Second Impressions – K, Btooom!, Zetsuen no Tempest

[HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.06_[2012.10.15_22.38.50] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.22_[2012.10.15_23.15.24] [Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_13.43_[2012.10.16_00.00.32]

These are going to be short and sweet I’m afraid, as I try to sort through this huge season and see if any of these shows are going to make it into the rotation.

K – 02

[HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.55_[2012.10.15_22.25.28] [HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.24_[2012.10.15_22.27.57] [HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.55_[2012.10.15_22.34.39]
[HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.21_[2012.10.15_22.36.05] [HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.47_[2012.10.15_22.36.32] [HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.26_[2012.10.15_22.38.10]
[HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.28_[2012.10.15_22.39.12] [HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.33_[2012.10.15_22.41.29] [HorribleSubs] K - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.44_[2012.10.15_22.44.40]

I still sort of like K, though it remains a case of style over substance.  Interestingly the style is quite different than in the first episode – and maybe that’s not too surprising given we have seven writers.  In Hollywood, that many writers is considered a tipoff of a project that was a disaster in the making – it remains to be seen how it will play out here, but there is a sort of “kitchen sink” vibe where it feels like GoHands is trying to fit in as many clichés and stylistic flourishes as they can.

Story wise?  Who knows – there really wasn’t even an attempt to advance anything this week, just a lot of comedic interplay between Shiro and Kuro a lot of all-purpose cat-girl fanservice from the finally-transformed Neko.  I still like the look of the piece, the action sequences are excellent and the attempt to create a Durarara feel is so strong they’ve even got characters who look like DRRR characters.  We’ll see.

Btooom! – 02

[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.00_[2012.10.15_23.08.03] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.46_[2012.10.15_23.09.49] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.57_[2012.10.15_23.11.00]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.37_[2012.10.15_23.12.40] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.42_[2012.10.15_23.14.44] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.23_[2012.10.15_23.16.26]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.29_[2012.10.15_23.18.31] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.17_[2012.10.15_23.19.19] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.42_[2012.10.15_23.20.45]
[HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.12_[2012.10.15_23.22.15] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.01_[2012.10.15_23.25.04] [HorribleSubs] BTOOOM! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.39_[2012.10.15_23.25.42]

I’ll say it up front – this series is ugly.  And I mean physically ugly.  Maybe it’s supposed to be, because it’s a classic case of a “man’s inhumanity to man (and woman)” stories that revels in the glories of human depravity.  But damn, the character designs are really distasteful to me, girls included – crude and grotesque.  Since the designs are pretty close to the manga that’s understandable to a degree, but I also find the animation rather crude.  No one’s a bigger defender of Madhouse than me but so far, I don’t think this is their best work.

The flipside is that I think Btooom! is really quite good.  It’s certainly difficult to watch due to the violence and the sheer unpleasantness of most of the cast, but for a straight-ahead sci-fi action vehicle it’s very well done, and that does happen to be a genre Madhouse has some good history with.  The plot has hit the ground running and hasn’t guarded its secrets too closely, though the underlying force behind the “game” has yet to be illuminated.  This week the focus turns to Himeko (Mimori Suzuko) a shallow teenaged girl with an unpleasant group of friends who has a passing relationship with Sakamoto online.  After an encounter where her actions unintentionally lead to her friends raped by a senior and his bandmates while she flees the scene and leaves them to their fate, she wakes to find herself stranded on the island with a grossly overweight otaku stereotype, a violent psychopath and a sanctimonious teacher. 

I’m not crazy about the use of rape as a dramatic device, but if there were ever a series where it fit I suppose it would be this one, where the cruelty and depravity of the human animal is the central plot point.  While this episode amounted to a linked sequence of atrocious behavior more than a real plot, it served its purpose well enough in terms of showing us how Himeko became the cold-hearted killer she’s sure to be for the rest of the series.  I’m looking forward to seeing the cast branch out to some demographics that are less conventional for anime, which should happen starting next week.

