This Week: Kill La Kill, Nagi No Asukara, Space Dandy, Pupa, and Gundam Build Fighters.
While it has been a joke before, I actually did lose power for a time trying to get this post up due to weather reasons. Unfortunately it was not during the winter season finale week for added impact!
Kill La Kill (episode twenty one)
So that opening full of strategic body positions and Ryuuko grabbing then making out with Nui. I imagine it set something of a tone for many folks, haha.
That said, Ragyou’s immediate next point of intense existential terror I think is keenly relevant. Ryuuko is scared out of her fucking mind.
From birth, Ryuuko has had a lot of things built around her not having much say. Her father tries to seal away and restrict the Life Fiber aspect of her existence when she was growing up, Aikurou does not reveal the truth sooner, etc. Her whole story has been one of lacking control and trying to find a means of expression, which is something I have touched on before. As time has gone on, with different folks like Satsuki coming to manipulate her attentions and use her in their own ways, Ryuuko keeps getting whiplashed around. It is a frustrating thing. And scary. Very much so, given the scales we are dealing in here.
She is thundering at the walls in a manner one could extrapolate as a cranked up to eleven version of how some teenagers or young adults go hog wild as a response to restrictive environments. Some turn to drugs or alcohol abuse, Ryuuko was susceptible to the fantasies Junketsu could give her. Even if it is itself quite destructive, it felt freeing.
She can ram her tongue into the mouth of Nui then push her away because it puts her antagonizer on the back end for once. It is a momentary rush and it feels good as all hell to her. Hence said kiss being for luck, seeing herself as in control of something.
…Except she is not of course. She is “just” a rampaging teenager on a power trip lashing out at all kinds of things due to longstanding issues surrounding her environment and treatment. There is a lot of self hatred matters due to this notion that she had so much hidden from her. That she was to be afraid, rather than being better socialized about her body and what it contained.
In reality though, she is looking for something more substantial, the question is what and where she can get it from. The entire fight for the rest of the episode is dealing in this, and Mako getting sucked into the open wound would in this kind of interpretation be akin to an intervention. Which is in its own way also a kind of force, oddly enough. Trying to lock down a friend and get them out of a destructive state because said friend does not feel they have enough power to control their own life in healthier manners.
Is it bombastic? Without a doubt. Is it messy action drama? Sure. The show has been increasing this tendency to drop very important lines like the “existential terror” bit that are downright essential to everything Kill la Kill wants to be dealing in right as the audience is reeling from something on the visual front like Ryuuko locking lips with Nui.
But, it has been putting things like the clothing and control elements more at the forefront in recent episodes. And I think that has been an excellent choice. Were it not to have done so, I would be far more alarmed for where the ending could go.
Nagi No Asukara (episode twenty two)
How much fan fiction is going to come from Sayu feeding Tsumugu’s farting fish arm in the bath tub?
That isn’t even so much snark as a genuine curiosity. Scenes like that do things to the internet.
Kaname continues to do that routine of his which gets under my skin, where he says things like “Maybe I should ask you out again” and such to Chisaki. He claims he is joking, but, it isn’t exactly a good one because it is loaded with years of emotional baggage. He strikes me as a character who is supposed to be making me want to shake him for being a manipulative prick on one level or another though. So this is less me complaining and more recognizing if this is their goal for his arc it continues to be that for me. As an individual, he irks me. But, there are good narrative reasons for that.
Likewise, we do have our explanation for why Manaka was being a borderline child last episode: she outright had a lobotomy performed by the sea god. Fair enough. The whole notion that memories were wiped and the heart will never be able to love again and all that though is, well… I will have to see. I was not the biggest fan of ef: A Tale of Memories, which locks a central dynamic of the series on such a hook. We have four episodes to deal with this fallout, a bunch of other character hangups in our love dodecahedron (or whatever shape it has taken on), and the potential end of the world years from now.
I want this to work. I am just envisioning all the ways this could go wrong.
Who knows though: maybe the final message is Hikari could have avoided all this happening to everyone he cared about and dooming the entire planet had he just told the girl he liked that she was cute and if she would like to go somewhere sometime.
Even if she had turned him down, you know it would have solved a lot of problems before they even began.
Space Dandy (episode ten)
Masayuki Miyaji is a bit of a wandering soul; some storyboard work here, some episode direction there. They were an Assistant Director on Spirited Away though, and had a movie of their own just the other year (Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntress).
