March Comes in Like a Lion S2 Ep 6: “Angry, Frustrated and in Pain”

Just as the anime recovered from an emotional storm, this week brings in a tide. There are still tonal changes, but the second half of the show became laden with some heavy stones on Hina’s side. The visual direction got more expressive to fit the mood of Hina’s emotional states, again. Also, the sound design became more noticeable to me by the end of the episode- there was good use of silence in this episode to convey Hina’s isolation and the tonal shifts from cheery to gloomy; and even helped to make the bullying feel really real and direct. Another well crafted episode.

The episode opens with a brief recap of Hina proclaiming that she did the right thing by standing up for her friend and Rei realizing that she was his savior. The opening sequence rolls.

vlcsnap-2017-11-20-01h02m33s392.png

The Kawamoto household is in a light, cheery mood- they are having cherries. Rei decides to continue to try his best in supporting and consoling Hina; so he proposes a shogi match under handicapped conditions- severely handicapped, apparently, he was playing with three pieces… and he still won. That got Hina down a bit and made Rei realize that he didn’t have the ‘skill’ his previous teachers had when he was warming up to shogi; he remembers that maintaining eye contact helps to encourage your opponent to feel good about themselves. It turns out that Hina was doing that all along, putting Rei in a comical situation where the one who wants to console gets consoled himself.

vlcsnap-2017-11-19-23h40m25s103.png

The tone shifts when Rei asks Hina about how her school days are going. Hina replies somberly. Her classmates don’t talk to her anymore, they maintain their distance and act like they are in a wake; while the bullies and the ‘cool kids’ just laugh away- their loud laughter filling up the classroom. Hina comments on how this sets up a classroom hierarchy where the ‘cool’ kids arbitrarily ‘rule’ over the others. Rei agrees and says that everybody has felt this way one time or another in their lives. Speaking from personal experience, I agree as well.

vlcsnap-2017-11-19-23h24m09s306

As Hina describes the atmosphere of her classroom, she pictures the classroom is under water. The staff used this to their advantage by visualizing the loudness of the bullies through bubbles. An under water setting is also widely known for visualizing overwhelming emotions (Hina’s emotions, which are revealed later on in the episode) and people being in a retreating position (Hina’s classmates who didn’t stand up to the bullies).

vlcsnap-2017-11-20-00h07m43s212.png

The scene transitions to Hina’s classroom (minus the water). The atmosphere mimicked her description of it, and as she went about her school day in a gloomy, awkward state (which she obviously isn’t used to), Takahashi- the guy she has a crush on- approaches her for a game of catch. It turns out that Rei talked with Takahashi about Hina’s situation. But seeing Hina chatting with Takahashi causes the bullies to become more aggressive towards Hina.

vlcsnap-2017-11-20-00h08m56s705.png

Meanwhile, Rei wins important matches and he clarifies his goals to himself and the viewer once more- he is determined as ever. Nothing much to add on this except, my boy Rei is making me grin from ear to ear with his sudden spike in spirit.

vlcsnap-2017-11-20-00h10m38s680.png

Back to Hina’s world. Takahashi is quick to spot Hina’s bullies and threatens them with a ferocious head-splitting throw, wearing a nonchalant expression. He tells Hina that this will show them that she has a friend who will stand up for her in these times.

vlcsnap-2017-11-20-01h07m08s097.png

Rei and Hina have another meeting where Rei apologizes for not thinking far ahead enough when asking for Takahashi’s help. Hina, as usual defends him. She says she enjoys playing catch and she is happy that Takahashi knows about Chiho, so she can talk about her with him. This leads her to talk about her current state of mind on Chiho’s bullies. She doesn’t know what to do now; deep inside, she wants to beat the bullies up but even though that will make her feel good for a while, it doesn’t help Chiho in any way because she has already left- so ultimately, Hina won’t be happy with what she did if she brawled with them. She also wants to make the bullies apologize to Chiho, but she doubts that Chiho would ever want to see the bullies’ faces again. Hina is confused what to do about this and she is frustrated. It’s amazing how selfless this girl is when she is the one who is currently getting bullied.

