Spring 2014 – Week 11 in Review

Not the most impressive week in anime, but Ping Pong was so damn good that it doesn’t really matter. JoJo also pulled off a stellar episode this week, and Chaika at least promised a great upcoming episode, so I can’t really complain. I guess I’m mainly just annoyed that One Week Friends has fallen apart.

Now that I’ve told you about my week in anime, I guess I should tell you about my week in anime.

Hitsugi no Chaika 10: This episode was pretty much pure plot, which doesn’t give me much to talk about. But it was certainly entertaining to watch! Some nice action sequences, a serious escalation of the building conflict, and a multi-pronged cliffhanger for next week’s possible first act climax. Looks like the episodic adventures have come to an end.

Hitsugi no Chaika

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure 11: I was hoping this week’s episode would keep up the momentum, and I wasn’t disappointed – Jojo spent no time mourning the loss of Avdol, and instead sped ahead into a showdown with the mirror-master, Centerfold. This felt like classic Jojo – two very silly heroes pinned against absurd odds, surviving through clever tricks like kicking dust in the eyes of children. It was nice to see Kakyoin get great moments of both heroism and ridiculousness – I loved his daring rescue of Polnareff, directly followed by an elbow to the face that RESTORED THEIR FRIENDSHIP RAHHH MACHISMO YEAH. We also found a successor to “your next line will be” in the “My name is Inigo Montoya” speeches given by both our heroes, and the episode overall found a great balance of action and comedy. I was fairly sure Avdol’s fire-bird avatar meant he’d be phoenixing himself back to life this episode, but maybe he’s actually dead? I’m pretty okay with that – Avdol was definitely the least interesting of our protagonists, and it seemed unlikely he’d top the “Avdol, say something” moment Jotaro handed him back in Shark Week. Onward to Egypt!

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

Knights of Sidonia 10: This week’s episode began by somewhat surreally threatening to be a double date haunted house episode, which I frankly have to applaud Sidonia for implying in the context of a space opera focused largely on transhumanism. Fortunately, Tanikaze’s suitors were promptly drugged and stolen away, and the show proceeded to drop a pretty serious truth-bomb – the Gauna actually attack Sidonia because they are drawn to the radiation produced by its anti-Gauna weapons. That’s kind of a big deal! It certainly lends some credence to the demilitarization faction, at least.

Aside from that, this episode mainly introduced a big new weapon and had Tanikaze use it to save the settlers in the nick of time, which wasn’t the most exciting conflict, but it also featured some reasonably effective Izana moments. Izana seems to be the one member of the central cast that doesn’t truly buy into the narrative as presented – s/he (not really sure what pronoun I should use) actually sees the settlers’ choice as potentially idyllic, and is terrified of becoming a pilot and being ground up by Sidonia’s “survival at all costs” human-military apparatus. That’s a fairly compelling conflict, so I hope Izana survives long enough for it to actually amount to something!

Knights of Sidonia

Mushishi S2 9: A simple story this time, one about parents and children, and the lies we tell for the people we love. It’s interesting to contrast this one with the cursed arm story from earlier in this season – that story was very directly about how issues like domestic abuse are passed down through a family, and the sins of the old generation recreate themselves in the new. Here, the parents choose to sacrifice and lie to their child out of love, but the result is nearly the same – their son grows into a man who sacrifices of himself for his family, no matter what their own wishes may be. And even learning the truth of this does not change him – as his mother sacrificed for him, so is he willing to sacrifice in turn. Of course, his presence in the epilogue seems to imply that perhaps compromise isn’t out of the question – perhaps his father managed to convince him to take the purge, and protected him one last time.

This wasn’t the most graceful episode, I have to say – the Mushi were mainly just a supernatural instigator to get the story moving (though their lifecycle does neatly mirror the cycle of parental choices being passed on to children), and the story didn’t contain the multiple levels of thematic reflection that the series’ best episodes do. It was still a fair enough episode, though – it’s just that episodes like the rainbow chase and the seashell birds kind of spoil us.


One Week Friends 11: Kinda seems like Hase turns back into his first-few-episodes self when he’s not around Fujimiya. His conversations with Kujo this week were really refreshing – he was blunt, actually kind of perceptive, and totally upbeat/earnest.

Unfortunately, Hase’s conversations with Fujimiya were just… not. He’s sullen, selfish, dishonest – he’s making problems where they don’t exist, and not trusting Fujimiya to be honest and pull her own weight in the friendship. It’s aggravating to watch, at this point – he’s always been kind of a jerk, but the show’s just coddling him in his problems. He needs to trust in order to grow, and right now, he clearly doesn’t trust Fujimiya.

