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Lost in Anime by Guardian Enzo - 16h ago

Worlds are colliding…

Well, after a year and two months we have what I believe to be a first for Gegege no Kitarou 2018.  Two major recurring plotlines are colliding here (I suppose if you want to include Nanashi-Backbeard you could, but for me Nanashi rises above the level of a recurring plotline).  I was not a fan of the Western Youkai arc, so the return of Backbeard isn’t something I greeted with a lot of enthusiasm.  That said, though, this was a solid episode and in fact, probably better than the vast majority of the ones in that arc.

We in fact have a direct continuation of last week’s ep featuring the proletarian vampire Elite, this time featuring one of those nobles he talks about.  That would be the vampire La Seine (the great Tobita Nobuo, making his first appearance in this series after guest shots in the ’96 and ’07 versions).  He’s responsible for a string of blood-draining incidents in Japan, which he’s accomplishing with the help of his assistant Mammoth (played by Kujira, who likewise appeared in those two earlier versions of GGGnK and has already turned up in this one).

Truth be told, I think Elite was both a more formidable opponent and a more interesting character than La Seine – both his methods and the chip on his shoulder gave him a charisma and relatability.  La Seine, on the other hand, is a pretty traditional Eastern European vampire avatar, and his vanity makes him vulnerable (and predictable) in ways Elite was not.  It’s never made clear here whether Elite was acting on Backbeard’s orders in collecting blood, but there’s no doubt La Seine is – a virtual appearance by Agnes (courtesy of Sunakake-baba) makes that clear.

It was nice to see (if not touch) Agnes again – she ended up being one of the more winning elements of the Western Youkai arc.  I’m not so crazy about her message though, if it means we’re destined to go through another Backbeard revival.  In the meantime the showdown between Kitarou and La Seine is fairly interesting.  The vampire seems to get the better of Kitarou the first time around, and manages to trap him in a containment cube which Mammoth helpfully buries deep underground.  But Kitarou’s chanchanko keeps up the good fight – this powerful talisman is a key part of Kitarou’s repertoire, and in fact remains something of a mystery.  I don’t think it actually contains Kitarou’s soul as Mammoth theorizes (it’s purportedly made of the souls of other Ghost Tribe members) but the connection is definitely deep and profound.

Seeing La Seine terrorized by the chanchanko was frequently hilarious, and it was intended to be.  I quite liked Mammoth’s role in all this – despite physically suggesting a big, dumb brute, Mammoth is actually quite smart, often smarter than La Seine, in fact.  Now, what would have happened if Mana hadn’t found the cube before Mammoth dug it up and La Seine destroyed it?  That I don’t know – nor do I know how she knew where to look – but in the second go-around, Kitarou has La Seine’s number and it’s not even close.

Another unknown?  Just what Kitarou would have done if Isurugi Rei hadn’t shown up when he did.  Frankly Rei (who I don’t much like) was correct in pointing out that if Kitarou had let La Seine go, he just would have ended up sucking blood in some other country.  But would Kitarou have been prepared to destroy a defeated opponent pleading for his life (or at least having it pleaded for by his henchman)?  I’m sure Kitarou wouldn’t have destroyed Mammoth but La Seine, that’s a tougher call.  Rei’s parting shot that Kitarou’s “softness” would lead to his downfall certainly had the ring of foreshadowing to it, but that’s a theme that’s been lurking in Gegege no Kitarou from the very beginning.

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Lost in Anime by Guardian Enzo - 21h ago

After a Jekyll-Hyde episode that lost the plot a bit in the B-part (faithfully to where the manga briefly lost it, it should be noted), Kono Oto Tomare gets back on the rails this week.  This isn’t the sort of series that’s going to have a lot of breather episodes, mind you – it’s pretty much always got lots of stuff going on.  That, I would argue, is a direct reflection of the fact that it doesn’t employ throwaway characters – it has a big cast, and fleshes each of them out as individuals with their own lives.  That’s a good thing, but it requires a lot of plot to keep everyone involved.