vlcsnap-2017-11-19-18h57m05s050.png

Just some comments on the visual aspects of Hina’s speech on what she wants to ddo to the bullies. During this visual, which is drawn in chalk against a black board donning fluorescent, popping color splashes: which cause the visualization of Hina’s emotions to have a trippy feel. Rage and anger are apparently, foreign to Hina, and the stark contrasting color scheme probably is indicating that; again, water comes into play in this visual narrative where faucets run wild- a metaphor for Hina’s boiling frustrations. Again, I really think is a nice orchestration of good visual effect on the narrative- of course, I can’t explain all the little visual detours the show takes, but thinking about how they integrate into the storytelling has been quite enjoyable.

vlcsnap-2017-11-20-00h50m22s623.png

The final scene of the episode shows Hina discovering that the bullies have reached quite an aggro- their harassment is now in full public display on the blackboard. We hear a bird’s sharp shriek, almost mimicking a high pitched scream going off near Rei- as if Hina was screaming internally (a pretty neat transition to Rei’s ending lines, I must say). Also, there’s that usual grey fade out that has been used throughout the last couple of episodes to show that Hina doesn’t have any allies nearby.

No one, steps up for her. The teacher, the one who paid no heed to Hina when Chiho was getting bullied, steps into the classroom to find the writing on the board and realizes her mistake. She briefly demands Hina to tell her what happened but Hina nonchalantly replies that it was on the board before she came; then the teacher asks Hina to meet up with her after the class. It will be interesting to see how that meet up will go; and I hope that Hina comes out fine by the end- this episode really raised the stakes for me because the bullying felt pretty raw and direct this episode.

I don’t really have any thoughts on what might happen in the later episodes, but I am looking forward to how this will play out for Hina. I haven’t really felt angry with Hina a couple of weeks ago (I felt more bad for her than be angry at the bullies), but this episode made me feel really bitter towards Takagi and her crew. I feel that this episode helped the viewer appreciate Hina’s emotional state better.

Before the credits roll, Rei shares some lines in the midst of the silence that permeated through the reminder of the episode’s airtime: ” There’s one thing that I realized. I thought that if things got tough, you can just get up and leave. When someone treats you improperly, you don’t have to respond in a proper way. But… she’s not only in pain. She’s angry. In fact, she’s seething from the pit of her stomach.”

vlcsnap-2017-11-19-19h01m29s267.png

Advertisements

Anilog #31: 7th Week of Fall 2017

I slacked off on this one… again. I got on my laptop on Saturday afternoon to find out that I haven’t even created a draft for this; I usually write down thoughts on the episodes that aired on Sundays and Tuesdays before Saturday but somehow I totally forgot to do that this week. Writing this whole post took the least time I have spent on any other post of similar length, so please excuse the noticeable drop in quality (and quantity) of my already barely serviceable writing in this category of posts. It’s pathetic that I have been doing this for 6 weeks in a row and I still haven’t gotten into the groove of it. Anyway, here goes…

March Comes in Like a Lion S2 (Episode 5)

vlcsnap-2017-11-12-23h01m42s750

You can read my full review here. Things cooled down a bit and the anime got more or else back to it’s usual groove. Rei has a character shift and now he is determined to help Hina out; he has his docket planned out like a shogi strategy- it was really entertaining and interesting seeing this new side of Rei. Meanwhile, Akari ‘confesses’ how she hasn’t been a good sibling to Hina and she regrets the way she acted when Hina came crying to her lap. Rei defends her and calls her his ‘savior’ as well, because she is responsible for raising Hina to be the brave girl she is. Hina brings a cute neko key chain- a fittingly warm scene to end the episode.

Welcome to the Ballroom (Episode 19)

vlcsnap-2017-11-12-16h28m54s000.png

Things are still shaky between Tatara and Chinatsu but the episode warms up to a prospective character backstory by showing Akira’s look of envy in her eyes. Flashback to elementary school where Akira was a timid, healthy lady in contrast to the gyaru (I am pretty sure I am using this word incorrectly but I have nothing else to roll with) appearance she has now. Chinatsu just then transferred and eventually they bonded when Chinatsu stood up for Akira when she was getting bullied. They started dancing and Akira fell in love with Chinatsu. Nothing much happened other than festering Akira’s jealousy through a flashback- it will be interesting to see where the show takes this character story from here on. Will the anime build up on this? Or will is this episode just wanted to dangle this yuri bait just for lols? I doubt it is the latter because the show’s character writing has been pretty fulfilling for me up to this point.

