Aldnoah Zero ep4: quick and satisfying

Damn that episode went by fast! I know the run time was completely normal, but the episode blew by! Perhaps this show is turning the corner in my eyes. And I don’t mean that in the sort of “turn off your brain and enjoy” kind of way either. I just sat down and enjoyed this without issue at all. I’m thinking that maybe I can have three shows this season I can watch and respect?

It was a pleasure to see that most of the military in this area wasn’t just a group of brain dead hot-heads, firing bullets into an abyss in hopes of getting lucky. There are strategy and tactics being employed here. And slowly we’re starting to see chinks in the Orbital Knights’ armor. Finally.

With the crew escaping the orbital bombardment by moments, we see the weight of the situation start to really wash over the survivors.  There’s also the knowledge of Princess Asseylum’s presence alive, on Earth and next to them that some of the characters have to deal with.  While Inaho seems perfectly comfortable protecting her, it’s understandable that Rayaet, the girl assassin that is the lone survivor of her group has no qualms about selling her out if the going gets tough.  That’s a very differing opinion between the two people who have this knowledge.  But for now at least, there is peace.  I am still quite amazed that Princess Asseylum is so cavalier about revealing her identity to even a few.  But at the moment, the situation is so muddled in the fog of war and politics that I guess I can’t blame her for forcing some level of clarity on her situation.  She strikes me as the kind of woman that doesn’t care to deal with bullsh*t.  Perhaps time will tell if she’s more than just a pretty faced figurehead.  She’s headstrong, but with a good sense of ethics and justice.  I’m simply amazed at how well she’s turned out amongst this sea of a-holes that spawned her.  She’s damn near a mutation in comparison to the racist, hateful, close-minded nobles that serve her.

The constant retrograde continues however, as everyone makes it to a rear base for resupply and for the officers to get a better idea of the situation.  It doesn’t take long for an orbital knight to show up though.  And he makes quick work of a squad of mechs attempting to intercept him.  And this is where Inaho impressed me.  And I know what he did is the same basic concept as what he did last episode.   But I still like it.  There’s thought, planning, observation and skill involved in the way he and his friends stave off the orbital knight.  Once again Inaho manages to break down the enemy mech’s seemingly invincible defense in the heat of battle.  He’s able to damage the mech using the terrain.  In the end, Inaho should have still died, but thankfully the navy managed to work its way around, and happens to have another capable female officer in command.  It was a welcome and exciting sight to see the aircraft carrier apply Inaho’s same technique to force the orbital knight to retreat.

The episode ended with Slaine asking Count Cruhteo to let him take part in the offensive, in hopes that he can find the princess.  Man, Slaine really barely fits into the story right now.  With his main purpose being to give us a more natural look at how the spacenoids are doing things.  I really want to see if he actually has a personality and some fighting skill and sense.  And it looks like I won’t have to wait long to find out.  On the opposite end, I want to believe that Cruhteo isn’t a completely horrible person, and that he has some sense.  But it’s hard to try to have a fair view on the guy when he just beats Slaine for no real reason.  Slaine just tells him that he wants to help, and he gets beat!  I’m gonna have a real hard time sympathizing with the spacenoids on any level with this roster.  If they don’t find someone I can care about soon, I’m just gonna start wishing they get nuked so we can end this story cleanly.  And it’s going to take more than some naive, ignorant piece of royalty like Asseylum for me to care, too.

Like I said earlier, I’m slowly warming up to Inaho.  At the very least, I can respect the way he uses his head and good sense to take down seemingly invincible and over-powering foes.  On the other end, I ‘m starting to have serious doubts about this show actually conveying humanity in some of its main characters.  At times, I wouldn’t be able to tell Inaho from a robot.  While when I look at Slaine, I see more of a whipped pet than a human at this point.  That’s not really his fault, but I can’t say I see humanity when I don’t see it either.  I don’t need gods, or prophets or holy, magical men in my mecha shows set in a somewhat realistic universe.  I need people that are going to be afraid to die, afraid to lose something important to them, or who are more than inconvenienced or “miffed” when something in the heat of battle doesn’t go as planned.

