Sunday, November 20, 2011

Operation Rainfall Phase 3 Press Release

Hey Symposium For Geek! I tried copying and pasting a bunch of links over for you but the formatting came out a little weird. So instead I will post a copy of the official press release. A new letter has been drafted for Nintendo of Japan. Please take a look!

-Jared C.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Weekly Review: 11/14/11

Huzzah! Another weekly review!

Chihayafuru Ep. 7: But for Autumn’s Coming

So I just finished watching the latest episode of Chihayafuru and I knew I needed to write this as soon as possible. It was simply great! And here’s why. The connection between a physical item and a figurative theme may have never been done so well before in anime. Okay, well not in recent memory!

But for Autumn’s Coming features Chihaya and her recent goal to gain more members for the Karuta club. Five members establish a real club, and right now she only has three. Enter Komano Tsutomu, the second smartest student in their class. In fact he’s so smart his nickname is Desktomu-kun because he literally studies at his desk at all times. Chihaya wants a smart player so she goes to Desktomu (I’m not sure yet if this nickname will stay or not but I’ll use it for now) but he only denies her offer. Of course Chihaya refuses his answer and drags him to their club room, quite literally with desk in tow…

Now, what makes Tsutomu interesting is his own self-reflected view of himself. He knows he is the second smartest person in the class but that’s just not good enough for him. He needs to be number one so he can have access to friends. Tsutomu doesn’t like school it seems, but he will study and study to achieve this goal. But he knows in the end that he still won’t gain any friends that way. This is his character flaw, albeit he will break from it in Chihayafuru. It’s a given, but I’m not upset at this predictable plot element. How could I be upset when the episode was done so well?

Tsutomu/Desktomu-kun is so attached to his desk that the entire episode features it and he only lets go of it at the end with the help of Taichi, which is the other major element to episode 7. Taichi is smart and scores perfect scores on his exams, and so he is a rival to Tsutomu. Tsutomu (okay I like using his real name more) challenges Chihaya and Taichi to play Karuta with the cards flipped over, basically to prove the point that the game is indeed mentally challenging. In the end, when Taichi helps Tsutomu by throwing the desk and admitting that he himself isn’t the best at Karuta, Tsutomu opens his eyes that there will be something to gain from joining the club. And it doesn’t involve forcing himself to study just to gain fake friends. There, at Karuta club, the opportunity for crafting his first real friendship is something special.

Quite honestly, the figurative relation to Tsutomu’s desk as his only chance to gain friends is moving and sad. He needs to get away from usual study habits and “become smarter” (as Chihaya puts it) by playing Karuta. But not only will there be a chance for him to become smarter, he will make a wise personal decision to leave the desk behind and learn to open himself to friendship. At least I hope that’s the case!

Guilty Crown Ep. 6: Leukocytes (Cage)

Episode 6 of Guilty Crown isn’t as exciting as, say, episode 4, but it manages to push forward in that similar conventional way that it has before. Only a small bit of character growth happened here and the focus was on action once again. We need more growth!

But what is done fairly well is the exploration into Gai’s personal demon. He is shouldering the existence of a government that hammers down on his fellow people. He shoulders the deaths of those in Funeral Parlor who fight for him and sacrifice their lives for his cause. It is these attributes that have never been explored in Guilty Crown before, and we certainly needed this information to care more about Gai.

Now, the main purpose of Leukocytes (Cage) is to not only establish Gai’s character growth but to solidify Shu even more into Funeral Parlor. The main plot involves a powerful satellite weapon that has the ability to destroy cities… and Funeral Parlor. It’s no wonder that the ending of the episode features Shu firing a new weapon, once again using Inori. He blasted satellites in outer space! But I don’t understand the evolution of his abilities with Inori. I feel like I am missing something significant. Maybe.

So where will Guilty Crown go from here? It’s anyone’s guess. But now that Shu is finally a true part of Gai’s cause I think it’s safe to assume we can expect a more involved plot. It feels like we have wrapped up a story arc and the door is open for a new plot source. Segai is still an interesting tool to use and I hope we see more of his crazy character. More next week!

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing Ep. 5: Touch and move

Okay… There’s just something I do not understand about The Silver Wing’s presentation of itself as related to the Last Exile world. It’s just too cute. It’s just too… simple? Even with my concerns, this is the first episode that kind of feels like it progresses somewhere past this simplistic threshold. I just want more, and I’m not getting it. But I won’t stop watching because I am a fan of Last Exile and episode 5 may be leading to something better.

Nothing too great or fantastic happens, at least not in my opinion. There are a couple of key points, though:

1. Turan is being annexed and Millia isn’t happy.
2. We learn Dio was working with the Sylvana/Sylvius the entire time (that’s a shocker…).
3. Millia designates the Sylvana as the new Turan homeland. Yes a moving ship is now the country.

Okay, clear? There’s really not a whole lot to talk about with this episode. It’s almost mindless and simple entertainment. But I don’t want my Last Exile to be mindless enjoyment, I want it to make me think and care for the characters. Sadly, Fam, The Silver Wing is lacking these qualities.

And for the love of god I do not understand Millia’s dressing up as a maid to convince the ship that she is worthy of establishing the new Turan on the Sylvana. Is this fan service? Is this supposed to make me think she is being cute? Even Fam questions Millia’s outfit.

And that’s all I have to say about Touch and move. It sort of feels like it has some sort of purpose but at the same time it lacks a ton of oomph. It needs something special and it needs it now.

