Btooom! – 03

Himiko runs from Sakamoto, who thinks he’s found her with his radar. However, the one he tracks is an older man named Taira Kiyoshi, who recalls what happened on the plane that sent them there; Sakamoto was tased in the head and lost the memory. They tentatively agree to team up and try to avoid playing the game if possible, but they have to find food. A plane parachutes briefcases probably filled with provisions, but someone beats them to it, only to get blown up by a bomb planted by another player. They run to another parachute, but a young boy is there to meet them, covered in blood and standing over a dead body.

A couple dozen innocent people are kidnapped, put on a plane, given chips that can only be removed if they die, told they’re being dumped on a remote island, and told they can only leave that island if they have eight of those chips, including their own. That means killing seven other people. And everyone will be fighting over limited supplies of food and water- the airdrops of which will inevitably draw them together. This is Battle Royale or the Hunger Games, only with some adults in the mix. The plane trip Taira recounts is thoroughly unpleasant and chilling in the same way.

How could people be so callous about the lives of their fellow men? While some of the players are tougher and less moral than others and look forward to the bloodbath, most are probably like Taira and Sakamoto: they really don’t want to kill anyone. Sakamoto actually did kill one person, and he hated it. Mass murder just isn’t in him. But hunger, thirst, and desperation will eventually give way. Deprive humans of comfort and necessities, and they turn nasty, just as sure as any “lesser” creature. It’s kill or be killed. Forcing people in such a situation is tyranny. But we won’t get our hopes up that those responsible will ever be punished for it.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 03

Nanami recieves her first youkai visitor, Himemiko of the Isara Swamp. She requests Nanami help her make a match between herself and a human, Kotaro, who just turned 18. She comforted him when he was crying by the swamp ten years ago. Tomoe warns Nanami about the taboo of youkai-human love, but she ignores him, and finds Kotaro in an ice cream shop. Tomoe gives Himemiko human form so she can meet him, and Kotaro comes around. When two thuggish punks approach Himemiko, Nanami gives Kotaro the nudge he needs to rescue her.

Tomoe is trying to control Nanami, but ultimately she has all the power, and once she learns he’ll obey her without complaint if she simply yells passionately at him, she asserts that power with relish, meeting with youkai royalty and agreeing to set up a meeting between youkai and human in spite of the taboo against it. She’s a god; if she can’t give people hope, even against impossible odds, then what good is she? Especially when the odds turn out to be not nearly as impossible as originally feared.

We were expecting the timid, Rubik’s Cube-spinning Kotaro to run away screaming at the sight of what is essentially a swamp monster, but Tomoe does good work, and he’s able to transform her into a cute-as-a-button human girl (though she has to work on lowering those eyelids, plus table those creepy tongue clicks). Kotaro, initially suspicious, warms up to her; their meeting is a most affable one. He even prepares to stand up to two guys twice his size bothering her, thanks to a spiritual and literal nudge by Nanami, which is all she as a god is supposed to offer.

Rating: 8 (Great)

Introducing the RABUJOI Trope Incidence (RTI) Rating

Our passion for innovation (read: boredom) has led to the development of another new way to categorize the anime we watch. The RABUJOI Trope Incidence rating, or RTI, is the result of our noticing similar or in some cases identical characteristics within different anime series. We’ve identified twenty-five such tropes. The RTI is simply the number of the tropes a series contains divided by the total, or  n/25. The results, applied to the twelve series we’re currently watching, are charted below. Warning: the results may shock you.

Fall 2012 RTI Report Last updated 22 Oct 2012. Click Here for updated charts.

As you can see, Muv-Luv Alternative (Muv) leads the pack with 18 out of 25 listed tropes each, or a .72 RTI. Jormungand (Jor) contains only seven out of twenty-five tropes;  a .28 RTI.

Does this mean Muv-Luv is the most formulaic series while Jormungand is the most original? Not necessarily; all it means is that they contain the most and least tropes, respectively. But anime can be more than the sum of their tropes. It’s more about how the tropes are used and balanced, more than how many there are. It’s also just fun to see the patterns in otherwise totally different series. Well…it’s fun for us.

A show with a perfect 1.00 RTI would probably be a complete mess, but with good writing, acting, and animation, it could still be watchable. On the other hand, a show with no tropes could still suck. That’s what our subjective ratings are for: Zetsuen no Tempest (Zet) is one of the highest-rated series this Fall despite its .56 RTI.

Since we’re only two or three episodes into most of these, the trope count are likely to change periodically.

Stray Observations:

– As of 22 Oct 2012 there are 142 total trope hits among the twelve series, or 11.83 per series, making the mean RTI .47.

– Muv-Luv is currently the only series we’re watching with mecha. Huh.

– Jormungand is notable for being the only series with no high schoolers (Jonah is a teen, but never attended school).

– For the record, we define a “tsundere” as “a person (either gender) who is initially cold and even hostile towards another person before gradually showing his or her warm side over time.”

– We determine whether one or both of a character’s parent(s) are away, divorced or dead based on dialogue and/or visual evidence in household, not pure assumption. This trope only applies to non-adult characters.

– Chuunibyou (Chu) and Panzer are series with frequent use of weapons (imagined in the former) but the characters’ lives are in no real danger.

– We’ve likely (definitely) missed a couple tropes here and there, but like we said, we’ll tweak as the series progress. Feel free to suggest revisions! We’re going for accuracy here.

– Here’s how some of our favorite anime series shake out:

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: .56
Mawaru Penguindrum: .56
Neon Genesis Evangelion: .56
Shiki: .48
Kare Kano: .28
Nazo no Kanojo X.16
Natsuyuki Rendezvous: .16