Category Archives: Summer 2014

Reply: Hamatora – 8 – 12 (END)

Another show comes to an end, but in this case, it’s a bloody one.

I don’t even really know where to begin, as usual. But what a wild ride. I have to say that I’m pretty satisfied as to what ended up happening to the Freemum’s, although I do wonder what happened to the two that survived (The weird, creepy guy and the rapper dude). Not important, ultimately.

I was satisfied in the way the Ultimate was dealt with. Such a powerful woman couldn’t be done in by even the Hamatora, and I appreciated the fact that she was true to herself even in the bitter end. I couldn’t think of any other way for her to be put “out of the picture” in a satisfactory manner.

What a crazy bloodbath the ending was. I can’t tell you how much I leaped out of the couch in excitement when Murasaki punched the fuck out of that giant piece of shrapnel that was about to fall on Hajime. Seriously, my elation was of the same level as when Kenshin showed up at the end of Nobunaga the Fool. Might have even have been more. Fucking hype as shit.

I was amazed at how dark things got when Ratio and Nice ended up having to square off a few episodes before. Ratio isn’t an opponent I’d like to face, personally, but I thought for sure Nice would have tried to figure something out rather than dancing to the Ultimate’s tune. Also, was there a reason that Art forgot about Honey and Three, when he mentioned everyone was out of the picture?

Remember when we thought Moral was the most fucked up thing in Hamatora? It’s kind of crazy how deep that rabbit hole goes. Speaking of Morale, I love how we finally figured out how Art survived being shot several times, but I’m kind of a freaking idiot – for some reason it never occurred to me that he may have had his minimum before he got shot. Yeah, I’m retarded.

I love how Hamatora tied everyone important back to everything, namely the night that Nice escaped (or attempted to) escape from the minimum complex with Hajime. Even the old man and Kuneko were involved with minimum holders all along!

Most importantly, I personally don’t think I forgive Art. Let’s not forget how many people he killed (I excuse the deaths of Moral and the Freemum’s, as they were all evil douchebags), and most importantly, that he is guilty by omission of allowing Gasquette to die. Still not forgiving him for that. I can accept and am even happy that everyone else got a happy ending, as they deserved it. Poor Hajime. Congratulations to Birthday for getting healed – you did it Ratio! Nice and Murasaki also return as the infamous duo and everything is as it should be. All in all, a great ending.

Free – Eternal Summer! – 12 – 13 (END)

The end of an era and one of my favorite serialized anime for some time. As I’m sure everyone no doubt knows, I was a competitive swimmer for about 11 years (I’m only 24!) so this show had a profound effect and a deep pull on me.

So let’s talk about the show. What is Free actually about? Getting the best time? Swimming with the people you love? It means something different to everyone I think, but Free’s most central conflict and main theme has always been between Haru and Rin. In good taste and keeping this theme in mind, the show closes on the same note – Rin against Haru, Haru against Rin, just as it always should have been. Haru realizes what stage it is he wants to stand on, although it takes going back to Australia with Rin in tow to figure things out!

I know the exact feeling he felt when he stood on the starting block, looking out at the pool. This is competition. This is where it will go down eventually, you think. It’s invigorating. You think of every moment, every small conversation, every heat of every event you’ve ever swum in that has led to this moment and you being here, as good as you are at whatever stroke you swim. There is nothing like it in the world and despite being retired for about 5 or 6 years, I can still feel it. I can still remember it. I know exactly what it is like.

When you graduate high school, you’re really saying goodbye to some of the best friends you’d have ever met. The ones that you’re really, really good friends with will continue to be your friends even after you’re gone (Nagisa, Rei, Makoto – you know they’ll keep in touch). Unsurprisingly, Free even touches upon this as the realization that their senpais will go on without them dawns on young Nagisa and Rei.

Life goes on, however. Haru and Rin ascend to the highest stage in swimming, Makoto ends up becoming a swimming teacher as he wanted, and the rest continue about their lives. I like to think they keep in touch.

Let me add as one final note – The way this show ended was perfect. Nothing could summarize how I feel about swimming than with the tension in the air as the referee tells you to take your mark on a high stakes event.

Oh, sorry, one last thing. This episode turned Melissa into a sobbing mess. Poor thing.

Kuroshitsuji – Book of Circus – 10 (END)

The absolutely gut wrenching finale is here – this episode is all about twisting the knife.

What could have been, what was – that’s what this is all about. There is something about pondering what could have been and ruminating about an avoidable tragedy that is frightful upsetting to me. The Noah’s circus troupe are all great people that really just loved and cared for each other. They were like a small family together. But they lived long enough to see themselves become the villains of their own story – villains that preyed upon children not unlike them before Baron Kelvin took them in. In a way what happened to them is karma, but I can’t help but tear up a bit when I watch this episode’s epilogue. This is what they really were. This is what they became. This is a true tragedy – the loss of life – yet, the loss of life that matters.

