Knights of Sidonia S2 ep10: wrapped with the red string of fate

June 15, 2015 1 comment

I should’ve known Benisuzume was too good a villain to lose.  though I’m pretty puzzled as to how she survived.  We’re very slowly understanding the Gauna, but their evolution alongside the Sidonia’s advances are disturbing.  You wanna make a bet that it’s us that made them the way they are?  Or after all this time, are you still convinced that Gauna are just mindless, murderous force of nature bent on erasing humanity from the universe?

It didn’t take long for Izana to become the damsel in distress again.  Though I will be fair to her (it feels so good to finally be allowed to assign her a gender), she’s done an excellent job of not just surviving, but observing and adapting in this dire situation.  It’s her observations that allowed her and the last surviving member of her squad to enter the gauna-filled planet’s atmosphere.  It’s her observations that noticed the Gauna were going after the ariticial kabi and the fuel producing the Hyggs particles.  She’s not merely getting lucky, she’s getting good.  Perhaps losing her arm and going cybernetic is the best thing to happen to her since meeting Nagate.

I’ve always been puzzled as to why they allowed so many non-essential staff to see so much of the battle.  It seems to go against the way their very secretive and controlling leadership works.  Though it does make for an interesting and more dynamic watch, having more characters invested in the real time outcome of the battle.  Though this does also allow pilots and other staff to criticize the decisions of leadership in these situations.  And in the case of Nagate and Tsumugi, it causes them to go nuts with grief and worry as they see Izana’s squad torn apart.  With strict orders from Kobayashi, Yuhata would not normally allow them to intervene, but Ochiai sees the possibility of Tsumugi becoming uncontrollable if something bad were to happen, and convinces Kobayashi to allow them to sortie.

The actual mission, of course isn’t simple search and rescue under fire though.  While Nagate in his freshly updated mech and Tsumugi who basically has super powers are one hell of a team, no one is prepared for what’s waiting for them in the planet’s atmosphere.  Benisuzume has returned, far more powerful than before, and still giggling like a little girl for the full creepy effect.

With Izana stuck on the planet with very likely limited resources, and Tsumugi fighting a Benisuzume who may be her match or more, Nagate may have to make a choice here.  He could save Izana and leave Tsumugi to fend for herself  until he can return or she wins, or he can help take down Benisuzume and then begin the search.  And to be fair, Izana may have to sit tight for a bit.  This is some freaky sh*t.  It’s as if I’m watching Claymore.  You just get the sense that blood is going to be spilled.

Overall, a straight forward episode with one hell of a surprise.  It reminds us that Tsumugi wasn’t the first chimera.  It was Benisuzume.  And it goes to show that the red string of fate ties these two warring factions together in eerie ways.

Further Reading:

Your Lie in April ep12: perhaps there’s light even here

June 13, 2015 1 comment

Well, I ended up taking one heck of an unintended break from this show.  But it all works out for the best, since the previous one was the last for that season.  Now I get to begin anew at a proper point.  Though not much has changed.  Kousei is still traumatized by his mother.  Kaori is still destined to be a sparkling flash in this world.  And the male characters are still being violently physically abused.

This episode pretty much covers the week until the gala.  And a lot of time is covered, though not a ton happens in this one episode.  The main struggle of Kousei versus his trauma is directly addressed in this episode.  Not only is Kaori compelling him to play the piece of music that he most associates with his mother; he also takes time to directly ask his mother’s best friend her thoughts on their relationship.  While I’m somewhat disappointed in her weak answers, she at least doesn’t do anything to make his condition worse.  What matters is that she lets Kousei know that he needs to keep playing and find his own answers.  But I can’t get over how she says that no mother could ever hate their children.  I think world news has proved otherwise.  But the positivity is what matter most.

Looking towards Kaori, what strikes me about her is her generally unwavering attitude towards the “now”.  She has not for a moment stopped pushing Kousei, nor stopped pushing him to play passionately.  And in the end, I think that will be Kousei’s answer to his problems.  A good hint at this comes from Kousei’s accidental dive into a pool and him remembering words that Hiroko had told him.  He has the tools to overcome what he finds to be a handicap.  It could be just as likely that his issue is proof of his talent.  The bottom of the pool he fell into feels just like the sensation he has when he plays and can’t hear his notes.  And to her, it’s an opportunity for him to play the music the way he feels, as opposed to playing it as the sound he produces dictates.  Realistically, that’s bullsh*t to me.  But I see that they’re kinda taking the Beethoven approach to things.  He’ll be seen as a prodigy as a young child, but this strange on-cue deafness of his will have people perceive him as a genius.  I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming before now.

