Winter 2014 Final Impressions

(featuring: Kill la Kill, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren, Nagi no Asukara)

Once again, I didn’t watch as much as I intended too. I’ve been doing busy Adult Things™. I finally understand why so many sites closed in my youth due to other responsibilities. For instance, I’ve been living in a hotel for quite some time while they do renovations on my apartment. It was only supposed to last two weeks but going on four weeks later and here I still am. Less adult stuff, I played A LOT of Bravely Default since I’ve been staying here.

Next Exit Trance album is out soon and I’ll actually stay on top of that one. It’ll get a regular post unlike the last one. It has a few tracks I’m interested in. Furthermore, over at Dancemania EX they’ve noted the dwindling sales of the series. Odd. Perhaps the increase in releases with a last-ditch effort to try and salvage the series? I wonder when and if it’ll be ending soon for good.

Well, that aside let’s have a final look at the few shows I managed to watch this season. I intend to finish Noragami and Nobunagun some other time and I’m ever so slowly watching Space Dandy so those three are omitted.

We’re so close to Mekaku City Actors that I can almost taste it!

Kill la Kill

I tried to dislike Kill la Kill. I really did. Episode four had been the highlight of the series, sure, but it wasn’t until Nui showed up that I was finally on board. The fanservice didn’t bother me after awhile (because some of it was deliberately very creepy and if you still got off to it you’re probably a gross pervert that I wouldn’t want to communicate with anyways) and even though Ryuko was OP and boring until the end, everybody else was not. Characters that were interesting like Satsuki and Nui got even more interesting as time went on!

The fanservice wore off on me a long time ago. By that I mean, it stopped making me uncomfortable. Had I been younger I probably would have been too embarrassed to watch such a thing but I guess shows like this are great for de-sensitizing yourself. But there was a lot of talk related to that about whether the show is feminist or not. I have a feeling this show will go on and on and always be discussed and debated years later.

My take? At the end of the day, it’s still some dude who created and put them in these outfits. “But Fang-tan,” you cry, “doesn’t that discredit any character hailed as a feminist icon?” No?? I see it as a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. They want these skimpy fanservicey characters and you want to be respected for having a deep story and complex characters. I’m DEFINITELY not saying you can’t have both but I feel like that’s the case here.

That all being said, I’ve loved a lot of theories people have put forth in that regard. That the wearing the kamui was a metaphor for puberty or my personal favourite (since it made so many people mad) this post about the wedding dress and marriage imagery in the series. Whether or not these were the intentions of the show creators…. well, I’m sure we’ll find out one day.

So, as the saying goes: it’s ok to enjoy something problematic as long as you recognize it as such. And this was just that kind of thing.

Kill la Kill knew how to pack a punch. It constantly delivered scenes that changed up the name of the game and threw new twists into the mix. It didn’t rely on cheap character deaths (no matter how many times we worried they would) just pure shock and awe. The soundtrack is very standard Hiroyuki Sawano and I’m noticing his stuff kind of runs together but it worked in the show flawless. The first OP was garbage and I don’t think I’ll ever find Aoi Eir anything but generic but the second OP by GARNiDELIA  (with MARiA who I gushed about very recently!) was absolutely flawless. The second ED by Sayonara Ponytail featuring fan favourite Mako (who is great and all but was really oversaturated in episode 23) was also super cute and fun to listen to.

And like I said, the story had some interesting elements to it but as overall kinda flat. I wanna say predictable cause I saw the sisters thing coming for a long time, but like I mentioned, it continued to surprise me. The characters were what kept it going. Really hateable villains like Ragyo and Nui (except I didn’t hate Nui I loved her) were nice. Bad guys turned good like the Elite Four, my waifu Iori and Satsuki were also really great but I think that goes without saying. Who didn’t like them? But really Satsuki grew so much at the end it was GREAT. Mako was lovable as always and it was even better when they teased us with Makogoori since it was a pairing that started off as a joke but suddenly turned very real. It was unexpected and was probably the thing I was most invested in.

The final episode was pretty satisfying though. There were a few instances where it seemed obvious they had only just finished hours before it aired but otherwise was solid. Satsuki running to catch Ryuuko was the absolute best though. It was unexpected and sweet and the idea of those two along with all their friends being a happy family is just too much to bear. Not enough confirmation of Makogoori but we still have an ova in like September.

