Kantai Collection: KanColle – 02

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Character names link out to wiki pages for their real-world historic counterparts.

This was a pleasant fall-down/get-up training episode that explored more of how the strange world of pretty anthropomorphic ships works, and inched Fubuki a little further towards respectability.  No battles with Abyssals this week, but Secretary Ship Nagato has plans for one soon, of which Fubuki will be an important part. The only problem is, while she impresses her peers in classroom theory, she’s an absolute disaster in the water.

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After witnessing a bit of Fubuki’s flailing, Nagato warns Fubuki’s light cruiser senpais Sendai, Jintsuu and Naka that if the lil’ destroyer can’t cut it, she’ll recommend the admiral strike her from the fleet. It may sound harsh, but there’s no point in sending a destroyer out there that’s just going to get herself destroyed, is there?

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Fubuki tracks down Fleet Carrier Akagi, who is having a 15-hour repair bath when the admiral sends along an “instant repair wash”. Afterwards they have lunch, and Akagi repairs Fubuki’s confidence just by being awesome, but when Fubuki settles in for the night, she becomes the recipient of some more direct assistance, courtesy of her cruiser senpais.

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Sendai gives her balance training, Jintsuu target practice, and Naka…er…idol practice? Charisma? The thing is, the three sister ships train her in consecutive sessions, and end up exhausting her. Fubuki’s friend Mutsuki suspects bullying or hazing is afoot and steps up to defend her (worried they’ll “sink” her if they continue. Turns out the sister ships failed to coordinate their individual plans to help Fubuki improve; no sinister senpais here.

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Yet even as Mutsuki stands up for Fubuki, Fubuki herself is back out of bed and outside, training hard; a gesture that convinces the cruisers that Fubuki has “the soul of a torpedo girl”; she just needs their help to blossom as a warship. An exhaustive and exhausting training regimen ensues, documented via montage.

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It’s often the case that such montages start with failure and end with the protagonist suddenly great at everything she trained for. Refreshingly, that’s not the case here. When she must perform in a training exercise, Fubuki is certainly better than she was, but she’s still far form full combat readiness, which is what the cruisers report to Nagato.

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However, they also report that Fubuki isn’t going to give up, and if she falls, she gets back up and tries again. She’s got “the right stuff” as it were. It’s probably the reason the still-unseen admiral invited her into the fleet to begin with.

He knew she’d charm and inspire the other fleet girls into take her under their wing and show her the ropes. Satisfied with her progress, Nagato assigns the three cruisers, plus Fubuki, Mutsuki and Yuudachi, to an upcoming battle that will be theirs to win or lose.

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Military! – 02 (Second Chance Mini-Review)

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Military! was left behind with my first 6 drops of the season. However, given its tiny play length and that it was the strongest of the dropped shows, I felt like giving it a second view.

tl;dr – I am now satisfied having dropped it.

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Episode 2 introduces girl number 3. She’s the world’s laziest assassin, if a killer who uses MINIGUNS can be considered an assassin? However, as quickly as she shows up, Mini-chan leaves, because she doesn’t like gross things… which is what happens when her target gets beaten to a pulp for ‘peeping’ on his body guards.

It’s actually more complicated then that, as this show is remarkably dense and action packed for its run length, but that’s the gist.

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Verdict: if you enjoyed last week, you could do much worse than this show. It’s silly but doesn’t waste time and gives you a rush of action. If you didn’t enjoy last week or don’t find the loli-gun-girl action genre appealing, then Military isn’t worth going out of your way to acquire.

Sentence: (7) but still happily tossed into the fires of hell!

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 14

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This week’s Parasyte was all about moving on. SatomixShinichi is no more; The private eye plot seems to be wrapped up, and Migi and Tamiya Ryouko both show signs of emotional growth, albeit in the opposite directions.

The last of these elements was most interesting, and possibly most horrifying as things with ramifications go, but everything that needed to happen did. SatomixShinichi especially needed to go. While entertaining, the distraction was holding the plot back and, until Murano is ready, there was no point in dragging it out longer.

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To quickly run down the events: Migi concedes killing every threat isn’t going to work, at least not work for MigixShinichi’s relationship, so they agree to trap and kidnap the P.I. and explain the situation.