Everything I said is fine, though if things actually played out this way I’d be watching an OVA or movie, not a TV series.  Kaori is the X-factor here, and right when we think the drama is gonna come from Kousei fighting with his own trauma, we’re reminded that there is something far more important going on in the background.  The day of the exhibition, Kaori is absent and completely unavailable.  It’s clear that whatever disease/condition she’s been hiding has claimed her for a time.  And it’s likely a serious issue for her to miss something so personally important.

This whole show, we’ve gotten stronger and clearer hints at her waning health and suspect mortality.  No hint was more clear than her passing out after a performance.  Coupled with talk that strongly avoids speaking of the future, and instead prioritizes emotion, passion and the present more than anything and I’m willing to bet that she’s a character with the reaper’s scythe at her neck.  She lives her life not recklessly or irresponsibly, she lives it as if at any moment someone could pull the plug and her lights would immediately go out.  It’s the same way she plays.  And it makes the introduction of a new, apparently important character named Toshiya a good contrast.

Toshiya is an elementary school prodigy at the violin who is also performing at the gala.  When Hiroko and Kousei attempt to convince him to switch places with them to allow Kaori more time to show up, he staunchly denies them.  Even more than that, he has the courage to berate Kaori not only for her lack of professionalism, but her playing style as well.  It’s all very misplaced, but I was impressed none the less.  It seems like he’ll be a good way to reflect on Kousei’s past life and values.  Toshiya’s been clearly brought up to understand and respect music at a high level to talk the way he does.  And he’s repeating words almost verbatim to what we’ve heard other older, sterner characters say.  I’d like to see if the passion Kaori and Kousei convey through their playing can change this outlook.

In the end, this is a compelling start to the second season of this show.  I’ve been dying to see how Kousei will ultimately overcome his condition, just as much as I’ve been curious to learn what is exactly going on with Kaori.  This episode not only reminds us of those problems, but shoves them in our faces as the appropriately most important aspects of this show.  To do so though, the answers had better be satisfactory.

Further Reading:

Plastic Memories ep10: the most important things

I’ve waited quite a while for some of the moments in this episode.  Characters needed to hash things out and confess their true feelings.  But while it’s clear things are winding down towards the end, it doesn’t feel like a mad dash to make the most of the limited time Isla has left.  This has been a rich, emotional experience that wasted little in effort to make this episode work.

Painting Kazuki as the bad guy in this situation is easy.  She just walks back into Tsukasa and Isla’s lives and just tells them to split up.  There’s no real explanation.  She just forces the issue.  I was slightly miffed and annoyed by this at first.  How hard is it to actually explain why you’re making things moves?  Instead she conjures up some bullsh*t excuse that no one but her has cared about until now.  The rule of not dating coworkers is something no one else seem to know or care about.  So it goes to show that she throws some heavy weight around the office.

What got me to change my opinion about her was her sly and light-handed approach to the situation afterwards.  We learn that she doesn’t really have an issue with Tsukasa.  Her issue is with Isla and how she’s handling the situation.  And she confronts Isla on this in a couple of ways.  First she has Isla tackle the task of retrieving a Giftia that has long served as the body guard for a mafia boss in town.  The Giftia and the mafia boss had a long standing professional relationship that clearly had some personal touches to it.  The Giftia was far more devoted to the mafia boss than a normal plutonic guard would be.  Before retrieving her, Isla was tasked with spending the remaining time for the Giftia at the mansion.  Isla trumps this by telling the mafia boss to hang with them as well.

Through this, Kazuki shows her how precious the time ppl who love each other share is.  This leads to a confrontation after the mission that was a long time coming!  We learn that it wasn’t Kazuki who actually started their department’s controversial techniques of retrieval, it was Isla.  Isla was the one who pushed to consider the feelings of those involved in the retrieval.  No one else went along with it.  But it was only after Kazuki and Isla’s break up that the policy was pushed through everyone through Kazuki.