The true villain of this story is the twisted Baron Kelvin, whose malice shaped Joker and the others into becoming the demons we knew them to be. But even as demons, their true personalities shone through. Beast’s innocent love of Joker and Joker’s geniune caring for all his family shone through absolutely, even in the bitter end. You can consider the culmination of this when you consider the contrast between Doll as a child and the Doll that rushed to kill Ciel.

I didn’t anticipate that I’d be ruminating about the Noah’s arc circus troupe this entire post, but I feel it’s necessary. This show really knows how to ramp up the pathos.

Let me speak a little about the beautiful ED sequence at the end of this episode. The walk to the manor to find that the Baron had long abandoned it and that their world they were fighting so hard to protect had been long gone was nothing but a further knife in the coffin. As you see the visage of the fallen troupe in the afterlife you’re reminded of who they truly were – a hardworking, loving family that cared for each other and wanted nothing other than to survive. All of this in a field long forgotten, by a small family who will all but be forgotten by London.

Ciel would make for an interesting character study. With no pretentions, he doesn’t claim to be better than any other human. He considers himself the same as the others – a human warped by malice and fighting for self preservation. The only difference is that he won this battle.

Ciel lets out a laugh as he realizes what they fought for was long gone – that was it. This is what Kuroshitsuji has always been about – life, love, family, loss, tragedy. The cycle goes on. Certainly one of the darker moments I can recall in any anime I’ve watched thus far. Sebastian is nothing but an observer in this great tragedy.

Rest in peace, Noah’s Arc Troupe. A happy family, a loving family – may they be reunited in the afterlife.

Reply: Hamatora – 5 – 7

Hamatora comes back at breakneck speed as usual, with copious amounts of “Bad guys being dickheads”. Art takes up Moral’s resident duties as the primary dickhead (once a guy I felt sorry for, not even sure how that was possible) and continues with his spree of being a dickhead. Hey, it’s not eloquent, but hell, it’s accurate.

While I wasn’t likely to forgive Art before, he crossed the point of no return the second he killed old man Gasquet. This was completely unacceptable in my book. Gasquet was not unlike Light Yagami’s father – hard working, judicious, and an all around nice guy. All he cared about was doing the right thing and finding out why Art turned out the way he did. Seriously, you could not ask for a nicer partner. What does Art do? Let him die. I don’t care that you “cried” about it, you douchebag, you let him die. He was a “necessary sacrifice”, huh? I’m glad Murasaki beat the ever loving shit out of you, even if you have cheap ass plot hax that lets you recover.

Guess what, also? We still don’t know how Art survived his incident with Moral, or even how he is able to have a minimum when it was proven early on in the academy that he did not possess a minimum. Plan on explaining this anytime soon, Hamatora?

It seems that Freemum have propped up Art as some sort of deity or God. While I hold that Hamatora has always had a fairly realistic view of how the populace treats technology and news footage, I do feel as though crowds are pretty excitable and ready to believe just about anything they see, regardless of context. Maybe that’s not so different from IRL?

In any event, Murasaki, one of my personal favorites, lost his minimum after a long battle with a declining minimum. It seems as though he’s not the only one as the rest of the Hamatora, Honey especially, begin regressing from using their powers. Murasaki, unfortunately, is the only one who completely lost his minimum, something that made my heart sink. Looks like he has to get used to using conventional weapons – I’m at least happy he’s ok. I will welcome plot hax bullshit that give him his powers back anytime, show. You just say the word.

Also, that 7th episode? Legitimately the weirdest shit we’ve ever seen in this show, and so thematically out of place. That said? I loved it. I can’t tell you how hard I was laughing when Murasaki would get launched out of the bed to the ED theme. Hilarious shit.

Free – Eternal Summer! – 9 – 11

Tension continues to mount as Haru much choose where he’s going to take his life after high school and the threat of Nationals arises. While Iwatobi performs admirably at Japan’s equivalent to “States”, only their relay proceeds to Nationals, a first in Iwatobi High for about 12 years. This, of course, is a glowing accomplishment in itself, but the battle is far from over!

This tension, unfortunately, leaves Haru dead in the water. He does the only thing that someone needs to do in order to be disqualified from a freestyle event – touch the bottom with your feet (Pulling on the lane lines will, of course, do this as well). Rin confronts Haru and only escalates the issue. The question reamins – what does Haru want to do? Not even I have any clue.

