You know, after the first episode of this show, I didn’t think it was possible that I could actually be more confused about the actual plot than I already was. However, this episode certainly proved me wrong, providing very little detail about anything relevant while at the same time raising even more questions about the show than I already had. Not only that, but the entire episode felt like a tool to force all of the characters to interact with each other instead of an actual attempt to expand the story.
The explanation for what the giant chocolate monster was in the first episode is very rushed and makes almost no sense. All that’s given is that some deity is residing within Sasami’s brother for whatever reason and it uses it’s power to grant whatever random desire he has. Also, apparently this world is full of god-things, which isn’t explained in the slightest; it only mentions the one in the brother is the strongest. So, if that wasn’t enough to confuse you, it’s also revealed at the end of the episode that whatever kind of god is in her brother was at one point inside Sasami… or something like that.
So, I think it’s safe to assume that this is a show that isn’t going to be very adept at conveying it’s story, because even the actual story of this episode didn’t make too much sense. They explain that a lot of students are missing from school and that they think a large number of them are skipping because they’re playing some MMO game. And so, they decide to pretty much play the game to find out why people are skipping, as stupid as that sounds. I mean, what are they even trying to find out, if kids are actually skipping school because of the game or not? Can’t they just ask the students themselves, or maybe their parents? Also, why the fuck do they need to go to Sasami’s house to use her computers? I’m pretty sure a robot-person would have a laptop or two lying around somewhere, and a school in Japan in this day and age has to have plenty of computers for faculty to use. As a matter of fact, Shana-knock-off-girl was even playing some hentai game on one in the first episode. So it makes no sense for all them just to go to Sasami’s house just for her computers, but like I said, it’s just an excuse to get the characters to interact with each other.
And in my opinion, the characters are all pretty weak. Out of the three main girls, the blonde girl (who is apparently in elementary school) is pretty much a complete throw-away character. The other two girls, whose names I can’t even remember, aren’t much better and aren’t really anything beyond what their appearances suggest about their obvious archetypes. See, I can’t even remember their names, that’s how uninspired and stock they are. Sasami’s brother is also very annoying and is practically more of a plot point than an actual character. Sasami, though better in almost every way than the rest of the cast, still isn’t all that interesting in the end. When everything is said and done, she’s a very standard smart but socially awkward hikikomori character who doesn’t seem to venture too far from that trope.
Despite Shaft being pretty as always, I really don’t think this will end up being that great of a series. At this point I wouldn’t even be surprised that directors know they can probably coast on Shaft’s popularity and not try as hard to really make the story all that great. The characters are pretty bland and forgettable and there isn’t a much of a concrete story to be found in all of this. One thing I will say is that I’ve liked a lot of the background music in this show, because for whatever reason there’s been a fair amount of blues/rock music in it, which is kind of odd, but it’s nice to see the show at least has some variety in that aspect.
Before I begin talking about this show, I’d like to say that if you have access to any kind of illegal drugs, you should probably get on that, because this is one of the weirdest beginning episodes of a show I’ve seen in a long time. Of course it stands to reason that Shaft would chose to do something weird like this, but even without taking the visuals into consideration, this whole episode is really insane.
To begin with, even the main idea of the show is odd, but seemingly rather simple. It’s about some loner shut-in girl named Sasami and her creepy-ass ridiculously incestuous brother. Not only does her adult brother obviously want to bone the everliving hell out of her, but for whatever reason he decides to never show his face, instead opting to hold his satchel (or whatever else he has in his hands at the moment) in front of his face. Instead of going to school, Sasami spends most of her time watching her brother through an improbable system of cameras wired throughout her house, her street, her school, and pretty much every other place that her brother could possibly be at any given point in time. Now sure this is all odd and quirky, and you know Shaft can’t get enough of that stuff, but just going by that simply plot description, you wouldn’t think it’d be that batshit insane. However, you’d be really wrong assuming that – Just wait until the end of the episode when three other characters have to defeat a giant chocolate miasma/monster that engulfs the world.