Uda and “Joe,” his newly named parasyte, come and help. Ultimately, aside from driving a car and staying in the loop, they don’t really do much. Though I suppose Joe is there to show what a ‘pure’ parasyte is like, and how much Migi has evolved.

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How has Migi evolved? Certainly compromising his kill streak could be seen as same-old practical Migi. Likewise, when Migi berates the P.I. for being a lowly idiot of no worth compared to Shinichi, we could assume he’s just playing the typical ‘Migi Feels Superior’ card.

However, the plumb is in the details. Migi’s tone can read as exasperation, or even empathy for Shinichi’s struggle, which is definitely new.

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Later, Ryouko dismisses the P.I. and actually laughs about it, which is a change in her as well. Then she calls a stand-off with Shinichi on the roof of a university and they exchange barbs but have to break off before coming to blows.

Ultimately, there can be no peace between them. Shinichi’s rage over his mother and how terrible a mother Ryouko appears to be (human shield baby? Really??) not even his parasite can contain the rage.

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What was good: All of the developments were interesting, even the less spelled-out ones like the baby showing some signs of parasyte-like emotional control and response to a parasyte’s strong emotions.

It was also nice to see Uda and Joe again, if not because they are funny to watch.

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What could have worked better: Depends on what you want from Parasyte. This feels very mid-season as episodes go. A lot happened, but there wasn’t a strong overall arc and the developments were personal, character points, not plot developments.

Certainly this is understandable, and it didn’t feel like stalling (unlike some of the previous weeks). Even still, Parasyte faces the age-old challenge of filling two seasons’ worth of episodes without feeling plodding or bloated and this is creeping towards the plodding side of the spectrum.

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Over all, I enjoyed this episode more than the last two. Parasyte emotional development is more interesting than Shinichi’s devolution, after all.

I could use a car chase or a flashy love-interest offing tragic murder rampage though. Couldn’t you?

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Preston’s Take:

Ah, just when Migi has finally come around to Shinichi’s way of thinking—at least in terms of not killing everything in sight—Shinichi is provoked into a rage and wants to kill everything in sight. And just as Ryouko seemed to be trying to find a civilized solution to coexisting with humans and meets calmly with Shinichi on that roof, she kind of burns any potential bridges by mocking the murder of Shinichi’s mom with her newfound laugh.

As Franklin said, the parasytes are going in opposite directions, but I’d argue they’re both becoming more human as Shinichi becomes less. 

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I fully admit to being ShinichixSatomi shipper (even during the Kana Inkursion), even I agree the awkwardness reached critical mass. I do appreciate that his cold behavior was qualified this week by his desire to keep her safe, which wasn’t going to happen as long as she stayed close to him. Here’s the thing, though: when a guy tries to make a girl hate him, the girl doesn’t always cooperate.

I’ll also admit to liking the little scene of the P.I.’s home life. He’s not the best father or husband, but there’s love there, and it instantly made the previously annoying side character more sympathetic. But that the episode had the time to show us this speaks to the fact this show could be straining to fill 24 episodes.

“OUT OF THE WAY, HUMANS!!”

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Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 02

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Binan Koukou…dipped a bit on its second outing. The formula and recurring humor was just as punchy but clever knowingness of the jokes is only going to carry the show for so long. Ironic or not, Binan is a formula show after all, and it’s not the strongest formula to begin with.

Love it? Hate it? Let’s just dive in and see what this week was about…

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“Love Means Never Feeling Regret” shares the spotlight with the villainous student council this week. Lead by Lord Zundar, a green hedgehog from Planet Evil who lives in the president’s breast pocket, the council’s meeting outlines their agenda, why they will be running up against the Battle Lovers, and why they don’t immediately recognize the team BL’s members, who they pass regularly in the school’s hallways.

As villains go, Binan’s don’t stray far from the source material it is parodying. Read: these strict boys see the happy go lucky world around them as dirty and needing organization, no matter the cost.

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Meanwhile, the Earth Defense club / Battle Lovers are hanging around their club room, filling their boredom with quirky, nonsensical discussions. This week’s topic? The misconceptions of disposable chopsticks from an environmental and culinary perspective. (also Wombat cuddling)

The dialog is remarkably natural and reminds me of my own experiences in high school. Truthfully, BL’s playful and weirdly sincere banter is what I look forward to most in these episodes.

