Review-Roundup: Subete ga F ni Naru 02, Hidan no Aria AA 01/02, Beautiful Bones 02, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans 03

[C12] Subete ga F ni Naru - 02.mp4 - 00002Get it?! She doesn’t understand mundane stuff because she’s super-rich! It’s hilarious, isn’t it…?

This time I review:

Subete ga F ni Naru 02: Saiwaka, Nishinosono and… some other guys travel to the island where the genius Magata lives. After a load of exposition and some romantic shenanigans Saiwaka and Nishinosono arrive at the… let’s say, building where Magata lives and immediately become entangled in a shocking mystery.

Hidan no Aria AA 01/02: Despite the fact that Sherlock’s a fictional character as we all know, in this series there’s some tsundere-girl running around claiming to be his granddaughter or something. Another girl entirely who tries her hardest to be a moeblob wants fuck said Sherlock-granddaughter. Hilarity ensues!

Beautiful Bones 02: There’s a kid, there’s blood and there’s this boy who can’t help but get involved and when he gets involved, this other woman with genius-deduction-skills gets involved and that leads to a quick solution of the mystery. I probably can think of better ways to spend your freetime than doing the job of the police…

Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans 03: The orphan-revolt is happening fast and ends brutally. Also, some old dude with some old notions of honor and whatnot challenges the young genius-pilot Mikazuki to a duel.

Subete ga F ni Naru 02 Review:

[C12] Subete ga F ni Naru - 02.mp4 - 00004Right, that’s the thing you need to ask the guy you’re in love with!

Aside from the Magata-mystery, this series really only has one fall-back-option, doesn’t it? The romance between Nishinosono and Saikawa is just as important as the mystery and in this case the two are even linked. The live-action-version suffered from a characterization that merely turned the characters into plot-devices and made them seem somewhat empty as characters. Now with a lot of more time on its hands this anime has a lot more opportunities to give these two characters and their romance more depth.

Well, on the bright side: This time around Saikawa at least doesn’t “quit” smoking after the first episode. But the bad news are that while this episode does indeed attempt to Nishinosono a more interesting it does so by adding stereotypical “rich girl”-stereotypes. The whole thing of her being rich has already gotten obnoxious after two episodes. This series tries to play it off as a bit of a comic relief in this episode but it’s so on-the-nose that rolling your eyes is the only credible reaction to it. The live-action-episode didn’t really do that much with that character in the first six episodes but at least a one-note characterization was the worst you had to sit through. Having to listen to stupid jokes about how Nishinosono has a lot of baggage, constantly just makes others work for her and is excited about stuff you’d normally buy in a supermarket (because usually she only eats fancy stuff, of course) is THE WORST! These jokes are cheap to the point of worthlessness!

And I can’t say that this series really is handling the romance between the two main-characters much better. In the live-action-series it’s more or less an after-thought with the whole mystery-procedural taking the limelight each time. And this series already had a couple dialogues that were more meaningful romance-wise but boy, if this isn’t the least subtle “will they, won’t they”-spiel I’ve ever seen. Nishinosono is jealous, possessive and very aggressive in her love towards Saikawa who in turn is dismissive, distracted and caring in a patronizing way. You would think that such a blunt dynamic would get to the action rather quickly but no, these two are just spinning their wheels without really ever making self-aware comments about what each of them is doing. I mean, there’s no reason to root for their relationship because it is neither dramatic nor is it very emotional.

