We’re sticking with the summer vacation theme this week but
here we hit the super cute button as the characters make a plan to go to watch
real fireflies. Of course the club president isn’t happy just to let it rest
with that and makes alternate plans that involve scaring Nanako and Eiji by
creating a ghost tunnel. It is the usual summer break silliness from school
characters in a slice of life and yet there’s something just kind of adorable
about this episode that makes it work and feel memorable.
Part of this is the great chemistry in the cast. Despite
each character being a walking gimmick they each bring something cute to the
table and together the group dynamics are just kind of perfect. Art girl
continues to be a personal favourite (and I promise I will remember her name by
the end of the series, though we are running out of episodes) and the fortune teller
girl adds enough cynicis to the mix to take the edge off of the sickly sweet.
However, the real highlight of the episode, as is the case
most episodes, is the relationship between Eiji and Nanako. The two are very
sweet together and whether it is Nanako admiring the bug Eiji caught, their
genuine delight at the plan to look for fireflies, or Eiji’s efforts to protect
Nanako in the tunnel, they are just too cute to watch.
I’m really hoping these two become an officially acknowledged couple by the end of the season because it wouldn’t make a lot of sense not to acknowledge what has become very clear from watching these two. They have a genuine mutual like of one another and they are both sweet people. Now if only they would act on it.
Revisionist history, flash backs and forced memory retrieval…
okay, this episode got more interesting than I originally expected. Instead of
our usual opening we had a story about the first moon landing and alien
contact, though this was an interesting portrayal of those events. Then Robi
and Hachi land on an industrial planet where Robi’s ship apparently came from
so they can get repairs.
What follows is that Robi learns quite a bit about his
family, or seems to actually bother to think about them and realises a few
things, and then he goes to the anime fan club that exists on the planet for
the anime his grandfather apparently directed. Which seems fine until the crazy
fans realise that Robi actually has seen the lost episode and they decide to
forcibly extract it from his memory. That comes with a handful of side-effects
but no problem.
As usual, this episode doesn’t take itself particularly seriously
and despite the shady dealings going on it is difficult to imagine any real
danger to anyone. The pursuit of a missing anime episode is a suitably
ridiculous goal and the lengths the characters are going to suitably
exaggerated. All and all it just kind of works even while it is pretty
Also as usual, now that Robi and Hachi have visited the world they are blasting off on the next leg of their journey. I wonder if they will ever reach their destination or if Robi will ever actually pay off his debt? Though, honestly that would most definitely be the end of the adventure if it happened. I did start wondering what happened to Hachi’s storyline though. The characters that were pursuing him vanished and have been completely forgotten but I wonder if they’ll turn up before the end.
After making an assassination attempt against the prime minister dull, I wasn’t expecting much from Fairy Gone despite a certain other blogger’s assurances that things were about to get somewhat more interesting. After 8 episodes of poor pacing, badly timed or irrelevant flash backs, action sequences that look like they should be cool but really don’t pull it off, and having characters that I’ve struggled to care about, Fairy Gone found its groove in episode 9 and managed twenty minutes of actually pretty compelling viewing.
This is the issue with episodic reviewing. This episode
doesn’t make the previous 8 suddenly better. They were pretty tiresome to watch
outside of a potentially intriguing premise. However, this episode couldn’t
have worked without those previous 8 episodes. Whether or not this is a turning
point that means this series is going to go from one that is fairly missable to
one that is worth checking out remains to be seen, but there’s suddenly some
light at the end of the tunnel.
The political situation in Fairy Gone is pretty complicated
with almost everyone out for themselves and running their own agenda. There are
so many factions, organisations, and government branches that it really is
difficult to keep them all straight. That said, when we get a simple
complication such as the transportation of an important weapon and the guys who
are clearly trying to steal it, though whether that is because they want the
weapon or because they want to undermine Dorothea’s authority remains to be
seen, things get a great deal more interesting.
I mentioned in a previous review that I was wondering whether or not Dorothea was actually competent given they don’t seem to have succeeded at much since the start of the anime. This episode, while wonderfully dramatic and tense as the enemy derails the train carriage and rains bullets down upon them before liberally cutting down any sign of resistance from Dorothea, really demonstrated how under powered they are for the job they apparently have.
The dramatic injury and subsequent death of one of their members kind of pins the severity of the situation but once again, Fairy Gone just hasn’t quite done enough to make me overly concerned about that particular character. More worrying is the impact this will have on Marlya and it is interesting that the flashback we got before the fight broke out (after the train derailed) was of Marlya learning to hunt. For the first time it felt like a meaningful placement of a flashback and one that might have consequences. As such, it felt like the death was less about making us feel sad for the now deceased character, and more about motivating Marlya into some kind of action.
