Congratulations OPM, you found a new way to disappoint me. This time, OPM actually straight up cut content from the manga to try and fit it all conveniently into a single episode. All the while, gloriously screwing it up. Lets jump in, I promise this will be fast.
Starting off I would like to say, thank you Kenichiro Aoki for making this watchable. This man is responsible for every reasonable looking cut in the season. From Tank Top Master vs Garou to part of this week’s Seiryu vs Saitama. I don’t know how much work they have given him, nor is it the best I have ever seen. But by god is it the best animated parts of OPM S2. Everything else is just littered with issues. From ridiculous, almost sped up seeming pacing to weightless combat and flash fades, god the flash fades. I don’t know how much more I can say about OPM S2’s production before I start repeating myself. Assuming I am not already repeating myself, which I suspect I am. Suffice to say, if I do repeat myself I apologize. These posts have mostly become venting about the death of a series for me.
Some of you many want specifics this week though, so let me give you some. Starting with the Atomic Samurai scene, so much was wrong here. So much dialogue and scenes leading up to this, only for it to be a poorly lit mess. With half the screen covered in darkness, making most of it impossible to see. Even the single cut was done terribly, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Somehow a single panel can do more than an entire animation team. Were this but a single instance, I might be able to ignore it, but OPM somehow managed to once again screw up a sequence of scenes already made for them. Burning through the entirety of the S-Class heroes, cutting maybe an entire chapters worth of content across the whole episode. I just don’t get it.
The other half of the episode was the Seiryu fight which was… serviceable, as a whole? With only Aoki’s cuts being anything resembling what I would call good. The rest consisted of floaty animation and terrible flash fades. However that isn’t even the worst part of this segment. No, that dubious honor goes to the VA’s, who just sound so done with everything. Saitama in the first season was deadpan yes, but it was more… expressive? There were different levels of deadpan for each scene. Sometimes coming off as excited, angry, or just plain exasperated. Now though, it’s all the same voice. Like he knows what this series has become and is just cashing in a paycheck. It’s upsetting to say the least, and reminds me of the recent decline of Game of Thrones, another series pushed forward by a paycheck at the end.
To sum it all up, I detest what this series has become. I would drop this series right now were I not writing for it here, and didn’t have a slight morbid curiosity on how it will end. Every aspect of this production have become such a mess, I am legitimately curious how it came to be. You would think that even for a cash grab, a minimal level of effort would be put into it. Instead it seems like there is only one person on the whole production staff with any sort of passion for the project. For those few who are still watching this, I am sorry. For those few who live vicariously through me, know I suffer so you don’t have to. Read the manga, don’t watch the show. It’s a waste of your time.
Hello all and welcome to a week of essentially filler for Dororo! We repeat plot points, Hyakki gets engaged and Dororo gets some funny faces. Let’s dive in!
Starting off, I normally do production here, but with the contents of this episode that seems ridiculous. Instead, I wanna ask why this episode exists, because this week is effectively filler. And not even good filler. Just filler that retreads what was already covered last week. I understand it was all a metaphor, that Hyakki’s reforged swords were all an allegory for Hyakki himself. Him and Dororo were realizing their true feelings, because they can only speak lies. Blah blah, whatever. My question is, did we need any of this? Did Dororo not establish the familial relationship between our two leads last episode? Was that not the whole head-rubbing thing and such? It just all feels pointless to me, like Dororo is treading water, when there is an actual plot sitting right in front of it. It’s disappointing.
We got some nice reaction faces out of it at least, some fun animation. Dororo’s reactions looked better than most of this cour really, which is just sad. But this episode did do comedy much better than previous episodes though. The jokey animation and premise really leant itself to that. With their words not matching their actions and such. My personal favorite of it all was when Okowa was pulling Hyakki away to the wedding. Him repeating that the swords will come to him. I giggled, I had decent fun with the comedy of the episode. It’s just, Dororo isn’t a comedy show, its a character drama that has completely dropped its drama at this point. This isn’t what I wanted, not in the slightest.
What I wanted was more progression with Tahomaru, some fallout from his failure. Perhaps do that side-by-side with Hyakki getting his swords reforged. Let us see Daigo ramping up for war again, or something starting to push our leads in his direction. As is, what reason do Hyakki and Dororo have to run into Tahomaru and co again? They have the gold, and Hyakki/Dororo are apparently getting more mellowed out. Less reason to get involved. Suffice to say, I just don’t understand why, this close to the endgame of the series, we get what is effectively a filler episode. Remove this episode, take a week to polish up next weeks, and I think as a viewer we actually get more from the series.
So all in all, apologies for the short post this week, but Dororo is just letting me down. This week was, for the most part, a waste of my time. Rehashing already covered plot points, and pushing a jokey narrative about saying the opposite of what they mean… And then we got that derpy horse at the beginning of the episode. I just… ugh. Dororo had picked itself up last week. Brought it back to its roots and started up the interesting drama again. I was hoping that we could continue this into the end game and instead we get… derp horse.
