Fire Force – 04 – Infernal, Know Thyself

Many scenes of this week’s episode (and indeed previous ones) reminded me of the work of Akiyuki Shinbo, whose work in turn reminds me of live action directors Kubrick and Anderson. Sure enough, Fire Force’s director Yase Yuki is a SHAFT vet, having worked on Monogatari, Madoka, Nisekoi, even Koufuku Graffiti. That means there’s a generous amount of artistry to each shot, even if said shots aren’t really doing that much for the narrative.

The three balloon-holding mascots against an azure sky is one example; the scene of Company 5 Captain Princess Hibana and her man-throne is another, the latter evoking religious iconography that is reflected in the brief scene of Iris in a stained glass-filled chapel, looking at the burned photo of what we gather to have been her family. It’s just a really pretty, stylish show, but if you’ve been watching you knew that already.

Despite the flashy visuals, the episode starts out pretty harmlessly, with Maki dispatching Shinra and Arthur to help get a dog—later revealed to be one of the firefighter mascots—out of a tree. He was “hooray”-ed up there by college kids. With a firefighter (distinct from the fire soldiers) named Miyamoto on trial for a string of murders, the profession is not as respected as it once was.

However, just after Miyamoto is declared not guilty (by reason of insanity) he spontaneously combusts and becomes an Infernal, and not just any Infernal, but one that is self-aware and can talk (and also reminds me a of a hollow from Bleach).

Company 8 deploys to deal with the threat (though Maki leaves out the part about her sending the boys to get a mascot out of a tree, so Hinawa thinks they’re on unauthorized leave. Meanwhile, Princess Hibana moblizes her Company 5 in hopes of grabbing a rare specimen for Infernal research.

Thanks to Shinra’s rocket feet, he and Arthur get there first, and make quite an acrobatic entrance, with the force of Shinra’s kick knocking Miyamoto back the exact same distance Arthur flies before arresting his momentum and showing Miyamoto the back of his fist.

Mika and the rest of the 8th arrives, but her Sputter Comet attack is immediately neutralized. Even so, Miyamoto puts up his hands and surrenders—another Infernal first—before making a quick getaway. Only Shinra is fast enough to chase him. Oubi understands the difficulty of sending off a self-aware entity, but Hinawa tells Shinra not to listen to anything it says.

The ensuing fight between Shinra and Miyamoto!Infernal involves the former kicking a Peugeot 405 at him, showing the guy he means business. Again Miyamoto pleads for the mercy of a nun’s prayer before being sent off. Shinra forgets what Hinawa told him and listens to the Infernal, which immediately double-crosses him by trying to attack.

That’s when Princess Hibana and the 5th arrive and start throwing their weight around. Shirna says this is his job, but Hibana outranks him and her company outnumbers the 8th. Shinra manages to resist having to lick the imperious Hibana’s shoes, and uses his rocket feet to free himself from three of her “5th’s Angels”

The standoff continues when the rest of the 8th catches up to Shinra, and Hibana looks down on her fellow captain Oubi for having no pyrokinetic powers—not to mention low breeding. Ultimately, it is Oubi who caves, deciding letting a better-equipped company use Miyamoto in their research to learn more about human combustion is for the best.

Before the two rival companies go their separate ways, Oubi promises Hibana that the flame of the 8th won’t go out so easily. Kinda sounds like a challenge the princess would be all too happy to accept. In the meantime, she’s got a new specimen for her research department to mess with.

Advertisements

Prison School – 03

ps31

Three episodes, in, and I’ve been subjected to three sickeningly funny, pants-shittingly good outings by Prison School…and hope is still alive that Kiyoshi will have his date! But while there’s plenty of sex and toilet humor, and enormous boobs to be had, there’s also taut, witty dialogue, tremendous voice performances, and a solid narrative replete with “cause and effect” situations. And holes. Lots of holes.

Cause: the guys peep on the girls. Effect: they’re thrown in Prison School. Cause: Kiyoshi escapes the scorn of his sweetheart. Effect: the date is still on, he just needs to break out. Cause: Kirihara also has a secret he needs to conceal. Effect: Kiyoshi’s Plan A fails, and he’s forced to move to a more daring Plan B.

ps32

But those are just the main plot points. There’s also the fact that Shingo, Andre, and Joe start getting suspicious when Kiyoshi and Gakuto start spending so much time together, while they start to suspect Shingo is on to their escape plan. Then Shingo catches them in the shower in a couple of very compromising (but ultimately innocent) positions, giving Shingo the idea that his two friends have begun a physical relationship. And while his initial reaction is shock and horror, he accepts Kiyoshi for who he is. What a nice friend!

ps33

As for the holes I mentioned, a change in their duties the day of his date means Kiyoshi must find an alternate covert route to his hole in the wall, so he uses a drainage channel. While hiding there, he comes across an even smaller hole, through which he can watch Shiraki doing Hindu squats, as is her wont, from the most favorable possible angle.

