Friday, December 30, 2011

The Weekly Review: 12/12/11 and 12/19/11

My only excuses for this one is that finals took over! But now that’s out of the way I’ve caught up on the six episodes of new anime that I missed. Oh, and during finals time I wrote an essay on Satoshi Kon for my Writing Film Criticism class that I will be introducing to Symposium For Geek sometime in the near future!

Please note: Because it is so close to the holidays I am still pressed for time, so I won’t be posting pictures from every episode of anime for this Weekly Review. See you next week!

Guilty Crown Ep. 10: retraction (Degeneration)

I literally just sat down to watch this episode and I can’t even remember a whole lot of what happened. I know, that’s pretty bad. It might be because Ep. 11 is just so much better that it blows Ep. 10 out of the water, yet at the same time not much really happens. Shu has some form of PTSD from Jun’s death in the previous episode. And what sucks is there is no resolution with Yahiro. I feel like the writers once again threw out their previous plot development and decided to start something new again. This might be a weird theory, but I feel like you could watch certain episodes from the series so far in different orders and it would be a more smooth lineup from what’s been on broadcast. But hey, apparently the end of the world is about to happen with the resonating stone and all that jazz. The editing and pacing in this episode is ridiculous and it made me laugh out loud a few times. Sorry Ep. 10!

Guilty Crown Ep. 11: resonance (Sympathetic Vibration)

Okay, now that Ep. 10 is out of the way we can talk about a real story here. This was a fantastically done episode that deserves some props for finishing off the first… season? Half season? Who knows?

The first great thing to happen is that Shu comes clean about his Void power to all of his friends, explaining why he used them. The apology he gave them was heartfelt and I think it gave some credibility to his character. Of awkward note is Yahiro’s presence and how he wasn’t too upset over his sister’s death. But hey let’s forget about that shall we and let’s dive into Hare’s chest to pull out some bandages!

Okay it’s not that funny but it’s certainly nice to see what Hare’s void can do. She can repair robots and bridges… and probably people too!?

Anywho, the resonating stone from the previous episode is turning everyone into crystals and it’s pretty bad. Until of course Inori begins to sing and her powers resonate throughout the city. Everyone’s disease begins to shatter away and it’s all because of Inori’s love and trust in Shu to come and help Funeral Parlor. It was fairly shocking to see that guy, I don’t know what his name is, come out of nowhere and pull Inori’s void from her chest. It was an entertaining cliffhanger to an episode that was well put together.

The best thing about the episode is when Shu and the gang are travelling down the highway to reach what I presume to be GHQ. As Inori sings Shu uses the void of each of his friends to get them safely to their destination. The music is beautiful and really matches the overall tone of the episode. Or at least the second half of it.

Many things happened in this episode that solidify characters like Dan and Daryl’s father to be complete throwaways. I kind of wish that maybe their characters could have been developed more so I could have felt something when they were killed. Also, the head scientist guy taking over wasn’t very clear either because his character had barely been developed as well. But let’s say you were to take my theory seriously and watch Guilty Crown in an order that was focused entirely on the main story. The character progression would have made these characters more meaningful if we saw them every episode.

Anyway, next week’s episode should be rather good regarding the extreme cliffhanger from this week. Hmm, what will happen!

Chihayafuru Ep. 11: The Sky is The Road Home

After an episode that focused on team building and getting to the finals at the tournament, Ep. 11 completely focuses on the final match. This is the first episode of Chihayafuru to focus only on karuta, but by this time it doesn’t matter because we already know the card game so well. Episodes in the past would include different locations and some plot before or after a match, but here it’s straight competitive play that forces you to get into the action just as much as Chihaya’s team is. Overall a fantastic episode that shows off everyone’s hard work and devotion to do their best. Nishida’s barrel roll move was fantastic!

Well actually I just realized that the entire episode wasn’t at the tournament. Arata learned of Chihaya’s progress via his email at work, which was a bit of side comic relief. I would say that we can count on seeing Arata at the championships that he’s been invited to, but it may affect Taichi’s play there. I can’t wait to see what happens!

Chihayafuru Ep. 12: Sets These Forbidden Fields Aglow

This episode of Chihayafuru returns to the series’ roots of a fantastic story intertwined with the grand and successful concept of karuta. Now, let me make this clear, it’s not a bad thing at all to return to your roots when done well! I can fully admit that I am in love with this show!

The episode mainly focuses on a few strong aspects. First is Chihaya’s unspoken need to prove herself as important in her family. Seeing that her father was saving a special book for her clips and achievements moved Chihaya to tears. The other aspect was the “Empress” realizing that karuta is important to her school and her overall change in character. I am more than glad for her character development!

And you know how every episode seems to have some sort of magic flavor that really makes you feel good and appreciate something? Well this time it’s Kanade’s appreciation for the “Crimson Red” card. Not only does the art style reflect the theme well, but you receive this overwhelming warm comfort from the episode’s ending. Great job, Chihayafuru!

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing Ep. 9: Connected passed pawn

*Note: Due to Funimation’s player and site acting extremely wonky, I won’t be posting images for this week’s write-up.