There’s a difference, though, between “busy” and forcing development through too quickly – which is what we saw with Mio last week.  There is a little ghost of that this week actually, as she goes to all the people she’s wronged (if there’s a 12 steps for high school saboteurs, she skipped right to #9) and gets a blitzkrieg of slaps for her trouble.  But Mio is fully committed to the club, now – Takezou even half-unwittingly shames her into becoming serious about it – and the story is free to move on to other things.

And boy, there are a lot of them.  Chika is still struggling with “Rokudan”, and Satowa’s advice to “meet it head-on” clearly isn’t connecting with his intuitive rather than analytical nature.  Eventually it slips out that he’s able to practice at home since he lives with his aunt (Tetsu knew, the musketeers didn’t) and the boys worm an invitation to come practice.  The aunt, Isaki,  turns out to be of the young and sexy variety, and is played by Mizuki Nana to boot.  She’s loaded (Chika isn’t sure why) but he still sleeps behind a screen in a corner of the living room.

The first (well, not the first) thing the lads notice is two kotos at Casa Kudou – a result of Chika’s reluctance to actually play the one his grandpa left him.  He’s the only one who feels this way – Obaa-san, Onee-san and his friends all scold him for his reservations, and he reluctantly unwraps it and prepares to play – not “Rokudan”, but the one piece his Gen taught him.  Isaki reveals that he actually wrote it, and also that she knows her way around a koto herself (she tunes it for her nephew).  We’re only teased with a few notes of Gen’s composition, but it’s enough to move Chika’s buddies to tears (which is admittedly a pretty low bar).

Meanwhile, we get a little glimpse of Takezou’s home life, and it reveals that he’s as put-upon there as he is at school.  Little brother Takeru (Hanae Natsuki of course) seems to take belittling his brother as a matter of course, and expresses relief that Takezou doesn’t embarrass him by going to the same school (Meiryou).  There’s a backstory there to be sure – Meiryou was the school Takezou was seemingly destined to attend, but failed to get into for some reason.

A wild card played at this point is the introduction of Ootori Kazusa (Sakura Ayane), who attends koto powerhouse and Kanagawa representative Himesaka (Princess Hill?) Girls Academy.  Together with her friend Fumi she comes to visit Tokise after hearing a rumor that Satowa is there.  The successor of the Hoozuki rival koto school Kao, she’s idolized Satowa since they were little girls.  Ootori has a hard time believing that Satowa could be happy in such a place – especially when she discovers she’s surrounded by boys (who she seems to loathe as a general principle).  She invites the koto club to hear a joint practice with Meiryou (another powerhouse), just to prove that Satowa doesn’t belong in such a place as Tokise.

It isn’t so much Satowa for whom this is awkward – she’s truly happy at Tokise now, and even admits it (reluctantly) to Chika.  But for Takezou this is a bitter pill – it’s clear Meiryou calls up some unpleasant feelings for him.  Still, he can’t say no – it’s a chance for Tokise to get an idea of the gap between themselves and the schools they hope to challenge.  And Takinami-sensei (who Mio calls “Suzuka-chan”) for the first time seems to admit that having a goal isn’t such a ludicrous idea for the koto club.  What he doesn’t make clear is how he can help them pursue it, but there’s plenty of time for that.

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Lost in Anime by Guardian Enzo - 1d ago

One thing about Kimetsu no Yaiba – it’s not sparing any expense when it comes to cast.  The use of mega-famous seiyuu for bit parts is one sign (though not an infallible one) of a huge budget of course, but it also makes it a lot harder to figure out who’s going to die soon.  Main character armor?  Yeah, OK – pretty safe to bet on Tanjirou going the distance.  But when even monster-of-the-week types get voices like Kimura Ryouhei, pretty much everybody else should probably avoid buying green bananas.

I’m starting to get what folks like Togashi see in this series, at least a little.  While I have no doubt that ufotable has improved on the source material, there’s a bit more to Kimetsu than the by-the-numbers shounen template it appears to be.  Situations, characters. details – they’re not revolutionary or anything, but just a little more than “good enough” – a bit of distinctiveness goes a long way in turning the mediocre into the very good, which is about where I’d place this series.  And the move to Tokyo has been good for it, at least so far.