Yes, the climax of this episode involves three girls – one who acts like a frog, one who is some kind of cyborg thing that shoots missiles from her boobs, and one with some black magic sword – fight a giant chocolate entity that takes over the world, and they bring the world back to normal by magically resting the world to it’s pre-chocolate form. Apparently all this happened because Sasami’s brother was too obsessed with the idea of buying Sasami chocolate for Valentines Day or something. I mean, I’m not even leaving out any of the major details about what happens to bring all this about; that’s honestly all they give you to go by. But, Christ alive, could you even make something that weird if you tried? I suppose the idea may be that Sasami’s mind is completely destroyed by her constant anti-social behavior and her complete withdrawal from real life, but that seems like a pretty weak excuse to have a bunch of weird stuff happening, and that still doesn’t give the series a concrete story. That’s another noteworthy thing about this episode – even though it had plenty of stuff happen in it, there still is not actual plot, and quite honestly, this felt like could have easily been just some weird one-shot OVA thing.
Despite all it not really having an actual direction, or much of anything in terms of explanation about what the hell is going on, it was still pretty enjoyable. As you’d expect from Shaft, the show is really stylized, but to a much different degree in this case, seeing as how odd most of it is. The action scene and it’s accompanying music was really cool, and the scene during the credits was pretty funny, but more than anything, I think the visuals just made it interesting to watch. There really isn’t much else worthy caring about this season, so I’m holding out on this being good, or at the very least, able to hold my interest for a few months.
Now, why couldn’t all of Nisemonogatari have been like this, why couldn’t it have been this serious and focused? I know it’s probably due to the source material being like that – after all, none of the major conflicts are really resolved in any way – but still, I felt that a lot of Nisemonogatari was just a little too lighthearted in some parts and didn’t really have as many dark moments as the original series had. Apparently, the director heard my complaints, because this is exactly what I had envisioned the series to be like for the most part. Thankfully the show also kept with a darker tone this episode, and will it’ll probably carry over to the last one as well.
This episode (and this entire series) did a lot to help develop the character of Hanekawa, surprisingly enough, with her even actually being in it. The explanation about her home life was kind of vague and abstract, but it did a good enough job at explaining that it obviously isn’t very good. Although last episode I complained about the show hardly ever actually explaining what the hell the Oddities actually are, what they do, and how they come to exist, this episode actually gave a surprising amount of backstory and depth to what the Curse Cat actually is, how it works, and all that. Also, the “Duality of Man” aspect that it incorporated was actually pretty interesting, as you wouldn’t normally expect someone with the personality of Hanekawa to be a candidate for exploration of that theme. Under most circumstances, she should be to very obvious and noticeable example of the good that exists in people, but as Oshino said, there is no human who is only good. In addition, it makes Hanekawa seem like a much more interesting character now that she isn’t the unshakeable pillar of morality that Araragi clings to most of the time.
Like I said, the scene with Oshino explaining exactly what the Cat is was very well done, and for the first time helped me to fully understand one of the monsters in this series. Also, coming from Kizumonogatari and Bakemonogatari, you kind of picture Oshino as this all-knowing unstoppable force that can pretty much bail Araragi and his friends out of any bad situation, but that obviously isn’t the case here. I think knowing that Oshino can’t really do anything more than Araragi can makes this series feel a lot more serious and pressing, because with pretty much every other problem he’s faced, Araragi has either had him or Shinobu to kind of be a deus ex machina and save the day when he can’t quite pull it off. Now that he can’t do that, the show seems much more interesting.
The final scene in which Araragi talks with the Cat was fine enough, but it seemed like a lot of it went back over what Oshino had already told Araragi before. I feel that this scene in particular, as well as the entirety of the series, if focused a lot more on Araragi’s relationship and attitude towards Hanekawa. Obviously, considering the events of Kizumonogatari and this series, it should normally be fairly obvious that they would be love interests, but the Monogatari series is very odd about the way it goes back and forth on this. The fact that Senjougahara is introduced into the series later doesn’t simplify things, but it would seem at this point that Araragi has much stronger romantic feelings for Hanekawa at this point than he does later on in the series. Also, to it seems that throughout the series Araragi justifies his fondness of Hanekawa to the fact that he feels indebted to her for pretty much saving his life, but I still don’t really know if that’s how he really feels, or if he’s just using that as a way to cover up something deeper.
