I was knocked out with a cold this last week, huddled under blankets and slurping chicken cup noodles, so this will be a pretty short post (for me at least). That also means no MHA this week, since I wasn’t working for it. Funnily enough, anime also took a bit of a rest this week with set up episodes for Magus Bride and Sorayori. I managed to fill in the nap gaps with some idol boys, so it wasn’t a complete loss.
Anime is great!
Darling in the FRANXX (6)
I know everyone is all about the Eva references in this show, but can we talk about MuvLuv? They are literally fighting the Beta this episode. Luckily neither Hiro nor 002 get brutally killed this time, but it comes awfully close. Squad 26 handles the small fry with teamwork, but their strategy takes 5 FRANXX to kill a handful of small enemies. Squad 13 made be ridiculously sloppy, but they can take out the little guys one-on-one much more efficiently. The series doesn’t outright decry teamwork, but it certainly doesn’t hold it up as the best strategy in all situations. Eventually the beta, revealed to be a humanoid Gutenberg class klaxosaur, is upon them and squad 26 is down. Not sure what deeper meaning their is to the humanoid form or the printing press reference at this point. Squad 13 finally gets their act together, giving Hiro and 002 a chance to attack. They don’t quite get the job done, but Hiro checks out. He had convinced himself that just this one success was enough to prove his worth. Fighting and dying was all he knew to do with his life, so why not die now, having fought in the best unit and killed the toughest enemy? He is knocked back from the brink just in time to see 002 struggling alone. She wasn’t going to give up just because she lost her partner. She doesn’t cry over his body, she reverts to tiger mech form and struggles with everything she has. She isn’t the beautiful temptress here, she is a desperate girl struggling to fight humanity’s biggest enemy all on her own. Hiro gets inspired to fight for her specifically and they win the day via a death star path created by the team. Why he was able to overcome the blue slime death is still a mystery, as is why it affects her partner’s in the first place. However, he has seen her in a raw state and embraced her rather than running away. That has to mean something.
A Place Further than the Universe (7)
This expedition has a lot of problems. The are undermanned, under-supplied, and even the crew members aren’t confident about their plans. We haven’t really felt the cost of this yet, but it does make it a little easier to accept that the mission was sloppy enough to allow 4 teenage girls to waltz their way on board. They have the room, and anyone that can haul a couple of crates can be useful. Combined with their internet reporting shtick, they are setting up lots of good excuses for why the girls will get to participate in the cool things shown in the op. However, it does make it hard to understand why everyone else on the crew is going along with it. Turns out the point of this mission is to build an observatory, to see the sky painted on Shirase’s bunk by her mother. This is something that is already being done by the much more well equipped and modern government base. So why are they doing it? This is too expensive and dangerous a task to just do for the heck of it, despite the high school girl’s attitude. The cost of injecting this drama into your show is that it needs to be felt and addressed by the older crew members. The girls can get away with it because they are just kids, but the adults have grown up and seen first hand the possible cost of these missions in the loss of their friend and Shirase’s mother. Come on Todo, give us some real reasons.
Laid-Back Camp (7)
Rin’s style of camping has always been different from Nadeshiko’s and the Outclub’s, but they came together this week, giving Nadeshiko the chance to peacefully absorb the beauty around her and Rin the chance to bounce her quiet comedy off of another person. The old ladies bit the girls put on is cute and executed well, including the light punchline of Nadeshiko not correcting the campers that think she is in middle school because its nice to be thought of as young. Nadeshiko wouldn’t be that subtle with the other girls, because loud, obvious comedy works in that circle, so its refreshing for her to act a little differently around Rin. Not everything works so well. I was hoping for the narrator to shut up once Rin had someone to explain things to, but he sticks around for a lame fourth wall joke. We also get a pretty predictable boozed up camper ends up being the ghost bit, but it ends cutely enough with Rin finding comfort in Nadeshiko’s presence. I might have reacted more negatively to that than most due to bad experiences camping at crappy sites with in-laws doing nothing but drinking. I camp to explore, hike, enjoy nature, and do outdoorsy stuff, much like Rin. Not saying that you can’t enjoy a few drinks, but as this series shows, there is a lot to enjoy about camping while completely sober.
