Shiki 21

As if there was any remaining doubt about whether there is a distinct good or bad guy in Shiki (and there really isn’t), this episode drives the point home: there isn’t. The Vampires and werewolves mostly kill to survive, as the humans do. But just as some vamps kill for sport, so do the humans kill other humans they believe to be collaborating. Things have gotten out of hand, and Toshio is so focused on victory he can’t see the ultimate tragedy: even if the living win, they’ve cast away too much of their humanity to do so.

This is perfectly illustrated in a prologue that makes one’s skin crawl, as Chizuko and the gals cluck it up after a hard evening’s transporting dead vampire bodies. They have a meal right in the midst of corpses, without even washing the blood of their hands. This isn’t just getting used to a tough situation: to me, this is a form of insanity brought on by the need to cope with one’s hellish reality. They’ve hardened themselves to the point that cutting a person into pieces appears as easy as throwing a load of towels in the wash. Win or lose, things will never go back to the way they were. Society’s rabid compulsion to survive has led to its own collapse.

Seishin finally asks Tatsumi why he does so much to serve Sunako, despite werewolves seemingly superior to vampires in all ways. Tatsumi scoffs at this: it has nothing to do with superiority and everything to do with feelings. He loves Sunako because amidst the cycles of society collapsing and rebuilding – the centuries of humans and their civilizations tearing themselves down and building themselves back up again – only Sunako remains and endures to see the next phase, the next world.

Her timelessness is a source of awe. Those who know and admire her cannot bear to think of her demise. Their own existence is meaningless compared to hers, and they’re willing to sacrifice themselves if it means she can continue existing. Seishin obviously believes this as well, as he exerts all his remaining energies to help Sunako escape her hunters. But their hot on his trail, and his blood will lead them right to her. Will she wake up in time? I think we all know the answer to that! Rating: 4

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Tron Legacy

No, Tron Legacy is not an anime, so I can’t rate it here. But I will say that while it didn’t have a lot going for it in the plot department, it was an exceedingly awesome-looking and -sounding film. It owes a lot of this to Daft Punk, who were also partially responsible for Interstella 5555, which was an anime. They were also totally responsible for an rippin’ good score. They were one of the three reasons I went to see this. The other two were Olivia Wilde and all the cool future stuff.

There’s a great scale to everything, and a great sense of perfection you get from artificiality. Although Avatar’s effects were arguably better, its story was far sappier and more derivative, its acting was far worse, and all the goofy fantasy animals and silly blue Na’vi and the invincible old man all kinda chipped away pretty seriously at my ability to…take it seriously. Tron had none of these flaws, and even though many of its characters are just manifestations of programs, they had a surprising amount of humanity to them, as the actors did the best they could with what they were given. Well, except Michael Sheen…he just tried out his best Johnny Depp-as-Wonka impression.

This film also proves that you can never have too much Jeff Bridges. And that you can wait twenty-eight years to make a sequel and that sequel can be better than the original (to me, at least; as I didn’t see the original in 1982and so wasn’t as blown away as I should’ve been). One final note: Quorra looked like an anime character. I guess everyone else did too, but she looked most like one.

To Aru Majutsu no Index II 12

For seemingly the twelfth straight episode, Touma, Tsuchimikado and Stiyl are chasing Oriana around while communicating with each other on cell phones. This has been one long freaking day too, but by the end, they’ve once again caught up with her, only the sun has started to set, both on the day and on a non-magical, non-religious Academy City.

I remain astonished that at no point throughout all of these lengthy chases and confrontations, these guys still haven’t asked for any help. It somehow feels like the B-team has showed up to deal with Oriana and the Catholics, but are too proud and stubborn (and stupid) to as for back-up. The fact they’ve been so outmatched against Oriana so far will make it that much harder to devise a plausible way for them to ultimately beat her.

Next week’s final act will decide my final thoughts on this arc, but so far it’s been poorly-paced and until the final minutes was definitely dragging. The series has now insisted upon attempting to rush a decent ending. If they succeed, I’ll likely forgive the long slog that preceded it. Rating: 3

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 12 and Wrap-up

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru means “And Yet the Town Turns”, which is a fitting title for this consistently funny and charming slice-of-life series. No matter what crazy happenings befall this town and its inhabitants, life goes on as it always has. The finale presupposes: what if, while on all fours in the middle of the street, despondent that her mystery story didn’t make it past the first round of a competition whose prize would net her enough money to replace an expensive pen she ruined, Hotori was suddenly hit by a truck…and killed?

While dark and serious on the surface, the lighter side of such a question is explored as Hotori is shot up into the afterlife, which is pretty much just like the living world; everything’s a bureaucracy and everyone has to work to afford the perks of heaven. Yet, there’s something very wrong with Hotori being here: it just isn’t her time yet. After she watches through tourist binoculars at all of the people near and dear to her reacting so powerfully to her apparent death (even her teacher and the patrolman!), it drives point the fact that no, the town won’t keep turning as it has been. Not without Hotori.

Miraculously, her brain recovers from its trauma and she wakes up; though it may have had something to do with her father’s timely 3400-yen (about $41) donation to God. As for the pen, she can claim it was crushed in the accident, so in addition to surviving a close brush with death, she’s out of the woods with her uncle. With Hotori back and everyone who knows her relieved, the town can keep turning. I frankly didn’t want a town without her, and neither did anyone else. Rating: 4

Series Mean Ranking: 3.583 (Ranked 5th out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)