I really hope Dororo gets back on track next week, because I don’t know if I can handle OPM 2 and this.
Hello all, and welcome to a big week for Kimetsu no Yaiba. This is the week where I move it up from a “Competent” Shounen to a “Good/Great” Shounen. You see, Yaiba finishes up another arc, Nezuko kicks some butt and Tanjiro meets the big bad 8 episodes in. So let’s jump into it!
Starting off, production. Yaiba was as consistent as it always is on this front, beautiful with the occasional odd CGI walk. However it also had one of my favorite cuts this week. That being the flashback to the mountain, with Tanjiro running through the forest. I thought the camera movements/tracking and CGI was fantastic. Yeah, it wasn’t perfect but boy did I love that scene. On top of that, once again I want to bring up Yuki Kaijura. She really nailed the unease and tension of the 2nd half of the episode. Really elevating the emotions of a scene. There are some small gripes, for instance I think Yaiba wasted some potential in the underwater scene. And it was also overly dingy and dark. But it does its job, and with how good everything else is around it, that’s good enough. The story however, does far more than that.
Starting off, the continuation of last week’s fight. What with Yaiba’s excellent water effects, I was actually underwhelmed by this segment. It was dark, dinghy and a little hard to see at times. Don’t get me wrong, it worked and did what it needed to do. It established how versatile Tanjiro’s sword style is. But compared to the rest of his fights, it just wasn’t as strong. There wasn’t any real flash nor did it really show off Yaiba’s stuff in the unique environment. On the demon’s side it also made them feel a bit… weak? There is a clear power disparity between demons and normal humans, which Tanjiro used to be. But he has seemingly skipped past normal demons and beyond the weaker super powered ones. The new villain Muzan though looks to be addressing that, but we will get to him later.
Before talking about Muzan, and I have a lot to say there, I want to talk aftermath. Yaiba is putting a lot of emphasis on Tanjiro’s past experiences, and I like that. I liked how Yaiba just had Tanjiro give a solemn look at the Fiancee, instead of a long explanation. I liked the callback to his calluses and how they aren’t the kind of hands/face a child should have. It’s nothing groundbreaking or new, but given Shounen’s predilection for long explanations, it felt very tame. I mentioned her previously, but Yuki Kaijura’s soundtrack also really helped this scene. To sum it up, I am legitimately surprised for how well it worked, considering how much content Yaiba covered this week. It finished up a fight, closed the arc and immediately moved onto another without feeling to rushed. Even introducing its major Antagonist, Muzan. Speaking of, let’s talk about Muzan.
I loved his introduction, Yaiba did a fantastic job with him. Muzan is the reason I have moved Yaiba up from simply “competent” to “good”. First off, his slow introduction. Giving us just a name last week, to a flash of his face this week. Showing us how terrifying he is by how he intimidates other Demons. Mere mention of his name driving them to a frenzy. It feels like a drip-feed, like we will get information bit by bit as we go before WHAM. We meet him 7 episodes in, giving him plenty of time to be an actual character. Then there is his actual design, so dapper. Like an anime Michael Jackson, curly hair and everything. Compared to Tanjiro, it gives him a very modern and sophisticated appearance. Just looking at him, I find him interesting. And this is before we even get into his character.
Right when he started talking, I knew I was going to like Muzan. His voice is just so… smooth, and I love his cadence. Really, everything he does is smooth, almost unconcerned. For instance, his menace was jacked up when, in plain sight, he turned someone into a demon. He knew there was no purpose hiding in front of Tanjiro, so he didn’t even bother. Not hesitating for a second, it was portrayed as an almost lazy gesture. Really ramps up Muzan’s threat level when he can make minor demon’s at the flick of a wrist. Combined with the regular strength and speed of demons, fighting him in a public place is probably the worst thing you can do. However, I do have to wonder, did he do this to avoid a scene involving himself? Or to protect his family?
Because the family was the most interesting part to me. To be clear, Muzan isn’t the first villain we have seen do this. The first, and a personal favorite, to come to mind is Fuhrer Bradley from Fullmetal Alchemist/Brotherhood. But just like Bradley, it introduces a really interesting facet/question to/about Muzan’s character. That being, do they actually care? Personally, I enjoy it when a villain actually cares. It gives them a “weakness” of sorts, a point of vulnerability. Whether that be not wanting to be discovered by them or ruining the idyllic life they have. It creates stakes beyond perma-death. However, whether they care or not is really irrelevant in the end. Because simply having such a family is going to affect how the Hero deals with the villain. Something Tanjiro is now realizing as well.
