Summer 2014 – Week 8 in Review

A low week in anime, my friends. Barakamon, Aldnoah, and Zankyou all had lesser episodes, meaning it was pretty much up to JoJo and Hunter x Hunter to keep things together. Fortunately, JoJo rallied magnificently, and Hunter x Hunter is just always friggin’ good, so I guess I can’t really complain. But damn, I really, really hope Zankyou keeps it together. Anyway, let’s get to the shows!

Barakamon 8: Not one of my favorite Barakamon episodes this week, but that’s because I’m greedy and demand art-creation themes every single week. This one leaned on the show’s other pillars – gag comedy in the first half, and warm slice of life in the second. That played out pretty much how it always does – the beetle-hunting adventure came off like more or less a Yotsuba-lite episode, and the grave-watching was endearing because these characters are lovely people to spend time with. I loved Naru’s earnest surprise and excitement at her birthday party – somehow, this show is able to make me appreciate classic kid behavior much more than actual kids do. And the second half featured Handa finally articulating something that’s been clear from the beginning – just how much he gets out of being a part of Naru’s life, and watching her be happy. Not a standout episode, but a fine one altogether.


Aldnoah.Zero 8: Man, everything really sucks for Slaine, huh? We finish an episode that’s obsessed with basically nothing but his continuous torture with one person finally realizing he’s actually loyal to Asseylum, and then his one ally gets immediately murdered. That’s… man, Aldnoah, you really want his fans to suffer, huh? My twitter feed was not happy.

Aside from that, basically the only thing that happened this episode was Magbaredge promising to support Asseylum. I was actually looking forward to the scope of Slaine’s narrative expanding beyond “one dude gets abused by entire Martian infrastructure,” but the story apparently has other plans. In general, very little happened this episode – we rehashed things about Asseylum and Slaine’s relationship that we already largely knew, Inaho continued to be very charming, and birds equaled peace or freedom or something nice like that. Aldnoah is largely a plot-focused show, and when a show like that stretches eight minutes of plot across twenty minutes of running time, it tends to drag. Hopefully things will pick up now that…

Well, actually, we don’t really have any known events to look forward to, huh? Also kind of a problem.

But hey, this shot below sure was pretty!


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders 21: For some reason, this episode’s aesthetics seemed several notches above the usual JoJo fare. Lively direction, many evocative shots, and an overall attempt to imbue this Polnareff story with some real dramatic weight – all of that was welcome stuff. JoJo’s recent horror genre riffs have generally leaned more towards comedy than actual horror, but this episode demonstrated the show actually can evoke a mood beyond “ridiculous.” The atmospheric beach shots, the creepy flashbacks, the sequence of Polnareff dragging himself through the weeds… Plus, even though he’s probably the most overtly ridiculous member of the cast, Polnareff is also likely the only one with elements of his story that actually lend themselves to dramatic investment – both his sister’s death and guilt over Abdul are tangible conflicts, and they certainly made the most of that here. It was quite the slow build to that finalAGH OH GOD SHE’S BITING HIM IN THE NECK WHAT THE FUCKKK

Oh JoJo. This was actually a pretty strict adaptation of the monkey’s paw, right up until the part when Judgement said “no you goofus, I’m a Stand.” Looking forward to seeing Polnareff literally face his demons next week!

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

Zankyou no Terror 7: This episode felt like either a misstep or a pothole to me – Zankyou’s plot has always been ridiculous, but because the show was about other things, that didn’t really matter. This episode was all plot, and even ramped up the Hollywood absurdity of that plot, and so there wasn’t really much to latch on to. But who knows, could just be a temporary issue.

Zankyou no Terror

Sword Art Online II 8: And on the opposite expectations-end, little Sword Art Online keeps plugging along and racking up reasonable episodes. We’re back in the action again, and that’s always what Sword Art Online does best (well, outside of that brief, strangely enjoyable slice of life tangent), so I was perfectly happy with this episode. Flying pigs etc.

Sword Art Online

Hunter x Hunter 144: This was a very interesting episode of Hunter x Hunter. It wasn’t nearly as straightforward as the last several – while Killua’s journey is a classic adventure, the election is a messy stew of character motives and double-crosses. It featured a handful of characters at their best, giving standout performances of the arc – starting off with Ging. So far, Ging has largely been defined as a “clever bastard,” but this episode revealed why he’s gained such a profound reputation outside of the inner Hunter circles. Ging knows people – he understands them, he makes connections with them, and he never sees himself as apart from them. His connections and insight give him the clearest eye in this election, and though he’s clearly very manipulative in his own way (pushing people towards what he wants them to become more through inaction than action), he seems to have genuine motives.