The Ancient Magus Bride (Episode 6)

vlcsnap-2017-11-17-17h26m50s844.png

Elias opens up about his lack of humanity and reveals that he has been experimenting on Chise and hiding it by acting in ways that would make her happy. I expected this confession sooner or later because it was pretty apparent that Elias severely lacked social skills when communicating with Chise. Chise understands that it has been tough for him acting human and takes pity on him (?) and touches him fondly. The rest of the episode focuses on Elias asking for the Queen of Faeries help to wake Chise up from her two weeks of slumber. I am trying my best to refrain from making a dumb wordplay based on her boobage and her name Tit-ania (there, I said it) but nothing interesting can be gleaned from her character so far, except that she doesn’t like the conventional god that people pray to. Anyway, Chise is revived; she and Elias instantly hit off and the question of making babies is raised… too soon? I guess the anime is shifting into romantic territory with this one, and the episode ends with a shot on the guy, that can turn into a dog, I saw in the OVAs.

Kekkai Sensen & Beyond (Episode 6)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-13h01m52s002.png

Insects infest the Libra office and the guys try to get their place back- in style as always. But before that incident transpired, the viewer is given a brief backstory on Leonardo’s past (again) and why he can’t remove his special eyes; I think the next few episodes will focus on Leonardo’s character arc- at least, that’s what I am hoping for. This episode was the usual episodic action complemented with jazz. No eye catching sakuga to note of, but I am not complaining; this show is still entertaining.

A Sister’s All You Need (Episode 6)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-19h23m58s630.png

The first three-fourths of the episode was the usual- deceptively trite LN pseudo-harem narration except sex jokes were turned down to a minimum this week (now that I think of it, the ochinchin jokes have died down for the last couple of weeks- not that I am complaining). However, things got a bit more interesting in the final minutes where the scene involves the friend-group watching the premiere of Haruto’s LN’s anime adaptation. The anime flopped, his twitter feed gets flooded with negative comments and this makes him deliver a reactionary speech. I am paraphrasing but he says that his work may just be one of the many options that a consumer can choose. But to him, it’s the only thing he knows and he put his heart into it- “Why else would I write thirteen volumes of this?” he says. I could almost hear the author himself shouting out this when he was writing the script, and this is probably the best scene of the show, yet. The show has used it’s meta properly. Admittedly, Haruto has been the most interesting of the bunch for me, because of his cynical self-aware self (basically, I am saying that he reminds me of one of those Girlish Number seiyuus). But does this redeem the show completely, no way- but I would like to see more of these moments if it wants to end up on the good spectrum by the end of the season.

Gintama. Porori-hen (Episode 7)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-22h11m19s947.png
You don’t know who you are messing with

The tale of the sword trying get back his scabbard continues as Gintoki and the crew attempt to reincarnate him in a better form, in funny ways. Meanwhile, Sougo meets up with the Senbe and it is revealed that the Man Slayer is actually controlled by the sword, which takes over his wielder and “wields himself”. Sougo puts the Man Slayer down and ends up owning it. Gintoki and Sougo face off during their scheduled duel; but before things get serious, the two get into a literal shitfest and start competing against each other to see who gets to collect the most crap with their swords- if this isn’t over the  top wacky comedy, I don’t know what it is. But the episode ends with a cliffhanger- revealing that Sougo has been possessed by the sword. Although this episode seemed to lean more towards comedy, especially in the mid-section, the anime layered in some narrative and established a sense of pace in this arc.

Food Wars S3 (Episode 7)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-14h48m28s339.png

The comical presentation of Azami’s villainous character remains pretty much static this episode, too- and I don’t see it changing soon enough. Because Souma’s gotta Shokugeki to settle with Eizan: another cartoony caricature of a villain. Food Wars always had that spirit of ‘shounen hyperbole’- after all, this is a show about cooking competitions and the tasting rounds’ visual metaphors attested to that hyperbolic aesthetic. But this last couple of episodes have drawn out the tension in the most bland way possible. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the proceedings, at least the anime kept its hype up by the end.

Black Clover (Episode 7)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-13h45m13s798.png

Noelle turned out to be the tsundere, ojou-sama mixture I expected her to be. I don’t really have anything else to say on this episode- I’m bored. Should I drop this? But I have gotten so far- maybe I will drop it after the Fall season ends, given that the show stays the same old same old.