Sousuke’s injury is also brought into the open as he tackles the last relay race he will ever do, putting an untimely end to his otherwise promising career. He knows that with his shoulder injury, he can never “Stand on the same stage” as Rin. He knows this is it for him. There’s something so solemn, sad, but real about this plight that it makes me upset even typing about it. Sousuke, you did good. Rest easy.

He doesn’t leave the stage without imparting words to Haru, who he claims he “still won’t recognize.” Still can’t get rid of that chip on his shoulder, it seems.

While everyone prepares for Nationals, Makoto and company can’t stand to see Haru acting so unlike himself. They confront him but only push Haru to act even more out of character – he even raises his voice. Like holy shit. Makoto drops the bomb on Haru that he’s planning on attending a university in Tokyo, which would mean moving away from him. Almost every anime set in a high school setting deals with this theme to some extent, and it’s very true to reality. College usually involves moving away from those that you know and love in order to pursue your dreams.

Haru, of course, doesn’t take this well. The 11th episode essentially ends in a huge shitshow. Looks as though Haru and Rin have some bro time in Australia next episode…uh, wtf? You realize you only have two episodes left right? What about Nationals?!

Kuroshitsuji – Book of Circus – 8 & 9

Wow, have I been a piece of shit at updating this blog lately or what? Yeah, I pretty much suck. Between my two jobs, freelancing, and the pursuit of two other jobs there has been barely enough time to watch anime, save to write about it. Seriously if somebody has this formula figured out I am listening.

Anyways, what even happened? Did I even watch this? Can’t remember.

THAT’S IT EVERYONE!

Yeah, ok, we should begin. Let me begin by saying that I’m not sure if the anime, good as it is, conveyed the level of sheer, unmitigated rage that was supposed to be present on Ciel’s face as he shot the Baron. It’s clear from reading the manga that Ciel was seething, which is obviously quite unlike him. This is especially powerful when you remember that Ciel is not one that usually is shaken by such things, if ever at all. I mean, he generally has little reaction to just about everything. Unfortunately for Joker (As mentioned previously), being on the wrong side does not grant you any graces in Kuroshitsuji – he gets his hand chopped off and burned alive. Yikes.

Anyone who’s seen the first 24 episodes of the original Kuroshitsuji knows all about Phantomhive’s servents – Finny is a science experiment gone wrong, Meylin is a professional assassin, and Bard is an old general in the army. All of them were handpicked by Sebastian, which is a long way of saying how fucked you are. Despite episode 14 or so beyond of the first season not being canon, this is actually something that the non-canon material hand-picked from the circus arc as fact – something I wasn’t aware was canon until a bit later.

The story of Noah’s arc troupe circus is morbidly sad. I have to admit that, despite all the shit I’ve seen in anime, the scene with Beast being cradled by Joker was a disheartening reminder of how their future, possibly bright, was stolen from them. Very, very sad.

The underbelly of England is certainly a much more different place than has been painted by Professor Layton and his friends. The entire circus troupe, save Freckles, bites the dust (I must concede I was a little shaken by the way Beast went). Ciel and his troupe aren’t about doing things the 100% good guy way, and I’m certain that Freckles will bite the dust not long after learning the truth about what transpired at the Phantomhive residence.

Kuroshitsuji – Book of Circus – 6 & 7

As we go further and further down the rabbit hole, Sebastian and Ciel pursue their prey and even get their hands a bit dirty. Well, at least one of them does. Uh, not going into any further detail than that, watch the damn episode because lol.

We’re finally to the point right about where I stopped reading in the manga. With the confrontation with the Baron left, we are at this act’s climax.

Let’s get the small stuff out of the way first. Man, it was nice to see soma and Agni again. The curry arc from the original show was a good one and over the past few years I’ve grown quite fond of them. Kind of amazing how different soma and ciel are from one another. Good job Agni! Your khansama would be proud.

More so than when I read the manga, I am really feeling for “freckles”. Unfortunately for her, good guys on the wrong side rarely come out alive in the cruel and dark world of kuroshitsuji. I doubt we will be seeing any exceptions anytime soon – that goes for the well intentioned like Joker, as well. We shall see.

The Baron is one fucked up guy, holy shit. Thr scene where the children perform and die in gruesome ways shook me in the manga but was even more chilling animated. You don’t see ciel get rattled so easily so that should speak to the atrocity of this – even going so far as to call him an animal.

On a minor note – loved Sebastian’s grin when he had Joker ay swordpoint. It was like ” Gotcha faggot.” That’s so Sebastian.

