Anime roundup 4/24/2014: Spring Cleaning

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M3-1 M3 the dark metal premiere – The roulette wheel of mecha plots spins, and this time the ball lands on… vampires! Future Japan is menaced by hideous invaders called Admonitions, which seem to be built from the bodies and memories of the dead, and which can only be killed with a high-tech stake through the heart. They appear as huge, dark blobby things, barely seen except for the big red glowing dot that marks their vulnerable spot. Handy, that.

This degree of subtlety is also displayed in the roster of characters, who have names and distinctive hairstyles and stuff, but who can be summarized as Sullen Guy, Sidekick Guy, Gloomy Girl, Socially Ambitious Girl, and Hotshot Test Pilot Girl. They have been rated for high aptitude in unspecified things on unspecified tests, and thus assigned to the brand new monster-killing squad. Three more people are due to join them but can’t be present for the first class. We later see one of them travelling by night. Gosh, what could that possibly mean?

Sullen Guy is our hero. His older brother was killed in the zone that the monsters come from, and he blames someone else of unspecified relation to him for it. The only other person in his apartment is someone he knows well but a addresses formally… a cousin? Aunt? Court-appointed guardian? Some well-meaning borderline-stalker neighbor? Never mind, he’s moved now, and the point of that scene was just to show the flashback about his brother.

Another idea which probably had promise to begin with is brought low by a shambles of poor execution.

International stream: Daisuki (Worldwide except for Japan and mainland China)

JoJo-2-3 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders #2-3 – If there’s one thing I had reservations about, it was Holly shrugging off her son calling her “bitch” and insisting he was a sweet boy really. Now we’ve seen that Jōtarō can drop the punk act when things get serious, and Holly is smarter and stronger than she first appeared. (Though she’s still wrong about one point of folk etymology.) I kind of wish she’d had a chance to kick butt with the guys rather than be the damsel in distress, but oh well. This still looks like a lot of fun.

Now the heroes have accepted their mission. The team is ready. As one, they snap to attention and embark on the journey to the ultimate confrontation. And then the show chooses to fully embrace its heritage as a child of the ’80s.

Your reviewer is just old enough to remember when that song was popular, and will admit to thinking both now and then that it’s kind of a stupid song. But slotted in here, it’s a perfect fit. The Indiana Jones-style travel montage following it up is just icing on the cake.

Mushishi-2-3 Mushishi #2-3 – According to Yuki Urushibara, the author of the manga, Mushishi is set in an imaginary period of history in between the Edo period and the Meiji restoration which catapulted Japan into modernity. So there are some modern touches and ideas coming in– Ginko’s clothing, the seaside village trying out fish farming– but Japan is still closed off from the outside world.

It’s just as easy to imagine it being in the early 20th century, since all the settings are rural or wild; somewhere out there may be big cities full of exciting new technology, but in the countryside people still live as they have for centuries. And that lifestyle includes always being one accident or disaster from death.

And that’s what both these episodes are about– accepting the death of a loved one, and finding a way to move on rather than making things worse. And, of course, the peculiar lifecycles of mushi, the endless variety of which is the engine that powers this series.

Brynhildr-2-3 Brynhildr in the Darkness #2-3 – There’s a lot of backstory packed into these two episodes. Now we know that Neko and her friends were going to be killed for being defective, and that they will die anyway soon thanks to a sort of deadman switch. Luckily, this is exactly the sort of situation which calls for a geek with a photographic memory, and Ryōta rises to the occasion. But Neko works out yet another way to get killed.

Or has she? There are so many unanswered questions about what witches are and how they were created that there’s plenty of room for her to come back. Clones? Nanomachines? Alien tech? Or maybe Saori’s unnamed other power?

If Neko is gone for good, this would hardly be the first anime ever to make someone out to be a major regular character and then kill them off early in the show.

No-Game-2 No Game No Life #2 – I decided the test for whether the light novel adaptations get to stay would be that they had to make it to the end of episode 2 without anyone doing a comedy faceplant into anyone else’s breasts. I’m going to miss these visuals. Art Director Eiji Iwase, you deserve to be working on a better show.

This episode got off to a good, even educational, start with the game theory discussion, and was enjoyable when everyone was on task and thinking about how to raise humanity up from its wretched last-place ranking, but it seems the story just can’t keep itself from constantly sliding back into the same old otaku-bait cliches. Oh well.

Nanana-2 Nanana’s Buried Treasure #2 – This, on the other hand, gave us two interesting new characters and started to hint that there may be more to the hero than meets the eye, and I don’t just mean his newly revealed weakness for maid costumes. Jūgo seems to have picked up some unusual physical training somewhere along the way, and he was awfully nervous about claiming to be an ordinary high school student. Hmm…

There was one problematic point, but it’s all in the translation. “Trap” is a term out of the English-speaking cosplay community, meaning a male cosplayer dressed as a female so convincingly that he could pass as one. Tensai’s actual term for Daruku translates literally as “male daughter”. I don’t know its idiomatic meaning, but since it came right after the clear and direct statement that Daruku is not a boy, all evidence points to her being a trans girl, and shame on the subtitler for choosing to use male pronouns. (Japanese hardly ever uses gendered pronouns, so it’s not a matter of direct translation.)

Since it’s not a problem with the source material, just one person at Crunchyroll who is insufficiently educated about gender issues, I say let’s continue with this one.


Our viewing lineup for the rest of the season, then, is Mushishi, JoJo, Brynhildr, and Nanana. That should give us a varied and tasty diet for the rest of the season, and probably into the next as well.

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