AniFriday Issue #25 – Autumn Manga Special pt1: Hajime no Ippo

October 29, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s been quite a while since I last talked about Hajime no Ippo in length.  And quite happening to be revisiting a discussion about this series in chunks.  It allows for a clearer, elongated perspective where I get to notice trends and not get so distracted by the moment to moment set ups of each chapter.  This post will be covering the final chapters of Ippo’s fight with Alredo Gonzales, the current #1 contender for the flyweight championship of the world, and the only man standing between Ippo and his ultimate goal of the world champ, Ricardo Martinez.  However, I’ll be talking about this fight as a whole at the end, from chapter 1030 to 1071.

I’m so hyped for Ippo!  God, I love this manga! Read more…

Check-in Station Dark Edition: Issue #5 (just wear pants, you bloody idiots!)

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

I didn’t think I’d go well into Fall before I got back around to this material.  Just goes to show times are hard and life is rough.  If a man can’t find time out of his day for a little pervy manga and anime, then he’s forced to live a very shallow, base life – devoid of true happiness or fulfillment.  Thankfully, I made some time to relax and wade through some truly thoughtless and silly material.  I’ve changed things up a bit again.  Starting with something very light and silly, and then going into some truly sketchy material.  And as always, even the silliest shows can pull some nice thoughtful moments.  As My Lovely Ghost Kana and Recently, My Sister is Unusual both manage to give me some moments that made me think.

Here are the entries I’ll be covering this week in order:

  • Chrysanthemum Garden ch0
  • Cutie Lips ch1
  • Nana to Kaoru ch70
  • Hana to Hoshi ch2
  • Yuria 100 Shiki ch58
  • My Lovely Ghost Kana ch19
  • Happy Negative Marriage ch6
  • Liar’s Paradox ch4
  • Recently, My Sister is Unusual ep3

Read more…

Check-out Station: Aldnoah Zero

October 26, 2014 Leave a comment

I’m left questioning my love of anime sometimes. Not anime as a whole, but modern anime and some of the pains I myself have had to endure as my fandom has progressed and matured. An example of this is the current popular format of 12 episode series, or series that air for that length of time, take a break, then continue after a season long break or so. This isn’t all bad. And enduring cliffhangers is just something you have to endure when enjoying some forms of storytelling. But I find there to be a strong difference between a cliffhanger leaving you wanting more, and just pissing you off. Read more…

Aldnoah Zero ep11: the princess you’re trying to murder is in another castle, your castle

September 22, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s always interesting to see a person break out of the cocoon of denial.  It’s often a painful process, where the person has the feel the pain and see the results of their delusion to come out.  They have to feel pain from within that cocoon, or see the damage wrought outside of it to people and things they care about.  So I found it a tad perversely entertaining to see Princess Asseylum’s cocoon finally crack under her latest crisis.  No longer could she hide behind hope, that people that pledged to be her protectors and comrades held her hopes and interests in mind.  Nay.  In contrast, the couldn’t want her dead more.  You can’t hide or deny reality, especially when it’s trying to kill you.

Well that was one of the most fun episodes I’ve seen from a show that debuted this year.  I find myself constantly fluctuating between the positive and negative with this show.  But I really had no complaints about an episode that got right down to business and never stopped being exciting.  My thoughts on the pace of this show and how it did a weak job of world building or conveying the true situation of the world in the show as this chaos raged aside, we got a fun race for survival as Saazbaum’s bold gambit of crushing the main Earth resistance and the only thing or person that could discredit his whole campaign takes place.  The show wastes little time and getting downright vicious.  It takes little time for the landing castle to arrive and penetrate the base’s thickest defenses.  After that, it’s merely a matter of using the missiles as entryways into the base and beginning the slaughter.  And it takes little time for the “word” slaughter to become fact as 50% of the forces suffer casualties in a matter of minutes.

As all this death and carnage continues, we see that Princess Asseylum is finally starting to get it.  All the questions she’s gripping with have “yes” answers.  Is she a pawn for war?  Do the Orbital Knights not give a sh*t about her?  Does this mean that her message carries no weight?  And I’m impressed when her disbelief turns into what appears to be righteous indignation.  She’s tired of all this effort and her beliefs being tossed to the side for glory and at the expense of her good name, and her life.  And it’s a good thing too, because I wasn’t sure how Inaho would be able to save their asses this time minus her help.

