Friday’s Feature: Mid-Season Thoughts On ‘KADO: The Right Answer’

At episode 6 I had to admit I had fallen completely in love with this anime. There’s someone in the real world who I think will love this show but they won’t watch it until it finishes airing but at the end of each episode I want to talk to them about it and hear their thoughts. They’ve now banned me from mentioning anything that happens because they want to enjoy it for themselves and that’s fair enough but it means I’m wanting to talk about this show so much and really don’t have an outlet for it. (On that note, spoilers if you haven’t watched up to episode 6 will follow).

That’s part of why I would recommend this anime 100% even though it isn’t finished airing (and I rarely recommend unfinished anime because too many take a nose dive in the second half). But even if KADO follows that trend and does deteriorate into nonsense as the season continues, these first 6 episodes give more than enough reason to watch and discuss this show.

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Certainly there are points to be made about the visuals of the show but I’m not really interested in that aspect at this point and time (although, mostly I think it’s been pretty with the possible exception of a few moments where the characters have gone a bit creepy momentarily). What is really grabbing me about this show is thinking through this scenario if it actually happened.

The list below severely simplifies the plot from the first 5 episodes (in the process leaving out a lot of interesting thoughts and concepts raised by the show but we’ll get back to that later):

01. A cube appears and swallows a plane full of passengers.

02. We learn the passengers are fine and will be released but the being from the cube wants to negotiate.

03. As part of that they want to give all of humanity a source of unlimited energy.

04. The UN attempts to control this new energy source and Japan, the nation that received it complies but only because they’ve got a scientist who has already figured out how to make the energy source anyway.

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Even if that were it for a plot and no further curve balls were thrown, that is more than enough to get my personal curiosity fired up. Of course what most people are wondering is what zaShunina is up to in just handing humanity unlimited energy. A popular theory I’ve seen is that it is the usual alien gives double edge sword and sits back and waits for humanity to destroy itself. Certainly that is a possibility and would fit with what is happening in terms of the UN trying to muscle Japan into compliance, mostly urged by the US and Russian representatives (and did anyone else find it odd that the whole UN Security Council other than Japan actually agreed on something).

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I’d like to believe the anime isn’t going there, though events in episode 6 make me a little suspicious of zaShunina. His ‘next’ step concerns me a great deal both in terms of what it means practically and in terms of what he will need to do to accomplish such a goal. Still, if he isn’t out to destroy humanity (or see us destroy ourselves) I have to wonder what his overall goal is. Is he just benevolent and wanting to improve humanity? That seems unlikely although I’ll admit that is probably my own cynicism coming through more than any evidence from the anime.

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Then again, part of me wonders if zaShunina is actually the one in charge of this at all. I remember when we first met him he kind of was constructed by the cube itself.  As they have very carefully avoided actually asking him anything about himself of note (other than where he comes from) it is quite possible that zaShunina’s intentions are irrelevant as he might just be an agent for an as yet unseen factor in the background. That might be needlessly conspiracy theory-ish but it makes a lot of sense when you consider the nature of zaShunina’s appearance and the fact that he seems to have a check list of objectives but doesn’t explain the reason for them outside of general terms that could be misconstrued.

Moving on from zaShuina himself, the reactions of the people and the world in this anime to the events feel very real. Life in Japan, after the initial surprise of the cube arriving, returns to normal outside of a few interruptions to the airport itself and the episode 6 temporary evacuations of certain districts as a precaution. The media are camped outside the cube and reporting regularly, there are photos and the like being sent around on social media, but for most the cube is a curiosity. While some of the more extreme were protesting the Japanese government’s refusal to comply with the UN, the majority of people kind of went about their daily life.

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For some, this might be a problem because we’re used to seeing Hollywood movies where everyone just kind of stops in their tracks or runs crazy at the mention of the arrival of aliens. Remember early scenes in Independence Day when the President makes a speech about the cities where the space ships were headed and how he asked those who felt compelled to leave the cities do so in an orderly manner and then there was just absolute chaos? We’re preconditioned by movies to think that a world changing event will actually be world changing.

Yet, what we see in reality is quite the opposite. Though there have been mass protests and the like to various election outcomes and situations in various countries, for most people they’ve kept going about their daily life. While most people have a vague awareness of situations occurring, they don’t know the details nor do they really care very much unless it directly impacts upon their daily life. You might disagree with that but when we look at the numbers protesting compared to the numbers just going about their business it is clear that the majority would prefer to maintain a status quo life-style even if they take to social media in the evening to pass on a few memes without really troubling themselves to act.

