Weekly Digest: 12/12/12 – Sakurasou, Btooom!, Magi

[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_08.18_[2012.12.12_20.36.56] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_08.28_[2012.12.12_21.29.11] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_19.16_[2012.12.12_22.27.44]

Hey – 12/12/12!  How about that.  Last one of the Century, Kids – seize the day.  Most of you have a lot more of it left than we do here in Japan.

Sakurasou no Pet no Kanoujou – 10

[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_04.06_[2012.12.12_20.31.31] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_04.52_[2012.12.12_20.32.17] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_05.13_[2012.12.12_20.33.14]
[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_05.41_[2012.12.12_20.34.10] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_06.49_[2012.12.12_20.35.19] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_07.09_[2012.12.12_20.35.38]
[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_09.08_[2012.12.12_20.37.46] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_13.08_[2012.12.12_20.41.57] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_14.12_[2012.12.12_20.43.10]
[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_15.00_[2012.12.12_20.43.58] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_15.16_[2012.12.12_20.44.14] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_19.27_[2012.12.12_20.48.26]
[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_19.55_[2012.12.12_20.49.32] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_20.16_[2012.12.12_20.49.14] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_20.20_[2012.12.12_20.49.18]
[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_21.23_[2012.12.12_20.50.59] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_21.25_[2012.12.12_20.51.01] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 10 [5341E256].mkv_snapshot_21.35_[2012.12.12_20.51.11]

I don’t think there’s any doubt that this episode is another step in the right direction for Sakurasou, though I’m still seeing the same pattern repeating itself.  A big part of the progress comes from the integration of Ryuunosuke into the plot – he adds a totally different element from anyone else in the cast, both in terms of comedy and perspective, and it’s a welcome addition (not to mention quite fun to hear Hochan do her version of a punk – it comes off sort of moe).  I do think it’s a bit odd for him to have been literally invisible for 8 episodes and all of a sudden just pop up as if he’d never missed a bit – I guess we chalk that up to school rules and the Nyaboron project, for which he’s obviously invaluable.

I do see danger in Ryuunosuke’s presence, though, given the tendency of Sakurasou to go for the cheap laugh and the lowbrow sexual comedy.  That’s especially worrisome given his gynophobia – much more in evidence this week – and the fact that he and Rita seem to be setting up as sparring partners.  I’d hate to see a descent into a bunch of badgering and harassment at his expense by Rita for comic effect, and the preview doesn’t do anything to allay my fears.  Maria’s character is another one I think could go either way – she has an interesting story in her own right and does shed new light on Mahiro’s effect on others,  at the very least.  The theme of characters who are geniuses at one thing and childlike at everything else is prominent this season, and the theme of the impact they have on those close to them very much at the heart of this series.

To me, this show is the opposite of Zetsuen in many ways (ironic, given they’re both being adapted by Okada Mari).  I started off feeling mild affection for Zetsuen that turned quickly to real admiration, and it’s been somewhat reversed with Sakurasou.  With Zetsuen, the episodes tend to hit a point somewhere in the middle where they become completely absorbing and finish strong, while Sakurasou tends to have trouble finishing off good ideas.  I find this another example of an episode where the series done many fine things with a story that’s challenging and has some depth, and then goes completely over to sap and easy emotional pickings for an overwhelmingly heart-warming end.  It’s an odd trait – I don’t know whether it comes from insecurity about trusting the audience, but I hate to see a series with as much potential as this one continue to undercut its own impact with predictable and manipulative endings.

