Robotics;Notes – 15

[WhyNot] Robotics;Notes - 15 [E2DA8FC5].mkv_snapshot_08.06_[2013.02.01_21.55.44] [WhyNot] Robotics;Notes - 15 [E2DA8FC5].mkv_snapshot_12.41_[2013.02.01_22.01.19] [WhyNot] Robotics;Notes - 15 [E2DA8FC5].mkv_snapshot_17.58_[2013.02.01_22.07.04]

There’s an effortless quality to Robotics;Notes that belies just how many good things it accomplishes every week.

I’m not going to bemoan the commercial failure of Robotics;Notes anymore, I promise (the first volume did about as poorly as expected) but I am going to keep singing the praises of the show when it delivers the goods.  I’m continually impressed by the series’ stubborn refusal to pander or take creative shortcuts – it continues to be a story that’s built around the characters, and not the other way around.  Not only is the transition to anime surprisingly seamless, but clearly the writing reflects a profound understanding of who those characters are.  There are two main reasons, I think, why characters behave in ways that don’t make sense; either it’s lazy writing and they do what they do because it’s necessary for the plot, or they were so underwritten that they never developed enough to have a real personality in the first place.  Needless to say, those traps aren’t an issue with R;N.

Building an episode around Airi was certainly an interesting choice at this juncture, and seemingly an odd one at first glance.  But Airi’s place in the plot turned out to be quite different from what I’d imagined.  Of equal importance is the fact that the episode told her story in an engaging and involving way – as with the episode about Jun and Doc it was sentimental without being cloying, and I think this was actually a subtler and even more emotionally satisfying mini-arc.  And yes, it did have a bit of a “route” feel to it despite the unusual circumstances – and those who’d hoped for immediate repercussions from the memorable ending of last week’s episode didn’t get them.  Kona is certainly re-engaged with the world in a way she wasn’t before those events, but whether her forwardness with Kai amounts to a real progression in their relationship or simply a route in itself remains to be seen.  Keen ears will have noted, however, that Kai did answer “I wonder” when Airi asked if he was in love with anyone.

In addition – really, in conjunction – to Airi moving into center stage was the series’ first look at Kimijina Kou.  He’s been a factor, certainly, but this time we have a face to put with the voice – and the most extended use of that voice so far, which is a plus as it’s provided by the excellent veteran Morikawa Toshiyuki.  It’s a bit of a race against the clock for Kai, as there’s a major maintenance job scheduled for Iru-O on Christmas Eve – which is obviously pretty suspicious given the events of the last few episodes – and that means any and all data stored on the system (including Airi) could be erased.  Kona accuses Kai of being unconcerned about the sentimental side of that, though his seeming nonchalance is obvious his usual front – but the matter of the Kimijima Reports is obviously of great practical importance.  The sixth is triggered by successfully surfing for at least three seconds (a lot harder than it sounds), but it reveals the usual Kimijima doomsday warnings about the Committee of 300 and their “silent weaponry” war of propaganda.  As for the 7th – and final – report – it appears that the only flags are successfully accessing the first six.  However, Airi doesn’t know where Report #7 is.

We’ve certainly seen stories about AI with human feelings before, but I thought this was an unusual and appealing take on the formula.  Airi’s behavior in the episode suggests that she expects to disappear when the system goes down, and she pleads with Kai to “take her home” – in this case, to the abandoned house where Kimijima lived and worked.  There are a number of surprises waiting for him there, but most dramatically the one that awaits him in the cellar laboratory – a cryogenic system with a girl inside it.  I’m not sure exactly what this story says about Kimijima – certainly, that he was a sentimental guy himself, judging by the way he bonded with the sick girl who was apparently no relation to him.  But it also suggests the possibility that he might have been something of a crackpot, given that we have no knowledge suggesting that cryogenics has advanced to the point where what he was trying to do for the human Airi was even feasible.  In any event it explains a lot about Airi’s behavior, including her fascination with snow – especially on Christmas Eve.

Kona’s Christmas present to Airi was definitely on the sentimental side of the ledger, but I loved the way it played out – with the image in her virtual world so different from what Kai was seeing, and the way she extracted a promised kiss from him (given his blush, it’s possible he might have been unconscious when Kona tagged him one last week).  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Kai was unable to access Sister Centipede in the days prior to Christmas Eve, and that only Sister Centipede remained (judging by this Mona Lisa smile, maybe not quite only) after – though the exact significance is still elusive.  It’s also interesting to speculate on just what happened to the real Airi after Kai panicked and called the police – was she even alive inside that cryogenic chamber?  If so presumably the authorities will have defrosted her ASAP – which puts rather a sad bow on Airi and Kimijima Kou’s story, if you ask me.  And will human Airi continue to impact the story?  It’s yet another link between Kai and Kimijima, too, which is all the more reason to believe the net will be closing ever tighter around him (who was that spying on the house from behind the bushes?) as the Committee of 300 crack down on anything and anyone that might derail their plans.

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  1. l

    "who was that spying on the house from behind the bushes?"

