Weekly Trash Update! 07-08
Day: I… didn’t watch any Valkyrie Drive this week. I’m a failure of a trash blogger! I’m just going to have to binge it when my life is a bit less hectic (I didn’t manage to watch a single episode of anime the week before this one). This season’s been so good that it’s hard to keep up with everything I like, and this time was no different.
Cara: So life majorly got in the way last week (I completely ruined my arm pulling teenagers around a roller-rink at my cousin’s birthday party), so you lucky things get a double dose of trash this week! YAY~!
K: Return of Kings: Episode 9-10
Day: So, first thing’s first – time to admit that I have ceased to have any overarching interest in K. Between the frequent dullness and the increasingly terrible politics, the spark that K held for me in its first season is gone. Having less of a focus on our Silver threesome is part of the problem, as is the fact that Shiro’s not the same character anymore, such that even when we do spend time with the Silvers, its time spent on Kuro and Neko being pretty useless while the ex-Nazi gets to play the sensitive, hard-working savior. Yes, Shiro’s bit about Kuro’s cooking being vital for them is absolutely true, and it’s nice to see that function being recognized as important, but Kuro cooked in the first season but also got to be directly involved in the more active stuff going on. But Neko’s got it even worse – has she done anything other than faffing about this season?
At this point, the only clan that is at all interesting to watch when they sit around and hash things over is JUNGLE. But I even found myself irritated and bored with them in the latest episode given what goes on with Fushimi. Why are they so quick to let him in on major details? They never make any reference to the fact that he’s an ex-member of Scepter Four, which is strange given that they do know it – there couldn’t have been a bounty on his head for members of JUNGLE earlier in the season, after all, if they were unaware. Are they expecting him to leak stuff but simply figure it doesn’t matter since they’re so far along with their plans? More generally, throwing a character I despise into the only group that I found engaging is really annoying. Fushimi’s a pain in the ass, and he isn’t even an intriguing one; so he betrayed two different clans now? Who the hell cares? Dude’s got a rotten personality. Even the ninja woman is more compelling than he is, and we get to see her for all of about five minutes.
Then there’s the underlying political angle being pushed. I’ve written before in these posts about how this season has slowly but surely been pressing a case for fascism over liberalism, while also quietly pretending that Japan’s (and Germany’s) role in that conflict wasn’t something worth paying attention to. The latest episode features Munakata losing his job as the head of Scepter Four, and Kawashima angrily insisting to the prime minister that the government can’t fire him from it. The way this scene is carried out, its clear that the viewers are supposed to see the prime minister as being the bad guy in the equation. Hmm? Really? The civil, democratically-elected government shouldn’t have any say about a security force which draws its budget from the government? It’s starting to smell a bit like 1932 Japan!
On the other hand, though, we’ve now got Shiro proposing to simply destroy the Slates and thereby deprive everyone of the power they possess. This is, of course, the “I”m taking my toys and going home” manner of politics. Distrusting your fellow citizenry so thoroughly that you’d rather deprive yourself of power rather than let them have access to that power doesn’t strike me as a very mature approach, but it is preferable to Munakata’s desire to get the Slates back to re-cloister them (assuming he isn’t planning to utilize them to force his own wishes on the civil government!).
This ideological stuff is interesting to watch unfold on some level, but, truly, if I weren’t blogging this show, I probably would’ve dropped it a few episodes ago. I’ll end on the note that I’ve been pondering for a while if it makes sense to interpret the Kagatsu Incident as a metaphor for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but haven’t come up with anything solid yet.
(*If you’re not sure what I mean here, may I interest you in Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa: A History of Japan? It’s been released in English by Drawn and Quarterly.)
Cara: I only really seem to be enjoying this second season of K when it is being maximum K – like Seri & Kusanagi fighting in an elevator in ep 9 or that extended flashback to this season’s first episode with the Blues Vs the Reds in ep 10. I also enjoy watching Jungle interact because they’re fun characters and shake things up whenever they’re on-screen, but otherwise I’m finding all the talking and politics rather dull. I was really looking forward to seeing the Silver clan interact in this season, but they’ve mostly sat on the sidelines and I don’t think their finally getting a clan name (Hakumaitou…….Kuroh has terrible taste in names) and symbol is going to change things much. It’s a shame, because I think seeing how Kuroh and Neko adapted to this new version of Shiro would have been interesting.
Fushimi’s defection to the Green clan would have been a nice twist if something was actually done with it. Instead we have Fushimi rocket up the ranks during a time-skip and join Nagare’s inner circle with absolutely no bother. You’d think the Green’s would be a little cautious of Fushimi given his history of betrayal and the fact he’s just an unsociable bastard in general…..but nope. The Green’s welcome him to the J-Rank with open arms and treat him like an equal – which seems to be the Green’s whole deal, but it’s still weird given Fushimi hasn’t given anyone any reason to trust him. Maybe there will be another twist were Fushimi is playing spy, but we’ll see.
