Astra Lost in Space – 02 – Not Here to Make Space Friends

The Astra lands on the planet Valvrave Vilavurs, a lush planet teeming with flora, fauna, and water to stock up for the twenty-day journey to the next stepping stone in space. Kanata distributes tasks to the crew, but encounters immediate resistance from Quitterie, who doesn’t seem interested in doing anything dangerous. As if being lost in space wasn’t already dangerous…

After encountering a giant dragon-like flying beast with a turtle-like head (hence the name “tur-gon”), most of the crew heads into the forest to forage amongst all manner of alien critter and trampoline tree, while Ulgar and Yunhua, the quietest of the group so far, fill the Astra’s water tanks from a nearby stream.

What had been a jolly good time turns into a nightmare when the singularity reappears, with space staring at them from the other end. This time, however, everyone manages to get away, thanks in part to Aries’ photographic memory…and because the sphere may well have “given up”, if it’s capable of that kind of thought.

Back on the ship, Quitterie reiterates her desire to make friends with precisely no one, then makes it that much harder on herself by telling her sister Funicia she’s not really even her sister, then running off, requiring everyone to head back out to look for her. Zack, her childhood friend, explains that she’s always found it hard dealing with people or making friends since she was basically raised by dutiful servants.

Funi, who was later adopted by Quitterie’s absentee doctor mother (and not welcomed by Quitterie) gets separated and ends up on a trampoline tree as it stretches up vertically towards the setting sun (neat tree, that). This puts her in prime position to be snatched up and eaten by a tur-gon.

To stop that from happening, Kanata takes action when no one else will, finding the tree closest to the cliff and using his decathlete skills to run and jump from tree to tree until he’s close to Funi. Unfortunately, a tur-gon grabs her, but he uses Luca’s javelin to injure it, and it drops Funi harmlessly back to the treetop.

Kanata manages to reach her, but loses his footing and falls backwards over the edge. Like Funi when she was captured, or Aries and Kanata’s troubles in open space last week, this show loves almost killing off members of its large cast, and since I’m still new to this show, it hasn’t yet been clear that it won’t actually follow through and do it for real at some point.

But not this time, as Quitterie makes herself useful and launches a series of parachute plants (also neat, those), one of which catches Kanata, who gently drifts down to solid ground. Quitterie thanks Kanata and apologizes for her behavior thus far, and Kanata’s quick-thinking and heroism cements his role as the consensus captain, with Charce as his second-in-command.

With Kanata now in a place of leadership, his hard work finally paying off, and Quitterie finally being honest about actually wanting friends and family, not to mention everyone having more than their share of delicious tur-gon meat, the crew is sitting pretty after the first completed leg of their 5,000 light year-plus interstellar odyssey.

But Zack informs Kanata of a disturbing discovery he’s made: the communications system was sabotaged…recently. That means it was either done just before they boarded the ship…or there’s a traitor in their midst. Absent any evidence, I suspect Ulgar the most, since he’s so quiet and standoffish, but I’m not sleeping on it being Yunhua, or Charce, or heck, even Zack himself, trying to cast away suspicion on himself by reporting it.

One thing’s for (mostly) sure…it’s not Kanata or Aries. But who ever it is (if it indeed is one of them), the mystery adds a measure of looming peril to what has otherwise been an bloodless quest. The crew has been extremely lucky to survive their trials so far. That luck can’t hold out forever.

Akatsuki no Yona – 03

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This week’s episode of “I don’t know why half of you love this show so much” Akatsuki no Yona consists of two flashbacks that establish Huk’s earlier interactions with Yona and Soo-Won, and one current event scene where a broken Huk repeatedly saves Yona from attacking wildlife.

Until proven otherwise, I’m just going to keep noting that Yona is pretty much terrible. Well, not terrible, per se. It’s just remarkably average and this episode’s constant clash of silly kiddy moments was totally dissonant.

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I get it! The happy childhood these characters shared was so happy and carefree that Soo-won’s mega betrayal’s destruction of Yona’s will to live is understandable. But maybe that would have been more compelling if the flashbacks were shot from Yona’s perspective?

Because Huk’s memories of Yona still paint her as a spoiled, weak willed brat, even though he loves her!

