「Anime TV Series of the Week」 Suisei no Gargantia #04.

Suisei no Gargantia #04.

「追憶の笛」 (Tsuioku no Fue)

The Flute of Remembrance

Compared to last week’s action-heavy episode, this week’s episode of Gargantia presents a much lighter atmosphere of day-to-day life. Now that Ledo has properly countered the advances of those enemy pirates, it looks like he finally has time for… (not) working at the docks, carving a flute (via the lazy-man’s laser gun), and taking a walk. I guess pirates are the reason why we can’t have nice things. Incidentally, while this week’s episode may light on action, it is irrevocably heavy with thoughtful discussion and revelations.

As Ledo’s diplomacy with the inhabitants continues to play out, we begin to understand the circumstances of Ledo’s upbringing more and more. As Ledo develops a latent curiosity in the social and cultural workings of Gargantia, he starts to question the purpose of the organization as whole. Such notions as having a family and fending for those born less fortunate are beyond his comprehension. After all, the infrastructure of Gargantia is a far-cry from the organization of the Galactic Alliance, which was solely established to protect humankind from alien threat. Along the way, it seems that these very soldiers have lost an essential part of humanity, this being greatly apparent when Bevel, Amy’s little brother, is able to perplex Ledo’s mindset in an honest debate about co-dependency and individual purpose. (Looking back to episode one in which Ledo’s superior officer makes a completely personal decision to save Ledo’s life, we can tell that there’s definitely a hopeful humanistic part left intact for these soldiers bred from birth.) This is of course a very crucial point in which Ledo has very much started assimilating into the community of Gargantia and developing a fondness for this new world that acquaints a new way of thinking. As such, Chamber and Ledo’s ending lines that conclude the episode are significantly indicative of the emotional development and conflict that our protagonist will soon encounter.

Looks like I have a lot more to learn about this planet.

It is not necessary. You will eventually be reunited with the army.

Yeah, I know.

Lastly, I would like to mention how much I appreciated the visuals, in this episode particularly. Whether it was the meticulous detail in the rust of metal or the beautifully vivid color palette, the graphic presentation complemented the atmosphere wonderfully well. Whilst watching, I couldn’t help but compare it to a certain anime film, Giniro no Kami no Agito (Origins: Spirits of the Past), in that it seemed like such a budgeted anime film where a lot of effort was put into the scenery and backgrounds more so than actual character models.  After a re-check on MAL, I was surprised when I saw the character designs of the two character leads were quite similar as well, in terms of their white-hair and very nature-esque garments.

「Anime TV Series of the Week」 Shingeki no Kyojin #04.

Shingeki no Kyojin #04.

「解散式の夜 ―人類の再起②―」 (Kaisan Shiki no Yoru ―Jinrui no Saiki ②―)

Night of Disbanding Restoration of Mankind Pt. 2

Production I.G. is one of the most established studios in the anime industry, having a wide history of series similarly as shonen as Shingeki no Kyojin as well as series completely polar. But as to not let their reputation precede them, Production I.G. presents again with every episode of Shingeki that it can throw out just as many punches as other studios bolstering anime adaptations of popular shonen series, and maybe even just a bit harder. Production I.G. takes an innovation in this adaptation by forming a whole Shingeki no Kyojin Team more formally known as Wit Studio, and even tweeting a portal for staff applications. It’s no doubt that they are already accomplishing greatness and to only want to continue doing so or even improving upon that deserves nothing but favorable impressions. Moving into the content of the episode, there’s a heap of shonen conventions presented all throughout, but something about its presentation just makes it feel fresh enough to be amazed about.

Two years have passed since enlistment and Instructor Keith Shadis is evaluating the trainees, pointing out their respective strengths and weaknesses as they undergo another field exercise, this one prominently important because it affects their rankings.

