Review-Roundup: Psycho-Pass II 05, Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works 05, CROSS ANGE 06
That’s how everyone looks like after they’ve found out that Shirou is supposed to be this series’ protagonist.
This time I review:
Psycho-Pass II 05: The new Hungry Chicken has come out, guys! Also, some other stuff happens that fails to move forward the story.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works 05: Shirou makes one bad decision after another and so Rin tries to kill him. Things don’t go as planned.
CROSS ANGE 06: Ange’s Top-Maid has come back to resume her job of acting like Ange is NOT a Norma (although she really is). Luckily money is there to save the day when kindheartedness is nowhere to be found.
Psycho-Pass II 05 Review:
Wasn’t one advantage of the Sybil-System supposed to be that it would find for you a list of jobs that would suit you? I don’t think this guy has the right job if his attitude to his work is “Aw, fuck it, how about I just play this new mobile game instead!”.
The second season continues its mixed efforts to get to the same level of entertainment the first season had offered. Maybe it hasn’t been such a good idea in the first place to associate itself this closely with the first season. Maybe the second season would’ve been better off if it had been a big departure from the story-stuff that concerned the first season. Because what the series is doing right now isn’t working. On one hand you have the comparison to a still superior first season and on the other hand, the stuff this season is doing, it’s… not even remotely as serious and intellectual as this season seems to believe it is.
With this episode slight pacing-problems start to crop up because this season has a lot of plot but not a lot of story so far. This episode is very indicative of how this season tries to be like the first season but actually isn’t. You have Kamui being just like Makishima who motivates smaller criminals to do evil stuff and that’s what the MWPSB has to deal with before it can finally confront the big villain at a plot-convenient time. It’s the very same story-structure the first season had used! But the little stories that precede the confrontation with Kamui aren’t that interesting. Sure, it’s a nice change of pace to make those more about the flawed nature of the MWPSB but overall, that’s all stuff the first season has already covered. Really, the biggest problem is that this second season has yet to add something innovative or interesting to the world of Psycho-Pass. Everything it does has been more or less already covered by the first season.
But the problem of focusing on plot over story is very pronounced in this episode as it kinda seems like a filler-episode from a story-perspective. Stuff just happens without a real story attached to it. And sure, there’s some stuff you read into the game-thingy but it’s not like the episode on a whole actually cares about that. Instead, the whole thing comes off as cheap and hamfisted. “Hey, look, here’s this game about a chicken killing stuff… Really happy it’s just a game… get it?”, is what he said while he controlled mechas to kill innocent people. What does this even mean?! Are games bad, is the attitude of the person playing wrong, is the whole culture at fault…?! Who knows! It can be anything! In the end, this is one of those overly neat metaphors that are about everything and nothing. It’s just so badly utilized that it has no dramatic weight within the story.
And this flaw of stuff happening without having a big story-impact continues as the actual MWPSB is fairly useless in finding out what’s going on. Sure, Akane and evil Enforcer-guy find a hideout of Kamui but not only has this nothing to do with the actual events of the episode but it’s also very indicative of how Akane’s story-relevant discovery has literally nothing to do with the crisis developing within the training-grounds. Akane and her team, as well as some lazy MWPSB-guys from Team 3, arrive and Akane finds something completely unrelated to the actual incident in this episode. This episode treats its incident with the game and the mechas like a shocking development but the fact is that there isn’t a good build-up happening for that development. It just happens. I haven’t heard about the game prior to this and Kamui’s ability to hack those mechas wasn’t mentioned before either. Overall, it’s really just a plot-device and nothing more.
At this point it’s just ridiculous how impotent the MWPSB seems to be in catching Kamui. Of course, the plot doesn’t help either by allowing Kamui to have these elaborate traps prepared for the MWPSB. It’s just not a very balanced portrayal which ends up making the hunt for Kamui look like a plot-device and less like a natural progression.
