Spring 2014 – Week 10 in Review

This week, I actually fell behind on Ping Pong, of all things. Not because I don’t have any interest in watching it – on the contrary, it was actually because of precisely what I warned myself I wouldn’t do this season. I’ve somehow found myself doing Ping Pong writeups, meaning Ping Pong tends to get pushed back until I feel like I have time to do a Ping Pong writeup, meaning Ping Pong gets neglected. And it’s so good too goddamnit this system is terrible.

Not that that’s any real excuse, considering I posted another three SAO writeups this weekend. Can’t really justify that one, huh.

Alright, enough of my moral failings. Let’s get to the shows I did watch!

Hitsugi no Chaika 9: This week’s theme was “memories,” a topic where the mechanical elements of this show handily reflect the thematic ones. As Chaika explains at the beginning, memories can actually replace magical fuel here – you can burn up your old experiences to power your vehicle, or your gun. That’s possibly a comforting thought in this war-weary world, and the show smartly spends the rest of the episode exploring the value of painful memories. Not only did this give a chance to explore Toru and Akari’s childhood and motivation, it pretty much directly laid out the importance of remembering and learning from loss and regret, an idea relevant both to these characters specifically and this world at large, a world that seems possibly headed towards yet another senseless war. The theme-illustration here obviously wasn’t on par with a show like Mushishi or Kino’s Journey, but it was handled perfectly reasonably, and we got a number of nice character moments along the way. Chaika continues to chug very confidently along.

Hitsugi no Chaika

Knights of Sidonia 9: Sidonia’s a pretty creepy place, you guys! This episode featured sentient tentacle monsters and lobotomized clone-prisoners, but for me, the one detail that stuck out was the news announcement regarding planetary emigration. The protests of those opposed to war with the Gauna have kind of been background noise for most of the show, and the Captain’s offhand solution has basically been to shuttle all the protesters away and frame it as their natural choice. It’s kind of reflective of how Sidonia itself is just one more organism in this show, and in this show, organisms are constantly evolving, pruning themselves, changing and hardening and struggling to survive. According to the perspective we’re given, Sidonia doesn’t really have the luxury of being a many-minded organism – it must be a simple, war-focused creature to survive. As Kunato bitterly remarks, soldiers don’t have regrets, and Sidonia is a soldier before it is a collection of human-esque beings.

In other news, Tanikaze’s harem grows even stronger. My feelings pretty much mirror Izana’s.

Knights of Sidonia

Mushishi S2 8: Not my favorite episode of Mushishi this week, but still a fine one. The visual effects of the Mushi were impressive, and the story was essentially Mushishi’s version of a coming-of-age story. A boy takes the Mushi gifts he’s been granted as something he is owed or has earned, and is punished for it. He sulks in response to this, and refuses to take responsibility for his actions – but ultimately, he is forced discard his hubris, and accept responsibility for his own actions and future. In the end, the scolding he accepts from his father as he whistles to save his mother demonstrates he’s learned that what matters is not how others perceive his actions, or whether he is rewarded for them, but whether they actually result in worthwhile action. He can’t buy respect with seashell trinkets.

Fables are fun, huh? Mushishi is pretty dang good at this stuff.


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders 10: A strange cowboy-ish man with a homing revolver, an assassin Stand with mirror powers, and a supremely dramatic maybe-death for one of our brave heroes. This episode felt like Battle Tendency, and Battle Tendency feels good – it moved quickly and featured both great fights and great conversations, and there was even enough JoJo absurdity (goddamnit that pig) to still keep up that surreal JoJo edge. Hopefully this momentum keeps up!

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

One Week Friends 10: There’s always a strange tension in One Week Friends, and that tension’s name is Hase. Hase is kind of a jerk – he tries hard to do what he thinks he’s supposed to, but he really does want something from Fujimiya, and he’s not honest with either her or himself. That’s always basically been kind of a barely-spoken subtext of this show, but this episode made it very overt – lines like “I’m frustrated a creep like him ruined all my hard work” are all about him, and paint his friendship with Fujimiya as a “project” he almost expects compensation for. In that light, his constant pondering of whether he’s actually doing any good for her take on a much less flattering color – it’s like he’s fishing for validation, and now that Fujimiya has actually fully reset her memories, he’s no longer getting it. Hase is not a bad person, but he would be a better one if he were able to accept that he is not a perfect one. The show has tonally been fairly hands-off when it comes to his problems, letting his words and Shogo’s responses to them basically speak for themselves, but I’m happy to see that his problems are gaining as much prominence as Fujimiya’s as we approach the ending. He can’t help his friends until he learns to treat them like friends, and to do that he’s going to first have to deal with himself.