Btooom! – 10

[HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_00.18_[2012.12.12_21.21.53] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_00.32_[2012.12.12_21.22.08] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_04.05_[2012.12.12_21.24.48]
[HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_04.26_[2012.12.12_21.25.09] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_05.28_[2012.12.12_21.26.11] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_06.43_[2012.12.12_21.27.26]
[HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_07.46_[2012.12.12_21.28.29] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_10.13_[2012.12.12_21.30.56] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_11.14_[2012.12.12_21.31.57]
[HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_07.08_[2012.12.12_21.27.51] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_11.36_[2012.12.12_21.32.19] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_13.49_[2012.12.12_21.34.32]
[HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_14.27_[2012.12.12_21.35.10] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_15.42_[2012.12.12_21.36.25] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_10_[720p].mkv_snapshot_21.23_[2012.12.12_21.42.06]

This peculiar Survivor/Sengoku hybrid continues to be a pretty compelling watch as it nears the finish line.  In fact, I’d say this might very well have been one of the best episodes so far, if not the very best.  It managed to steer clear of most of the creepy excess that usually make me want to sit under a waterfall for an hour after watching it, and delivered a taut and tense 22 minutes that narrowed its focus to a few critical characters and events.

The two characters that have emerged as major players late in the game – the craven doctor Masahito Date and the glamor-boy soldier of fortune Nobutaka Oda – have both added a very strong presence that tamps down some of the silliness of Btooom and grounds it in solid, straightforward action-thriller territory (and it doesn’t hurt that they’re voiced by a pair of rock-solid seiyuu in Narita Ken and Nakamura Yuichi).    Oda adds an especially interesting element as he’s an old classmate of Sakamoto-han, the popular kid who befriended the outcast Ryouta but eventually betrayed him.  He’s also quite obviously an ace Btooom player, possibly the equal of Sakamoto himself, and it’s interesting to wonder if he’s completely gone over to evil of if he has some semblance of regard for his old friend left.  Judging by his behavior generally and specifically towards his “partner”, Hidemi, the latter seems unlikely.

As for Date, he’s been pretty much a ticking time-bomb for the last two eps – in fact, I was even wondering if he’d been poisoning Taira, but that appears not to have been the case.  Rather it seems he’s been biding his time, riding the alliance for as long as he felt it would prove useful – which he’s judging to be not much longer, it seems.  It looks like only a tip from Murasaki to Himiko about Date’s old tricks saved Sakamoto’s life this time (main-character armor makes cliffhangers like this pretty suspense-free after episode 10) after Date finally shows his true stripes.  There are a lot of people left alive on this island and only two episodes left, so it seems likely we’re going to see an ending other than one where only one or two of the main pair get out alive.  I suppose even a non-ending is possible given that the manga is ongoing, but with a story of this nature that would be a pretty cruel move on the part of Madhouse.

Magi – 10

[Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_00.21_[2012.12.12_22.09.42] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_02.19_[2012.12.12_22.10.47] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_02.52_[2012.12.12_22.11.21]
[Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_03.37_[2012.12.12_22.12.06] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_06.15_[2012.12.12_22.14.44] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_08.14_[2012.12.12_22.16.43]
[Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_10.03_[2012.12.12_22.18.32] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_10.32_[2012.12.12_22.19.01] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_10.56_[2012.12.12_22.19.25]
[Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_11.44_[2012.12.12_22.20.12] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_12.16_[2012.12.12_22.20.45] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_14.57_[2012.12.12_22.23.25]
[Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_16.24_[2012.12.12_22.24.52] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_17.46_[2012.12.12_22.26.15] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_17.56_[2012.12.12_22.26.24]
[Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_18.35_[2012.12.12_22.27.04] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_19.47_[2012.12.12_22.28.15] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_19.58_[2012.12.12_22.28.39]
[Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_22.14_[2012.12.12_22.30.54] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_22.26_[2012.12.12_22.31.07] [Commie] Magi - 10 [A53F6183].mkv_snapshot_22.36_[2012.12.12_22.31.17]

Considering that Ugo-kun is headless, he does a pretty good job of projecting emotion.

There’s a sense that everything in the first 9 episodes was pretty much the prequel, and the actual show started this week for Magi.  We’ve seen bits and pieces of everyone’s power, starting with Aladdin and Ugo and on through the human cast, with a slow build towards the one who seemed to be the most powerful of all, Sinbad.  But with the events of this episode, it appears as if Sinbad isn’t even in the same galaxy as the magi of this world.