Also, the villain is one of those smug over-confident types
who lectures his opponents as he cuts them down and leaves them alive to get
stronger to fight again. I hate this kind of villain at the best of times and
in this situation it just seemed ridiculous.
However, despite the few complaints, the episode worked. It drew me back into the story and made me wonder what the next steps would be. I also had to wonder what the consequence of this failure would be for the organisation. Fairy Gone isn’t suddenly getting amazing but this was certainly a much appreciated step in the right direction.
This season of Bungo Stray Dogs is just knocking it out of the park as far as I’m concerned. The only thing I can seriously fault it for is that there are only two episodes left which means we are definitely not resolving the greater arc. The Rats n the House of the Dead will live to dance another day.
Don’t worry, I’m going to give you all my deep thoughts and insights on this week’s episode (that should buy me a dozen words or so), but if you would also like some visual aids, the full screencap gallery of this week’s episode can be found HERE, on my blog. Also as this is an episode review, there will be spoilers.
Thing’s were looking grim last week. When we left off, the Armed Detective Agency had failed to find the gifted virus wielder and were gearing up for plan B. Said plan being an all-out bloody confrontation with the Port Mafia, in order to murder their ailing leader. And of course, the Mafia was getting ready to do the exact same thing on their end. Pretty much the exact thing both leaders were desperately trying to avoid.
However, Ranpo still allowed room for one small contingency. Sure, it may seem like the only viable option left for the Detectives was to take matters in their own hands and then strangle them. But just in case there was still a small chance for peace, he did send Atsushi off to see if Katai had any leads. Deeply traumatized from having failed to save a small child right in front of him, Kunikida also decides to avoid battle and joins Atsushi.
For me, Kunikida’s little breakdown was just a touch too dramatic, although perfectly justified, but I was happy to go along with it because Hosoya, Yoshimasa (Doppo’s voice actor), really went all out this episode. He’s always good but he outdid himself. His performance as a man undone going from uncontrolled emotion to stoically restrained guilt and pain was impressive. It brought a lot of depth to a generally bland character. (I still like Kunikida though, sometimes you want vanilla).
From here, the episode splits between the two groups. Atsushi and Kunikida go to Katai’s home only to find it empty. A black box reveals that Fyodor has gotten to him first but if Dostoyevsky bothered to make a move, then Katai must have been onto something.
This is where the patient structuring of this season starts to pay off. That carefree episode 5, where we were first introduced to Katai and his one-sided crush was more than mere filler. By presenting the character outside the strict confines of the current story, it humanized and gave him an existence beyond a mere plot element. Bungo Stray Dogs was patient, taking an entire episode to set him up slowly. The gave us all this background and flavour that wasn’t really needed for us to understand what’s going on but we sneakily got a little connected to the character.
At least I did. I was really surprised by how affected I was to find he had been “erased”. Not that many series can make me care this much about a character. Certainly not one we’ve only seen in a handful of scenes. Something makes me think Katai will be back though. Maybe how prominent he is in the opening credits.
while this is happening, the rest f the Agency detectives are going in for a head-on attack of the Port Mafia headquarters. Gunfire and superpowers are just spraying all over the place. I thought to myself, I shouldn’t like this. Bungo Stray Dogs has carefully nurtured particularly affable villain personas for the Port Mafia members and as such I don’t really want to see either side get hurt. On top of that, seeing these two organizations fight is kind of lame.
I mean it’s a throwback to season 1. We’ve already been there, done that. Without Mori and Dazai or Fukuawa on the other side to escalate the stakes, it’s just a series of skirmishes that don’t add much more than noise and fury. It’s so expected, like a worn out shonen trope. And oh my was it fun. Why? I’ not sure. It wasn’t happy or funny. I couldn’t quite root for anyone clearly. But it was engrossing and energizing. I wanted it to go on. I’ve been talking about the framing of visuals this season, but the direction of the action is also stellar.
And then we got to our second payoff. Adorable Kyouka, trying to get to Mori on her own, finds herself in a one on one combat against her former….mentor? Akutagawa. As I mentioned previously, up until episode 6 of this season, Kyouka was pretty much limited to being a trope. A pleasant one but still, the show had not bothered to develop her beyond the standard stereotypes of her role. But another seemingly fillerish episode managed to give her a rich complex backstory and a very interesting emotional upheaval to deal with in just a few brief minutes. This went a long way to making her conversation with Akutagawa so much more meaningful now. The same scene even managed to give Akutagawa some depth at the same time. It was an odd moment to make peace, and a little pretty as well.
