Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Weekly Review: 11/21 and 11/28

It's a two-parter! And it's because last week was thanksgiving and Skyward Sword came out. Plus Super Mario 3D Land! Lots of gaming as of late. But hey, I will cover both weeks, although 11/21's post will be a bit shorter because I waited to write it.

Chihayafuru Ep. 8: The Sounds of the Waterfall

This episode of Chihayafuru takes what we know of karuta and expands it in the club room. We are introduced, or rather reintroduced to the character Nishida Yuusei. We saw him once before when Arata kicked his ass at a karuta tournament. Well anyways we see a good amount of Nishida (Chihaya calls him Pork Bun) and his realization that it's a good idea to give up tennis and go back to the card game. It was a simple episode with a more of less simple theme, but at least the Karuta Club now has enough members to actually be a club! And so... when will Arata show up?

Chihayafuru Ep. 9: But I Cannot Hide

This is an episode that covers an extreme amount of ground, but it does it well like no other. So what do I mean by this? First, Chihaya's Karuta club is deemed official. Second, Chihaya decides that the club will be attending a tournament that is only a short while away while in the meantime having a "Karuta Bootcamp" if you will. And then third, Taichi's interaction with Chihaya and the ending of the episode. Sorry folks, I will need to spoil the ending in order to talk about it.

The flow of But I Cannot Hide is great and it deals with the situations at hand effectively. It pushes the narrative along at an entertaining pace and solidifies what this club is all about, at least right now in the series. The club exists and some of its members are learning fast as they are new to Karuta. Taichi is selected as club president because he isn't, well, "out there" like Chihaya is. And behind all of this great Karuta love there is the great amount of romance between Taichi, Chihaya, and Arata. Although it may not actually be a romance yet, Taichi's feelings for Chihaya are strong and she may well be aware of them by now.

When Taichi grabbed the last piece of Chihaya's birthday cake, (which her family conveniently forgot about, poor Chihaya) the emotion presented was powerful. It's that unofficial kiss phenomenon that presents itself in many anime, but I really liked this one. For a split second it seems as if Chihaya is overcome by Taichi's action, but then he shows her Arata's text. It's so unique because Taichi wasn't going to show her the text message, but he does because he maybe doesn't want to be a coward anymore. The creators are clever, and it really makes you want to root for characters. I don't know who I would want to root for though... Both Arata and Taichi's actions are questionable from what has been presented so far.

Guilty Crown Ep. 7: temptation (Round Dance)

So let's just forget about everything that happened in the last 6 episodes of Guilty Crown, okay? OKAY?! Yeah.. well the show is still incredibly enjoyable and it has that great pace that's been observed before, but honestly I don't understand why previous plot progression has been thrown out the window. All I can think of is how the plot is about Shu's fragile life and how the people around him must take care of him. But the relationships he's encountered have kind of been thrown into the trash. The plot has indeed moved forward with Gai getting outside funding for Funeral Parlor... but... Shu's mom certainly was an unexpected addition to the cast. And so was Dan! The dance scene was fairly ridiculous; what a dazzling display? Aaaand cue next week's progression into something completely different.

Guilty Crown Ep. 8: courtship behavior (Hot Summer Day)

Do you remember how last week's episode was ridiculous and further defined how Guilty Crown is constantly throwing its own plot out the window? Well Hot Summer Day has the opportunity to stand on its own and define a new plot for the series. And it better, because everything it needs is here to stay.

At first glance we have a beach episode, and thank god it doesn't stay that way for the entire twenty something minutes. Shu and friends go on vacation so they can get Souta's void to open doors. Yup, open doors!

This is the necessary front plot to get Souta to the beach near a GHQ facility that needs to be broken into. The writer of this episode then uses Souta's inevitable feelings for Inori to get Shu jealous, which shows how much Shu has a thing for Inori. But this isn't a romance anime so Shu comes in and takes Souta's void.

This is where Guilty Crown can really take the series in a new direction if it wants; a new direction to stick with too. We learn that Shu's father is dead in relation to the genome/disease that spread throughout Japan. When Shu and Gai try to break into a scientific lab, their goal has been stolen by a mysterious man whom Gai knows. Whatever the man stole, it looks like the voids that Shu pulls out of people's chests.

But THEN at the end, for the first time in the entire series, Shu asks Inori what exactly a void is, where is comes from, why he "touches their hearts" in effect touching Inori's. This is where the plot has the ability to push forward and expand on these plot points. They can really create something here while we already have a good premise solidified. So please go ahead and do it, Guilty Crown staff!

And one more thing worth mentioning. Remember that first plot catalyst of getting Souta to the beach so Funeral Parlor could use his void? Well in the end Shu and Souta discuss their feelings for Inori. They both like her, and they both can't stand one another at times. But it seems their feelings have reconciled them, in a way, back together as friends. But it's strange that Souta altered his feelings that fast. I can't tell if it's out of respect for Shu or not. We've seen in other anime where a character will immediately stand down because they realize the other person is better for the relationship, but if that's what Guilty Crown is trying to do then I fear it wasn't presented at it's greatest potential. But hey, maybe they'll still be friends?

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing Ep. 6: Over step

So I was entirely frustrated with last week's episode to the point of wanting to give up on writing about the show... Well I won't do that just yet. I don't think... This week's episode was certainly better, but the show won't rid its' childish feel. Yes, I'm saying that even when a room full of people were massacred. Fam is an incredibly ridiculous character and I'm even more compelled to say that she's not the focus of the series at all. In my opinion it is Millia who we should be looking at as a more important character to the plot. It was nice to see some of the more diplomatic events happening in the background. And that race... it was kind of... well... shitty. Sorry, but it wasn't all that exciting and it could have been done better. Sure it ended kind of cool but it needed more pizazz during the entire thing. I just knew they would win... I mean come on!

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing Ep. 7: Weak square

I have been disappointed with Last Exile Fam the last few weeks, but this episode really brought things together to push the plot forward. Simple themes like missing home and Gisey wishing to see her family is a big deal, as Gisey is trying to Fam away from Millia. She's jealous and down about it. Right now, it sucks to be her.

But beyond Gisey's feelings is the real actuality of war. Fam is only a few airships away from having a fleet created for Tatiana. When she prepares to approach her targets her family and friends from back home, the sky pirates, have all appeared under the same goal: to capture the ships. It's a short competition though because they are all lead into a trap where the enemy uses new rapid fire cannons in a test battle. It was all a trick to record data on their new weapon, creating a sharp loss into the pirate's ships. I am fairly sure the data is being recorded for the next section of Last Exile Fam episodes, which will be taking place with a country called Glacies. It should be interesting.

It's an episode like this that pushes Fam to the background and the feel of Last Exile to the front. It was cool to see Fam use the Grand Stream birds as an example to get her family and friends out of a devastating situation. If it wasn't for her they would have died. We need to see Fam used more like this, in short bits, so that the series doesn't come of as incredibly childish. If you push her stupid antics to the background, and have her actually do something for once, then we see a side of the series that can really grow.

And just to throw this out there, there was some excellent animation in this week's episode. Some of the best work so far. Maybe I just like huge airship battles. Who knows?

-Jared C.

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