As the bases defenses are picked apart and slowly die, Inaho is able to put together a plan with knowledge and volunteer of the princess.  It’s a bold plan that doesn’t take into account much personal safety, as the idea is to drop directly onto the landing castle with only clouds, decoys and chaff for cover.  Once that task is accomplished, the plan is to clear a way for the princess and bully their way into the depths of the castle to have her shut off its power source.  I liked having Inaho’s sister step up and point out how harsh and reckless this plan is.  I think it’d be natural for her to want to protect her brother despite his talent and good luck so far.  Plus, I believe most any soldier would be nervous going through with this.

The plan fortunately comes together, but with heavy and mounting sacrifice.  And it’s only the very early stages of the plan, too.  No sooner do they set up the princess for her descent onto the landing castle than Saazbaum himself shows up to shoot down the Deucalion in seconds.  The bold plan is made to crash the ship directly into the landing castle itself (suicide likely in several ways).  From here on out, it’s just a matter of skill, luck and circumstance.  And maybe Slaine will finally make a difference again, after chasing the princess for so long and always being a step or two behind.

Overall, a really fun, action filled episode.  There were some nice scenes, my favorite being the the princess’s attempt to make it to the Deucalion and board it.  I was for sure that her attendant would be killed the moment that the princess successfully made it on the ship, but instead they shared a nice emotional moment.  Who knows if they’ll ever meet again.  But it was definitely strange to see the two of them apart.  I thought Rayet would also get blown away; she still may not have long to live herself after nearly killing a main character and being obsessed with revenge.

Hopefully in the next episode, we’ll get a good conclusion.  Though I can’t imagine everything being resolved in a satisfactory fashion in the time allotted.  Which leads me to believe that there’s a chance I’d have to wait some months before the show picks up again to give me answers.

Vexing.

Further Reading:

Aldnoah Zero ep10: some issues with forgiveness and reality

September 7, 2014 1 comment

I found this to be a very forgiving episode, in a completely literal sense. There’s a lot of unrealistic forgiveness and reactions in my opinion. But I still find myself enjoying the show and letting these things go because of it. I guess the theme of forgiveness extends to the viewership as well.

There’s no where else for this show to start aside from the death of Princess Asseylum. And despite how things ended, she was essentially dead. The Deucalion has crashed, everyone’s like “WTF!” and we got a dead teenage girl in the shower. The following scene is very similar to something I’ve seen in Gundam SEED, and it’s a situation that you’ll see in anime of this type. It’s the situation where you find discord between characters trapped in somewhat tight spaces. In Gundam SEED, we see one character attacked by another because the attacking character has learned that the victim actually killed her boyfriend. In contrast, we see last episode how Rayet freaks out when inadvertently left alone with the perceived agent of all her woes. She freaks out and murders (almost) Princess Asseylum in brutal and extremely deliberate fashion. Strangling someone takes a lot of effort and strength, and you have to continually apply that effort throughout the act. it’s different from pulling a trigger with the lightest of touches, and forcing a hot tiny hole of death through your foe. Strangling is like continually pressing a button that says you are going to hurt this person. At any point, you can stop and allow the person to live, up to the actual moment where they no longer have enough air to breathe. My problem with this scene comes when Rayet confronts the princess again after she’s been saved.  While she also has a chance to reflect on and regret her actions, she also has a much, much easier opportunity to kill the princess.  She has a gun, she’s under much more pressure with so many more people around (the stress can also lead to “forced” and unclear decisions), and the princess actually walks up to her at a distance where’s it’s impossible to miss without suffering from muscle spasms.  And somehow Princess Asseylum still survives, while Rayet is still allowed to live, only so far suffering the capture and confinement on the ship.  I guess she’s such a pitiful anomaly that they didn’t really know what to do with her.  I find the military response to this crisis a little ridiculous, but the fact that Rayet did fight along side them, and they did get to know her a bit may have played into this as well.  I can’t imagine why they allowed Princess Asseylum to walk into point blank shooting range of a woman who already tried to kill and damn near succeeded.  It was all very weird and off to me.  Sadly, I still found this scene handle in a better, much less campy way than a similar scene in Gundam SEED.  I guess it goes with the overall theme of my viewings of this show.  Things are done wrong, or in an unsatisfactory way, but because they are still better than the alternative, I still find positivity in the situation.

