Week 9 impressions

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu S2

Koro-sensei saw right through me. I’m not the hero of my own life. I’m in round two of the ‘Mom’ RPG.

– Nagisa on how life can be summed up with an RPG

With Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, you need to be able to suspend some disbelief to get over the idea of middle school kids being trained as assassins, or the possibility of a tentacle monster threatening to destroy the Earth while posing as a middle school teacher. Those are the restrictions that Ansatsu Kyoushitsu set up for its universe, and anything can be credible as long as it stays within the show’s logical confines. So while it makes sense that a 15-year-old boy can incapacitate an adult (and presumably experienced) assassin, it doesn’t make sense for someone to get away with kidnapping and attempted arson. I’m glad that Nagisa got some much-deserved screentime that traced his effeminate appearance and genteel personality back to his upbringing, but everything about her, from her facial expressions to (possibly) bipolar personality and criminal actions, was so outrageously over-the-top that it overshadowed everything satisfying about this episode. Their broken relationship wasn’t just due to persistent miscommunication between mother and son — Shiota Hiromi is emotionally abusive and psychologically ill parent who DRUGGED her own child so she could force him into BURNING down his own school. No, Koro-sensei, that is a relationship cannot be solved by open-minded communication; it’s something that needs counselling and lawful intervention. I got where Ansatsu Kyoushitsu was trying to go with Hiromi’s character, but parental abuse and mental illness are things that should not be portrayed just for spectacle, and seeing Hiromi not being given the due consequences for her actions struck a blow against the credibility of this usually smart and intuitive anime.

Other random thoughts:

  • So how does Nagisa’s father not step in to prevent his wife’s continued abuse?
  • Being a nurse or a maid really shouldn’t be considered solely feminine, and by extension, second-class professions.
  • Nice getting some insight into Karma and (rather arbitrarily) Nakamura Rio’s aspirations, even if Rio’s entire backstory was essentially info-dumped for speed and convenience.
  • Also, I like that Nagisa is self-aware enough to recognize his talent for stealth and assassination.
  • Irina decided to wear off-the-rack clothes and all the boys’ noses subsequently exploded.

Musaigen no Phantom World

This is all I’ve been doing since that monkey.

– Mai is so over this nonsense

So my decision to no longer hold expectations for Phantom World turned out to be a wise decision. Phantom World managed to fall short of last week’s absurdity, but it was still stubbornly focused on levity without much thought for anything substantial, story-wise or character-wise. It’s as though Phantom World heard my gripes about the thematic obtuseness of its early episodes and completely stopped bothering with anything meaningful or consequential. Phantom World will possibly run longer than just a single cour, which would at least make its current frivolities less transgressive in the long run, but still doesn’t excuse its current string of flops. The animation remains strong and the comedy is at least minimally amusing (albeit only for its sheer inanity), but at some point Phantom World really needs to pull up its pants and give us something to care about.

Other random thoughts:

  • Is it too much of me to expect  an explanation as to why Kurumi-chan was not attending her school, but showed up to get inexplicably dragged to whatever farce Haruhiko and gang got themselves into this week?
  • But I love Albrecht and his crazy jujitsu skills. He can show up every week as far as I’m concerned.
  • Why would a Phantom knowingly go to the Phantom Slaying Club for help?
  • How do the members of the Phantom Slaying Club know how to act or even set up staging equipment??
  • Out of all the Phantom fighters, why was Kurumi-chan the one handling a firearm???

HaruChika

Being a high school student is his assumed identity. Actually, he’s a famous detective with the little grey cells. Along with the bumbling detective with the rose-colored brain cells, I’ll leave them both to you, like a hamburger meal set.

– Katagiri’s decription of Haruta and Chika is the best of all time

HaruChika’s mysteries have been very hit-or-miss, but this episode mystery was its best since the sixth episode. For one, I was already invested when Kusakabe-sensei collapsed within thirty seconds of the episode, which made me care about the week’s mystery more than I usually would. The mystery was low-key enough to be solved within 15 minutes of the episode’s runtime, but also smart enough with it step-by-step deduction to keep viewers guessing until the solution’s reveal. Similar to when Naoko was first introduced in episode six, HaruChika’s decision to focus on Sakai-sensei’s voluntary suspension, rather than the conundrum of Asmodeus, hit all the right emotional notes by the episode’s climax. Haruta is still an attention-loving drama king, but he’s now at least able to show off his smarts without coming across as an obnoxious know-it-all. But HaruChika’s off-the-wall comedy remains its greatest strength, and by off-the-wall comedy I mean Chika, who continues to steal every scene she’s in with her constantly peppy personality.

Other random thoughts:

  • Haruta and Chika’s dynamic never fails to amuse, especially whenever she gives him a swift kick up his bum.
  • “Bring the gorilla’s head!” – Haruta terrifically pissy reaction after learning that his beloved Kusakabe-sensei had been spread too thin due to Sakai-sensei’s suspension.
  • Fujigasaki High School is so fancy that it has traditional paintings hanging in its main hallway.
  • The Peeping Tom turning out to be a Peeping Jane was a nice twist on the usual creepy-dude-with-a-camera trope.
  • Kaiyu has an unnatural attachment to his drumsticks. He must also have seriously deep pockets to always be able to carry them around with him.
  • Perhaps I’m ignorant of some Japanese teaching norms, but a teacher having a tattoo in an unexposed part of her body doesn’t seem like a very big deal. Was it really something worth getting suspended or fired over?