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KADO latches on to this notion, that people prefer their daily routine and the things they understand, and uses it to its advantage in forging what is becoming a very believable storyline, even with a premise that seems incredibly far-fetched at first glance. Of course there are characters directly effected by the events and they are responding. Of course governments are troubled by the offer of unlimited energy. There’s so many ways that could politically and economically go wrong and yet could have an extreme benefit if used appropriately. Of course scientists are fascinated by the chance to go further and research ideas that they couldn’t have before. But for everyone else, other than a possible flight delay and a traffic jam, life is going on. The more socially or politically aware individuals would be watching the news to keep up with developments, but during the day they go to work and things move on (whether for the better or worse is something the show hasn’t commented on in any way at this point).

KADO has totally won me over at this point. It is science fiction done very well. No sensationalist fight sequences to entertain the masses, but a tight focus on the human condition in the face of one very clear intrusion into the normal world. The reactions and flow on effects to that intrusion have been handled with care and what is being woven is a fairly compelling story that asks us to really consider the idea of humanity and national borders, yet at the same time doesn’t seem to want to preach its own brand of morality (at least not at this stage). And that isn’t to say that sensationalist fight sequences aren’t entertaining or a part of science fiction, but at its core, a good sci-fi really should get us to re-evaluate ourselves and the world at large, and KADO has succeeded admirably at that.

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If you haven’t given KADO: The Right Answer a go yet, this is the one show from this season I think is unmissable. Certainly there are more sensational shows, and shows that look prettier, or move at a faster pace, but none of the shows this season have made me want to think and talk as much as KADO has.

What do you think so far about KADO or what is your theory about zaShunina?


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KADO Episode 6

Review (definitely spoilers if you haven’t watched the episode):

You know, we’ve all been asking what the deal with Shindo is and this episode decides to finally show part of its hand on this issue. Yes, Shindo is definitely no longer normal in the strictest sense of the word, however zaShunina attributes that to the processing for Shindo to leave the cube in the first place (given he was the first human to be processed) rather than the poor attempt at first communication so that was a bit of a surprise.

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The Shindo focus continues this episode as he visits his mother, plans the relocation of the cube, and it is pointed out by the female negotiator that he needs to rest leading to the realisation by Shindo that he hasn’t been. Instead of leaving this plot point dangling the final part of this episode has zaShunina straight out acknowledge what we’ve all been thinking though as a next step I’m really not sure what zaShunina is up to.

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I’m totally hooked on this at this point. The answers come when they are needed, there’s amusement at times in the dialogue which ensures that it doesn’t become a monotonous babble of science and politics, the characters are more and more endearing as the series progresses, and I am just completely curious about what the end game of this series might be.

KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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KADO Episode 5

Review:

After the UN made their declaration in the previous episode I was ready for Japan to either capitulate or defy and I was ready for the inevitable war to get rolling along or for zaShunina to do something really crazy but this show once again surprised me in the best possible way.

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Even the reporters in this show expected that outcome.

While a lot of attention is given to the scientist who works in the lab (the one who wanted to crash a drone into the side of the cube and no I cannot remember her name at this point) during the episode, I am more interested in the older scientist’s observation about Shindo. It’s been observed previously that Shindo is too calm and collected and while even before episode 1 (in episode 0) he was shown to be fairly brilliant and flexible in his thinking, it seems odd to belive that a negotiator could help a scientist figure out wam in a matter of hours. There’s something up with that and it probably comes back to the direct communication with zaShunina in episode 1 but to be honest that is my speculation.

Episode Spoiler Ahead

However, here’s the bomb that zaShunina wanted to drop (admittedly it may not be and this is my interpretation of his previous statement and the events this episode):

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For a show that has so far been all talk, they still manage to make things thrilling as you really just get caught up in the possibilities.

Kado is available on Crunchryoll.


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KADO Episode 4

Review:

While this show has previously moved at a snail’s pace (though this has been needed given how much information we’ve had to take in), episode 4 seems to have finally planted its foot on the accelerator. Part of that came from the absence of zaShunina for the large majority of the episode as we instead focussed on the humans scrambling around trying to figure out what to do with the infinite energy literally dropped into their laps.

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That said, this episode isn’t without zaShunina’s particular take on the world and his discussion about countries and their purpose and how they operate is kind of interesting. Though, more interesting is his declaration that the wam are not for countries but for humanity, cleanly separating the concepts even as the UN and other countries work to put pressure on Japan.

Not sure what the intention is for the next move but things are definitely rolling along now and certainly we saw a lot more tension in the narrative during episode 4 than in the previous episodes. Really enjoyable story so far.

KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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KADO Episode 3

Review:

They’ve emerged from the cube and finally negotiations are getting underway, but my question is what are they actually negotiating? Given zaShunina has already said the passengers will be released and he seems to be wanting to give information rather than receive it, stating that it is a negotiation seems a bit off. Then again, I’m kind of certain there’s more to it than altruistic higher order being giving humans advanced knowledge so maybe things will become clearer later.

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I’m thinking this show is only going to have a very limited appeal to anime fans in general. It is incredibly dry with most of this episode being focussed on the set-up of negotiations, the press moving into position through security, or the negotiation itself. While the music is amazing and I’m finding the animation really pretty (some people disagree on that one), the slow pace of the dialogue heavy story is probably going to cause some people to walk away despite the fairly interesting nature of the discussion. Okay, the ideas are highly interesting, the delivery might be a little less so depending on your preferences. Despite that, I’m pretty hooked on this show right now.

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KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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Spring 2017 Week 2

While there are still a handful of shows I’m sitting on the fence about, for the most part I know what I’m going to watch for the season and I’ll have a final list by next week. One thing I know is that I am more excited about the possibilities for a lot of shows this season than I was during the Winter season so I’m really hoping they live up to their potential.

I’ve loved reading everyone else’s initial impressions of Spring. Seems like a lot of shows have been very hit and miss for some people with some raving over them and others instantly walking away, but there’s a lot of great conversations happening as people share their views and make their choices. Looking forward to watching the rest of the season and following along as others watch their shows of choice.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on the shows this season so please leave a comment below.

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Must Watch

Natsume Yuujincho 6 (Episode 1)

This is kind of no-brainer given I’ve already watched 5 seasons of it. This is my total relax/calming show and I love watching the characters as they go about their lives. This first episode does exactly what you would expect of Natsume (and if you haven’t watched the previous seasons you should really give them a go). I know Natsume is unlikely to be my best show of the season (it’s a little too low key for that) but I’m starting it here because this show just makes me so happy.

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 2)

The complaint I made last time about little actual progress probably remains, however, I was really into this episode and felt profoundly disappointed when it ended. The show has definitely set up some good intrigue during these first episodes, whether it continues until the end of the series is another story, but for now this stays a must watch.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 1)

While this show is a bit different for me (slice of life following a tanuki with a heavy comedy focus) I can’t deny that I found season 1 thoroughly charming. Season 2’s first episode delivers more of the same though offers little to anyone not already familiar with the characters or story so far given it provides almost no recap and only very briefly introduces the characters before plunging straight into a new conflict.

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Usually Entertaining

WorldEnd (Episode 1)

I know that isn’t the full title but forget that; there’s no way I’m typing that every week. Anyway, this is almost a cute overload but somehow managed to land on the charming side with just enough intrigue that I’ll ignore the couple of innuendos that made me wince and the clear cliché riddled territory we seem to be heading into for episode 2. I really enjoyed this first episode so hopefully it can continue to charm.

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Episode 3)

Attack on Titan might even make it to a must watch if it keeps actually investigating some of the mysteries and inconsistencies in the world that appeared in season 1. Season 1 was very action focussed and reactionary, which while spectacular left me feeling a little over it by the end. Season 2 so far seems to be trying to fill in some of the gaps in the world building as well as build some fairly decent mystery into the story. That said, it could all come tumbling down again and we could go back to shouting characters and violence, which is still entertaining but not must see.

Sword Oratoria (Episode 1)

As much as I was excited for this title and a return to this world, the protagonist of this spin-off is boring. Okay, she fights well with a sword and they are definitely setting up tragic backstory for her, but that doesn’t make her any more interesting to watch and clearly the show knows it given how little screen time she got in the first episode (one scene she got was a bath scene where she mostly just stood moping in water). Still loving the world and the dungeon in this series, really excited to see some familiar faces, but if this is going to move higher on the list then the Ais is going to have to step up.

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 16)

Midoriya still hasn’t used his quirk but they did manage to give us that sense of over the top fun in episode 16 that  I enjoyed during season 1. So while I’m still a bit critical of the direction this is going, I had a smile on my face during most of episode 16. Hopefully the show can consistently give us more of these moments.

Sagrada Reset (Episode 2)

I just don’t know. Something interesting happened toward the end of episode 2, which shook the episode from just kind of going through the motions to being genuinely intriguing but the slow pace of the delivery and the robotic characters are going to wear thin sooner rather than later. Plus, why do we now have a 2 year time skip? Okay, I just don’t know. I’m intrigued more than entertained and I’m not yet ready to drop this one down any further but I’m not sure I’d recommend this as a watch to anyone.