There is one thing I am aware of that’s yet to happen but at this point, everything is going to be new to me. Episode 9 and 10 should contain a shitload of action if things go as I predict. William still needs to collect those souls, after all…

Free – Eternal Summer! – 6 & 7

Man, summer really is eternal guys. You know what that means, right? Free is going to have as many episodes as one peace, naruto, and bleach combined.

Of course (and quite thankfully), that is not true. The Free bros do compete as practiced against Rin’s school in both individuals and the relay though. It ends up being a bit of a mixed bag as the two school titans clash against each other. Nagisa, Haru, and Makoto all take first in their individuals while Rei takes fourth, which is extremely impressive. Any swimmer can tell you though that if you can’t fill up the lanes, you probably shouldn’t expect to win a swim meet. The relay is close but Rin’s team takes it. I must admit that Free did an excellent job at making me tense – I knew that both races could go either way and in fact – they did!

Run takes his loss against Haru like a man and goes back to do some badass weight lifting. Meanwhile, it seems as though Rin’a kouhai has taken his exemption from the relay a bit hard. To make up for it, he trains in secret every night to improve. Even Sosuke takes notice of this.

It really speaks to me as a former swimmer – sometimes people are born with talent and sometimes people aren’t. Those that aren’t have to work considerably harder. Swimming is equal parts technique and talent, you can succeed without one or the other but the combination of both will surely see you as leaps and bounds above your peers. It isn’t always that easy though, otherwise, everyone and their brother would be a great swimmer!

So what lies in store for our favorite free-bros? Preps for the regionals! I’m assuming we will get another mixed bag once that time comes, but time will tell.

Kuroshitsuji – Book of Circus – 5

Another installment of kuroshitsuji that flew by faster than a much needed Christmas vacation. Things finally become distasteful again, in true Kuroshitsuji fashion.

The jig is up – Ciel knows that someone who goes by “Tom, the piper’s son” knows of his identity. Ciel figures it is not a stretch that they know who Sebastian is either – a clever cut-away scene with Joker, who is off to visit father, confirms this suspicion. This whole time they’ve been keeping a close eye on him, but they aren’t sure of his motivations of his connections (they seem to think he’s with Scottland yard – ha, like we would collaborate with lord Randall).

Will continues to get in Sebastian’s way as Ciel falls ill with asthma, enduced by the great stress and temperature of his environment he is in. Sebastian is set to investigate both leads, starting in London.

This is going to prove to be difficult – it’s clear that there are circus members with heart who, while still murderers, have redeeming qualities (Joker, freckles, potentially beast) which is going to make dealing with them a mixed bag. That, coupled with the Shinigami’s ominous foreshadowing that they will be collecting a ton of souls in the area very soon leads me to believe that a bloodbath is all but inevitable. The question is thus: How will it go down, and where is the collateral damage? I’m guessing the circus troupe is eventually going to get wiped clean off the face of the map. What role is William going to play in what is to come? Is he really just there to collect souls? I’m hoping there’s another reason for his presence – maybe I just want an excuse to see him do some real fighting.

The stage is set. I already know the answer and where they find him, but this “Father” character that’s present in that old photo that Ciel has pegged for an aristocrat is about to be found and all hell is about to break loose.

Free – Eternal Summer! – 5

As far as I can remember, this is the first Nagisa episode we’ve gotten…ever! I can’t seem to recall any episode centric to him in the first season (and by all regards, he is probably the most underdeveloped of our main 5, not counting Sosuke).

Nagisa’s grades are suffering, so as a result he’s turned into a runaway in response to being told he must quit the swim team. Like all the Free’s, being forced to quit swimming is a fate equal to being stabbed in the throat, having salt poured on it, and being left to die in a spike pit. Nagisa obviously doesn’t take kindly to this and even refuses to explain his situation initially to any of his friends. After some hardcore coercing, he explains all that I just outlined to Makoto, Haru, and Rei.

Rei, being the best goddamn guy ever and Nagisa’s confidant (read: boyfriend and gay lover), propositions Nagisa and offers a logical solution to his problem, even going so far as to hide him in the Iwatobi swim club as his parents were in pursuit. Of course, it wasn’t actually his parents and instead their teacher (you can’t see any of their parents on screen, silly! This your first anime? If they’re not important you don’t see them.)

Nagisa, of course, is able to continue swimming because it means so much to him. While we’ve seen this sort of plot point before, it made me smile watching Rei support his good friend – to whom he was initially so cold towards. They’re, quite honestly, polar opposites. That’s what makes their relationship with one another work so well – a classic foil to one another. A fighter to his black mage, if you will (trust me, you won’t.)

Character development for Nagisa is a go. That is a good thing. But the real burning questions remain about Sosuke and how he views Iwatobi, doesn’t it? I suppose that will have to wait for next week (or perhaps the week after!)