Tokyo Ghoul – 09

tg91

After everything that went down last week with Mado, Touka, Hinami, Amon and Ken, you’d expect some kind of respite to follow, and to a degree, that’s true of this week. No one is fighting for their lives, and instead of lots of action and drama, we get backstory and new characters. It almost feels like a new season, with much that is familiar, but details great and small that show that life has gone on in the month-and-a-half since those brutal battles.

tg92

The episode starts, strangely enough, from Amon’s perspective as he first joins the Doves Home Office and is paired up with Mado, who has a reputation for being a kook. Mado teaches him vigilance, in that he suspects an adorable old lady to be behind a string of predatory Ghoul attacks. Amon can’t possibly believe that until he almost becomes a victim, but Mado saves his life, after ostensibly using him as bait.

tg93

Amon seemed more bemused than moved by Ken’s mercy, and he clearly hasn’t stopped idolizing Mado, who he considers to be a hero and “his pride.” I hope Amon’s aggression towards Ghouls won’t grow as twisted as his mentor’s had, but Mado is probably the way he is because he lost everyone he loved and cared about; if the same thing happens to Amon, well, the cycle will continue.

tg94

Meanwhile, Hinami has moved in with Touka and has nursed a pet cockatiel back to health. The bird has really lifted Hinami’s spirits, but despite the fact Touka fought to save Hinami, she still seems to regret having to kill Mado. He was a wretch, but as the ring indicated, even he had a family. That and the bird make her think of her own childhood, when she and her timid little brother Ayato also helped a bird, while living with their dad.

tg95

It’s such a lovely family scene, and it also happens to be the first time we see Ayato. When we see him in the 11th ward licking blood off his arm and calling his sister a “peace-loving wimp.” It’s likely whatever went down between digging for worms as kids and the present, it made both siblings do things they didn’t want to do, but eventually came to enjoy. Touka is through with that part of her life, but her bro clearly isn’t. I imagine he wants Rize back in the fight.

tg96

Other changes in our quasi-season premiere: Amon gets reassigned to a special task force in the increasingly unstable 11th Ward, and two new Doves take over in his old 20th Ward post. A very weird dude with pale skin and red stiches pickpockets Ken, who is probably his prey, a white-haired girl visits Mado’s grave after Mado, and Hide pretty clearly knows what Ken is, but doesn’t seem to have decided what to do about it yet. Lots of table-setting going on. I can only hope the show remembers to stagger the bookings, lest the kitchen get overloadedand chaos reign.

7_mag

Advertisements

Rail Wars! – 09

rail91

Halfway into last week D4 wrestled their Little Draisine That Could to life and started their harrowing journey across the Usui Pass on a retired line. That draisine keeps rolling throughout most of this episode as they battle tree roots, a punishing ride from the ABT that keeps them planted to the rails, and gravity and brake fade when it fails.

rw92

The draisine is therefore the entire world for D4 for an extended period of time. It’s a world that depends on their constant alertness, smooth cooperation, and quick thinking when disaster threatens to strike, which it does, again and again. Had the team simply sat in their seats for the ride, they’d have derailed a half-dozen times over last week alone, before they got to the old tunnels.

rw93

Due to the close quarters and the constant demands of the draisine, it’s also an intimate and physical world, with bodies flying all over the place, hanging (or almost falling) out; pushing and pulling and yanking and pedaling and sweating…“Almost sexual, isn’t it Smithers?” Unsurprisingly, Naoto and Aoi come together the most, but what’s clever is that all their contact is incidental, and crucial for that task at hand.

rw94

Everyone gets pretty trashed, including the Draisine, which leaves a trail of shed parts in its wake. Shou hurts his foot pushing off the tunnel wall to right the train, but still pedals with all his might, and even jumps out the back and slides along the rails on his rubber soles, trying to slow the draisine. Ultimately, the others have to bail out, with Naoto cushioning both Haruka and the organ box.

rw95

Ah yes, the box. While Haruka’s role in the mission is largely non-physical (or at least less taxing than those of the others), she’s also responsible for taking care of that organ box. If it’s damaged or falls off the train, it’s Mission Failed. That, and her quickly-acquired mechanical know-how comes in handy again this week, and on the last curve, all four have to lean out, including her.

rw96

The draisine was a micro-world for a while, but it was also a crucible: one in which D4 became stronger and closer. Naoto thanks his team and tells them even if he wants to be a driver, right now he’s public safety, and there’s no where he’d rather be now. Once the mission is complete, they have another go at the simulator and pass, and the group finally gets to relax and have fun—or rather less death-defying fun—together.