Politics has been a big part of Magi so far, and continued to be this week.  Possibly my least favorite part of the series is the tendency for the villains to be (often literally) mustache-twirling caricatures, but at least with the banker Markkio we have one of the very best seiyuu alive in Miki Shinichiro – and one who hasn’t been heard from nearly often enough in the last few years.  The complicated political web is one of the most interesting and complex parts of the show, with the Kou Empire seemingly in the midst of a global power-grab of staggering proportions.  Given what we’ve seen of their leaders so far (the Princess Hakuei seems set to return to the scene next week) it’s not all black-and-white with them, and that’s inherently more interesting than the alternative.

This week though it was all preamble to the epic magi battle between Aladdin and Judal – in Balabadd representing the Kou Empire himself, though he’s not much interested in the grimy politics of the moment.  That battle with Aladdin is absolutely terrific – somewhat out of nowhere, in fact, emerging as one of the better non H x H fight scenes of the year.  It’s well-animated, cleverly choreographed, and best of all does what very few battle scenes manage to do well (I think Lord of the Rings may be the best example anywhere of this skill) and that’s to be driven by emotion as much as the action itself.  Judal and Aladdin make a fascinating contrast, and not just physically – as innocent and naïve as Aladdin is, Judal is ruthless and cruel – and Aladdin’s dedication to Ugo seems to be the thing that most separates him from Judal.

All this makes me especially curious to see what the other magi are like, of course.  As for these two, it was really telling that their battle was taking place with all of the strongest fighters we’ve seen so far standing by, and for the most part they were helpless to do anything but stand and watch – though Morgiana and Alibaba did finally enter the fray in the end.  It was quite powerful watching Ugo subject himself to all that punishment for Aladdin’s sake, but perhaps the most critical moment of the fight came when Judal accused Ugo of being “someone else’s djinn” because he kept fighting on despite getting no magoi from Aladdin.  I don’t know what the story is there but it’s obvious there’s something in the Aladdin-Ugo pairing that’s different from all others of its kind.  Alibaba is confirmed to be Aladdin’s king candidate of course – though we still haven’t been told exactly what that means – but given how powerfully the gap in strength between magi and humans was proved this ep, it’s possible to wonder if the humans aren’t going to end up feeling somewhat irrelevant in the overall story.



  1. T

    hmm, I guess you didn't have the similar negative reaction for this Japanese anime melodrama thing, Enzo.

    Sakurasou in this episode yet again left me the same foul taste in my mouth a little. The only way I can describe it is "the Anohana effect" (yeah there were a plenty of this trend before Anohana, but its last episode fit this mold so well I might as well call it at that). The angst (oh the angst), manufactured melodrama, all these crying-shouting that lacks authenticity, quickly smiling all around within the same episode, and the angst… The only proper reaction would be the eye-roll. This is like 3rd or 4th time Sakurasou have done this. Now the one with Sorata was believable, but the rest involving the female cast? Massive eye-roll.

  2. E

    Rather than any angst, I hate how butthurt this blonde woman is.
    So what if your friend is better than you in painting?
    There's always better people around us.
    There will be no end if we are butthurt everytime.
    What a joke.

  3. J

    It's more of other people's expectations on Rita that's causing the problem.

  4. H

    I didn't get that it was other people's expectations at all. It seemed like the entirety of Rita's problem was in Rita's head. And I'm not going to believe that a 16 year old girl with hurt feelings is telling the unvarnished truth about her grandfather just telling her to give up painting because she's not as good as someone who's truly world class, because grandfathers don't do that and teachers of ten years don't do that. She worked herself into a state where she decided she couldn't compete with Mashiro, and drove her away, then felt guilty and more envious when Mashiro actually left and succeeded at manga.