As for Kamui… Hmm, at this point my guess is that he has three objectives: He wants to show off the injustice of the Sybil System, he wants to be an avatar of justice himself and he wants to show the world that redemption is possible. His original motivation is probably deeply personal and he viewed the inciting incident as very unjust. But he hides his need for revenge under the guise of a humble, benevolent prophet who wants to spread his vision of a “better world” where he thinks the inciting incident wouldn’t have happened.
But there’s also something fanatical about him as the people who he thinks he’s saving get practically brainwashed cult-style. The reason they have a clear color is because they leave all the responsibility of their actions to him and simply follow his orders without worrying about the consequences. The whole thing seems a tad religious as the brainwashed people cling to him in the hope that he will lead them to salvation. His name “Kamui” is very indicative of this cult-leader-strategy also. There’s a bit of an egomaniacal streak to his behavior as him “helping” those brainwashed people is as much about how great he is as it is about saving those people.
At this point, though, that’s all just speculation… What isn’t speculation is how Maki just continues to be the worst cop imaginable. She goes to her boss and complains about Akane and the chief is like “Yep, don’t give a shit.” to which Maki says “But you have heard about my complaints, right, RIGHT?!”. So, the chief just responds waving her away “Yeah, yeah, whatever, just go already…” and for a goodbye Maki just says threateningly “I hope you remember that when shit has hit the fan… CHIEF!”. That’s basically what happened in that scene between Maki and the lady-chief of the MWPSB. And it’s hilarious because it’s HER shit that will hit the fan probably and not Akane’s. She has done nothing good so far during this series. The only time she’s somewhat acceptable is when she’s distracted by her need to lust after Yayoi. And hey, at least she’s taking the initiative in that regard and is really going for it. Apparently Maki is searching private counsel from Yayoi regularly which is just too adorable… considering that her love is totally doomed, of course.
This episode continues to lower the bar for this series compared with the first season. It’s still an entertaining series to watch but the cracks get bigger and you’ve gotta wonder whether this season will do more harm than good in regards to the popularity of the Psycho-Pass-franchise. It’s just that Kamui as a villain isn’t half as interesting as Makishima. And it isn’t only the cheap plotting of this season that’s at fault here. Makishima always seemed like a really fucked up idealist which was a very intriguing concept for the setting of this series. Meanwhile Kamui doesn’t seem that interesting mostly thanks to how the series has avoided him so far and has only shown him in little bits here and there that aren’t enough to make him a compelling character.
Also, about the politican that isn’t really a politician… Yeah, the first season already had done a very good job of tackling the subject of a fan impersonating someone popular.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works 05 Review:
Naturally Saber needs rest from the recent battles and Shirou is strong enough to just continue living like nothing has happened! Really, Grail-War, Servants, magic and all that other shit… Not a problem for Shirou apparently! He just carries on as if it’s business as usual!
This series’ biggest problem is Fate/Stay Night itself. Or another way to phrase this would be that this series’ biggest enemy is this series’ ambition to be a sequel to Fate/Zero. Look, the ambition of the latter has actually improved the series so far, I feel like and so I’m all for it. Sadly, though, this adaptation is way too faithful for its own good while also hinting at easily imaginable improvements. This series seems to excel at improving the original version of Fate/Stay Night and then keeps you reminding of why it needed improvement in the first place.
This episode is the perfect example of why the Fate/Stay Night-storyline just doesn’t fit within the universe that was superficially hinted at by Fate/Stay Night and was actually shown by Fate/Zero. This adaptation tries SO hard to unite the difference in quality between Fate/Stay Night’s story and Fate/Zero’s story. But naturally they don’t want to risk the ire of the most fanatical fans and so they try to stay somewhat faithful. This means, though, that we get an episode like this one. Really, this episode only makes sense within the most generic framework for a shounen-series. In the case of this series, though, that has built up quite a history it just feels inane.
