Sanzoku no Musume Ronja – 08

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Sanzoku no Musume Ronja’s seventh eighth outing focused on the adults and their ongoing struggle to kick Bolke’s bandits out of the rear keep. It was harmless and played for laughs as usual.

However, to quote my toddler: “Where’s Ronja?”

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In short, Ronja isn’t really in this episode. Her role is largely to observe the adults, occasionally ask her father questions, and then spend a few of the final minutes in the woods wondering where all the animals have gone and being conflicted about not seeing Birk.

It’s an episode about the boredom of fall for people who don’t have television, I think.

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If it wasn’t already obvious, this was not one of Ronja’s strongest episodes. Pretty and approachable, still and always, but it was a weird choice for a kid-centric show to ignore it’s child actor. The result was a much more restless audience.

It still deserves an 8, as it in no way conforms to the dismissive structure of a 7 but, by our standards for an 8, Sanzoku no Musume Ronja episode 7 8 provides the absolute narrowest margin deserving of one.

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15 thoughts on “Sanzoku no Musume Ronja – 08”

  1. “it in no way conforms to the dismissive structure of a 7”

    What would Ronja need to do to get a 7 rather than an 8, by your standards? Just curious, because this sounded like a boring episode that was missing its heroine.

    1. To expand on the episode a little:

      the lack of meaningful action, progress, and the heroine was emotionally underwhelming for adult and toddler alike. However, the episode’s goal appears to be ‘the listlessness of the cooling seasons’ and to capture the isolation these people all feel from it. Even though they are at war with another clan that now lives not 30 feet away from where they sleep, the Robbers rarely even see the Bandits, and then only from a distance or in the fog. Due to the feud, the adults aren’t even robbing the trails at the moment and they’re going crazy from boredom. They even get into a fistfight over idle chitchat that’s only really resolved by Mattis and a fresh deer to eat.

      Ronja experiences a parallel cycle: her forest is empty, save for a hawk high in the sky and a small number of timid grey dwarfs. Not even her nemesis is there to give her negative company. She’s not really happy (like the adults) until the feast, even though she has exclusive use of her territory, which was ostensibly what she wanted for the last few weeks.

      So… dull. Yes! Emotionally. Effective at conveying the world building/seasonal element? Also yes!

      To rate down at a 7, or lower, would be the same as any other show:

      1. an episode with entirely no purpose (structural and/or emotional)
      2. an episode with visual short comings (this week came as Ronja’s head looked strangely too large in a few key frames)
      3. an episode with bad structure. Confusing, over lapping flash backs, abrupt pacing shifts, or breaks in tone.

      Because Ronja is based on an existing story, it’s unlikely to suffer a structural melt down and because it’s CG, it’s unlikely the visuals will ever drop below the quality they hold now. The most likely chance for it to screw up was mentioned by a reader a few weeks ago: the source is a short story and stretching it out runs the risk of ‘thin’ episodes or ‘padding.’ That wasn’t the case here but it came close.

      1. Gotcha. Your argument makes sense, and you’re free to rate as you like, but to me, those specific (and somewhat harsh) criteria make it sound like you’re undervaluing a 7 out of 10 rating. A 7 isn’t that bad at all…it is, by definition, “good.”

        I realize we rate in different ways; I just wasn’t getting anything approaching a “very good” in your review or the comment above, because technical and structural stuff aside, it didn’t seem to “wow” you or rise above the sum of its parts the way an episode would have to do for me to rate it an “8” or higher.

      2. Ronja ep 7 had a lot of careful and smart thought put into it, it’s well built and builds the world the characters live in without relying on cheap mechanisms like narration and monologue to show us that. Was I interested in the story it was telling this week? Not as much as previous weeks but, like Shirobako, I can see what it was doing and what it was doing was artful.

        This is why I weight more for structure than emotional excitement. If emotional wow factor is the only criteria, then its legitimate to say things like “Picasso’s paintings aren’t good because cubism doesn’t speak to me.”

      3. Oh, I’m not arguing ’emotional wow factor’ should be the only criterion.

        But emotion either seems to have been omitted altogether from your ratings, or you’ve felt precisely the same way about every episode of Ronja (as well as Amagi and Kokkuri-san), which I can only surmise is really a factor of every episode of each show being in the same ballpark structurally and technically speaking.

        Certainly there’s one episode or another that was better or worse than the others, by some other measure. I guess that’s where the emotional aspect comes in; breaking what is otherwise a monotonous and unrevealing tie borne out of the show’s reliably consistent structure and presentation.

        At some point that invariability renders individual episode ratings as worthless as if they were based solely on the author’s ‘gut’.

        Or…maybe you actually have enjoyed all these episodes equally, in which case never mind!