If I had to give this episode some sort of measurement or overall opinion I’d dare say it was without any real flaws.  I enjoyed the hell out of it, and wished I could have experience the next episode immediately.  I can’t really pinpoint too much why that happened.  Nor can I tell you that it was the best thing I’ve seen in a long time.  It had the same strange problem I’ve had with an episode or two of Terror in Tokyo.  It’s just without flaw.  Not overly spectacular, but a show that does everything right in this given episode.  It’s puzzling and satisfying at the same time.

Further Reading:

Zankyou no Terror ep3: the man who hates Summer.

What does it mean to be a rare beast? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I think ultimately the question to that can only be answered by the beast itself. Is the rarity treasured, viewed as a weapon, or has the beast taken ownership of that rarity itself and wielded it as it sees fit. In this case, one rare beast is let out of its cage, while the other two run wild using their power to a vicious end, but an unknown purpose.

I was with Shibazaki on this one. It seemed pretty clear from the viewer’s standpoint that the Sphinx didn’t care whether the bombs went off or not. The question immediately becomes the phase 2 of their plan. An end game of just blowing up stuff until either nothing is left, they die or get caught seems like a pretty aimless and uninspired endeavor for people of their caliber and guile.

I do enjoy the mystery of all of this though.  The end game seems to be the plutonium Sphinx stole about half a year ago.  Anything else understanding what they want seems to be a crap shoot.  We are unaware if the plutonium has been processed into an actual bomb, or if they plan to use it as a dirty bomb, ruining the country with wide spread radiation.  The plutonium may only be a bluff.  They could have sold it for all anyone knows.  Unlikely, but it is a possibility.

I’m tempted to guess that government of Japan may have had a hand in their traumatic, regimented childhoods.  There’s a scene where we see the two of them a children peeking in on a room full of other adolescents as they are being lectured by some woman who could be a scientist or doctor.  She mentions how names are generally gifts of love, but since they are children without families, they won’t be afforded such names.

What a horrible thing to tell a child!

I hate child abuse.  It makes my blood boil.  That scene made my blood boil.  It transcends the medium of fictional entertainment.  The concept itself turns me sour.  Perhaps it did so for the children as well?

Some parts of this show seem “well-worn” on me.  The moment I saw Mukasa playing a video game while Shibazaki was busy trying to figure out Sphinx’s next riddle, I knew some “ah-ha!” moment was going to take place.  You just knew that video game was going to help him solve the mystery.

The moment I saw Shibazaki talk to his superior outside and stand up, I knew he was going to tell us a story about his childhood.  I also wasn’t surprised when his backstory involved him calling out corruption in his department and pissing off someone with political aspirations.  Just the fact that someone as intelligent as him is filing paperwork makes me think he’s incredibly lazy, or incredibly annoying to his superiors.  It also gives me reason to believe that his interception of Sphinx will have political ramications for Japan, as well.  These types of things tend to be cyclical.  Fifteen years isn’t nearly long enough for corruption to be washed away from the world.  It’s like a type of cancer that can’t ever be fully purged from human society.  So long as there are people in power fighting for more power, and looking for easy ways to get it, there will be corruption.  Add a little money, and a healthy fear of consequences into the mix, and you get a real recipe for disaster.

I suppose my one solid gripe about this episode was Lisa’s involvement in it.  And by involvement, I mean she was almost totally not involved.  I do feel a bit for her.  We still see that she’s senselessly bullied, and that for whatever reason her mom hounds her until she can’t get peace.  She seems to have enough of a reason for a teenager to run away with some terrorist bombers.  I’ll let that pass.  I’m just anxious of what her eventual part in all this will be.  For now, she’s like a link for the audience amongst all these clever people and adults.  There is a fair amount of immediacy being tossed about when she’s on screen, because you just know that she’ll be used in the future as some sort of X-factor to trip up Twelve and Nine, or to screw over all of Tokyo when she takes their side fully.

Lastly, the link between Shibazaki’s grandparents being Hiroshima bombing survivors can’t be just some loose end used just to add something personal for the detective to latch on to, it can’t be just something to make it seem like this is more than a game to him.  I feel like the overall theme of nuclear weapons is only going to get stronger and stronger as the series pushes forward.  And that will really push forward the suspense – and/or the body count.

So far, pretty good episode.  Nothing really stood out for me, though I don’t doubt there will be plenty of praise for this show, just as there has been for the previous episodes.  And I don’t doubt it’s deserved.  The show is incredibly competent, and pretty entertaining on some levels.  But I’ve yet to be really wowed by an episode from start to finish.  The second episode was pretty close, but I’m expecting more.  And I will wait patiently for it.  I’d like to see if this show can prove to me that it’s a rare beast on its own.

