Category Archives: Winter 2015

Death Parade – 10 – 12 (END)

And we arrive at, most likely, the biggest unsolved mystery yet mused by Death Parade – who is our Black Haired Woman, and why is she judging if she is only a human? The answers to that and more.

First things first, Mayu gives her life for Harada, by chasing after his spirit in the void at Ginti’s request. No doubt this was a way of judging her, but it appears as though both of their souls were saved in the process.

Oh, and Oculus wasn’t too happy to hear about the truth of Decim. Things didn’t play out quite as poorly as I had originally anticipated, luckily. Quite a good thing, no? He remains skeptical but not completely opposed to the idea of an “arbiter with human emotions.”

Her real name is Chiyuki. She lived a quiet life with her mother and father, frequently asking her mother to read her the book Chavot (The same one pictured earlier in the series about the girl who was deaf and became friends with the boy). Later in her life she became engrossed in ice skating, which became her life itself quite quickly. She won many awards but it wasn’t long before disaster struck – she severely hurt her knee and she would never skate again. She became depressed and detached, despite her mother’s attempts to reconcile and convey how proud she was of Chiyuki. Ultimately, Chiyuki took her own life. Quite possibly the saddest story we’ve had yet.

And then we have Decim – the only arbiter to ever have human emotions. He’s told us countless times that he respects people who have lived fulfilled lives, and even mentions that he hopes those who have been judged by him are “happy to have lived.” Decim has, no doubt, found that very aspect of humans that Chiyuki encompasses so intriguing, him being closer to a human than he is even aware.

Unfortunately, the time has come for Chiyuki to be judged, and he does so in a spectacular, heart wrenching manner. I doubt any words I can write here would do it justice, but it is nothing short of momentously powerful. Watching Chiyuki’s mother break down in tears after making her a dinner in front of her monument, claiming that she is sorry she never understood her stabbed me as though I had watched someone die right in front of my eyes. Decim’s “trick” with the switch that could bring her back to life was ingenious, especially considering he would have to dupe Chiyuki about the very nature of the test in the first place given that she is already familiar with how this works.

Ultimately, she passed and is on track for reincarnation. The whole scene was breathtaking, with Decim sobbing uncontrollably, apologizing for causing Chiyuki so much pain in the process. They share a warm embrace and head for the elevator. Here, the themes of Chavot return just as the sweet old woman had mentioned in the 10th episode – those who cannot understand words or happiness can understand with something non-verbal – a smile. Chiyuki advises Decim to smile more, cries, and gives him the last smile he will ever see from her.

A fantastic, brutal ending to a amazing show. Solid recommendation for Death Parade from me.

Death Parade – 8 & 9

When do we cross that line from good to evil? This theme was explored in a very real way in this insanely intense, emotionally driven double parter.

The only thing we are told about the two who are to be judged is that they are both murderers – Tatsumi and Shimada. One who look at the sullen old man and easily pin him as the murderer, but I thought that was an obvious red herring. Insufficient information to determine who is the murderer before knowing anything about their personalities or story anyway.

Well, as it turns out? They’re both murderers. They’re not quite as twisted as you might think. This probably makes me an awful person but I’d say that there’s nothing wrong with the average person having thoughts of revenge about the man that killed their wife – Tatsumi’s intentions were ultimately an extension of man’s long held shimmering desire for justice and to see it be brought themselves. As many other fallen heroes such as Light Yagami and Lelouche Lamperage have shown us, it doesn’t take long to become that which you are actually fighting when you employ such extreme measures. I can’t say I blame Tatsumi for dispensing his brand of justice as if something like this were to happen to someone I know, I don’t think I’d be able to be so harsh on them.

Shimada having killed Tatsumi, mistaking him for the accomplice, was a cruel twist but one that was quite easy to see coming about halfway into the story. I was impressed by the fact that Tatsumi actually goaded Shimada into killing him to complete his revenge, essentially showing that he wasn’t hypocritical and that he fully endorces the type of “justice” he had dispensed so often himself. Both cases for Shimada and Tatsumi are beyond tragic and, despite the fact that it wasn’t shown, I can only hope both of the poor men were given a second chance and re-incarnated.