Zetsuen no Tempest – 02

[Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_03.00_[2012.10.15_23.49.37] [Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_03.49_[2012.10.15_23.50.38] [Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_06.39_[2012.10.15_23.53.28]
[Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_10.13_[2012.10.15_23.57.02] [Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_12.47_[2012.10.15_23.59.36] [Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_14.49_[2012.10.16_00.01.38]
[Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_17.14_[2012.10.16_00.04.03] [Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_18.21_[2012.10.16_00.05.10] [Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_19.21_[2012.10.16_00.06.10]
[Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_20.18_[2012.10.16_00.07.09] [Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_21.17_[2012.10.16_00.09.05] [Tsuki]_Zetsuen_no_Tempest_-_ 02_[10bit][1280x720][DF01DF0F].mkv_snapshot_21.51_[2012.10.16_00.09.40]

If this series were any more BONES…  Well, it could only be BONES, let’s put it that way.

So far the vibe I’m getting is No. 6 meets – logically enough – “The Tempest”, though there’s something more elementally anime in the notion of giving The Bard a hard sci-fi makeover.  I don’t know if hair clips will be enough to satisfy the Okada fetish but there’s no doubt the strongest chemistry in the series is between Yoshino and Mahiro.  But the character I’m digging the most so far is the spectacularly named Evangeline Yamamoto, who’s got gams till next Tuesday and a sultry, sly performance by Mizuki Nana to seal the deal.  I love a good dame, and Evangeline is a dame and a half.

While there were times during each of the first two episodes where I felt my attention drifting from all the emo navel-gazing, there’s a sense of style to Zetsuen no Tempest I quite like.  The classical soundtrack – as overdramatic as the characters – helps make sure that at least a semblance of one of Shakespeare’s most histrionic plays survives the transition.  The bishie leads, the Greek tragedy roots, and the almost noir quality of Evangeline make for an interesting mixed drink, and the presence of Aika as a sort of plot device from the beyond the grave is a nice twist.

Of the larger world-threatening plot featuring the Kusaribe Clan and their giant eye-fruits, so far it’s pretty much just plot without a lot of feeling behind it – but it does introduce the likes of Koyama Rikiya and Suwabe Junichi to the cast, and their rich tones fit right in with the theatricality of the enterprise.  I’m more interested, frankly, in what’s going to happen when Mahiro finds out who Yoshino’s girlfriend really was.



  1. l

    "The classical soundtrack – as overdramatic as the characters – helps make sure that at least a semblance of one of Shakespeare’s most histrionic plays survives the transition."
    The histrionic play you're alluding to, do you mean The Tempest you mentioned earlier? Or do you mean Hamlet that the characters are quoting lines from?

  2. A

    Enzo, please stop watching shit shows. You ignore great stuff like Joshiraku completely and yet you you have no problems watching K or Btoom which are insulting and retarded.

    I know you didn't praise them, but admit it you didn't have a good time watching this stuff either.

  3. Why would I lie just to please someone who doesn't even identify themselves?

    Joshiraku isn't my cup of tea. I found it mostly unfunny and somewhat racist.

  4. B

    Of the three, I'd have to say I'm enjoying them roughly in the exact opposite order that you posted them here.

    Zetsuen no Tempest for some reason I am really liking. It's got just the right amount of style where it doesn't feel like it's sacrificing it's substance to get it, and the characters are intriguing. The main plot is still somewhat ambiguous but on the second episode it's allowed to be. Overall I find myself definitely looking forward to the next episode of this.

    Btooom is… I like it, but this episode was hard to watch. I think I've made my distaste of rape in anime known on this site several times before but this was too much. When the fat guy was on Himeko and the sound effects started I almost turned the episode off, if it had gone on longer than a few seconds I surely would have. This is one of those cases where I'm not a fan of realism, this was just too disturbing. If the show can move on from this rape business then I should enjoy the remaining episodes because I do like the concept of the story. Maybe this is the result of my growing up with American censorship standards but I find the brutal violence far easier to tolerate than the rape.

    K is doing less for me after this episode. I didn't get the BL vibe from it this time like I faintly did last time so that's a plus, but at the same time, where is the plot? This one needs to start going somewhere fast or I'm going to lose interest. Hopefully it will because I like the character design and the action scenes are entertaining, but neither of those are enough to carry a show, a plot does need to develop.

    Finally, I want to take exception to something you said Enzo. The part where you said: "After an encounter where she gets her friends raped by a senior and his bandmates while she flees the scene and leaves them to their fate". I'm going to assume you didn't mean to phrase this so horribly cause I don't think that's the kind of dude you are, but the way you've worded this strongly implies that this incident was somehow Himeko's fault. She had no idea what was going to happen to her friends while she went to buy snacks. This dude had presumably been her neighbor for a while and she thought she could trust him. And if she had tried to help them when she got back all that would have happened is she would have been a victim too. The best (really, only) chance she had to help her friends at all was to get away and call the police. Please rethink your wording here, in a situation like this the only people at fault are the rapists, Himeko didn't "cause" her friends to get raped, and her fleeing the scene was by far the best thing she could have done.

