This Week: Tenchi Muyo! Love, Gundam Build Fighters Try, Gundam Reconguista in G, and Sega Hard Girls.
Season midterms, essentially, and while we have more than one classroom themed show on this list they are by no means on track for equal marks.
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Tenchi Muyo! Love (Ai Tenchi Muyo!) [Episodes twenty four through twenty eight]
The sports festival episodes continue through this entire set. So the timeline and subplot involving the events of these same or similar characters in the past seems well and truly to have fallen off the wagon, given its no show last week as well.
In an effort to show I do not feel I am being disproportionately off regarding the older and new characters, you will hopefully recall I mentioned in the thirteen through eighteen batch a lot about the episode where Ryoko makes dinner. On a core level, it was an episode which just had to deliver on a single joke, and it could not manage the energy to do so creatively. Similarly, we have an episode here which does itself also revolve around a single, but easy to execute upon with the right creative mindset, joke.
Here then, the gag is effectively supposed to be that a robot has been allowed into the sport festival obstacle course competition. While a robot is not a member of the student body, it could be taken as a kind of extension of the body of a member of the school. As a non person, it would of course also not be consider to be human member of another school. So, the machine gets to enter and we have one of those rather handwave centric but justified for sake of antics bit of cartoon wordplay shenanigans. And that would work, and be reasonably fine.
But, much like how someone may over explain their own joke, the characters themselves keep reminding themselves (and in turn the viewer) of how the robot should (arguably) not be involved in the competition. Effectively, the script and characters are restating the joke several times not so much for impact, or for the new ways in which a repeated joke can be funny, but to merely ensure everyone got the joke. Which, invariably, sucks a lot of the air and any momentum it could have right out of the room.
Given how short these episodes are, this means that by the time it is done ensuring as many people as possible understand the (potential there was for a) joke, that particular episode concludes.
Elsewhere, there is a mock cavalry battle event as a part of the sporting activities.
That is, rather than horses it is a competition in which the students are on two opposing sides, and two people must hold up a third with their arms and shoulders and attempt to topple others from their perches. By extension, this means any given shot of most character faces in this situation then also includes butt and crotch shots just due to the physical geometry involved. On the subject of butts particularly, another event covered in these episodes is that of butt sumo wrestling, where the competitors need to nudge each other out of small elevated ring with their posteriors. Which, I am pretty sure that last time I saw that in a form of entertainment media was a video which was using selected clips from Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
Of note: Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball was never, to the best of my knowledge, funded by a prefectural board so as to promote itself. Thinking it over, I am still not entirely sure why this series had to use Tenchi Muyo! characters at all. It could have been a Dead or Alive schoolyard sitcom entry by the sea for fanservice, fights, and swimsuits, and probably at least be justifiable for Okayama’s oceanside.
Gundam Build Fighters Try [Episode six]
The notion is raised this week that the Winning Gundam developed by Fumina has hidden functions we have yet to see, which is appealing.
My biggest concern in assigning The Girl of the team with a cuter or less serious looking SD Gundam has been the potential risk she gets less prominent battle displays. China had things like Bearguy last season, and while that was amazing and whimsical in its own right it also inherently makes her much easier for her model to be used for gags and comedy, rather than as a more earnest effort to participate in Gunpla building. It is a rough line to walk, as no, I think female characters in a series like this should be able to express themselves through their building however they want.
I also do not want their efforts to be perceived as a joke though, since I would like it for this series to be as inclusive as possible rather than fall into a Boys Toys sort of trap that would somehow diminish “girlie” or “cuter” designs.
I merely worry because I care. I hope the Winning Gundam gets to wreck folks just as much as every other robot.
This inclusion I hope for does in its own way extend even to the characters themselves watching a rules video, to ensure everyone regardless of background is operating on the same page and has a firm understanding of how the tournament will progress and how games work.
This does feel at least a little odd to pull out at the sixth episode, where we have already had several battles already. One would assume those who were not already processing enough of the Gunpla battle system would have tuned out already. I suppose one can chalk it up to the consideration to frontload the season with a bit more action and diving into things with character, and being able to slow down a bit here prior to a tournament arc to deliver a proper and formal explanation for how the technicalities for things like the timer running out or changing robots between matches.
Having a sequence like that is likely better than not having having one at all, as this season does seem to be aiming to be as easy to get into within a minimum of overheard from the last season. Though I will not deny it also feels a tiny bit odd.
Yuuma working at his family restaurant for a bit as he does in this episode are the nice touches of continuity and connectivity with the first season that I have been looking for when they have presented themselves. However rarely these instances have occurred, they are a nice reminder that this series does exist within the same universe as the previous season.
