So I watched Edge of Tomorrow, and it’s overall a great movie despite the obligatory Hollywood style ending. It’s great to see a Japanese story being brought to the forefront of the western audience, but I just hope people give me more chances, despite the ending. Nonetheless, Pacific Rim 2 in 2017 is a great announcement, and let’s jump into this delayed post again. Due to the vastly reduced number of shows, other than Ping Pong I won’t try to do any ranking, as usual.
“Blood Tastes Like Iron”
This final showdown has nothing to do about the points. It’s about Peco coming to Smile’s rescue once again. We never got shown the score even once during the few rallies, and instead it’s as if we are watching a duet, a performance between the two parties. It is the destiny match, one which pits the re-emerging hero with the robot that has lost his way. It doesn’t matter who comes out on top either way as both has already qualified. What it needs to do is to go back to the relationship between Peco and Smile, and free the lost robot once again.
Unlike the match spectacle that went on between Peco’s Dragon slaying heroics, this grand final match is muted. The show even spent the pre-OP scenes de-hyping the show from the audience’s perspective, and our favourite recurring character makes his return. Other than a few rallies shown, and some intense build up to the first point, the progression of the match was never brought up once. We all know so well that both players are on top of their game, and Peco is also playing his hearts out despite the ongoing injury, to the point that he probably needs urgent hospital treatment after the match.
It all goes back to their childhood. Hoshino was the protector to the quiet Tsukimoto, and to Tsukimoto the notion of hero is real. When he could play similar game as his hero and be equally as good, it’s a sign to the pathway he should follow. Therefore when Peco stopped being one he admires, and subsequently drift out after the loss to Akuma in last year’s qualifier, Peco became a robot. He lost his guidance, lost his focus. To him, he needs to become the demon lord in order to bait out the hero. Throughout the year between the two inter-highs we thought he was on the up, but instead it was a pathway to corruption, towards becoming a cold hearted brutal robot.
There was doubt in regards to the leniency given the injury Peco has on his right knee, and Smile throw them all away with a ruthless targeted attack on that particular within the first ball. As just like the previous match, Peco was able to scramble and recover pretty well, finishing off the rally with a massive laugh. It was a match where both participants gave their all despite being friends, and the one long rally in the middle of the episode is extremely well done, shedding any doubt that it was a forfeited match. For Smile to grab the good feeling of admiring others again, he needs to make sure first off that the Hero is actually back. To do that, he has to go all out. There’s no point holding back if you can’t test the full strength of the hero in front of you. Only in a worthwhile defeat shall he obtain that sense of joy.
I always love a good epilogue as there is no better ways to tie up a life story with it. After the match melted into a montage on the five characters as they grow up and how Ping Pong means to them, we are greeted with a timeskip unto a few years into the future. Tsukimoto gave up on his ability as a ping pong player simply due to his mind was never on it. Hoshino is now an ace in the national team, and still as cheerful as ever. Kazama is on injury break and ponders his life beyond the sport itself. Sakuma is now a winner in life, with his young family and moving onto the next phase in his life. At the same time, Kong received some favourable treatment from director Yuasa and had a good reward for all his effort, being substituted into the national team in place of the injured player.
All in all, the message is clear. Life goes on after all their story together. Kong found his new home. Sakuma found a new goal. Kazama found the joy again. Tsukimoto found his hero again. As for Hoshino, well, he’s slowly realising dream of being a champion. Just like how the three oldies reconcile and having a quiet time chatting together, ping pong plays a big part in the lives of those people, but it does not dominate them. It’s a journey, not the destination. You find your way through, and the life shall give you an answer. I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to finish this amazing show.
“It’s a Cruel World. I’m Going to Take a Look in the Shadows”
You thought this was only a mindless harem show? Too bad. The sci-fi setting took centre stage this week in place of the usual harem shenanigans, and while the change is abrupt it’s not totally unexpected. The mystery of the world is revealed, and what we had so far turned out to be one massive grooming training run to prepare Souta for his destiny fight. This episode is mainly around everyone in the RPG party to gear up and be mentally prepared to join the battle, after Nanami realised the truth behind everything. They may have been fake to the real world, but the emotions are still strong.
Whether or not this last minute change in focus is good will really depends on how the final ep turns out. Things are most likely going to end in a happy ending anyway with Souta breaking his destiny, but I just hope the path towards it is as convincing and charming as the rest the series has been so far.