  5. Well you're right, it's the guys fault – but she did leave her friends to their fate, and you can debate what she could have done differently, but there's no indication she went for help or called the police. It's implied that she simply fled, and one of the victims presumably called the cops on them after the fact. And it was Himiko's willingness to do whatever the sempai wanted in order to try and impress them that got the other girls involved in the first place (not that they objected to going to the apartment).

  6. A

    @Enzo: mind that around 18:50 (Horrible Subs version, hence should be official tl rip ) Himiko's subtitled lines when she's struggling in the corridor are 'I gotta call the police, call Mom'. If anything it's implied/we can't exclude she was the one to call the cops as she managed to kick the guy and run outside.
    On the other hand, while she has good reflexes and some mean fighting instinct, do you really expect her to stay and try to overpower 4 guys all by herself in their territory in a closed space? She's no Jojo.
    She could barely afford to protect herself. Had she stayed, her friends could still be used to blackmail her in 'do as we want or we'll do your friends even worse things' fashion. Especially glasses girl, as she was the one still not passed out or possibly drugged. The best – and fastest also under the rescuing aspect – thing she could do given the circumstances was to escape the sickos' assault and call for help stat. Reach the first crowded place and police station, send rescue. If she hadn't reacted the way she did they would have gangbanged her first, and then who knows if and when both she and her friends would ever left the apartment alive. Provided the aforementioned translated lines are correct, her actions there can be read as going for the lesser evil. She could have stood a chance to save her friends by staying in the apartment… if she had her taser&bomb equipment <—- the irony, it hurts.
    I quite agree with you about the girls being characterized as quite shallow and their jokes being very distasteful in other parts of the episode (amused at sending people to death for money? WTF).


  7. I don't think that made it into the Tsuki subs, Eli – I don't remember it in any case, but I've been so swamped that I could have missed it. If in fact that's the actual dialogue that does paint her actions in a more favorable light.

  8. e

    Btw, that was me, braving the rape trend. I'm at my limit though. I feel like breaking something. Need some more GeK to cleanse my soul…

  9. M

    Well, since the equivalent episode is out, I don't think it's going to hurt much to give some manga insight regarding BTOOOM. In this case, what Himiko did: she ran away, plain and simple, and someone else reported what happened (as it's mentioned that the sempai and his cohorts got arrested quickly enough). The fact that she did nothing is the primary reason why she didn't contest (everyone else got abducted gangland-style) getting sent to the island.

  10. e

    @Myssa: :(. There goes her single reedeming trait and the the one less bleak stroke in this worldview. Hooray.

  11. A

    I'm somewhat confused about a couple of things you said about Btooom!. Why do you think the series is ugly? The animation seems to be well above average to me. Is it the character designs you dislike? Other than Ryouta and Himiko, none of the characters shown yet are attractive, but I wouldn't fault that.

    Also, why did you describe Himiko's friends as unpleasant? I didn't get that sense at all while I was watching. I also didn't get the feeling that Himiko was shallow.

  12. A

    Well, i agree with him. It,s very probably that a series about a survival it,s not something that it,s going to look nice, but he is also right about the animation being crude.

    If you ask me, madhouse shouldn,t have been done this series.(i could undertand the need to give a very new director a fast dosis of experience, but with only three years it,s too soon, well, it,s better too much early than too much late) Also, there it,s a thing about the way in that the studio works right now that make me think theese way(it,s a theory but, i.m pretty sure that it,s true):

    Been a part of the NTV means that they have to put priority to the things they do there. For exemple, this year they have to continue with HxH, do the movie, and do the second sesson of chihaya. If they have filled this they can do more things with others producers, but they never could put more budget in the other things that in the NTV proyects. This means that any thing that it,s going to be done withouth the ntv will look bad?. No. They key it,s doing that things more short, the limit its being 2 cour(the mark it,s the lenght of chihaya2) So a hypotetical 1 cour series, Ovas likes Arata Naru sekai(it,s looks very P.A works), Death billiars(Anime mirai with the same director of arata) or a coproduced one cour series like Nobuna, could look pretty. But it,s not the case of botoom, beacuse, it,s too long and its had reached the point of 24-26 episodes in which if it had better animation it could end hurting chihaya.