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However, it’s more interesting to look at this episode as a dedication to each of these three children’s fathers, and less about them. In this case, Huk’s perspective is probably necessary, because Yona is too much of a dull-whit to notice all but the most obvious contexts for each man.

About all I can give a thumbs-up to here was each father’s visit to their sickened child. Huk’s adopted father (and general of the clan) is brash but ultimately there for chuckles and clearly loves his grandson; Soo-Won’s father is clearly an unstable psychopath, and he treats Soo-won more like a valued possession than a person, and the King doesn’t visit Yona until later that night — but he loves her so much he makes her a soup! (and he does a terrible job at it.)

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Ignoring all this happy context, which in many ways would have made a more interesting show than the one we are watching, Yona snaps back into the present. There the princess takes a bath but gets covered in leeches, and is saved by Huk. Then she wanders off into the woods looking for her hair pin and is…uh…ambushed by a pack of snakes…then she’s saved by Huk again, and I’m just confused…
…Why is NATURE attacking Yona now? Whatevs…
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Akatsuki no Yona – 02

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I took my second outing with Akatsuki no Yona this week and I will gladly admit it fared much better than my last. Given episode 2’s greater emphasis on backstory building and action over spoiled princess love monologues, this should be surprising though.

Still, Princess Yona deserves some credit here. Her show has clawed its way to something better than complete mediocrity and, based on it’s closing scene, looks like it will continue to climb slowly to a natural plateau of just-barely-watchable standards.

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In a nutshell, Soo-Won’s betrayal last week was to avenge his father, who King Il had killed back in the fog of Soo-Won’s childhood. Whether or not King Il did, in fact kill his brother, and whatever his motives may have been if he did, Soo-Won is not entirely a reliable narrator here. (nor are his allies, who may have provided him with bad intel and come off as classic bad guys)

Regardless, it’s a mystery that I’m sure will tragically unfold over the next ten episodes — and it’s honestly an adequate one too — I just don’t have it in me to care for adequate this season.

yona2_5A little hong-kong action between exposition. Decent fight, actually.

Again, as we’d already seen last week, Huk shows up, saves the princess and gets filled in on the details. Then a servant sacrifices himself so the good guys can get away. Then we flash forward to the future of the present day that opened the first episode.

AnY’s story is remarkably slow, methodical in its goal to leave no question about it’s very simple events for the viewer, and repetitive. If not for the action sequences, which were nothing remarkable, watching this episode would have been terrible.

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Some time in the future, Yona is joined by Princess Mononoke, for some reason.

Akatsuki no Yona is the soppy-but-one-day-strong princess Yin to Seven Deadly Sins’ obnoxious hero protecting a princess Yang. The yin is melodramatic high school filler with a degree more realism and grounded sense of style. The yang is an empty middle school romp through boobies and over the top style and fantasy setting.

Both shows feature a quest to gather a group of great warriors to aide the princess in her time of need. Neither is especially mature or technically complex in how it’s going about it. Neither is, at all nor in any way, worth watching this season, nor at any time unless you are under the age of 17.

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Akatsuki no Yona – 01

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There’s no nice way to say this but Akatsuki no Yona has no place being released during such a hot season. It’s very average looking, featuring dull character designs with ‘cheats’ like putting many characters in robes, which means they don’t have to have legs or feet or, really, a walk cycle in the first place.

It’s not ugly per-see, but it just feels strained. Cheap. Uninspired. That’s just not gonna cut it with Vanadis and Bahamut around. Even Nanatsu no Taizai had more enthusiasm than this — more personality too!

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we pause this drab fantasy/historical drama to bring you worse looking art…carry on!

Akatsuki no Yona is a by-the-numbers tragic tale of betrayal and features a spoiled princess as it’s central character. In fact, Princess Yona gets so much screen time pining for her big-brother-like childhood friend Soo-Won that, when he finally kills her father, I was on his side!

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The princess is simply unlikable from the start, which makes it very difficult to empathize with her after her world turns upside down. If anything, I care about antagonist Soo-Won more. He seems to actually care about her and be conflicted about her unfortunate fate during all of this.

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Even in a slower season of anime, this would be pretty low on our radar. In such a clustered season? I already have Cross-Ange for my tragic sheltered princess genre, thank you.

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