Well, that didn’t take too long, but after all, it’s probably only going to be another day at the most until the last two episodes are subbed and all that, so expect these rather quickly I guess. Also, just a PSA, if you haven’t read Kizumonogatari, you really probably should do that in order to help you understand some of the stuff that’s going to happen in this series.
With this episode, we actually get into the main story of the show and get to see Hanekawa in all of her catgirl hotness. As I’m sure I’ve said before, the story for this series feels a lot more like Kizumonogatari due to the lack of the other main characters, such as Senjougahara, Kanbaru, etc., and it’s focus on mainly Hanekawa and Araragi (and to an extent Shinobu). This episode also had a decidedly different feel and atmosphere to it than the previous one. This episode was much darker in tone and felt a lot like some of the darker episodes of Bakemonogatari.
Beyond getting to see a small scene explaining Shinobu’s affection for doughnuts, there’s also a bit of explanation about his attitude towards her at the current time. It’s only been a few weeks since everything that happened in Kizumonogatari took place, so this would have obviously been when Shinobu was still not talking to Araragi. But regardless of that (and seeing that she’s one of the only actual characters in the show) they do make an attempt to still let her show some emotion and characterization in this episode and hopefully the rest of the series as well. In my opinion, Shinobu is definitely the best character in the whole Monogatari series, so I’m always up for seeing her get to do some more stuff besides sit around moping the whole time.
The scene with the Cat version of Hanekawa was also done very well, and was obviously very reminiscent of the last few episodes of Bakemonogatari. However, one of the things that kind of irritated me about it (and I guess the whole collective series itself) is that there’s never much of an explanation to exactly what the hell is wrong with Hanekawa. I suppose it could be because of the insane Japaneseness of this show, and these creatures are perfectly normal in the folklore there, but still not really having much of an explanation for some of these things other than “They’re monsters, they do this” is kind of annoying at some times. It’s not as if all things in the series are a complete mystery, as I thought that Kanbaru’s arm and Sengoku’s curse were explained relatively well, but some of the others really leave me scratching my head.
Anyway, I thought the dark nature and tension of the scene worked very well and just got me even more excited for Kizumonogatari as that’s pretty much all that movie could have in it. I do however think that “censoring”, I guess you could call it, of the bodies of Hanekawa’s parents was kind of odd, and took away from the violent nature of the rest of the scene. But I guess never showing a person who isn’t a main character or villian is kind of a staple of the series, so I probably shouldn’t be too surprised by it. It’s also been a long time since I saw some actual gore in anime, so that was definitely and entertaining scene to me.
I guess this is really the first anime series of the new year, so happy 2013 to all. While this technically isn’t really a series, the other three episodes haven’t been subbed yet, so I suppose I’ll just go ahead and do a normal episodic review of the series. But, before too much more, let me attempt to explain this shit show of a chronology this entire series has in an attempt to help those who may not know too much about it, understand exactly what’s going on with all this.
Okay, well the main problem with this is that, if you’re just watching the anime, you still don’t know what the fuck happened in Kizumonogatari, all because Shaft just had to make those Madoka Magica movies first. The way the novels were released makes perfect sense, because you really need to know what happened in Kizumonogatari to completely understand what’s going on in Nise and Neko, or at least actually know who Shinobu and Hanekawa are, respectively. But the anime just really fucked all that up, especially since there still is no definite release date for Kizu.
Anyway, this series takes place between Kizumonogatari and Bakemonogatari, and deals with Hanekawa’s whole cat-demon-spirit thing. Along with Kizumonogatari this is one of the only ones in the series that has a regular linear plot, which is the reason I think that Kizu is the best in the series. There wasn’t a whole lot of that in this episode, but it was a lot better than Nisemonogatari since they don’t have twelve episodes to screw around with this time. Also I guess it’s to be expected, considering that this series was directed by the guy that directed Nisemonogatari (but not Bakemonogatari), but there’s probably going to be a lot of fan-service stuff put in to chew up time and sell more DVD’s.