  13. S

    Hey Enzo! How's life in Japan? :]

    Anyway, there are some things in your BTOOOM! section that surprised me a bit. While I can't say much about the art because that's a matter of taste, I do find it weird how you made Himiko seem like a bad person.

    In my humble opinion, I do not think Himiko is a shallow girl, and her friends are by no means unpleasant. They're simply average highschool girls.
    And I definitely find it weird that you wrote:

    "After an encounter where she gets her friends raped by a senior and his bandmates while she flees the scene and leaves them to their fate"

    That is completely wrong. Her friends -wanted- to meet the bandmates and thought it would be cool if Himiko introduced them since her neighbor is the vocalist of that band. The band raped her friends, and that's not Himiko's fault. You make it seem like she enabled the rape situation. And what do you mean that she fled the scene to leave them to their fate? If she would've stayed, she would've been raped too and maybe even killed. She escaped, called the police and had the band arrested. She was the reason why the situation didn't get any worse. I can understand that her friends felt betrayed, but that's what her friends felt. We, as viewers, know that it's not Himiko's fault.

    I just felt that you made her seem like the perpetrator, and that makes me quite sad because Himiko is innocent.

    I'm glad you like BTOOOM!, but please make sure who is the victim and who is the criminal. I wrote a simple line from Himiko's friends' point of view here:
    And that was enough to upset people, and that crossed my mind while reading your post.
    Sorry, I do by no means, wish to criticize you or anything. I just hope you think about what you're writing when the topic is something sensitive such as rape.

  14. OK clearly, that was worded badly (and written in a hurry) and I didn't mean to imply that she was the one at fault. My meaning was that it was her actions that indirectly led to the incident, and that she was the only one who escaped while all her friends were left to their fate. So apologies for the crude way I phrased it and the false impression that caused.

    I stand by the point, though, that she and her friends are quite shallow and not especially likeable, and I think it was portrayed that way intentionally. No one in this series has been admirable so far, and the girls were (not atypically for teens of either gender, mind you) gossipy social climbers. Everyone in the series comes off badly so far (including the arrogant teacher, not that he deserved a knife in the throat) and I believe it's just the short of series that highlights everyone's darkness in its own way.

  15. P

    That makes sense; everyone on that island was nominated by the people around them as someone who was better off not existing. Some of them are genuinely terrible people, like the short-lived attempted rapist, or Stabbyman McKnifey, or the random thug who tried to kill Sakamoto in the first episode. Others, like Sakamoto and Himiko, have the chance to get some character growth and turn into the Good Guys.

  16. M

    Wow i'm amazed at how many ppl are finding BTOOOM unpleasant due to the more violent scenes while I myself found them quite light. During the episode i got myself wishing they would just show Himiko almost-rape in its entirety so that it would add to the general feeling of pain of that scene and her suffering thus impacting more on us, but seeing the opinions here I guess that would have been just too much and the way it was it already did the job.

    Well, aside from that i really wish the series is going to introduce more interesting characters, the ones up to now (protagonists aside) were not all bad but not really surprising either. Im guessing that now that the introductions are almost over the series will kick-in with the rest of its cast and we'll really see things start moving.

  17. D

    With all due respect, Enzo, I just can't understand why you're so forgiving towards (or daresay, actually like it!) the abominable K. I think the comparison toward Durarara is frankly dragging Durarara (very very good show) through the mud here and people are finding out that they are nothing alike in no time everywhere; the only thing it has on Durarara is that an ensemble of characters running around all over in modern Japanese city. That's it. This really gives me grief, oy!

    You know, as much as I try, I can't help, but barely holding off the primal urge to vomit out my meals whenever I see all those bishie posing crap going on in K. Sure many Japanese anime do have bishie posing here and there, but I never knew a show could push all my buttons and then some with that!! And don't get me started with all the tropes in it. K is nothing more than shit load of bishie posing+tropes+an ensemble scattering around like a bunch of pac-men to me.

    Anyway, I can watch Btooom!and Zetsuen no Tempest just fine. I don't have a strong like/dislike feeling towards them and they are something I can just watch and move on.

  18. I don't find it abominable – I find it sort of amusing in a shameless way (shameless on its part, I mean). I don't know how I can explain it differently than I did in the post. I don't have the reflexive revulsion towards bishounen characters that some do, which might have something to do with it – it's just another element that doesn't in itself make or break a series for me.