  5. T

    The real question is: have you ever sat under a waterfall for an hour?

    …I have for about 20 min, if standing under man-made waterfall (i.e. a shower stall) count as one, ha ha. I'd think for 10 min, it might feel rather pleasant, followed by gradual hyperthermia and shivering for the next 50.

  6. S

    Well, Tim. I didn't find it as bad as you did. I just feel slightly detached to the anime. And they're supposed to be angsty teenagers, after all

    I'm sorry you feel that way about Anohana, though. Anohana left me with lot of things and a lot of feelings, but never a foul taste in my mouth.

    As for Magi, the enemies are all super evil just for the sake of being evil, which makes everything so much less interesting. Surprisingly, that makes Btooom! the most interesting show of the three for me

  7. R

    Oda never betrayed his friend or anything of the sort. Sakamoto was in the wrong for acting like a retard and beating the shit out of his friend, who was honest enough to tell him what happened. In fact it's the exact opposite, Sakamoto betrayed Oda, judging by what we've seen. He was a violent psychopath all along,jealous of everything his friend did all the while behaving like an innocent boy with a crush.

  8. S

    Regarding Magi:

    – Don't worry, humans are not going to get marginalized… in fact, dungeon capturers are more than a match for magi. The three we have seen so far have not exactly been representative: 1) Hakuei has very low amount of magoi (this was clearer in the manga); 2) Alibaba does not really know how to use his Djinn; 3) Sinbad can't do anything without his metal vessels (and the household vessels of his cohort are disabled too as a consequence).

    – Yes, the series is very fond of pitch-black villains. At the same time, the will be a LOT of grey politics and characters after this arc.

  9. K

    I second to that. Also, even though weaker normal characters might not have an easy time catching up with Magi, they will always have a role to play, and the creator has planned out the power balance quite well enough not to have some characters stop being relevant (compare to some other shounen mangas especially Bleach…)

  10. S

    Thanks for the info Man of Steel! I think Magi is a great series in many ways, but having pitch-black villains usually makes the plot less intriguing. It's still a fine series, and I defo will continue watching it.

  11. A

    "But with the events of this episode, it appears as if Sinbad isn’t even in the same galaxy as the magi of this world."

    No, Judal himself said Sinbad can't do anything right now because he lost all his metal vessels. But you have no idea how powerful he is (there's a reason Judal would ditch the Kou empire without thinking twice if Sinbad decided to partner with him to conquer the world!!)

    On a side note, remember that this is Alibaba's arc, and he will step up to the plate as the main character soon enough!

  12. So far I don't find him as interesting as the other major characters TBH, so that isn't the best news for me, but we'll see.

  13. A

    I'm not going to whine about you not blogging JoJo, but I'm curious if you're still watching it or not.

  14. I'm behind several episodes due to time constraints. It's still in the plans to watch them.

  15. H

    In Sakurasou, I was a bit put off by the convenience with which they uses Akasaka. He's a hikikomori who never comes out of his room, and then goes immediately to a state where he's hanging out with everyone, buying groceries, etc? It felt a bit too contrived, that they pulled him out of his room solely to have a confrontation with Rita. Other than that, tho, I like the way they run the series.

  16. B

    i stopped watching btooom and i don't watch the others. i'm just here to say that i just finished watching psycho pass.. and WOW. this weeks ep made me feel like my patience with this show finally paid off! the best ep to date, in my opinion!

    i'll be waiting for that review. (ps. the part where ginoza was thrown WAS THE BEST THING EVER)

  17. T

    Well I should probably be posting somewhere in your more recent reviews (especially considering this will go unnoticed) but as I'm marathoning this Sakurasou I have to say this particular episode Ryuunosuke really did steal the show for me, I especially enjoyed him basically ripping Rita a new one verbably to the point where I pretty much overlooked the otherstuff afterwards.

  18. Too bad they buried him for 8 episodes. Hochan doing a snarky bishounen is worth the price of admission.

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