Kill La Kill and Nudity of Concept

Throughout the first two episodes of Kill La Kill, I felt that Kuroi’s costume design was meant for something a little more than fanservice. It’s not meant to be a commentary on the audience; sure, everyone who ogles her is represented as stupid, and she usually kicks their asses, but Kuroi is nonetheless embarrassed to wear it, and there’s nothing to actively punish the viewer for ogling it. The point is more about saying: it’s okay to have a sexy character design; and rather than be coy about it, it should be a matter of pride.

Kill La Kill is utterly absent of pretention. It seeks simply to be an incredibly badass technical action showcase, and it thoroughly succeeds. Hiroyuki Imaishi is perhaps the most influential and important animator in TV anime alive today, and his new studio, Trigger, has brought his style into its own life. Unlike his previous shows Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking, which felt like a blend of a huge number of styles from a large group of contributors, Kill La Kill feels focused and uniform in style. It’s also Imaishi’s best directorial work yet in my opinion; the pace is insanely fast, but it’s also very consistent, unlike Gurren Lagann which could feel all over the place at times. In every technical aspect, Kill La Kill is as good as it could possibly be.

The storyline is simple as they come, and the show pulls no punches in being as over-the-top with action and fanservice as it wants to be, not holding back anything for anyone. Episode three is all about embracing that naked, unashamed nature.

Matoi is embarrassed to wear her armor because it’s scantily clad, and guys are ogling her—but she always holds power over them. She knows that they don’t matter, but she lets it upset her anyways. This shame in the very thing that makes her powerful, ends up being her downfall. Not unlike a show or movie created to be an action vehicle, but bogged down in attempted realism or a pretentious/overwrought storyline, Matoi can’t be the epic fighter that she needs to be if she’s busy being ashamed.

The school president, meanwhile, doesn’t give a single fuck. She knows that she’s amazing, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says. She’s determined and true to herself—able to stand naked in her conviction and say, “come at me bro.” And in witnessing how the president’s determination trumped the opinions of those beneath her, Matoi is inspired to embrace the nudity that brings her power and fight with true conviction.

…did I just blog anime?!

What’s Missing From Four Eps of Suisei no Gargantia

Gargantia is awesome. It does an amazing job of suggesting an enormous amount of shit through visuals alone, even if that shit isn’t really delved into. For instance, the huge space battle in the first episode features all these fantastic patterns, formations, and suggestions about the nature of the main character and the current battle.

So what’s the show missing? Well, more of what it does best! Everything that’s shown in the series manages to suggest a lot; the problem is that in three and a half episodes of Ledo being on Earth, not enough has been shown! Ledo spends the better part of episodes three and four literally sitting on the mast of one ship in this huge Gargantia fleet, and while we’ve seen a bunch of short clips of Amy running through the town, and plenty of sweeping shots of the fleet, it feels like we’ve hardly even seen an ounce of this would-be fascinating location.

In episode four, Ledo finally gets off the starting boat and into town, but things are happening too quickly (not pacing-wise, mind), and he isn’t seeing enough. The episode is too quick to jump into a series of dialog dumps from its principal characters, instead of allowing Ledo to learn about them and their home organically.

While Ledo’s conversation with Bevel helped him start to comprehend these people, having this conversation is a wasted opportunity regarding what makes Ledo interesting. He’s a super-observant, quick-learning character, so if he’d been given enough time aboard the ship interacting with people, these emotions could have been brought out of him by way of his own observations, rather than hamfistedly being told to him by a slew of characters who probably won’t matter at all outside of teaching him things.

This hamfistedness is altogether the biggest trouble with Gargantia. It’s created a serious, involving world, with believably rational characters, but is too quick to tell them exactly what to do, like it’s working its way down a character development checklist. In episode three, the whole idea about Ledo not killing people is handled in a ridiculous manner. They still fight the pirates, and both sides assumably take casualties, so… huh? Was there no way to teach Ledo the importance of human life other than to take unnecessary casualties on their own team? Wasn’t the damage caused by Ledo killing in episode two already done, so at this point it didn’t matter anymore?