What I mean is, Yaiba has given Tanjiro a moral question now. Assuming he can even defeat Muzan, *should he*? Because if Tanjiro kills Muzan, he does to this family what Muzan did to him. Demon or not, mind controlled or tricked or what have you, the fact remains. The wife and child will lose a husband/father, they will suffer. To them, Tanjiro will become the Muzan. Clearly Yaiba and Tanjiro know this, based on how he reacted. They are 100% human and haven’t actually done anything. Yaiba is also smart enough not to try and completely redeem/turn around our lead villain with this. It doesn’t try to make him sympathetic, just make combating him more difficult. All in all, it makes Muzan a really interesting villain to me and someone I look forward to seeing more of.
The last thing I want to talk about is almost contradictory to the rest of the episode. Yaiba is burning through content, entering into a seeming 4th arc in 7 episodes. And yet, we haven’t had a single new member of the posse. With how prevalent they are in the OP, and the Shounen genre in general, this is surprising. HunterxHunter had them by the end of the first episode. My Hero Academia the 3rd, Naruto by then as well. It’s an odd choice for a Shounen, but one I love. As it lets our lead pair of brother and sister stand and develop on their own. Pushing their story to the forefront, barely hinting at the other members to come. Really, I should stop expecting them at this point. Yaiba clearly has its own plans and they are working well for it. I am just enjoying the ride.
So all in all, how was the episode? Fantastic. The fight at the start was a little meh, but the story content later on was great. Not even mentioning the lead villain, who I spoke in length about, we also got more of the world. Reminding us that Yaiba is actually set in the early 1900’s, and that technology is spreading in Japan. How different Tokyo is from the rural countryside Tanjiro grew up in, and how different hunting Demon’s in such a location will be. Yaiba did a great job setting this up just with the visuals, with how bright it was at night. I am going on a tangent here at the end, but suffice to say, Yaiba did a lot right this week. With the decline of Dororo, it has quickly become my favorite of the season. I hope it keeps it up.
What’s with all the A-list seiyuu in Mix? The four main characters are voiced by some of the biggest names in the industry right now: Yuki Kaji, the Uchida siblings, and Kana Hanazawa as new character Haruka. I tend to dodge a lot of the shounen and harem series that feature Mr. Kaji, and the Uchidas haven’t made a big mark on my anime consciousness yet, but there’s no denying their popularity. HanaKana is a favorite of mine, though, and I’m a bit worried about how Mix is set to utilize her. Haruka is the show’s girl next door, and she seems totally aloof regarding the boys’ fixation on her. They all rush to chat her up on the first day of high school, and even after they’re beaten back by her childhood friend Nangou, she maintains a puzzled facial expression. The camera even creates opportunities for the Tachibana brothers to do some ogling, from a relatively tame upskirt shot to a fresh-out-of-the-bath pose when Touma walks in on her. The pleasant ring of Hanazawa-san’s voice is wasted on assurances that he “barely missed the show,” or not to worry because she’d already put on her panties.
Maybe none of this is really important, and I’m just reaching for things to talk about regarding this episode. It’s certainly light on baseball and heavy on juvenile romance, with Haruka’s appearance cementing a love square between herself and the mixed Tachibana kids. The title of this episode comes from a conversation between Otomi and Haruka, when the older girl asks whether Otomi is worried that she might steal one of the boys away. It’s a subtle but effective way of cutting right to the heart of the younger girl’s crush on her stepbrother, but it comes a bit too soon in their relationship. Sure, the kids’ parents are longtime friends, but Haruka has only just met the Tachibanas. Adachi’s characters are usually too mature for their age, but for a girl to banter with a new acquaintance about her incestuous feelings just a day after meeting her is preposterous. Did we skip a bunch of chapters from the manga here? It doesn’t help that their whole visit feels strange, from the convenient bath breakdown to the peppy guitar and recorder-led tune that overstays its welcome.
It’s not enough that the high school hormones are flowing in tropey fashion, either, as Otomi has to pull double duty as a romantic interest in a middle school story that felt superfluous. The next episode preview indicates that the new middle school girl has a baseball-playing brother, so maybe Mix will leverage this new love triangle in order to get back to the diamond soon. It’s funny, though – my favorite parts of Cross Game were always those spent away from the baseball field, and now I can’t wait for Mix to head back there. Everything to do with the new middle school characters felt like a distraction, though I can see where we’re headed. Some of the younger kids need to age up before the definitive Meisei comeback year, so the story is biding its time until then. I just wish that sense of playing the waiting game wasn’t so evident in the show’s pacing and choice of subject matter.
Starting off, let me apologize for the lateness of this weeks Lain post. I tend to try and digest an episode before writing, and Lain makes that… difficult. As this week we get into the human psyche, the line between reality and the Wired blurs and Lain becomes multiple people. Lets hop right in!
Starting off, this week was weird. Like, really weird, but also very interesting. I loved the use of consistent imagery, connecting different events of the show. For instance the red dots in the car window, mimicking the red dot of the gun last episode. Building upon Lain’s trauma with it. The empty house which Lain comes home to, apparently each night, and how Lain mills about like this isn’t anything new. Really nailing home how alone and disconnected from everyone she is. Idling away her hours on the computer. I actually stopped Lain for a second and looked around my apartment, realizing I had been doing the exact same thing. Its a really weird feeling to get from a show made in ’98. Even the name of the chip Lain gets this week is filled with connotations. So much so I probably missed most of them. It’s ridiculously layered.