In a sense, it is rather appropriate he was the person to handle our restless space heroes getting stuck in a blue collar time loop episode. Miyaji seems to have gone to great lengths to generally avoid doing the same thing for too long, and in a sense could in turn perhaps sympathize with that end of the struggle.
I loved watching Meow’s mom, dad, siblings, his whole family. Some of them did not get to say much, or even anything at all, but I felt they were characterized well enough from what we did see. That some did not make much of an interaction effort does speak of their own relationships with their older brother.
Dad being a machine worker making screws that he does not even know what they are implemented into dovetailed well with the time loop plot. It is the kind of life where every day does get to feel the same. You clock in, you make your product. You do not have a lot of money perhaps, but you do own the business and get to provide for your family. When you leave at the end of the day perhaps you head to the bar for a nice drinky drink and talk about what your son is up to out in the wide reaches of space. Then you do it all over again.
It is not a bad life, per say. I appreciated how Meow, despite leaving to get away from such a life, even comes to the conclusion that it does have its selling points. And that he sucks at making screws, despite having (at least at one time) other craftsmanship abilities. One can come to wonder how much of that may have perhaps played into his choice to leave home.
This episode also reminded me of why I have been enjoying the English dub so much more: elements like Meow’s video game stoner otaku “Believe it!” associates just comes across much funnier to me that way.
Pupa (episode nine)
Another episode where we have more of an individual scene than an installment of a weekly show.
This one hit me in a more heartbreaking manner though. Which is to say, I do not like to sound like someone who tells professional animation teams how to do their job but… this installment is just wasted potential all over the place. It could have been far more punchy and created less effort for the creative folks with just a few tweaks.
Yume spends most of this episode blindfolded and chained to a chair while her regenerating brother gets dissected. For a horror series, that is a fine setup, for someone to hear the screams and wails of something terrible and yet unseen. But the entire thing is shot with the camera dead centered on her fidgeting, and in a well lit room.
A first person sequence would not have been out of the question here to sell the mood and tension the episode was clearly going for. What slays me is this approach would have been easier to animate that way as well. Have her fidget around and be able to see only some fragmented things through cracks in the blindfold before breaking away. Corpse Party was able to try shot composition elements like that, the viewpoint of someone who can only hear the mutilation and screams, wondering when or if they would be next. And it heightened the scenes where it saw use.
You can even keep the jump cuts to the teddy bear scenes for Yume imagining what was going on. It would still work.
I feel like I’m teaching a remedial film school course. If I am horrified of anything, it is how much extra work it took to make this episode neutered and sterile, when the easier way out would have made it far more terrifying.
Gundam Build Fighters (episode twenty two)
As hard as I may sound on this series some weeks, I do not hold a whole lot against it. Of every currently airing show I am watching, this is the one where I can most consistently just lean back during without feeling I need notes.
Which does not mean it is perfect, by any means. I would have loved to have seen more of Sir John Ayers Mackenzie earlier so his fake heart attack could be more dramatic, for instance. The series has three episodes to go, and I feel we are just shoehorning in things like Tatsuya’s stories from his time at the Gunpla Academy.
But I did get to watch a version of the Gundam F91 try to beat the ever loving stuffing out of the Gundam Exia.
For me, I happen to not care too much for the Gundam 00 franchise entries. It starts out alright, then drifts off the rails into an even further out in left field sequel. Culminating in a movie that is even more outlandish and garish to me. As such, when the Exia suit was presented, I did not want to cheer for it.
Gundam F91, meanwhile, has a more tragic history. Originally planned as a full TV series but cut down to only a movie. Incidentally, it was the last Gundam theatrical movie until Gundam 00’s A Wakening of the Trailblazer almost twenty years later. But, even with all the storyline squashing and the like, there are many parts of that film I am rather fond of. I think it has great mobile suit designs, distinct yet classic character styles, solid animation and color palates, and the first half hour or so is a really crunchy visceral ride. I definitely like it more than Gundam 00.
These are times where Gundam Build Fighters just excels as popcorn entertainment for me. I wanted the Exia to get utterly destroyed. It managed to pull out a victory, but in turn I am properly jazzed up for next week and the looming tournament finale. That is what the show needed to do, and for me it did just the trick.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.