I was a bit surprised to see this flashback that directly connected Nishinosono’s words to what Magata said as 13-year-old to an old man. It’s surprising because it’s kinda spoiling what I thought was one of the bigger revelations of the Magata-arc. Also, the voice-over-narration from the old man in the Magata-flashback was disconcerting to say the least. I mean, it’s one thing to hint at the fact that Magata was romantically involved with an older married gentleman but it’s a whole other level to have the old man portray her as an “evil seductress”. That’s the WORST way to characterize a young woman who’s in a relationship with an old man because it shifts the blame to the woman while the man can do the whole “Oh poor, little, old me is getting seduced by this manipulative woman! I’m hopelessly charmed by her captivating beauty! I can’t possibly be considered a person with free will as long as I’m under the thrall of her hypnotizing grace!”. It’s the old chestnut of the equation where when a woman is in charge in a relationship she’s an evil succubus and when a man is in charge he’s considered to be a virtuous knight. I really hope this anime will move away from the portrayal of Magata as an evil woman. There’s one specific event in this Magata-arc where this episode’s portrayal makes me fear that this series might offer a kinda misogynistic characterization of Magata by telling us that it’s all Magata’s fault to begin with. Really, in the Live-Action-version Magata was a sympathetic figure despite her role in the story. This series better not fuck that up!

Naturally I have to talk about the mystery and pacing-wise the episode at least did the right thing by ending with the “Magata-figure” rolling out of the door. When I saw the live-action-version this was the first “Holy shit!”-moment for me in that arc. The whole idea of the Magata-lab was crazy enough on its own already. I mean, that setting is just begging for a locked-room-mystery, isn’t it?

One thing that confused me both in the live-action-version and this one is how little Nishinosono seems to know about the Magata-lab. She talked with Magata once already and from the looks of it I always assumed that she had talked to her in that lab. But that can’t be the case, of course. So how exactly did she get into contact with Magata and how could she know SO little about her whole “situation” if she has already accepted the ridiculous terms of the video-conversation.

Also, knowing the mystery I can safely say that the flashbacks to the dialogue between Nishinosono and Magata aren’t half as smart as the script-writer seems to think. Half of it is unnecessary bullshit that sounds smart but doesn’t really mean anything. The whole “Physical contact will become a rarity in the distant future and therefore murders will happen less.”-thing… First of all, what a leap of logic to go from “physical contact will become a rarity” to “guess, that means there will be less murder happening.”. It’s actually one of the character-traits of Nishinosono that she’ll make these jumps in logic and while the live-action-version never seems to grow tired of mentioning that, here you just get confronted with this sort of odd thinking. It isn’t smart really, either. I mean, imagine talking about whether you should take a train or a bus somewhere and you’ve got someone with that sort of leap-y logic asking “Why did you never bother investing in a car?”. It just means that she’s a real dick who can’t seem to focus on the matter at hand. Besides, that second half is also just a convoluted way to construct a useless allegory for one of the core-principles of the mystery. I mean, certainly the idea of a physical contact, directly or indirectly, being necessary to commit murder should be obvious to everyone in the audience. This isn’t frigging X-Men where telepaths can attack people with their minds.

I have to say, knowing the solution to the mystery already makes this show quite unenjoyable. I imagine (or hope) that a lot of its bullshit will feel like the beginning of an interesting puzzle to the audience. But at the same time not knowing the solution of the mystery is a distraction that keeps that portion of the audience from really thinking about what this series is doing. And if you’re not distracted and are in the know you realize that while this anime may be different from the live-action-series it has yet to improve on the live-action-version (which isn’t that great to begin with).

Episode-Rating: 5.5/10

Hidan no Aria AA 01/02 Review:

_C12__Hidan_no_Aria_AA_-_02.mp4 - 00002In Hidan no Aria AA being in love with someone usually means you become an obsessive stalker first and earn the other person’s affection later.

Hidan no Aria AA is a series obsessed with obscuring all its rough edges with fluffiness and cuteness. In pursuing this, the series’ storytelling has been very problematic so far. There’s a lack of vision on one hand and a heap of rather generic ideas that never quite seem to cohere on the other hand. So what you’re left with is the empty feeling of knowing that Hidan no Aria AA has yet to reveal anything really that amounts to an actual story. It’s all just tidbits of plot and various stray story-ideas that create incidents that are loosely connected at best.

