This Week: Kill La Kill, Nagi No Asukara, Space Dandy, Pupa, and Gundam Build Fighters
March? March. March march march.
Kill La Kill (episode twenty)
“Aren’t you supposed to be avenging your father’s death?”
Well, you see spectral crazy lady, a lot has happened in the time since we started. Goku uniforms, Fight Club, Naturals Election, Nui Harime, Tri City Schools Raid Trip, the alien conspiracy, and the counter alien conspiracy coup d’état. Ryuuko had a bit more room for making decisions further back.
So it took us a while, but we have finally approached the bliss of being worn by clothing.
For many, this is exact the kind of thing they have been waiting for. We see it then through the visualization of an artificial past. An entire childhood and adolescence of all the kinds of things Ryuuko wanted on one level of another. Certainly, a presence of a mother figure. And clothes are a big part of all those life moments, from days out to school photos to a wedding day. It’s not the first time Junketsu has floated wedding dress imagery. The initial ending credits also had a Sukeban Deka style with visuals of Ryuuko looking towards them in shop windows as well.
Now, I view the “worn by” terminology as rather distinctive. It is the same phrase we were dealing in when Ryuuko was being “worn by” Senketsu back during the Naturals Election. In that event, the process brought on by boiling rage due to Ryuuko’s immense hatred towards Nui, then uncontrollably expressed. A personalized fashion disaster with too many over the top aspects and many literal disjointed parts.
In this more recent case, with the increased talk even in this episode of folks referring to her as a pawn and the like, it is about the opposite. She has shut out and shut down so much of the outside world by this point that being worn by Junketsu gives her a false identity or deflective shield from reality. Which would be how a lot of folks do end up in their own clothing. Notably: Senketsu can talk to Ryuuko, in a sense speaking to her as an article, while Junketsu has never said a word to anyone.
The question then becomes, for many I suppose, was this what they were hoping for?
Some would consider this to be the exact kind of material the series should have been dealing in a far more decisive manner. What clothes themselves can come to mean as tools of expression and sense of self, that sort of thing.
The show has another month yet, so we have some time. A show can reasonably survive a lot of things: taking some oddball filler tangents, drawing out on the delivery of core themes, etc. A bad ending arc tends to disproportionally damage a work for a lot of folks though. That’s the point where it gets to perhaps best present itself.
Which I suppose is what we have the characters dealing in now, uniform reversals and all. And were it to continue as such, I think it’ll at least finish on a better impression for many folks, naked toenail martial arts and all.
Nagi No Asukara (episode twenty one)
I’ve noticed recently this series has been getting to be the last show I watch every week. I usually don’t get around to it until Monday, but I watch all the others the same day they air.
It’s not the worst show I’m watching, by any means, but that is something I found curious once I picked up on it.
I think part of what has been getting to me is the sense of the show being stuck in neutral for a while now. It often has interesting ideas, it raises points it could explore. Then it just sort of does a lot of drifting around around until the last thirty seconds or so for cliffhanger time.
Manaka waking up from a five year coma and spending pretty much the whole episode giddy over the all encroaching snow across many stops feels… odd. This is a character who roughly the last things they remember should be the festival and desperately diving into a frenetic ocean current to save someone. But none of that seems to register here. She has always been the series embodiment of change, but she also had her own hangups and hesitations when she was active in the series before. This came off rather strangely.
Tsumugu has a quite reasonable reaction though: hanging back from the welcoming, the cover of saying Manaka might get overloaded, asked how she was, etc. The “Are you lonely?” “No, but you are” exchange with Chisaki? I rather liked how that went. He definitely hasn’t been someone who has been pining after the same person for half a decade since middle school. For someone I was on edge about at the start of the series, he has better come into his own.
Farting Mouth Fish Appendages are back as well! They were like a warped bonding element before, in how the previous one was kind of embarrassing for Manaka but caused some varied character interactions. I hope this one gets a line like the other.
