Weekly Digest 11/19/13 – Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta~, Kingdom 2

Yozakura - 07 -9 Yozakura - 07 -15 Kingdom 2 - 24-3 Kingdom 2 - 24-10

If action is your thing, these two shows offered up plenty to smile about this week.

Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta – 07

Yozakura - 07 -1 Yozakura - 07 -2 Yozakura - 07 -3
Yozakura - 07 -4 Yozakura - 07 -5 Yozakura - 07 -6
Yozakura - 07 -7 Yozakura - 07 -8 Yozakura - 07 -10
Yozakura - 07 -11 Yozakura - 07 -12 Yozakura - 07 -13
Yozakura - 07 -14 Yozakura - 07 -16 Yozakura - 07 -17
Yozakura - 07 -18 Yozakura - 07 -19 Yozakura - 07 -20

I hate to be a broken record (do people still get that reference?  Well – even a broken clock is right twice a day…), but Hana no Uta is pretty much a broken record itself.  You know what to expect here and Ryo-timo always delivers.

That said, this might very well be the best episode of this incarnation so far – a rip-roaring and action-packed lark from start to finish, nicely balancing the action and comic elements and managing to give the events taking place more weight than they’ve had at any time so far.  I’ve praised Ryo-timo liberally for his animation, art and choreography but the guy really understands pacing too – he can deliver 22 minutes without much of a pause without leaving the audience feeling exhausted when it’s all over.

We’re over halfway through this series, and we’ve finally segued into the main plot with the official arrival of Hiizuma Enjin (Tomakazu Seki).  Fans of the franchise know him well, of course, and while the episode didn’t go into any detail there’s a lot of baggage here, as he’s inhabiting the body of Ao’s older brother Gin (who also happens to have been Akina’s best friend).  There’s a nice irony here, as Gin volunteered to be tuned to the other dimension to try and stop what he and Akina assumed was the unintended merger of the two dimensions, only to have Enjin possess him – ironic because Enjin is the descendant of a branch of the family that was sent over against their will, and has been planning to merge the two dimensions using the Seven Pillars all along.

The news Enjin brings puts the lie to everything Akina’s life (and Sakura New Town, if you ask me) has been founded on, of course – and the fact that he’s starting at Gin’s face every time he confronts that lie is all the more gut-wrenching for him.  As for that little side-track about Kouhime and the mayoral election, of course it was merely a front for Enjin to try and steal Akina’s body – and Yuuhi quickly puts the kibosh on the whole thing anyway by declaring that she’s too young to run (duh).  It does bring Shinozuka (Ono Yuuki – I enjoy the fact that the onii in YQ are both played by Onos) officially over to the white hat brigade, though.

Kingdom 2 – 24

Kingdom 2 - 24-1 Kingdom 2 - 24-2 Kingdom 2 - 24-4
Kingdom 2 - 24-5 Kingdom 2 - 24-6 Kingdom 2 - 24-7
Kingdom 2 - 24-8 Kingdom 2 - 24-9 Kingdom 2 - 24-11
Kingdom 2 - 24-12 Kingdom 2 - 24-13 Kingdom 2 - 24-14
Kingdom 2 - 24-15 Kingdom 2 - 24-16 Kingdom 2 - 24-17
Kingdom 2 - 24-18 Kingdom 2 - 24-19 Kingdom 2 - 24-20
Kingdom 2 - 24-21 Kingdom 2 - 24-22 Kingdom 2 - 24-23

I’m not especially proud of the fact that I’m still bothered by bad CGI even though we’re 63 episodes into Kingdom – but I can’t help it, I am.  When the series goes action-heavy as it did this week that’s always a red flag, and this ep was absolutely jam-packed with some of the worst CG you’ll in anime this year (and that’s saying a lot).

The thing is, this was an episode that displayed this series at its best and worst.  Because in addition to that bad CGI you had one of the most epic throw-downs you’ll see in anime this year, and I can’t help but agonize (once again) over how great this show could have been if it had a decent animation budget.  And it says something about how damn good it is even with the visuals having as many troughs as they do.  The writing and the battle choreography here are first rate, and it continues to offer an object lesson in how to portray warfare both on the macro and micro level.  And let’s face it, that puts it in pretty elite company in anime these days.

At this point I’m pretty much ready to confer the much-coveted “magnificent bastard” status on Lun Hu.  Seriously, I spent the entirety of his battle with Xin (with a side of Wang) hoping he wouldn’t die here, because he’s such a great villain – just smug enough, whip-smart, preposterously fearsome in battle. Characters like Lun Hu are too entertaining to die, no matter which side they’re fighting on.  But of course we know Xin isn’t going to die here, so something has to give – though whether that leaves Lun Hu standing at the end of the battle is an open question.