Note:  what the hell is up with Mukasa?  How can a grown man be that annoying, lazy and whiny?!  It’s just as clear as it is with Shibazaki why he’s doing paperwork perpetually in archives.  The same can be said for the young detective who kept complaining about why they brought Shibazaki from archives.  Just replace lazy with b*tchy and it fills in just nicely.  I’m guessing that guy is just an ambitious young detective, but it’s clear that no one wants to participate in a d*ck waving contest aside from him.  Thankfully, it looks like he’s starting to be one over.
 
Note 2: I love learning about myths and legends.  It’s incredibly interesting for me to hear what minds long ago thought made up the world and inhabited it.  Human creativity is amazing.  I’ll have to remember to look up that Japanese water dragon god mentioned in this episode.

Further Reading:

Tokyo Ghoul ep4: a Mind Full of Lust and Wonder

July 26, 2014 1 comment

I can’t imagine anything much worse than being amongst a group of people in a land unfamiliar while you’re on your own. Sure, you can worry about things like horrible ways to die, the presence of God or whether your karma is going to add up to you getting kidnapped and sold into sex slavery or something. But when it comes to normal, everyday, sane worries; it all comes down to who you can trust. Everything beyond that cliff can be a slippery slope or a pleasant meadow, but you won’t know the route until you know the place you’re in and the people you call your associates and friends. For someone like Ken Kaneki, it’s especially important because, he can never tell if he’s part of the pack, or the prey being hunted. Most people aren’t lucky enough to not only be told someone is a jackal when meeting one, but to get the chance to walk away, as well. Maybe God really does protect fools, or perhaps that sentiment only applies to humans, not animals.

In a way, I can’t fault Ken too much.  As far as he’s concerned, he’s at the top of the food chain.  Aside from the “box inspectors” that roam the streets, he doesn’t have too much to worry about as long as he doesn’t meddle with another ghoul’s feeding grounds.  Well, that would be the case if the ghouls were simply trying to survive while in hiding in Tokyo.  In truth, Tokyo is such a huge city that not only factions are popping up, but whole societies – high societies!  And that’s where the nuance in this episode and the Gourmet come into the scenery.

The moment the Gourmet (I can’t remember his real name) came on the scene, the other patrons, especially Touka, were weary of his presence.  I suppose calling the Gourmet a parasite wasn’t enough for Ken to get the hint though.  The moment Ken’s scent caught his attention, it became a persistent and sly mission of the Gourmet’s to ensnare Ken.  At the time, I had no idea why.  The M.O. that I had started to gather from word on him was that he was a man of discerning taste, I couldn’t imagine cannibalism to be his kind of thing.  But I suppose that doesn’t matter if he thinks there’s an interesting flavor to be had.  The lies piled up constantly, little white lies and misnomers to pull Ken into his web.  And by the time Ken was…

*sigh*

Just a moment as I point out just how god-awful creepy this scene is with Ken showering at another man’s house.  I’m not pulling any punches, if he were a female, I would call him a brain dead bimbo that was inviting the worst, whether ignorantly or not.  And you know what?  Ken is a brain dead bimbo who is inviting the worst, whether he does so ignorantly or not.  I was begging someone to kick him in the neck when he did that.

Regardless, the Gourmet is able to easily and slyly serve Ken up on a silver platter.  I was amazed to see the coliseum/opera house-like set up for slaughtering humans who were deemed “fine meat”.  They even had special butchers for the occassion.  This time the festivities being handled by a girth-full and powerful man named, Taro.  Ken by all rights should already be slaughtered.  If not for his eye showing itself to everyone just before death, the Gourmet would have not stepped in to save him.  Instead, it was Taro on the menu (so I assume the giant butcher was human), and not Ken.

The importance of the one ghoul eye hinted at with a “rumour” talked about by a woman named Itori who runs a ghoul bar in the ward.  She happens to be friends both with the mask maker, Uta and the mysterious, near-silent man who gathers human remains, Yomo.  While she does pick on Ken quite a bit, she also does him the favor of telling him the rumour about the ghoul born with one-eye.  Amazingly, it’s a ghoul conceived by coitus with a ghoul and a human.  This begs a basket of new questions about the world of ghouls, their anatomy and their place in the world.  But first, the one-eyed ghoul legend itself needs to be discussed.