The Earthlings are not as logical of thinkers as Ledo, but having the military leaders apparently instruct Ledo not to kill seems a bit backwards. I expected them to let him off the reigns, at least towards the end when lives were in serious danger, but no one says anything, and Ledo persists in sparing lives (successfully, fwiw), because he’s not really on anyone’s side. I don’t question Ledo’s actions so much as those of the fleet.

Anyways, I’m still enjoying this show a lot despite these issues, and looking forward to what might come, especially after finding out this is an Urobuchi Gen show. In the coming episodes, I’d like to see the show pull back on the dialog a bit and let Ledo actually explore the Gargantia, preferably alone, without side characters constantly pointing out the significance of what he’s seeing. Flesh out this grand setting and make us feel a part of it, and let Ledo learn on his own, now that he’s past the first knowledge barrier.

Disorganized Thoughts About Tsuritama

Of the great pickings this season, the show that’s caught my attention, and that I feel I may actually watch all the way through, is Tsuritama, a low-key show about a bunch of awkward, cute boys learning to fish. Or something.

Here’s a fun fact: Enoshima, the town in which Tsuritama takes place, is fucking tiny. Episode one showed random locations in the city, and lots of mention is made of the fact that the show takes place there (“Enoshima don!”), but I got the best sense of what kind of town it is by looking at it on google maps. (click to enlarge)

My neighborhood is bigger than Enoshima island. The average SM mall in the Philippines could barely fit on that thing (and artificial island Mall of Asia is actually bigger). Norfolk international airport, which is near my house and is the smallest airport I’ve ever seen, is the size of the whole above screenshot.

I don’t have a point to make about this; I just find it interesting.

Nakamura Kenji is one of my favorite directors, but Tsuritama isn’t like his other shows. Kuuchuu Buranko, Mononoke, and C were a lot more artsy and visually extravagant. Tsuritama nevertheless stands out with its bright and vibrant color palette, which it shares with Kuuchuu Buranko, along with the character design of Irabu-sensei (here seen morphed into the vaguely malicious Coco).

I don’t mind that Tsuritama is less artsy, because the reason I love Nakamura Kenji is that he makes offbeat and artsy shows that don’t get wrapped up in their own artsyness (the way I feel Masaaki Yuasa shows do). It’s also good to see Nakamura doing something more relaxed after C, which I felt was more or less a failure.

Because indeed, Tsuritama isn’t wielding a heavy animation budget. Like Kuuchuu Buranko and C, it feels pretty cheap, but because it doesn’t have C’s ambitious alternate world or combat scenes, the cheapness doesn’t stand out nearly as much.

On that note, this must be one of the lowest-budget A-1 Pictures shows I’ve seen. Usually they can be counted on for high-quality character art if nothing else, but Tsuritama has more than its fair share of iffy cuts. At least one A-1 Pictures staple is in-tact: all the boys are pretty as fuck.

Yeah, Tsuritama feels pretty gay a lot of the time, but somehow that just makes the whole thing more relatable for me. I am, after all, surrounded by pretty boys in real life, and we’re all gay as fuck, so I can’t even say anything about these guys. What was I talking about?

I like the show, anyway. It reminds me of NieA_7.

That Fight in Sakamichi no Apollon ep 1

I don’t know if Shinichiro Watanabe actually choreographed the fight scenes in Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, but both shows featured spectacular combat sequences often showcasing strange and eccentric fighting styles. Clearly, Apllon isn’t a story heavy on fighting, nor would it make any sense for the characters to show of eclectic maneuvers.

Were this another show, I’d probably be complaining about the fight scene. Why waste high-grade animation on a fight wherein you can’t tell what the fuck is going on? I might assume that since it’s a non-fight-centric show, maybe they didn’t care that much about how the fights looked.

