Anime roundup 5/1/2014: All Things Foul and Dangerous

In this week’s viewing: hideous psychic creatures, blobby parasitic ones, and more!

JoJo-4 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders #4 – Just because your story is a two-fisted macho action-adventure doesn’t mean it can’t also be educational! Even with all the posing and shouting and careful explication of the mechanics of Stands, there’s still time for an English lesson, a taste of world literature, and some helpful tips for dining out in Hong Kong, although it’s British-ruled Hong Kong in 1989, and things may be different these days. Author Hirohiko Araki is said to be an avid world traveller, and he’s not shy about sharing his interest with the audience.

Another thing that’s changed in 25 years: air travel. Note the unlocked cockpit. Commercial plane crashes were much more common back in the day, so Tower of Gray would be hiding a few supernaturally caused ones among many. And apparently planes were so comfortable back then that you could sleep through a whole action scene and near-crash. (Yeah, they said ordinary people can’t see Stands and presumably can’t hear them either, but all that bellowing of Stand and attack names…) I blame deregulation.

Mushishi-4 Mushishi #4 – It’s hard to think of Mushishi as fantasy sometimes, because it takes such a scientific approach to its stories. This one is basically about how a person can come into contact with a toxic substance that infects the germline cells. The disease starts with the peculiar scent and scarring, before advancing to mental symptoms and ultimately total bodily decay. It just happens that the end stage is a disembodied soul being sucked into the spiritual plane that mushi inhabit, and the treatment is the distilled life essense of the mushi. Change a detail or two, and it could be straight science fiction.

One thing I don’t normally feel a need to rave about with this show is the art, but there’s some marvelous work this week rendering the forest. You can practically feel the autumn chill and damp, and the leaves starting to rot underfoot.

Nanana-3 Nanana’s Buried Treasure #3 – There was a lot of new information to digest there. Let’s see if we can remember all the major points: Another member of Nanana’s group of seven was a master architect, bringing us to four members we’ve heard of now (the others being the landlady, the first president of the Adventure Club, and Nanana herself). There’s also the Leprechaun, who might be one of the above, who is still actively placing treasures– which means that either everyone is wrong about Nanana being the only one who knew where the special treasures were, or the Leprechaun is re-hiding previously found treasures. (Maybe this is what the previous club president graduated to after finding everything?) And then there’s Isshin’s disembodied friend Kagetora.

It didn’t feel too crowded with exposition though, leaving plenty of time to show how well Jūgo and Tensai work together against the mechanical spider. Daruku seems to be doomed to be the stereotypical hapless assistant.

Brynhildr-4 Brynhildr in the Darkness #4 – Which do you think is more horrifying: Saori’s death and the revelation that the witches are hosts for possibly alien parasites, or the sudden sharp veer into cliches about accidental encounters with boobs? Really, there were any number of ways Kazumi could have been brought into the group, and going for the aggressive wannabe almost-girlfriend approach feels like a letdown after the consistently good writing so far.

Speaking of the predictable: Saori’s second power is a potential plot-wrecker, so she pretty much has to die once it’s revealed. The mechanics of it are handled well, though, and it’s provided a way to give the audience Neko’s real identity without letting Ryōta in on the secret permanently.

We are also expected to jump to the conclusion that Kotori is the next witch sent to take down the escapees, but that’s being implied so heavy-handedly that I have doubts. We don’t know that everyone who escaped knew each other, so Kotori could be another witch who got free in the accident and was smart enough (or assisted by some power of her own) to pick out the astronomy club as a likely haven.

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