Overall a great week for anime. Unfortunately, I’m too busy with this season’s titles that I’m unable to get back on my backlog. I might have to consider skipping a season to catch up but… whatever.
Net-juu no Susume – Episode 3
Time to keep track of my calendar because I have a gut feeling these cute and adorable days with Hayashi and Lily are crashing into a wall sooner or later. It’s inevitable, but I guess it won’t be as terrible as what I am making it out to be.
There’s a line that you have to be mindful of specially when interacting with other people in the virtual space. While I think it’s obvious Net-juu won’t really address this issue in a dark undertone or be sardonic with it, we see how Lily (and Hayashi to a lesser extent) are treading each other’s personal spaces with caution. Opening up to someone whom you’re ‘friends with online’ — or much more implying romantic feelings — won’t, in reality, always go in the direction you want it to be simply because you have to take the benefit of the doubt that this person is who I think he/she is. As such, I think one primary factor that makes me smitten over the two of them is that I already have an idea that things will still work out even if they find out who each other really is. It’s a lot different if Net-juu‘s narrative is ambiguous, risking it to be more of a guessing game than the otherwise smooth-sailing, panoramic view we already have with it. Eliminating the obscurity allows us to just enjoy the interactions as is without worrying that the other party isn’t telling the whole truth (consider SAO if its system hides what your true gender is in-game). After all, in-game gender (or whatever your online persona is) has a considerable influence on how we interact with someone and vice versa.
Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou – Episode 3
Isn’t it ironic to find perfection in an otherwise decrepit world?
Or maybe it isn’t that ironic as what I am suggesting. In as much as there isn’t any reason needed for us to live, perfection doesn’t need a time nor a place to exist in. I may sound like I’m repeating a pattern here considering that ‘perfection’ is something that easily comes around with iyashikei and/or pure slice of life anime. It’s similar to how one finds no blemish in their viewing of anime like Flying Witch, YKK, Non Non Biyori etc. other than it simply isn’t their cup of tea (majority would otherwise dismiss them as boring which isn’t exactly correct). Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou‘s perfection in its first 3 weeks (specially this week’s episode) doesn’t only exist in the vacuum of what its genre does and what it can do, but specifically episode 3 had such a masterful storytelling to the point that it’s almost predictable… only that it’s really not predictable.
I’d like to think there is a ‘pitch’ and a ‘sell’ on Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou‘s storytelling this episode 3. It’s like the polar opposite of what Shuumatsu no Izetta have done that, for better or worse, caused its implosion. Simply put, Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou pitches or plays an event, and sells or retells it afterward to close off a rather self-contained gag/narrative (it’s almost like a boomerang joke if you will). The first example was when the two girls were driving adjacent to the gorge and discussing how they needed a bridge to get to the other side — that’s the pitch. The sell in this case is that they were confronted by a stranger, mood changes to a hostile air, but it turns out said stranger made all that commotion to, well, make a bridge.
Here are two more examples out of many. The pitch here is Yuuri and Hanazawa’s conversation with the topic being the importance of the latter’s maps. The sell here is Chi bringing up Yuuri’s tendency to burn things she shouldn’t. Lastly — the scene that gave me this ‘oh so that’s how it is’ moment — is with Chi complaining that there should be a chain fence in the elevator cause she’s either really just afraid of heights, or maybe she’s so freaked out she’s already imagining a Final Destination ending for their show. The sell? You already know the answer to this.
The fact that there is a pattern to its storytelling should make it predictable, but that isn’t really the case given how natural and free-flowing the story’s progression is — you’ll never really know when the sell will play out unless ample cues have been brought up. It runs contrary to, say, what I consider as ‘lazy’ writing: a pitch so awkward you’ll see what comes next from miles away (plot devices, etc., etc).
Anyways, that pretty much sums it up. I actually wasn’t expecting an overarching plot with this anime. I was lead to believe we’ll get an episodic formula, but the girls’ detour this episode proves to be a much, much better direction for this show. Also, I have this weirdest theory inside of my head that the girls are already dead (you can ignore this if you want to). Episode 1: they shot each other. Episode 2: either they died from a severe concussion from not wearing their helmets, or they passed away from eating that fish (Nier, anyone?). Episode 3: they got crushed by that building. I mean, after all, why did the girls cross the bridge? To get to the other side, of course. Maybe each of these events are the girls’ last tours…
3-gatsu no Lion – Episode 2
While 3-gatsu no Lion may be heralded as one of the best in shifting its tone and mood within a couple of seconds, I think this wouldn’t have been as effective if not for its ability to maintain that atmosphere. Episode 2 is just as potent in its color compositions compared to the rather jubilant first episode, yet underneath the former’s palette is something far more volatile.
