Amazing Stories

Anime roundup 5/23/2019: The Long Game

Attack on Titan #53 – The few remaining Corps members within the Wall launch a desperate attack, but only manage to get one person wounded and their best weapon take out of action. Outside, Erwin’s troops suddenly find themselves in another hopeless battle, facing a choice between almost certain death and absolutely certain death.

Erwin’s desperation at nearly surviving to find out what secrets are hiding in Eren’s old basement has real weight for viewers who’ve been waiting six years now along with him. (Yes, the first season was all the way back in the spring of 2013. It doesn’t just seem like it’s been forever!) And now, Attack on Titan puts some of its best animation ever on display, not for the spectacle of battle, but showing Erwin’s anguish and eventual acceptance as he convinces himself to make the sacrifice.

It is also fine work to somehow get a stirring speech out of, “yup, we’re all going to die, but do this just right and we can grab posthumous medals along the way.” Valorizing suicide attacks produces an uncomfortable resonance with Japanese history, but narratively it is being done very well.

(CrunchyrollAnimeLabWakanimAnime on DemandFunimation (video player workarounds))

Midnight Occult Civil Servants #7 – Theo finally finds out what Sakaki is up to, and agrees to help only after taking the opportunity to properly chew him out. (And, in a nice touch, stopping the car first so he can really concentrate on yelling. Safety first, everyone.) After applying some TV-style big data analysis, everyone heads into the underworld to face the terrors of Cerberus, demons, and the horrifying truth.

I am not aware of any version of Greek myth where Cerberus likes candy. Then again, this story is perfectly willing to throw in more recent fiction; we already saw the Hellraiser box, and this episode has a nod to the Cthulhu mythos.

It turns out that rescue isn’t necessary, as Azazel’s plan already contained the seeds of its own failure. But it seems the cycle is going to keep repeating itself, to the detriment of the young women of Tokyo. Somebody, which of course means Arata, is eventually going to have to carefully slap some sense into Azazel and make him realize that his ex is so done with him.

(CrunchyrollADNbilibili)

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba #7 – Demon Slayer‘s tale of supernatural kidnapping does not turn out so well for the victims. On the other hand, Tanjirō and Nezuko do manage to bring the spree to a definitive end. Though it seems like they’ve lost their one chance for a lead on the father of all demons, Tanjirō suddenly stumbles across his trail right in the the most modern place in 1910s Japan.

You would think that an organization like the Demon Slaying Corps would be, well, organized enough to tell members travelling far from their hometowns where to find the local office where they’re being sent. But then, of course, Tanjirō wouldn’t have had the chance to blunder into revealing himself to Muzen Kibutsuji.

Asakusa itself is a vibrant presence in the second half of this episode. It was Tokyo’s big entertainment district at the time, which I suppose indicates that Kibutsuji has gotten bored over his centuries of existence. Either that or he’s attracted to the big city because it’s somewhere he can disappear more easily. His cover even includes a human family— is that his actual daughter, and has he in fact been able to make himself be more human? Maybe not, given how easily he creates a new demon just to distract Tanjirō.

(CrunchyrollFunimation (video player workarounds) — HuluAnimeLabWakanimbilibili)

Dororo #19 – One small lasting effect from the previous episode is that one of Hyakkimaru’s swords is broken. But not for long, as he and Dororo have a line on a blacksmith that can reforge it. Curiously, the blacksmith’s neighbors seem to have no respect for him, but that turns out to have a simple explanation that for once doesn’t require a huge, grim demon-slaying battle.

Hey look, it’s Hyottoko again! This story leans more on his possible origin as a minor deity associated with fire (but note that both Dororo and Demon Slayer have associated him with blacksmiths). The amanojaku is likewise a fairly minor sort of evil spirit, frequently associated with Bishamonten, who is one of the major gods.

Here, Hyottoko presages a much lighter story than Dororo has had in a while, and a better-written one as well. Even the animation is livelier— not high art, but somehow blending with the character designs much better than usual.

(Amazon — bilibili)

RobiHachi #7 – Robbie and Hatchi’s next stop is a planet fully covered by an amusement park. An amusement park with long lines, a bewildering array of admission options, a castle at its heart, parades, rides, and a very firm commitment to visitors being happy, or else. I didn’t spot any Hidden Mickeys, but I suppose that would have been bringing them perilously close to a lawsuit. (Japanese intellectual property law doesn’t have an exception for parody.)

RobiHachi is working the generation gap angle again, as Hatchi uses the secret back door for Instagram influencers, goes nuts for all the motion-sickness-inducing rides, and eventually has to be collected from the lost-children station. Also the queer-baiting angle as it contrives to have Robbie and Hatchi declared the official couple of the night. I can’t help feeling that exploring what happens to people who aren’t happy enough would have been more interesting.

Akka Sakka is probably named for Akasaka, a shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo. And you know, that’s the biggest thing that’s missing from this planet-sized Disneyland— the gift shops which clutter all the real ones.

(Funimation (video player workarounds) — WakanimAniplus Asiabilibili)

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