The first conversation with Tsukihi was all fine and good, considering that most of it actually dealt with the plot of the series instead of just rambling on about nothing and was fairly entertaining for the most part. Also the only fan-servicy part was played up more for humor than to be sexual. The scene with Karen was a lot more…. eh. It obviously had little purpose other than to have some more boobs and ass thrown on the screen for a little while, and the idea of a 15 year old girl coming home and getting naked in the kitchen in front of her brother was pretty unrealistic to say the least (though not a whole lot in this series is realistic, so whatever). The last part of episode, dealing with Hanekawa and her family situation, also deals with the main plot of the series, and if you’ve seen Bakemonogatari, you probably know how that relates to what’s going to happen. However, the seriousness of that part was cut short in a fairly humorous way, which I suppose is to be expected of the Monogatari series.
As you would expect, it’s absurdly obvious that this show was made by Shaft, and at this point you’ll either love that or want to stay as far away from it as possible. Because this is a much shorter series, and in a way is more like a movie, the plot has (hopefully) been streamlined and is so far focusing much more on the main story of the series which is definitely a good thing. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about this show, because by now, you know if you like Monogatari shows or not, and you pretty much know what to expect from most of it.
Hey, remember when you were 14 and you thought you were some cursed magic warrior from another realm sent here to defeat the evil Shadow-Somethings by the Ruler of Where-Ever-The-Hell? Yeah, neither do I, probably because I’m not a complete loser, or it might just be because I didn’t spend my childhood in Japan, and who knows what living in a place like that could do to you. Regardless, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! is about just such a thing, and on a rather severe level at that. Apparently, it’s some form of “illness” that causes young Japanese teenagers to act really weird and crazy and have delusions of being some superhero thing. But I mean, come on, it’s Japan, I’m sure that’s not restricted to just kids.
The show is about Yuuta, a former victim of the “disease” known as Chuunibyou, also known as “Being a Weird-ass”. However, he’s put all that behind him in the hopes of making it through his entire high school life without people willing to saw their own arm off just not to be seated next to him in class. He’s completely done away with his childhood persona “The Dark Flame Master” in exchange for being a normal everyday kid. But because this is an anime, things aren’t really allowed to go easily for the main character. He meets a girl named Rikka, who seems convinced that her right eye is in the possession of some magic powers from another dimension or something, and she wants Yuuta, or rather, The Dark Flame Master, to aid her in achieving whatever non-existent goal her magic eye requires of her.
In a lot of ways, the first half of this show is basically The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, only if Haruhi wasn’t actually God or whatever, and none of the stuff she thought existed actually did. And the fact that the series was done by the same animation studio doesn’t help either. You have a girl obsessed with weird magic stuff, her level-headed male sidekick, a club dedicated to the sole purpose of indulging the girl’s strange interests, and a bunch of other odd characters that come along for the ride. The second half, however is decidedly different from the first, and diverges itself from a standard “quirky kids doing quirky things” storyline while dealing with themes of growing up as well as the importance of always being young at heart. It never gets terribly dramatic and serious, but there’s a decent amount of emotion in the last few episodes that give story and characters a bit more meaning. The ending is also somewhat cheesy, but you pretty much come to expect it from shows like this so it didn’t bother me too much.
The show continues from Yuuta and Rikka’s first meeting in a rather episodic way for the most part, and spends most of it’s time establishing the two main characters and their relationship. This is where the show really excels in my opinion. To begin with, the relationship that Rikka and Yuuta inevitably develop is very believable and natural, which is something that can’t be said for plenty of anime in the same category. More often than not, anime romances develop due to nothing more than the demands of the plot, but here it’s enjoyable and easy to see how their relationship changes as the story goes on. While Yuuta acts as the standard straight-faced male, he seems to stand out from his archetype due to his natural interactions with Rikka. He isn’t the same overly-nice, bland and forgettable male lead that pretty much every shounen romance in existence seems to be stuck with, and he’s a much more believable character because of it. In the same way, Rikka is a tremendously enjoyable female lead, and it’s not just because by most people’s standards she’d be legally insane. It’s primarily because the show is about her, why she acts the way she does, and the way she changes over it’s course, though saying too much would spoil some things. The way she interacts with Yuuta and the rest of the characters is also very entertaining, and adds a lot of enjoyment to what would otherwise be a rather normal school slice-of-life show.