Munakata’s pity party is in full swing as he loses his job as captain of Sceptre Four and rejects Anna & Shiro’s plan to destroy the Slates, preferring to get control of them back to return to the status quo – the Blue clan has always been about order and control. Anna is concerned that Munakata’s Damocles Sword is on it’s last legs, but Munakata appears rather amused by the situation he’s in – a complete reversal of a year previous when it was Mikoto teetering on the brink. However it doesn’t really seem like Munakata is the type to rely on his clan and is more likely to try to do things alone, so god knows what he’ll attempt with the last of his power.
With Nagare unleashing the full power of the Slates, an unstable Munakata calling off the three Kings alliance and Shiro & Anna planning to destroy the Slates completely, I’d imagine the final episodes of K will be action orientated, which should be a fun watch – just a pity I no longer care much about the plot.
High School Musical Star: Episode 8-9
Day: Cara might be upset that Starmyu opted to make Otori and Hiragi brothers, but the show itself doesn’t seem to take the siblings matter as necessarily meaning they can’t play it up as shipbait. Well… maybe. I genuinely can’t tell if a. the show is teasing it as a ship, or b. the show isn’t teasing it as a ship but I am depraved enough that I automatically interpret it as such. Probably the first option? Anime with large male casts has long ago realized its appeal to BL fans and played to that interest, so it seems unlikely that the folks working on this one couldn’t foresee that part of it’s audience is a-okay with incest ships. The musical number they get together is probably the deal sealer.
Speaking of musical numbers, Hoshitani gets one! And it’s with his senpai, whom he still hasn’t recognized as being the boy who inspired him in the first place! And his senpai is named Otori! WHOA-OA-OA it’s the second coming of Revolutionary Girl Utena, remember, folks? I hope you didn’t forget that since I last shrieked about it (which was, to be fair, at the very start of the show). It might not be quite on par with that effort, but it is a hell of a lot better than that OTHER story which hijacked elements of RGU’s plot (see: Kitchen Princess). Hoshitani and Nayuki would be a very cute and sweet couple, but I’m still pulling for HoshitanixOtori.
The way the show has evolved insofar as everyone being against Team Otori goes has been a bit unexpected. Sure, the garden variety bitchery from other teams was to be expected, as well as scheming by other members of the Kao Council, but to the degree that the team’s been downgraded? This has all gotten rather unsavory! But I just know that our boys will ganbatte it up and overcome this setback.
At this point, I’m kind of hoping for a second season ^^;
Cara: Starmyu is causing me emotional anguish. I didn’t sign up for this when I started the show! The twincest shipping with Hiragi & Otori won’t stop and I’m really finding it difficult to resist falling down that rabbit-hole……there is just so much delicious angst in that relationship and it is all sorts of my kind of thing! Just look at that duet in episode 9 (actually just episode 9 in general) – the two are so protective of each other, but creative differences and family pressure gets in the way of their ability to stand together. Why are you doing this to me Starmyu!?
Anyway, aside from the emotional rollercoaster that is Hiragi & Otori, episode 8 dealing with Team Otori’s terrible brainstorming abilities was pretty fun. The musical number wasn’t the strongest, but I enjoyed the awful ideas they kept coming up with (especially when trying to work in Kuga’s motorbike and crossdressing Tengenji), which makes the fact that the dicks on the Kao Council working to undermine their hard work all the more upsetting. Team Otori were always the underdogs, but having the Kao Council sabotage a bunch of first years simply because they’re bitter about Otori leaving their Star Team back in the day, is a bit petty.
But yeah, Starmyu continues to be one of my favourites this season and constantly surprises me with how good it can be. Just stop messing with my emotions…..thanks.
Cara’s current Starmyu character ranking: Tengenji > Nayuki > Otori > Hiragi > Kuga > Kaito > Hoshitani > Inumine > Tsukigami-senpai >Nayuki’s sisters > Purple’s Playboy friend > Tatsumi > rest of Team Hiragi > Rest of Kao Council > Akatsuki
Dance With Devils: Episode 8-9
Day: Dance with Devils is a contender for my top ten anime of the year, and with these episodes, that sentiment has only gotten stronger. As much as I’ve enjoyed the cheesefest of Utapri over the years, I think this is the best otome adaptation (yeah, yeah, the game isn’t made yet, but Rejet created the idea of Dance with Devils with the explicit intent to make a game of it) anime has thus far offered. Giving the whole thing a genuine plot is a big advantage, but so has been making its heroine have a personality and some agency. And while several of the guys on offer are terrible, by making it all ultimately a choice between only two contenders, it’s pretty easy to look past most of the garbage boys (fallen angel boy, the pomeranian, spider boy). Of course, one of the awful guys is one of the primary contenders (boo), but that does mean one remains invested in the resolution of the romantic possibilities.