During hand-to-hand combat, the collective of trainees are either putting in a half-assed effort or trying to ditch practice entirely. We find out that the reason being that hand-to-hand combat doesn’t actually count towards the overall assessment of the trainees. In this scenario, the characters Eren, Annie, and Reiner show their colors in a concurrently tense and hilarious confrontation. Annie expresses her contempt towards the idea that humanity is only learning to combat the titans so that it can further flee from them. This revelation leaves an impression on Eren, but not before Annie delivers a brutal ass-kicking to Eren and Reiner, who himself revealed his integrity as a soldier and belief that there are some obstacles in which a soldier can absolutely not back down from, a belief which is wholly responsible for his ass getting handed to him in this particular moment.

After practice, Eren and Jean are in each other’s face once again at the dining hall, but this time, Eren is able to understand his fellow trainee more sympathetically. This however does not stop Eren from teaching Jean a lesson by borrowing both a physical and philosophical teaching of Annie’s. Eren reiterates what Annie had previously rebuked Eren and Reiner for, for everyone else to hear and also borrows Annie’s (who in turn learned from her father) move to put the beatdown on Jean. This scene is definitely a highlight in showing Eren’s great growth as character, as well as some lesser growths from the other characters. Also, another plus ten points go to Mikasa for fabricating a story of Sasha’s bowel movements matching the sheer noise of Eren slamming Jean into the ground and subsequently shoving a hot, steamy potato into her mouth while Eren and Jean make more brotherly tension with their eyes. No homo. No yuri. No yaoi.

Skip forward, and we are now witnessing our favored characters becoming graduates. Unsurprisingly, our main cast of characters persevered their way to the elite ten graduates out of a squad of two-hundred and eighteen trainees. Additionally, a sort of hierarchy is introduced: members of the Garrison are stationed at the walls and defend the city, members of the Recon Corps put their lives on the line fighting Titans in their own territory, and members of the Military Police Brigade, only accessed by the top ten graduate, serve the King by controlling the crowds and protecting order. This is all, of course, accompanied by a fine-ass background music track, and all in all, it feels very shonen-esque. (I couldn’t help but relate to it to the episode of Fairy Tail in which the guild members worthy of taking the S-Class Mage Promotion Exam were being announced, and of course, the music usually reserved for the most epic of moments was being played.)

Again is another dining scene, in which the trainees are celebrating their graduation. Thomas pleads for Eren to change his mind about joining the Recon Corps, but our protagonist rejects and delivers a powerful speech (of sorts) that inspires some of our more minor characters and possibly riles other characters such as Jean, but Eren runs off in his mixed emotional state of embarrassed and angry before anyone can object. This in turn sets up a heart-warming scene amongst Eren, Armin, and Mikasa, in which we are reminded that these three were and are still the three main characters and friends of the series.

In the morning, we are treated with another scene of the graduates becoming closer friends. Sasha steals a slab of meat and while the rest of the newly-inducted Recon Corps members initially chastise her, the group eventually makes a joint resolution. They agree to eat the meat together for lunch as a sign and early reward for their future duty of defeating the Titans and re-taking of the world where humanity can cultivate for meat again. Just as they are embracing the sincerity of each other’s friendship, sweetness turns bitter when perhaps the greatest recent entrance and provocation in anime history occurs.

The sudden lightning appearance of a colossal Titan shocks the soldiers so much that they stand helpless as it impales the wall they stand on, sending them into a deadly descent. Samuel is unable to hinder his own fall and is additionally injured when Sasha is forced to pierce his leg in order to save his life. Here, the combined atmosphere and tension rebuild the feelings of despair and desolation from the first episode. But it is undeniable that the promise these characters had made just seconds before was completely whole-hearted. They resolved to eat the meat together because they knew the enormity of what was at stake. As proof, most of them are able to come to their senses and show the results of their training in a much more calm and collected than we saw from the Recon Corps of episode one. Eren, who too was first in a state of disarray, stays true to the growth he had experienced these past four episodes (and multiple years in the story’s time-line). This unprecedented and sudden face-off is exactly what was needed to truly test Eren. In a way, this is much more effective than Eren’s first experience against a Titan being a preemptive strike. We didn’t need Eren to be fighting his fears as he approached the enemy for combat. That very fight or flight mechanism was already portrayed in episode one. We needed Eren to be thrown into the fray of danger without so much as a warning. Consequently, in what is a pivotal point of character development and bad-assery, Eren exceptionally takes charge of the group, commanding the others and conclusively charging his way right in front of the enemy Titan, ready for the most epic of clash this side of the wall has since in hundreds of years.