Speaking of the Psyche chip, let’s talk about that. This is interesting to me on multiple levels. How installing a Psyche, a “soul”, into the computer makes the Wired stronger. Letting you get into it from anywhere, as if its some higher plane. As if a machine is capable of gaining a Psyche and gettin on the same level of humans. When already Lain’s computer is doing things like telling her “good night”. But on top of that, Lain’s attitude in regards to her computer and its Psyche. For the first time in the series, we see Lain get active and emotional, the most emotive she ever was. Going out of her way to search out information on this. At the end we even see Lain smiling and having fun installing it on her computer, playing God, giving it a mind. Whether this is the real Lain is debatable though.
What I mean by that is, throughout this episode Lain asks who Lain is. The entire episode actually opens on telling us about a Lain completely different from the one we know. A kind of urban myth, Lain of the Wired. So separate from our own Lain that she doesn’t even know the other exists. Doesn’t know anything about her life, or her experiences. Yet everyone else knows her, even when she is physically different. For instance one of the people said Lain was going for the “little girl” look. Whether that’s just changing clothes or full on appearance, who knows. But Lain draws a very clear line between the two. With that line being made up of the Wired. Lain also states that everyone acts differently on the Wired, but rarely is it such a complete shift as with Lain. It makes you wonder which is the real one.
My personal take is that Lain is trying to say both of them are the real Lain. Different aspects of the same person that can only come out separately. On the Wired, Lain will be able to express herself, like we seemingly saw her do at the end of the episode. While in real life, Lain is very closed off and quiet. One could argue both are “real”, but that is a different discussion entirely. Both are parts of who Lain is, someone desperate for the connection she doesn’t get at home. This ties back into the Psyche aspect, as I am not sure whose Psyche she is installing. Is she putting her own in, committing herself to the world of the Wired and her connections there? Or is she metaphorically splitting her own? I’m not sure to be honest. I am a Software Developer damnit, not a Philosopher!
On her issues with connections, I also feel its worth talking about Lain’s home life. Or lack thereof, in this case. Lain takes great care to make it painfully clear how disconnected from her family Lain is. None of them picking up the phone, none being home at night. None of them knowing about what happened at the club, or seemingly caring. Her father not being interested in the chip. I am not sure if that last one is suspect of some greater mystery, or metaphorical for him rejecting her offered “soul”/psyche. Either way, Lain makes it very clear that the family is happy and connected, excluding her. I am curious if Lain is going to try to fit in a theme of “the family you choose” with this. That or how being true to yourself can open up once closed connections. Regardless, lots of options here.
Finally, lets end this with my take on Lain and its technology. I no longer think Lain is going to be a negative commentary on it and the internet. There is a clear reverence for it. And Lain tells us early not to take things like the Psyche as “just a piece of technology”. Now, I think Lain is trying to predict or comment on just how impactful the internet will be. How people can/have/will act on it, when separated from reality. How it brings out aspects of a person personality that otherwise stays hidden behind that public mask. I am curious how much of a good thing Lain will portray this as though, as we have seen a character seemingly get driven crazy by this split already in the club shooter. It’s crazy, I try to figure this out, yet I feel like I miss so much.
So all in all, how was Lain this week? Crazy. Engaging. Filled to the brim with layers and meaning. For all that I managed to fit into this post, I missed two more. From the strange cyborg men, one of which was watching Lain last week, to her lingering trauma in class. The indifference all the characters aside from Lain showed to being at a shooting, to the strange video-feed from the sisters point of view at the end of the episode. Plus all of the things I legitimately missed! I suppose what I am saying is, what I enjoy about Lain, is that there is always something more. A good Shounen is nice, I can relax and just have fun. A drama gets my emotions high and lets me feel something. Lain though… Lain forces you to engage and think if you want any hope of following along.
Sigh Welcome once again to the sinking ship that is OPM S2. This week we see a fantastic character done dirty, botched pacing, and more boob shots than you can swing a stick at. Lets dive in.
As always, production, and oof. OOF. JC Staff screwed the pooch this week. I won’t even talk animation, because that’s obvious. Instead lets talk about how JC Staff screwed up direction and shot composition, when Murata had already laid it out for them. Throughout this episode, we have 2 conflicts going on. Genos vs the Monsters, and the Tournament. OPM cuts between the two, progressing both at once. However, what happens in the manga is the tournament comes first in ever sequence. Showing a martial arts technique and its effects, then cutting straight to Genos performing an S-Class Super Hero version of the same thing. High Voltage Fist, Machine Gun Blow, Rocket Stomp, all these mimic techniques of the martial artists. Yet JC Staff couldn’t even do that right. Showing them out of order, with no impact or connection between them. This is a staggering level of incompetence.
