Winter Anime, Week Seven
This Week: Kill La Kill, Nagi No Asukara, Space Dandy, Pupa, and Gundam Build Fighters
I feel this was a very calm, sleepy week for most of my shows. Most.
Kill La Kill (episode eighteen)
My considerations for the program this week are predicated on the following:
– I think Satsuki has consistently been the more interesting female lead for me compared to Ryuuko
– I think having Ragyou snark at folks for thinking Satsuki’s actions are impressive is a Most Dangerous game
– I think Kill la Kill at this time requires a “bad,” or at the very least “not traditionally good” ending to conclude satisfactorily
Walk with me.
Now, a fair number of concepts have been thrown around over all the months this program has been airing. Certainly, among these is the notion that Satsuki has been more of a general purpose heroine than our primary lead, despite the framing usually being the Satsuki has traditionally been our villain against her. Even Satsuki originally lying to Ryuuko about where the order for Dr. Matoi’s murder came from is, in effect, a sort of heroic action because Satsuki recognized Ryuuko’s focus is a very liquid thing.
She in turn took on the onus of being her villain because it serves to give Ryuuko both structure and drive, which she could make use of in allowing for testing of her uniforms to fight against her mother while also ensuring she knew what Ryuuko would be up to (ie, targeting Satsuki, which she can plan around). Which, of course, does have a more genuine villainous implication of using Ryuuko in a manner against her own wishes, despite the more overall positive heroics of engineering a takedown of an intergalactic multi-millennial conspiracy.
Satsuki’s consistent refrain has been the whole “fear is freedom, subjugation is liberation, contradiction is truth, these are the truths of this world” concept. Combined with that perception speech from way back in episode three, she also recognizes how this affects her goals being seen in multiple ways but will carry on regardless because of how ironclad her confidence is in their overall mission. So, I find her situation to be an interesting one for her to be fighting through.
We also know we are not necessarily supposed to fully agree with Satsuki, because there are a number of unfortunate implications in her methods of force and holier than thou top down authority. So, sure, I understand having Ragyou essentially tell the audience that only an ignorant fool would view Satsuki as impressive is on one level required. The tricky issue then becomes the matter of by the show having Ragyou tell us this directly, we would then as a production require a philosophical replacement we navigate forward with. We would naturally look toward Ryuuko to provide that, though going back to the matter of Satsuki recognizing Ryuuko required a rudder (say that five times fast!), we are potentially in a tough spot there.
“If your ambition is to protect humanity, fight now.” And Ryuuko did not.
After proclaiming to target Ragyou directly, the genuine biggest bad in the whole stadium, she switches gears to explode on Nui out of more personal issues.
A lot of Ryuuko’s path has been her getting bulldozed around, so she either shuts down or treats things that way in kind. Fair enough. What she has been afforded little room to do is really express herself in many ways.
So the rapidly approaching ending then and what it could choose to do.
I’m going to get into some Neon Genesis Evangelion spoilers as a means of comparison, given the Trigger staff, so eject now and scroll to the next series if you don’t want to read ahead.
Take the “clothes made the mankind idea” to its extreme and have humanity unified as one, but as a collective sea less for breaking down the barriers between them but indeed for that mechanical function and harvest. Ryuuko, as a Life Fiber infused individual, could be placed into some kind of position where she is alone to weigh in on what should be done going forwards. To then, in turn, come to terms with and express her philosophy. Give Kill la Kill its own take on a Human Instrumentality Project, essentially.
I would much rather have that than some of the other endings one could wheel out, certainly. I even think it could try and tie up a lot of loose ends regarding the clothing, personal expression and perception, and all the rest with that approach and dealing into Ryuuko’s mind and personal thoughts. But this is, of course, all in theory.
I give Kill la Kill a lot of rope to play with. There has always been an abundance of potential things for it to climb and bells to ring at their tippy top. The clock is ticking, and so I am sort stoically sitting here and watching the episodes count down. What I hope it does not do is get in a big tizzy, find itself far too tangled, and end up hanging itself.
Nagi No Asukara (episode nineteen)
I had mentioned last week that I would need to put my opinion on Manaka’s rescue on pause until this week, to see what they would do with it. I’m not entirely sure I get to fully unpause it this week though, as we fundamentally have her in a Sleeping Beauty coma. Meanwhile, it doesn’t appear as though our sea village has collapsed into some gaping maw overnight or something. So it hasn’t really done anything yet aside from, well, the associated emotions and connotations folks get from seeing her.
