There comes a time in a blogger’s career when he must stuff a pipe, light it, and let nicotine act as his muse. At least, that’s how I feel as I sit down to write this mid-season review. Now, my list contains seven shows–the seventh being the formerly dropped Girls’ Last Tour. (That’s a much easier title to remember than Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou.) Not much happens plotwise in this show, but I think that I’ve discovered its thematic plot now that I’m four episodes in. (Yes, I’ve not quite caught up; but, I want to get my thoughts down now before I start procrastinating.) By the way, let me thank Gaheret for submitting a query through “Ask Medieval.” I hope to post my reply to him soon–as soon as I write that article for Beneath the Tangles.
At any rate, let’s begin those reviews!
1) Girls’ Last Tour
Yes, it appears that I dropped this show too soon. It does get more interesting after episode one, even if the episodes remain slow. The fact that the characters are not boys (Does this not seem the perfect setting for a boys’ adventure tale?) does not bother me as much anymore. More bothersome to me now is the heroines continually wearing those helmets in freezing weather. People often marvel that knights kept their armor on in the frigid campaigns against the Baltic pagans and the arid crusades against the Saracens. A helmet magnifies the cold in the same way as medieval armor! In reality, out heroines would both have stowed their helmets away long ago. Can’t we get a slice of realism with our moé?
Anyway, let me describe the thematic plot I’ve discerned after four episodes. To a large degree, I owe the information on the author’s background given to me by the commentator David A for the following conclusion. In short, the mangaka producing Girls’ Last Tour suffers from depression. The world of Girls’ Last Tour–bleak, cold, and lifeless as it is–represents the inner world of the mangaka. The journey of the two heroines across this bleak landscape symbolizes life’s journey. Why should one endure all this suffering and emptiness? Episode four introduces the idea of religion at the end of life, even as episode three posed the idea of one’s career giving meaning to life. All of the episodes so far have the underlying idea of friendship, though we see the mapmaker in episode three rejecting community for continuing his work. One has to wonder whether the story will come up with a definitive answer or whether we will be left to wonder for ourselves.
2) Dies Irae
The best show of the season featuring immortal super-Nazis–and likely the only such show, for that matter. Several things work in Dies Irae‘s favor. I love the dark, mysterious ambiance and the hero who essentially must bear the weight of the world on his shoulders: he’s the only one standing between his friends and the fiendish Nazi threat! The show combines motifs found in both Hellsing and Fate/Stay Night, which must have been major influences on the original creator.
The selection of Reinhard Heydrich as the most evil of the immortal Nazis is pretty interesting. For those of you unfamiliar with this SS officer, he was so great a villain that Adolf Hitler called him “the man with the iron heart.” One of the main architects of the Final Solution, he was assassinated on June 4, 1942. In reprisal, the Czech villages of Lidice and Lezaky were massacred. A most evil villain indeed!
3) Kino’s Journey
Kino’s Journey does what Kino’s Journey does best: present little scenarios which question ideas we take for granted. Whether it’s the validity of a nation’s borders, the need for laws against murder, or one’s attachment to the country of one’s birth, Kino’s Journey never fails to present these things in a new light.
In a nutshell, that’s what makes Kino’s Journey fun to watch. Of course, Kino is a very intriguing character herself. She does not fit into the standard hero stereotypes. How often do we meet a “spectator hero” in anime? (Watashi in Humanity Has Declined is the only one coming to mind now.) I find myself preferring the old Kino’s Journey over the new one so far, despite this one having better animation and my second favorite opening song of this season–followed by Girls’ Last Tour‘s opening.
By the way, if you like Kino’s Journey, I heartily recommend Galaxy Express 999; though, the antiquated animation might be off-putting to many of my dear readers.
4) Recovery of an MMO Junkie (aka Net-juu no Susume)
If you were curious about which show has my favorite opening song, it’s from Recovery of an MMO Junkie. A good opening song needs to have a catchy melody and beautiful music which marries well with the animation framing the story or the mood. “Saturday Night Question” accomplishes all of these things. The story concerns a loner coming out of isolation in order to find life, love, and liberty. One of the problems of modernity is lack of community. The more prosperous a society becomes, the less social. The Japanese feel this problem more keenly than most and do a great job of telling stories which have a loner as the central character.
Recovery of an MMO Junkie stands as no exception. Mamiko Noto does a superb job of voicing the heroine, Moriko Morioka. The hero has an interesting set of personal problems which place barriers in front of the budding romance between him and Moriko. Essentially, he lets the good things in life go by him lest he intrude on other people’s feelings. “The good things in life” now includes Moriko herself, and there is enough dysfunction present for the viewer to wonder whether the romance will end happily.
5) Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara
Here’s a very pleasant show. Having a husband and wife as the main protagonists is pretty rare. As far as I can recall, only Godannar, Please Teacher, I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying, and this show have two protagonists married to each other from early on. (By the way, I can’t say that I recommend the first two of these shows.)
Pleasant adequately describes this anime. It’s not too funny, and many of the scenes become sappy. Still, it makes for an amusing short.
6) Code: Realize -Guardian of Rebirth-
Here we have a turn of the twentieth century reverse harem which borrows public domain literary heroes for its characters. It reminds me a lot of Neo Angelique Abyss for the reverse harem (God knows why I watched as many episodes of that as I did) and a little of Dantalian no Shouka because of the setting. This is one of those shows I can’t say much for or against. It’s enjoyable enough, but with nothing special–like vanilla ice cream.
7) Blood Blockade Battlefront and Beyond
Let’s end this article on a high note! The sequel to the original season has all the action and great characters of the first season. If only they could develop some high story and deliver a fantastic ending. But, I cannot discern a theme joining the first seven episodes together. The opening song, with its denial of God, even seems to indicate that our protagonists dwell in a different universe from the prior season.
So far, the second season strikes me as an anime where the author wants to show off his skill without giving his story higher meaning. This is fine: anime like Devil May Cry are all fun and good. But, I was hoping for more!
How are my dear readers enjoying the above shows? What are your favorites from this new season? Perhaps, I’ll repace Code: Realize with one of yours. 🙂