Thinking About Anime May 21-25, 2012

In the past week’s episodes we saw the shorter-run shows pick up the pace. Several shows are half-way through their runs, and many clearly have things still in developmental stages. Several shows took abrupt turns, and a few left off with startling cliff hangers. The two best shows of the season, Uchuu Kyoudai and Sakamichi no Apollon, provided viewers with rewarding conclusions to tense situations. Below are some further thoughts and impressions. Below that is a bit about our seiyuu of the week, Sakurai Takahiro.

The quality of Ginga e Kickoff will hinge on how they treat Reika

I had occasion to watch the first few episodes of Air Master this week and found a tag-along character that is more rage inducing than Roman in SKET Dance, but it was a near thing. Her constant popping into frame to provide commentary is unneeded and insulting to the audiences intelligence. Speaking of cutesy supporting characters, I’m glad that Mouretsu Pirates is letting the real crew come back. As a short diversion it was fine, but any longer with a ship full of bubbly girls would have soured me to the show. A supporting character I am routing for is Reika in Ginga no Kickoff. As a bigger girl myself, I will be watching closely to see how they handle Reika’s slimming down to the look featured in the OP. What I hope we will see is that the team values her even at her bigger size, but support her in fitness; what I hope we don’t see is a Area no Kishi style magic weight loss.

One Piece and Naruto Shippuuden continue to build toward epic battles. Fans who had despaired at the long story-time with Uncle Jimbei discovered that they weren’t the only ones who had trouble focusing in a moment that had me laughing out loud. Tsuritama and Tasogare Otome x Amnesia both took dark turns in the past week. The full importance of Haru’s going off the reservation has yet to be revealed, but I am excited to see where both these shows are going. For what it’s worth, unlike many respondents online, I do not think that Yuuko was possessed by the embodiment of her darker emotions. I think that unable to cope with the full spectrum of emotions that her new relationships bring she lashed out at the one causing those emotions; then, in horror at what she has done, made a complete break from the memories and the emotions.

The ability of the writers on many shows this season have shown the real skill it takes to tell a larger story, but to unfold it in ways that keep the audience informed and entertained a half hour at a time. Jormungand has taken time to connect us to the growing humanity of the ex-child soldier, Jonah, and to the tumultuous pasts of the other characters as ways of pushing forward the narrative in the present. So far, it seems not to have been a mistake. I had praised Hyou-ka in weeks past for balancing the little mystery with the bigger mystery of the Classica Club’s past, but in the big reveal this week, I have to wonder what we’re going to do for the rest of the episodes or if I have not fully understood the big mystery. I’m hoping that it’s the later… and that it has something to do with the dojo.

Shirokuma's voice offers a gentle escape each week

Seiyuu of the Week: Sakurai Takahiro as Shirokuma in Shirokuma Cafe

As the Soft-spoken master of gentle trolling, Shirokuma provides a spiritual center for the cafe to which he gave his name. Sakurai-san gives the polar bear’s voice a special lilt that communicates a playfulness that keeps the show from taking itself too seriously. Shirokuma isn’t the only pale hued lead he has played; he provided voice to Alzeid in Hatenko Yuugi and Yaichi in Saraiya Goyou. His range is quite wide ranging from the young sounding Shibuya Yuuri from Kyou Kara Maou! and Junjou Romantica’s Takahashi Misaki to the enigmatic Oshino Meme in Bakemonogatari and Masakaki from C to roles like Agemaki Kei from Otome Youkai Zakuro and Kuwahara Hiroaki in Kamisama no Memochou. Some of his wider audience exposure would come from roles as Kira Izuru in Bleach and Claude Faustus in Kuroshitsuji, but the quirky lead as Kamiyama Takashi in Cromartie High School will remain one of my favorites. He has, of course, many other excellent credits, and I am sure the list will only grow from here on out.

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