Last week I mentioned how this season is actually impacting my enjoyment of the source material. To further that, I had to actually go back and reread the manga on my shelf behind me. I did this to remember why I enjoy the series. How Murata’s expert art and paneling make jokes land so much better than anything JC Staff is capable of. Scroll down for an example of this. Instead of cutting to each scene, full of loud noise and motion, taking multiple seconds, we get a single image. Showing each of these badasses, before giving Saitama a tiny little panel on the toilet. The eye is drawn across their faces, into the speech bubble. Saying “Yeah, these people are strong”, before leading the eye down to… Saitama. The strongest of them all.
I’m not sure how much of it is the paneling and layout, reading right to left, and how much of it is the art really. Murata draws it with such serious passion, it could easily work as a legit Action series. Every scene, every character, is super into their world and story. They ARE characters in an action series. This makes the comedy and simple line work stand out all the more, really nailing down “Look how ridiculous this is.”. With OPM S2 though, the serious moments look just like the joke moments. There is no dichotomy. Both are complete shit. This wasn’t an issue in S1, because Madhouse made that line clear with their animation. There was a stark difference in style between the serious and jokey moments. It worked. Here we just get screen flashes and terrible filters.
The only part of OPM this week I actually liked was that JC Staff kept the Sea King moments. The reference to the first season, and how such a strong creature effects the weaker heroes. How he drove them, and Genos as well, to improve. It’s these kinds of segments, in my opinion, that ground the show. Non-stop action or non-stop comedy would lead to, eventually I feel, a bored audience. Either the jokes get stale or the action loses all meaning. But this drama and the side-characters interspersed fill the gaps. Giving context to the greater world at large, where Saitama just doesn’t care. At least in this, JC Staff did well. Granted it’s all written by ONE, but JC Staff is doing so poorly I want to give them credit for not screwing it up. A “you tried” sticker.
So, all in all, how was OPM this week? Just as disappointing as the last really. The pacing is botched, the animation a mess, even in serious moments we get numerous boob shots because why not? Yeah, Murata likes well endowed women. That’s why he gives you a full body panel. He doesn’t cut to her breasts every damn scene. Suffice to say, I am really running out of things to say for this series. I can only critique a shit-show so many ways, when it screws up the same way over and over again. I will do my best, but please forgive me if these posts start to get shorter and less formatted. Becoming more and more of a rant. Or maybe you all would enjoy that. What do I know? See ya next week!
Welcome one and all to Dororo’s redemption, the episode that takes us back to first cour quality. We have demons, sword fights, and poignant character moments. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t be disappointed in 2 months. Lets jump in!
First up, thank you MAPPA, for getting production right this week. Every aspect was, at the least, decent. There are still small nitpicks that could be made, but they are just that. Nitpicks. The actual big picture is that this episode felt like one from the first cour. Sure, the demon shark fight was rather fast, but that wasn’t the focus of the episode. That was Hyakki vs Tahomaru and co, and I enjoyed this. It was animated much better than previous episodes, really moving the “camera” around and giving us full body shots. Yes some detail goes away at points, but in its place we get a much more movement. To top it all off, the music was great and there were lots of picturesque shots that adored. It’s entirely possible my standards have fallen, but I am just glad Dororo is actually animated this week.
Speaking of the fights, let’s start with Tahomaru and co’s fight with Hyakki. Was it animated perfectly? No. It was better than anything else this cour though, and I enjoyed the actual choreography. It wasn’t just 3 1v1 fights, but Tahomaru’s troupe actually worked together. Using their different skills and weapons to pressure Hyakki in different ways. I really enjoyed this, especially because Hyakki wasn’t winning. There is a limit to his strength, and we saw it here. Considering how invincible Hyakki has been up until now, Dororo really needed this, Also, had Shiranui not blown up the top of a mountain, I believe our leads would have been captured. It really helped Tahomaru grow as a threat. Now, was the shark fight a bit of a let down? Yes, obviously. But for the sake of getting to the important plot, I really didn’t mind.
On Shark Boy, I think he served his purpose well this week. Shiranui did a good job of causing chaos, giving our leads a good reason to survive. Without him, I don’t see any good way for Dororo and Hyakki to live. But with his chaos, Dororo gives everyone an out while also ratcheting up Tahomaru’s emotional issues. The best part of it though was that it was completely in character for the guy. He was already shown to be insane leading up to this. Feeding people to sharks and what not. So for him to lose his only two “family members”, it makes sense he would want to take out those responsible. Dororo also setup the existence of the explosive with the trapped caves, so that didn’t come from nowhere either. All in all, I thought it worked well.
