We’re over on Irina’ blog today reviewing the most recent episode of The Morose Mononokean. So hop on over and check out our thoughts on this one. It’s a bit of a mixed bag episode but still plenty to enjoy.
Episode 5 gave us a beach episode. You won’t believe how much dread I felt when I realised this already incredibly borderline show that seems to relish in oozing sleaze, was about to take us to the location where even tame series decide to max out the fan service and innuendo. So imagine my surprise when other than Mana’s treatment of a glorified male extra and the couple of still shots of girls’ in bikinis this episode utterly failed to do anything remotely fan servicey with its cast.
If it sounds like I’m disappointed, I’m not, it is more a genuine wonder who they think is watching this show and for what. Given we’ve pretty much established that the whole labyrinth / defeating the impurities thing is more or less a side note to Mana finding ways to crudely suggest that Itsuki should hook up with the next maiden, usually before Itsuki either hits him or finds someway to make him go away and then proceeds to hit on maiden in his own way, a beach scene kind of seems like the perfect setting for Conception to really capitalise on the one thing it kind of has going for it which is a large female cast of a fair range of types who all ultimately have to get together with the protagonist.
However, after some fortune telling and some personality switching shenanigans, Itsuki gets with another Star Maiden. We then see Aries stalking Itsuki and the extra from the beach and that leads to a fairly weird sequence involving a church, an armoury, and a way too eager male photographer before yet another session with a Star Maiden. And thus, episode 5 ends.
Episode 6 deals with Itsuki helping one of the maidens at a bakery that is being threatened by a large chain that happens to be owned by the family of another Star Maiden. Throw in some accidental knocking the girl unconscious, abduction, and an attempt by Mana to set up a situation where Stockholm syndrome will come into play and you really do have what makes for a story line every bit as morally dubious as it sounds. Still, Itsuki gets with the maiden and I guess maybe that’s what is important.
Though, perhaps it is more noteworthy that Mana hasn’t met an unfortunate end with a paper shredder, wood chipper, lawn mower or any other somehow permanently destructive fate. Itsuki, when you throw Mana out a window, next time make sure the window is closed.
There was a lot of talking this episode. Like massive amounts of talking. And a lot of it is that weird kind of technobabbly talk that happens when a concept really doesn’t make a lot of sense but the writers are earnestly trying to convince the audience that it does. Seriously, the more they mention fluctlights, the less believable I am finding the central concept. They really should just stop trying to explain and justify, just leave it at the ‘it is reading the soul, man’ kind of explanation, and get on with the story because all this talk just left me wanting to sit down and come up with a list of all the reasons why their idea is really unworkable.
However, unrealistic narrative conceits aren’t new for SAO so I’m not exactly going to let that get in the way of what has so far been a pretty interesting set up. The problem is, everything kind of felt like it screeched to a halt this week. Or more accurately, like they felt the need to consolidate all the kind of ideas we’d been given and just kind of lay out what has happened and a motive and objective and the best way they felt they could do that was by standing around and talking followed by some sitting around and talking. Basically, lots of talking heads.
Now does that mean the episode isn’t interesting? Not so much. Because in amongst all the babble, we get to see a copied soul/mind essentially self-destruct when being unable to come to terms with being a copy. We find out what the deal is with Eugeo and the others not being able to even consider breaking the taboos. We also realise why the company/government/whoever has gone to so much trouble with the project in the first place and the application they want for it and we get some nice foreshadowing that when Kirito finds out what they actually intend to do he’s probably not going to be happy about it.
But, I’ll be frank, it wasn’t enough. Twenty minutes of chatter and dodgy tech and medical terms being bandied about as well as questionable moral stances by characters just wasn’t compelling viewing. It is more something I’d expect from Index, and why I like Index, I don’t have anywhere near the love of it that I have for SAO. All things considered, I’m really hoping next week picks up again because I’ve now had just about as much set-up as I can handle.
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