This show’s definitely had wheel-spinning issues for a while now, but Hase himself is a much more fundamental problem, and at the moment I’m not sure how it could end in a way that would fix that. “Avoiding telling Fujimiya the truth and isolating her for what you assume to be her own benefit” is not where I was hoping this show would go for a final conflict. I optimistically theorized last week that this show was actually aware of how fundamentally problematic Hase’s attitudes are… well, it seems like that’s just not the case. And he’s being such a shitty person that I’m just not interested in seeing the show pretend to “redeem” him.

One Week Friends

Ping Pong 10: Holy shit was this episode good. Kazama has easily been as central to this show’s narrative as anyone, and the resolution of his ping pong philosophy was a joy to behold. I am very happy with my post on this one.

Ping Pong

17 thoughts on “Spring 2014 – Week 11 in Review

  1. Huh, I wonder if you and I somewhat agree on Isshuukan Friends, or have a very deeply seated disagreement.

    The show knows what Hase is doing is problematic, that his “I must protect Fujimiya, I must not hurt her” is actually turning him into the “villain” of the arc. Heck, it’s a continuation of where early on Hase had to admit to being selfish, and how Shogo keeps insinuating that Hase is a creep.

    No, I think the show is aware Hase’s behaviour is deeply problematic.

    • I think I’ve mainly just run out of patience for Hase. When he enters the scene, I think “oh boy, how’s he gonna fuck this one up and then feel sorry for himself.” There are scenes where the drama seems to hinge on you sympathizing with Hase, and I just want to smack him.

      I might be more sympathetic if the show were actually doing more with this, but it’s just playing it out very slowly and predictably.

    • Personally my problem isn’t with the fact that the show doesn’t know what Hase is doing is wrong – it knows it and is setting it up as a conflict for the finale.
      My problem is with how it is:
      1) a conflict/development that we’ve seen OVER 9000 times from at least as many wimpy male protagonist and of which I’m sick and tired of. Is there no middle ground between “obnoxious Nice Guy” and “unapologetic Asshole” as far as anime protagonists go?
      2) completely throwing out of the window any kind of character development for Hase;
      3) taking away the chance for more interesting conflicts, like Hase and Kaori overcoming together the difficulties of her condition – that has been completely handwaved out of the picture in the middle of the series and is now back with a vengeance because DRAMATIC PAST;
      4) fucking boring.

      Hase’s scene with Kujou made me damn this anime – he was, for a few seconds there, witty, funny, and perceptive. If he could be half of that with Fujimiya their scenes would be more interesting to watch and their communication problems wouldn’t even exist to begin with. Instead when they’re together he suddenly turns into a bumbling mess of fuzzy nothingness. If they spend another minute talking about how good Kaori’s bento boxes are I’ll scream.
      Dishonorable mention to the hints of shipping between Shogo and Saki, who just don’t belong together in any conceivable world. I don’t know if it’s the fault of the original material or an adaptation issue, but this thing’s going down the drain quickly. I simply hope the finale isn’t going to be 20 minutes of everyone sobbing their hearts out, AnoHana style.

  2. Not much to say since I pretty much agree with you on the new ep9 of Mushishi but speaking of good episodes I wonder if you watched the OVA from season 1. The one about the sun disappearing and the girl who couldn’t stand sunlight. That episode I thought was the best that Mushishi had to offer.

    • Oh quick addendum, I thought the story also had a message of the sacrifices of parents. Gives a new meaning of “benefiting from her sweat, blood, and tears”. He chose to honor her sacrifice by doing the same for his children (in the end it was a harsh winter yet they were able to grow crops). Just some food for thought.

    • Yeah, that one was fantastic. I particularly liked how the longer episode format allowed them to do those great setpiece sequences of the sun disappearing and returning.

  3. I’m actually rather surprised by your stance on One Week Friends this week. After reading your post last week and watching the latest episode, I thought that you would be firmly with the show; it seemed to me that it was heading in the direction you’d hoped. It is, however, possible that I’m just giving this show a hell of a lot of leeway because of I feel like its handling of character interactions in general is great. (i.e. the Kujo conversations this week) It doesn’t make much sense to me for a show that seems to know people so well to be ignorant about its main character.

    I think I’m going to re-watch the episode. I’m usually with you 100% in most matters, but I’m just not seeing what you are. Will report back with something long-winded and rambling that will probably be devoured by the backspace key anyway.