Themed teams also make more of a showing this week, as they were an interesting part of the first season where they popped up. In this case, we are essentially watching Team Try Fighters versus The 08th MS Team, in a jungle ruins field to boot. Of course, as the mass production Gundam’s here are not fighting an extended ground war with the associated wear and tear over time, this tournament fight is closer to what such a unit would be capable of closer the height of their capabilities and will full armaments and supplies. It provides an added thematic backing to the affair, as much of this episode was concerned with the three lead characters fighting more as individuals than as a cohesive force. Pitting the Try Fighters against an enemy team which had outfitted itself similarly to a mobile suit suit fighting unit known by the Gundam fanbase less for the individual power of its machines and more for its unit cohesion better shows the accomplishment when our characters do manage to pull out a victory.
While it has its technical first rollout last episode, that fight was primarily about Sekai showing is ability to move freely in outer space settings. This is a more fleshed out battle for the Winning Gundam to get a proper showcase in. Its custom design is such where it breaks apart into support equipment for the other two team members. In essence then, Fumina’s Winning Gundam forces Sekai and Yuuma to work together to capitalize on such moments. It is a nice thematic move in its own right, for her to bring two unlikely folks together and they can all be friends together. Though it is also tricky to shake the sense that it does pose the risk of Fumina’s Gundam to not get to deliver as many keynote finishes or the like.
The show is liable to alter her Gundam to a different model at some later point of course, as that happened a few times in the first season. So if its SD qualities do turn out to reduce the amount of impact she herself gets to make on the game down the road, ideally there will be another model around the corner.
Gundam Reconguista in G (Gundam: G no Reconguista) [Episode eight]
We get to meet the Inspector General of Ameria this week.
Aside from the relationship connection of him being Aida’s father, this has a more important narrative role far beyond that. We are finally getting to see more leadership roles from other national sides involved in the current state of affairs on the Earth. What this series has needed something of a large dose of is the ability to frame what is going on with a more international context so that viewers have a better idea of what is transpiring in this universe. When our Capital Guard / Capital Army affiliated players have reacted to or commented upon various goings on, it has been difficult to really latch on to what the situation with Ameria, Gondwan, and so on has been.
While our pirate unit on the Megafauna has been a black ops Ameria operation all along, that still has not really helped matters too terribly much. We have mostly been reacting to the situation of Bellri playing hostage and the coresponding Capital Army push using the justification to get him and the G-Self back, and the multiple firefights which have come from that. The political and world building stuff then has gotten squeezed out of the somewhat cramped running time, as we are still in a mode where it can feel like the series is running at double speed to make up for a smaller total episode count than Tomino’s television Gundam entries have previously received.
The “pirate” force really being an arm of the Ameria military were known far longer ago in the series, of course, and I have mentioned it before. But, the show taking the time to better ground us in what they were up to with this operation and what the goal of the project was is dearly appreciated when one is as information starved as we have been in various sectors of this program. The Megafauna, then, is a transport and weapons project that Ameria was working on under a different name previously, but was killed by bureaucracy at an international conference due to violating various aspects of the technological taboos which permeate this world. Of course, just because something can not be done officially does not mean it was scrapped entirely, and so we have our “pirate” group.
And besides, it seems as though for however important this technological taboo is said to be, including the Pope, it seems as though multiple countries are entirely willing to pay it no mind so as to further their own ends.
There are two thematics which come out of this course.
The first being, naturally, the inherent danger and alarm folks like Bellri’s mother sees in such rampant disregard for these social traditions and protocols regarding technology which have been put into place as humanity has rebuilt itself to a somewhat functional level again. Politicians, people of power and ambition, coming to possess command over materials and knowledge which could again level mankind back to a stone if not borderline feral age. Secondarily though, we have Aida’s father showing that their violations of the technological taboo have extended to astronomical observation of the moon. This too is a practice which has been banned by time and tradition, and yet in breaking it he is able to reveal to an official of another nation the photographic imagery they have acquired of activity far beyond what was their previous understanding.
To extrapolate a bit further than what the episode itself goes into: some spacenoids from the colony structures of the Universal Century survived the downfall of that era, but things have been difficult for them as well. In essence, a reformatted economic structure consists the Earth via the Capital Tower having been able to provide raw materials that would be difficult to impossible for acquiring in space while the space colony descendants are in a far better position to handle the recharging, maintenance, or construction of Photon Batteries to provide energy units back.
But, as Ameria has figured out by breaking some of the observational taboos, things seem to be going not only well on the moon at the moment, but that there has been an overall boom in expansion and construction out there. Consider then also the known rise of a political-religious order which has come to control the economic exchange and the umbilical cord nature of the Capital Tower, and their own development and increasing expansion of a military wing of their foreign policy for an international player which was previously a had but only self defense based units.