Kantai Collection – 11 – 12 (END)

The day for operation MI is here! This is clearly the final confrontation as far as this season goes. How’s it gonna go down? Why does the commander think that Fubuki is so darn important? All those questions answered and more on the next exciting episode of dragonball z!! *Guitar music for 6 seconds before showing you the episode preview*

Ok, so in all seriousness, I greatly enjoyed the final confrontation. Fantastic anime director Yasuhiro Imagawa can tell you that the best “Final Battle” style episode or set of episodes contains pretty much everyone who was relevant in the story’s run involved in one place fighting for the same cause. This, unfortunately, is an old anime trope that has seen disuse particularly in the last 15 years and that’s quite upsetting to me, but I’m most pleased to see that Kantai has not forgotten the spirit of a classic anime, not unlike the spirit of a true ship girl!

Things go quite poorly for Akagi, who unfortunately starts having ‘nam flashbacks at a moment of crucial import (noting the similarities between their current situation and her recurring dream). She is saved by Fubuki and Kongou, who snap her out of her daydreaming though. This backup helps but is certainly not enough to help combat the Abyssal ones. Several waves of reinforcements arrive for our ship girls, including Yamato and her squad and even Nagato herself! Not unlike Uesegi Kenshin’s arrival on the final battlefield in Nobunaga the Fool, I quite honestly screamed aloud in happiness upon seeing the both of them, and boy did they fuck shit up good.

Eventually, with the help of the commander (Who is quite unharmed, by the way), the girls realize that without destroying the carrier they will be unable to harm the regenerating Abyssal one that has been giving them so much trouble this far (and refusing to die). Fubuki lays the finishing blow and they blowe that motherfucker to kingdom come in a spectacular fireworks show.

The show has ended with Yuudachi and Fubuki greeting Mutsuki, who was waiting patiently for them, and had a rather modest “clean-up”, which was in good taste in my opinion. Anything more than this would have felt over-indulgent as many other anime series tend to do.

Oh, we cannot discount the most important detail….”Sequel in production!” I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’ll be looking forward to future exploits from the ship girls.

Kantai Collection – 6 – 10

You wanna talk some fucking Kantai? Let’s talk some Kantai.

Episode 6 features the cutest, most fun “filler” episode yet as the group of young girls is deadset on winning the shipgirl’s curry contest. Luckily for them, pretty much everyone destroys themselves during the actual competition leaving them with one true competitor, over whom they prevail anyway. Akatsuki, now you can finally consider yourself a real lady! (She’s easily the cutest – I’m always rooting for her).

Ok, back to manly stuff – first division’s Kaga gets severely wounded and unfortunately will need to be replaced in Emergency Mobile Unit 5 for the next operation. She is replaced by Shoukaku, and the operation actually goes quite well. Unsurprisingly, Kaga is worrying about her kinsmen the entire time she is in the docking bay. I wonder if she saw Falco while she was there?

Episode 8 features my favorite ship girl who has thus far been unaccounted for (You may have spotted her in the archive headers for these posts, most recently) – Battleship Yamato makes her appearance! She’s so powerful she can destroy entire fleets singlehandedly with ease…the only issue being her fuel consumption. Such as power comes with a price unfortunately, and Yamato cannot be deployed because her fuel consumption is just so great. Fubuki had an easy enough time overcoming such a limitation by taking her out on a rowboat though. Hey, she’s resourceful when it comes down to it!…How did she not drop straight through that row boat, anyway?