Space Dandy (episode nine)
Episode Director: Eunyoung Choi, Animation Director: Kiyotaka Oshiyama, Storyboard: Eunyoung Choi, Script: Shinichiro Watanabe
One of the reasons I’ve liked doing this little staff point-out thing is Choi is a super nifty creator from a resume or training standpoint – she has worked on many of Masaaki Yuasa’s projects. A lot of those elements were in play this week in regards to guiding the look and feel of the episode. The general Twitter timeline freakout should be delicious when the actual Yuasa episode pops out in a few weeks.
The narrative isn’t all that much, but I liked it more than the first episode when Watanabe was also the writer. This is a chain of events where Dandy winds up tracking down a lost Chaos Emerald out of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise while Meow gets plumped up like a snake eating a whole deer. There’s nods to things like the number of plant nations on plant planet, but it’s all window dressing for the, well, window. And given, it had a pretty swell view for the realtor to show off.
Dialogue wise, my biggest takeaway was when Dr. H raised the notion of the meteorite having guided their evolution and that now they could return to what they were meant to be. There’s a notion there on outside forces acting upon native species that a series about an alien hunter tracking down unknown life forms could make use of. Some think it may make use of its potential alternative timeline nods down the road, and that would be an interesting point in such a case.
I’m excited for next episode: Meow talking all western style in the preview, combined with it being a homecoming for him, should make for a lot of great moments. The furball is definitely my favorite character in the series.
Pupa (episode eight)
I feel like I am at a carnival, spun around on a baseball bat and then needing to hit a ball.
Except it is one of those weird gaudy nightmare carnivals where they spin you around way too many times. And everything is clowns. And all the clowns are Pupa.
If I didn’t write about this show, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one of the episodes was last week given the scattershot continuity.
Apparently we left off with incest babies in Maria and monster Yume chained to a wall in an underground hot spring. So how on earth she and her brother are out and about walking around a school campus or something is beyond me. Even more jarring though is how the censoring in this program continues to make wildly inane choices. A character pulling a knife with a blinding large white bar on the screen. But, in the same episode, we can see the same guy get his eyes poked out. And we can even see the knife in other scenes, just not the pulling of it out. And it gets pulled out twice.
I should probably stop talking about pulling out and the cannibal incest gore show.
Between all this reeling from the ham fisted editing choices, there’s a lot of haphazard scenes of flashbacks to Abusive But Nebulously Defined Dad and knife dude treating Utsutsu in as a carving toy, but there’s no sense of why any of this matters. Is purple shirted knife guy from the illegal medical research team mentioned last episode, or are those the folks who showed up and tased him? How does he even know who the siblings are and where they would be, because I as a viewer want to know what he knows.
The series wraps in approximately twelve minutes doled out over the next four weeks. Maybe they’ll go back to just doing comedic puppetry with stuffed bears again.
Gundam Build Fighters (episode 21)
I figure this series will likely need another season to explore much of the whole “Royal house of Arian” / Reiji is from another dimension / the fears of the PPSE chairman. This is fine, it fits the usual arc of a televised Gundam show.
But, things that stuck out to me in that department: “Aria vs Reiji Asuna.”
Please do not tell me Aila is actually Reiji’s renamed sister from whatever alternative plane he is from. I’m not sure this series would have the chops to shore up an incest romance between all the plastic model building and fighting.
This episode was kind of a weird one for me: I like what it wanted to do, but I didn’t enjoy how it approached a lot of it. I think a compelling exploration can come out of Aila’s background, even as a clip scene montage. Someone who didn’t like Gunpla battle, but had a weird talent being able to see the particles and used the offer of the institute to get out of poverty. I’m game.
But what we had for about half the episode was the most baseline “We’ve devoted so much time and money, and train all the time” kind of view. If the Flana institute has so much money and critical investors, they should have a child psychologist, or hell, other projects to work on to get their golden goose socially well adjusted. If she was nonstop scrubbing floors in a run down orphanage, that would be far more believable.
The fight itself went as expected, which the cramped forest field enhanced. This showdown was always going to be more about dialogue and feelings over combat prowess. Conversational white space straight out of The Matrix and a tsundere Gundam argument sounds about right. If there is a second season for the whole alternate universe angle, with Aila coming to enjoy Gunpla, this would be a match to revist.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.