s more akin to a bad screenplay a teen may write in a “goth” phase that really only involves them stopping by the local mall Hot Topic every now and again.
Gundam Build Fighters (episode 15)
So in terms of what we have going on in the background, Mr. Ral is now going out on patrols for the Gunpla Mafia and Reiji may be the Crown Prince of Arian… wherever and whatever that happens to be.
Apparently a gem is involved.
In the foreground: an actual honest to goodness regular smashup throwdown of a Gunpla tournament duel with Sei and Reiji versus their Italian champ buddy Ricardo Fellini. We haven’t seen one of those in a while!
This comes back around to one of the greater strengths of the program, in that because we are dealing with model sets in instances of combat rather that machines that are supposed to last through a longer international war campaign yet still be deployed enough to keep the viewers attention, how wear and tear is handled totally changes.
Blow off all kinds of armor chunks, blast whole limbs apart, destroy the head, and so on down the line. Usually, that would be the kind of Gundam showdown sequence saved for a season or series finale, but here we have the option to routinely break the mobile suits apart because the mechanics of building / rebuilding is as much a part of the Gunpla shtick as the actual combat. We just haven’t been down that particular road this far for some time now.
Mr Ral’s point regarding Sei’s knowledge of how Gundam stories work making up for Reiji’s inexperience (as while he has raw piloting prowess, he lacks in the strategy department) is a nice one. I hope that it does mean that outside of just having the occasional references and headnods to past series, going forwards in the tournament where we will have more robust machines to deal with Sei and Reiji may ideally be presented with previous series battle problems that pilots may have accounted for that then need to be tackled in potentially different ways.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.