When ship girls “level up”, they get remodeled – however, not every ship girl is eligible to be remodeled. Not unlike the classic RPG system of gaining experience before proceeding to the next level, they must put in enough training time, receive enough damage, and demonstrate a certain level of proficiency before they can be remodeled. Yuudachi, because of her secret nighttime training, becomes eligible and even her appearance received a rework, although a later episode mentions that this is not always typical. As a result, she becomes much stronger. Naturally, this leaves Fubuki feeling left behind by her friend. No worries, Fubuki, something wonder for you is right around the corner…

The Admiral has gone missing – Fubuki recalls how the admiral had asked her to join the fleet. Strangely enough, the admiral left behind instructions for their final operation, involving Fubuki as the crux of the operation. She is to be remodeled as part of the arrangement, Nagato says. In order to become Akagi’s escort, she subjects herself to the harsh training Kaga has offered her, and ultimately succeeds and is, in fact, remodeled. However, her appearance has not undergone a drastic change by any means – but her power is very real.

The final Operation MI is ready to go. I was a little disappointed that Fubuki didn’t have a substantial rework as Yuudachi did, but the power is really all that matters. I’d really love to see more of the Admiral but I know the show enjoys making him some super smart faceless/voiceless guy that works in the background. Oh well.

Kantai Collection – 2 – 5

Man, I have failed in a completely unprecedented manner to keep this blog updated for the winter 2015 anime season, but for that you can thank many, many late nights at the office, general exhaustion, getting the flu twice in march alone, back to back, and getting my wisdom teeth pulled (earlier today, actually). Even such extremes will not keep me from posting about Kantonese cartoons!

I’ve actually been very good at keeping up with Kantai and Death Parade, despite what the blog posts indicate here. I’m somewhat glad I was able to end up bundling these together as the early Kantai episodes have little to discuss.

Kisargi’s death came as a shock to me and actually added the much needed feeling of mortality to the skirmishes present in the series – unless she magically comes back in the final episode, she is dead for good (I can safely say she has not shown up all the way to 11). I must hand it to the show – it killed someone off with no asspulls.

It was nice to feel the bond between Fubuki, Mutsuki, and Yuudachi – kinda reminded me of our crew from Soul Eater Not, strangely enough! (Yuudachi and the aforementioned princess seem to share more than a handful of similarities, and that extends further than their personality). I can put my stamp of approval on each of the three as quite likeable.

I admit – I knew next to nothing of Kancolle before this show – Kongou’s personality threw me for a loop, but I think I like here even better here! She has the liquified, distilled essence of everything that made Karen likeable from Kiniro Mosaic, complete with hilarious insertion of english words and most importantly, the same voice! Kongou’s fleet’s loyalty was moving to me.

Episode 5 was quite interesting – reminds me very much of my own workplace with how frequently teams are assembled and disassembled! In any events, the shambling remains of squads were re-arranged to form a new one, complete with Kongou and Fubuki place with some of Akagi’s girls. Needless to say, Kaga in particular is very proud and did not get along well with the others. I doubt I need to tell you where the episode went as we’ve seen this situation countless times before, but nonetheless its resolution brought a proud smile to my face upon its resolution.

Death Parade – 6 & 7

Plot episode incoming!

Let me say that episode 6 was one of my absolute favorite since the show’s inception. Harada, despite wanting to write him off as an egotistical, womanizing dick, actually proved to have some humanity (although, admittedly, Mayu was really the one who shone). These are some characters who possess all the depth of a real person – Mayu is not the most attactive or the most perfect, and she’s had some embarassing situations – but beneath her exterior lies a normal girl with a heart of gold, willing to do anything for Harada, her idol.

There is a saying about those you idolize though – don’t get to know them, although in this case Harada proves it wrong. I was on the edge of my seat as he reached for her hand before she fell to her fake doom. The little show they put on at the end for all of Quindecim brought the biggest smile to my face. Truly, an excellent, excellent episode.

Oh, and the first episode where we saw Ginti do some judging as well!

Episode 7 is heavy on the plot. So the bar is called Quindecim, right? Decim obviously comes from Decim, but what about Quin? She was a real woman with an odd personality – bubbily and spirited – makes me wonder why she and Nona get along so well. Quin was a former arbiter who now works for the intelligence borough, but people are dying so fast that she rarely has a single moment to breathe, even if she does agree with Nona’s analysis that she is more suited for it than her previous job.

