Fall 2017 – Weeks 3 & 4

I apologize if I missed last week’s post. I ended up getting immersed in refurbishing the blog’s look and forgot that I was in the middle of writing something. In any case, it’s hard to miss anime this week when you’ve got 3-gatsu on steroids and Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou on crack.

Net-juu no Susume – Episode 4 & 5

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Call it contrived, but the too good to be true coincidences in Net-juuseemingly small world barely matters anymore when you have these characters to root for. And it isn’t to say that these coincidences are impossible. I’ve met at least more than a dozen players gender-bending online — 3-4 who are girls in real life — though suffice to say they don’t live in the same city much less end up becoming a couple.

Regardless, Net-juu portrays a strikingly down-to-earth story even in the case that the odds of it happening may seem far-fetched. Its take on the nuances of MMO culture has always been spot on, but if anything I’m also loving its depiction of how that culture itself affects the life of the people on the other side of the screen. Moriko converting whatever she purchases into loot boxes was awfully relateable and I can’t help but titter in embarrassment after remembering where I spent most of my lunch money. This very rationality is what turns Net-juu‘s improbable plot and twists into something that isn’t far-fetched at all, because I think if there’s anything more difficult to believe than a non-sensical story is a character who is too out of this world.

Anyways, Net-juu has been great so far other than the fact that it’s only going to be 10 episodes long. And despite that, it’s still handling its pacing rather perfectly. I thought it’s going to be laden with personal drama once it addresses Moriko’s flashbacks (maybe in the later episodes/chapters?), but for now, I’m all right with the direction of where this is going.

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryouko – Episodes 4 & 5

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(Well, basically just episode 4 because 5 is already perfect and doesn’t need to be explained any further)

Ahh, photographs. Didn’t I mention from the beginning this was a lot closer to YKK than anything else? Yet despite that, it’s quite interesting to see the difference in how the characters approached the allusion of transience through a camera/photograph, although the context between the two isn’t exactly the same. YKK‘s Alpha and the time she had with her camera was a lot more personal, aiming to apprise that we should enjoy and experience a moment in our life unfiltered rather than storing them in catalogs of digital images; arguably, what she experiences in the present holds greater value than what awaits in the future. At the end of the day, she muses without much regret how she wasn’t able to take a single picture even in the presence of a beautiful scenery.

Chi, on the other hand, was indulgent on taking a picture of her and Yuuri together — a subtle gesture that hints on the resignation that their photo would last longer than their own lifespan. She probably wanted to be remembered, she probably wanted to leave behind a mark that she was there with Yuuri, breathing, living, existing. It’s as if an ironic imitation to how the long forgone residents of the city built statues of idols and gods(?) — effigies that were once a symbol of faith but are now nothing but inconvenient roadblocks and a source of curiosity for the traveling duo. Of course, Alpha, an android whose lifespan is likely to last a century, may have had similar thoughts before specially when it starts to become obvious that everything around her is changing, but in a way this was upended in Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryouko — Chi and Yuuri’s life is dictated by how much resources they still have, and the ever constant passing of time can care less for the either of them. And yet, here they are, having fun with their jerry-rigged band of cans and raindrops as if boredom can stop them from enjoying life.

3-gatsu no Lion Season 2– Episodes 3 & 4

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Nothing much happened back in episode 3. It was more of a rehash of Rei’s solitary past, a set up for this week’s tempestuous chapter. 3-gatsu already gave us a forewarning last week that we’re going to be in for some hectic development with a cliffhanger from Hina, although apart from the feels what I wasn’t expecting was Shaft‘s tour de force of theatrics this episode. Of course, that’s practically one of the things a viewer has to be wary of when dealing with a Shaft anime, but for better or worse this episode of 3-gatsu was nothing but gripping from start to finish.

It didn’t take long for me to register that it’s going to be one of those Shaft episodes where it will blow my expectations away. Framing Hina in a lower aspect ratio hobbling back home under the jaded hue of dusk, sobbing, her steps producing uneven sounds of a shoe and a slipper on asphalt — all this framed without showing us a steady glimpse of her self. It’s as she didn’t want anyone to see her woebegone image, and it’s not until Akari slides the door open that we’re shown a clear shot of her face breaking into a stream of tears, the crows singing their own unsympathetic chorus thereafter. Rei coldly narrates what happened, and the rest was Shaft at its finest.

Another instance where this episode had me at the edge of my seat was with Hina persuading Chiho to raise the issue to their teachers. Chiho protested, and the camera focused on her shaking feet and quivering lips. She gave a whimpering sob, pleads Hina not to tell anyone, and the camera recoiled back to an almost long shot of both of them. A lingering pause, a shot of the clock ticking — it’s as tense and uncomfortable as it can get, with the camera placing us in the perspective that Chiho is pushing away attempts of anyone coming near her. We always see characters reacting and interacting, but is there a way we can perceive their raw emotions apart from their actions? There is, and that’s something that 3-gatsu has proven time and again. Its camera has a life of itself, like a dancer leading us to the next step; the director a poet versed in visual metaphors.

If I have the leisure to I’d keep on discussing how these cinematic choices played out for me, but I’d rather spare you folks the blabber. Some may think that Shaft is just vomiting whatever artistic style they think looks cool/different in this episode, but on a closer inspection, these choices appear to be a lot more shaped by the narrative it wants to portray and a lot less than a matter of the creators’ pretentiousness. Otherwise, that isn’t enough of an explanation why this episode is able to resonate with a number of people… unless they are accused of being shallow. After all, what truly lingered on my chest after watching this episode are the emotions the characters went through. Not the head-tilts; not Shaft being Shaft — these all come into view later after peeling the layers of how the emotions permeated, and that’s yet another case in point where you’ll barely notice these things trying to pull at your heartstrings.

Short thoughts:

  • They got me at that part where Hina was seeing Chiho away. Like, the colors suddenly looked washed out like fading watercolor blotted by tears.
  • And that whole dinner scene, too. Characters just went full sakuga showing how lively and cheerful they are.
  • Bullying or whatever, let’s just be nice as much as we can. Please.
  • ALL ABOARD THE REIxHINA SHIP!
  • Yet another stellar performance from HanaKana.
  • Ahh, emotional investment. I think being able to relax, laugh, and be sad with the characters is one thing that easily lets us connect with them, and Chica Umino’s works are always chock-full of these moments.

Houseki no Kuni – Episode 4 & 5

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Houseki no Kuni is starting to become an esoteric mix of Buddhist references, NieR, and more and I’m not even complaining.

P.S. Who the hell is Watermelon?

Just Because! – Episodes 4 & 5

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I like all the characters here with the exception of Eita. I’m not a big fan of his personality especially when he looks uninterested in something but ends up getting salty if things don’t go his way. Then again I guess that’s what makes this high school boy even more realistic.

Blend S – Episode 4 & 5

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Welp. I guess one problem with Blend S‘ formulaic appeal is that it wears off after a couple of episodes — it’s just practically a rinse and repeat of jokes centered on each character’s genre/persona, and nothing much to offer in actual development which episode 5 just had a little bit of.

Mahoutsukai no Yome – Episode 4 & 5

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Aaaaaand that’s 3 times Chise got kidnapped. I do like magical cats and all but this pacing is giving me a bit of an itch… although these Witcher 3-esque side-quests are still pretty great to watch.

Weekly Weekly-chan

I might not be able to post again next week. I’ve got an out of town with my colleagues due this Saturday. I honestly don’t want to join but whatever. I’ll just make up an excuse they can’t refute like there’s this anime I want to watch and, and… no, not gonna fly.

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