I come across this feeling again when I see how Slaine and Sauzbaam end their elongated encounter, that turned out to be a very brief imprisonment.  Sauzbaam is very serious about getting his revenge, and I still respect this petty, yet intense burning passion of his.  But I can’t respect his ridiculous decision to give Slaine Count Cruhteo’s mech.  He owed Slaine’s father a lot apparently, but he’s basically tossing the dice by sending Slaine out with a powerful weapon like that.  I can’t tell if he doesn’t respect Slaine’s fighting prowess, doesn’t really care how the battle turns out, or has just given up on life in general.  It’s very strange and contrived to me.  And it just appears to be a very convenient and easy way to get Slaine back into the story.  Even the flashback which featured his fiance and the events surrounding her death felt a little too quick and shallow.  Though I don’t have any issue with Saazbaum’s traumatic event taking place at the exact same time and location as the events that scarred Lt. Marito.  In this case, I don’t have any issues with the show giving me some answers and perspective.  I’m just underwhelmed by the emotion behind it.

Perhaps my favorite moment of the episode was seeing the Deucalion and its crew make it to their destination finally.  I know the place is in Russia (or the Soviet Union considering that famous sickle, hammer and star symbol), but it reminds me a lot of the South American base made famous in the original Gundam and Zeta Gundam known as Jaburo.  It essentially serves the same purpose.  You could tell as the Deucalion got their though, that things were ominous.  And it brings me to another gripe with the show.  We’ve spent so much time following Inaho and his comrades, and worrying about Princess Asseylum that we haven’t truly gotten the scope of what the Orbital Knights are doing to the Earth’s militaries, governments and populations.  It’s only once we get here, that we’re given some disturbing hints about the situation.  There’s a moment where we hear that Earth’s population may be in jeopardy.  And I find it astonishing how underplayed this aspect of the show has been.  You’d think that if the Orbital Knights were doing so much damage, we’d get more hints and signs aside from the calamity of the Landing Castles in the first episodes.  At least in other mecha shows of this kinds, we’re given moments where we get to see the suffering of the people at large.  Despite the knowledge in the show that worldwide communications have been crippled, we’re given a surprisingly narrow set of views from a show that takes a very omniscient position with its narrative.  It makes the show more intimate and small in atmosphere than I think is best for it.

Overall, an episode with a lot of flaws, but not terrible in my opinion.  I think that my lack of knowledge on the show’s length, or even on its direction at this point is making me a bit nervous.  If you were to tell me this show is supposed to go on for 50 to 75 episodes, I think I’d be more comfortable with this pace and lack of world development.  If you were to tell me it’s 24 to 26 episodes, I’d think that things need to pick and more needs to get done to make me care about this world.  But I wouldn’t be too nervous.  However, if you were to tell me this show is only 13 episodes, then I’d tell you that this show needs to f*cking put the pedal to the metal!  Not nearly enough has been done at this point, and it feels like we’re still well into the introductory stage of most aspects of the show.

It will be interesting to see how the show’s first potential major, large-scale battle will work out.  Slaine is supposed to be a wild card, but I can’t tell if he’s meant to be Inaho’s rival at all.  There’s so little evidence or chemistry at this point.  And with Sauzbaam’s allies still well in control of communications and the military, I have a hard time seeing the goals for the Deucalion at this point, aside from fleeing again and attempting some form of survival.  They need either much more power on their side, or much better allies.

Further Reading:

Aldnoah Zero ep9: everyone gets a little PTSD every now and then

September 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Oh joy. One of those “downtime” episode where we barely learn anything new about the characters and there’s a bunch of boring childish hijinks and love geometry. I could do without any of this sh-! What’s this?! A MURDER! A murder in the showers?! Now I am intrigued!

Honestly, not the most exciting episode for the most part. But some important business was taken care of. For starters, it really does appear that Count Cruhteo is dead. Ho-hum. True or not, he won’t be missed. Slaine is now in the custody of Saazbaum, and I find myself intrigued by this head conspirator and current main villain. He’s incredibly blunt and honest with Slaine once they get to talking. And when Slaine sternly asks him to stand down and not pursue his path, Saazbaum is able to actually look him in the eyes and justify his actions without a moments’ hesitation. Granted, he’s still incredibly bitter and jealous, and all this is a terrible idea that makes him a pretty terrible criminal and perhaps a mass-murderer. But he’s not a cowardly villain, he’s one of those impassioned villains that has been wronged and doesn’t care about consequences any more. He’s on a mission!

I had good laugh on the inside when scene switched to Inaho and the other Earthlings on the Deucalion. We can quickly see a little harem being developed around the character in the show with the least personality. I just couldn’t get over how his sister is constantly trying to tell a story with that same unchanging face of his. It’s a classic example of why I find so much about romance and relationships laughable. It seems the fantasy has become the norm too often too easily. But that’s a subject that needs to be more concretely addressed on its own.