I continue to have a lot of questions – one of which is, is Kibutsuji Muzan responsible for turning every demon (well – except one) in Japan, as is implied this week?  One thing we can assume is that Kibutsuji’s motive for turning the poor fellow we met last week was to distract Tanjirou and give himself a chance to slip away, and it was certainly effective.  Tanjirou, as you would expect, chooses the lives of the gawkers (and the new demon himself) over his revenge, and is forced to send only threats after the departing Kibutsuji and his family.

Still, things would have turned out badly if not for the timely arrival of Tamayo (Sakamoto Maaya, apparently in everything worth watching this season) and Yushiro (Yamashita Daiki, stretching effectively here).  Tamayo has an ability called “enchanting blood” which (quite spectacularly) allows her to spirit away both the demon and his victim-wife.  This allows Tanjirou to return to his sister and a very irritated udon-peddler, and eventually Yushiro comes to collect him to go to the “cloaked” location where Tamayo has taken the couple.

Here’s where things get a bit fuzzy for me.  Tamayo is a youkai and a doctor, and says she was the one who turned Yushiro into a demon.  She says he’s the only one she’s turned in 200 years, but later talks about how she “only turns those who are terminally ill or injured”, and asks their permission first”.  These two statements seem contradictory to me, but perhaps they’ll be reconciled at some point.  For whatever reason Tamayo is fully coherent and sympathetic to humans, and she explains that she and Yushiro are able to survive on blood she collects ostensibly for transfusions.  She also asks Tanjirou to allow her to experiment on Nezuko’s blood, and to collect blood from those “close to” Kibutsuji – in the hope of finding a way to change the youkai he’s turned back into people.

Meanwhile, Kibutsuji continues to be a pretty fascinating antagonist prospect.  Why is he keeping up the charade with he wife and daughter (who must be under some kind of hypnosis not to realize the truth)?  His chance encounter with a trio of drunks in an alley is interesting too – he’s prepared to walk away with an insincere apology after one bumps into him, but a little pushing is enough to see him off the three of them.  Eventually he sends his two henchdemons (Fukuyama Jun and Komatsu Mikako – remember, green bananas) to bring back Tanjirou’s head, and they seem to have no trouble locating Tamayo’s hideout.

The whole thing with Tamayo did seem too cozy and too convenient for Tanjirou to last, but they got an awful lot of development (including Yushiro’s obvious crush on her) to see them offed this quickly, one would think.  One thing we can say for sure is that Kibutsuji has a personal stake here – it seems Tanjirou’s father (or at least ancestor) bested him at some point in the past.  The pieces are in place for an interesting long-term grudge match between Tanjirou and Muzan, but they seem like the only truly essential parts of the story at least so far – everything else is theoretically expendable.

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Lost in Anime by Guardian Enzo - 2d ago

After probably its weakest episode, Mix returns to form quite nicely this week.  #07 was effectively a transition episode, which has never been Adachi’s strong suit, bridging us from the prologue to the main story.  Now that the brothers are in high school, Haruka has arrived in town and they have a coach who actually wants to succeed rather than placate his best friend, all systems are go and all lights are green for Adachi to work his magic.  And while it may not be flashy Vegas-style pyrotechnics, it’s magic all the same.

If you like this sort of thing, anyway.

This being an Adachi baseball series, a variety of different rivals from other schools are a staple part of the diet.  We’ve already met Nishimura of course (and been re-introduced to his dad) and now another important one joins the fray.  Mita Hiroki (Endou Daichi) has been alluded to already – by his adoring younger sister, who brags on him every chance she gets.  A freak rainstorm (similar to one in Kyuushu on a certain night, apparently) finds Sou and his entourage in the same family restaurant as the Mita siblings, and so a thread begins to unspool.