The series’ flaws culminate in the strangely contradictory characterization of Akari, the girl who admires Aria and wants to be acknowledged by her. On the surface Akari is more or less the type of moe-kouhai you would expect to encounter in that scenario and Aria is exactly the kind of tsundere you’d expect her to be as well. Where things start to become needlessly complicated is that in this setting both Aria and Akira are training to become Butei (which are more or less supercops). And of course while Aria is the best girl at the school, Akira is the worst one. But here’s the first weird tidbit: The series wants to cast Akira in this underdog-role but at the same her motivation is to supposedly be like Aria who she admires – except Akira is a complete failure in every regard. Why?

Normally the stereotypical solution is to bring magical talent in the mix and do something like saying “Oh, he just doesn’t have any magical talent and that’s what you get rated for.”. But the scene establishing Akira’s underdog-status makes you think that maybe she should choose a different career-path. I mean, they say she’s an E-Rank but the way she behaved during that test, an F-Rank would’ve been more appropriate. She would just get herself killed in a real fight if that test is any indication. Even later when Akira’s two friends try to console her, all they can say is “Yeah, this other girl was a bit excessive for shooting you. It was clear after all that you’ve lost.”. But was she? These students are getting trained for real fighting and the criminals certainly won’t stop from shooting just because it seems “excessive”. So, what Akira is doing is completely different from what she supposedly wants to do. But maybe the starting-point of the series could be her realizing this very thing and therefore she’s trying a new approach to becoming like Aria.

Except this is when the series just adds a stupid “dark past”-trope to the mix. Of course Akira has a traumatic past and thanks to a flash-forward we know that Akira’s also suppressing her own strength for… reasons. Now remember that the first storyline is supposedly all about Akira trying very hard to become stronger and be more like Aria but then you got these flashbacks and other weird moments telling you that Akira’s actually this whole other person the series doesn’t tell you about because that’s more dramatic supposedly. First of all, making Akira a more dramatic figure by keeping things from the audience is stupid. I never like the sort of plottwist that gets telegraphed by a stern refusal of the series to be honest with the audience. But it also leads to completely contradictory storyline. I mean, what is Akira’s story supposed to be when the series clearly tells you that the fluffy Akira is different from the traumatized one of the past? What’s the point of cheering for Akira getting closer to Aria and becoming more confident when the series can simply switch a flip at any point and turn Akira into this other version?

What is also the stupidest kind of worldbuilding you could do is the way the series talks about the Amica-system. It’s this system where an upperclassman becomes some sort of mentor for a younger student. I guess, the teachers at this elite-school just aren’t good enough so students have to teach each other. Sometimes I wonder whether these writers of these shows even know how going to school is supposed to work. Students teaching each other, students taking part in the job they are still training for, students actually doing the job already as well, students supposedly being better at it than the real professionals and so on and so forth.

There used to be meaning in animes to what schools represent but when you see all these shounen-series with its alternate-history/fantasy/sci-fi-settings warping the core-idea of what a school is like then it goes beyond even escapism and just becomes a simple fantastical lie. Escapism at least has a starting point in reality it wants to run away from but when you get to the point where you wonder “Wait, why is this series calling this a school…?” then it is beyond any suspense of disbelief. When you reach that it’s hard to believe that anything but the most superficial need to connect with the teenage-demographic is what’s driving the inclusion of a school-life-element. It becomes an element without purpose and as much importance as the color of the blanket you use to cover a spot of dirt. What else would hide behind a story’s appearance if it’s so thoughtlessly chosen? There’s no need for it to be necessarily realistic but it shouldn’t become unrealistic to the point where calling the thing a “school” is a bit of a misnomer. It would be like a scene of the most jovial kind of conversation gets called a battle because the participants just so happen to hold weapons in their hand. That’s a thing that animes in general need to stop doing!

With the problematic characterization of Akira, the superficial kind of worldbuilding and a somewhat shallow and generic story so far you’ve got a series that has literally nothing to go for itself currently. This series has no meat on its bones to savor as you dig your teeth into it. That’s the whole problem when you just throw a bunch of shit at the audience in the hope it will stick – sometimes nothing of it sticks. And that’s what’s happening here. Nothing in this series makes you think of greatness, it’s all just another variation of another mediocre idea you’ve already seen in some form or another a million times and then the series doesn’t even know how turn all this into a coherent package that could be at least somewhat enjoyable. These first two episodes have nothing to offer to the audience in terms of entertainment.