Next up lets talk Dororo and Hyakki. They enjoyed a very wholesome, sweet, reunion. I loved the, while not exactly subtle, meaningful interaction between the two. Last episode we saw what the head-touch means to Hyakki. He has only really done it with Junkai. So seeing Hyakki do it with Dororo, be explicitly clear about his intentions and why he’s doing this? It was a nice moment of clarity for the story. No more ambiguity tying it down on that front. They have finally become a mutually recognized family. As an emotional conclusion to the last arc/their split, I think it worked well. Considering writing has never been Dororo’s weakness, this is hardly surprising. But I wasn’t expecting to care as much as I did. Combine that with the death of the last of Dororo’s old family, and I think narratively Dororo did well this week.
On Dororo’s old family though, let’s talk Itachi. He was… confusing for me this week. I am very conflicted on whether or not I like him. I find his overarching story, this perpetual search for gold and fortune until he dies right in front of it, nice. It’s a quaint little story about human greed and the like that parallels fine with Hyakki’s own quest for his limbs. Something even Shiranui comments on when Hyakki kills the Shark, on if his limbs are worth it. That’s all great. But as a character, I find him… annoyingly inconsistent? He cares for his men, until the gold is close. He is kind to Dororo, until she has a map, where he then ties her to a tree next to a one armed psycho. Had we more time with him, this could have worked. As is, he feels… compressed.
All of that out of the way though, let’s finish with my minor gripes I mentioned before. The first one is, how did Dororo’s dad set this all up? How did no one but Itachi notice he left to this cape all the time? Set up all these traps? It just stretches my belief that Itachi was the only one to figure this out. I also find it incredibly convient how Hyakki got the leg he had been demanding from Junkai last episode, back this episode. I get that its supposed to tie into his development, he did something to help Dororo and not himself and got rewarded for it. For how dark the series has been though, this feels a bit to… convenient? Finally there are the obvious animation issues. Though they are slight, compared to recent episodes at least, they are there. But they didn’t bother me much.
So all in all, how was Dororo this week? A marked improvement, that’s how. This is the first episode I felt like we were back in the first cour for. We had a cool fight, a good story and everything just kinda worked. It wasn’t perfect, Dororo has never been perfect. A flawed production from the start. But with recent episodes I look back fondly on that first cour, and wish for me. With Dororo finally, finally, reentering its most interesting plot, hopefully we will see more of this. I suspect, however, that we are going to be entering another side-arc here. Something to tide us over between Tahomaru and Hyakki’s inevitable round 3. I hope I am wrong, I want Dororo to keep up with the family drama. But I have been disappointed before by this very same series. Better not to get the hopes up to high, eh?
Welcome everyone to another episode of Yaiba! We are 1/4th of the way through now and Yaiba is 3 arcs in, with no plans of slowing. We arrive at the town, a hunt ensues and combat begins with our first super powered Demon. Lets jump in!
As always, production first. I could go on and on about how pretty Yaiba is. How much I love the water effects and uneven line work, etc etc. I have done that every week though, so this time let’s talk sound design, cause whoo. It’s good. Not only is it a Yuki Kaijura OST, always a plus, but Yaiba is just nailing the folly work. Seriously, whoever did the sound of the gnashing teeth deserves a raise. That was a suitably creepy and hair-raising, a unique sound I have no heard before in anime. As a whole it all comes together for a simply fantastic sounding episode. My only real complaint with it is the CGI crowds/walking. Yaiba is finally starting to show some cracks in the CGI, with the wide shots. Luckily all of the closeups are still 2D. That aside though, onto the story.
Before heading out into the city, we get a nice family sort of scene with Urokodaki that I enjoyed. Getting these small moments where the gruff old man shows his love for these kids. Like a father watching a son go out to war. As nice as it was though, there were some… interesting story bits here. First off, that’s a really creepy box. I love Nezuko, shes a great little sister, but Tanjiro is now keeping her in a box. Forever. The second, much more confusing one though, is who attacked Tanjiro’s house. We learn he is the First demon, the only one able to make more Demons. I have to wonder why in the world such an important figure would be in the woods near Tanjiro’s house. It just stretches belief. All in all though I enjoyed this segment and its quiet moments before the main arc.
For the start of the actual mission, I am conflicted. On one hand, Yaiba continues at its blistering pace. Starting and wrapping up arcs very quickly. This is refreshing, we aren’t watching an MC make stupid decisions just to drag out the plot. Yaiba feels like its continuously moving at a reasonable pace. However, thats only good in so long as the story doesn’t suffer. Because here, Tanjiro meets a victim of the attack almost immediately. He didn’t have to work on or flex and sort of investigation skills. He runs into someone, and sniffs his way to victory. And that might be my biggest worry with the episode, the smelling. I was ok with it at first, because it’s just scent. Its not crazy. But it’s getting to the point of ridiculousness. Smelling magically hidden demons, and how to attack. It’s becoming a Deus ex Machina for the series.
Speaking of smelly super powered demons, we run into our first “advanced” demon this week. Getting our first look at what kind of powers they can have. While I am a little concerned about the power of Tanjiro’s nose earlier, I do think the demon was a good fit though. If they are going to go down this road of OP nose, this was the first to show that off. I imagine a lot of other Demon Slayers would have trouble with this kind of demon. One able to split into 3, and come out of the walls and floors. I also enjoyed how this affected the demon’s personality, splitting them into 3 distinct people. It really sets the groundwork for how crazy some of these powers can be and how they can inform a demons character, if the OP didn’t already do that as well.