No question Mita-kun makes a good first impression – despite the fact that as we meet him, he’s being interviewed by a couple of magazine columnists.  It’s hard for Americans to imagine a high school baseball player being a big-time celebrity, but in Japan Koushien is the single most popular sporting event there is.  Baseball tensai like Mita truly are famous – but he seems quite grounded.  While Arisa’s plan is to have Sou be humbled before him, Hiroki actually knows the Tachibros from their no-hitter in the junior high Tokyo qualifiers, and (much to her displeasure) he treats Sou quite respectfully.  He also gives Sou some very true, very relevant and very un-Japanese advice – when you’re on the field, grade doesn’t matter.  So just go play, and screw anyone who says otherwise.

The upshot of this chance meeting is a practice match between Meisei and Mita’s Toushu High, which was a quarter-finalist at Koushien with him as a 2nd-year ace.  It’s a perfect chance to get Arisa to actually watch Hiroki play (finally), and score some bragging rights.  But as competition, it’s not a game Toushu should take especially seriously.  Yes they start most of their regulars, including Mita, while Ooyama-san elects to have a pitching rotation with two third-years taking one turn through the order each, with Touma taking the third.

Given that those third-years are not especially good pitchers, two trips through the order only gets us to the top of the third down 5-0 – and the bases loaded, no one out (one wonders if Ooyama-san was deceptively clever here in choosing to have Touma go third).  It’s the worst possible situation for any pitcher to enter a game, and Touma’s nerves (and other things) tighten up to the point where his first pitch is a meatball.  Fortunately for him an enormous (and Adachi-like) stroke of luck turns it into a triple play and gets him out of the inning with one pitch.

The rest of this follows a very familiar Adachi pattern, with Touma settling into a groove and setting down the Toshu starting nine in routine fashion – much to the irritation of their coach.  Touma also works a long and tough AB against Mita, who’s in the midst of a perfect game, and is called out on what should have been ball four.  The umpire knows he screws up, and the Tachibanas being as smart and skilled as they are hammer that same spot over and over, getting the same call from the ump.  Mita stays in the game longer than planned, “out of respect” for Touma’s pitching – and it’s pretty easy to see the seeds of an Adachi rivalry being planted big-time.

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Swimsuit ep is fine But in the end nothing new Seen it all before

The post Senryuu of the Week – 05/25/19 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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Lost in Anime by Guardian Enzo - 2d ago

It’s been a long time for me since the original Fruits Basket anime (not as long as it’s been in existence, but long just the same), and almost as long since I read the manga.  So sometimes the memories are a little slow in coming back, and because this new series is subtly (and sometimes not subtly) different to the first one, my perception is oddly conflicted – something just feels like it isn’t quite right.  But we’re far enough in now that I feel as if I’m getting a pretty good handle on how the franchise sits with me, and where the 2019 fits into that.

In a sense, this is almost a Hunter X Hunter situation.  We had a popular anime which was a less faithful adaptation of the source material, followed by another more faithful anime many years later.  But because the first anime was many viewers’ first experience, to them it’s canon, not the manga.  It’s all subjective of course, but my feeling is that with Hunter X Hunter the more faithful second series is better off for it (and better generally, in that case) but it’s just the opposite with Furuba.  Is that because the first anime was my introduction to FB?  Maybe – as I said, subjective – but I think there’s more to it than that.

What I can say is this: for me, Fruits Basket is a manga that has its ups and downs, as most do.  When the anime are adapting the stronger material, they’re pretty much on solid ground, and I don’t see a lot of difference.  But when the material is a little bit weaker – as this week’s source chapter was in my opinion – that’s where the dropoff from the first anime to this one really shows itself.  I think Furuba can be a little self-indulgent at times, and too fond of its own self-perceived poignancy – and when that happens it flounders.  Akitarou seemed to have a keen sense of where those pitfalls were, and work his way through them seamlessly. Unfortunately that earned him (and the 2001) the eternal enmity of Takaya Natsuki, who probably and quite naturally believes everything about the manga is great as is.