This series is about a Grail-War. Not any Grail-War, it’s a tradition with laws and shit like that. But the whole thing is kinda fucked up now because… reasons, so the newest Grail-War is a fucking disaster. And with that I mean, it produces a generic shounen-series. That’s really what Fate/Stay Night is. Except the series has SO much exposition that it actually is capable of developing some good plottwists in the latter half. But the problem is that it hints at this far bigger universe full of mages and shit. And then Fate/Zero came along actually showing off a proper Grail-War with an unplanned ending that led to the events of Fate/Stay Night.
Fate/Zero is out there in anime-form and in Light-Novel-form, both are fairly good. Now, though, we have come back to the thing that started it all and yeah, it is kinda obvious that it was less ambitious in its beginnings compared to how popular it had become after its release. The real problem starts when you have a plot about a Grail War, this epic conflict where superhuman heroes battle for various magicians against each other and then you get someone like Shirou as a protagonist.
Shirou could be a great protagonist – except he’s portrayed like a really shitty one for most of the series. He just doesn’t want to be a hero, he has a motivation thanks to being raised by Kiritstugu and there’s even a trauma to fuel the motiviation. That’s Batman-level shit as far as cheesy motivations go. And yet Fate/Stay Night does the usual mistake of generic shounen-series by trying to make its protagonist blander (in order to make him more relatable, one assumes). Therefore Shriou constantly doesn’t do the smart thing, he always has no clue what’s going on but in the end he preserves and he does that by being the most obnoxious, moralizing being in the room. Shirou really is a prime example of a bad shounen-protagonist. It’s not like he’s an uninspired character or that he lacks good characterization. Really, it’s just this misguided idea that you should start out with a very generic protagonist and then try to make such a character more interesting. That’s what Shirou is: A character that becomes more interesting but isn’t one who’s inherently interesting (or even likeable).
And the actual episode is just lackluster within the storyline of this series. The conflict between the various Masters and their servants is portrayed as being paramount. Everything is about the Grail-War. Yet, we get extended scenes of characters sort-of ignoring that conflict. The first one is the very sexist one of Shirou telling Saber (who’s way stronger than him) to just rest because she needed to recover her mana while he (although somewhat beaten up) would go to school. Not only does it seem weird for Shirou to allow Saber to rest while he goes off alone, it also seems somewhat naïve in regards to what the new Masters in this new Grail-War are doing. I’m not sure whether Rin has already mentioned this to him but the audience knows at least that the new Masters in this Grail-War are breaking the rules left and right. Rin’s reaction to Shirou appearing at school is really natural at least in that regard.
There’s this moment where Shirou hears about how Shinji, one of his friends, may have done something bad to one of the members of the Archery-Club and all of a sudden the episode turns into this little mystery-plot where Shinji tries to find out what has happened by asking various people in a (more or less) montage-sequence. Granted I know what’s going on but still… what a bullshit-move! Nobody gives a shit about seeing Shirou do a bad Sherlock-Holmes-impression.
But that dull sequence gets interrupted by Rin trying to kill Shirou. And it opens with a really stupid moment where Shirou argues that he didn’t need to bring Saber to school because there are always people around. But he’s saying that while he’s OBVIOUSLY completely alone with Rin. In the first series this moment is somewhat cheesy but in this extended version it really just seems like a giant waste of time. We already know Rin’s opinion and it’s hardly a secret who had saved Shirou when he was dying at the very beginning. Rin trying to kill in this episode is such a pretentious, tsundere-like way to hide her love for Shirou. But without actually acknowledging this cheesy story-development it barely makes sense that she would try to kill him in one moment but then would act flustered about why she’s insistent on taking care of Shirou and calling a truce. Especially when you remember that they sort-of had ALREADY DONE THAT a few episodes ago. Rin had actually broken their truce more or less and yet Shirou doesn’t even resent her for that. He’s mostly just confused and when she relents to his “charm”, he’s mostly just like “Yeah, I mean, I never considered you to be an enemy to begin with.”. Shirou just continues to be one of the most oblivious characters in this series – which is just fitting, of course, since he’s supposed to be nothing more than a generic shounen-anime-protagonist.