King’s Game (Episode 7)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-14h18m00s879.png
That went 0 to -100 real quick

Yup, people are still dying. Apparently, the Honda family used to live in the Yonaki village and that’s all the trio came for. The other two accompanying Nobuaki get into some lovers’ quarrel where things fall apart in terms of having a cohesive script. That scene could have been better executed if there was a better writer behind it; the dialogue seemed to mean something when ‘love found in crisis is meaningless’ was brought up- but the writer had to dissolve that into the girl making psychotic faces and trying to persuade the boy to commit suicide with her- which makes it a comically jarring transition. But I have been complaining about this writing issue enough. The two die, in the most anti-climactic and ‘clean’ way possible, because the story doesn’t want them alive anymore. The episode felt more like a ‘last two episodes of the anime’ than a seventh episode- because there is almost nothing the show hinted at to where it will go for the next quarter of its run time.

Inuyashiki (Episode 6)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-19h46m58s832.png
If “Death by computer screen without any exposition” isn’t contrived, I don’t know what is

Hiro is in trouble for real, but this sudden appearance of a dramatic stake seems out of place because there were almost no hints in the previous episodes that the police were onto Hiro. I guess the show wanted to surprise the audience, but this gave away a bit of the anime’s intent: the show doesn’t like to or doesn’t have the time to exposit on the primary narrative but still wants to do whatever it wants with its plot elements. I should have picked up on this earlier but now I have an idea of what the show is primarily geared towards- action driven character stories with contrived plot elements and flavored with some heroism ideology. But this episode focused on Hiro’s reactions and his teenage angst in the face of despair. He kills some 2chaners because they harassed his mother and caused her to commit suicide. I am sure this is brewing Hiro’s sentiment that “the world is against me” and making him more of a villainous personality. I am interested where the story goes from here on, but my expectations aren’t really high anymore.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Episode 7)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-22h45m42s157.png

This episode shared the perspective of Sakurai for most of its run time. He is now fully aware of Moriko’s presence in the game and he recounts how he enjoyed the company of Hayashi solely as an in-game character. Meanwhile, Koiwai- being the playful character who spices things up- makes Moriko help him to start off in the MMORPG. Moriko makes a new avatar- which suits her better than her hair does (yes, I am still unreasonably unhappy with her hair). Sakurai receives the obligatory teasing text from Koiwai and he gets nostalgic because Moriko’s new avatar reminds him of another close in-game character who he got to be friends with in the past. So, he decides to jump-in with, most probably, his previous avatar from his previous MMORPG. I am glad that the story is finally unwinding and all the characters are now in the same medium of communication- not that I minded that Koiwai was the only one who didn’t play MMOs.

Girls’ Last Tour (Episode 7)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-23h21m27s325.png
“I got GOLD!”

Yuuri and Chito are on their way to… somewhere indicated by Ishii; and they travel by feet on pipes raised at head swooning heights. Chito tackles her fear of heights in, expectedly, moe ways and Yuuri just has a good tie teasing her. Until, they find out that they can travel more safely inside the pipes. They have a good banter on why people should just follow directions sometimes instead of spicing things up with adventure. The two stumble across… what? Another living thing- boy, that’s two strikes in a row! Yuuri marvels at the potato plant, but gets disappointed by the lack there of. Thanks to Chito’s literacy and Yuuri’s unwavering passion to get food in her  mouth- they bake their own rations. “Sweetness is happiness”, they say as they munch on them. I love how the show weaves in these philosophical tidbits into the girls’ “chill and cute” journey towards… somewhere; but at least, they have food for the foreseeable future (if Yuuri doesn’t gobble ’em up one night). I really enjoyed this episode, as always.

Kino’s Journey (Episode 7)

vlcsnap-2017-11-18-20h05m40s473.png

Kino, again, isn’t the center of the story for this episode. Rather, her master, who is much more deft as a marksman, is the protagonist for this episode- and Kino recounts how her master saved her apprentice from the police force in a town they travelled to. Unlike last week, I didn’t find anything wrong with this episode- so this one was a relatively more enjoyable experience. However, this isn’t an episode I particularly care for, since this is a series I haven’t gotten to particularly care for, either.

That’s all for this week.

March Comes in Like a Lion S2 Ep 5: Proclamations & Confessions

After the emotional fallout, this episode focused on Rei’s passionate and enthusiastic plans to ‘repay’ Hina- who he thinks is his savior; and Akari’s regrets of not saying the ‘right’ thing to Hina when she came home, crying. It was enjoyable and nice to see this new side of Rei; and the presentation of Akari’s troubles were realistic and again, well written. The show knows where and when to hit the right sentimental notes with its characters. The tonal whiplashes came back this episode. This week, the show had a relatively normal episode, structurally.Read More »