Ancient Magus Bride (19)
This week was mostly buildup for the next arc. We expand the cast a little further, introducing two boys from the college. Despite Elias’ objections, Chise’s world is expanding. He didn’t see a need for her to ever know about the college, but because she has become an important person in this magical community, their paths cross. Not only is she growing her community, she is also getting stronger when dealing with Elias. When she blackmailed him about his rude (understatement) behavior towards him to get him to agree to help the group save the dragon, I was proud of how far she had come. The old Chise would have rolled over at Elias’ whim, but she is focused on her own goals, which includes keeping him happy but certainly isn’t limited to that. When they return to the auction house where this all began, even the man who helped broker her sale comments on how much she has changed even as he hands her the money she earned for selling herself. As the auction explodes with the dragon’s escape, Chise is caught up in the dragon’s emotions. Chise is discovering new abilities all the time, but being an empath could be especially difficult for her. She has just begun to be able to express her own emotions, rather than suppressing everything. I’m nervous to find out just what Joseph did the turn the goofy little dragon into this traumatized monster.
Anime is Ok
After the disappointment of Idolm@ster Side M, I wasn’t chopping at the bit to start yet another boy idol show. To my surprise, Idolish7 has already been stronger than that show, despite having some of the same flaws. The series jokes about having too many boys, but sticks with a 7 man team regardless. The framing on this is odd, because as the manager, Tsumugi, is describing the assets each member would bring to the team, some boys, like Tamaki and Riku, clearly have more potential than others. While at the time it just seems like poor business practice, that choice is paying off with dramatic stakes. In the Idolm@ster, several characters underwent dramatic arcs based on their competition with other girls within the group. Now that these boys have gotten a taste of popularity, the gaps between them are already widening, and they are having to deal with the consequences. The business side of the series is also surprisingly compelling. When Tamaki and Sogo are given offers by a rival company to debut as a duo, their president decides to push their debut ahead of the rest of the group. Rather than completely reject this based on friendship, the others will deal with it, pushing themselves to be able to debut early too. Unfortunately for them, their spirit doesn’t win out. Tsumugi co-managing with Iori has transformed him from an insufferable prick to someone that will actually help his fellow idols. He is driven by assignment and organization, not smiles or some other wishy-washy idol thing, so giving him this role gives him a reason to work for the growth of the others. While he uses his jerkiness for good in keeping Riku away from a tramatic reunion, it also distracts him from his actual role as a member of the unit, leading to him basically destroy their big live show. Their popularity takes a hit and Tamaki and Sogo are set to leave them behind. Sure, their is a comradery between the boys, and they love performing together, but they are actually thinking pragmatically like the business the idol industry is.
I can’t decide if Yuzu is mature or not. She straight up asks Mei about the meaning of their kiss, but she buys the lame excuse that lesbians don’t exist apparently despite that being false and Mei’s body language screaming otherwise. After this rejection, Yuzu is reunited with surrogate little sister, and current compensated dater, Matsuri to Harumi’s comments about how she charges forward and adapts to win the game. We then proceed to watch her charge her way back into Yuzu’s life, immediately pick up on Yuzu’s crush on her new little sister Mei (causing the most amazing spit take), and adapt to this turn by cashing in her former little sister cred to kiss Yuzu in front of Mei without Yuzu ever realizing. The two-timing misunderstanding is a tired trope, but Mei’s warped understanding of sexual interactions pushes it a little farther than usual, with her coming onto Yuzu after she gets home. How much of this is based on a gross misunderstanding of what is normal for sisters versus a desire to force herself into the forefront of Yuzu’s sexual thoughts? The sister’s thing was just a flimsy excuse for the girls to have to share a bed. If they are going to push it as the actual titillating aspect of either relationship, I’m not into that. Yuzu also can’t make her mind up on this, writing off her kiss with Matsuri because the girl was like a sister to her, but also saying, much to calmly, that sisters don’t act that way with one another. Watch yourself Citrus. Couching the yuri in an incest fetish needs to stay an easily forgettable detail, not the reason these girls think they have a right to be lewd with Yuzu.