YO. 5年ぶりだな

Hello there, it’s been five years, hasn’t it?

(Definitely compared this last part to the last part of One Piece #474. in which Luffy makes one of the greatest entrances of all time, fearlessly defying the wrath of three admirals. As Luffy’s bad-assery supersedes the laws of nature and makes water gloriously and beautifully splish and splash around him and his enemies, Eren’s does with smoke. We don’t even have to mention how both of their entrances was an aerial move, how there was a upward-pan starting from their feet to their hell-bent enraged visage, how they are posed in visually the same way, and how it closes with a bad-ass antagonistic statement.)

「Visual Collection/Mini Review」 Tezuka Osamu no Buddha: Akai Sabaku yo! Utsukushiku (2011)

Tezuka Osamu no Buddha: Akai Sabaku yo! Utsukushiku (Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha: The Red Desert! It’s Beautiful)

Studio Tezuka Productions
Source Material Buddha (manga)
Source Material by 手塚 治虫 (Tezuka Osamu)
Running time 111 minutes

Once again, two great legacies converge in this anime film trilogy adaptation of Tezuka Osamu’s manga series, Buddha. First, as a disclaimer, I feel the need to note that while I have a huge fascination with the worlds of both Tezuka and Buddha, I have only been exposed to one associative work for each, the two being Tezuka’s renowned Astro Boy and Hermann Hesse’s (quite) irrelevant Siddhartha. Nonetheless, Astro Boy aside, I do think that Hermann Hesse’s novel and this film have corresponding portrayals of the path of the enlightenment and all the suffering that comes along with it. For the most part, this portrayal of suffering is all I have to talk about in this miniature review, since I find myself agreeing with a certain user’s review on MAL, in which he criticized this adaptation quite harshly. Many things about this film just weren’t as compelling as they could have been. A pacing too fast that most happenings (including numerous deaths) seemed underwhelming. A soundtrack that was not too prominent. And animation that was far too shy in visual appeal. In terms of recommendation, I would only suggest this adaptation for those who have a really preferential involvement in the story of Siddhartha. In high school, the main reason I had selected Siddhartha to read out of all the novels our English teacher let us decide from was because it was noted to be a strict narrative. Something that didn’t promise literary genius, but something that promised a story. And that story was an enchanting journey of experiencing an assortment of life’s grandeur and strife. Again, I felt a glimpse of this insightfulness in Tezuka Osamu no Buddha: Akai Sabaku yo! Utsukushiku. While the presentation was not enough to compel me, the narrative itself remains potent enough to leave me in a lingering state of reflection. How saddening it was that Chapra and his mother had to die in such a horrible way. Is it reasonable for Migaila to stay so amiable towards Siddhartha after being beat and having her eyes burned? Is Siddhartha really on the path of attaining earning enlightenment or was he just privileged and blessed since birth? Great stories have characters that the audience can relate to, whether literally or metaphorically. These thoughts and wonders I have will resound in my mind for far longer than the duration of the movie’s ending theme. In that respect, this adaptation does quite well.