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Archetypical or not, each boy has a distinct character and place in the group:

Blue is the spacey loner who muses about bizarrely pseudo-philosophical topics and is an unwilling participant in the battles.

Green, his closest friend, is the straight-faced skeptic and callback guy. The “who’s there” to the group’s knock-knock jokes, if you will. He’s also the most flustered by their costumes, though he doesn’t make a big stink about it.

Red is the mo, lets do this, animal lover of the group. He’s the working-class outsider and either an airhead or a master of straight-faced making fun of the others for buying into his wacky viewpoints. Because he’s innocent at heart, he leads the charge during battle.

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Pink is the hottie, who enjoys their situation since it’s fun and he treats the costumes like cosplay. If they didn’t have a mandatory transformation speech, he’d be as hung ho as Red. (this is the funniest gender reversal of the group)

Last up is Orange, Pink’s friend and possibly the most neutral in the group. So far, he’s the least distinct, effectively being a second straight man/green. However, he seem’s more docked to Pink than Green is to Blue.

They all bounce off of each other (and Mr. Wombat) in a delightful way that would be as valid in a slice of life comedy as it is here.

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We also learn that Sensei really is dead, technically and that Wombat has to stay near the corpse or it will start to rot. Wombat is technically working on medical repairs in the mean time, but horrific reality that BL’s home room teacher’s zombie remains is following them around and demanding the fight monsters while wearing absurdly silly costumes is a nice dark twist on this sunshine-and-rainbows show!

Furthermore, it weirds the boys out even more since killing someone, accidentally or not, contradicts Wombat’s message of peace and love and protecting the earth.

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Then the student council turns a tight-laced student into a monster in the cafeteria, which summons BL, who quickly defeat the monster.

As with last week, this week’s monster mirror’s Blue’s musings and is defeated by Red’s optimism. The fact that he’s an angry pile of chopsticks doesn’t really matter.

Then everyone has a bath and we end on a joke about Sensei’s corpse decomposing warmly in the corner.

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The good: The fact that Wombat actually killed Sensei and how not-over-the-top everyone is about it was fresh and, for now, provides a great recurring joke. Similarly, the boys’ indifference to the whole silly thing (as exemplified by the group forgetting it’s name and calling itself Love Busters, Bust Lovers or Love Battlers) is satisfyingly grounded.

Making fun of Wombat (and the genre) for switching needlessly between Japanese and English versions of the name is clever too. “Are you an alien or a foreigner?!”

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Thankfully, everything is relaxed, which makes a comfortable atmosphere where the viewer can chuckle along with the boys, who chuckle along at how stupid the magical girl formula is.

Best of all, they are chuckling at how ridiculous it is that they are stuck in it, and not being caustic or needlessly harsh. This comfort zone is huge in making the show watchable. Without it, especially if the boys themselves were ‘stupid,’ the hour would be lost or buried under the grating-conventions of the genre.

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The not as good: even though Binan makes fun of this fact, the transformations and the battle itself were too short this week. Yes! Second episodes in the magic girl genre struggle to introduce the villains yet still check each box in their formula.

But a clunky episode is still a clunky episode and not fun to watch.

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My verdict: Episode two was enjoyable to watch but I definitely noticed laughing less then last time. In many ways, Binan’s fate may best be decided by it’s third episode, where we will see if it sticks to pure-formula and (ironic) convention or if it branches out.

Fortunately, it looks like Binan is getting at least a 3rd chance by you, our dear readers’ requests!

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Binan is no Nozaki-kun to be sure. That said, the genre-aware humor of the characters stuck in the genre, plus the gender reversal twist, is all very clever. I’m not sure, actually, if I’d even like it (or have bothered watching it all the way through) if it wasn’t gender reversed?

Ultimately, Binan’s worth comes down to the formula. Does the formula wear out its welcome and suffer slow episodes because the formula says it has to? Or does Binan have more tricks up its sleeves and a twist on the idea of a twist in this genre to keep it fresh?

Only time will tell!

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