For the fight itself, I enjoyed it. Yuki Kaijura’s music combined with the visuals were just good fun. Tanjiro actually had trouble with the fight, the first one since his training arc. Making it clear these advanced demons won’t be easy. Even with his OP nose, Tanjiro needed Nezuko to help him out. I like how this paints them as equal members of this partnership in battle, at least for now. A team, rather than just an MC and his follower. Yaiba also made good use of its sword forms. Staying consistent with attack names and visuals. Making note of how switching forms quickly can weaken his attacks, showing he isn’t as flexible as he should be. The choreography wasn’t that great, at least not until the 2nd half of the fight. But for an introductory fight as a real Demon Slayer, I think Yaiba did well.
The last thing I want to talk about this week though is Nezuko. I gotta say, Yaiba is doing a great job of making her cute. With the little crawling under the covers,and how she treats people sort of thing. That plus her design just makes me like her. However I think Yaiba has shot itself in the foot here with her “hypnosis”. It really removes the struggle for her character of not actually eating people. It’s an easy out in my opinion, for what could otherwise be a a great moral conundrum. Yaiba may still give us this in the future, since Nezuko recovers energy by sleeping. She may need a power up for some fight. But for the normal day to day, I think Yaiba is piling to many easy outs for Nezuko.
So all in all, how was this episode. Aside from a few hiccups, Yaiba is still going strong in my eyes. It’s an incredibly competent Shounen. The fights are fun, its pretty to look at , the music is awesome. Aside from nitpicking the occasional CGI screw up or uninspired plot thread, if you like Shounen this should be right up your alley. For those that don’t like classic Shounen though? Yaiba isn’t going to engage your brain or try to trick you, like a serious drama or thriller. Looking deeper isn’t going to reveal any hidden messages or story. What you see on the tin is what you get, Yaiba is very straight forward like that. For me, with currently watching Lain, Dororo and a disappointing OPM, thats perfect.
Two weeks ago, I wondered how long Mix’s middle school arc would stretch, given that its ultimate destination was the Koushien tournament. Apparently the show had a similar question on its mind, as these two episodes pushed through an entire year’s worth of story. In fact, it was episode 6 that did the majority of the time skipping, with its focus on the changing seasons. I much preferred episode 5 for its comparative calmness and light foreshadowing, though it also concluded the first Tokyo Tournament with some haste. After making a late appearance on the mound, Nikaidou quickly lost the game for his team by giving up five runs in a single inning, and the show didn’t even mount an attempted comeback for the home team. This was all in service of the later reveal that Nikaidou was dealing with a potentially fatal heart condition, thus explaining his father’s doting behavior and his coach’s bullheadedness. The narrator provides even more context near the start of episode 6, detailing the friendship between the two men and the father’s past as a pitcher. Personally, I would have loved to witness a conversation between those two, rather than being fed a bunch of secondhand information about their relationship.
Thankfully, the narrator wasn’t as involved during the rest of these episodes. Perhaps my favorite part of either one, and the one involving that “light foreshadowing” I mentioned above, dealt with Nishimura’s fixation on the Tachibana brothers. He went so far as to visit their house and coax them into visiting the high school where his dad coaches baseball. As the boys biked to their destination, Nishimura named another team – Kenjyou High, formerly Sumi Tech – that served as the opponent in Touch’s Koushien final. Since they’ve been introduced at this early stage, both schools are likely to appear as obstacles in Meisei’s modern day path to glory. There was also a flashback from Nishimura’s father, who was reminded of someone named “Uesugi” after watching Touma pitch. You might expect Uesugi to be some unbeatable ace, given the prodigy to whom he’s compared, but he actually gave up a walk with the bases loaded in that flashback, losing the game for Meisei. Could this be a clue that Touma will experience a similar loss in the future? If Adachi ever wanted to mix things up, dealing the protagonists a loss on a grand stage would be the way to go.
Visiting another high school was an effective way to follow up Touma’s interest in leaving Meisei, but that lack of attachment was probably due to the snubbing he received from his old coach. After playing for a new one during his final year of middle school, the only thing that held Touma back from a deep playoff run was a sliding door that he slammed on his own fingers. Yes, this is the actual excuse that the show used to skip its ninth grade baseball season. The show manages the transition with some grace by introducing two new characters meant to carry us into the high school era: Goro and Haruka Oyama, a father and daughter pair who move to Tokyo in preparation for dad’s new job as the coach of Meisei High’s baseball team. Souichiro meets Haruka by chance on moving day and stares after her, obviously smitten. His eventual pursuit of the girl next door may be complicated by his stepdad’s existing friendship with Goro, however. That friendship was formed at Meisei 30 years ago, which is where most prior events in this series seem to have taken place. I’ve got to say, this style of connecting most characters and plot points to a shared past isn’t in keeping with the naturally-evolving web I was expecting. I do like Mix, and I’ll probably like it even more once we get into high school territory, but I’m ready for it to take another couple steps out from under Touch’s shadow.