Even if you weren’t paying attention, there is no way you didn’t notice the obvious machinations of building tension. Nona has done something unimaginable – infused Decim with human emotions. This is probably why we can relate to Decim more than Ginti, for example (for the record, I think he’s also quite likeable). However, Oculus has no doubt noticed that Nona has been hiding something – his chilling inquiry towards the end of the episode spells out the final conflict, I believe.

So, insurrection amongst the arbiters and god, eh? Count me in.

How wonderfully likeable Decim ended up being. I had thought I had him pegged the moment we were introduced to him in the beginning of the show, but thankfully I was wrong. Oh, and how about Mayu? I guess Ginti ended up keeping a human of his own… Haha. Seems he is not as different from Decim as he had previously thought.

Death Parade – 4 & 5

Oh no – he’s begun combining episodes. Yes, trust me – when I live in a magic world where I don’t work over 50 hours a week, I promise this will happen much less.

Misaki and Yousuke’s story is quite a sad one. Often times in anime we are presented with two factions who are very much caricatures of real human beings – that is, an extreme personification of one facet of someone’s personality. Often there are characters labeled as the “funny guy”, “the serious one”, etc. However, anyone that has spent an iota of time in the real world can verify that there is considerably more overlap than what fiction presents to us. Death Parade has shown us that it hasn’t forgotten that.

What is Misaki? A mother, a worker, stubborn, arrogant, but trying to change. It’s amazing but I can’t even bring myself to hate someone who slammed the poor NEET’s face into the screen, effectively killing him. Is it wrong to feel sorry for her? For what it’s worth, she did not reincarnate. Yousuke’s story is less interesting – a NEET who committed suicide feeling he had nothing left to live for. Indeed sad but there is little more to discuss.

Episode 5 brings us much to discuss. So, who rules over these arbiters, and why must they judge? We meet Oculus, playing the role of god, who is playing a round of pool against Nona…and losing spectacularly. While initially proving to be a scatterbrained, senile old man, there is no doubt a ferocious spirit lying underneath his exterior (And we get small glimpses of that, actually. Chilling.)

In addition, it seems that our favorite unnamed heroine, hereby dubbed Onna (I have also seemed similarly generic “unnamed, black haired woman”, but you get the idea) is beginning to remember a bit of her humanity. According to our findings, she was once a human that Decim took a shine to for unknown reasons. Perhaps Decim is somehow related to the children’s storybook mentioned in the beginning? He seems to have some sort of communion with Onna, although it is difficult to discern what, exactly, that might be.

Oh, and we’ve also met Ginti – the hot headed arbiter who started alongside Decim, who, according to Nona, is far less capable. He seems to have quite the bad temper, but all things considered, I think he thinks highly of Decim.

Intriguing. More plot episode incoming, no doubt.

Death Parade – 3

I don’t think I have the heart to withstand this show – it seems as though it is intent to see sad stories to their very end with no hope of a last chance. Miura and Mai’s love story is a simple one, but cute and touching all the same. I always feel love stories deeply, especially one about a young love that is lost, and in this case, found again too late.

Chisato was Miura’s friend that moved away when he was little, but it was young Mai that really love Miura. So much so, that she underwent plastic surgery to look like Chisato. I think Miura figured it out all along and he was still ok with it. Seeing the credits roll by as they went on their date, enjoying their first and last time as a couple together made me melt inside. Mai had lived her whole life in pursuit of Miura’s love, and at last, only in death, was she granted it. Only those with vapid, black holes in places of your beating heart need apply here, as the rest of you will shed at least one tear.

How tragic but wonderful all the same. If you must die, this is a fine way to go. Decim made me smile when he granted their last request for their date – I wasn’t expecting him to allow it, but it seems he’s not such an uptight guy after all. He does have a heart….somewhere in there.

