Gatchaman Crowds episodes 4-6

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Saying that there’s a science as to why this series works seems like I’m selling it short. Yes, this series does work and there is ONE PRIMARY REASON for that (hint: she’s not in the picture for this post), but this series has so many other things going for it that just relying on Hajime’s strength is not enough and it goes deeper into the well for it’s surprisingly compelling story.

GALAX’s creator, LOAD, is being haunted by Berg Katze, a mysterious alien being who’s taking people’s identities and framing them for catastrophes that LOAD made a faustian pact with (at least I believe it’s faustian) to create GALAX. LOAD’s increasing paranoia is only outweighed by his increasing idealism for GALAX. The gatchaman team’s sole encounter with Berg was a bust and they’re off duty since there is a distressing lack of hostile activity and the team refuses to act just for natural occurrences. That’s when Hajime makes a very rash decision…

LOAD is the primary character this block, in case you couldn’t tell. Where the first three episodes followed Hajime as she became a gatchaman and dealt with her teammates’ way of doing things (fighting an alien species that literally meant no harm), this one is primarily LOAD’s paranoia. He may not have the scene-stealing charisma and obnoxious optimism of Hajime, but he is a compellingly tragic figure: an idealist whose creation has morphed into something he cannot sustain. He doesn’t want the gatchamen to be active because of his belief that everyone can act as a hero anonymously (What’s that other ANONYMOUS group that acts similarly? Oh yeah, the Dollars.). Oh, and Berg Katze is creepy.

With this block, the show has revealed it’s hidden depth. The show is very relevant and the update to the concept meshes very well with it (I have not seen the original, but I may never get to it: most anime pre-Mobile Suit Gundam is unwatchable to me). I expect great things out of the bottom half.

Kill La Kill episode 5

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This show never stops being weird, but at least the weirdness has gone down to Adventure Time levels: everything’s weird, but it all creates a context that you can understand. Also, like Adventure Time, there are small clues brought up as near-asides by people (I’m going to assume that Satsuki is not the main villian, but her mother will). Still, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a weird, weird episode.

Ryuko is feeling confident inside Senketsu, so much so that he even admits that she needs to watch herself. Unfortunately, the newest threat is not coming from Satsuki’s command: it’s Tsumugu, a sniper working for the anti-uniform forces who is after Ryuko because he feels like the Senketsu will turn her into a worse monster than Satsuki and he plans to capture and destroy it.

Yeah, so, this episode was weird. Oh, the clubs going after Ryuko was weird, but Tsumugu is also a weird character (considering that he works with THAT TEACHER, it’s unsurprising). The whole of the episode is basically a story of “see what happens when you push it too far?” He actually doesn’t see what Ryuko sees and is going by an incident he witnessed several years ago (see also: my guess from earlier could be what this alludes to). It is really good and, despite being almost as weird as last episode, it’s much easier to take in. I just hope that something happens with the four generals of the academy, since they were built up as such as entertaining-looking group of misfits.

Gatchaman Crowds episodes 1-3

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Holy shit! In this year of anime which gave us series like Attack On Titan (EVERYONE WILL DIE!!!), Watamote (Everyone is shit, but I want to be them), Kill La Kill (School is hell and it will be the death of you), C3 (K-On with guns), Free! (Beneath the fujoshi-bait is the most blatant attack on KyoAni’s fanbase in existance), Kotoura-San (Psychic powers will turn you into a miserable wreck), Blood Lad (When you finally get what you want, it’s gone and you’ll obsess over getting it back), and Day Break Illusion (The Madoka rip-off NO ONE was asking for!), Gatchaman Crowds seems ……. weird. There may be many reasons for that, but chief among them is Hajime, the series’ psychotically optimistic protagonist.

A Gatchaman is a fighter who is chosen by an alien God-like being to battle aliens who desire ill-will against humanity. One of them is Sugane, who is a straight-arrow who refuses to change from protocol. One day, there is a new recruit: Hajime, a weird, out-there, always happy, stationary-obsessed high schooler. Her enthusiasm gets well recieved by other teammates, but is not appreciated by Sugane or their leader, Paiman (a panda-like alien who hates pandas), especially since she does not necessarily follow orders. Her bigger love, even moreso than being a Gatchaman, is her involvement with GALAX, a social network led by a mysterious figure who feels like it’s the only way to improve humanity.

I can’t decide if Hajime reminds me of Finn from Adventure Time or Luffy from One Piece. The common trait in all three of them is this psychotic optimism and a need to help others. If she was not in this show, it would turn into something unbearable like Cashern Sins (thanks, Toonami, for putting the sleeping medication in your inaugural block). Her presence elevates the show, however, into something more. While only time will tell what it will become, I like it so far and want to see more of Hajime. GIVE US MORE PLANNERS!!!!!!

Hellsing Ultimate episode 5

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This episode should be a problem. Neither Seras or Alucard show up at all (outside of a weird comedy bit at the start involving Alucard). However, it works because we are following Sir Integra Fairbrooks Wingates Hellsing (said it all from memory, FUCK YEAH!!) trying to survive the beginning of Millennium’s attack on London. This does not have much to comment on, as little happens, but this is the start of the big fight and since we haven’t seen Seras or Alucard since last episode, I’m expecting big things from the coming episodes.

