It’s been a mighty impressive week for action scenes in anime.
Kingdom – 03
Kingdom continues to benefit from a very good storyline, and the animation is slowly improving as the over-reliance on CGI eases off (or else I’m just getting used to it.
First, a few notes – apparently the proper translations are “Xin” and “Piao” , so we’ll stick with that. Also, that little girl played by KugiRie – the one in the bird costume – is apparently a boy named He Liao Diao, one of the last survivors of a mountain tribe. Given that he has no loyalty to Qin whatsoever, he proves most useful in guiding Xin and the King to an escape route beneath Heibei Village – then decides to stick around when The King reveals he has no money to pay him for the assistance. The most interesting element of this exchange for me was when the King shrewdly noted that Diao’s being in it for the money actually made him more trustworthy, not less.
In fact, Ei Sei is reveling himself to be clever, ruthless and physically stronger than one might think – no sheltered weakling King, but a realist and pragmatist. That applies to Changwenjun, the loyalist who brought Hyou to the capital and arranged so many contingencies for Ei Sei’s eventual survival. He’s under siege though, as noted general Wang Qi has declared his loyalty to Siekyou in exchange for Chengwunjun’s lands. And a new assassin, Muta – who appears to be a mountain tribesman himself – is on the trail of the three youngsters as they flee into the mountains towards the rendezvous point Changwenjun had arranged. It’s quite an interesting story, with some obvious epic scope to come – a personal drama playing out alongside a military epic.
Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna – 12
Goemon Ishikawa in drag.
I probably should just stop the review right there, but it isn’t as though what’s happening in Lupin III isn’t interesting in a macabre way. At this point it appears that we’re watching a chronicle of the complete breakdown of a woman’s psyche, all her terrifying thoughts laid bare for the world to see.
That’s right – Okada Mari.
In all seriousness, it appears as if Okada is using her anime career as a form of psychoanalysis on herself. It’s certainly an interesting experiment – at least she’s getting paid for it rather than paying a shrink a fortune. Whatever the actual mythology she’s working with – Lupin, Aquarion, you name it – doesn’t seem to matter so much, because the characters are just interchangeable parts. I find it somewhat more involving here than in most of her other recent work, perhaps because I don’t have that a deep emotional investment in this franchise. We could speculate on why emasculating men and effeminate Kaji Yuki characters are such an obsession for her, but in end I suppose it doesn’t matter. What matters is the product that ends up on screen.
And in this case, it’s a mixed bag. The series is sputtering towards the finish as it becomes more of a personal indulgence and gives us on trying to place itself in context with the franchise, but it’s an undeniably wild imagination that’s giving us this Dali-esque nightmare of amusement parks full of owl men, screaming Fujiko mannequins and Oscar clones (I knew she wouldn’t let him go that easily). Lupin himself has become sort of an audience proxy, dragging Jigen along as morbid curiosity drives him to see what happens in the end. That’s the main reason I’m still here, that’s for sure – what in the world will she do next, and how big a catastrophe can she make out of the ending? There are certainly less interesting questions to ponder.
Accel World – 11
Well now, that was quite the tonal shift from the last, well… all of the episodes of Accel World. A balls-to-the-wall combat action ep that never stopped for a breather, start to finish. It was already obvious that AW was a pretty high priority for Sunrise, but this was a very well-animated effort – a better than average mix of (mostly) drawn animation and CGI, with some knockout individual shots and good choreography. It can’t match the Gon X Hisoka scene at the end of H x H #35, but as that sets the standard for TV anime combat in the 10’s so far, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. All in all, this was a visual feast.
I would have had a good handle on Yellow Radio’s character without seeing the episode if you’d told me he was played by Akira Ishida. Ishida-san pretty much only has one character but he plays it well, and Yellow Radio is Ishida at his smarmy best. It was a nice trump card, showing Haru, Taku, and Niko – and us – that it was indeed Kuroyukihime that killed Red Rider (Tsuda Kenjiro) and the sneaky, cold way she did it. Snow Black was, in fact, so mortified that she went on “tilt” and left the others to take on YR and his legion alone. His plan was pretty clever, with no less a goal than subverting the non-aggression treaty and achieving Level 10 – and it would have worked if it weren’t for
So is Take gone for good now, banished from the Accel World forever like Red Rider – or does he merely lose a ton of points and have to work his way back? Whatever his situation, it appears that Snow Black herself was on the verge of becoming Level 10 herself in the act of turning Yellow Radio’s plan around on him, but at that moment our forgotten friend Chrome Disaster appeared and delayed that moment until a more suitable time in AW’s narrative structure. Even by if it was by his hand, though, Yellow Legion looks like they’re going to need a new king.