Weekly Digest 10/24/13 – Tokyo Ravens, Kyoukai no Kanata

Tokyo Ravens - 03 -6 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -16 KyouKan - 04 -2 KyouKan - 04 -12

Breaking up is hard to do…

Tokyo Ravens – 03

Tokyo Ravens - 03 -1 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -2 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -3
Tokyo Ravens - 03 -4 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -5 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -7
Tokyo Ravens - 03 -8 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -9 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -10
Tokyo Ravens - 03 -11 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -12 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -13
Tokyo Ravens - 03 -14 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -15 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -17
Tokyo Ravens - 03 -18 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -19 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -20

Tokyo Ravens is still a series I want to like – and there are parts of it I do like – but it has two huge flaws that are proving hard for me to overcome: too much bad CGI and light-novel disease.

The first of those two issues is pretty clear-cut – I can either live with it or not.  A series has to be exceptionally well-written to overcome really awful CGI, like Kingdom – but the CG isn’t as bad here as it was in Kingdom S1.  Neither, though, is the writing as good.  I still can’t shake the fact that like so many LN adaptations, Tokyo Ravens can’t resist throwing every wearisome cliche in the book at me.  Every female character has been a walking trope, and we were even treated to the inevitable turn where the villain turns into a sympathetic character because she’s a cute loli.

But Suzuka at least is gone (for now) and the bigger problem of course is Natsume, as she’s sticking around as the female lead.  This is a performance Hanazawa Kana could do in her sleep – and she may very well be, for all I know – which doesn’t help.  She’s a very tired creation – the tsundere ojou-sama who blushes at the drop of a hat.  Harutora is OK as the male lead, though he hasn’t exactly blown the doors off.  And I haven’t heard a character shout another’s name (“Harutora-kuuun!”) since S1 of Nanoha.

I’m sticking around for at least another week, because these first three episodes basically seem like the preamble and the series itself is just starting – we haven’t had any Tokyo or Ravens until Shibuya Eki made an appearance.  With a new setting and a new main plot, hopefully some of the potential in the premise will start to come out.

Kyoukai no Kanata – 04

KyouKan - 04 -1 KyouKan - 04 -3 KyouKan - 04 -4
KyouKan - 04 -5 KyouKan - 04 -6 KyouKan - 04 -7
KyouKan - 04 -8 KyouKan - 04 -9 KyouKan - 04 -10
KyouKan - 04 -11 KyouKan - 04 -13 KyouKan - 04 -14
KyouKan - 04 -15 KyouKan - 04 -16 KyouKan - 04 -17
KyouKan - 04 -18 KyouKan - 04 -19 KyouKan - 04 -20

Well, I was this close to being out but Kyoukai no Kanata manages to tease enough interest out of me to stick around for at least another week.  That was easily the best episode of the series, and the only one I would call genuinely interesting.

There’s still a problem, in that I don’t really feel anything for any of the cast – it’s always a bad sign when I have a hard time separating the supporting players in my mind, as I do here.  The whole cast is pretty generic and Mirai is worse than generic, she’s annoying and still in need of saving pretty much every time she steps into the fire.  But the scenario itself is showing a pulse, and the visuals this week were quite good – I was especially impressed with the labyrinth scene – though that’s probably the most CGI I’ve seen in any KyoAni episode.

What made this episode work was the high-energy drive that ran through it just about start-to-finish, culminating in Akihito showing his youmu side for the first time.  That the battle sequences would be technically well-done was a given, but there was a purposefulness to the episode direction that I haven’t seen up to this point.  I did think the Hollow Shadow was taken down too easily considering how much its supposed strength was built up, but it was nicely-staged nonetheless.  And maybe seeing just how idiotic she was being, wallowing in self-pity while Akihito was bearing a much heavier burden, will cause Mirai to grow up a little.  The comedy between the two of them still doesn’t work and there’s zero romantic chemistry, but in terms of their relationship there’s nowhere to go but up.

It’s too early to tell whether the growing conspiracy plot surrounding the Spirit World Warriors is going to yield anything compelling, but while this premise isn’t too original I’m mildly curious to see where KyouKan will take it.  The Nase family (probably the most interesting cast members, generally) are obviously at the center of it, and I’m not at all sure they’re all working for the same side.  It appears that Akihito’s life is only being spared conditionally, which suggests he’s even more potentially important and/or dangerous than his rather spectacular display of power at the end of the episode would indicate.

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10 comments

  1. t

    I want to love tokyo ravens too. I mean, it's nice so far…but still…it's those kind of anime, that even after 3-eps-rule, you aren't sure whether to pick that up till the end or it might be worse from now one.
    for now I am sticking to it, basically because there is'nt definite reason to drop it.
    those 3 eps were..an introduction/prologue/whatever you wanna call it. next week gonna be ultimate test for this, whether it can keep for 2cour..or not.

    KNK…well it was the best episode so far, illustrates how much this series is good and enjoyable despite the criticism so far (which is justified relatively).
    great battle sequence even though it was a bit disappointment with how she actually killed the hollow shadow, which said to be unbeatable even if a swarm of "youmu-hunters" will give it a try. but hey..it's not the first time we see that kind of exaggeration.moreover, finally the dark-fantasy elements was much more apparent.