One such scene is with the washed-out neon lights surrounding Gouto and Kyouko at the later part of the episode. It could’ve been written off as a comedic and lighthearted moment between the two (which, to be honest, we rarely see from them) if not for the way it was contextualized and presented. Not everything that appears colorful in 3-gatsu will suggest a positive emotion, but this dictum creates a conflicting effect specially when the person you see illuminated by it is Gotou. The lingering sound of a flute, a mechanical beep, and an image of him reflected by dripping IV fluid — it was a perfect way to introduce a softer side to the otherwise rock solid person we all knew.
Incidentally, this dichotomy was already brought to the foreground as early as when he took the side of Shimada and with the subtle connection to how everyone reacted to Kamakura’s bold declaration of redemption. Smith and Issa fanboys over how “Kengo is so cool”, whereas Rei pensively questions whether there really was an ounce of confidence in Kamakura’s bravado. Of course, we already know the answer to that: it couldn’t have been anything but frustrating. What you see is not exactly what you get — an idea that’s divergent to an anime that heavily leans on its visual presentation to convey characterization.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t really that surprising to see this side to Gotou. I mean, 3-gatsu already hinted at it last season with how we’ll never really know what kind of personality someone holds until we hear or see it from them directly. Plus it isn’t as if Gotou is the one making advances on Kyouko, something which Rei probably doesn’t have any idea of yet. Ahh, well. I guess that just goes to show our boy still has a lot more to learn.
Houseki no Kuni – Episode 3
Ahh, yes. Surely, that was arguably one of the best animated episode to date this season, but if anything that was certainly the most fun and lighthearted (if you even consider those burns light) character interactions I’ve seen so far. Dia’s ‘ara ara’ character was just perfect, and I even had to pause the show after she reprimanded the snail (Phos?) with a bossy “Ne!~”. Goodness, that was perfect. It wasn’t just all Dia this episode as we are also treated with a rather hilarious and acerbic recollection of the impressions Phos’ acquaintances has on her (Whoa, she turned into a snail? Oh, okay — let me finish fixing this table first LOL). What Houseki no Kuni has in store for Phos’ social standing isn’t set in stone yet, but right now I’m just content in seeing them take jabs on our obnoxious little gem. Really, remarking how smarter and cuter the snail is than Phos — something which I nodded my agreement with — without any hint of malice was one of the hottest burn I’ve seen this year.
Just Because! – Episode 3
I had the impression that Just Because!‘s comedic punchlines were a bit forced specially in its first two episodes. This week, however, it managed to hit all the right notes to set me off laughing from start to finish.
This may just be my own fault simply because I wasn’t acquainted well enough yet with the characters to differentiate whether they’re simply doing it for the sake of comedy, or that their actions are inherently a part of their personalities. Having quite a number of characters to expound on in a span of two weeks is definitely not a one-night task, hence it’s only during this episode that I’m finally starting to get a feel of their idiosyncrasies. This feeds into the fact that each and every characters — even the supporting ones — are getting their own fair share of spotlight. What we’ve thought of as centralized narrative on a ‘love pentagram’ actually appears bigger with the inclusion of those two gofers who’s all horny on camera-chick, Hazuki’s siblings, and heck even those two guys who saw what could probably become one of the most desperate moment in Haruto’s entire life.
Regardless, beneath this jocular exterior, Just Because! presents an uncertain group of kids who seems to be at the height of their adolescent indecisiveness. As such, I think it is apt for me to retrospectively view it more as coming of age story rather than that of a love story, but to what end Just Because! will lead me is still unclear.
Blend S – Episode 3
Maika is too cute I might just develop a new kind of fetish before this series ends… and that doesn’t feel too far from happening.
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Episode 3
Seriously… c-can someone pass me the tissues?
Man, I was honestly holding back the tears for like ten whole minutes. I don’t think I’ll be able to express how cathartic that was, so you folks should just watch this already if you haven’t. Anyways, in retrospect, it goes to show how fucked up and traumatized Chise really is. Despite the warm and optimistic view Nevin shared with her, she still has it at the back of her head that death is enviable. The very thought of her having an emotionally deep, hollow chasm added a lot of weight to the dragon’s farewell. We see how much Chise needed to be patched up with that grim flashback of hers, but at the same time Nevin had to outpour her pessimism with gentleness — it’s almost like a pure concoction of sadness and happiness. Of course, we still have a long way to go in making our heroine feel as if she’s fortunate. Surely, the idea of her having a fun time without any worries whatsoever is going to be so rewarding later on.
This week was so uneventful I don’t even have a recollection of what happened other than watching anime. For now, enjoy this Nier OST. This came into mind after that Mahoutsukai episode.