Anime roundup 10/24/2014: Left Behind

Mushishi-9-11 Mushishi special and #11 – It’s back, it’s back! To make up for the two weeks of repeats in the spring, a double-length episode was produced for the DVD release, and then later found a broadcast slot, which means it’s available for streaming along with the rest of the series. (Unlike, say, the DVD-only episode of Kill la Kill, grumble, grumble.)

The special revisits the matter of Tanyū the scribe, who carries a particularly nasty mushi sealed away in her body, and the clan pledged to protect her line as long as the mushi exists. New to this story is the revelation of what the clan has done to ensure they can continue their research into how to dispell the “Forbidden Mushi“. It’s no stretch to say that they are essentially undead, having lost their human souls and sustaining themselves with artificial life energy. It’s a slow, creepy sort of horror story.

Episode 11 fills in a piece of Ginko’s childhood, as he learns a painful lesson about things which are easily broken and not so easily fixed. But he also gains an endorsement of sorts from the collective mind of the mushi that he should go on living and try to find his place in the world. It’s one of the best episodes of the new series. Oh, I’m glad to have this show back.

Gugure-2-3 Gugure! Kokkuri-san #2-3 – Kokkuri is sure Kohina is a biologically normal human being and determines to bring back her humanity, but his efforts are soon interrupted by a new unwanted haunt. An inugami, as the show helpfully explains, is… holy freaking jeebus that was some dark material to be dropping into a comedy.

Inugami’s gender meanderings pose a problem for the English-language reviewer. Japanese rarely bothers with gendered pronouns, so it’s not possible to simply adapt whatever words the other characters are using. For the time being, let’s try Spivak pronouns and see how that works out.

So: Inugami is so delighted to be reunited with the one person who was kind to em as a dog that e not only wants to stay with Kohina but marry her. Unlike practically any other anime series that might try a plotline like this, Gugure! is able to keep the rest of its characters clear on the fact that this is a wholly inappropriate idea, and not use it as an excuse for viewer titillation. The end result is that I can keep recommending this series, as Inugami and Kokkuri settle in for regularly scheduled comic animosity.

Celestial-Method-2-3 Celestial Method #2-3 – Why yes, says the show, it is a little odd that people should be taking that flying saucer in stride so easily. So here’s one energetic girl by the name of Yūzuki who is trying to do something about it. And here’s Nonoka’s former best friend Shione, who seethes quietly about it and wishes she’d never let Nonoka talk her into helping with the summoning.

Noel seems confident that she’ll be leaving soon, and I suppose the ultimate question of this series will be how many of this group of (former) friends will be leaving Earth with her. In the meantime, we can speculate about what sort of book Nonoka read that convinced her she could summon the saucer in the first place. Was it some kind of general New Age book, or could it have been something about the history of the town?

Because you know what else is odd about the area? That lake that the flying saucer is hovering right over has formed in a roughly circular depression with a rise in the middle– plainly an impact crater. Noel isn’t the first extraterrestrial visitor this place has seen.

Though it does borrow heavily from the Cute Girls Doing Nothing In Particular genre, there’s some smart writing underneath all the moe. This one stays.

Yona-2-3 Yona of the Dawn #2-3 – Episode 2 is mostly concerned with the mechanics of getting everyone up to speed on the coup, and then getting Yona out of the castle, but it does stop to remind us that Yona is going to eventually recover and become the leader of an elite band of outlaws. Episode 3 hops around between more flashbacks. Mostly they’re there to emphasize the bonds between Yona and Hak, and between the two of them and Soo-won, but they also serve to illuminate more of the curious character of King Il.

Murdered parents usually have one purpose in a story, and that’s to be wonderful people and then get murdered to provide the main character with motivation. But King Il is more complicated than the doting father and utter milquetoast Yona remembers him as. He’s the kind of guy who can grab the blade of a sword without flinching, then continue calmly with a conversation while his hand bleeds. And he allegedly managed to kill his older brother, the mighty warrior.

There’s more going on here than a simple matter of a princess trying to reclaim her throne from a usurper. It’s definitely worth continuing with.

Inou-Battle-2 When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace #2 – Yes, “lover” and “robber” resolve to the same transliteration (robaa). The Japanese syllabary is not kind to foreign words.

And so, here we are back in standard light novel territory. Nearly everyone’s got a crush on Jurai, a highly contrived misunderstanding has hooked him up with one of the most popular girls in the school, and the other girls are busy insulting each other’s busts. Oh well.

Many people were shocked that Studio Trigger, late of Kill la Kill, would pick up a light novel adaptation. It’s certainly doing it’s best not to waste its talents– the animation here is terrific. But the material just isn’t that good. Let’s drop this.

Sailor-Moon-7-8 Sailor Moon Crystal #7-8 – Beryl and her minions have more dastardly plots up their sleeve. First they make another attempt at corrupting everyone with mind-control DVDs, despite how the last one turned out, and then Zoisite says the hell with this and sucks the life energy out of half of Tokyo. Wait, if they could do that in the first place, why mess around with the small-time deceptions?

Then the last member of the team is revealed, complete with her own cat and two secret identities, and announces that she is the lost princess. Except there’s no doubt that she isn’t, what with the constant unsubtle dream sequences establishing that Usagi is the princess and Mamoru is the prince and they are Destined To Be Together. But boy, by this point, I sure wish Minako really was the heroine.

I’ve given this show a whole eight episodes to grow on me, and it hasn’t. Usagi is whiny and unlikeable and has no business being the one in charge. She can’t make it through an entire episode without collapsing and having to be rescued. The opening song about girls who don’t need a prince to rely on grates more and more. The plot is unimaginative and repetitive. It’s time to admit that Sailor Moon‘s popularity owes as much to the “filler” produced by Toei Animation for the first TV series as to the manga.

I must conclude with the sad news that neither Psycho-Pass 2 nor Laughing Under the Clouds has picked up any further streaming licenses, so, as they are inaccessible to large swaths of Amazing Stories‘s English-language readership, they will not be covered further in this column. If you’re lucky enough to live where they are streaming, have fun!

Our lineup for the rest of the season, then, is Mushishi, Gugure! Kokkuri-san, Celestial Method, and Yona of the Dawn. Let’s hope they continue as well as they’ve started.

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