As for Xin, I think he proved here why, despite the fact that he’s not as conventionally smart as Wang Ben or as clever as Meng Tian, when the toy soldiers are shoved to the side and the bloodletting begins he may be the most dangerous of any of them – and as Lun Hu found out, he’s the one you don’t want to be fighting hand-to-hand.  You see this in sports, too – some guys just have something inside them that allows them to surpass themselves in crucial moments, and Xin is one of those guys.  As Lun Hu himself said, he “may have let my guard down, taken him a little lightly” – and he paid for it with a cut to his wrist which seems to have severed his tendons.  Of course, this comes after landing several blows on Xin despite fighting off Wang Ben at the same time.  I think the most impressive thing for me about Lun, though, was how he carried himself when the fight was over and the Feixin and Wang Ben forces were retreating – he stood his ground, scolded his officers not to panic and stated that this presented a great opportunity to strike back, inflicting twice the damage they’d received.  Spoken like a magnificent bastard.

The side dish this week was a check-in on the fight between Wang Ben’s father Roberts Wang Jian and Jian Yan – specifically, our first look in a while at “My Man” Bi.  He’s drawn the attention of Wang Jian himself for his yeoman work, which nets him a field promotion to 5000-Man General – and the task of luring Jian Yan into an enclosed canyon and wiping out his 10,000 man force with his of half the size.  It’s not the first time I’ve said it with this character, but Bi hoisted a couple of serious death flags this week – let’s hope the writers don’t salute them next week.

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6 comments

  1. K

    I knew it! I thought that the fight sequence was a bit off. I was right. Turns out no one was really fighting seriously. It's only when they believe that Akina was dead that things got real!

    TQ

  2. t

    kingdom – wtf is going on here?
    it was worst episode so far. it's getting worse with the CGI. the whole battle sequence is simply taken away from us with that CGI. every swords-clash between Xin and Rinko (Lun Hu) should have been epic, but the animation…dammit. I thought the CGI would be restrained this season..but even now…
    it's not the only thing – watch this:
    http://img.batoto.net/comics/2013/09/15/k/read5235d28c05373/img000014.png

    they changed what happened to Rinko..:
    yet of course, this battle is certainly epic in every feature.

  3. e

    When the CG is this ugly and non blending with the rest there's no guilt in feeling the pain really. I'd rather wish they had gone much more for hand-drawn stills or even a slideshow effect (2-3 stills strung together synched with bgm and sounds when there is clashing for instance) rather than peppering the episode with awful CG micro-sequences among the tradtionally animated bits. Make a virtue out of necessity and budget constraints guys. Dezaki could achieve it 30 years ago with his 'emotional postcards' and the juxtaposition of animated moments with stills looked much less jarring – if not gorgeous quite often. DEM STILLS :,D -.
    Seeing Bi Bro in itself and his related visual upgrade – no CG for him today thanks goodness – sorta sweetens the deal but eh. The episode visual package was a decent mixed with more suck than this s2 standard had spoiled us with.
    Anyway… Xin entered the zone and also had his own epiphany on the ways of the generals but it was too late already for Meng Tian's plan to produce its desired outcome and his colleagues had to scram, as Lei predicted earlier (that girl's cool head <3).
    Lun Hu keeps his fingers still attached if not still functioning – interesting link in the comment above. Maybe they picked this route in the anime to keep us watchers more on our toes. And/or they too are Lun Hu fanboys :p – .

  4. t

    YQ
    "Hana no Uta is pretty much a broken record itself"
    you're talking about the comic relief?about performance?
    you should remember, YQ is an integration between shonen and SoL with comedy.
    it mostly around the characters who makes YQ what it is.
    besides..in which anime, jokes and stuff like aren't repeated? most of them are like that, I am sure I am able to put out quite a few this season
    so what's the problem if everything works?
    please, don't get me wrong – I just can't understand(and I want to. I am curious :P) where this is come from and why..especially since I know you are not the only one who is thinking that way.

  5. A broken record is not a necessarily negative commentary. It simply means that the show is delivering pretty much the same thing week after week. If that's a good thing, where's the problem?

  6. t

    then, I am sorry, my bad.
    because for me it sounded like you criticized that, like some negative connotation.
    I guess you tried to point it out as a disadvantage and as an advantage at once.

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