C3 looks to have the runaway lead for the biggest tonal shift from first episode to second. I knew last week’s laid-back intro was a troll of sorts, but I was surprised by how radically things turned in this episode.
This is a show that has lots of stuff in the pedigree we didn’t see last week – hentai and guro, mainly – so I withheld judgment for the most part after the atypical premiere. I found it pleasant but a little boring, and I’ll say this – the second episode was anything but boring. It was fast-paced and loud and bizarre and a bit of a mess, but it wasn’t boring. And what’s really interesting is the Oonuma Shin played the shift as intentionally jarring as possible. He slowly built up the episode (albeit with a weird cameo by a principal with a gas mask (Ikeda Shuuichi)) with light comedy and bento tasting with Class Prez Ueno Kiriko (Kitamura Eri, hinting at darker things to come) leading to a very odd interlude of Fear and the others waxing poetic about how great their school and home town were. That’s when Barowoi Peavey (Ohara Sayaka) crashed the party.
And thus, the framwork of the story is laid bare. Barowoi is a member of the Knights of Gathering, a group opposed to Harukai’s father’s group and determined to destroy all of the cursed objects of which Fear is one. She was a torture device created during the Inquisition, though she claims not to have had any role in how she was used. Konoha is a cursed object as well, a demon sword whose form she changes into so Harukai can do battle with the chain-smoking, claw-wearing, bitching Barowai. Things start to get pretty bloody, though I suspect this is only a small taste of what’s to come.
I did enjoy the contrast from the odd humor (Fear’s new last name is Kubrick) and fanservice elements to the dark and action-driven second half. The humor worked better this week, and as with the premiere the animation was really beautiful to behold. I still see more Kore wa Zombie here than I’d prefer to, though the look is more a cross between Denpa Onna and Baka Test. Thought things have clarified a bit I’m still not confident just where this show is headed from here. There was just enough style and wit in this second episode to keep it above the cut line, but I strongly sense this series could go in either direction for me. For now, I’m interested but undecided.
ED: “Shirushi” (紋) by Eri Kitamura