The musical scenes in these episodes were great. Looking back at the show so far, the only musical scene that really wasn’t great was Rem’s initial, so while I’m tempted to declare these the best so far, I’m a little hesitant to. I suppose when it’s all over, I’ll go back and re-watch them so I can determine which is the best. That being said, I am planning to use a cap of the one with Rem and Ritsuka petting a unicorn as a header on my blog next spring. (Meanwhile, Rem and Lindo’s sing-off managed to for a moment make me wonder about BL shipping; maybe it is a testament to how thoroughly I hate Lindo that I instantly discarded the notion.)
That the show killed someone off was genuinely surprising to me. In anime I often am suspicious of deaths of characters, given the propensity to resurrect, but this one seemed pretty final. We saw the body, the body was abandoned, and then other characters came along to sneer at the body, all of which seems pretty conclusive.
I was surprised, too, that Lindo was aware all along that he’s a half-vampire. What the fuck, Lindo, maybe learn from past experience that hiding stuff from your “sister” just makes things work? Also, creepo, way to make a move on Ritsuka RIGHT after you’ve revealed to her that you’re not her brother. That is some ii timingu, right there! Pressing your case to someone who spent her entire life thinking that you two were siblings is a fantastic idea and couldn’t possibly backfire. Ugh, I hate you.
Criticism time! Why can’t Ritsuka utilize the grimoire herself? So she can remain as someone who can’t truly defend her own self? I would’ve preferred that it had begun that way, but that she slowly became capable of wielding even a little bit of its power.
Cara: These two episodes were great and I was once again surprised by this show – I never imagined someone would properly die in this reverse harem musical series about devils & vampires! That came out of nowhere in episode 8, which was hysterical up to that point (the overprotective exorcists, the rejected devils fleeing their legions of fangirls, the outfits for the ball, Ritsuka & Rem’s duet filled with pastel pink unicorns, rainbows & frolicking in the clouds!), I wasn’t expecting such an abrupt swing in the mood. And considering Lindo (the prick) just abandoned her body down that alley and ran off to hide out in the exorcist HQ, I think we can safely say she is properly dead.
Speaking of Lindo, we get confirmation that he’s a dhampir this week, which was expected, but I didn’t think that he’d have been fully aware of that himself since early childhood! Lindo would have been an interesting character considering his super angsty past (we all know I love an angsty bishie), if it wasn’t for his repellent personality and the way he’s so possessive of Ritsuka. He continues to rack up negative points when he dropped the bombshell of ‘we’re actually cousins, not siblings’ on Ritsuka this week, and follows it up with ‘I’m in love with you’ coupled with an attempt to kiss the poor confused girl. Lindo definitely worst boy.
Lindo & Rem’s sing-off battle was a pretty great number too – in general the musical interludes in Dance with Devils have all been pretty great, which is one of my favourite things about the show. I’m super hyped for the rest of this series, what an unexpected gem it has been!
Seraph of the End S2: Episode 8-9
Cara: Now this is more like it! Seraph of the End is back to being as dumb as bricks, and I’m enjoying it much, much more as a result. Yuu is truly a terrible protagonist and he literally dies of stupidity (don’t worry, he gets better) in these episodes, after spending most of the time whining about Guren ordering them to abandon him. Yuu acts like the only wounded party, even though Shinya (Guren’s significant other) and Guren’s team are there, and clearly just as upset about the idea of leaving Guren in Crowley’s hands. But yeah, Yuu died of stupidity – heart explodes and all – yet somehow manages to not die, “You died, but you’re not dead” Ashuramaru tells him, before going on to say something about angels & trumpets being bad. Yeap. Everything sure makes much more sense now.
So yeah, Yuu comes back to life with an added power-up and still gets his arse handed to him by Crowley (experience + power >>> power + stupidity), and once again has to be saved by his team-mates……although why they couldn’t have grabbed Guren at the same time is a mystery. Cue the return of Mika and his desperate fight to get his unconscious Yuu-chan back! Mika’s fight to get to Yuu was actually pretty awesome – the animation was excellent and Mika’s desperation was just wonderful……MikaYuu is so real. Seeing Mika’s confusion when Shinoa & co move to shield him from the other soldiers was pretty cute – Mika’s been fighting alone for so long he can’t really fathom the idea that other people may actually care about getting him and Yuu back together. Seraph is super entertaining when it tries!