Newsflash: Kill la Kill, a selection for weekly blogging here and your correspondent’s (and pretty much everyone else’s) pick for best sf anime series of 2014, has been nominated for a Seiun Award, Japan’s equivalent of the Hugos! It’s up against Interstellar, Big Hero 6, the series Space Dandy (which has had a mixed reception, even within this blog) a Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers) film, another anime film called Expelled From Paradise, and the live-action series Nazo no Tenkōsei (The Mysterious Transfer Student) in the “Best Media” category. Good luck to it!
Start with the most obvious part of that screenshot, which is that this is presented in good old 4:3 retrovision. As a pair of ninjas celebrates a successful hit, they are approached by a mysterious figure in primitive cutout animation. Imagine the animated segments in Monty Python, only with less-coordinated movements, but a similar tendency to suffer cartoonish wounds that fountain blood like a ruptured fire hydrant.
Only when it goes to the closeups, the show switches to a fluid, modern animation style with some pretty nifty artwork, unless you hate that palette, in which case there’s really nothing to be done about it. Anyway, some exposition eventually emerges where a guy named Kenji Fujikidō has lost his family and been taken over by the spirit of the Ninja Slayer whose mission is to, um, slay ninjas. Soon a new ninja is dispatched to take him out, but is also defeated, and that’s pretty much it because the episode is only 12 minutes long.
As I said, it’s actually trying to be bad in a certain way. The writing seems intentionally clunky, and then there’s the cheapass animation– but the sudden switches back and forth between two styles are jarring rather than entertaining.
The audience this show is aimed is people who enjoyed a certain sort of badly-written, badly-animated cartoon in their childhood and now want to relive it in a sort of parodic nostalgia. If that’s not you, then it’s all just going to be mystifyingly terrible.
Mikagura School Suite #2-3 – In our world, “the going-home club” is a sardonic term for students who aren’t part of a school club, and thus go right home after school instead of participating in club activities. Mikagura Academy takes the term rather more literally, and in a very specific way, as Seisa tries to explain to Eruna. Eruna’s outraged rejoinder about all the things they could do while going home is one of the first high points of the season so far.
Eruna may be a blustering, overconfident, lecherous idiot with no filter at all, but she also has an overpowering joie de vivre that you’ve gotta love. The way she immediately embraces her new power when she awakens and enjoys it to its maximum is another wonderful moment.
And she seems to have genuinely fallen head over heels for Seisa, which unfortunately leads her into accepting an impossible challenge to try to become a full club member. Seisa may be the toughest opponent in the school, or close to it. Only momentarily daunted, Eruna now has a suspiciously standard tournament arc in front of her in order to start her own club and recruit members. Like pretty much everything else so far, this is probably not going to go as smoothly as it looks…
Meanwhile, episode 3 closes with a reminder that, for the second season in a row, the truly evil bastards hang out in the school press club. What exactly was that flashbulb power doing to its victim? Let’s keep watching and find out.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan #2-3 – After a break of three years, the Lusitanians return stronger and smarter than ever. When his advisors begin to doubt whether attacking an army of unknown size in a dense fog might be a bad idea, Andragoras rages and orders an all-out assault, because what could those ignorant barbarians possibly…
By the time the day is done, the Parsian army has been all but wiped out, Andragoras is dead, Arslan is on the run, and multiple traitors have been revealed. Oh, and before the it all really gets going, there’s a broad hint dropped that Arslan might be illegitimate, which might explain why Vahriz was so much more interested in seeing him properly trained than Andragoras was.
In between spasms of carnage, Arslan finds room to add some more definition to characters who will be playing a bigger part in things to come. The mysterious general in a silver mask may be a heartless bastard, but he has some real reason for a personal vendetta against Andragoras. Kharlan pleads that he had a good reason for his treachery– perhaps he was under duress? At least one of the Lusitanian commanders has doubts about the baby-slaughtering aspect of their crusade.
In short, no one is a cardboard cut-out, and there are plot threads rapidly multiplying which should mean this show has no shortage of story. This one stays.
Gunslinger Stratos #2 – Tōru and Kyōka are brought back to their own time for an explanation and some quality time with other characters, and here the inevitable artificiality of a game adapatation enters the story and drags it down. The explanation for why the fighters must to the precise things they do strains credulity, and the technobabble makes no sense at all. The more emotional moments feel forced. The other characters dress bizarrely for no reason and just aren’t very interesting as people. The moments of shaky animation quality are getting annoying. I’m ready to let this go.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders #36-38 – When we last left our villains, one had his fingers jammed up Polnareff’s nose and was wondering how this would lead to ultimate victory. Thoth ultimately delivers via a Rube-Goldberg-esque auto accident. Then all Hol Horse has to do is shoot at precisely the right moment, and his success is assured! How could this possibly go wrong?
The author carefully lays out everything like a stage magician. See this ordinary pipe? See this ordinary watch? What could possibly be deceptive about any of this? Aha! That was a perfectly executed trick.
Next up is a matchup designed to make everyone who has wished the show could be rid of Iggy the obnoxious, lazy, farting dog regret ever wishing him gone. See how you feel when he wages a desperate fight to survive long enough to bring back the information on where Dio’s home base is hidden! Is anyone cheering when he loses part of his leg, or when he’s out of strength and ready to drown? Come back, Iggy, all is forgiven!
And it’s good to have JoJo back and in its groove, even when you realize they’re going to be spending most of a season fighting their way through one house. It’ll find a way to keep things interesting. All right, probably several ways. Bring it on!
So our lineup for the rest of the season is: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, and Mikagura School Suite. It looks set to be a very fighty but fun season.