But again cause and effect rear their ugly heads: due to his position, when Shiraki’s stiletto slips and falls through a hole, it goes right into Kiyoshi’s hole. The resulting blood makes his friends, who’ve been told about him and Gakuto by Shingo, think he pitches as well as catches. But Shingo makes the excuse to Shiraki that Kiyoshi has hemorrhoids.

That segues nicely into Gakuto’s revised plan for Kiyoshi to escape: using an audio recorder with sounds of flatulance to serve as a diversion for Kiyoshi while he’s away. Only their internet access is restricted, so he must record those sounds himself.

ps34

The Three Kingdoms-obsessed Gakuto is always extremely formal and archaic in his speech patterns and vocabulary, so when he and Kiyoshi discuss the pros and cons of what he’s about to do, it’s given all the pomp and heft of a far nobler venture than intentionally shitting oneself in computer class. Yet Gakuto sells the ever-loving shit out of it, cutting loose and producing the necessary audio to aid Kiyoshi—who is, after all, getting him his ultra-rare 3K figures.

ps35

Cause and Effect strike again, when a weak-willed Kurihara, having dug up the booty pics he buried, re-buries them in concrete, he also patches up Kiyoshi’s escape hole. But Kiyoshi doesn’t despair long; he decides he’ll break out by dressing as a girl (snatching a uniform from the laundry truck that will come Friday) and walking out the front gate with the other girls. This is a very old, very stupid bit, but I have full confidence in Prison School to put its unique mark on it when the time comes.

ps36

That confidence is even further buoyed by the final dramatic set piece of the episode, a masterpiece of movement, timing, and ecchiness. Gakuto, who seems a little more weary of Kiyoshi’s chances of success, seemingly goes nuts when he’s supposed to lay low, getting up in Shiraki’s crotch, being smothered in her bust, and finally pulling down President Mari’s skirt. What is his deal…has he lost it? Or is this another plan? Is he creating a cause for some intended effect? We shall see, my friends.

9_ses

Prison School – 02

ps21

This week we meet Mari’s dad Kurihara (voiced by Fujiwara Keiji), the chairman of the school, and the man who allowed boys to enroll at the school in the first place. Kurihara has a very hilarious way of speaking, ending each sentence with a dramatic pause before delivering the final words like an accusation.

At first he looks like he could potentially be a useful ally to the guys, as he insists Mari at least give them the weekends off, opening the opportunity for Kiyoshi to have his sumo date with Chiyo after all. That impression doesn’t last long, however, as Mr. Kurihara immediately becomes more a liability than an asset (he left a web page featuring “latina asses” open on his computer).

Note he doesn’t rub this in her face; she finds it out by accident. But it’s enough to anger her into giving the inmates so much work they won’t possibly get it all done by the weekend. Kiyoshi’s dreams are crushed almost as soon as he let them take hold. Then he spots an anthill, and decides no matter what, he’s breaking out.

ps22

My first thought was “okay, they’re totally getting their sentence doubled.” But this week doesn’t move too fast; instead, it delves into the difficulties of breaking out. However, Kiyoshi gets instant and powerful motivation when Chiyo herself tosses him the details of their date to him.

I’ve very glad there’s at least one girl at the school who doesn’t consider all men scum, and who is perfectly fine with Kiyoshi breaking the rules if it means she can enjoy a sumo match with him. And God, their little sumo-related (I’m guessing) “thank you” gestures are the most adorable fucking thing.

I still can’t see a scenario in which he’s able to get out without getting caught and having his sentence doubled or worse. But Chiyo makes it worth the risk.

ps23

But as Kiyoshi continues to scrape a hole in the wall within the refuse shed, he gets the feeling Gakuto knows about his plan, because Gakuto pretty much tells him he knows about his plan (the dramatic expressions in this show are a freakin’ hoot).

Kiyoshi has another immediate problem: Hana. Her thirst for justice, honor, and equity in all things demands that because he saw her pee (never mind how accidental that was), she gets to watch him pee. And the more she tries to make that happen, the more excited she gets, the more it seems her interest in Kiyoshi goes beyond simply balancing the scales, demonstrating that the show is interested in presenting the perversions of both sexes, not just the lads’.

ps24

There’s a lot I loved in this episode, but one scene I might consider my favorite is when Mari and her dad cross paths in the hall after school. When the book slips out of her dad’s hands and photos of butts scatter all over the floor; the looks and words that are exchanged; the dad’s final look at the camera as he finishes his lines with panache, it’s pretty much perfection, and it had me in stitches.

ps25

Once again, an easily-avoided slip-up by Mari’s dad convinces her that the inmates need even harsher treatment, resulting in Shiraki Meiko using her new riding crop with gusto on Kiyoshi and Gakuto at once, with Gakuto taking “heads” and Kiyoshi taking “tails” in the worst way.