I wasn’t sure what the significance of bowling with the other’s heart was in this case (unless it was just to make them aware of their feelings for each other, indirectly? But why, though?) – or rather, if the bowling game was symbolic of anything itself, but that I doubt.

A pure and innocent love lost to the uncaring, equal embrace of death. May they live on in their afterlife happily.

Even if we have found a formula, as long as the stories bear as much heart and worth as this, then we have nothing to fear. As usual, a spectacular showing from Death Parade.

Absolute Duo – 1

Hmm, this show looks awfully familiar…

Well, if that’s what you thought, you’d not be too far off the mark – this is the typical action/school/harem setting with a slight variation. Is that a bad thing? It sure as shit could be, but I think we have no cause for alarm thus far.

The main character’s name is Thor Kokonoe. Ok, I’m done convincing you fuckers now.

So, Thor and those in his world possess “Blaze”‘s, that is, special weapons that seem to be a manifestation of their soul – the only catch being that Thor’s weapon is not a weapon at all, but rather a shield. He shows himself to be extremely, surprisingly so adept at combat as he effortless handles Imari, his newfound friend, in order to secure his place in his new school, Kouryou Academy.

There, he meets Julie, who is his temporary partner. She’s cute, quiet, and quirky, but fairly harmless otherwise.

This show, if executed correctly, has the machinations to be as entertaining as Strike the Blood: that is, not A+ on paper, but fun as fun can be. That is what I am expecting going into this series and my hopes have not been dashed yet – bright colors, vivid visuals, and fairly decent character design are highlights.

But not all is sunshine and butterflies. Absolute Duo has, in fact, painted a difficult road for itself – by treading on deeply layed out and mapped territory, it runs the risk of being formulaic, familiar, and dull. We can only hope this is a To Aru Majutsu no Index/Strike the Blood rather than a Magical Warfare, with the latter example being by far the weakest and most formulaic of the three.

Julie is cute and oblivious – so what’s her deal, and what’s her fascination with Thor anyway? What’s up with Thor’s Blaze? Why is it a shield? I’m sure we’ll find out in due time. Let us hope that Absolute Duo handles these issues with grace and grants us an entertaining “shonen-esque” story – high on fun, low on substance, which is quite fine.

Death Parade – 1 & 2

This time, we have Death Parade.

Many anime over the years have lightly tangoed with the idea of death and the afterlife – where do we go when we die? While few have played directly with the departed and ideas of the afterlife (Yuyu hakusho, bleach, vaguely death note, shigufumi), none have taken the initiative to explore the next life as intimately as Death Parade.

Even if the not-starkly-original concept hasn’t hooked you, fear not – I guarantee you will be guessing all through the first and second episode, and not in a confusing way. We assume the role of Decim, who is the arbiter of the afterlife. He’ll offer you a drink, but soon after, you’ll be “forced” into playing a game that reveals the inner workings of your character and shows him really who you are.

Despite thinking I had everything figured out, the scenario drawn in the first two episodes took me by surprise.

While it was wild seeing the couple in the first episode fall apart, I have to say it really took me aback at the end when the woman revealed she was pregnant with another man’s child (Even Decim was surprised as fuck, did you see him?) Episode 2 reveals that it’s highly likely that it may have been a feint, according to the rookie, to make the man feel as though he wasn’t responsible for killing his own son.

Nona does not seem convinced and, despite paying Kurokami a compliment later rescinds it and goes into her hammock to be a tremendous bitch for some reason. Ok, so was she not impressed or is she just jealous of the newfound talent? They’re all playing for the same team, so it’d probably do some good to keep that in mind.

While I don’t think we’ve seen the inner workings of an over-arching plotline yet (and, to be quite honest, I might be fine with this episodic pace), it is too early yet to tell. I believe the Queen Decim has a few more mysteries to gently whisper to us yet and, as one could expect from only two episodes, we have seen only the tip of the iceberg with this psychological mind fuckery.