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Okay, I Guess

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 1)

While there was nothing wrong with this as a first episode it just wasn’t particularly exciting. A lot of exposition and introductions with a vague set up for the story. Despite that, there’s certainly the possibility of this getting quite interesting (or becoming really generic). We’ll see how it goes.

Alice & Zoroku (Epsidoe 2)

Episode 2 is leaning firmly toward a cutesy slice of life style and while the poor CG was gone, the animation isn’t anything to write home about. There’s nothing really wrong with being cute or slice of life, but I’m not overly interested in it. That said, I am still wanting to know a bit more about these dreams of Alice so from a curiosity point of view I’m not dropping this just yet.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 3)

Generic and ordinary seem to be the buzz words for this show. Nothing wrong with episode 3 but no real excitement or anything of interest either (which you know we have swords, magic, airships and an entire army in this episode so why can’t it be exciting). There’s no reason for me to drop this but little reason to recommend it.

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 2)

Mindless was a good description of this last week as this week rolls out another two stories that pretty much follow the same formula established in episode 1. I think we’re going to need something to shake things up in episode 3 or I may not make it to episode 4.

The Royal Tutor (Episode 2)

Really my opinion of this hasn’t changed much. It is perfectly watchable but definitely not my usual genre and a lot of the comedy is missing the mark for me. I’m interested enough to go a third episode but this one is definitely heading toward being dropped.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 2)

Why didn’t they start with this? Okay, I still hate the main character and given the outfits the girls are in and the fact that we’ve had an attempted rape 2 episodes in isn’t promising, but this second episode actually seemed to realise it was supposed to do more than just roll out lazy clichés and kind of delivered a semi-compelling plot in amongst the less desirable parts. And tragically it introduced an idea about magic just interesting enough that dropping this is more or less off the table for now.

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They Made This

The Silver Guardian (Episode 3)

Pretty much this has become predictable but watchable nothingness. There’s not a single thing to recommend it from the three episodes it has aired, but there isn’t really any reason to hate it either. It just kind of is.

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Tried and Dropped

Tsukigakirei (Episode 2)

This is actually quite a good show and if you are into slow, middle school romances with shy lead characters it is worth checking out. That said, it isn’t my thing and the characters didn’t quite interest me enough to stay on board.

Eromanga Sensei (Episode 2)

While the first episode was kind of enjoyable even while there were some jokes that were a bit uncomfortable, episode 2 from minute 1 decides that having a cute girl discuss male anatomy and a younger sister throw a tantrum like a 2 year old is good enough for laughs. While the episode may have been getting to a point, I honestly don’t care.

Armed Girls Machiavellism (Episode 2)

Kind of figured this would end up here sooner or later. Unlike Akashic Records, the second episode of this is pretty happy to continue in the same tone as episode 1 which means it isn’t doing much other than bath scenes and various innuendos interspersed with some generic comedy and action.

Sakura Quest (Episode 1)

Love Tyrant (Episode 1)

Clockwork Planet (Episode 1)

And that is week 2 finished. Which show has surprised you the most so far?


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Kado: The Right Answer Episodes 0 + 1

Overview:

Shindo is a skilled negotiator who is on a plane that is essentially swallowed by a giant cube. The Crunchyroll synopsis tells me he’s going to end up negotiating between humanity and Yaha-kui zaShunina (the name of the guy in the cube).

Review:

Kado0

I do not get why shows to an episode 0 and in this case it is perfectly skippable except that if you want to know why all these random people seem to care about Shindo when they think the plane is destroyed and then realise it is probably in the cube episode 0 does a nice bit of character building. I actually really enjoyed episode 0 but really, other than the last 5 minutes its really just a day in the life of (month in the life of) a character who is clearly important to the story this anime is going to tell. Also, we learn more about his partner who seems to be overlooked by everyone.

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It kind of made episode 1 work better in that I kind of worried about the character too in a way that the few minutes we see of him at the airport in episode 1 wouldn’t really help me to understand anything about him other than his job. However episode 0 ends with what is essentially the beginning of episode 1, minus some introductions but we do get to see the giant cube.

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The majority of episode 1 is then focussed on the Japanese government response and feels quite believable. We see the media scrambling, the departments meeting, the military assembling, and the science guy from episode 0 with the air of his loopy assistant trying to figure out what the cube is.

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I’m going to be honest, this was slow story-telling but I’m kind of hooked. I have to know. While some of the animation hasn’t been awesome and there are more characters running around than I have names for at the moment, the set up here promises a lot and the music is probably the most spot on that I’ve seen yet this season. This is the first premiere of Spring that has instantly made me sit up and think that I want more now. I may change my mind in a few episodes but right now I’m putting this as a must watch.

Kado: The Right Answer is available on Crunchyroll.


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