Kiyoshi and Gakuto’s plan to destroy the shed (so they can stay near his escape route without suspicion) goes off without a hitch, but they don’t count on Hana setting up a table and chair and supervising the repairs personally. She also brings enough tea to make Kiyoshi have to go really bad, something she’s determined to be present for.

ps26

This results in the raunchiest and grossest set piece to date: when Hana gets impatient and tries to whip Kiyoshi out herself, he struggles, she trips, grabs what she can (his pants), pulls them (down), and in the commotion, Kiyoshi just…can’t…hold it in anymore. That brings us to a match cut to rival 2001’s bone-to-satellite transition—with Meiko having a most unladylike drink before hearing Hana’s scream.

By no means did Kiyoshi want to do what he did, and he’s clearly ashamed that it happened. Unlike the peeping, he had virtually no control of his role in either peeing incident. If anything, it will be that much harder for him to look at Chiyo without being subsumed by guilt, now that yet another secret he can never tell her about has come between them. Kiyoshi’s slow moral destruction continues apace…

There’s also the matter of him and Hana still not being completely even. If Hana believes in absolute, eye-for-an-eye justice, well then, she’d have to do to him what he did to her. In any case, Prison School has shown it won’t pull its punches.

9_ses

Prison School – 01

ps11

I had a very full Summer 2015, so it stands to reason a show fell through the cracks. But what a show! Prison School’s first episode zooms along, laying everything out with succinctness and flair. It’s better looking than Shimoneta, for a start, and on at least some levels, the comedy is a little more sophisticated (no one’s going around blurting out double entendres, for example…though “Joe” does blurt out bad words).

This is the story of five guys lucky enough to be the first male students at Hachimitsu Private Academy, but after a few awkward attempts to interact with the female supermajority, they get greedy, blow it, and end up incarcerated by the super-conservative, super-sadistic Underground Student Council (USC).

The biggest victim is our protagonist and window into this world: Fujino Kiyoshi (Hiroshi Kamiya, bitches!), who is, among the five guys, the one most likely to score a date. He’s hardly confident, however, and stumbles upon the lovely (and sumo-obsessed) Chiyo quite by accident: ironically, he’s able to hang with her in convo and even score a date thanks to his also sumo-obsessed mom.

ps12

But like I said, the boys totally blow it, by going on a black ops peeping mission involving a smartphone (Kiyoshi’s no less) dangling from a wire in the girl’s bathroom window. When it falls into a plant (physics!) Kiyoshi has to go in and retrieve it, and horror of horrors, the only girl still in there is his beloved Chiyo.

The tension of almost getting caught so many times is infectious, but Kiyoshi’s luck is formidable, as Chiyo is woefully nearsighted, mistake shim for her dark-haired best friend, and leaves before she realizes who he really is. Unfortunately, that’s where Kiyoshi’s luck runs out, because as his four tied-up friends are caught by the USC, the council president herself (Ohara Sayaka, bitches!) sidles up to him and takes him into custody.

ps13

What’s great about this premise is that there isn’t any particular injustice here; the guys are guilty, and they deserve punishment. It’s just a matter of levels. The USC decides to incarcerate them in an underground facility under the school, where they’ll take their classes by video and perform manual labor all the rest of their waking hours.

When Kiyoshi locks eyes with Chiyo, he assumes she knows all and has condemned him along with all the other girls. But in a nice twist…she hasn’t; absolutely certain “no one who loves sumo can be a bad person.”

ps14

As for the USC’s tactics, the prez tries using her extremely violent Veep Shiraki Meiko (Itou Shizuka, bitches!) as an enforcer, but quickly determines that the guys are masochists who come to love Meiko’s punishment. So Mari switches to Midorikawa Hana (Hanazawa Kana, bitches!) whose short temper, devastating karate-based punishment, and bulky leggings that cover all conspire to deprive the lads from deriving any pleasure.

ps15

While searching for four-leaf clover (again hinting at Kiyoshi’s general luck thus far), he finds a baby crow on the ground, and without giving it a second thought, climbs a tree and puts him back in his nest with his siblings. This is all witnessed by Chiyo from a classroom window, as further evidence Kiyoshi’s a good guy.

Kiyoshi is a good guy, precisely because he feels so bad about not telling her he’s as guilty as the others insofar as he conspired to peep on girls. Instead, he tells her he’ll come with her to the sumo match, despite the fact he’s in prison. I’m interested to learn how he intends to swing that, and how he’ll continue to wrestle with his guilt as his courtship with Chiyo continues and possibly deepens.

ps16

Rather than a bad guy, Kiyoshi is extremely suceptible to bouts of both extremely good and extremely bad luck. Case in point: right after getting to chat with Chiyo, he finds himself an unwitting witness to Hana having a tinkle in what she believes to be a secluded, unsurveilled part of the forest. As for that baby crow he saved? His mom doesn’t care about that act of kindness, and when she defends her nest, Kiyoshi falls…right onto Hana.

All in all, a very snappy, punchy, generally hilarious first outing that, had I seen it back in June, would definitely have had me sold right from the start. The show looks great; the boys are all ridiculous characters who are funny just to look at, let alone hear (tiny-faced Andre…what’s up with that???). The show also has a penchant for intense close-ups and weird, interesting camera angles and framing, and an all-world voice cast.

My exposure to Prison School has come late, but but better late than…well, you know.

9_ses