Episodes-Rating: 4.0/10

Beautiful Bones 02 Review:

_C12__Sakurako-san_no_Ashimoto_ni_wa_Shitai_ga_Umatteiru_-_02.mp4 - 00000It’s the second episode and I’m already tired of this girl waxing philosophically on the topic of bones.

For a series that is this concerned with the analytical part of a detective-story this week’s episodic story is an odd choice. In theory each episode is about presenting a mystery which then gets resolved by the lady-Sherlock and the details of the resolutions are supposed to be the source of excitement for the audience. Here, though, a lot of the story-beats are aiming to affect the audience on an emotional level. The product of this is a middle-of-the-road episode.

Sort-of trying to reestablish the premise of the show the second episode is still very episodic but at least you don’t get a bunch of useless character-introductions thrown at you like in the first episode. Actually, ditching the extensive exposition of the first episode helped a great deal in presenting a more wholesome mystery-story. The mysteries in the first episode were half-assed and the exposition seemed more overbearing than anything else.

The mystery of this episode revolves around a small child running away from home alone until it eventually got found by the boy who’s the main-character. Two things quickly become apparent after the boy has brought the child to a nearby police-station: One, the child is too young to be of much help and two, there are indications of some sort of foul-play involved. This is when the boy suggests to go the lady-Sherlock for advice on this case. Her observation-skills result in the first lead: The child has a badly healed bones-fracture meaning it has been to a hospital at some point. The police check the hospitals and indeed find the one the child had been brought to but the mother had used a fake-name and –address. So, this was a dead end as far as leads are concerned.

This is when the episode starts to hint at how it’s less interested in the analytical elements of the story because the boy and lady-Sherlock get lucky because one of the boy’s classmates just so happen to know who the child is. Now knowing the child’s identity they track down the home of the mother – where they also find her dead. Lady-Sherlock realizes there’s a second child in the house, rescues it and that’s when the murderer stumbles onto the scene, blood-drenched, high as a kite and armed with a knife. The boy overpowers him because he actually has a black belt in Karate or whatever. Good for him, right?

As an analytical detective-story the mystery in this episode isn’t very interesting. There’s no logical way to find the child’s mother quickly with as little information as they had and therefore the episode took the shortcut with the miraculous appearance of someone who actually knew the kid. Also, the discoveries made by lady-Sherlock were less about solving some sort of riddle and more about piecing together the puzzle of the events leading up to the moment when the boy had discovered the child. And the strange thing is that the episode doesn’t offer a coherent explanation for what and why these things happened which had caused the events of this episode. Personally I never like these mysteries where the characters are satisfied with a resolution that actually still has some loose ends. Like, from whom was the mother hiding? Why hadn’t she called the police? From where did the drug-addict come and how come he was still running around free after murdering someone? Somebody should’ve noticed him. Half a day had at least already passed after the protagonists arrived at the mother’s home.

These holes in the story are important because as I said the mystery of this episode isn’t very interesting. And with a cute little child playing a major role in the investigation as well as having the murdered woman protecting her children until the moment she died is also a story-beat that is trying to affect the audience emotionally. You’re supposed to sympathize with the series of events that led to her death but without actually telling the audience why she had turned into a hoarder, why she used a fake-identity in the public and why she never called the police it’s only natural to get suspicious and keep yourself from sympathizing too much with the fate of the mother. You’d think that a story such as this would be filled with flashbacks trying to make the audience understand the mother who gave up her life protecting her children but what you actually get are just some guesses and assumptions from lady-Sherlock. At the end of the day this episode just hasn’t been focused enough to be really impactful.

Episode-Rating: 6.0/10

Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans 03 Review:

[C12] Mobile Suit Gundam - Iron-Blooded Orphans - 03.mp4 - 00004Of course in a dark series such as this one the first plan the protagonists conceive is to just sell the princess to the bad guys.

