Gundam: G no Reconguista – 03

"Yeah...she does that."
“Yeah…she does that.”

References to past Gundams aside, Recon in G is full of neat little details that show that a lot of love went into the production. The character designs are superbly crisp, and everyone seems to have an extra little spring or flourish in their movements, be they Noredo’s athletic bounds, Aida’s dancerly twirls, or Bellri’s weird lip tick…thing. They’re a lot of little touches that infuse the characters with life.

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That said, as with stubbornly retro shows like Sailor Moon Crystal or to a lesser extent, Majestic Prince, you really need to be in the proper state of mind to enjoy Recon no G on its own particular terms. The characters may be crisp and fluid, but the mechanial design and animation is throwback, which is to say, sometimes choppy and ponderous. The desire to reproduce the feel of the original meant this Gundam probably won’t be as visually impressive in the areas where you would expect it to be, namely in the mecha battles.

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The show, I believe makes up for that a little by having such nice-looking characters and locales, as if to emphasize that this is a show looking forward as well as back. Again, my experience with super-early UC Gundam consists solely on Franklin’s reviews, but I can definitely imagine the dialogue in Recon no G being similarly inspired by its past. This episode has no problem with including large amounts of exposition in casual conversations. It toes a fine line between endearing and clunky, and I imagine for some, it crosses that line too often.

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Take Klim Nick, All bluster and braggadocio, a heel straight out of the eighties. What other sci-fi anime would get away with corny lines like his “I am a genius!”? Still, for me, it’s a lot of fun, especially when the ride in his Montero gets bumpier and he runs into some soldiers who are actually trying. Even more amusing, as Nick nears Capital Tower, he buzzes the wilderness, proving an absolute menace to sleeping leopards, giant snakes, boars, macaws…even dolphins! They’re all well-drawn, too. You won’t see silly sequences like that in Sidonia (though it does feature a bear-woman.)

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“Hands off, bub!”

As for what actually happened this week, well…that’s where we get back to klunkiness, because both the General and Director (Bellri’s mom) of the Capital Army’s Research Division kinda just let Aida sashay into the hangar, activate her G-Self, and fly away with Raraiya, Noredo, and Bell. It would be one thing if Bell’s mom intended for her son to infiltrate the Ameria-affiliated pirates, but she expresses surprise when she hears he’s aboard G-Self. The Capital Army didn’t look particularly competent here.

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But never mind; when does the military industrial complex work perfectly in Gundam? More importantly, Bell, Noredo, and Raraiya are now essentially Aida’s “guest”, where before she was one of theirs, putting at least those first two out of their comfort zone. Raraiya is still an enigma, though I’m sure she’ll end up being important piece soon enough, while we’ve got the requisite love triangle fully established, heading to pirate headquarters. Dated as its milieu may be so far, I’m still excited to see what adventures await.

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Those of you who aren’t buying what Recon in G is selling, I urge you not to heed Bellri’s insistence you “Watch, even if you don’t want to watch!” But if you’re into it like me, stick around. I will be.

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Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken – 02

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Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken (I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying) continues to be a puzzling experience.

This week we learn that the wife’s name is Kaoru, and we watch her introduce two of her female friends to her husband. This goes reasonably well, except that he begins the introduction wearing a horse mask…

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Despite this, the friends like him…though they also presume that he was acting ‘normal’ for them. Regardless, the interaction does go well and we also learn that Kaoru had planned to stay single for life but, for reasons still unknown, married her crazy otaku husband.

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We also meet Kaoru’s husband’s little brother, who may be his sister, who is also obsessed with the internet and fandom. The segment was very fast and I really have no idea what was going on. (And I’m too lazy to google what ‘uke’ means)

Well played, anime about not understanding. Well played.

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On the up side, we see the couple getting along much more naturally—even tenderly—than last week’s husband dominated sleazy jerk-fest. I still have no idea what to make of this show but there isn’t much to complain about something that only lasts 3 minutes.

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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – 01

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Don’t look now, but I’ve got myself another contender for top Fall pick in the romance/comedy/drama genres, with this show easily eclipsing InoBato’s more shallow charms, while eschewing the gut-punchy twists of Waremete. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) is off to a superbly gorgeous, heartfelt start, and it gets there by sticking to the fundamentals of anime as a medium: sights and sounds.

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Cutting from a blonde girl chasing a cat around a town in full Spring bloom to the flashback of a piano prodigy absolutely killing it at a recital (playing Beethoven’s appropriately relentless Piano Sonata No. 14 – Presto Agitato) but the piano abruptly cuts to silence and the present day, when he’s transcribing pop music for work, but writing and playing none of his own. This is our bespectacled protagonist, Arima Kousei (Hanae Natsuki).

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His work is interrupted by the cute, lively, tomboyish Sawabe Tsubaki (Sakura Ayane) in the form of a baseball through the window of the music room into his face. It’s almost a fated ball, since in addition to being his neighbor and childhood friend (who attended that recital years ago), she also seems to harbor pretty strong feelings towards him, which aren’t really returned in the way she’d like; Kousei considers her a sister.