        Lord knows I’ve had my share of rating ‘streaks’.

      4. Amagi Brilliant Park’s score is consistent, because the show is consistent. Take ABP’s going to the pool/swimsuit episode as an example. Normally we’d slam a show for being cliche or padding its length for doing this but ABP’s used this episode to a) completely integrate 3 cast members it introduced into the week before b) revisit and develop side characters from earlier in the season c) expand the cast and world footprint and further the ‘how do we get more guests’ plot and d) it was hilarious.

        The only way to differentiate that from other ABP episodes would be an incredibly subjective 100 point system… and no one uses that like no one uses my preferred 4 star system :D

    2. Your (very engaging and insightful) conversation reminds me of this article:

      http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/you-give-out-too-many-stars

      “Gene Siskel boiled it down: ‘What’s the first thing people ask you? Should I see this movie? They don’t want a speech on the director’s career. Thumbs up–yes. Thumbs down–no.’ That made sense, but in the paper it had the effect of nudging a lot of films from 2.5 to three stars. There is never any doubt about giving four stars, or one star. The problem comes with the movies in the middle.”

      In my experience, for most critics, the ranks above seven are largely determined by their enthusiasm. Six and below is a matter of how upset they are. As a reader, my only interest in the score is to figure out where that recommendation line is. That’s the only clear thing it can provide that might be missing from the text of a review.

      It’d be convenient if critiquing was simply a matter of evaluating structure and technique, but that would require dismissing many films that are more than the sums of their parts.

      1. My preference is a 4 star system, not unlike Siskel & Ebert or X-Play’s Adam Sessler:

        4 stars is something everyone should experience because it exceeds all standards, breaks new ground, etc. By its “Must see” nature, it can not have any marks against it (approx Rabujoi 10 and ‘high 9s)

        3 stars is completely good but a little cliche or safe or not as polished, visually. It meets all expectations. “Recommended” (approx Rabujoi 7 through low 9s)

        2 stars is okay, within the context of its conventions. It is, by its very nature, cliche and predictable and while it meets expectations in the sense that it conforms to a genre, it does not in the sense of anime in general. “Not Recommended unless you like its genre” (approx Rabujoi 5 and 6 and maybe low 7s)

        1 star is not good on any level or has serious short comings in multiple areas. It can’t just be ugly, or completely unoriginal, or have terrible music, bad voice acting, incoherent plots or profoundly inappropriate messaging. It needs to be several of those things. “Avoid” (approx Rabujoi 1 through 4)

        It’s a very simple system that directly informs the reader whether they should watch the show or not. Additionally, it promotes less argument because each ‘grade’ has more range. (Preston wouldn’t argue that this episode deserved a 2 star rating, for example)

        However, no one uses this system and conflict excites readers and being meaningful to readers is really what any review blog’s goal.

      2. X-Play used a five star system, if I remember correctly. I’ve never liked that scale, as the three of five ranking swallows up a lot of “okay” projects. Even worse, a three, like a C or most people’s 7, doesn’t clearly state whether the critic recommends the movie or not.

        I suppose, technically speaking, Ebert had a fifth rank, but that was off the scale for when he refused to recognize a movie as a movie. Two was always a thumbs down. Even a two and a half was as well, though I’ve never been a fan of the half stars. Nuance is best left to the text of the review.

      3. True. Middle ranks eat a lot of shows and I accept that seeing a big board populated by 30+ ‘3 stars’ would be rather dull.

        Since we drop a lot of shows we don’t enjoy watching, Rabujoi ‘8’ eats a lot each season too. Our 7 is as much a ‘a good show missed a beat this week’ as it is a rating for a good show in general.

        I mean, I gave Wheelchair-chan 7s for three weeks straight because it was interesting and well enough put together, but not as innovative or exciting as it should have been.

        Regardless, yeah… the problem is mostly the lower numbers. Anything under a 7 is a thumbs down for us. Sure, we’ll watch some of those shows but usually for meta reasons: check the big board. The only show below a 7 that we haven’t dropped is GundamG* and I get the sense that Hannah’s sticking with it /because/ it’s so bad now.

        *Tenchi, Orenchi and Otaku Husband are all micro format shows so we’re more or less willing to watch them, even though they aren’t any good.

  2. Hmm, you seem to have missed an episode. Or is there a review of “Song in the Fog” that I’ve missed? That one’s a bit more exciting.

    And yeah, this ep was mostly filler. It’s pretty much all expansion of stuff that was mentioned off-handedly in the book.

      1. Katarina is correct, this is episode 8. Episode 6 is about the two groups facing off; and episode 7 is about the fog.

        The review title has been updated to reflect the correct episode number.

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