8_brav

End-of-Month Rundown – August 2014

0814_chart_thumbFirst of all, thanks again to our readers for another phenomenal month. It’s nice to know someone out there is reading!

It’s been a steady but also active month, as the good shows stayed good, a few more shows were dropped (for different reasons), one show switched authors, and the site literally went dark (we’re white on black, or rather light grey on very dark grey, now).

Like last month, we’ve got a big colorful graph to show you how our selection of summer shows has panned out two-thirds into the season. See the full-size version for a closer look…and stay tuned in the next few days for a slightly belated Fall 2014 Preview.

 


Hannah

So…Zankyou no Terror…that unassailable whiff of prestige we mentioned last month? Still there, but a bit less potent, thanks to the introduction of a pretty lame villain in Five. We still don’t know exactly what Nine did to her to deserve such unrelenting rage (he left her behind during the escape, I guess?), which makes her motivations muddled in addition to being over-the-top. One could argue every other main character in the show has had as rough and messed-up a life as she has, yet she’s the only one actively trying to murder lots of people. Regardless of the Five Problem, ZnT remains our top show this season; a testament to how much other good stuff is going on around Five.

Calling Aldnoah.Zero a Gundam clone is being a bit unfair. While there’s no disputing the influence of the mega-franchise (and I’ll be checking out Reconguista in G come October), A/Z is delivering its own brand of hero in Inaho, and we’ve fully embraced his bordering-on-bland stoicism. Crazy, messed-up stuff happens all around him, but nothing fazes the guy, nor makes him curl into a ball sobbing. His friend Inko keeps a similarly even keel, but injects more humor and spunk into her performance. It’s a small role by Komatsu Mikako, but a good one.

Sword Art Online II’s ducks are in a row now, and we’ve proceeded with the Ballet of Bullets that is the centerpiece of this first cour. But as exciting the action of the BoB is, it wisely takes a backseat to the growing but still somewhat arms-length bond between Kirito and Sinon, two souls tortured by pasts in which they ended some lives to save others. As Nurse Aki, in an awesome supporting role, says to Kirito, if he’s in this much pain, then he’s not the monster he thinks he is, had the right to make the decisions he made, and to make them again should the time come. Death Gun must be stopped. Here’s hoping he lets Sinon help him. I also wouldn’t mind these two meeting in the real world.

Even though I pride myself on carefully selecting anime of only the finest quality and watchability here at RABUJOI, sometimes something rotten gets by Quality Control. That’s a charitable description of the sixth episode of Rail Wars!. The show then decided it wanted to establish and augment the harem around the protagonist, before quickly breaking up that nonsense and geting back to its ostensible premise of traincraft. She’s a harsh mistress, but her ability to stay on the tracks, and contrasting love interests like Aoi and Mari, continue to endear it to me.


Zane

Barakamon the city-boy artist has really grown and become a member of the community, and the show has demonstrated that in a variety of ways, from bringing a fresh batch of city slickers to the island, to the fact that Naru’s near-constant presence in his home has become more of a comfort than a nuisance.

There’s still one member of Hanayamata who has yet to officially join the yosakoi club, and one member – Yaya, ended up on the verge of not only quitting the club, but tossing aside the others’ friendship. They try to get her back, fail, then try again from a different angle, and get her back into the fold. I rather enjoy when conflicts like this crop up in shows with otherwise lowish stakes, because they’re true to real life: sometimes you’re just not on the same wavelength.

The last five weeks of Space Dandy 2 have been a roller coaster, going from fine to great to good to phenomenal. The standard has been set with it’s transcendant, art-filmesque eighth episode, leaving me hungry for hopeful that we’ll get one more episode approaching its like (albeit with a completely different premise and setting) in the final four weeks.