    Characters and their relationship feels more real than before.
    it's not perfect, but it's a start. well better late than never.
    the problem is still lies within Akihito. it's not that I hate or something.
    he is still..not exactly consistent. moreover, it just feels like he isn't fill the role of MC. we can see that with his VA. I am not saying his VA is bad or something..but something does feel odd with the characters and VA..something that make feel like he isn't fulfil MC's role.

    having said that, we still haven't seen an actual progress in terms of plot and story, at least in terms of real core of the plot. though we saw a glimpse of something at the end of the episode..yet let's not forget it's 1cour..and we have been through third of the series..so it is weird to feel like that. I still enjoy the.."everyday-fantasy-life".

    well..in the end of the day, we saw improvment and it's getting better from episode to episode. maybe if they were make things a bit differently in the first 3eps, it could have been better. not the "hype" we expected, yet enjoyable show, KyoAni formula works (that way or another). and I expect more 'cause I know it gets better every episode (at least I hope so)

  2. H

    "It appears that Akihito's life is only being spared conditionally, which suggests he's even more potentially important and/or dangerous than his rather spectacular display of power at the end of the episode would indicate." I actually took it as they physically can't kill him, someone said towards the end of the episode that if he did break free from the barriers they would do something which still wouldn't kill him but would make it pretty hard to exist which I thought made the whole series a bit bleaker. They aren't letting him live, they just can't figure out a way to kill him.

  3. I think it goes deeper than that – someone is working behind the scenes on his behalf (maybe Scarf-boy, who likes a good hand-warmer). It does seem like they can effectively phase him out of existence even if they can't literally kill him.

  4. s

    With ep 4, this is was i meant when i kept saying this series has the potential to be a very solid, well-done series. My only problem with the series so far is that the direction needs to be tighter but other than that, it's doing a great job. I know some people think the characters are annoying but i really cant see it; Ive seen far worse annoying and loud characters in other shows that i cant comprehend how these subdued (troupe-wise) and as-of-yet developed characters could be found annoying when the problem is that that they dont really stand out enough.

    Regardless, with the next ep i can finally feel the character moments coming in. Kyoani has this thing, and i think a lot of ppl forget thhis when coming into their shows, that the characters dont start getting remotely interesting until a couple of eps in; and when they finally do, the quality of their show varies depending on how well -written the development was (like hyoka, to which i remeber back in the blogosphere, people werent entirely someout intrigued by the characters until ep 5 or 6, and entirely sold on the series during the school festival arc). It kinda sucks that KNK only has 12 (or was it 13) to work with because kyo ani is stronger with two cour shows but lets see how this turns out. By the way did anyone notice the slight art direction change in the preview for ep 5 of KNK?

  5. M

    "Kyoani has this thing, and i think a lot of ppl forget thhis when coming into their shows, that the characters dont start getting remotely interesting until a couple of eps in"

    Well,I personally liked both of the main characters in Chu2koi,Yuuta & Rika,from the start so I'm wouldn't hold my breath on Akihito & Mirai showing much improvement 😛

  6. s

    guess we'll have to wait and see

  7. M

    I feel the same about Tokyo Ravens.It got more interesting with each episode for me so far and I want to like it(which also means getting used to those CGI battles which is no easy task).I can tolerate this level of cliche elements but I'm worried that it might get worst in the upcoming episodes with the start of Harutora's new school life.To be honest,I'm expecting Tokyo Ravens to continue showing us both it's good & bad sides throughout it's 2-cours so I can only hope that the good will outweigh the bad.At any rate,I'm probably gonna stick with it till the end since I believe it'll end up being mediocre at worst.

    As for KnK,I was pleased with this episode,and the last wasn't so bad either.It's like the show is realizing what it should stick to.Besides KyoAni animation,it also managed to create a fairly good atmosphere and I dare say that it was even thrilling to a degree.I believe the main problem with KnK lies with it's two main characters which is a pretty big one and while Shingeki had the same problem yet still managed to be pretty good,I really don't see that happening here.As such,this is probably as good as KnK can get and I'd be content with that because I was never expecting much from this in the fist place.However,while at it's best when the plot thickens & the action starts,it's at it's worst when things slow down and we get those terrible attempts at comedy,mainly from Mirai & Akihito's boring(and at times,annoying) interactions and half or more of the show is probably gonna be like that.

    Hmmm,that would make KnK only decent in it's climax episodes and quite boring in the rest.Geh,this is giving me the same problems Coppelion is: a 1-cour anime with 4 episodes in and I'm still not sure whether I'll stick with it till the end.So much for the 3-ep rule,heh.

  8. T

    For me Mirai still reminds me waaay too much of Rikka from Chu2, which can really feel out of place at times (especially with how easily some of her problems get resolved especially with how Akihito only needed a hug). Regardless this was still the best episode thus far, I was pretty much already in for the long haul since it's only 13 eps and I've pretty much categorized this as a pop-corn show but I am glad to see we're getting a bit more substance.

  9. E

    I think the hug is being taken for granted here.

    It's still a cliché, but the plot justifies it – Akihito was getting gradually more pissed off the more the others tried to restrain him, so it was a good move to try to calm him down to see what happened, not to mention that Mirai was clearly seeing herself in him and acted out of sheer emotion.

    Not to mention she did just in time, because Izumi was really close to freezing him inside her barrier forever like the thing she's got framed on her living room.

  10. s

    it wasnt the hug that brought him back. She embraced him out of remorse for wrongly judging him while burning him with her blood. It was the blood that weakened him enough for akihito to return to normal. This wasnt a case of what i like to call "inuyasha syndrome". The embrace just so happened to be a hug to illustrate how bad she felt for misjudging him when all he tried to do was help.

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