Monday, July 22, 2013

Spring Simulcast: Week 11

Arata, the Legend, Episode 8:

Arata is having some trouble adjusting to certain aspects of Hinohara's life, mostly how to interact with his mother and Kadowaki. As Arata tries to sort out Hinohara's life, Hinohara is trying to gather information from Kannagi about the other Shinsho. Kannagi expresses worries about the six sho, whose faces he has never seen but seem to be working together to achieve a mysterious goal. To defeat Hinohara's Tsukuyo, they have one of their own switch places with Kadowaki in order to summon the Hayagami of hatred, Orochi.

Finally an episode that focuses on Arata in Japan. Kadowaki, in particular gets more fleshed out, by showing his troubled relationship with his father. He's not a sympathetic character, but I get why he has such huge anger issues. The six sho are clearly using him, and he knows it but doesn't care. His overwhelming hatred for Hinohara, who he sees as a scapegoat for everything that's gone wrong in his life makes him a compelling antagonist. There was also an excellent subplot about Arata not knowing how to treat Hinohara's mother, since he doesn't have parents of his own back home. Episode rating: 9/10.

Arata, The Legend is currently available on crunchyroll.

Karneval, Episode 10:

Tsukumo is found poisoned and set afloat in a boat filled with rose petals. With both her and Yogi still recovering from their various ordeals, Nai and Gareki are temporarily transferred to Airship One. The pair is accompanies Team One on a mission to a nearby nature preserve to investigate the mysterious deaths of several poachers. The captain of Airship One explains to Gareki how the Circus bracelets work, using the cells of endangered animals. Yogi shows up to help them battle an out of control Varuga, and afterwards they head back to Airship Two with Jiki, one of the Team One fighters, transferring with them for the time being.

I wasn't as bored with this episode as some of the other fluff breaks. There was some good exposition, although I thought the explanation of the powers really should have come earlier in the series. It was nice to see how the other Circus group operates. But overall I'm still losing interest in Karneval. The show has a lot of good ideas, but it's never as funny or as focused on the plot as I want it to be. Episode rating: 7/10.

Karneval is currently available on hulu.

Red Data Girl, Episode 11:

The mock battle starts, and Mayura's team starts out with a rash of bad luck. Miyuki warns Izumiko to stay out of the conflict, but she ends up being hypnotized by Takayanagi to force her to switch sides. She manages to break his hold on her, however she reveals the extent of her powers and becomes distraught. Meanwhile Mayura asks Miyuki to pretend to be her fiance to appease her family.

This episode is very cleverly set up. Towards the beginning Izumiko is able to use a cell phone for the first time which in her mind represents the normalcy she so desperately craves. It's a little moment that pays off really well when she goes berserk on Takayanagi, because she immediately feels like she's lost what little progress she's made. For someone who's been trying desperately to change her reaction makes sense, and unfortunately looks like it will only cause her powers to spiral further out of control. The only major downside to this episode is that I still feel like I don't fully understand the rules of the World Heritage competition. It could just be that I don't know very much about Shinto traditions, or some other cultural disconnect. Overall I consider it a minor problem since the characters and their relationships are so compelling. Episode rating: 9.5/10.

Red Data Girl is currently available on hulu.

Devil Survivor 2, Episode 10:

In order to stop the sixth septentrion Io must act as a vessel for a godlike demon, Lugh, and it will cost her life. Naturally, Hibiki is outraged that Yamato is coldly trying to sacrifice his friend. After Io's mind collapses Yamato tells Hibiki to kill her before she destroys them all. Instead Hibiki taps into some kind of magic and saves Io, but his new powers leave him half dead.

The last few episodes have shifted the focus from the actual fights with the septentrion, to how everyone in the fight reacts to Yamato's increasingly troubling actions. I really like that the question has become not whether or not JP's will survive, but what kind of world will be created by their decisions. Alcor is quickly becoming my favorite character, there's a great little scene where he makes the group breakfast that just made smile. I do wish that Io had been given more time to react to the news that she has to sacrifice herself. What I really liked about the first few episodes was that characters were given some breathing room to process their emotions. The main source of the pacing problems seems to be that the show only has 13 episodes to tell this story, when it would really benefit from having twice that amount to really flesh out the world and characters. Episode rating: 8/10.

Devil Survivor 2 is currently available on crunchyroll.

Devil is a Part-Timer!, Episode 11:

Suzuno reflects back on her time as the inquisition's assassin back on Ente Isla. She's being pressured by her superiors to fulfill her duties and kill Sadao. Unable to come up with an excuse to resist, she informs Emi and Chiho of her plans. They both argue with her, but she decides to go forward anyway joining forces with the KFC manager who turns out to be an angel with the power to neutralize Emi's abilities.

I like Suzuno a lot more now that I've seen a bit of her back story. It's clear that she was trained to kill and not to think for herself. This is why she has so much trouble adapting to her new environment and why she is so confused by Emi's actions. There's also a great scene where the whole group sorts out a huge delivery of souvenirs that their landlady wants them to sell at an upcoming summer bazaar. It's always great to see the whole group interact and have some fun bouncing off each other. Episode rating: 10/10.

The Devil is a Part-Timer! is currently available on hulu.
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