    No, it's not as good as DRRR – my point (as stated) is that I think it' going for a similar vibe.

  19. G

    Btooom! is definitely not something for the faint hearted. With only two episodes into the show, we've already got a lot to take. I'm usually not too bothered by blood and violence, but there is something about the show that makes me uncomfortable on a psychological level, which I guess is the intended effect. It's unapologetic about depicting all the ugly, twisted, behaviors humans are capable of. Hmm, well the art isn't spectacular, but I don't think it's bad either. If anything, the designs accentuate the dark tone of the series. Maybe being crude is part of the plan? I mean the plot isn't exactly elegant and fluffy. I actually can't think of a more fitting production studio for Btooom! given its premise. Well, let's just hope Madhouse pulls through.

    Not much to say about Tempest, like you remarked, it's Bones through and through, so I'm expecting it to be decent at least and I like what I'm seeing so far.

    I'm not too impressed by K. I have the same issues with the second episode as I did with the first – the directing is all over the place. Other than flashy animation and very blatant fanservice, I'm not sure what else I'm supposed to take away from this show at this point. The music, while very nice, really kills any sense of urgency it may have wanted to inspire. I really want to like this show because the voice cast is too glorious to waste.

  20. M

    Evangeline is seriously the Nana character of the year.

    Still can't decide whether I want to pick up K or not.

  21. B

    Looks wise she totally reminds me of Hasegawa from Moyashimon. I'm going to take the opportunity to officially confess that I… I may have a thing for dark haired beauties with a leather fetish.

  22. L

    It's a shame that Moyashimon Returns changed her design so much to the point where she looks like a different person. :(

  23. H

    I watched the first episode of K and decided it wasn't for me. Nothing anyone's said about the second episode has done anything to change that opinion.

    I've been enjoying the other two shows enough to keep watching. Any Shakespeare stuff in Tempest goes right past me, but the setup is interesting and the alliances of convenience are intriguing.

    I do have to say that personally, I'm getting REALLY tired of rape as a theme or device in anime in these last couple months (starting from Binbougami). We've had it actually happen or be a threat in at least 4 shows this season (counting Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, where I am on the side that thinks it wasn't a credible threat, and was merely showing how unsocialized Haru was that he didn't understand how serious it was). Psycho-Pass, Sukitte ii na yo (stalker threat), and Btooom! went the furthest of them, featuring not just one, but two instances. The ONLY thing that saved the show for me was that in both cases, the rapists faced consequences, including being blown up.

    I also had the impression that Himiko was the one who was able to get away and call the police about the first incident. However, I can still see how Miho would hate her: Himiko did what was the right thing, in hindsight, but it left Miho at the mercy of the group. And who knows what narrative Miho constructed in her mind: Himiko sets this up, then begs off and shows up late, and while she's gone everyone else gets assaulted, then Himiko doesn't get assaulted when she shows up.

    But what it does is highlight what seems to be a horrible horrible thing: how people seem to get sent to that island. The incentives seem to be horrible: You don't like someone, so you give them up to this group, AND you get paid a couple thousand bucks? Win-win, sign me up (for sending someone else there). I really hope more comes out about this, but so far the show is so amoral, and ugly, like you said, that it's kind of a tough watch.

  24. M

    Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse also used rape as a plot device in a previous episode, almost around the same time as the infamous Bimbougami-ga episode. It was handled just as horribly in Total Eclipse as well. I really wish they would stop with that crap.

  25. E

    Even if you don't blog Zetsuen no Tempest, I'd highly suggest you continue watching it. The manga is really damn good, and the first two episodes have improved notably on the source material — for example, most of the Aika scenes either appeared later or didn't happen. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the better things to come.

  26. j

    People are dismissing K after two episodes (or one, really)? Are you the same bunch that declared SAO to be an immortal classic after one episode, or maybe before it even started? I'm reserving judgement for a bit.

  27. H

    I dismissed K after one episode because it did absolutely nothing that interested me. The artwork other people gushed over I felt was just washed out in blue-white filtering, the animation that people loved during the fight scenes I thought was a stuttering mess (especially the skateboard scenes), there was no story to speak of, and the hinting at characters we got didn't interest me in the least (bishies with swords in modern cities, not for me).

    Other people can enjoy it if that's what they like, but it's not the show for me.

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