「Visual Collection/Favorite Thing About」 Robot & Frank (2012)

Robot & Frank (2012)

Directed by Jake Schreier
Produced by Lance Acord, Sam Bisbee, Jackie Kelman-Bisbee, Galt Niederhoffer
Written by Christopher D. Ford
Starring Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, James Marsden, Liv Tyler
Music by Francis and the Lights
Cinematography by Matthew J. Lloyd
Editing by Jacob Craycroft
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films, Stage 6 Films
Running time 89 minutes

Context: Robot and Frank is a 2012 American film that delves into social and cultural issues of an imminent future integrated with the growing robotics industry. The story revolves around Frank, an ex-convict and thief who is now living an estranged life, suffering from increasingly severe mental deterioration and dementia. Frank lives alone, in a home quite far from any general populace, and even has poor relations with his family. His son, Hunter, who has been visiting him once every week, via a five hour drive, is just about at his limit in trying to deal with his cantankerous father. It is also very clear that Hunter is having trouble with dealing and coping with his father’s dementia. Hunter is reminded of this every visit as his father still thinks that Hunter is a university student, attending Princeton University. As a result, Hunter purchases a robot companion, simply named Robot, to help Frank with therapeutic care, including a fixed daily routine and cognitive-enhancing activities such as gardening. Unsurprisingly, due to an apparent generational divide, Frank is unwelcoming to this new addition in his life. But Hunter forces this companion onto his father, and Frank gradually begins to see Robot’s worthiness as a companion and cohort in burglary. Which one of these attributes is more important to Frank, of course, changes throughout the film, as other happenings of conflict and resolution occur.

Now, of course many elements throughout the film are remarkable in their own right, but my favorite thing about the film’s narrative is the relationship between, as the title stresses, Robot and Frank, with the slight inclusion of Hunter. It initially struck me unusual that Robot was never actually given a name, as it is a common attempt in films of this nature to humanize the robot character. In retrospect, it is one line in the movie Robot says that really brings confidence to my interpretation of his role in the film.

Think about it this way. You know that you’re alive. You think, therefore you are. In a similar way, I know that I’m not alive. I’m a robot.

Robot is a robot. He is not alive and he cannot feel. But often times, the inhumane things in life can represent something bigger than life. And in this sense, I believe Robot to be a symbol of Frank’s relationship with Hunter. Hunter literally replaces himself with Robot in that Robot literally and figuratively cares for Frank. At one point in the film, Frank lies to Hunter about his own impending death as a way to use Hunter as a temporary scapegoat in his heist. Hunter eventually realizes this and his reaction is quite heartbreaking. It is here that we know Hunter is done with his father. All of Hunter’s attempts up to this point have been futile as Frank is still in just as bad health and bad character. Hunter had failed. So, if we fast-forward to the finest moments of Frank’s heist, as Frank frantically tries to successfully complete the mission without reformatting Robot’s memory (as to not let the police download Robot’s memory of scheming and enacting the burglary with Frank) we see that Robot has succeeded himself where Hunter had failed. In this climactic scene, Frank is adamant against Robot’s suggestion of wiping his memory, that is until Robot opens Frank’s mind to one thing.

Frank, I know you don’t like to hear this, but I’m not a person. I’m just an advanced simulation. After you’ve wiped my memory, things can go back to normal. And you can continue planning your next job. Remember, Frank? Your next job. You deal in diamonds and jewels, the most value by the ounce. Remember? It’s not too late, Frank. Don’t give up. Lifting that high end stuff., no one gets hurt, except those insurance company crooks.

It just hurts hearing the lines. There are so many levels Robot is operating on. He had originally been substituting Hunter, but now quoting Frank’s own words, Robot is nothing less of a medium for Frank to look dead straight into a mirror of his wretched life. It is in this moment that Frank realizes that he forced a robot, an object with no inherent chastity, into a loss of innocence. And this subsequently opens his mind to how grossly he has affected his family and himself. And with this clear in mind, Frank clears Robot’s.

The film delves deeper into a common motif of technology serving to do the things that we as humans have been limited from. Except in this case, the limitation is one of unprecedented social interaction. In the end, it was Hunter who brought Robot for Frank, so in the end is was Hunter who finally mended his father. But after watching the events fold out the way they did, we cannot deny the significance Robot played as medium.