But of course they did. Watanabe always cares how things look, and I don’t care if this is a manga adaption, he’s going to leave his mark on it. The fight is meant to disorient. Not only does it not establish a horizon line—it seems to purposefully avoid one, cutting to random parts of the fight, showing people anonymously getting thrown around, all set to insane jazz music.

That’s the fight Kaoru witnessed. He didn’t know what the hell was going on—he just saw the magnificent beast that is Sentarou going nuts on a bunch of dudes and had about a million questions running through his head along the lines of “what the fuck just happened?”

Alright, ep 2 is done dling now.

In Medaka Box, Nisioisin Does Goddere

Medaka Box follows the character formula that defines Nisioisin’s writing. There’s a girl who’s a genius-badass, and a guy who’s a badass-genius. The girl is aware of her own genius, while the guy is doubly aware of the girl’s genius. The guy is also aware of his own genius, but believes (and is usually right) that his is far lesser than hers. The guy is not unconfident: he knows that he’s a badass and somewhat of a genius, but he’s so sure that the girl is better than him that he understates his badassness. We only see his badassness in his interactions with anyone other than the girl, as he treats all others as equal to or lower than himself (unless they’re yet another incredible badass/genius).

Is this explanation confusing you? It should be. Nisioisin writes confusing stories. Usually, they’re full of constant, biased, loopy narration. Medaka Box doesn’t have this element—it’s more straightforward, not only because it’s based on a manga, but more importantly because that manga runs in Shounen Jump and not, say, Faust. (Nisioisin has written manga that are exactly as head-fucking as his prose.)

Regardless of narrative style, the point stands that Nisioisin’s main duo is very here. Medaka is a genius (I’m actually shocked that this exact word didn’t see any use in the episode) in just about any field, and has an overwhelming presence. (Well, she should have one, but it wasn’t portrayed as overwhelmingly as, say, Senjougahara is in Bakemonogatari.) The lead character is second only to her in genius and skill, yet he presents her as being a world apart from himself. And just like other Nisio leads who are “surrounded by geniuses,” the lead seems convinced that he’s only as good as he is because Medaka rubbed off on him. I’ll bet Medaka believes differently, and will reveal to him his personal badassery at some point.

Moving along, what is goddere? Hitoyoshi is tsundere, as he admits in the episode. Goddere is a term that, as far as I know, came from Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, wherein Kyouka claimed to be the most supreme kind of dere, “goddere,” and said, “it’s not like I’m being omnipotent and all-powerful for your sake!” To me, the idea of goddere, which Kyouka expressed to an extent, and which Medaka expresses to the fullest, is literally “the love of a God.” It’s when the character either is or sees herself as so powerful that her love is protection, like the love of God. Medaka seems to be preaching that she’ll protect everyone with her endless benevolence. Pray to Medaka and thou shalt be saved.

On a different note, Kamina is back from the dead!

I didn’t like this episode very much but I’m not ready to drop the show yet.

One Good Reason Space Bros Shouldn’t Be Overlooked

is that it’s a grown-up show. When I saw it on this season’s chart, I was all too ready to blow it off, having long grown tired of A1 Pictures’ constant stream of very pretty looking melodramatic shows. But this isn’t a show about lame crying teenagers, it’s about a grown-up pair of brothers going to space. There’s still a lot of crying, but it’s adult crying. Or something.

Unlike ghostlightning, I couldn’t care less about space, astronomy, or hard science, but I do love shows about brotherhood, because like him, I am the oldest (of three in my case). My first brother is only a year and a half younger than me, whereas Mutto’s is three years, but it’s just as well. When I was fifteen or so, my brother started to overtake me in height, and Mutto’s looks like he overtook him at twelve. Hibito is god damn monstrous.