The real spice to this episode was seeing Rayet taking her opportunity to finish Asseylum off. It’s a desire I didn’t even know she still held that strongly. Sure. i knew there’d be hate and jealousy, but I thought it would take more time and events to manifest. It was almost like she was under a spell. And of course, the Aldnoah drive doesn’t work without someone of the proper lineage to power it, so the Deucalion immediately crashes. That was unfortunate. I don’t doubt that will set the stage for another attack.

Overall, there’re a few interesting things to ponder, even going into the lore of the show.  We have a recurrent PTSD angle brewing with LT. Marito and Rayet.  And while Marito is getting help, Rayet is probably just as seriously f*cked up in the head right now.  I think they’d greatly benefit from spending time together, though I have no idea if that will ever happen.  There’s also Count Saazbaum and his agenda.  He sheds some interesting light on the situation of the Spacenoids, and the events of 15 years ago.  He’s a crestfallen warrior, and he appears to be the only knight I’ve seen so far that doesn’t wholeheartedly subscribe to the dogma of their king.  He doesn’t care for the system, the people who run it or the position of his people.  I have high hopes for him as a villain.  He’s got the drive, the smarts, and may be just dead enough inside to make things interesting.  As for Princess Asseylum, I have serious doubts about her actually being dead, or at least staying dead.  But if she does stay dead, I’ll give this show kudos.

Further Reading:

Aldnoah Zero ep8 : no one is safe – nowhere

September 2, 2014 Leave a comment

I need this show to do me a favor.  Don’t ever dip below the quality of this episode for a moment.  It’s gliding on the thin line between getting away with too many coincidences and sloppy set-ups, and getting called out for them.  I dare say it’s flirting with a harem.  But for now, I’d say that this show has had a spectacular beginning that makes me want to go back and judge it against some of the classics.

The show is good enough to show us a little of the pivotal moments that lead up to episode seven’s spectacular ending.  And with Princess Asseylum’s decision to help the Earthlings, it puts everything on tilt.  Much of the actions being perpetrated in this show up until this point were based on the assumption or lie that she was dead, with only a handful of people in the story knowing the truth.  The episode does a good job of pointing out just how dangerous it is for everyone that is currently on the ship.  It’s not just the firepower, it’s the beacon that will draw all sorts of problems to everyone on board.  Clearly a Spacenoid has to be piloting or helping for this famous ship to fly.  And with that info, and the doubts about Princess Asseylum’s mortality starting to rise, it’s only a matter of time before we get assassins.

I did find it a bit awkward how those who did know of Princess Asseylum didn’t freak out too much when meeting her.  I thought for sure there’d be more hate with all the death surrounding her, but I guess a pretty face really does solve all problems here.  It was much more amusing to see Inaho just flat out tell his superiors that he had no intention of telling them about her true identity.  I can’t tell if that moment was intentionally amusing or not.  Inaho is just a straight up dick at times, and there’s never any repercussions for it.  It’s like everyone is so taken aback by how blunt, harsh and emotionless he can be at all times, it leaves little room for a rebuttal.

I can’t really avoid speaking about Slaine’s torture.  Halfway through everything that was happening, I knew for sure that I there was no redeeming the Spacenoids.  Aside from Slaine and Asseylum, I couldn’t find a single redeeming personality amongst that group.  Plus from the very beginning I had a high level of disgust for them just based on their actions and attitudes.  They were doing everything in their power to perfectly represent what I hated most about the ignorant elite.  I thought Count Cruhteo could be a redeemable character early on, but seeing the torture and how he spouted his heartless dogma about making the inferior Terrans pay for Princess Asseylum’s death, I was fully down to see him die a painful death.  After all, up to this point he’d beaten and reprimanded Slaine with a harshness too coarse even for a dog.  And the torture scenes, which were generously peppered througout the episode just left the bitterest taste in my mouth.  By the time the lost ship with the Aldnoah drive had been discovered, and Cruhteo had enough information to figure out what Slaine had been doing, it was already way too late.

I’m sure this situation will only further spin out of control as Saazbaum and his fellow conspirators work harder and more viciously to cover their tracks and get their way.  After attempting to kill their own princess and murdering a fellow knight and other Spacenoids, it’s clear that there’s nothing they’re afraid to do.  No one’s safe yet, good guys or bad guys.  Spacenoid or Earthling.

Further Reading:

 

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