Summer 2015 – Week 7 in Review

Wednesday has come again, and with it one more entry in my increasingly less timely week in reviews. At this point, I’m watching an even four airing shows, which is probably the least since I started this tradition – but on the other hand, I’ve had School-Live, Gangsta, Snow White with the Red Hair, and Rokka all recommended to me with varying levels of enthusiasm, so clearly other people have found a bit more to love in this season. This week, I’ve largely been making up the difference with manga, which has made for a nice change of pace. But let’s hold off on that for now, and start by running down what episodic stuff I actually have seen!

Because seriously, Gatchaman Crowds insight. Yep, this is just another excuse to rant about how good the new season of Gatchaman is, because damn, it sure is good. This week’s episode featured something I never knew I wanted, but was extremely happy to see – all of the Gatchaman getting seriously fed up with Tsubasa’s shit. Tsubasa’s Genki Hitler routine has got Rui, OD, Jou, and Hajime seriously worried, with Rui knocking her down with some passive-aggressive philosophy, OD and Jou just straight-up implying Gelsadra will ruin everything, and Hajime getting right up in Tsubasa’s face. Hajime’s been a bit of a background player for most of this season, but this episode marked the turning point there.

Gatchaman Crowds insight

In contrast to Tsubasa, Hajime has clearly been waiting in order to gather her thoughts, and soliciting advice from people as divided as Jou and Berg Katze. Hajime takes time to make her choices, and isn’t good at verbally articulating her thinking (which makes sense, since it’s so based in a fundamental understanding of people’s emotional needs), but that grey thought bubble is no joke – when she’s certain, she’s certain. I’m looking forward to seeing how she deals with Gelsadra’s human-phobic philosophy, along with the appearance of his new friends.

Also, dang, that Garden of Eden imagery. I assume they’re implying Gel and Tsubasa want to recover Eden, and are doing so by retreating from the fruit of knowledge, letting people live in blissful ignorance under Gelsadra’s godhood? Nice little metaphor there, Gatchaman, you get extra credit points.

Gatchaman Crowds insight

Classroom Crisis also had a solid episode this week, finally giving Angelina something to do besides be the butt of stupid anime jokes. That show is beginning to coast on character chemistry at this point, which is a nice thing to see – it’s done its homework, these characters have been established as understandable friends through all manner of trials and conversations, and now they get to be all entertainingly chummy together. Of course, it feels a little awkward to be commending Classroom Crisis for small victories in a season where I’m also watching Paranoia Agent, whose episode this week was probably one of the best episodes I’ve seen all year. I was very happy with my writeup on that one, so I’ll link it again – seriously, if you haven’t watched Paranoia Agent, get on that.

Paranoia Agent

Veering over to trash alley, this week’s Prison School was solid but unremarkable Prison School. My favorite thing this week was how the show basically set up a classic hit on Joe’s goddamn ant farm, complete with informant, slow build to the kill, and a fall guy to take the, well, the stick up the butt. The material with Hana was more traditional (well, as traditional as you can get in Prison School), but still pretty entertaining – it’s nice to see a dynamic where the Underground Student Council isn’t totally in control, so both characters can act like idiots.

Monster Musume was very uneven this week, with a lousy first act following up on last week’s lousy second, but the second half was fantastic. Rachnera bullying Darling instantly became one of the show’s best dynamics, and I hope she continues to bully him for many episodes to come. It’s really nice that this show hasn’t devolved into a bunch of girls all directly fighting for Darling – outside of Miia and Centorea, all of them basically have their own deal, and combining that with the fact that Darling is pretty much the butt of every joke makes the show feel way more light and endearing than exploitative or abrasive (when it’s not doing gross orc-groping nonsense).

Monster Musume

Moving on from airing shows, I also finished Giant Robo this week, which was god damn phenomenal. It’s not one of my personal favorites, but not for lack of trying – Giant Robo is basically the platonic ideal of cartoonishly epic robot shows, a beautiful melodrama full of larger-than-life characters and gorgeous visual compositions. It’s like that perfect comic epic you imagined when you were twelve, but didn’t have nearly the talent or motivation to create, fully realized as good as you’d always known it could be. The direction is so good that I basically can’t avoid talking about it – in fact, I’m planning on putting together an essay for this piece that largely focuses on how the show’s visual style both mirrors and elevates its themes. Looking forward to it!