More importantly though, Kazuki breaks through Isla’s stubborn wall.  She calls Isla out for making the same mistake Kazuki made years ago when she dissolved their partnership.  Isla’s been clearly trying to distance herself from Tsukasa to keep from hurting his feelings.  And Kazuki doesn’t want her to make that same mistake and leave him with nothing but bad feelings and memories.  That is what this harsh treatment is doing to him.  It’s ruining the gift of her time and attention that she once lovingly gave to him.

In the end, this is what broke Isla down and made her give in to her feelings.  The scene where she confronts him and returns his feelings is just a beautiful, awkward scene.  It kinda gave me a similar feeling that I got from Angel Beats.

What a great and emotional episode.  I loved seeing Kazuki and Isla finally have at it after all these years.  It seemed so weird that they never really addressed that situation after all this time.  But it makes more sense now that Tsukasa has changed Isla for the better.  It opened their eyes to what was right and what was wrong.  You shouldn’t shy away from the truth, or the opportunity to spend quality time with the one you love.  It’s such a bittersweet situation that I’m glad I got to see such a sweet moment.  It’s still sad, but there are still happy times to remember.  And that’s the whole point of this show.

My hope continues to be that this show stays true to its core message of making peace with your end and goodbyes, and finding joy instead in the great memories of those people you’ve lost.  That of course means the harshest truth.  Isla still has to “die”.  And by that, I mean she doesn’t magically come back in another body.  If her body is reused for a new Giftia, that Giftia doesn’t magically get her memories back.  And Tsukasa doesn’t run off with her and end up getting Isla completely wiped.  That would be a true disaster.

It’s all set in stone.  I want them to have their remaining happy moments.  I want that moment like from Chrono Crusade where a happy and sad contentment falls on the death of characters.  Good lord….  I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about that ending.  I don’t know how I’m gonna handle the last episode of this show.

Further Reading:

Kyoukai no Rinne ep6 & 7: because I’m petty!

The world is expanding rapidly. For awhile I thought the after life was just the after life in this world. But we have a hell to look forward to, along with demons who seem to have an interesting purpose and position in this universe.

Did I just say we can look forward to Hell? Oh well, it’s all relative.

Episode 6

What a nasty set of surprises in this episode.  From the ancient evil cat spirits, to false reapers attempting to claim children’s souls, to Tsubasa coming to grips with Sakura and her affection for Rinne; there’s a bit going on in this episode.  And I enjoyed it, despite it being rather inconsequential in the end.

For me, the exciting part was seeing someone who could be this show’s first Big Bad.  A character that could drive a deeper set of episodes in an interesting arc.  And from the looks of it, he may be a relative of Rinne’s.  May he be his father, or a brother we’ve not heard about?  I’m sure it will be awhile before we find out.  Still, I want to see something like that pop up badly.  These episodic excursions are nice.   They’re not spectacular or hype in any way, but they’re quite effective in establishing Rinne’s character and Sakura’s usefulness and affection towards him.

Rinne is showing that while he may not exactly be a cool or smooth character, he’s a dedicated and reliable friend and hero.  Despite being destitute, he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of his job.  Even if it means begging a woman for money.  Given the pedigree of this show, I won’t say I’m excited to see the relationship evolve, because I may not be able to stick around long enough to see its conclusion.  But I can believe him as a love interest for a smart woman.  He’s got good qualities to him.

Note: those cat spirits looked scary as sh*t man!  Maybe it’s just me, but my first instinct is to run away from that.

Episode 7

As a character, I can’t say I really care for Masato. Whether it comes to character design or personality, he just strikes me as a villain. A rather plain villain if not for his quirks. His sh*tty spelling, his petty nature, his pompous attitude; it’s like he’s a wrestler with a very thin persona based on silly things. Though for comedy’s sake, he’s a pretty good foil. This episode had a few good laugh out loud moments, mostly involving the reveal of his history with Rokudou. It really paints the two as opposing forces and opposites.

Despite Rokudou being a reaper (kinda), he holds high value on life and works very hard to keep things that should be alive, alive.  Should that are alive should not be reaped, nor coerced or corrupted to do so.  But Masato being a demon had his own goals and assignments.  And when he failed them, he was thoroughly punished.  And in true demon form, he focuses on the nastiest ways to get his revenge.  They clashed so often, that I was beginning to wonder if Rokudou was using Masato to find those in need of help.

The episode itself was pretty fun despite my lack of convincing that Masato is much of a villain.  He’s more of henchman at this point, and not the big bad I was hoping for.  But if the show can still pull an interesting and funny episode from his misadventures, then I don’t mind at all.