…is all what I’m hoping this show is actually doing. Reaaally hoping this show is that smart, and doesn’t just unreservedly agree with Hase’s choices. Reading comments on this show, where people are basically just hating on Hajime and moaning about how hard things are for Hase, is frankly kind of dispiriting – it’d be a shame if the show itself also lacked real self-awareness.

One Week Friends

18 thoughts on “Spring 2014 – Week 10 in Review

  1. I guess hating on Kujou though makes sense in a different way – I hate him as a plot device. Did we really need THIS? A full resent at a few episodes from the end instead of a resolution? A potential rival for a story that already had enough conflict spawning from the circumstances? First the whole memory thing gets handwaved away as if it wasn’t a big deal and we get whole episodes made of warm fuzziness, then suddenly conflict is brought back in the form of this Other Guy. Feels like a wasted occasion. So yeah, not a Kujou fan.

    • I think he’s useful because he’s the reason for Fujimiya’s loss of memories and may eventually end up being a factor in her regaining them, but I don’t think One Week Friends handled it well in the tonal shift between fuzzy slice of life and more serious drama. This should have probably been addressed earlier in the season.

      • There’s also the added awareness on my part that Fujimiya probably WON’T regain her memories, because that would solve the show’s main conflict, and the show is a running manga adaptation. So unless they decide to go down the “anime only ending” road, which at this point I think is unlikely since apparently they’re still following it, this “drama” is going to end in basically nothing.

    • Eh, we needed to resolve the memory thing somehow, and that probably necessitated a figure from her past. I agree that the way they introduced him wasn’t at all graceful, though.

      • Yeah, but that’s the point, is it going to be resolved? The manga’s still ongoing. So if they don’t make an anime original ending, they’re not going to resolve the memory issue either. So what was the point of introducing this conflict other than dragging out the plot with increasingly meaningless shenanigans? And I’m talking plot-wise, thinking of the manga as well.

  2. Finally dropped pretty much all the baggage, so the only spring season shows I’m now watching on a weekly basis are Mushishi, Knights of Sidonia, and Isshuukan Friends. (Well, okay, and Kamigami no Asobi, but let’s not talk about that.) I really, really like the first aforementioned three titles, and I also largely agree with your thoughts on them. I’ll be honest though, I’ll be pretty happy to see the summer season get underway shortly – I know a lot of people have been saying that the current season is one of the best they’ve seen in a long time, but to me it just feels kinda average at this point.

    • I’m happy with a strong top tier, and between those and Ping Pong, I’m definitely getting that at the moment. I guess it’s lucky for me that I’m kinda easy to please.

  3. Seems every week Chaika gives me more to squeal uncharacteristically over, or to have myself a good hearty chuckle over. Confident indeed!

    And One Week Friends… well, it’s still going, and getting its act together would be kinda nice. Right? It’d be a real shame if it didn’t – the strong start garnered so much hope from me.

  4. Oooo treated to a Mushishi post. Nice, nice. But to be honest I’ve been watching for awhile and I feel like the second season is kind of weaker than the first. Maybe it’s because some of the wild bending of logic that occurs (the episode where the boy has the heat eating mushi made me face palm)I that I really think is there to kind of force a happy end where as the first season was content to show us that well sometimes shit happens (like the episode where the man’s dreams came to life). Still, good anime is good anime.

    • I’m guessing we’ll probably get some unhappy endings too, at some point. And we have been getting some ambiguous ones, at least!

  5. Interestingly, the One Week Friends anime seems to have made Hajime less likable than he is in the manga. I wonder if the short run length meant that they decided to sacrifice some nuance there for the sake of an ending that will satisfy fans more.

    • If in the final episode it turns out that Hajime really is Dio’s servant but Hase brings out his Stand and beats the crap out of him, I’m sold on the anime original ending.

    • That doesn’t seem too surprising, since the show is kind of using him as an antagonist for the sake of its structure. He still doesn’t seem like a legitimately bad guy though, which is good.

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