That got grim really fast, didn’t it? It’s a little bit shocking to realize that this seems to be a Gundam-show that actually doesn’t shy away from the gruesome stuff you’d naturally expect to see in these typical Gundam-series that are obsessed with war and tragedies being the only thing convincing the universe that peace may be a nice thing to have. Actually it wouldn’t be unfair to say that this show is the most nihilistic Gundam-show I’ve ever seen. In Iron Blooded Orphans life is indeed quite shitty.

It’s too early to praise the show for embracing grim nihilism because there are still those scenes filled with hopeful speeches but when I think of this episode I don’t remember Orca giving a speech about taking on only honest jobs, I remember that moment when Mikazuki just shot a guy because he refused to obey the orphans. It seems almost grotesque how a couple VERY typical Gundam-franchise-elements coexist with this really dark shit here. In a franchise that just loves to moralize and preach, here you get an incarnation where people get killed without anyone batting an eye. Usually child-soldiers like the guys in this series would be the “hope of the future” but here they start out in a place filled with misery and then decide to break free.

What makes this episode amazing is the speech Mikazuki gives at the end while talking to that old dude who’s trying very hard to be honorable. Last episode I praised the series for acknowledging how fucked up it is that teenagers are usually in the frontrow to deal with the meat-grinder that is the conflict at the center of a Gundam-series. I still would say that that’s fucked up and something the franchise should’ve addressed with more self-awareness more often over the years. I don’t care if the teenager is some sort of wunderkind who shits gold or something. War isn’t a pleasant experience (even if you happen to be one of the “good guys” from the audience’s perspective) and putting a kid into it isn’t something the universe should applaud like the Gundam-franchise so often does. And here the series finds a nice counter-argument by giving those kids the self-confidence to resist being characterized as victims. This even includes the orphans being real bastards.

It certainly gets very dark when death is treated more or less like a footnote in the episode while the audience naturally is shocked by this display of violence. Of course, the best way to demonstrate you’re not a victim is to flaunt your power and in a primitive sense murdering someone without having to fear retribution is a powerful statement. Where it gets nihilistic, though, is when you realize that all the killings in this episode were immoral. The orphans may tell themselves that their cause is righteous (and Mikazuki seems like a sociopath anyway) but their actions are horrible. Actually, I was shocked when the episode didn’t immediately address the fact that in that scene where Orca and the other orphans confront their bound superiors the orphans actually seemed like villains. I mean, if you follow that dialogue you quickly realize just how evil Orca is in that scene. First he kills the First-Corps-leader just to take revenge and then he offers the others the choice to go or stay behind to serve him. But the first who wants to go is forced to stay because Orca and the orphans need him. That isn’t something nice people would do.

The thing I like the least currently is the princess-character and her developing crush on Mikazuki. I hate love-triangles and with pure-pure-chan (or whatever that girl’s name is that everybody REALLY likes – except the guy who she has a crush on) being the obvious love-interest for Mikazuki, I fear what will happen once that becomes relevant. What I would like more is the princess losing her naivety and becoming more determined to reach her goals – without getting embroiled in some stupid romantic sub-plot. Her character-arc pretty much writes itself considering how unimaginative her characterization has been so far. It’s great when her character-developments are sped up like when she immediately understood that her father had betrayed her but aside from that, it’s just the usual tsundere-routine mixed with the usual moralizing ramblings you’d normally expect to see more often in a Gundam-series.

So far, the series is great but I wonder what the series thinks of all those scenes I classify as grim and dark. After all, it isn’t like the series is broody in general or tries to turn brutality into a spectacle. The worst-case-scenario is that the series is just trying to be edgy by doing that and the best-case-scenario is that the series is indeed self-aware and actually will discuss these events at a later date in the series. Right now, though, it’s a great series and I can’t wait to watch the next episode. This series and One-Punch-Man are currently my favorites this season.

Episode-Rating: 8.5/10

About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on October 20, 2015, in Anime, Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation, Hidan No Aria AA, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Reviews, Subete Ga F Ni Naru and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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