Five episodes in, I am ashamed to admit that this is the first time I’ve realized “Ledo” is probably named Red to directly contrast against the blue of the water/Amy’s eyes/doctor’s brooch visual motif. Goddamnit.
Anyway, let’s get to it.
1:05 – “Agreement: It is early in the morning.” These Chamber bits are great, even moreso for how rare they are
And yeah, we’re getting right back into that “work as source of pride and personal fulfillment/identity” stuff, but if it’s all overt I don’t really have to point it out
1:48 – “Not useful” – actually, I do think it’s a kind of nice, subtle shift here, where Ledo still can’t really translate their value system, but has reached the point where he wants to be useful for his own sake, even if he can’t yet understand the meaning they derive from their lives
2:57 – I have to keep my impression of this show’s ambition in check. But I really do like how explaining their economy and world, and the personal desires it stems from, in such a step-by-step way lends itself to highlighting the dehumanizing structural stuff that separates their society from Ledos’ or our own
9:45 – Whew. I was worried the show wouldn’t have a matching gratuitous pan for Ledo, but fortunately it did. Equal opportunity ogling here.
12:25 – Putting on lotion and talking about men. Bechdel would have a field day with this one
13:57 – …really?
15:52 – What is this episode dooooing
18:04 – I hope those gay panic guys hanging off the stairs got down okay
21:50 – This is pretty great – we’re getting back to the point here, with Ledo feeling the satisfaction of still being a part of something greater than himself, but working towards specific goals for specific people that are meaningful to him.
Well, that… happened.
In theory, I actually like (or at least am not against) a lot of the things this episode was trying to do. Between episode three and this one, a clear fantastical, lighthearted streak has been pretty well established, though I’m not sure how that tone will be managed if more conflict gets introduced – you only have the breathing room to pull off stuff like this early on in most series.
I like the idea of dedicating a full episode to that “life with meaning even in the absence of orders” concept, and I like how fully the episode committed to just enjoying time spent with these characters – for a show that’s normally so tightly written, I think it was an intentional and effective choice. The scenes at the grill supported my feeling that this is basically the closest to “healing-type” shows I’ll ever enjoy, and the race/chase stuff once again made me feel that this is Urobuchi’s version of a Ghibli movie.
But I could certainly live without both that embarrassing gay panic stuff (I’m not even going into anime’s horrific track record there), as well as the more gratuitous bathing suit stuff.
It’s a weird line to walk, because a lot of the swimsuit scenes came off as natural, and the rest of it was mostly played for humor, but it’s hard for these things not to end up voyeuristic. I’m (as always) taking this pretty seriously, but this show generally takes its characters seriously as well, and respects them, so I’m not a fan of moments where it seems like they’re being put on display for us, the viewer.
So yeah. Overall I think it achieved the goals it wanted to, and I actually liked the pacing and idea, but some specific choices definitely dragged it down for me. I don’t think this is a new norm or anything – as I said, unless there truly is no larger conflict brewing at all, the further we get into the series, the less feasible it is to pull off something like this. But it’s definitely the first time something in this show has disappointed me.