Kill La Kill episode 4

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There is something to be said to a show where I cannot predict anything that will occur. Part of this show’s appeal, similar to me with Adventure Time, is that it is so out there that I cannot see anything coming and am firmly 12 steps behind it. That said, WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH?!?

It’s No-Late Day, where all of the no-star students need to get to class between 4 am and 8:30. If they’re late, then they’re expelled (and they lose their homes and their families will have to move). The problem? The discipline committee, led by that giant dude from the beginning of episode 1, set traps to stop the students (and yes, many of them ARE lethal, why would you think otherwise?). To make matters worse, Ryuko’s kamui was washed the night before and she had to leave without it. Will Ryuko and Mako make it to the school in time or is this their last day?

I haven’t been this confused by the show since episode 1. The difference, however, is that this episode made “sense” (in that I knew what was occurring) by the end, while episode 1 needed TWO MORE EPISODES before it made sense. The episode is hyperactive, almost to a fault. This episode would’ve benefited from some down time. However, since it kept it’s energy for this long, it is surprisingly entertaining, if not a little tiring. Still some good stuff, though.

Michiko And Hatchin episodes 5-8

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The best aspect of this series is that it very much resembles the cross between Samurai Champloo’s irreverent, freewheeling story-telling (there is a main goal and narrative, the show just goes around episodically) and Cowboy Bebop’s strong character work. This set actually demonstrates the range that the series can get, and that is definitely a good thing.

The first two episodes, “The Idiot’s Suadade”, follows Michiko as she asks a friend about Hiroshi’s whereabouts. With the information she’s given, she feels that it will be to dangerous for Hatchin and leaves her with Zelia Bastos, Michiko’s guardian when she was a kid. Zelio turns her away (because of money) and Hatchin gets kidnapped. The next episode follows Michiko in an island village while her bike is being repaired. She becomes attracted to a man she sees that offers her tobacco and it causes strife between her and Hatchin ……… and the man’s wife. And episode 8 follows the pair as Hatchin leaves Michiko (she can’t stand the fighting) and Michiko follows a lead on where Hiroshi is, only for it to be someone using a false name.

The best aspect of this run is the slow pace used often. Not that there isn’t any action (almost all of part 2 of “The Idiot’s Suadade” is action), but it allows for pauses to develop the characters and to show that they are characters worth watching. These quiet moments are where the show more resembles Bebop rather than Champloo. That said, “The Idiot’s Suadade” is a fun story that wouldn’t be out of place in Samurai Champloo.

Unfortunately, the flaw I’m finding now is that it reminds me so much of Shinchiro Watanabe’s work that I can’t see this as standing up on it’s own, even though it does. Still, it is still enjoyable and highly recommended.

Watamote episodes 11 & 12

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So this series was finished in one foul swoop by yours truly and, man, if Kill La Kill goes in a direction that is not the direction it’s currently going in, this my pick for the best anime of the year. And that’s even with a bit of lopsided tones of these last two episodes (11 should’ve been 12 and vice versa).

Episode 11 focuses on the culture festival in Tomoko’s school. The first half, with everyone preparing for the festival, finally establishes Tomoko’s reputation among her classmates: the weird girl who shouldn’t push herself otherwise she’ll pass out. It is actually very depressing, specifically since she stays only out of obligation to her own imagination regarding how high school should be for her and she’s pretty much invisible. Of course, the rest of the episode follows her at the actual festival, which goes about as well as you’d expect. She’s alone and miserable on the first day and she starts to enjoy herself (while still being depressed) on the second day, when Yuu goes with her. This is a good episode to relate to everyone who has ever been to these types of events alone: they are miserable and cruel to all of the lonely people out there (there’s a reason I hate street carnivals).

Oh, and the episode has a nice other character in it. She shows up in a few scenes and is talking to Tomoko. While she only appears in a small part of the episode, her appearances lead up to ………. the nicest, happiest moment in the whole series. For all intents and purposes, this single moment, this one outcry of “Someone Cares!”, is the payoff for the rest of the series. It is for that reason that I believe this should’ve been episode 12.

Episode 12, however, was meant to show Tomoko’s progress throughout the show. It instead resets her character. The episode follows her as she realizes that the school year is almost over and she hasn’t done anything. It is mostly her convoluted plots to become popular, but it does have one important thing: it shows Tomoko looking towards the girl from episode 11 (Megumi) as being the girls who is her opposite, but also showing Megumi showing a fascination with the shy girl who needs to get over her neurosis. While that would be good if this were to get a second season (the series bombed in Japan, most likely because most of the manga’s fanbase is americans who use 4chan), it is also a bad last episode because the end result is Tomoko back where she started in the first episode. It takes her back several steps and, since it’s highly unlikely that this will get a season 2, it finishes the series weakly.

Still, however, it was a good ride. While not for everyone, those who get this series will appreciate and relate with it. I just wish that this would get a second season, since it’s the events after the school festival that actually begin Tomoko’s character development. Still, it is one of the best anime of the year and I highly recommend it.