    I thought it was the shopkeeper (whose name escapes me at the moment). I thought I saw the bottom of her exoskeleton legs on top of the shoes. If so, that raises the nasty thought that perhaps she knew there was something (someone perhaps??) hidden in that abandoned structure all the time.

  2. M

    I thought the person spying behind the bushes was Mizuka.

  3. M

    It seems my Google ID works fine.

  4. G

    I thought when he kissed her forehead the 7th report would appear. Was disapointed when it didn't.

  5. s

    Enzo and other Japan expats, what you do think of this ridiculous scandal thing with AK848 and Minami Minegishi? in 2013? In case anyone doesn't know, apparently this Ak848 is a very popular made-up, I mean arranged/managed property owned by some studio who impose its member no-dating rule like its certain neighboring dictator communist country and the 20-year old girl broke that rule by dating (gasp!). Or get photographed leaving her boyfriend's flat in the morning.

    Seriously I don't have to respect stupid customs like this. I suppose it doesn't matter whether a country has high number of non-religious people (gimme a break, Japanese are highly religious as far as I can tell. They are just not "Christian"; they have their own religious traditions). And I suppose if you live in their country, you can't really afford say means thing about them or have to willfully ignore things like that. I don't know about you, Enzo, but for some others who will call me intolerant or judgmental with "western values" or what not; shove it. This sort backward stuff will die out whether you or I like it or hate it eventually as time goes on. I suppose my problem is it's not fast enough and for those who defends this, it is too fast.

    At this risk of sounding seemingly off-the-track, I also add that I can easily say this to those who call "Christian values" (to justify against gays/women) or "American values" (against hispanics/immigrants/xenophobic) or whatever traditional values that are obviously flawed and backwards. Off the topic, perhaps, but I've said my piece. I consider writing this at Hourou Musuko's post, but considering much fewer people visit there, I've decided to write this here. Forgive me.

  6. s

    BTW, my main issue with the way folks are treating this poor little girl and making her compel to go through this public shaming ritual (yeah, yeah I get that she's probably doing this since she wants to keep working in the Japanese entertainment industry, not necessarily feels that she's committed a crime). Look at poor little girl at this youtube video. Think of this trauma it'd caused her at her age (20, I repeat). So much so that she even shaved her head voluntarily, christ. God damn, I thought she killed some kittens and punched a smiling baby repeatedly in a public park on a sunny afternoon with this sort of angst/sorrow (either that she's a good actress and perhaps lip-synching in a girl band is not her true calling). To me, no one really say anything in Japan and their public at large seem to either agree it's the right thing to do or shrug and accept it as the most natural thing in the world. Good grief.

  7. I believe I've made my feelings about the idol culture pretty clear – I don't think it ranks as Japan's finest hour. I find it rather sickening, to be honest – the AK48 thing this week was so absurd I assumed it was a joke at first, but it's hardly surprising.

    As to your question below, I've enabled as many signup options as Blogger allows me to, so I can't make it any easier than it is until I finally migrate to WordPress. AFAIK it doesn't matter what you sign up with – you can delete your posts but not edit them. Another Blogger limitation.

  8. s

    BTW, Enzo, I don't have a problem with having people to sign up to repel those spam bots, but only having these 6 options to sign up is kinda limited. I had to sign up for one. Since you've mentioned how RC doesn't have as much issue with spamming due to people having to sign up to comment, I'd prefer their somewhat more freer method (where you are not limited to the affiliation with those 6 accounts). Well perhaps it's the limitation of the host for this blog rather than your choice. Who knows.

    To other commenters: hey I've heard that with a certain account, you can actually go back edit and/or delete your post if it's not your liking? With which account can you do that if that is true? Someone say something.

  9. M

    I can delete posts, but it will still show that you made a comment as you can see above. Not sure if it is just for google accounts or for everything. If you are signed in, there should be the word delete below your post.

    P.S. I like your name. I find it pretty funny.

  10. s

    ah, so with the google accounts you can delete your posts. Thanks, MCAL. Maybe I'll change from myopenid to google then. I didn't find anything particularly "open" about myopenid.

    As for the name, he he he. I won't let some spam bots ruin my fun, I won't!

  11. H

    The more I think about the episode, the sadder I get, thinking that we've seen the death of a character. And while AIri was somewhat limited, she still seemed to have her own hopes.

    I found the Iru-O maintenance to be really sketchy. Especially the 'some or all data might be deleted'. Basically it seemed like a chance for the 300 to go through and delete as much as they could of stuff that didn't conform.

  12. h

    I was somewhat put off by the lack of any follow-up to Kona's display of affection in the previous episode. Although I can't say I'm an expert at how the "route" thing works, I can definitely see traces of the "omnibus" setup at work here, a la Amagami. But it's too early to tell, and the previous episode's content can just as easily be written off as the Bonobo gene at work (what, I mean, bonding under stress).

    But I must say, poor Airi (real and virtual alike)! As of now the audience has no idea what happened to her, either in the machine or on Iru-O.

    And I also must commend a certain observation in particular that I would never have reached on my own. Kimijima Kou may well have been a nutcase who fell for a sick girl, buried her alive, and stashed her frozen body in his basement. Definitely not the type of thing I could come up with. Truly the epitome of "Fridge Horror."

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