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The episode spends a good amount of time establishing these two as an all but ideal married couple, despite their differing views on the relationship, creating a kind of holding pattern. They may be very different people, but proximity and time have made Tsubaki grow fond of Kousei, though she remarks that he was cooler back when he played the piano.

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About that: it’s not that Kousei doesn’t play piano because of some kind of magic spell: his ill mother was obsessed with molding him into a world-class pianist, and she was quite emotionally and physically abusive to him. That took its toll, with him coming to believe becoming great would help her get recover, but then she died before his first big recital. For that he blames and hates the piano, and himself…but still clings to it, because without the piano…he’s “empty”.

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The visual medium is exploited to its fullest to express moods and states of mind. Despite his lush, arresting environs, Kousei sees the world in stark monotone, like sheet music or piano keys. But he’s in his fourteenth spring, and his last in middle school, and all around him people are pairing off into lovey-dovey couples, as the season is full of young love. He and Tsubaki are never far from one another, but he doesn’t see her that way.

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It’s only when Tsubaki makes him join her for a weekend double date with their handsome, athletic mutual friend Watari Ryouta (Ohsaka Ryouta) and a girl who likes him that things change. The others are seemingly late, but he finds suspicious pair of shoes and tights, and is suddenly led to a playground where a gorgeous barefoot girl is playing Hisaishi’s uplifting “A Morning in the Slag Ravine” from Castle in the Sky on the melodica, accompanying a trio of little kids who want to attract pigeons like Pazu.

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The sound of the music, and the sight of the girl playing so beautifully, suddenly switches on all the light and color in Kousei’s world, like he was shot with a diamond, and he experiences exactly what Tsubaki’s friend Miwa described as the moment she found love. It’s such a lovely scene, Kousei breaks out his cameraphone to capture it…just when a stiff breeze lifts the girl’s skirt, which is the moment she realizes he’s there, and she shows her violent side.

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Tsubaki and Ryouta arrive and introductions are made: the blonde girl is Miyazono Kaori (Taneda Risa); Tsubaki introduces her to Kousei as “Friend A.” As Tsubaki predicted, Kaori and Ryouta start flirting with each other immediately, like the pair of perfect human specimens they are, while Kousei and Tsubaki look on. Then Kousei learns Kaori is a violinist. When she invites everyone to hear her perform, he declines and turns to leave, but she catches his hand and insists: he’s coming with.

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That shows that despite their somewhat rough start, Kaori is receptive to starting anew, making friends, and sharing more of her musical talent with him. Little does she know that in doing so she may be touching old wounds he bears, but also showing him that music need not be a nemesis; it can also heal, inspire, and bring people together. And so it begins.

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Psycho-Pass – 20

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Note: I had planned to finish the first season of Psycho-Pass before the new one arrived, but I didn’t want to rush things…and procrastinated! -H.

Psycho-Pass has gotten noticeably talkier in the episodes leading up to what I can only imagine to be a mind-blowing finale, but when the talking being done (and the talkers themselves) are this compelling, I can hardly complain. This time, Akane’s own Dominator speaks to her. As I suspected, she’s firmly on Sybil’s radar, and they’ve decided to tell her the truth, in hopes it will motivated her to help them acquire Makishima.

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Action-wise, there’s not much to speak of here, at least early on: lots of standing around listening to the voice of Sybil, as Akane continually calls bullshit. We also have Akane having conversations in her head with Kagari, Makishima, and Yuki. By scanning her mind, Sybil believes Akane shares their desire to maintain social harmony, and the belief that society as it is would break down if Sybil were brought down.

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These conversations serve to reinforce the kernal of the idea that first took root in her mind the first day she joined the MWPSB: that the system is not absolute as she thought. It is not perfect, which means it cannot claim absolute authority over society. Sybil basically expels what little regard she still had for it by revealing their true nature as puppet-masters. But because they can still decide whether Kogami lives or dies, she makes a deal with them.

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Once that deal is made—with her pointing a Dominator at her chest and telling Sybil to make its damn move—it gave me every confidence that she’d hold up her end of the bargain, but it probably isn’t wise to take Sybil at its word. Her flashbacks also reminded us that unlike most of the population, her immense natural talent in many disciplines (or luck with tests as she calls it) gave her a choice they didn’t have.

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In effect, that choice from a variety of futures afforded her a measure of free will. Sybil indeed cleared up a great many things for Akane, and it’s like a fire was lit beneath her. At the home of the murdered agricultural official, she breaks out her super-sleuth skills, channeling Kogami to Ginoza as she talks. Kogami is already at the granary where Makishima intents to poison the crops.

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Akane showed us a lot this week, like just how much she’s grown and matured. I love how disappointed and disgusted she gets the more Sybil tells her. But it also confirmed to us that she’s far from the cold and emotionless automaton she feared she was, or that her clear hue would seem to indicate. Why else would she agree to giving Sybil exactly what they want, essentially serving as their pawn, for Kogami’s sake?

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