The understandable concern by actors like Ameria as they process this information is that the global situation may well be one that is rapidly moving to control them all the more, if not shut them out or run them down entirely. The Capital Army would be in a position where their ability to demand further concessions and taboos by force to outside actors could be applied in exchange for Ameria, Gondowon, and elsewhere ever receiving a continual supply of Photon Batteries again.
Plus the “X” factor of what the spacenoids have even been up to with their development. As the G-Self itself fell from space, and reference has been made to other materials coming from space as well, it is certainly possible to project it tying back into a spacenoid project. Raraiya Monday’s emotional stability also has been improving during her extended time on Earth, and more specifically her extended exposure to large water environments like the ocean around the Megafauna and her personal Chuchumy fish bowl.
Tomino is a fan of the idea that humans in space would find great psychological comfort in the presence of water, so the pieces can begin to be seen that she too was likely suffering from extended deprivation from seeing the life anchoring fluid in its calming and reflecting ways.
Something of potential note is Bellri’s next episode sales pitch this time around.
He has tended to give these rather upbeat, if somewhat ridiculous, send offs at the end. Lines such as not to watch the next episode while walking, and the like. This time though, the same upbeat style is retained while his ending line for the preview is “If you don’t watch, your life will be filled with darkness.”
It has the potential to mean absolutely nothing of course, but it stands out a lot in contrast to a lot of what the show has had him say in these areas up to this point. He has had some dark stuff thrown his way already in the narrative of course, such as accidentally killing Instructor Dellensen. And we are still operating under the notion that the “Real” credits to this show are still sidelined due to them being said to contain significant spoilers for something or things which have not yet occurred in the show.
As we are about a quarter of the way through this series then, and with the general internet activity I have seen for it taking harsher turns on it nearly by the week, it would by all means behoove the series to buckle down and lay more of its cards down on the table.
Sega Hard Girls (Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls) [Episode six]
This Week in I Can’t Believe My Sega Consoles Are This Cute:
Should I Be a Gundam Pilot, or Can I Really Be an Armor Hunter Mellowlink Girl.
Backing up a bit, the series takes little time getting into the game this week after our standalone episode last time, and our antics take place in Border Break: Sega Network Robot Wars. This is the first post-Dreamcast game Sega has made to receive this level of attention so far within the show, which while I had considered such things to be within the realm of possibility it still threw me a little off guard.
It makes perfect sense from a cross promotional standpoint of course, and in that respect Border Break is one of Sega’s big success stories in recent years. As an arcade sensation, it has sold several thousand machines and up to twenty robots on two teams of ten can be involved at once. It features multiple classes to fill the role of, and users can save and customize their machines for later use. While several years old now (originally released in 2015), it is still heavily supported by Sega and players to the extent of having a two tier Grand Prix competitive series which will be continued into 2015.
So, it is not Virtual On, which is what I had been hoping for on the Sega robot game spectrum for this show to pick up and place on a pedestal. But, it does place all three console girls in entirely unknown waters to their own libraries.
Furthermore, given that it is a presently played game and a networked one to boot, it does make the “hacker” plot turn of this episode at least a little more plausible.
Do not misunderstanding me: of the equipment this show has in its back pocket, it is a free pass to be as impossible as possible.
And the show has already crossed characters between game wires before. But, if the series does want to go down the “outside forces break into the game world” route, a popular and currently played arcade game does ease the plot point more as a potential access point than if they were using a Saturn NetLink for dial up Virtual On play. Furthermore, this does also shake things up a bit more from the norm, as while this is a two parter episode we have forces colliding in new ways rather than just another Complete The Assigned Task While Some Zany Things Occur runout. As established in Virtua Fighter and Space Channel 5, we have been there and done that. Halfway through the show then becomes a good time to go beyond what we have already done before in the progression department.
Of course, that the hacker is none other than Dr Robotnik / Eggman does help matters all the more.
In watching a show like this, which is a nice bundle of trivia, love letters, and gags around Sega franchises and memorabilia, there is no question of “if” the Sonic the Hedgehog universe shows up. It is a given expectation for the life fiber of the program. It also can be something of a great concern, given Sega’s track record of faceplanting that series in recent years (even as I type this, bad press for and awful coding displays within the recently released Sonic Boom has already become an internet talking point).
But, Sega Hard Girls has been an enjoyable show so far. It has a fun loving respect for its subject matter and the viewers at home. As next week will show off Sonic more prominently, his arrival here being the cliffhanger of the episode, there are questions for how the series could progress from here. Sonic could save the day, and Robotnik shutting down the game exit could be immediately undone, sure.
Or, there is potential that even if Robotnik is pushed back or defeated in the world of Border Break, the girls may have to do some sort of Reboot style game hopping of their own to someday find their way back home. If that is the direction this show wanted to go with for a time, I would be all for it, and it would be one of the more exciting things involving Sonic the Hedgehog in quite some time.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.