The supporting characters are somewhat hit and miss in my opinion, or maybe it’s because that Yuuta and Rikka are such strong leads that the rest of the cast seems kind of ho-hum. Kumin is all but a body to take up space and is literally asleep through most of her screen time. In the same way, Isshiki is only there to give Kumin something to do, to have the standard best male friend, and to give another small subplot to the story. I also found Dekomori pretty annoying and useless for the most part (her “catchphrase” didn’t help matters a whole lot either), until the end when she was actually given something to contribute to the plot. Nibutani was the only other character that I actually liked, which is odd, considering that I don’t thing you’re really supposed to like her all that much. From the first few seconds you see her you expect her to play the archetype that her character and personality are obviously meant to play, but I absolutely loved the complete 180 she takes later on, and by the end of the show it’s pretty hard to see her as you originally did.
Because the show was one by Kyoto Animation, it’s no surprise that the animation is very good and surprisingly consistent in quality throughout the course of the show. There isn’t really thing all too spectacular about the art style, but because of all the small details and quality of animation they put into it, it really makes it enjoyable to watch. Another thing worth mentioning is the refreshing lack of ecchi and over-sexualized scenes in the show. As far as I can remember there isn’t a single ecchi scene in the entire series (though it’s hinted at in the very first scene) and the scenes containing any kind of sexual innuendo are few and far between. Oh, and the anime-standard beach episode? Only about thirty seconds of it are actually on the beach, and none of it is spent going “Ooh look at the girls in their swimsuits! This is for you, hentai artists!”. Absolutely glorious. The last thing to say about this show is a kind of hard thing to put into words, and that is: it’s just fun to watch. I guess it’s kind of the same for shows like Clannad and Haruhi, in that, nothing really important every happens, but they’re still really enjoyable and memorable shows. The show utilizes so many of the good qualities that exist in anime while simultaneously getting rid of the bad ones, and simply gives an overall enjoyable experience.
I should have known something was up when masters and servants were getting killed left and right at the beginning of the second part of this series. As I said before though, I don’t really have any problems with these flashback type of episodes because of what they reveal about Kiritsugu’s character. However, I do think that with a cast as large as the one in this series, offering too much time to one character isn’t really fair to the rest of the characters; I mean, how long has it been since we’ve seen Waver. Though if there was one character to focus on, I suppose it should be Kiritsugu, but I still don’t think he should monopolize so much of the show’s time.
But really, Type Moon better just go ahead and start production for their Kiritsugu prequel/spinoff thing, because this episode just made me want to see something like that even more than I already did. I don’t think that too many people would be against the idea of a “Kiritsugu the Vampire Slayer” series. For the most part this episode seemed to be just an explination for the way Kiritsugu is and how he learned to do what he does. Plus, we also got to see that scene where Kiritsugu gets his ribs ripped out from way back when in the first season, and we got some context and explanation to it as well. It’s always nice when things come back around in the end. I do think some of the things in this episode, such as the Bee dude and what exactly Natalia does were explained a little more, but this is more than likely a one time flashback episode, so It’s understandable that they skipped around a lot. I do wish that this episode would have been more chronological, but that’s just a minor complaint.
