Ten sounds like a reliable number. Yes, Fall is almost over, and so is 2011 as a whole! It’s December now, which means time for me to go ballistic with anime watching like I did last year. I’ve got a ton of shows lined up so it’s going to be a lot of fun. In the midst of everything, I almost lost track of the new season, but it’s way too close to the end to give up now. That said, I’ve gone ahead and preemptively dropped Persona 4 without watching episode nine. After reading ak’s post, I decided it wasn’t worth putting myself through that for a show I’m not even into. That aside, here’s Regularly Scheduled Programming.
Fate/Zero (ep 10)
This was the last show I watched this week, and I’m glad it was. Totally made up for an otherwise shit week. If episode nine seemed like UFO Table was saving some budget, then this is where they spent it—the entire episode is near movie-quality visuals, from a smorgasbord of highly detailed backgrounds (and lots of cityscapes!!!) to excellent use of CG and special effects. Finally some gravity was given to Caster’s mass abduction and murder of children, and Kariya (whom I’d forgotten about) appeared however briefly to remind us how he’s lost his shit and isn’t very likely going to get that shit back. His rescue of Rin felt way less contrived than the rescues from episode eight thanks to excellent presentation, complete with a perfect Lovecraftian horror moment (the things Rin witnesses before passing out). Beyond that, it was a well-made episode all-around with an interesting story, and if you need me to spell it out for you, focusing entirely on loli Rin guarantees my vote.
Ben-to (ep 9)
I enjoyed this episode, but not as an episode of Ben-to. ak’s review of the episode is more representative of its quality and disappointing nature (though unlike him I thought the eating scene was the most annoying in the episode, because I hate cooking “jokes”). Most of what I enjoyed in this episode was its quirky visuals and sound (which has consistently been quirky in this show). Near the beginning, I caught on that Shiraume Ume was being made to reference Senjougahara Hitagi from Bakemonogatari in this episode. Lots of poses and shots mostly unique to SHAFT anime and especially Bakemonogatari were used, as well as things like lighting effects and pacing of scenes. The school hallway at dusk, while no doubt a common image in anime, looks uncannily like Bakemonogatari episode one.
You know me, I wouldn’t bring this up so much if I wasn’t confident it was being done deliberately. To begin with, director Itagaki Shin has worked on some SHAFT anime, such as directing and animating most of the second Bakemonogatari OP. He also directed Black Cat, a GONZO show known for looking an awful lot like it was directed by Shinbo Akiyuki. Moreover, the episode director, Mukai Masashiro, was an episode director for Arakawa Under the Bridge, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. There could be more shared staff amongst the animators and such, but since I’m lazy, I’ll just say these two are good enough. But not good enough to make the style mean anything. The visuals didn’t exactly wow me so much as make me think “huh, this looks kinda like a SHAFT show.” There was no depth to my appreciation beyond that.
As for the episode being mostly fanservice—some of it worked for me. As I’ve said in the past, Ben-to’s designs do nothing for me, but here I felt the animation and Kayano Ai’s performance as Shiraume were good enough. The way she acted was so smooth and deliberate, and I thought that was hot I guess. Also it was two girls. But like the SHAFT visuals, this doesn’t carry it very far. Just enough that I don’t hate it.
On a side note, I had a thought in this episode that “Oshiroi is being reduced to nothing but a perv machine.” But maybe she’s not being “reduced to” that so much as she’s opened up to her friends enough that she can be honest about what she’s thinking all the time. She probably shouldn’t, but I understand her position, since I tend to do this in real life. The fact that she got a bit more cloistered around Shiraume shows that there may be some consideration going into this after all.
Un-Go (ep 8)
YOU CERTAINLY KNOW ALL ABOUT THAT, DON’T YOU, AIKAWA? Un-Go eight was suitably weird to follow up seven, even if it explained everything away. That is, except for anything about the movie and why it was so fucking weird, which is good because I prefer that weirdness to any explanation I could’ve received. Kazamori’s Tron-esque cyber expedition was awesomely batshit with hilarious CG used seemingly with tongue in cheek. My favorite scene is at the end when Shinjuurou apparently opts to hang out in prison for a while to… meditate or something? That guy’s a weird one in a cool way, like this show on its good days.
Working’!! (ep 10)
I don’t give a shit about this show anymore. I’d say, “I can’t believe we’re still retreading the same Inami plot for the five millionth time,” but of course I fucking can. I saw someone somewhere note this episode as having “Inami progress.” How can you call it that when it’s the same one step of progress that’s happened fifteen fucking times now? This is “progress” like a Rumiko Takahashi romance has “progress.” There were a couple of minutes in the middle of the episode that centered on Yamada and Poplar, who’ve increasingly been a packaged deal this season, and those were fun. The rest was boring schlock.
Mashiro-iro Symphony (ep 9)
This episode is about bullshit cat metaphors. Okay so was the last one, but this one’s worse. Miu and Shingo cats get separated, symbolic of what’s going to happen to the humans’ nonexistent relationship. Sana takes Shingo cat home so she can pretend it’s Shingo person. There are so many ways this can work out where the cats are symbolic no matter what. Either the human relationships follow the placement of cats, or the cat placement is ironically not reflected in human placement. None of it’s going to matter ultimately, because Shingo’s not going to end up with Sana nor Miu anyway. Sana shouldn’t even be in the picture anymore, but of course she’s not going to be absent from Miu’s story. Instead we’ll retread her a little because we have to play both storylines. God I’m tired of the fucking cats.
Anyway, Miu’s rapist mom was fun, especially because the normally unflappable Miu is actually upset by her raping ways. You know what would be nice? A doujin with Miu and her mom double-teaming Shingo.
Man I’m glad I watched Fate/Zero last to totally save this otherwise shit week. Let’s hope next week is all-around better!