Starting with a little more simulcast news, Viewster’s summer simulcast list arrived a bit too late to make it into the last post, but there it is now!
Gatchaman Crowds insight #2-3 – Between new plotlines and catching up with everyone from the old series, Gatchaman Crowds is juggling a dozen balls at once and making it look easy. Paiman has opened a daycare in order to indoctrinate the youth of Earth directly. O.D. is a fixture on some kind of infotainment show whose host is getting so much screen time, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t play a more direct role in the plot later. Jō is slowly advancing up the political career ladder. Hajime still has Berg-Katze trapped in her somehow. Gatchaman Central still looks like the interior designer was dropping acid with Andy Warhol.
The man behind the organization corrupting CROWDS has shown himself. He’s been “awakened” in the same way as the Gatchamen have, but chooses not to use his powers in any of the classic ways. In fact, his whole belief system seems to center around the idea that humans can’t be trusted with anything, so he has appointed himself chief troll of CROWDS in order to hasten its end. And he gets his way, a little, when Rui has to yank the accounts of those who are sufficiently provoked to respond with violence.
War and peace are setting up to be the big theme of this series. Rui’s argument with Rizumu is essentially about the right way to be a pacifist. Gelsadra said the purpose of her visit is to help achieve world peace. Tsubasa, the newest Gatchaman, is only able to transform when she’s riled up. And then there’s Tsubasa’s great-grandfather, praying at a shrine to a relative whose picture shows him in an old army uniform. (The implication is that this person died young while serving in the military, no later than World War II, which would make him about the same age as the great-grandfather, probably his brother.)
SCHOOL-LIVE! #2 – After enjoying Yuki’s fantasy life for an episode, it’s time for the real opening credit sequence and a switch to the more realistic and less well-adjusted viewpoint of Kurumi, the girl who now goes nowhere without her trusty zombie-killing shovel. Kurumi had a crush on an older boy, and later had to kill him in zombified form; it’s unclear how much of the events of her dream are what actually happened, though. If it came on that suddenly, how did the zombie plague happen to not infect our heroines?
In an unusual twist, nighttime is the safest time to venture into the monsters’ territory because they seem to retain some memory of their mortal habits. (Which brings up the disquieting possibility that maybe the zombies Kurumi is killing aren’t totally incurable, which means…) This provides a good window for a raid on the school snack store and library in the guise of giving Yuki a summer adventure.
Eventually the school is going to run out of easily harvestable supplies, and eventually more desperate measures are going to be necessary to maintain Yuki’s bubble. What will this drive the other heroines to? I can’t wait to see.
Charlotte #2-3 – Yū is integrated into the student council with his first mission, a fairly smooth visit to persuade another psychic who has been misusing his powers to go straight and transfer to the special high school. This sets things up for a much more complicated investigation in episode 3.
Yusa Nishimori nee Kurobane is (1) an idol singer, (2) a psychic, (3) involuntarily chanelling her dead older sister Misa, (4) a pyrokinetic by proxy, (5) the client of a producer who has ties to the mob, and (6) on the run because she inadvertently wound up with the producer’s phone and learned about his unsavory friends. Extracting Yusa/Misa tests Tomori’s improvisation to the utmost, but a plan is executed in which everyone uses their powers to, er, fake some psychic powers for Yusa to keep the producer in line. Yusa and Misa look to be joining the cast as regular characters; that ability to act as a medium certainly seems like it’ll be useful given the alleged casualty rate for psychics at the hands of those mysterious mad scientists.
Writer Jun Maeda specializes in melodrama, so it was a given that Charlotte would wallow in it from time to time. We’ve had a couple doses now with the cautionary tale of Tomori’s elder brother, and Misa separating from her old friends. It felt rather rushed and hokey in the latter case, but Charlotte is holding up well in general.
Castle Town Dandelion #2-3 – With Akane’s motivation established, these two episodes try to fill in some of the other eight siblings’ lives and personalities. The big standouts are Hikari as she bluffs her way into becoming a pop idol, and the youngest brother Teru.
Teru is the very model of a shonen action series hero, living in the wrong genre. All that talk about training, trials, contracts, the nature of cowardice, etc. is one shonen cliche after another. It’s all very nice and mildly funny until the crowning moment of win when Teru and Shiori meet the loose dog. The dog’s mental voice is exactly that of a stereotypical thug from a shonen action series, suddenly making Teru’s actions entirely appropriate for once.
To balance things out, Hikari’s new job of idol singer with a secret identity maintained by magical powers is a shojo trope.
This would be fun to continue with, but it has a problem with limited distribution. As Amazing Stories is aimed at a worldwide audience, I don’t want to try including something that’s only licensed for four countries. Unless this picks up some more streaming deals by next week, we will regretfully have to leave it behind.
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers #2-3 – Adlet and Nashetania have a long way to ride (sigh, fantasy horses again), but it gives us a chance to get to know them, and it says a lot that the process is actually enjoyable. Approaching demon country, they have their chance to start fighting fiends, but Adlet finds himself sidetracked to deal with one of the other champions.
Flemie is an intriguing puzzle. The powers that most of the champions have are hereditary and tied to divine spirits, but Flemie’s existence as master of something just recently invented poses the question of how these powers come into existence in the first place. Furthermore, why is she killing other champions? Adlet is good at emotional counseling, but bad at asking the right questions.
This is still a good show with one unfortunate flaw. I’ll try to get the rant out of my system now and not go on and on about it every week.
The problem is the designs for the main characters. The more meticulous work we see every episode that has gone into creating a consistent, unusual, and believable look for the setting, the more the heroes stand out like a hand made of sore thumbs. Except for Adlet, they just don’t look like they’re part of that world, plus the outfits are impractical in isolation. It doesn’t make it okay that one of the male characters is subjected to clothing with the same weird partial coverage as the ladies, either.
But other than that, this is a good show and worth following.
Ushio and Tora #2 – This show has a good routine set up that will last it for episode upon episode. New kind of demon shows up and threatens people, Ushio learns how to defeat it, Tora pitches in because he can’t bear losing the opportunity to kill Ushio himself, Ushio awakens further powers from the Beast Spear, and there is wholesome manly banter.
This is an enjoyable show and not a bad show in any way, but it’s also the kind of show that will not generate much analysis or discussion, so let us leave it here.
So that’s Gatchaman Crowds insight, Charlotte, SCHOOL-LIVE!, and Rokka we’ll be following the rest of the season for sure, joined by Castle Town Dandelion if it gets better distribution soon. This didn’t look like the most promising of seasons, but this column might be full up through October after all.