It seemed to me that the main point of this episode was that no matter what, even when faced with losing everything that is important to him, Kiritsugu still holds to his ideals and his desire to save all the people that he can. I see it as reflecting that old Spock quote, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, and it seems that Kiritsugu holds very strongly to that. But even with how strong his convictions are about saving people, he seemed to be trying to justify what he did to Natalia pretty soon after he destroyed that plane. Obviously allowing the plane to land would pose a huge threat, but it’s not as if it was impossible for him to attempt to control the Bee Zombies and try to save Natalia at the same time. Although Kiritsugu does try to do all he can to help people, he does it in the harshest and most unflinching way possible. Could he have possibly save Natalia and stopped the Zombies? Maybe, but the risk was too great. Was it cruel to kill Kayneth and his wife after he made Lancer commit suicide? Yes it was, but if there was even a fraction of a fraction of a chance that Kayneth could reenter the war, Kiritsugu was going to do what he had to do to make sure he didn’t.
Now we’ll probably be going back to the actual story arc of the series, which hopefully means that Archer and Kirei are finally going to come out as partners…. in a Master and Servant kind of way…. no, not like that. Anyway, with so few servants and Master’s left, I imagine that things will start to get pretty eventful from here on out. If I had to put money on it, I’d say that Kariya and Berserker will almost certainly be the first ones to go. After all, leaving the three legendary kings to duke it out seems only fair. After that, I’d assume that Rider and Waver would be the next to go. Then, I’d assume that Kiritsugu would win, but the fact that the war happens agina (Stay/Night) kind of seems to contradict that, but maybe his wish just didn’t work right, or something along those lines. Regardless, I expect an epic showdown between Saber and Archer, and Kiritsugu and Kirei, so don’t let me down here.
Okay, so when do we get a separate series about Kiritsugu’s childhood, cause I’d be down for that. This episode is a lot like the Rin episode a while back, because it shows just how diverse this show can. The difference being that this episode actually kind of had something to do with the main story. The episode with Rin felt more like a spin-off, but this felt more like a prequel. This episode could have honestly been it’s own OVA or something, and it still would have been good without any prior knowledge to anything else in the Fate/Zero series. I’d be perfectly fine with some Higurashi knockoff with zombies being an actual show, so go ahead and make it happen, Japan.
Even though the episode was good, I think the story it creates is kind of odd. Supposedly Kiritusugu’s dad was trying to make some kind of something-or-other that would allow people to live forever by stopping them from aging. For whatever reason he’s doing it, the new character in this episode seems to think that it’s a good thing, because it potentially help people. Now, we all know that if you ever have an immortal character in some work of fiction, they almost always are looking for a way to die because they’re tired of life, so there’s that to consider. But also, how the hell is a society of immortal people supposed to work? Wouldn’t overpopulation become a huge problem? And how is living forever supposed to help everything and make everyone happy? Isn’t the fact that life is finite what makes it so special? And it’s not like it’s everyone’s wish to live until they’re 5,456 or something; as Mr. Neil Young said: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”.
And how the hell do you expect me to think that those things are vampires? They’re without a doubt zombies. Vampire’s aren’t brain-dead flesh eaters who stumble around like an eighty-year-old lady with chronic arthritis looking for people to eat -we call those things “zombies”. Speaking of the zombies (not vampires) the second part of this episode was really strange. The part with Shirley killing the chickens was good, but then everything got really crazy; we had zombies running everywhere, members of the Dark Brotherhood running around with knives killing then, the assholes from the Mages Guild burning the everliving shit out of the town, and finally there was Leon Kennedy’s long lost sister. Perhaps all of this makes more sense in the Fate universe to people who have been exposed to it longer, or have read the novels, but at lot of that stuff kind of went over my head.
I assume that this episode was meant to show how “Kerry” (I don’t really understand what’s so hard about pronouncing Kiritsugu) became who he is now. Perhaps he wants to save the world form people like his father, and he really wants to try to help the rest of the world, but if this event is supposed to be an excuse as to why he’s so cruel and relentless in attempting to win the Holy Grail War, then I call bullshit. I mean, come on, the kid shot his own father (after he stabbed him, mind you) without so much as a second thought. He didn’t try to get him to stop, or ask why he was doing what he was doing, he just killed him. Granted, his dad was a pretty selfish and apathetic asshole, but still, that’s his dad. I don’t so much buy this as the reason for Kiritsugu’s ruthlessness, but I can at least understand how it could be used to explain it.