Cheadle, on the other hand, is completely transparent and completely honorable, which normally doesn’t lead to that interesting of a character, but she’s also smart and competent, which makes her the one you actually want to get through this situation. She’s the classic politician who’s too good for politics – they’re dedicated and have the right ideas, but they just can’t sink to the level of the game they’re playing. In contrast, Pariston has everything she lacks, and lacks everything she has – he is a cipher, utterly without scruples, and playing the game as a true lover of the game. That’s actually one of the things that most frustrates and frightens me about many real-life politicians – they’re not in it because of any remaining internal conviction, they’re in it because this is the best of sports, and they want to beat the other guy. He’s someone you can sense evil presence in even if you can’t articulate why he’s so horrible, and that’s much more frustrating than someone you can pin down as the avatar of some awful ideal.

And then Leorio just wins people over by being frank and concerned and full of earnest self-doubt. Cheadle’s choice to roll the dice by throwing her votes to him was a good one largely because it was a play Pariston could not predict, but Leorio can’t solve this situation. He’s many years short of the game he’s playing.

I was really hoping this arc would deliver some fun political machinations, and this episode delivered in spades. I’m excited to see how it all comes together.

Also, Cheadle and Pariston are both fantastic. How the hell is this show still introducing indispensable characters right up till the end? How can you end on us, Hunter x Hunter?!?

Hunter x Hunter

20 thoughts on “Summer 2014 – Week 8 in Review

  1. I really love it when Pariston talks. He’s such a natural slimeball that makes him oh so much fun to despise.

    By the way, if you were to ever watch a single episode of Space Dandy, this weeks would have been the one to watch. So much theme, so much pretty.

    In a way, Aldnoah needs the Slaine abuse. I’ve rarely seen such a large fanbase so united in their desire to protect a single character. Here’s hoping he doesn’t end up a martyr.

    that art in Vers
    hallowed be thy Slaine…

    • I’ve stopped taking Aldonah as anything more than “a slightly more original than usual mecha series” and am quite happy with it. It’s sort of a less over the top Code Geass. The amount of suffering piled up on Slaine has crossed the line from dramatic to actually being kinda funny. He’s like the fated character who will NEVER get a rest, no matter what. On the other hand, Inaho dances through life happily without giving a shit, making a mockery of Vers and Earth military alike effortlessly and possibly winning the princess’ heart. Without ever changing facial expression. Like a boss.

    • (also when he corrected Slaine in retrospect by pointing out the sky is blue because of Rayleigh scattering and not diffraction I lol’ed hard)

      • That was certainly interesting to watch. I also learned something new. But im wondering how did Inaho knew this. It is hardly general knowledge. Maybe they teach this at the academy? Im sure none of his peers know this though.

        • I did know but then again, I’m a physicist, so yeah (and I learned about it when I was older than Inaho was there). But anyway it’s not that uncommon – I guess you could take it from some divulgative reads if you’re into that sort of thing.
          Interesting bit: Rayleigh is also the name of Gol D. Roger’s first mate in One Piece, Silvers Rayleigh. What did Rayleigh do soon after his first appearance in the manga? Why, he fought and… “scattered” Kizaru, the Marine Admiral with the Light Logia Devil Fruit Power. That was a VERY stealthy pun by Oda.

    • Space Dandy damn right. 8th episode was amazing. My all time favourite so far. SD is doing helluva job with 2nd series.

      What i like about Space Dandy is that it is not afraid to produce highly abstract and ambiguous, often stylistically extreme episodes that do not appeal to general audience.

      This might be apparent from season 1 already, hell the very first SD episode, but not really. Season 1 was often more random than creative and only few episodes showed more depth, with the rest passing the randomness off as comedy, which might have worked for people looking for jokes, but it didnt really work for me. Some episodes affected me though, and the plant episode was pure gold.

      What season 2 is doing however is much stronger themes and style . It isnt sugarcoated as much as before or made to be taken as comedy and it has a point now. For example the fisherman episode was something so unique and even weird, but i definitely understood the inherent intent. Every Mushishi fan would love it. If there is someone out there who watched little anime movie called Glassy Ocean and liked it, check this SD2 5th ep.