So yeah maybe Kill la Kill wasn’t the show I thought it would be before airing. Maybe it didn’t have as much heart as TTGL did. It still made me come and around and have a lot of fun with it. Theorizing and waiting eagerly for subs in a way I haven’t since Mawaru Penguindrum of all shows. Will I miss it? Not much, probably. I’d like to own it on dvd/bd but with Aniplex… eh. Maybe that’s just one dream that isn’t meant to come true.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren

To be honest, I’m not as exasperated as I thought I would be. The childhood friend wasn’t as melodramatic a story line as I thought it would be, for one. That was a relief. In fact, Schimiya was a rather likable character all things considered. I had originally thought she’d be the she-devil who tried to tear them apart but she struggled with her feelings and despite that was friendly and supportive to Rikka.

Dekomori was annoying as usual but it was hard to dislike her this time around. Especially in the episodes that focused on her and Nibutani. And Nibutani? Still the best obviously. Embracing her chuuni-ness for her friends was sweet and it was fun seeing her get caught up in those antics. Plus she’s just a nice person because, as Kumin said, she loves everybody and wants to see them all happy. Likewise, Yuuta accepting his chuunibyou behaviour was also entertaining. Once again he was a competent protag who acted with heart and I’d be hard pressed to dislike.

I was sure the last episode would do nothing to improve my image of the series but it was actually rather funny and sweet. Nibutani and Sanae thinking Shichimiya meant that Rikka wanted to do it, Rikka blowing Nibutani with the blow dryer, to the gang getting frustrated when their kiss was interrupted.

The Isshiki gag was really out of place and kinda uncomfortable, even if Togashi’s reaction was funny. It just sort of happened. Maybe it would be expanded upon next season if there was another. Though I kind of hope that isn’t the case. I thought the novels were already finished but MAL lists them as ongoing. Huh.

And it was sweet, seeing the two of them go at their relationship slowly and with patience. It did seem like Rikka made SOME progress on being less chuuni but that wasn’t  really the focus, unfortunately. Still, seeing them say they didn’t need to conform to what a normal relationship might be was cute and a nice change from what might be considered the normal. Rikka’s behaviour was entirely understandable and relatable and I appreciated that a ton.

But that should be that, right? That was a good a way as any to cap off the series. Any more and it’d start to get really, really tiring.

Nagi no Asukara

NagiAsu, NagiAsu, NagiAsu. We’ve had our differences. In fact, I’m still surprised I finished this show. It ended up being such a chore. But I really don’t like P.A Works shows so I knew I wouldn’t like it when I started watching it. I made a choice and had to live with it.

Actually, as much as I hated most of Asukara, it had some genuinely good moments. When it wanted to be dramatic, like really dramatic, it succeeded flawlessly. The Ofunehiki going horribly wrong, retrieving Manaka, Tsumugu gaining an Ena. It was moments like those that kept me coming back.

So what did I dislike about the show so much? Mostly Hikari to be honest. The convoluted love rhombus was one thing (it’s only a rhombus if you exclude Kaname, Sayu and Miuna. With them it becomes a shape I don’t even know). He was just annoying. And sure his annoyance was kind of like an ebb and flow (eh? get it?!?) and sometimes he was tolerable but more often than not, he was just too much for me. Of course, him being hotblooded compared to the coolheaded nature of Tsumugu was a big thing but yo like tone it down a notch.

Just the whole Miuna/Hikari/Manaka triangle was so exhausting and uninteresting. Miuna had been a cute kid but she grew up to be so singular minded (well that isn’t entirely true since she DID care about getting Manaka better a little bit but that was still largely because of Hikari) that it really exhausted her character for me. It was sweet to see her friendship with Manaka and how much they cared each other, despite being rivals. It really made her seem like a big person.

Chisaki and Tsumugu was a pairing I originally groaned at but by the end of the last episode I was groaning because they didn’t really get a cute couple moment. Did Chisaki ever get over what was holding her back? Did they get together? Or would they settle together because Chisaki was so afraid of change? Like goddamn don’t show us an actually interesting couple and then just leave us hanging. Kaname and Sayu were also surprisingly great and received little time together. Which was a shame because Kaname and Sayu were so adorable at the end.

So, I gotta say that for a sappy, melodramatic show, it had an interesting premise to back it up. And I do feel that they kind of wasted the interesting concepts teased early on in the series like the racism between the two groups but everything else still handled pretty interestingly.

I teared up a bit during the Shioshishio reunion but mostly because of Chisaki’s reunion. Like damn, finally seeing your family again after that long? And they find they’re the same but their little girl is a grown woman? Dang.

It’s hella unlikely but in the chance they expanded the universe with new characters, I would be all on board. Hell, even these characters with maybe a new love interest for Miuna, explore the three other relationships of the show? Something? As much as I complained about this dumb show, I would be all for returning to Shioshishio once again.

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