    As a rule, I’m usually one for founding arguments on the darting of the eyes of characters, but this week’s One Week Friends is going to make me break that rule. The camera doesn’t just deliver a close up of a character’s eyes for the hell of it, and this week the camera had a lot to say. The first pictured glace is Shogo’s He delivers this disappointed glace to Hase after the line “you told me that friendship isn’t something you can work towards, that it happens naturally, if you let it… But you can also work at friendships.” This look even rather pointedly interrupts a flashback sequence. Hase continues on to some ‘noble’ monologue about returning Fujimiya to where she was “before Kujo arrived.” He states this very clearly as a goal, as something to be worked towards, and this is important. OWF’s main thematic line, to me, has always been Shogo’s approach to friendship in this scene; allowing the natural progression of events, not bringing in goals or labels or even worries to friendship. It was there in the beginning, when Hase was scared to even begin talking to Kaori, and was more worried about when they could define themselves as “friends” than the actual /friendship/, and it’s here now, as Hase sets himself goals and pledges to “try his hardest”.

    The second look is Hase’s, in response to Kujo’s prompt “Then let me ask you… are you and Fujimiya just friends?”. It even shows the exact same look again, in profile, when Kujo lays in harder: “Don’t you want to think your relationship is special?” You’ve said that Hase seems to occupy a lot of scenes simply feeling sorry for himself, but that’s not my read of his reclusive moments. Like in this scene, he’s just overwhelmed and taken aback by the whole situation; his whole approach to friendship is being called indirectly into question, and he’s scared. That’s been Hase’s defining characteristic when dealing with Fujimiya throughout the series; scared.

    Well, scared and, as I’ll argue, self-reflective. The final two shots are Hase’s as well. One when Kujo laments to him “Special friends? Yeah, right!” in reference to his past with Fujimiya, and another when Fujimiya later says to him “You’re a special friend to me”. This “special friend” is surely the thing he’s been not-so-secretly working towards, so the latter should be a joyous occasion, but he’s distraught nonetheless. He’s distraught because the goals he set up, and even the very setting up of said goals, is being challenged. These are exactly the selfish goals Kujo set up (“I wanted her to remember me”), and exactly the exclusionary goals that hurt Fujimiya before. (“You’re just trying to get ahead oh her!”)

    The way he’s chosen to rectify his mistakes is childish, I fully agree, but it’s exactly what a scared, overwhelmed kid would do; take the easy way out. He’s over thinking the situation, as he always has. In fact, this episode even opens with a scene of our happy couple on the rooftop, exchanging “You’re a very important friend”‘s to each other in a natural way, just to underscore how the wrong end scene of Hase running away at the declaration is.

    And, of course, next week he’ll take Shogo to heart, and everything’ll be jolly.

    “What good will thinking do you now? Just go with your feelings”

    –Oh god it’s late. This probably isn’t even coherent, but I’ve spent too much time on it now for me to delete it. Sorry, Bob!–

    • Great close reading! It seems unfair to just respond with, “yeah, I see that,” but yeah, I do see that, and the show will definitely resolve by shifting him somehow. I may just be committing a classic error of evaluation here – I’m not really enjoying the show, and I actively dislike Hase, so I’m blaming him for narrative failings that don’t exist. I do think the show has narrative issues, but you’re right, it isn’t blind to Hase’s failings.

  4. Little note about the truth bomb in Sidonia, that’s actually a serious misdirection that I’m not really surprised you missed (the truth is covered far later in the manga whereas the anime is only 1/2 of the way there after skipping a bunch of chapters these past 2 weeks). The scientist monitoring Hoshigauna thinks (operative word) that’s the reason why the Gauna are targeting Sidonia but if you go back to episode 5 (roughly 13 minutes in), the kabi were in fact discovered by Sidonia way after the Gauna had already began attacking humans/Sidonia. This means there is another reason why the Gauna are attacking humans. This discrepancy is further reinforced by the fact that the Gauna in this previous episode didn’t go straight for Sidonia but the colony vessel. The kabi aren’t the reason. That doesn’t disprove Hoshigauna isn’t after the Kabi though, since her memories seem to be relatively in tact and she would recognize the threat the Kabi pose. Hoshigauna is an anomaly in general though, as placentas being cut off and remaining alive has not happened before, so drawing conclusions from her behavior is not truly reliable.

      • Lol late reply. Nothing much of consequence to be honest. There was a fight with a smaller guana ship that focused more on Izana’s elevation to pilot status. Some characterization for the side characters like the mechanic and Samari are also left out. It’s more cool action scenes that were cut than anything substantial to the development of themes so no worries there.


    “You next line will be!”

    Expect some Joseph Joestar action.

    • Hase is thinking in terms of “what do I think would be best for Fujimiya,” but that’s not really the growth I feel we need to see from him. I think the most important thing we need from Hase is honesty, and I still don’t think we’re getting that.

      Or, well, got that, considering I’m now responding after the final episode…

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