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Archive for February, 2011

Fractale Episode 6 – It’s All Gonna Break

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

After a series of episodes that don’t stand up on their own at all, this episode gives us two (albeit related) stand-alone stories. At least they seem to be intended to stand on their own, because the episode ends with the Granitz airship taking off again for parts unknown. Really, though, I hope they come up again, because neither of them seem finished.
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Gosick Episode 7 – Journey to the Past

February 27, 2011 2 comments

Last episode ended with Victorique, Kujou, Mildred (a woman dressed as a nun), and three other travelers entering the secluded and primitive village of the gray wolves, which appears to be a walled medieval town preserved from the passage of time by a policy of isolation. Before I go further, I’m going to need to talk a little bit about why Gosick messes up its depiction of medieval Europe as much as it does.

It’s easy to pick on Americans for not bothering to learn about foreign cultures, mainly because as a general rule we don’t. But occasionally it’s worth remembering that other cultures can be just as insular, and thus just as prone to get facts wrong. In Japanese media, this often happens in its depictions of Christianity, which is a tiny minority in Japan and viewed as something essentially foreign, but which often appears in anime series anyway. (Treating Catholic nuns as if they were the equivelent of Shinto shrine maidens is a particularly common error.)
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Kimi ni Todoke 2 Episode 7 – Assigning Blame

Last review I was perhaps a little hard on Sawako, putting the blame for her disastrous conversation with Kazehaya squarely on her shoulders. However much she might have an excuse for it, given her natural inability to accept other people might like her, her mixed signals have led Kazehaya to the inescapable conclusion that she just doesn’t like him that way.

But Kazehaya also hasn’t been as straightforward as he needs to be. He too is in uncharted territory, trying to confess to a girl he likes, and after years of being the popular one who all the girls fawned over, he has to face the fear of rejection himself, for the first time. So his confession was far more abbreviated, and far more vague, than it should have been—ultimately leading to the entire school being confused about who was rejected by whom.
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Wandering Son Episode 5 – She was Born in a Bottle Rocket

February 24, 2011 1 comment

In the opening moments of episode five, as Shuu is making her way (her is the gender pronoun I’ll be using; see the episode 4 review for an explanation) to Saorin’s house, a bicycle passes with a man in his early twenties at the helm and a similarly aged woman riding along, whose long dress blooming in the wind as she rides by. Shuu recalls, in that moment, Saorin telling her she won’t become a girl by simply waiting around. Shuu’s decided who she is, sure, but was that the easy part? The bike rides off and Shuu stares down to see a boy’s shorts and scrawny a boy’s legs.

The bulk of episode five’s plot revolves around the gender-reversed rendition of Romeo and Juliet that Shuu’s classroom will be putting on. Until this episode, the play was to be written by Shuu and Saorin, but after a well-meaning, Saorin-enraging suggestion from their teacher last episode all of Shuu’s friends are now involved. They meet, probably much to her chagrin,  at Saorin’s house to work on it, and over the course of two days hash out what Saorin, frustrated at seeing the more original first draft reworked, calls “just Romeo and Juliet with the genders reversed.”
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Bakuman Episode 20 – Flash Forward

February 23, 2011 1 comment

I publicly wondered last time if Bakuman would take more than an episode to cover the half year process of Takagi and Moritaka preparing their detective story for their editor. As I expected, the answer was no. But I wasn’t expecting this episode to take the timeline even further, heading all the way into the summer as the duo prepare the series for publication (and hoped-for serialization), in a twenty minute span.

Granted, Bakuman does a decent job of showing you the passage of time, and of providing some hints about the effort the pair put into their work. But it looks like Bakuman is beginning to leave behind its early practice of taking its time showing the process of manga writing. Now its getting straight to the point, and the point is no longer seeing pen put to paper.
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Puella Magi Madoka Magica Episodes 5 and 6 – 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Last episode ended with a new magical girl coming to town. Kyouko Sakura fights with a segmented spear, likes sweet things, and is utterly amoral.

She believes that magi are a step up from witches on the food chain, and two steps up from normal humans. She fights for grief seeds, the magic power-boosting artifacts destroyed witches leave behind, and nothing else, indifferent to who gets in the way.

As you can imagine, this gets Sayaka’s hackles up, heir to Mami’s ideals of fighting for justice and the good of the people. So they get into a massive, life or death battle for most of the fifth episode.
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Gosick Episode 6 – Sins of the Mother

How does a mystery show whose characters are far more interesting than its mysteries improve? By making the mysteries be about the characters. Victorique has been the star of the show from its inception, and now her past is getting its due.

This is made all the better by anticipation. It was over two episodes ago that we learned that Victorique is a “gray wolf,” and only now do we begin to learn what the title means, and how the gray wolf fable that first surfaced in the premiere episode relates to a real person—or in this case, people. The thing I love most about serial story telling (which the vast majority of anime at least attempts) is the ability to have a storyline that extends beyond a single episode. Gosick is finally demonstrating what it can do with that format.
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