Anime Roundup 7/24/2014: Too Much Fun

Nobunaga-Concerto-1 Nobunaga Concerto premiere –
One minute, high school student Saburō is whining about having to study history, and the next minute– literally– he’s falling off a fence into Japan’s Warring States period, where he immediately finds himself face to face with his historical twin, famous warlord Nobunaga Oda. Nobunaga isn’t feeling well and needs to recuperate, so he hands his swords to this complete stranger, asks him to take his place for a bit, and rides off. Nobunaga’s household observes with polite puzzlement as their alleged lord and master starts to exhibit slightly odd behavior, such as almost immediately flinging off his pants and attempting to climb a tree back to his own era.

At no point does anyone consider the possibility that this guy with a completely different personality, mannerisms, speech patterns, etc. might actually be a different person. In fact, at no point does any character display any level of intelligence above room temperature, because then the plot would fall apart.

The animation is a mixture of 3-D bodies and cutout-style animation for the faces, like if the characters in your favorite current video game all put on animated South Park masks. That plus an unusually low frame rate make it a constant distraction from what’s actually going on, though in this case some viewers may find that to be a positive.

There’s one nice thing about this show, and that’s the lovely background images.

Aldnoah-2-3 Aldnoah Zero #2-3 – The Martian war machine swings eagerly into action to avenge Princess Asseylum, despite the slightly awkward fact that the princess hasn’t actually been killed. She and her companion find refuge with the stragglers of Inaho’s class, who start to figure out that the enemy mechas aren’t completely invulnerable.

Score one for a writer who understands physics! Or who has at least read the ongoing news reports about attempts to develop a real-life invisibility cloak. However, having decided to go with hard sf, that means they’re on the hook to explain one other thing about the magic absorption shields: where does all that stuff go? Even if it’s all converted to energy, it has to be stored up or bled off somewhere. And if it’s just another application of the portal technology, that means it’s being dumped in a physical location. It’s even possible that Okisuke (the student sucked into the absorption field) might have survived somehow, though you’d think they’d make take precautions against that.

Meanwhile, the assassination plot has been further botched by allowing someone who knows about it to escape disposal, and with Count Cruhteo’s fortress about to take friendly fire, the pieces are about to fall into place for all the main characters to gather together in one big happy family of inconvenient people.

This is moving at a good speed for a one-season show, and still finding time to give the viewer a chance to engage their brain. Keep!

Terror-Resonance-2 Terror in Resonance #2 – Although if you really want something to think about, this is the champion. This week’s theme is the story of Oedipus (of course there’s a manga adaptation) and the riddle of the Sphinx. which resonates with the main characters. The husband who vanished– Lisa’s father, which seems to be the trigger that’s made her mother overprotective. The man who abandons his kingdom– Shibazaki used to be a top investigator, but wound up slacking off in a dead-end job in the archives apparently by his own choice. Unnatural mating– you just know that DNA research lab is more than a red herring. Is it a hint about what the show’s description calls “children that shouldn’t exist”?

Who is Oedipus to Nine and Twelve? They want to wake the world up to something. Is it a crime committed unwittingly, like Oedipus’s?

This show looks like it’ll be churning out questions as fast as it can for a while. The only question is whether it’ll come up with satisfactory answers. And the only way to answer that is to keep watching.

Tokyo-Ghoul-2 Tokyo Ghoul #2 – Kaneki breaks down at the realization of what he’s become, but the head of Anteiku takes him in and offers him shelter. And coffee. For some reason, even though ghouls can’t consume any human food, they can still enjoy coffee, which brings up all kinds of implications about coffee that you may not want to consider.

Before fully accepting his new mentor’s offer, Kaneki finds himself in a gory fight where he winds up tearing another ghoul to shreds and then nearly eating his best friend. Along the way, it’s revealed that he’s inherited some kind of psychic attack power from Rize, plus he’s being haunted by visions of Rize herself, encouraging him to embrace being a ghoul.

Although episode 2 ends on a positive note, this is overall a very dark, bloody show, and it’s hard to watch. I say that as a compliment– it’s not a bad show, but it’s a full-on horror show, and it’s very good at evoking the horror. With so many dark shows on offer, something has to give, and I’m afraid I’m going to be letting this one fall by the wayside. But if full-on horror is your thing, you should definitely still check this out.

Black-Butler-Circus-2 Black Butler: Book of Circus #2 – At last, the circus! The trouble seems to be that children are disappearing everywhere it stops. A visit to check it out goes all pear-shaped as it turns out centuries-old demons can be even more susceptible to the charms of cute, furry felines than humans, even if the cat in question is a full-size tiger.

But this provides an opening to learn more about the circus and its oddball set of performers with names like Beast and Doll. (Writers, please remember how this sounds next time you’re tempted to name your characters using cool-sounding foreign words.) Amongst its other peculiarities, every performer has a prosthetic of some sort constructed from a mysterious material specially constructed by the circus doctor. To learn more, Sebastian manages to get himself and “a friend” hired…

So, not bad, but I’m dropping this one for all the little annoyances that come with it. The humor doesn’t quite work, and it’s still not clear when this is supposed to be set, and then there’s the cod Victorian working-class accent being affected by FUNimation’s subtitles. (Hopefully those of you outside North America are being spared that last one.)