I’m ten years too young to have a brother who’s way the fuck more successful than I am, but that doesn’t mean it seems unlikely. He may be fairly directionless, but at least he’s in a university, unlike some older brother who’s been bumming around the house for almost a solid year.

Mutto and Hibito seem to have been really close, which is good for me because I’m also extremely close to my brothers. Victor (nineteen) and I certainly ran around in a forest recording things for most of our teen years. Unlike Mutto, but like Hibito, my brother and I never forget anything that we do (though Victor is MUCH better at remembering every promise that I’ve ever made to him, apparently). We probably will never forget because the video evidence is everywhere, constantly reminding us.

Here’s a fact I didn’t remember: apparently, our still-running Project Awesomeness comedy series was originally something I thought would make us “famous.” According to Victor, every time I’ve ever talked about my plans, they’re about how I’m going to become rich and famous one day. Then I think back—to things I always remember, now re-contextualized into a straight line.

I remember being eight years old, Victor probably six, and we were jumping up and down on our beds. I was explaining to him that the video game I was “designing” was going to make me two million dollars. I literally thought that if I “designed” a game (this involved writing strategy-guide-esque descriptions of levels, drawing maps and enemies, etc.) and sold it to Nintendo, they would give me two million dollars. With that money, I explained, still jumping, I would purchase every video game console and every video game in existence.

Fast forward seven years; I’m fifteen, he’s fourteen. I’m dead-set on becoming a director. As a matter of fact, what I want to do is drop out of school like Ryuhei Kitamura did and make a breakout low-budget film, like he did with Versus, and become world famous. My breakout would make me a full-time director, and what did I want to do with the money? Buy every anime DVD in existence. I never change.

Hell, maybe the reason I’m not driven right now is that there’s no massive stock of collectible entertainment I want to purchase.

Anyways, here’s what my little brothers want to do in life:

My fourteen year-old brother, Shade, wants to be a game designer.

Victor isn’t sure exactly what he wants to do, but he knows he wants to do film, and he’s in a film curriculum.

HORY SHIET.

Both of them are lazy and impassionate, yet both are far better at what they’re trying to do than I ever was (and more consistent). Shade modifies his PC games (i.e. making Minecraft skins, etc.) and has a load of modeling programs. Victor is good enough at editing videos and enjoys it enough that there’s no reason for me to ever do it (I am terrible).

Have I gotten off-track? Mutto is a reprisal of Hirata Hiroaki’s previous role as Kotetsu from Tiger and Bunny: another older guy who we love, who acts like a loser even though he really isn’t one. Both characters start by losing their jobs and work their way back to the top (one would expect).

This show could be great, or it could be good. Basking in the majesty of space doesn’t have any effect on me, but we’ll see how it goes.

Between Four Shows That Look Alike, Saint Seiya Omega Has the Worst Traits

Casshern Sins, Heartcatch Precure, and Yumekui Merry all come to mind when I look at Saint Seiya Omega, and not in a good way. I like Casshern and Heartcatch, but the things I like about them aren’t present here; instead, what I hate about Casshern and Merry are what I see.

Two names are important to analyzing these shows: Umakoshi Yoshihiko, who did character designs and animation directing for Casshern Sins, Heartcatch Precure, and Saint Seiya Omega; and Yamauchi Shigeyasu, who directed Casshern and Yumekui Merry. Another person of mention is Hatano Morio, the director of Saint Seiya Omega, who also directed a few episodes of Heartcatch Precure.

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Fall 2011 Week Two (Next Episode: Enticing Tidbits)

[Week One (Because NEET Stands For "Nothing Except Excessive Time")]

One way to be sure this gets done: write it as the week goes along! Like last week, this week has been an emotional mood-whiplash rollercoaster, but through it all there’s always time for watching and blogging anime (and making music). Not sleeping helps! Worth mentioning: I finally got my driver’s license this week! Woohoo!

We’ll do the shows in the order that I enjoyed this week’s episode.

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