I find it much more important to see a new type of character and a new sub-world opening up to us to see and learn about for the first time.  The beginning of this show looked very small and simple.  It’s not a strike against a show, but if this is supposed to be a long running series of any interest it will have to diversify and expand.

Further Reading:

Knights of Sidonia S2 ep9: un-uttered anticipation and fear

This is more like it.  I could see comedy, harem and slice-of-life elements in an anime anywhere in this day and age.  I come to watch Sidonia primarily for the sci-fi and the space horror elements.  That whole sort of Game of Thrones element where anyone could die at any moment for any little mistake.  We’ve spent quite a bit of time reinvesting in the cast since the second season kicked off.  Now it’s time for the show to finally start playing with that element again.

Beauty of the Thousand Year Village aside, I’m glad to see the character development take a backseat to the plot’s movement finally.  We may finally learn about what happened to the colonists who were murdered a few episodes ago.  Kobayashi is moving forward with her plan to take the fight to the Gauna, and she plans on using the Lem star system’s Ninth planet as suitable staging ground for that battle.  The problem remains that that very planet isn’t Gauna free, and she needs to know what’s down there and then kill it.

The recon mission isn’t so bad by itself, but the new orbital re-entry craft they created for the Guardians has struck a nerve with some of the rank and file pilots.  They see the artificial kabi at the tip and assume the vehicle is a suicide ride.  One pilot even goes out of her way to voice her anger over the project and taunts Nagate over being leadership’s special pet.  The problem with this is that she ends up deserting, leaving Izana as the alternate to participate in the squad based mission.

The scene of the pilots making their way around coveted planet with all its rings is the scene of the hope I have for this show.  I love space, astronomy, technology and all the things that come with these scenes.  The moments of anticipation and mystery as they fly through this hostile ground are also things I love about this show.  They have this very Evangelion-esque moment of not knowing what they’re looking at in the distance, and then seeing absolute horror and death right before them pop up in their way.  Needless to say there is some death and will be more, but most importantly Izana is out there.  You know Nagate’s coming in to get her.  I’m excited.

To be fair, the awkward romantic scenes and seeing Shiraui and Yuhata fret over Nagate and Izana’s night out was fun to watch.  And it would be nice to see Izana finally confirmed as the winner of this impromptu conversation.  I’ve been pulling for her since before she was a her.  And it seems like the only logical and true option for this love geometry.  It looks like we’ll have to wait to see what Nagate’s true answer is.

This episode was more about the ending than the rest of the episode for me.  Of course, the love geometry is pushed forward a bit.  We also see that Ochiai still has something up his sleeve, though the reveal appears to be something that will have to wait until the end of the battle with the large hive cluster.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming skirmish, and even more to the climactic and massive battle soon to come.  We’ve already gotten glimpses of great and intense space battles in this second season.  The idea of topping them with something even larger and more intense excites me.

Further Reading:

Plastic Memories ep9: when sparing feelings is the same as hurting them

This show sure likes its cliffhangers.  Almost as much as it likes to waste my time.  Though the show is attempting to address some immediate questions.  I just wish this show could juggle more than one topic at a time.  I only care to watch two young adults mope about for so long.

This episode certainly felt like a let down compared to the one before.  Episode 8 did so much to address my concerns with the show.  It felt like a solid step forward.  This episode felt much more like a circular path, where by the end you are essentially left back at square one.  All episode, we see Tsukasa and Isla moping about, and the office talking amongst each other over the hop topic of the moment.  And to make matters especially awkward, we get to see Michiru f*ck up the vibe for everyone for most of the episode.

Michiru’s always been blunt, tackless and a busybody know-it-all despite her age, barely superior level of experience and penchant for being wrong.  So I found myself not caring for her at all throughout most of the episode.  She just assumes Tsukasa f*cked up royally when it came to him proposing to Isla at the carnival.  But he couldn’t have done things more appropriately.  And yet she still forces herself to believe and say that he was deficient in some way.  And she spends an extraordinary amount of effort trying to patch things up between them.  And in the end, it didn’t really matter.  The only thing that truly changed is that she found out that Isla has only a month left to exist.  And she would have found out that fact eventually anyway!

