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.

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