It’s not so much that I disliked this episode, but that I was bored with it.  This is really low-hanging fruit (pun intended) for Takaya, playing on our heartstrings and flogging the poor little orphan Tohru angle to the hilt. Honda-san’s friends are great but they’re also a bit one-note in that they totally play into this side of the story, and it – and they – come off as a little condescending towards the protagonist at times because of it.  In truth Tohru’s story isn’t in the top tier as Fruits Basket arcs go – it’s far more simplistic and primary-colored than the better Sohma arcs – but because she is the lead of course it’s never far from the spotlight.  Maybe this was another area where the 2001 benefitted from personnel, and Horie Yui’s almost-superhuman performance elevated her character beyond what was given to it on the page.

Apart from that, the New Year’s angle is surprisingly anti-climactic, given how important it is to the whole zodiac mythology.  Yuki and Kyou both are reluctant to go to the estate for the holiday, for different reasons.  The exclusion of the cat from the New Year’s banquet is a pretty big deal (duh).  Honda-san tells everyone she’s just fine staying at Shigeru’s house alone (her family is spending the New Years holiday in Hawaii) and truthfully, I think she probably would have been.  But Saki shames Kyou and Yuki into going back, which they both wanted to do anyway.  And not just because of the mochi either (though mochi choking is a legitimate health problem here).

Overall, this is pretty sentimental and borderline saccharine stuff – as I said, low-hanging fruit.  Indeed, the most interesting moments of the episode are seeming throwaways – the introduction of a new Sohma (I’ll cover him when his proper intro hits) and Shigure’s rather hard reaction at seeing Akito miserable about Yuki not coming home for New Years.  There’s more to the stronger characters in Fruits Basket than it seems on the surface, and Shigure is definitely one of the stronger characters.

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Lost in Anime by Guardian Enzo - 2d ago

We’re basically 2/3 of the way through Sarazanmai at this point, so I think it’s fair to come to some general conclusions about what sort of show it is.  And to my eye., while it’s unmistakably an Ikuhara series it also has quite a different feel to it than most of his more recent work.  Obviously Ikuni is never shy about tackling dark themes and Sarazanmai isn’t a total exception to that by any means.  But for whatever reason the tone of this one feels markedly more upbeat than the standard Ikuhara series, and certainly much more than Mawaru Penguin Drum (which I consider to be his masterpiece, flawed though it is).

I think it’s both fair and useful to compare these two shows, as they’re basically the benchmarks for modern Ikuni (Yuri Kuma Arashi was such a colossal mess than it really feels like an outlier).  Sarazanmai isn’t trying to be another MPD, that’s absolutely true.  But to my outsider’s perspective it seems like Sarazanmai is the product of a generally more contended creator.  MPD was often brilliant (and almost as often adrift), and it strikes you as the work of a somewhat pessimistic and disaffected writer.  Sarazanmai just seems like somebody having fun.  Its best moments have certainly not matched the dark profundity of MPD, but it’s a much easier show to watch.  This is an Ikuni we haven’t seen much of, and I confess I rather like it.

That’s not to deny that things seem to happen a little too quickly and easily sometimes in Sarazanmai.  After last week’s events Kazuki is now totally happy-go-lucky and smiling, back to loving soccer and seemingly pretty much at ease with everything in a sort of genki-zen way (though if he’s confronted the notion that his best friend wants to be his boyfriend – of feels he needs to – there’s no sign of it).  Indeed, to say the atmosphere with the boys in general was by far its most upbeat is an understatement.  Even Toi isn’t immune, allowing Kazuki to draw him into kicking the ball around (he’s good at it, as it turns out) and even agreeing to join the soccer club.  But that’s trouble in paradise…

Balls are very much the (cheeky) theme Ikuhara obsesses over this time, with the zombie of the week being an “M” who wants his lover to kick him like a soccer ball.  This raises a question that I’ve noted before – just what exactly is Ikuhara trying to say with these “criminals” who keep getting turned into zombies?  Is he OK with people being killed for comic effect and plot advancement for no reason being perverted in some way?  It’s hard to imagine he of all people would consider that to be a capital offense, yet he’s offered no indication that he’s troubled by this or thinks we should be.  I rather hope he addresses this question before Sarazanmai ends, because it’s a pretty big elephant in the room.