The only thing that “moved the needle” was seeing Kazuki dissolve their professional partnership.  I assume this is another attempt of her’s to rectify a situation through detachment.  And I’m afraid she’s repeating the step she made with Isla when they were partners to spare Tsukasa.

I really want this show to dig deeper into Kazuki”s character.  She’s been the core factor in so many parts of this show.  She was Isla’s ex-partner whose own dissolving of the relationship and detachment gave Isla the personality and world outlook she has now.  That disolvement was spurred on by her being forced to track down and “kill” Michiru’s “father” alone.  The way their Terminal Services branch works is completely different because of her and her alone.  She’s far too important a character right now for us to know so little about her.  If this show addresses that, I believe we’ll get the whole picture and a satisfying conclusion.  After that, it should just be about Tsukasa and Isla being honest and courageous in her final hours.  I won’t go into how I think the show will end, but I do fear that’ll give in near the end and try to “save” her.  And though that would be dramatic, I think it would be a poor way for this show to finish.

Overall, not in love with this episode at all.  I felt I would have been more satisfied if this series of events had occurred in half the time, with less of the poor comedy that this show generally has.

Further Reading:

Sound! Euphonium ep6: real music

I haven’t remembered love this hard in awhile.  And while I dreaded such things when I played, I’m happy to see the individual competition aspect of musicianship come into play now.  The cliques and bickering of the lazy and entitled seem to be fading away as they see their potential as a band, and as they see a genuine challenge put forth.  This cute little show is so realistic and learned that I’m almost shocked at times.

With SunFes out of the way, Professor Taki wastes no time prepping for Nationals.  A final roster and a backup roster are being set-up by way of auditions for position or chairs.  Your chair is your position in your section, determining what parts you get and the alignment of responsibilities outside of playing music as well.  The higher chairs are leadership roles that also get harder parts, more solos and more limelight.  And the poorer you perform, the lower your inevitable chair.  Getting you simpler parts, and at times leaving you off the roster of musicians that will actually perform in competition.  It’s just like in sports.  If you’re good you get to suit up and play.  If you’re not good, you go home or watch from the sidelines.

This is a very new thing for some of the freshman, including the brand new tuba player Hazuki.  She quickly becomes the focal point of the episode as the more seasoned members of her section attempt to not only get her better at basic musicianship, but they also seek to inspire.  It’s not just a technique to get more out of her, they’re thinking of her long-term future as a musician.

Hazuki’s story and perspective were central to this episode.  And I believe it made an excellent attempt to get the audience who may not be familiar with this world to understand the hardships, and perspectives of those who are and have been.  For awhile, Hazuki just sees this practice and drilling as tough task that her peers have already mastered and left behind.  She’s seeing herself as ineffective, despite genuine hard work at learning this skill.  What her fellow classmates do to finally break through is amazing.  They actually take the super basic piece that she’s practicing with, and play their parts with her.  For the first time, she actually plays in an ensemble and makes music with others as a group.  She hears “real music”, and is inspired!  It felt completely organic and reasonable to me.

It’s not as though no one else really is involved or that no other storylines are moving though.  Everyone is still hard at work practicing for their auditions.  And you see classmates coming together and rooting for each other even with intense competition on the horizon.  We also see that Kumiko and Reina are started to talk more, holding more natural conversations now.  And of course the comedy was good, too.  The tuba-kun prank was pretty good.  Asuka is a gorgeous devil, taking advantage of her senior position to get in a great prank.  There is the little loose thread of Aoi, and while she seems to cheer on Kumiko in an almost melancholy fashion.  It feels very much like she believes she’s wasted time somehow.  But we know far too little about her to guess at what’s actually going on.  For now, we’ll just have to hope that KyoAni gives us a proper explanation later.

Overall, a really good episode that manages to tell it’s own standalone story in the middle of a larger plot line.  I am impressed at how well this series understands this world.  It’s entertaining while being so incredibly true to life.  And I’m not just talking about music aspect either.  Human behavior is surprisingly well tapped in this narrative as well.  Though I find it strange how real life has not interfered with the student lives of the band so far.  You’d think there’d be more drama and bickering in this situation.  We’ve already been told that this band has had a massive disagreement before.  I can’t tell what’s actually holding this band together at the moment except for good luck in having the right new students, and having people like Asuka run around guiding their juniors.  Then again, perhaps that’s to illustrate the golden opportunity presented to the students right now.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Further Reading:

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