Sailor-Moon-2 Sailor Moon Crystal #2 – Luna’s next discovery is Sailor Mercury, aka Ami Mizuno. Ami is the smartest girl in Usagi’s school. She gets such good test scores, that she’s specially invited into the really exclusive cram school, making everyone around her jealous. Remember I said about episode 1 that Japan has a very achievement-oriented culture? This is how achievement-oriented students are encouraged to be.

But it turns out that the cram school is a front for brainwashing and the gathering of more precious bodily fluids vital energies from Earthlings, and soon Ami is disrespecting authority and tearing up the place like a good little juvenile delinquent.

Even if there were no other reason to watch this series, I’d want to keep this in the lineup because all the doom and gloom around this season desperately needs some sparkly magical girls to balance it out. But this is staying solid as well.

Tokyo-ESP-2 Tokyo ESP #2 – As the teenage protectors of Tokyo face down Junior Magneto and other superpowered foes, one of them reflects on the events that have led to this point, and allows the story to jump back in time to… the old anime trope of a naked girl falling from on high. This is Rinka aka the White Girl, just learning about her power to move through solid objects. Later we will finally get the flashback to the business with the flying penguin and goldfish.

This event has given random powers to all sorts of people, including Rinka’s new best friend Kyōtarō, who is somewhat quicker on the uptake and helps prod her along to where the plot needs her to be. Another affected person is Rinka’s father, who looks eerily like Wolverine, but who gains the power to gather all sorts of objects into a giant Katamari Damacy-style ball around himself, and all without even being able to figure out what’s happening to him.

Rinka and Kyōtarō immediately realize that they must explain the situation to Rinka’s father so that he understands why he suddenly can’t move. No, I’m kidding. They actually determine that the way to handle it is for Rinka to phase into the middle of the ball and knock her father out (her one physical talent is kicking people really hard in the head), then for the two of them to teleport away before anyone else realizes what’s happened.

And that’s kind of what I wanted to do to this show after watching that. This one may consider itself dropped.

JoJo-14-15 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders #14-16 – What’s been happening with the Joestar squad while we’ve been away? They encounter Granny Enya in the guise of a hotel proprietor, and Polnareff becomes too nice for his own good and winds up having yet another horrifying experience in a Third World bathroom. Then it’s off by carriage to Karachi, where the narrator provides a mini-lesson on how to haggle before they face off against their next foe.

The guy in Karachi is named Steely Dan, and his tarot card is The Lovers, implying that the author knows the story of how the band Steely Dan was named. (It’s not suitable for repeating in this column, but if you really want to know, the Internet will be happy to explain.) Dan’s power is to send a miniaturized Stand into the brain of his victim, Joseph Joestar in this case, where it can transmit all the pain he feels, plus work on devouring them from within. Leaving Jōtarō to keep Don busy, Joseph, Polnareff, and Kakyōin run off to combine their powers to perform the psychic fighting anime version of Fantastic Voyage.

It’s a joy to return this show and its unique combination of tough guys, travelogues, and total off-the-wall-ness.

HxH-139 Hunter x Hunter #136-139 – In case you skipped the Chimera Ant arc, here’s the final score: The top echelon of the Ants was killed, and the remaining ones are either returning to their old human lives or gathering in Meteor City. Chairman Netero died in the process, and Gon made a terrible sacrifice that has left him on the brink of death. Killua needs to save his best friend, and the Hunters’ Association needs a new leader.

Killua’s only choice is to call on the help of a terrifying unearthly being that sometimes inhabits the body of his next youngest sibling, Alluka. Alluka is described by several characters as the second youngest Zoldyck brother, but Killua calls her his little sister, so we’ll go with female pronouns. Under certain conditions, the presence Nanika (“It”) manifests and can grant a wish of potentially unlimited power, but then Alluka will start making requests, and if those requests are not fulfilled, people will die. The more powerful the wish, the tougher the followup requests are, and the more people can die. If Alluka is able to break the bargain that Gon made with himself, the amount of power involved means that potentially thousands will die, including Gon and Killua, if Killua can’t take care of the requests that come with it.

Meanwhile, Netero has posthumously delegated the selection of his successor to twelve of his closest friends. The process begins with an argument about how to even conduct the vote and quickly turns into a struggle to keep one particular power player from seizing the chairmanship. And one of those twelve friends is Gon’s father Ging, who Gon has been searching so long for…

With a mixture of eldritch powers bound by complicated rules on the one hand and parliamentary scheming on the other, I recommend this first and foremost to Jack Vance fans and SMOFs. I also think it’s moving along well enough again for it to join the lineup until the finale.

That’s got it whittled down to five shows (all right, four and a half, since Sailor Moon is only on every other week), and I think we have a nice balance between serious and silly, action and thinky bits, originals and adaptations, and shows which aren’t ultimately produced by the same household and shows that are. (Naoko Takeuchi, author of the Sailor Moon manga, and Yoshihiro Togashi, author of the Hunter x Hunter manga, are a married couple.) So until next time…

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