The matter of Mabu and the Otter Empire is pretty well settled here, on much the lines it seemed it might be.  The Otters seem to be the thematic opposite of the kappa in every sense – technology (and pun)-driven, calculated, modernist.  That saves Mabu’s life, but Reo has clearly never been at peace with his partner (I assume in more than one sense) being a human-machine hybrid – though whether his contention that Mabu is no longer the same person is accurate I have serious doubts.

Indeed, this is very much a routine ep in many senses – full-length recycled animation sequences, confirmation of suspicions rather than new revelations.  The one wildcard is Enta, who turns out to be culprit who’s trashing the boys’ riverside play area with garbage and paint over and over.  The reason?  He doesn’t especially want to share Kazuki with Toi.  Ans after Toi gets a call from his brother which causes him to say he needs to leave town and Kazuki offers him all the silver dishes to help, Enta steals them.  I guess the motivation sort of makes sense, but honestly this is a bit of an odd development since Enta should certainly know that as long as he’s fraternizing with Keppi, such secrets are always going to be revealed.

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Lost in Anime by Guardian Enzo - 4d ago

In case it wasn’t obvious enough, let me just be perfectly clear – this is all strictly, 100% my opinion.  And also, the night is dark and full of spoilers so if you haven’t read the books and plan to, please consider this warning The Wall before Viserion trashed it.

Also – if you have any other categories you want to opine on, please stuff them into the comments and I’ll probably weigh in.

Best Character, Dead (TV): Prince Oberyn of Dorne Best Character, Living (TV): Davos Seaworth Best Character (Books): Brandon Stark Worst Character: (tie) Euron Greyjoy, Ramsay Bolton Best-adapted Character Arc: Oberyn Worst-adapted Character Arc: Brandon Stark Worst-adapted Plot Arc: The Sand Snakes Best Episode (Blockbuster): “Hardhome” Best Episode (Artsy): (tie) “The Door”, “The Rains of Castamere” Worst Episode: ” The Last of the Starks” Best Insert Song: “The Rains of Castamere” Tom Bombadil Award: Edric Storm Best Actor: Liam Cunningham Best Actress: Gwendolyn Christie Best Supporting Actor: Charles Dance Best Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith

The post The Game of Thrones Awards appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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Lost in Anime by Guardian Enzo - 5d ago

Honestly, I feel like I really don’t quite get where One Punch Man is going this season.  But oddly enough, it’s kind of working for me anyway.  Not as well as the first season did – that was a hell of a lot more focused and better-paced, as well as being prettier to look at. But ONE is trying to get at something here, and puzzling out what it might be just about makes the curiously disjointed narrative and seemingly endless parade of minor characters fights worth it.

Obviously, there are several only semi-related struggles going on here, which is part of the problem.  On the kaijuu front, we finally got some involvement from heroes  on the A list – like Child Emperor (though he was fighting using his proxy robot, Underdog Man) and Tatsumaki.  If anything this feels like it might be the main fight, the spine of the season – though at this point it’s kind of taking a back seat to the others in terms of drama.  Eventually, though, the other threads seem as if they’re going to tie into this one and not the other way around.

As for Garou, he continues to be frustrated in his masturbatory quest to fight as many heroes as possible by the interference of the very monsters he admires so much.  And they’re overlapping his story in another way too, as we see the Council of Swordmasters (who I don’t remember from S1, though I probably forgot them) who’ve gotten together to discuss taking Garou out because they fear Bang will go soft on his former student.  But one of their number has been corrupted (literally and symbolically) by the Monster’s Association, though he seems to have been made pretty quick work of by the others.

Then we have Super Fight, which is where ONE seems to be testing out his big ideas while sleepwriting his way through the rest of it.  Once more I’m struck by how Nihilistic all this is coming off, including Saitama’s involvement.  Actually the one who comes off looking the best here is Sourface, who started out as a pretty stock butt monkey.  But what of the confrontation (in the final) between Seiryu and Saitama?  I don’t know what to make of it, really.  In terms of the fight itself it lacks real drama because of the trap ONE has written himself into – any fight involving his protagonist is not just a foregone conclusion, but over as soon as Saitama expresses any interest in ending it.

