Anime roundup 8/2/2013: Take a Number

Gatchaman-3 Gatchaman Crowds #3 – This is the first sf work I know of to grapple full-on with the implications of widespread social networking. In any medium. You can point to any number of stories where blogging and online interaction are a standard part of the present and future, but it’s just there in the background. This is the first long-form attempt to make the technology a central theme.

It wasn’t supposed to be this show. It was supposed to be a fun little update to a franchise that started in the 1970s about protecting Earth from the forces of alien chaos. This wasn’t supposed to be the show, out of all the shows this season, carrying the banner of the finest traditions of speculative fiction. But here we are. If anyone stopping by to read this happens to think of sf as a literature of ideas, and thinks that modern television is incapable of participating in it, watch this show.

Now, about those mysterious Hundred– everyone remembers Hajime’s spot on the Spiritual Precipice was #101, right? For those who don’t want to go back and check, here are everyone else’s numbers:

  • Paiman: 3
  • O.D.: 12
  • Jō: 89
  • Sugane: 96
  • Utsu: 99

Was there a schism of some sort? At least #26 isn’t a double agent.

HxH-90 Hunter x Hunter #90 – As Gon faces down Knuckle, his tough, muscular opponent, finally invokes his power of… predatory lending? I was not expecting that. And yet, in retrospect, it fits perfectly into the whole philosophy of Nen powers. It follows hard-and-fast rules, it’s based on a simple concept, and it destroys the opponent brutally.

And Gon is now faced with what is truly his greatest weakness: he’s clever in his own way, but he’s bad at things that require IQ points.

Meanwhile, what is Shoot really up to with three disembodied floating left hands and an elaborate cage? Put your guesses in the comments!

Eccentric-4 The Eccentric Family #4 – The Gozan Fire Festival is a tradition going back several hundred years or so. At the conclusion of Obon, when the spirits of the dead return to the spirit world, five huge bonfires are lit on the mountains surrounding Kyoto. The oldest, and the one featured in this episode, is Daimonji (literally “the character dai“, which is what it looks like), which sits on Mt. Nyoigatake.

This underscores how prestigious a position Yakushibo Nyoigatake, now Professor Akadama, once held as the chief of the tengu of that mountain, and how far he’s fallen (no pun intended) by losing his ability to fly.

The other fires, if you’re curious, are Hidari-daimonji (“the character dai over there on the right”), Funagata (“boat-shaped”), Torii-gata (“temple-gate-shaped”), and Myōhō (literally “marvelous law”, a term for the teachings of the Buddha).

Hotei, who both Yaichiro and the Ebisugawa patriarch were imitating, is one of the Seven Lucky Gods. He’s typically depicted as a fat Buddha-like figure with a sack full of gifts, akin to a Japanese Santa Claus. Another of the Seven Lucky Gods is Benzaiten, aka Benten.

DayBreak-4 Day Break Illusion #4 – Two more interesting names: the cat and the crow are Schrödinger and Laplace respectively. Okay, you probably all recognize the first one, but why name the crow after a mathematician?

My guess is the writer is thinking of Laplace’s Demon, his assertion that the universe is ultimately deterministic. The whole point of Schrödinger’s experiment was of course that it isn’t, because you cannot know from the initial setup whether the cat will live or die.

Meanwhile, here’s the villain, enticing victims with the hope to “change the future”, and Akari is struggling with what her destiny might be. Determinism vs. free will seems to be the theme Day Break Illusion is heading for. I just hope it starts heading there a little faster. The Madoka Magica homages are nice and all, but this show really needs to strike out on its own soon.

Some Tarot trivia: the card given to this week’s victim is XV, The Devil, and the card Ariel holds up in class, presumably her power card, is XX, Judgement.

Space-Bros-67 Space Brothers #67 – Mutta faces the Giant Kaiju Burger of Information Overload, but a guy who multitasks to relax when he’s stressed out is going to be able to handle this somehow.

There was a nice little reminder here that for all that this story ambles along like it’s just dealing with things as it comes to them, the author it has been planning it all out very carefully. About a year ago (real time and story time) when Mutta and the other would-be astronauts were stuck in sealed habitats for two weeks to see how they handled it, the JAXA examiners looked in to see how everyone was passing the time. Serika was studying a textbook on Russian– ah, good, said the examiners, she’s working on making sure she can communicate with fellow astronauts if she’s selected. And then there was a cut to Mutta, who was reading 200 American Jokes. It just looked like a quick throwaway gag about what a wacky guy Mutta is, but we get the real payoff here.

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