And so that’s it for this week. A great episode of Chihayafuru, a good episode of Guilty Crown, and Last Exile isn’t really worth mentioning this week. Until next time!

-Jared C.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekly Review: 11/7/11

Another long week and I wasn’t able to get the weekly review done in time, but I won’t give up! Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown, and Last Exile Fam are all covered here!

Chihayafuru Episode 6 – Now Bloom Inside the Nine-fold Palace

The sixth episode of Chihayafuru is taking the series in a new direction where Chihaya and Taichi set up for the new Karuta club. A girl named Oe Kanade sees an advertisement for the club and decides to check it out. The problem? Kanade is fascinated with the meaning behind each card and the stories of poets who wrote them. She loves the culture and what it was like back when they were written. And she loves traditional Japanese clothing, especially hakama.

Chihaya tries to get Kanade to join the Karuta club but her love for the poems don’t equal a strong enough desire to play competitively. Chihaya doesn’t give up, and goes as far as showing interest behind the meaning in the cards. Okay that sounds like Yugioh or something… but honestly it’s nothing like that! Chihaya is surprised to hear the history behind one of the cards and has Kanade tell her the history of all 100 poems!

Quite honestly there’s something truly special behind each episode of Chihayafuru. Sometimes it can feel just a bit corny, but it never stays that way. I don’t care if a character looks straight into the audience and smiles. It’s a close up revealing their emotions and it shows us how they feel and what their motivation is. Every time a character it feels real and genuine, something other shows can’t capture effectively. Chihayafuru takes simple values and portrays them well. Kanade is interested in a different side of Karuta, but Chihaya takes the time to listen to Kanade and discovers her passion. Chihaya is able to then see the cards as more than just words, but as landscapes and beautiful stories. Taking the time to listen to someone’s passion allows for you to open your mind to new things and you may just learn something. Something so simple can be portrayed so well. This is a great anime.

Guilty Crown Episode 5 – a preparation

Shu Ouma doesn’t seem to know a thing about the ladies, but he sure has been getting close to a number of them. Especially in episode 5, where he shoves some honest feelings Inori’s way and is introduced to Ayase. I know someday soon we will figure out someone to root for, you just wait!

But it gets more complicated than that. It seems Inori was just a tool used by Gai to get Shu to join Funeral Parlor. This isn’t entirely unexpected, but it really creates an interesting plot setup for Shu’s feelings. He’s an emotional guy and he will break easily. So maybe Ayase can help fill that certain void? Shu’s progression with her from the beginning of the episode to the end is confirming in its nature to establish a possible friendship. It starts with Shu not understanding Ayase’s handicap to truly experiencing what it means to be special. Her wheelchair gives her the ability to be unique, while Shu’s special pull-item-out-of-chest ability is what makes him unique, thus leading to him beating Ayase at a mock battle. But honestly it’s that conversation about 2/3 of the way into the episode that establishes Ayase as a sad and undertreated girl who has a thing for Gai. It looks as if Inori is “with” Gai, but that’s not entirely true. Shu and Ayase are in the same boat, and now some form of relationship triangle has formed.

And also, just to push the plot forward, we learn that the enemy has access to some grand satellite weapon that has the ability to put craters into the ground. I haven’t seen a weapon like that since Sin from Final Fantasy X. Everyone from Funeral Parlor should be worried here, because Gai was in the area where this weapon hit with, get this, 3% output. Looks like next week Shu will be heading on a mission to go find Gai. Can this guy get a break?

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing Ep. 4 – Dubious Move

This fourth episode of Fam, The Silver Wing has the right kind of flow under its belt but still lacks the engrossing storyline from the original Last Exile series. I know that I should probably drop the notion that the sequel should be similar to the original and treat it like its own entity. But it’s hard to do when the original series was just that… original. It held its ground as an entirely new concept that was slow moving at first but then gradually blossomed to something excellent. Dubious Move continues on the track towards a moefied, unimportant cast that just doesn’t feel like the Last Exile world we were familiar with.

What I mean with Fam, The Silver Wing having the right flow is that it finally gave much more time to some character development and then brought in some action near the end. The episode wasn’t just a bunch of short character blurbs with random action spliced in between. Thankfully we finally learned more about Gisey and what makes her special as a character, it’s just too bad we didn’t learn of her abilities earlier. In previous episodes Giselle would be able to navigate the interiors of massive ships and she knew their weak points but we as an audience didn’t know why. Well episode 4 shows us that Gisey simply has an astounding knowledge of airships and how they work, and why they are built in certain ways. Just by looking at a picture of a ship she can process through its inner workings, which is what she does with the Sylvius. But this trait alone isn’t enough to make me want to think that she is a great copilot to Fam. It only expands her character beyond what we knew about her from before, which was almost nothing.

And as for the rest of the episode we learn that Tatiana and Alis, the duo from the original series, are in command of the Sylvius. They’ve grown up some and Tatiana is in command. Fam tried to “take” the Sylvius to impress Millia, as Fam and her sky pirate friends could use the Sylvius in battle against the enemy. But of course it backfired because Fam is an idiot and we are left with Fam needing to fulfill Tatiana’s payment of a captured 15 enemy ships. It’s that or Fam and Gisey will be killed because they now know the inner workings of the Sylvius.

This plot really needs to go somewhere, and it needs to get there fast. I barely care for these characters and I’m not attached to them at all. It’s not enough to just feed off the nostalgic fumes of the original Last Exile series anymore. We need more character development and honestly a better-crafted story for fans to care about what’s happening on screen. I guess we’ll see next week.

-Jared C.