A commenter on, or possibly one of Funimation’s forums, stated that Fam, The Silver Wing would be better enjoyed in a marathon session as compared to individual episodes. I believe that person was right. I wish that after seeing Ep. 8 I could have seen Ep. 9 right away. Not necessarily because of the cliffhanger-like ending of the previous episode, but because the emotion and tone found in Connection passed pawn is complimentary to Ep. 8.

The episode focuses on Gisey and Millia’s feelings toward Fam and the issues that surround the trio. Gisey feels worthless and left behind while it seems Millia realizes how she has come between the two best friends. Gisey learns to apologize to Fam for her outburst and Millia finds it in herself to be thankful for everything Fam has done. She cooperates with Gisey to help make a meal for Fam’s birthday. At the same time the Silvius crew seems to bond with a game of hockey on the ship’s deck, which ultimately leads to the crew coming close together.

The feelings found in Ep. 9 are heartwarming and exactly the right tone to follow up the action-packed atmosphere of Ep. 8. I really enjoyed this episode because it brought the series and its characters together, quite literally.

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing Ep. 9.5: First Adjournment

Ep. 9.5 is a recap episode that recounts the events of the series thus far, as narrated by Gisey and then Millia. I find the episode to be fun and entertaining as it highlights the majority of the character’s plot points and dramatic elements. The flow of the flashbacks was well done and I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time at all. Also, the episode isn’t counted as a regular episode so it’s not like an entire episode is wasted on flashback material.

-Jared C.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Weekly Review: 12/5/11

Chihayafuru Ep. 10: Exchange Hellos and Goodbyes

This week’s episode of Chihayafuru focuses on Chihaya’s inability to be a team leader, Taichi’s takeover of that role, Desktomu’s struggles with Karuta, and Kanade’s first win. But if I were to narrow this down, the episode really focuses on teamwork as a whole and what’s going on in the background of Chihayafuru. Chihaya has pushed her fellow teammates to be in the tournament, but she doesn’t know how to effectively lead them. Such is why Tsutomu gets upset when he can’t take a single card from his opponents. The show really showed his emotions well and it was easy to relate to his frustration in not being as good as the others.

What may have hit home is the group’s realization that Chihaya is infatuated with meeting Arata again by playing Karuta. Taichi is irked by this key information, but he already knew this about Chihaya. In a brief moment of narrative we hear Taichi say to himself that he and Arata are both going after Chihaya’s love. The triangle is firmly established, even if we don’t quite have Arata’s side to the story.

Guilty Crown Ep. 9: prey (Predation)

Guilty Crown’s episode this week was as entertaining as it was a let down… And it’s not that hard to explain. The episode was full of non-stop exposition that rattled one awesome sequence after another. Remember the traitorous Yahiro and his, err, brother/sister Jun? They come back in this episode as ironically Yahiro has escaped from GHQ with his, okay I’m just going to say that Jun is his sister because she looks like a girl and sounds like one too. Now, he pulled her away from GHQ because they were going to “put her down”; a reasonable cause to save her.

Events unfold and some really crazy things happen. Shu witnesses Jun transfer her disease into a mech. and take it over. This created some form of mental connection between Shu and Jun, and he was able to speak with her about Yahiro and how he always took care of her since the apocalyptic Lost Christmas. But Jun’s will is to kill Yahiro before she sees her brother come to hate her, so she asks Shu to use Yahiro’s void (scissors of life) in order to kill her. Shu, who doesn’t really know what to do, goes through with killing her before she could kill Yahiro. It’s a tragic twist that come from out of nowhere and it was all very entertaining.

So why did I mention the episode was a let down? Because once again the writers of Guilty Crown have seemed to trash the storyline they built up in the last episode. The student love triangle and the man who stole the void crystal are almost nowhere to be seen except for a brief few moments. This is hardly enough to be a continuation of what could have been built upon. Don’t get me wrong, the episode was fun and entertaining but it didn’t do much for the overall story. It doesn’t connect things the way you would hope a series would, and that’s a shame.

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing Ep. 8: Distraction

This episode of Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing may just be the most solidly entertaining episode yet. I think for the first time there wasn’t a moment where I was questioning “Whyyyy?!” whenever Fam would traverse the screen. Instead I was caught in the moment and I enjoyed everything that happened in the episode. It really felt like it belonged in the Last Exile universe and I can’t argue with that.

The moments where Fam did take over as a leading character were when she was serious and wanted to kick ass. She needed to leave the Silvius via her vanship so she could help get them out of the mess she created from last week’s episode, and it just so happened she took Millia with her as her copilot. Clearly Gisey was upset again, and this time we see her breaking down in her realization that she is “losing” Fam.

But the best part of the episode is when Tatiana fights through the battle and doesn’t give up. Instead of losing the Silvius to her enemy she fights back and commands with grand leadership. The introduction of the Glacies race is very interesting as they are apparently voiced in Russian, and their vanships are nicely designed to boot. A comical stand-out moment for Fam is when she and Millia believe they are saving a Glacies vanship. And Fam’s saving of the Silvius and taking down the enemy’s head battleship was nicely done as well. Millia firing up into the Claudia tank was great and breathtaking, and I wouldn’t expect her to be able to help out like she did. It must have been those books she was reading on the Silvius.

I must say there was a great amount of work put into this episode to make it so good. I want to see this trend continue in future weeks. Gonzo’s tapped into some potential as of late and I can see them pushing the series to its best from here on out. One can only hope.

-Jared C.