Anime roundup 1/23/2014: More Worlds to Conquer

In this week’s viewing: The final lineup for this season is set and Japan is menaced in all sorts of ways.

Pilot-Song-2-3 The Pilot’s Love Song #2-3 – The image that popped into my head during the description of the known world and the mission was a bit from Ringworld. As the main characters fly over one of the Great Oceans, they see a ship setting out on an ocean a million miles wide, for a voyage that will last years before it makes landfall.

I think we are dealing with a Big Dumb Object here, and one which is not necessarily working as built. There’s no obvious good reason to have a waterfall uncountable thousands of miles long running through the middle of an ocean. A spot that spits out giant floating rocks does not sound planned either. And it’s worth noting that the legend in episode 1 conceives of the world as inherently broken.

The foreground romance is nice and sweet and all, but the characters are still pretty bland. So far, I recommend this show entirely on the strength of how it gets the sensawunda nerve tingling.

Nobunagun-2-3 Nobunagun #2-3 – This continues to, um, fire on all cylinders despite still having an incredibly silly premise. It’s an unusual twist to give the heroine access to Nobunaga Oda’s tactical abilities as well, and that’s something that will probably continue to elevate the story far above expectations.

But first, the still-obligatory training episode, which turns into a bit of a reverse harem comedy. That’s the first time I’ve seen a female character having a bunch of men trying to offer her food. (A trope of the standard harem comedy is the female love interests competing to make lunch for the awkward and overwhelmed hero.) The humiliation of the main character involving a state of undress is practically a requirement of the form, but all the same I’m hoping Creepshot Guy is first in line for a tragic death.

Buddy-Complex-2 Buddy Complex #2 – Something was going to have to miss the final cut for the rest of the season, and this is it. Episode 2 makes it clear that whatever story is up ahead will be taking a back seat to big long scenes of mecha flying around and shooting at each other. Also that that story is not going to be anything terribly new, as Aoba’s obviously destined fighting partner already hates him on the basis of nothing at all other than the plot is going to require them to not get along for a while before they decide to get along and thus level up.

The English terms being used for the magic technological brain linkup make the whole thing into an unfortunate double-entendre, unless the writers actually mean to imply what they’re implying. I can’t completely rule out the possibility, in which case, shippers, this is your show.

Hozuki-2 Hozuki no Reitetsu #2 – The Japanese underworld lies on the other side of the river Sanzu (“Three Crossings”). The blessed souls are able to cross it via a bridge, but the moderately evil must ford it, and the truly sinful have to cross deep water. By the river is the hag Datsueba, who strips the arrivals of their clothes, or, if they arrive naked, their skin. It seems reasonable to translate the Sanzu as equivalent to the Styx, especially as it turns out that Christian Hell exists in this story too.

The young lady in the tiger-striped bikini is Lum from Urusei Yatsura (Those Obnoxious Aliens), which is remembered by many a Western fan of a certain age as their gateway into anime, and many a gamer of a certain age as that thing that Teenagers From Outer Space was based on. Lum is an alien, but inspired by the appearance of oni, which traditionally have horns, wild hair, tiger-skin loincloths, and kanabō clubs such as the one Hōzuki carries.

And yes, the Japanese writing system is significantly different from the Roman alphabet, but it really is still possible to misspell “Santa” as “Satan”.

Samurai-Flamenco-12-13 Samurai Flamenco #12-13 – Trouble keeps increasing exponentially as our heroes go from facing famous swordsmen and Alan Moore comics to telling people to evacuate Japan.

In the land of super sentai shows such as this has been imitating the last few episodes, the Flamengers would simply come up with a new powerup that would defeat the oncoming hordes with minimal damage to the surrounding nation. In the pattern that Samurai Flamenco is following, one would now expect Masayoshi to arrange a confrontation with the boss of From Beyond, only to discover that it grew up watching transmissions from Earth and wanted to be the alien menace threatening the planet one day. Being that it’s also done a great job confounding expectations, I confidently predict that neither of those things will happen.

Speaking of patterns, the way Kaname goes missing every time Masayoshi really needs him, you might start thinking he was doing it on purpose…

Kill-la-Kill-13-14 Kill la Kill #13-14 – Ha! I was right about Senketsu after all, just an episode early. Well, half right at least– we’ll see if it takes most of a season for Ryūko to piece him back together or construct a new outfit.

In the meantime, Satsuki and her lieutenants are off to subdue the Kansai region in a whirl of regional stereotypes. First there’s Kobe, well-known to gourmets and Iron Chef fans for the most expensive beef in the world. Then Kyoto, where the top school carries on the traditions of one of the most famous inhabitants of the ancient capital, the Merlin-like figure Abe no Seimei. The five-pointed star in the courtyard is related to the five elements of Chinese tradition, and the defenders are invoking the four guardian spirits of geomancy. And then Osaka, where of course everyone is a money-grubbing, takoyaki-eating hick with a redneck accent.

Does Ryūko get a rematch with Satsuki next time? It’s not time for the final confrontation, but Satsuki is looking less and less like the Ryūko’s ultimate opponent.

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