I’m just going to mention that in the meantime, Ranpo and Chuuya have managed to get themselves stuck in one of Poe’s books. I hope we see their adventure because they seem like a hilarious match up.
The Final act of the episode had the two organization patriarchs take matters into their own hands. In many ways, they are quite similar. And as they naturally came together n this stunning abandoned house to kill each other, I couldn’t help but think they must have been good friends at some point. They just know each other so well.
I skipped over a few things, I talk about the visuals on my gallery post. There was also a good payoff scene with Lucy’s character as well and a cryptic line from Dazai is hinting at yet another setup. We saw that in a twisted way Akutagawa sees himself in Kyouya and was trying to save her as his own “mentor” had saved him. In short, everything is coming together quite well. Even in an action-heavy episode, the plot is tightening its strings. I should really look into the writing team. If you are one of the few that are following along, how do you feel about the fact that the season is almost over?
Pride comes before the fall and the government guy certainly
is going to learn that after this week. Midnight Occult Civil Servants picks up
immediately from the events of the last episode and shows the divide between
Arata and the rest of the group he’s working with widen as their very different
views on the Another’s clash head on.
A new case is brought to Arata’s attention and they head to
the stadium where it turns out there are eggs or coccoons scattered about.
Naturally Arata can’t converse with the cocoons which leads the government guy
to the false assumption that Arata is useless and that the only possible action
is burning them. You can already tell this is going to end well.
What we end up with is a cliff-hanger episode that is about
as exciting as this anime gets. It is hopelessly predictable and yet satisfying
because of it. What makes it even better is the guy who was kind of staying
neutral in the war or words between Arata and the government guy calls Arata to
beg him to help when everything naturally falls apart.
It will be interesting to see how the team handle the situation next week. I kind of would have liked a little more from this episode in terms of suspense and I’m sure that with some better visuals the reveal of the Another at the end could have been spectacular. Still, it was good enough and interesting enough for what it was and I am enjoying this from week to week.
Sorry, no feature this week, but instead we’re opening the poll for the best of the Spring Anime season. While there’s been a lot of talk about this being a slow or weak season, it seems most people have found a handful of anime that have really delighted them so it will be interesting to see what has lasted the distance and what you believe is the anime of the season.
Naturally that means it is time for you to vote.
It is a nice simple process. Just pick your three favourite shows from the season and vote below. And then, share the post so more people can have their say. The vote is open until the 29th of June with the results to be announced soon after.
Remember the top three anime from this vote will go into the final poll for anime of the year. Though given they’ll be going up against the winner’s of the Winter Poll, that may be a steep hill to climb.
I am having difficulty embedding the poll at the moment so while it might work below, please try the direct link to vote and hopefully I can fix it soon.
Thanks for voting. Remember to share the poll and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the results.
There’s a lot that Kono Oto Tomare doesn’t get right in
terms of adding tension or antagonists to their otherwise slice of life, high
school club story, but one thing it consistently lands are those poignant
emotional moments between the members of the club themselves. With the episode
this week focusing almost exclusively on the inner workings of the club and
Takezou trying to overcome his lack of confidence as the club president, we had
a nice show case of the best Kono Oto Tomare has to offer.
Throw in the musical performance by the other school and it
was a pretty good episode. Even if every character from the other schools that
spoke seems to exist just to becoming another stumbling block later on in the
story and they are still handling antagonist’s roles with all the deft handling
of a duck trying to spread butter on a slice of bread.
Likewise, Takezou’s family is another red-mark against the
series. Prior to now they’ve been little more than background but this week the
father gives Takezou a pep-talk after learning he’s the club president and his
mother congratulates him on telling his brother off. Saying how happy she is when
Takezou normally says nothing. If the parents are aware one child belittles
another continuously and have done nothing to rectify the problem while said
child gets emotionally ground into the dirt continuously, it doesn’t exactly
make me feel warm and fuzzy to see them congratulating the child who has
finally had enough.
Despite my annoyance at the family situation, I was still
nearly reduced to tears when Chika and Takezou finally had a conversation and
‘made up’, even though they weren’t fighting. I managed to hold them in, but it
was a close call. And seeing the club members making a new sign for the room
and passing the pen, while it is clearly trite and contrived, hit just the
right emotional high note that this episode needed to cap it off.
At the end of the day, I parts that work in this anime stand out a lot clearer than the parts that don’t, and it continues to be relatively fun to watch even if I feel like I’m not going to remember much about it at all after it finishes airing.