Welcome to week 2 of Serial Experiments Lain, or as I like to call it, Screw With Lenlo. This week 4 friends walk into a club with drugs and a gun. Sounds like a good time, so let’s jump in!
Starting off, I really need to remember when Lain was made. I got half-way through this episode critiquing its “animation saving” cuts, before I realized Lain was made in 98. Granted this isn’t a get out of jail free card, Cowboy Bebop was also made in 98. But it did renew my appreciation for cell-animation. It’s a very different aesthetic from digital, much… not rougher but maybe rustic? Regardless, as limited as it is I watched this coming off of One Punch Man Season 2 and whew. Lain is drastically more engaging. There is much less motion on screen, and yet the framing and direction make it visually interesting. Whether it be framing a man’s face through a doorway or some almost hallucinogenic sequence, Lain drew me in. Considering I still understood almost nothing of this story and was still engaged, I would call that a job well done.
Speaking of the story, Lain still confuses the hell out of me. I can’t tell what is real and what isn’t. Between hallucinations with the drug, the Wired and Lain’s… Lain-ness, I have no idea what’s real. On one hand, this is rather interesting. It leaves everything open to interpretation and lets Lain dive into some funky visual metaphors. On the other hand, this could really easily lead to insane BS viewer apathy. So far, Lain is safe from that. Its introducing enough themes, which I am also interested in, to keep me engaged. But Paranoia Agent also started strong, before starting to drag in the middle. Lain seem’s much less… grounded than Paranoia Agent though, so maybe that won’t be an issue. However, that is one of my current main concerns with the series.
As for what actually happened this week well, Lain made friends! Yay! However this left me very confused by the message Lain is trying to send. Lain is very focused on this idea of human connection and how important it is, showing us multiple different relationships. These include Lain’s friends, the club, and Lain’s parents. Lain also seems to portray it as a good thing that Lain is going out with her friends. As opposed to stay at home on her computer. Yet, her friends are taking her out to a drug filled club that ends in a murder-suicide. So I am unsure which one Lain is advocating for and which against. It’s entirely possible Lain isn’t doing either, showing both as legitimate forms of connection between people. However, considering the current central plot of the show, the drug, is literally technology I am a little doubtful.
On that, let’s talk about this drug for a moment. I really liked this thing. I have no idea how the science behind it works, but I like that Lain tried. Using frequencies and natural hormones to try and explain how it works. That was very cool and I am very curious to see how it is used in the future. As I said though, this drug is also technology. As in, people are literally taking technology as a drug. You couldn’t get any more on the nose if you slapped someone in the face. Lain was also released in 98, back when the Internet and technology was first getting widespread and into consumer hands regularly. So an anime pushing caution towards it wouldn’t be out of place at all. As someone who loves technology, I really hope this isn’t the case, as those ideas might sour me on it.
Either way, this drug is linked to Lain in very interesting ways. Seemingly causing the people taking it to see or become obsessed with her. I’m not sure if this is because she’s imagining everything, or because of some other reason. Like some kind of Matrix situation. Because Lain seems to have advanced quickly with her computer. Last episode she had to use voice commands and have her mail read out to her. She was almost tech-illiterate. Yet this episode she is typing and reading on her own, navigating without issue. Even using her phone to get her to the club using the 98 version of Google Maps. Were technology not the central premise of this series, I would be worried about inconsistencies in the narrative. As is, I can’t help but assume this is done for some greater purpose, involving Lain and the Wired.
Finally, here is my current take on Lain as a whole. It is my belief that Lain, our lead, is disconnected from everything. Her family, her “friends”, society, even reality and her own emotions. She is, at the start, wholly alone. We see that even while her family love each other, only her father the tech addict is really talking with her. While I have reservations about what it might do, I believe Lain’s current plan is this. To show the good and bad of technology, and how connected you can be through it. How it is not inferior to in-person connections, but that there are new dangers inherent to the medium. How if you embrace it to deeply, you can become like the drugged in this episode. I am most likely wrong, but 2 episode’s in, I don’t feel that bad about this take.
So tl;dr, how was this week’s Lain? Once again, it was interesting. Lain introduced us to more of its world and really started us down it’s central plot. I think. It’s hard to tell because Lain doesn’t make things obvious. With my habit of watching a good bit of Shounen, and how the most complex they get is “punchy punchy”, this is causing me some issues. Still, I just need to change my frame of mind. I have found that I need to mentally prepare myself, psyche myself up so to speak, before an episode of Lain. So that I am in the right frame of mind to experience it. Because if I watch this after a bad day, I can easily see myself just despising it. But if I am prepared? Well, then I end up thinking about it all week and taking forever to write this post.