But what Seiryu said was interesting, as was Saitama’s response.  I don’t think Seiryu’s approach to this is any more wrong than Saitama’s approach, to be sure – he just wants to have fun and find a strong opponent.  He’s right – Saitama is totally disrespecting martial arts, and in doing so I think ONE is disrespecting them by extension whether he means to or not.  And Seiryu is strong too, make no mistake – not as strong as Saitama obviously, but certainly strong enough to be an S-Class if he wanted to.  And probably stronger than Garou, for whom he’d make a more interesting opponent than Saitama.

“If you want to have fun, you probably shouldn’t get any stronger”.  Saitama is bemoaning his own fate there, to be sure, but I’m not sure if he’s angry about Seiryu dissing the hero game or that he kind of agrees with what he’s hearing and doesn’t like it.  Imagine what a bore life is for him, a man who fights for a living and can never be challenged.  What’s the point of it all?  And what’s the point of being a martial artist when someone who doesn’t give a fig for martial arts can defeat the strongest martial artist with one punch as his wig comes off and his pants fall down?  Maybe heroism and saving people is its own reward, but that doesn’t feel like the message ONE is trying to send here, at least not yet.  What’s puzzling is trying to figure what the hell message he is trying to send.

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Lost in Anime by Guardian Enzo - 6d ago

It’s a high bar, but that might have been the stupidest Shingeki no Kyoujin episode ever.

Attack on Titan can be a very entertaining series – in fact it is so to a baffling (genuinely) degree a good chunk of the time.  That’s why I keep coming back to it, despite all the things it does to drive me crazy.  But by God, there are times why Isayama being so terrible at important parts of his job is a mighty big hill to climb.  This season is shaping up to be full of them, but this episode especially really took the cake.

A couple of things Isayama is really bad at – writing characters and writing battles.  The former is legend to the point where there’s hardly much point to dwell on it, but the latter was really on display here.  And it cuts to a fundamental problem with Shingeki, which – like so many of them – centers around Erwin.  Almost every battle plot in this series is full of genuinely stupid and inane strategies, which I’m some point we’re asked to believe are genius.  “Strategy” my ass – this ain’t even checkers, never mind chess.  And the hits just keep on coming.

This is the problem – the reason Isayama can’t judge Erwin as he deserves to be judged is that in his mind, Erwin is a genuine hero.  And a military genius to boot.  And political, too.  Never mind that all he ever does is lead people to their deaths and walk away unscathed – he gets to hear people (Levi is an idiot in his own right, but on a different scale) wax eloquent about how indispensable he is.  He gets to give unintentionally comic heroic speeches about honor and sacrifice.  And he gets to – has the unmitigated gall to – dredge up the memories of the people he’s killed in order to shame a new group of kids into dying for him.  And he gets to have it work.

Seriously, I threw up in my mouth a little.

The worst part of all this is there’s no judgment carried out here – this is all played straight as an arrow as far as I can tell.  We’re supposed to be inspired, and consumed by admiration.  There are times when I wonder whether AoT is trying to be ironic, whether it’s intentionally or unintentionally hilarious – but this wasn’t one of them.  Seriously, the gist of Erwin’s argument here is “The plan I came up with has led us into (another) untenable situation, and we’re in the process of being slaughtered.  So I need everyone to commit suicide and act like it’s an honor.”

For everything else that annoyed me here – Armin being rendered useless by fear, the totally out of context humor – the worst part by far was that I sat through all this on the faint hope that Erwin would finally, actually die as he so richly deserves to – that it would be he paying the price for his own stupid arrogance and horrible judgment and not those under his command.  But no, Erwin lives – and until I see the body consumed by flames and reach to the heavens in the form of smoke, I’m never going to believe for a minute Isayama will kill him.  He loves him too damn much.  Seeing Erwin like this just makes me want the Beast Titan, Bertholdt, Reiner and their side to wipe everybody out and have done with it.

The post Shingeki no Kyoujin – 53 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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