“The Girl Dons a Red Coat and Drives a Team of Rabbits Across the Christmas Eve Night Sky”
Even though it’s the middle of ‘summer’ at the moment, we are having our European Christmas episode! We have all the characters working together in the rabbit house in unison due to the great influx of holiday customers. Lize being the strict instructor, Sharo being hyper and efficient while not on caffeine, Chiya going crazy with her namings, and Aoyama Blue Mountain in her dreamy daze into the turkey. The eye signal skit left me in stitches to say the least. It’s a festive atmosphere with the customary holiday blessings, and the visual quality is higher than usual as well.
While Lize is still the best girl, Sharo has been racking up some serious points over the last few episodes. Honestly, ever since the moment she begged to the rabbit over the flyer it just ticked for me. This is going to be a tough battle at the end of the season. This show has a slightly eccentric sense of humour on top of the overwhelming cuteness, and it’s working quite well for me.
“The False Princess”
As we are getting to the end of the first season, it’s time for some major revelations. The mystery of the multiple Chaikas were hanging over the story ever since the introduction of Red Chaika, and with Blue Chaika making proper appearance as yet another broken soul the truth behind this mysterious phenomenon really needs to discovered. Just what’s the deal with Emperor Gaz, and what’s the actual history behind those Chaika? Luckily they don’t have to answer it now with S2 announced, but there are seriously tonnes of discovery to do in the second season.
The trio on the sky castle are all sadistic and crazy individuals with nothing to lose. With the abducted girls found to be used as power source in the most brutal fashion, the attacking army force rapidly approaching, the shock loss of one recurrent member, there’s a lot to be cleaned up in the final episode no doubt. That being said though, I’m really not a fan of the anime adaptation on Blue Chaika’s look losing that mysterious aura. It’s making her look more like a tramp than a beauty.
It has been a while to see Joseph fight on his own, and finally we see how useless Hamon is in this new dimension of fighting. The stand of this week channels the tumour with human face, and a relatively easier affair than the hanged man encounter we had just prior. It’s a simpler stand, and somewhat fitting considering that Joseph is not one equipped with great firepowers to come hand in hand with the killer power of the usual enemy stands. Instead he had to rely on his usual wit, and some good fortune in order to get past the adversary.
It may not be the most exciting episode, but it’s great to once again see that Joseph has not lost any of his usual snark even though he’s no longer the formidable force we used to know in Battle Tendency. He’s still holding up his end of the bargain fine, but now he’s mostly just a moe character with some of the best reaction faces in the group. Seriously though, the amount of “Oh No” in this episode is pretty great.
“The Unexplored Ruins of Dreams!”
Once again the beauty of the music has won me over in this episode. As we step into the final battle, or the preparation of it, there are some backlogs to be cleaned out. The good old boss fight is back, but right now it’s time to regroup first. The mystery with the nature of Korone and the ancient structure is linked together, and the story of the hummingbird princess is a great one as the backstory in this setting. It brings back the theme of fertile ground that was there ever since we set foot onto this barren field, and it’s great to see it being back as the main focus again.
The scenario was beautiful, supplemented with a beautiful score and nice storytelling. I’m fairly sure that it would be one of the greats had the story don’t have to leave it until the last moments. Then again I can see why the Atelier game series is loved by many. I’ll leave the overall series review next week, but this show has been quite a calming influence to me this season. Nevertheless, let’s hope for a big grand finale final boss fight.
No seriously, what’s with the shows this season and their tendency to just change and rush through stuff in the final 2 episodes? Let’s see, this episode has new characters introduction (yes in the second last episode), character death, character almost-death, character uncertain death, and more possible death. You thought Gaworare light speed, this is wrap gate level. We went through time space continuum and came out of the other side. Did King Crimson just appear, because I am sure there were stuff we were supposed to cover that were conveniently skipped over.
Redundancy, lack of attachment, disinterest. It doesn’t matter how you phrase it, I just don’t feel like this episode has any weight to it whatsoever. It’s just one major clusterfk altogehter.
Compare with other shows this season, the lack of acceleration in the ending is surprisingly calming in this episode. As usual the story is going through the motions, but at least it fares better after knowing what type of buttons it tries to press. There was one emotional speech given by one of the characters, which was let down by the lack of corresponding visual feedback in the actual scene itself.
The laser class was taken out, yet the king is still looming strong. We have our reshuffling of the party and getting ready for the final battle. The intended tearjerker actually didn’t have much reaction from me, instead it’s the brief offhand comment that actually tickled the tear duct. There’s a sentiment in this show that resonate somewhat with me, and it’s brought up again near the end of this episode. I always like the combination of a broken old man with the overwhelming desire to protect the one he loves, and it’s kind of here in this show but not done well enough.
With the season ending. Expect the mini review posts to come. There are quite a number of shows this season to cover, hopefully I can get most of them done within the next couple of days. I also need to write up a full review for Ping Pong sometime. Fingers crossed.