      The most recent (8th) episode is a proof of this all. It is psychedelic. It is philosophical (is there a meaning to death?). It is emotional. The music in this episode is sheer awesomness, featuring great guitar solo that will send every Pink Floyd and space rock fan into musical heaven. If you find yourself to be either, hearing that music is a must.

      Well, it looks like lot of people do not really ‘get’ these episodes, which is a shame.

    • I should probably watch more Space Dandy – the ones I’ve seen from this season were strong, and people keep mentioning new great ones.

      And yeah, Pariston’s so damn fun to hate.

  2. Aldnoah should really change it’s name to “Slaine Has a Bad Day…Again”

    I for one would have loved to see ‘Polnareff-Land’ become a reality. Him and Joseph Joestar manage to keep the comedy level in JoJo perpetually high.

  3. Urobuchi at Japan Expo rundown! (Spoilers: it was really disappointing)
    They wasted a bunch of time at his panel. They started late, and then spent over half of the time shilling NitroPlus instead. (The NitroPlus president was there.) We had time for maybe 6 audience questions? And half of them were wasted. Two were eye-rolling “why did Homura do the thing in Rebellion,” which he had to answer spoiler-free, defeating the purpose, and the other was asking if he thought Kyubey got the respect he deserved from fandom, to which he answered Kyubey should be hated, and is.

    He said that the duties of the series composer vs. the director vs. the script writer change for each project, dpending on who is in the other roles, and that the they share a lot of the same duties, and mostly work together.
    More enlightening was that he said that he wrote the entire plot for Aldnoah, and then the first three scripts. So the rest of the show is following his plot, but scripts and composition are being handled by other people. (This doesn’t say whether or not he did or could control thematic focus, though.)

    And finally, he was asked what wish he would make if Kyubey offered him a contract, and his answer was that a grown man becoming a magical girl is weird.

    There was also an Urobuchi masterclass, but that was to the first 10 people to sign up only, and I definitely did not shell out for the premium pass to access the sign-up early enough to get that.

    Oh, they did shill his upcoming movie, Expelled From Paradise. It looks kind of interesting.

  4. Polnareff is …interesting in that he is both the chief goofball and the go-to man for drama at the same time. Often acting as both in the same episode!
    He’s the first JoJo character in any of the first three Parts to actually display angst, guilt and internal conflict over his own situation. He’s far from a complex character but he may be the most complex character that the series has yet attempted.

    • He certainly is. Kinda funny that all it takes to gain “top complexity” is “have one goal, have that be complicated by events that happen,” but hey, this is JoJo.

  5. Hunter x Hunter is pretty incredible.
    Not a lot actually happened in this episode, plot-wise (it’s basically one of those setting piece Chimera Ants loved so much), but that was still an excellent episode.

    One unexpected thing that appeared during this arc is that I gained a newfound respects for Beans. He is the one who really keeps the whole organization for falling apart, and now more than ever. Netero was a great president, though he couldn’t take care of anything, but Pariston is, and aways have been iffy as hell, and either useless, or detrimental to the association (it’s clear he doesn’t care about human sacrifice, as long as he can play, he may even enjoy them), Ging is uncontrolable, and no one really care that much about the election anyway.

    Another funny thing is that Ging kinda reminds me of a cat. Pariston being the rat makes thing interesting.

    • I don’t know if I’d actually say Netero is a great president – he was certainly a beloved president, and an impressive person individually, but I don’t think it’s that surprising that he left the Association in such a precarious state. Politics don’t really seem like they’d suit him.

  6. I’m starting to find Slaine’s abuse kind of hilarious now… so did the scriptwriters apparently.

    There was a writer who said the Little Match Girl was so ridiculously cruel to it’s character that the only response is laughter, Slaine’s kind of similar in that regard. Well at least he gets all the best lines.

    Although my expectations of this show have dropped dramatically since the first episode.

  7. Curiously, Polnareff also has that ability of his to transmit many emotions through his very expressions and acting, and is curious how this random added character (woah, he just came to the main characters, attacked them like many others did before him, and then engaged into friendship with them!) has more depth and development than the rest, I mean, we don´t have compelling background stories from the rest, not even Jotaro, which seems unlikely being this his show, but I have to admit he doesn´t sparkle that way as the protagonist, just the guy who solves stuff when nobody else is around to. Definitely this should be Polnareff Bizarre Adventure! But that thing with Avdol was really unexpected! I see why they didn´t cut him from the Opening hahaha

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