Giant Robo

I also watched the first two episodes of Symphogear this week, finally giving in to the constant barrage of tweets talking up this nonsense idol-action-drama-whatever. And yeah, Symphogear is ridiculous – girls singing as they punch giant monsters, idols that also fight aliens, body horror and tragic backstories and scifi gobbledygook. I’m not really hooked yet, but I’m at least having a pretty fun time.

Finally, moving on from anime altogether, I also read the first volumes of two new manga this week – My Hero Academia and A Silent Voice. That pairing made for a nice study in contrasts, as My Hero Academia was essentially the Shonen Jump formula polished to an absolute sheen, making it both incredibly readable and also kinda unfortunately safe-feeling, while A Silent Voice was all hard, jagged edges and bleeding emotions. I’m sure you can guess which one I preferred (Silent Voice also has some of the best character-establishing scenes I’ve come across recently, highly recommended if you’re into wince-inducing drama), but I’ll likely keep up with both of them. My Hero Academia may stick to a safe formula, but that formula exists for a reason – things that are highly readable are always a good time, and this one’s execution is polished as hell. Hurray for manga!

A Silent Voice

9 thoughts on “Summer 2015 – Week 7 in Review

  1. I’m glad to rediscover Paronaia Agent with your analizes, and to see how much have stayed in my mind after all this time.
    It makes me want to rewatch it, which is a pretty good thing.

    A Silent Voice is really great ! I don’t have a lot to say about it, (because I’m at Volume 4 and don’t want to spoil.) but it’s a great manga.

    What I’m waitng for is the day you’ll decide to start watching Durarara.
    Because the way Durarara and Gatchaman compare and contrasts similar themes is pretty interresting.

    • Yeah, A Silent Voice is excellent so far. Honestly, it’s actually been kind of uncomfortable to read – in a good way, of course, but I can’t say I’m unhappy the first volume finally escapes their awful childhood.

  2. The first thought that cover from “A Silent Voice” brought to my mind was “a dark, moody version of Tonari no Seki-kun” :D. What do Seki-kun’s protracted silences hide, indeed? What do his endless and apparently joking shenanigans really talk about – to the one able to listen?

  3. Yay for Paranoia Agent and more mangatalk.

    Bildungsroman revolving around “quest for self-redemption for idiotic stuff done in school” seem to be a common theme in manga these days, but Silent Voice stands out for being very…organic and brutally honest. Really impressed with the author (*broke through with the initial one-shot version in her early twenties, no less) for conveying this kind of nuanced storytelling at a relatively young age.

  4. Reminded of a quote from Penny Arcade (on mobile gaming, actually): “Press ‘A’ to pierce the veil between the self & other!”. Going through my head as I’m watching Gatchaman. Also, fun little existential subthemes about the anxiety of being thrown in. This season’s dope.

  5. I think the first few volumes of A Silent Voice is amazing, but I feel like it kind of lost focus in the later volumes. I can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t find it as compelling later on so I’ll be looking forward for your thoughts on it.

    And yes, My Hero Academia is IMO the best pure distilled Shonen Jump action formula ever since Naruto. Hopefully it will gain some semblance of its popularity but with the media landscape now I don’t think that’s still possible. Though personally for its genre I vastly prefer One Punch Man (not surprising though, since its target audience skews a bit older than My Hero Academia)

  6. Considering you are a bit short of anime, I’d really recommend giving Rokka another shot, at least up until episode 5. They even end up changing part of opening after [spoiler] happens.

    To give you a hint. Six and seven.

    • I’d like to second this! Episodes 2-4 of Rokka were exactly the ennui-inducing let-down you described before dropping them, Bob, but now that the show’s arrived (beginning around episode 5, I think) at what seems to be its first major conflict, it’s stepped up quite a bit, and has become very watchable. I’m not sure it’s quite recaptured the entertainment of the first episode’s innovative and well-choreographed fight(s), but it’s approached it/them several times.

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