Which is fine, it doesn’t need to do anything particularly quickly with her. But, I would imagine all this stuff about grampa talking about old tales from Sea God lore that he mentions few really care to remember because they don’t like the sad ending of the stories leads to someone getting burned sooner rather than later due to bringing her to the surface.
It kind of bugs me that Chisaki going diving under the ice all alone to search out the sea village and being surprised that it was still pretty rough currents guarding it led not only to Hikari just happening to be around to help rescue her but they both make it to the intended destination safe and sound. A place that, as of an episode ago, Hikari only made it to because Miuna could hear the sand-like noise and figure out how to follow it.
Now given, Hikari could probably remember a path if it were it actually that straightforward. But I did think it took away a bit from a certain perspective of Miuna’s ability to find the way to somewhere she had never even seen before yet could attune herself to make it to that place better than the surface scientists or those who had lived there through much of their lives.
Space Dandy (episode seven)
Toyama was going to be a pretty big wildcard, as they are very new when it comes to anime production credits. Fitting then for the whole “Space Dandy is a lot like watching Looney Tunes” idea, this episode went after similar fundamentals and was Wacky Races right down to Honey cosplaying as Penelope Pitstop. And we even have Hiroyuki Imaishi as a guest mechanical designer this week!
Somewhat appropriately for the programming block, this episode did make me recall watching Outlaw Star on the Toonami of old, as there is a part of that series involving a similarly styled space race setup and a long blue haired hotshot. It didn’t have lines like “The gorilla has passed the Boobies” or old spaceship arcade game gags during the proceedings, but, you know, different tones and narrative objectives.
I watched the pretty colors fly by, had a drink, and enjoyed the dwindling hours of my Saturday night as Dandy achieved a higher level of existence while he car got more physical rumpus action than he himself has had all series.
Pupa (episode six)
This was not really an episode.
It was a scene that belongs as a part of an episode.
It has no framing device at either the end or beginning to tell me where we are and how to got here. There are no transitions from the previous episode (mom’s flashbacks to her pregnancy and taking a box cutter to her infant daughter), the one before it (involving cleaning up after Yume’s murder spree and the research facility), or any of the others for that matter.
What we are left with then is about three minutes of out of context moaning, groaning, slurping, and “Onii-chan” cooing on an increasingly blood soaked mattress as Yume tries eating her brother. And, you know, that would be fine. It is sort of what one signs up for when intentionally watching a cannibalism incest show. So, you know, I don’t have any issue with the show going there and doing that.
I feel kind of like how one does if they get into one of those fall asleep – wake up – fall asleep fits very late at night on a sofa with a dumb horror film on. You’re only catching bits and pieces out of context here and there, so you really don’t know why anything is happening. Except, in Pupa’s case, there is no missing footage to go back to and fill in the blanks. It is exclusively out of context scene shenanigans.
Heck, the Corpse Party: Missing Footage OVA short is about as long as the number of Pupa episodes we’ve had, and it makes a lot more sense. Which is saying something, as a completely superfluous collection of random prelude character interactions for a product that wouldn’t exist for another year.
Gundam Build Fighters (episode nineteen)
Nils Nielsen as a character hasn’t really been someone I feel the show has been getting much mileage out of, despite how much they make mention of how good his theories and work supposedly are. So they really couldn’t delay having him fight Sei and Reiji much longer.
Maybe that is part of why this episode felt much more workmanlike or paint by numbers this week though, as I really don’t have any investment in their opponent and for the narrative they’re pretty assured to win.
Nils did get Caroline as a girlfriend though by the corporate sponsorship logic of “My dad’s things are mine, and you are one of my dad’s things,” so… good for him? He doesn’t seem entirely put off by the crazy notion, at any rate. So I feel like he would want to be congratulated? This series isn’t so much primed for character shipping as it is more of a full fledged armada.
Regardless: I do like how, because this is gunpla fighting and not actual Gundam units, things like the giant metal swords of the Sengoku Astray do make more sense to me as objects. Gundam Sandrock from Gundam Wing had giant metal swords for instance, but it is very much the sort of thing that sounds very cool more as a custom model set than as a genuine piece of equipment for a field action military mobile suit unit.
The actual fight, however, I did feel was rather underwhelming, especially compared to the duel from last week. This was a very straightforward martial arts shonen kind of fight, with lots of yelling fist throws and talk of inner chi powers. Which, you know, is serviceable enough for moving the tournament plot forwards, but it did not really feel like top eight gunpla fighting material.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.