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime S2

That man is free tonight.

– Kiki basically saying that she doesn’t give a damn

Perhaps I’d gotten accustomed to the suspense that Akagami no Shirayuki-hime had been inhabiting with its past few episodes, but I was definitely on edge the moment Trow strutted into that inn. But of course, the episode’s climax wasn’t remotely dramatic, and was the moment I realized that we were officially back to the free-and-easy pace of the first season. It’s not a bad place to be; we got some nice little character moments from everyone, even as Obi was the real focus of the episode. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime’s first season was defined by its subtle storytelling, and this episode was no different — we learned a lot about Obi’s past and current mindset, even though we still  know very little about his life before he came under Lord Haruka’s employment. Obi’s always been a lone wolf, but he realizes for the first time that being a lone wolf isn’t going to gain any favors from comrades who genuinely care for him. I like Trow a lot as well — she’s like a more reckless version of Obi, if such a thing was possible — and I particularly enjoyed how effectively her motives were misdirected, like when she eyed both Shirayuki and Obi in the episode’s opening scene. Shirayuki and her apple-red hair have been the center of all kinds of trouble for the better part of two seasons; who would have expected that Obi was the real center of Trow’s attention? This was a vintage episode of Akagami no Shirayuki-hime: where nothing much happened but we still learned new things about our favorite characters.

Other random thoughts:

  • Zen and Shirayuki continue to be innocently and frustratingly coy about their relationship. At some point they’re going to have to be able to hold hands for longer than ten seconds.
  • Akagami no Shirayuki-hime somehow managed to use a bathhouse scene to deliver subtle moments of character development.
  • Mitushide’s priority in life is Zen’s well-being. Obi’s priority in life in also Zen’s well-being. We’ll have Kiki to thank if Mitsuhide x Obi actually materializes.
  • Kiki is the team’s calm and observant mother figure who doesn’t seem to know the meaning of flustered. Do I want to see Kiki show a more vulnerable side to personality? Absolutely. But I appreciate Akagami no Shirayuki-hime having an unflappable and level-headed female character who isn’t the token tsundere of the show.

Durarara!! X2 Ketsu

What’s this? I have no idea what’s going on here. How am I supposed to take this? How am I supposed to interpret this? What the hell am I supposed to do?

– Akabayashi is as confused as the rest of us

Zombies are gathering, superhumans are battling, and gang leaders are drawing their swords; it’s all happening in this latest episode of Durarara!! This is starting to feel like 24: everything that’s taken place in the last few episodes has happened within the past few hours of Durarara!!’s universe. On the plus side, these protracted plot threads have worked wonders for a suspenseful set-up, though I’m still not confident that it’ll be able to completely stick landing. But on the minus side — and this is a complaint that isn’t remotely original — there are so very many characters and still so very many unanswered questions. At its best, Durarara!! can effortlessly meld character growth with overarching plot, but lately it’s been more plot than character, with barely a moment to breathe before another block of wood is thrown on to the tower of wobbling storylines. Which was why the flashbacks to Shinra, Izaya, and Shizuo’s high school days have been a welcome reprieve. It’s no secret that there’s never been love lost between Izaya and Shizuo, but Shinra was the original conspirator that brought them together, and Shinra is the one person who knows both of them the best. His analysis of Izaya’s sociopathic tendencies was pretty spot-on: Izaya “loves” humans because he doesn’t want to feel the emotions that humans feel. So he toys with them instead, like a little girl with her dolls, but Shizuo is an exception. Shizuo refuses to be one of Izaya’s dolls, and so to Izaya, who would rather his humans stay delicate puppets, Shizuo is a monster, an invincible aberration amidst beautiful fragility of Izaya’s humankind, and something that Izaya had made his goal to destroy.

Other random thoughts:

  • Kasane’s definitely taken a backseat to the action since I proclaimed her Durarara!!’s trump card a few episodes back.
  • A Kasane-centric episode is also way overdue. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given that she was only introduced at the end of Ten.
  • I’m very certain that things aren’t going to end well for Hayashi.
  • Why is Shijima even with Hayashi in the first place?
  • I’m still surprised at how few people know that Anri is a Saika wielder. Just how many misunderstandings could have been avoided if she, Masaomi, and Mikado had been honest with each other way back in the first season?
  • Hell hath no fury like a teenage girl with a creepy shark backpack.
  • I almost thought that Shizuo was a goner, but Celty jumped in and saved his life, possibly indicating that her memory loss isn’t as irreversible everyone thought it would be.
  • I’ve been over mopey Masaomi for a while now, so it was nice seeing him striking up a fun rapport with Chikage.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s