Ao Haru Ride isn’t just about the “new” Futaba and “new” Ken growing closer together, though they seem to be progressing nicely enough. It’s also about how everyone (except, perhaps, Aya) in the new circle of friends is experiencing true, honest friendship for the first time. The Kou triangle would rend weaker friendships apart, but Futaba and Yuuri reach detente through honesty and courage, and they in turn inspire Shuuko to open up as well. Kou, unfortunately, seems to be dithering.

While early on Glasslip’s supernatural elements were overshadowed by the more conventional teen drama, in the last few episodes things have gotten very trippy and unnerving indeed. Now they’re a legitimate obstacle to Touka and Kakeru’s relationship, and they know they can’t keep it their little secret. Glasslip is trying to do a lot in a little bit of time, so sometimes episodes feel overstuffed, but that’s better than being too sparse. Also, all of the characters are becoming interesting as their narratives grow richer and more complex. Sacchan remains the show’s quiet star.


Preston

Akame ga Kill!, which I’ve been likening to a darker, more morally complex Fairy Tail, keeps impressing me in spite of the fact there’s barely an original bone in its body. It’s gotten gutsier, too, killing off two Night Raid members just three quarters in to its first cour…and probably isn’t done. Foes never seem to last long, but more powerful, sadistic ones promptly crop up to take their place, to test Tatsumi, who is now in possession of his own Imperial Arm.

Majimoji Rurumo continues to be the Anti-WCW, wisely focusing on character rather than silly plot. While a few new faces, they don’t get in the way of the core couple. Rurumo continues to wreste with her feelings for Kouta, but meanwhile Kouta isn’t standing still, continuing to improve as a person out of a genuine desire to help and protect both Rurumo and, in one of the saddest episodes of the season, a litter of kittens.

With four episodes in the bag, Sailor Moon Crystal is now where the rest of the summer was this time last month. In those four episodes we’ve met Moon, Mercury, Mars, and the kings who serve Beryl. Looking forward to Jupiter and Venus and seeing the whole troupe kick some demon ass.

Tokyo Ghoul remains a dark and gory show, but not gratuitously so, and it’s been able to successfully leverage its social message by showing us the neither humans or ghouls share responsibility for the mess the world is in. Ken also seems to be gradually grown a pair as he realizes how important he could be; always encouraging.

Super-cool OPs and EDs should never determine whether one watches a show, and even though the mystery and action seemed to be starting to pick up, I was just never ever that impressed with DRAMAtical Murder. The characters act dumb, the story’s a slog, and the animation ranged between ho-hum and fugly.


Franklin

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun landed in my lap at the end of the month but absolutely dominated everything else I was currently watching. It’s clever, quirky, well drawn and funny. Oh, and it has some charming teen romance drama under the hood too. GSN-k’s only challenge will be to actually go somewhere with the plot threads (at least the central thread between Chiyo and Nozaki) without losing it’s grip on the comedy. I’m confident it can do it, but will it?

Sabagebu! continues to surprise me. For Pete’s sake, I almost dropped this show as “knock-off trash cashing in on Gainax’s ‘dreadful girls with airsoft melodrama'” when I previewed the pilot! Thankfully I gave it a second shot. Sabagebu! is deceptively smart, mercilessly funny, and a real treat each week. Only it’s cheap production values keep it away from top shelf for me — and the more I watch, the less I feel I can hold visual shine against the show.

Love Stage!! came and went this month but, happily, it passed on a high note. The drama between Izumi and Ryouma is now fully established and interesting. Izumi’s character is probably done moping and the rest of the season should bare a lot less angst. Still, Love Stage!! was hard to watch, not a genre I’m familiar with, and I feel it was much more sexually aggressive than a similarly scripted hetero show that would broadcast over the air. I can’t decide if it should be applauded for it’s boldness or avoided.

Oh Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? what. the. hell? You were a harem comedy once and you were half way entertaining. Sure, procedural, but I got a chuckle. Now you’re a baddy of the week (every other week) show, with an intergalactic politics and trans-space/time mystery plot. You’re not funny at all, your harem filler is dull and unstimulating, and your hero is whatever perfect’ish dude mold you want to pour him into. You’ve out stayed your welcome. Good bye and good luck on some other reviewers docket. xoxo – Frankie