Ongoing Investigations: Case #156

When I watched the first episode of Sound of the Sky a while back, I thought it seemed interesting enough to continue a few more episodes in. I don’t know what happened, but re-watching the first episode I couldn’t believe my former self. It was slow and meandering. Perhaps I was mesmerized by the music, which is worth being mesmerized over, but not worth sitting through the rest of the show for. The setting is also interesting, taking place in a post-apocalyptic future with divides and wars, but the town in which everyone is stationed is relatively peaceful. Normally, that would all change when our main character arrives . . . but no, it is still basically peaceful. So it ends up being a show about this somewhat rag-tag team of girls in the military hanging out, meeting townspeople, and occasionally learning music. The main girl is predictably naive and in the last episode I watched pushed that to the limit by overlooking the fact that the military kills people as do guns and tanks. There are traces of underlying story, especially with the extended cast that has been working for a while, but nothing gripping. I am sure this show is doing exactly what it means to do, but that still doesn’t mean I want to watch it.

Sound of the Sky is sort of like dating a shallow supermodel. You meet her and she looks gorgeous and sounds wonderful. Everything about her superficially is impeccable. But after a few deep conversations you realize there is not as much going on inside as you might have first hoped. There is quite a bit to like about this anime. The production values cannot be questioned. The animation is often amazingly fluid, the backgrounds are often breathtaking, and the sound design is outstanding. If you want lesson on how to make an anime that draws you in with the power of animation this is a good example. The problem is the story itself swallowed a bottle of Valium. To say that the show is just post-apocalyptic K-On! is selling it a bit short but it is also sums up all the major problems with the series. It just seems like the slice of life tale of 5 girls not really doing much of anything in a small town while they fix a tank and play instruments. The formula could be good. There is nothing inherently wrong with slowly building this world and getting us involved with the characters before turning on the main plot. The problem is that it is like telling someone to watch 10 episodes of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou to get to the three exciting episodes at the end. The post-apocalyptic setting is unusual and well realized. The cast lives a very provincial lifestyle despite the fact that they are surrounded by the remains of a once great civilization. But the stories they tell are rather sleepy despite the promise of grander tales that could be told in this setting. I am not sure if anyone who is not a fan of slice of life shows could casually make that commitment for the reward at the end. The characters are fine. They are a bit stock and Kureha Suminoya can be grating but they did not annoy me as much as the K-On! cast. There is also a pretty distinct yuri vibe going on. Nothing overt but it is omnipresent and rather unmistakable. I will probably continue to watch just to see the last few episodes. Apparently they start to live up to the promise of the prophecy in the beginning. I will power through the middle episodes to see if the pay off at the end is worth it just in case our readers were curious.

In D.Gray Man vol. 18 something surprising is introduced, a phantom thief story! The gang is visiting a small town for the purpose of getting a few people out of jail, but then they get wrapped up in the story of a thief who controls people’s bodies. Of course it ties into a battle for innocence, but still it was a fun break.

The Holidays threw off my anime viewing schedule as some of the series I watch streaming are on Nico Nico. If you miss a week on Nico Nico you can’t catch up. But then I realized last week that most of the shows I were watching are also on Hulu. So it was time to get back into Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing. As I watched these episodes I realized one thing. Fam Fan Fan and Giselle Collette are harbingers of doom because whenever they leave a location that place gets obliterated. They leave the Kingdom of Turan and it gets wiped off the map by a super weapon. They steal some airships and everyone involved is executed. They join an air pirate raiding party and they are slaughtered out. They leave the Silvius and it gets sunk. They take off from Glacies and it gets hit by the same super weapon as Turan. They are like the Jessica Fletcher of the Last Exile universe. Wherever they go people die. That little observation aside I have been enjoying the show. I think since I remember liking Last Exile but not thinking the original series was that amazing I lets me judge the show a bit fairer than the hardcore fans. I don’t think it will surpass the first show. The story is still a bit too simplistic and it does not have the innovative feel that the first series does. But Luscinia has grown a bit as a more realistic villain although his bad guy laugh in episode 15 is not helping any development of his motives. Fam and Giselle have grown on me but there very simple world view is sure to turn off some viewers when contrasted with the more complex politics of the rest of the cast. Thankfully Millia has calmed down a bit and is much more tolerable than her first appearance. She is much less Princess Princess and more of a leader as the series has progressed which is a welcome bit of character progress. Also like Sound of the Sky there is an unmistakable yuri vibe to this show. Your mileage may vary on how much that appeals to you. I mostly just ignore it. Overall this remains a fun little show that I stream at lunch once a week now that I have caught up. I will complain that the next episode preview fooled me with scenes of Claus and Lavi but it just turned out to be a recap episode for the first series. That was just mean.

If you want to know how fast the Sailor Moon manga moves, Chibi Usa shows up in volume 3. This volume is really a double whammy of stories because we get the conclusion of the first arc against the Dark Moon Kingdom and also the setup for the next part of the series concerning the Black Moon clan. I really enjoy Rei’s part at the beginning with her premonitions. But the best thing of all is that in the manga, Chibi Usa doesn’t generally make you want to strangle her at all times. Her appearance throws a good wrench into things, but at the same time it is another one of those mysteries that seems a little hard for the audience to really see as difficult to figure out. And consequently makes the cast look a bit like idiots.

Since I was catching up the Last Exile I decided to watch Guilty Crown 8-15 as well. Of all the things you can complain about Guilty Crown doing wrong the biggest problem is that it is as subtle as tank bursting through your front window while blaring Ride of the Valkyries. The show cannot image doing anything with a light touch. When people die it is in the most melodramatic way possible. When they are conflicted they writhe with indecision. When villains are evil they eat up the scenery with their ham-fisted evil. I am enjoying the show on a certain level for the fact that it is unapologetic in its bombastic nature. The reason I cannot recommend the show is that there is always something off in its execution. Every turn just comes off a bit too calculated and a bit too false. Gai’s history with Mana and Shu is telegraphed but still comes off as somewhat out of nowhere even if it is not. It does not help that it keeps the charterers rather repugnant before trying to redeem them. I have an odd feeling they are going to try to have Daryl Yan do a Heel Face Turn. The problem is they have spent so much time portraying him has a psychopath that any redemption is going to come off as hollow. At least Yahiro Samukawa had a reason to be such a bastard before they had him change sides. Also Hiroyuki Yoshino apparently hates childhood friends because he sure loves killing them off when he is in charge of an original script. I will finish up this show and probably have a good time with it but it is really going down as a black mark in the history of Noitamina. This show would get a far kinder reaction if it were not in such a treasured spot for more discriminating anime fans.

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