Cross Ange 06 Review:
This series’ fanservice is just insane! Really, this fanservice doesn’t even care about getting a reaction from the male audience, it just shoves it into everyone’s face with a total disregard for tone and style. And what does “four-dimensional boobs” even mean?!
Forget what I’ve said about last episode, this show is still fun. And with that I mean, it’s fun in the worst possible ways. This episode shows the return of Ange’s maid and raises the question whether she should be returned to her homeland. It should be mentioned that she probably will reach her homeland in a bodybag if she leaves the Norma-base where Ange is. And so Ange is asked to accept the presence of her former most favorite maid who had naturally lied to her about her lacking magic-powers her whole life.
At this point, it’s just hilarious to watch Ange be the most insulting asshole imaginable while the series still tries to portray her as a sympathetic heroine. In previous episodes (except the last episode) she had always been a complete asshole, most of the time, a racist one as well. Ange has never been likeable.
And then the fifth episode came along where Ange was shown (more or less) having a dalliance with a dude on an island. That episode was THE worst! Seriously, they establish Ange to be this big asshole but her icy asshole-defenses melt when faced with a (sorto-of accidentally) pervy guy…?! That was really the worst version of a romance imaginable. It was just SO cheesy and not self-aware.
Worse yet, there was a hint of Ange softening up, that she actually had learned that one shouldn’t be the sort of asshole she had been before. But here we are: The sixth episode and yep, Ange is a complete asshole again!
This series can literally only deal with characterizations in absolutes. There are no nuances in the portrayal of any character in this show. Everyone’s just the obnoxious asshole they appear to be. So why am I still watching? Because no sane series would do such a thing. What is this series even thinking doing this sort of bullshit?!
At this point, though… and that only means if you have come this far and haven’t dropped this series yet… You will realize that apparently this series is just fine with Ange being a total asshole. The way she treats her former maid is SO insulting that it’s hard to imagine how the maid’s actions would even have an effect. Ange just doesn’t give a shit about the luxury her top-maid provided for her in the past. And so naturally everything her maid does for her is bad and Ange vocally complains about the whole thing, even questions the necessity of her presence.
But the maid-character is just as ridiculous in the way she’s insisting on treating Ange like the princess she had been. She apologizes for lying to Ange quickly without every really delving into the reasons beyond “Hey, I still want to be your maid.”. And naturally she’s also a racist who also stupidly still clings to Ange not being one of those evil Normas. That doesn’t make sense! Wouldn’t at least SHE be aware of the bullshit that is Norma-racism?! She helped an adored a Norma for years!
You know what saves the maid? Ange overhearing that she will probably be executed one she has returned to her homeland. There were also a lot of insults heaped upon Ange’s shoulders but then again – those were less insults and more honest assessments of her personality. Yep, the way this series portrays Ange she is indeed the cold bitch her bullies describe her as.
Also, I imagine there’s no purpose in trying to figure out what this series is saying about currency. Star Trek was more economy-oriented than this series. I mean, a lot of things about this series make no sense and the portrayal of the characters is equally absurd. And yet I have to say that this is indeed a good contender to being “so bad, it’s good”. Nothing this series has done even seems remotely like something an ordinary series would do – and that’s not a compliment. It isn’t just the ridiculous characters or the insane, unnecessary amounts of blood and gore in this series, it’s the way all this is done with complete lack of self-awareness. This is a series that thinks it’s good and edgy without having a real understanding of what good, edgy shows are like. And the produced absurdity has a certain charm for how ignorant and incompetent it is.
Posted on November 10, 2014, in Anime, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Psycho Pass II, Reviews and tagged Anime, CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angel and Dragon, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Fate/Stay Night, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Psycho Pass, Psycho-Pass 2, reivews. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.