Allegedly, the child is a rare and unlikely spawn of a ghoul and human.  There’s no word on whether it matters if the mother is ghoul or human, but we do know that it doesn’t happen a lot because normally it isn’t physically feasible very often, also you have to take into account a human and ghoul possibly falling in love, or even agreeing to have sex.  I’m not even going to bring up rape in this situation, because I can’t imagine a human doing that to a ghoul, nor can I imagine a ghoul doing that to a human and not eating them while they’re wild with lust.  If the child is born, they are said to be more powerful than a normal pure ghoul.  That’s the end of the rumour, though it sounds more like a myth than a rumour.

Back to the consequences of ghouls and humans copulating; this is one of those things that pushes me hard to think about and speculate on the lore of this story and world.  given that this is based on a manga, I’m careful to not get my hopes up too high.  The origins of ghouls could be magical/mystical, scientific or they could just be aliens.  I don’t put anything past the medium.  But if the show mentions this, I’m sure there’s at least one person walking around like Ken.  I can’t imagine the story bringing it up and not ever addressing it again.  I don’t doubt this has happened in the past.  And I’m pretty sure this kind of character is a sort of end game for this story, too.  Ken seems to be a link between ghouls and humans, and he will have significance revolving around that heavily.

Overall, an enjoyable episode that did more to bring up new questions than address lingering ones.  I’m OK with this, the wandering of a mind in wonder is a beautiful thing, and a drug for daydreamers.  Give me more mysteries, my mind thrives on this speculation.

Note: this episode was really focused on food.  I can’t believe I didn’t talk more about that.  Especially the scene where we get a glimpse into Touka’s school life.  It’s amazing how easily everyday things can trip you up in an ordinary school setting when you don’t eat human food.  I’m sure Touka wants to make friends and live a somewhat normal school girl life.  I can’t at the moment imagine another reason for her putting up with this trauma and danger, day after day.  Hopefully, we’ll get to experience a lot more of her life soon.

Further Reading:

AniFriday Issue #23: July 25th, 2014 (Star Platinum/Jonathan Joestar wants you deep inside his body!)

I will refrain from going on a rant this week.  Instead, I’ll just say that I’m having a lot of fun with anime right now.  Especially since I’ve started narrowing down and finishing off lingering series.  Ao Haru Ride, Argevollen and Glasslip are gone.  Tokyo Ravens and Chaika are almost done.  It’s a whole lot more satisfying than what I have to deal with when it comes to manga.  The impression is being given that mega manga Bleach and Naruto are ending, but those lingering final battles are going to last a long time.  And if they aren’t f*cking amazing battles, it’s gonna leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouths.

There.  Nice and short.  Here are the anime & manga I’ll be covering in order:

  • Stardust Crusaders ep15 & 16
  • Tokyo Ravens ep21 & 22
  • Chaika the Coffin Princess ep7
  • Akame ga Kill! ep3
  • Hajime no Ippo ch1059 & 1060
  • Naruto ch685
  • Bleach ch589

Read more…

Binbougami ga! ep4: her weakness is that she’s not a bad enough person

What a funny problem to find yourself in: trying to figure out if the person you’re with is an angel or a devil; a good person, or a spawn of misfortune that tortures the lives of those around her for her own gain?  Though perhaps I’m thinking much too deeply about this since the episode also includes a pervy monk who can’t stop obsessing over titties, and a masochist dog spirit that gets off on being whipped and having boiling hot water poured down his throat.  Indeed, perhaps the person who is just selfish, spoiled and oblivious doesn’t have the worst or most vexing of issues. Read more…

Yamato 2199 ep6: Weak strategy always loses to strong tactics

It’s clear what the lesson from this episode of Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is… racism is no excuse for incompetent commanding. Also, you can’t beat racism and classism by kissing someone else’s butt hole. Read more…

Glasslip ep3: a future I don’t care to see

I could not be less interested in a series than I am now with this series. I had been warned about P.A. Works shows, and thought I was prepared, but there’s just no faking or powering through some things for me. Even when I try to focus my viewing experience by asking myself what are the fundamental points and questions of the show; it only makes my lack of enthusiasm worse. I end up just asking myself the same question: why am I watching this show anyway? Read more…

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