Weekly Digest 11/5/13 – Kingdom, Outbreak Company, Yozakura Quartet

Kingdom 2 - 22 -13 Kingdom 2 - 22 -17 Outbreak - 05 -9
Outbreak - 05 -16 Yozakura - 05 -7 Yozakura - 05 -10

Meng Tian has certainly been the conspicuously absent figure over the last few episodes of Kingdom, but it was always only a matter of time before he made his presence felt in a big way.

Kingdom 2 – 22

Kingdom 2 - 22 -1 Kingdom 2 - 22 -2 Kingdom 2 - 22 -3
Kingdom 2 - 22 -4 Kingdom 2 - 22 -5 Kingdom 2 - 22 -6
Kingdom 2 - 22 -7 Kingdom 2 - 22 -8 Kingdom 2 - 22 -9
Kingdom 2 - 22 -10 Kingdom 2 - 22 -11 Kingdom 2 - 22 -12
Kingdom 2 - 22 -14 Kingdom 2 - 22 -15 Kingdom 2 - 22 -16
Kingdom 2 - 22 -18 Kingdom 2 - 22 -19 Kingdom 2 - 22 -20

I’ve had the feeling for a while that Meng Tian was the most dangerous of the three young generals jockeying for position in the Qin army this season of Kingdom.  He’s something of the best of the others without the baggage: he has Wang Ben’s military training and strategic sense without his arrogance and devotion to the conventional, and some of Xin’s raw genius and gift for people without his rashness and anger issues.  Of the three, he seems to be the one that’s most able to see the big picture, and to be able to act independently of his personal biases.

On the Wei side, I don’t think there’s every been any doubt than Lun Hu was the deadliest of Lian Po’s Four Heavenly Kings.  That made an eventual date between Lun Hu and Meng Tian inevitable, though the form it seems to be taking is a bit different than what I expected.  Not surprisingly it’s Meng Tian who sets events into motion, taking Xin along to the tent where Wang Ben is recovering from his injuries to plan a strategy.  And what a plan it is – to disregard order and take the fight to Lun Hu before he has a chance to take the battle to them.

Meng Tian’s reasoning seems pretty sound to me.  With the left and right armies basically stalemated, it’s only a matter of time before Lun Hu stops sandbagging and launches an all-out assault aimed at catching Meng Ao in a pincer trap, an attack neither Wang Ben or Meng Tian believes the Qin central army could withstand.  The other half of Meng Tian’s reasoning is just as sound – if they’re going to do something that gets them discussed in the same breath as the legendary vice-generals, they need to band together to do it because none of their units is strong enough to take out Lun Hu individually.  Again, it seems that Meng Tian’s ability to think big and think long is what separates him from his two rivals, at least for now.

We don’t know the details of the plan yet, but it seems safe to assume Wang Ben wouldn’t have tagged along if it weren’t a damn good one.  Interestingly, both Lun Hu and Meng Tian have similar thoughts heading into this battle – Lun Hu to avenge the man he thought of as his grandfather, and Meng Tian to protect the man who is his.  We don’t often see Meng Tian acknowledge his personal feelings or embrace the savage, brutal side of war the way he is here.  It should be fascinating to see if these three young wolves have what it takes as a pack to take down the most dangerous man on the battlefield – I expected this team-up to happen at some point this season, but it’s come sooner than I expected.

Outbreak Company – 05

Outbreak - 05 -1 Outbreak - 05 -2 Outbreak - 05 -3
Outbreak - 05 -4 Outbreak - 05 -5 Outbreak - 05 -6
Outbreak - 05 -7 Outbreak - 05 -8 Outbreak - 05 -10
Outbreak - 05 -11 Outbreak - 05 -12 Outbreak - 05 -13
Outbreak - 05 -14 Outbreak - 05 -15 Outbreak - 05 -17

I did watch this week’s episode of the O.C., so I may as well say a few words about it.  You pretty much know what to expect here – it’s fun, intermittently quite humorous and probably the most meta show of the season.

I confess to a certain fondness for the gag of having the local population devolve into a pack of quarrelling otaku, elves and dwarves fighting not over racial stereotypes but the relative merits of lolicon.  Is there a statement being made here about the quality of Japanese culture being imported via the Abe Government’s “Cool Japan” initiative or am I giving O.C. too much credit?  In any event it’s well-played for the most part.

Meanwhile, Petrarca hasn’t realized that she’s lost already and tries to win Shinichi over with a hard-core tsundere arc.  This is of course as meta as anything in the episode because, well, she’s already a hard-core tsundere.  No, this is Myuseru’s win (she and Shinichi are already talking about going back to Japan together) but Elbia very nearly claimed his purity for herself, as she’s in-heat and finally breaks under the pressure and jumps him in bed (you undressed the wrong half, Elbia).  Interestingly, though, the whole in-heat thing is a bit of a misdirection – because Elbia admits it’s only Shinichi she wanted to get it on with.  And the three of them may have some competition from Garius, who seems to have officially embraced his inner BL under constant enticement from Minori-san.

I’m not sure there will be further weekly posts on Outbreak Company, unless I can find a logical pairing for it in digest form that makes sense with the schedule – I don’t generally see the point in posting on a show three days after it airs.  Failing that I may do summary posts every few weeks, as I do plan to watch it through till the end unless something changes.

Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta~ – 05

Yozakura - 05 -1 Yozakura - 05 -2 Yozakura - 05 -3
Yozakura - 05 -4 Yozakura - 05 -5 Yozakura - 05 -6
Yozakura - 05 -8 Yozakura - 05 -9 Yozakura - 05 -11
Yozakura - 05 -12 Yozakura - 05 -13 Yozakura - 05 -14
Yozakura - 05 -15 Yozakura - 05 -16 Yozakura - 05 -17
Yozakura - 05 -18 Yozakura - 05 -19 Yozakura - 05 -20

This was probably my favorite episode of the current season of Yozakura Quartet, largely because it managed to make a little headway in establishing a genuinely tense atmosphere – always an issue with YQ for me, as I said last week.

The #1 draw in this series though remains the visuals.  While there are occasional lapses in character models and background detail, it’s not the huge budget that sells the good here – it’s style.  When you watch a series like Yozakura it makes you aware of how many anime out there are really routine when it comes to cinematography and art.  Watching a show like this or Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge you realize just what a difference it makes when you have a staff that can make absolutely anything look interesting.  There’s just no boring shots here – the action sequences, the fanservice, the crowd scenes, even the two old coots from the pottery shop walking down the street – it’s all creatively staged and stylish and endlessly fun to watch.

When you add to that a successful capture of the hyperactive narrative drive that YQ has when it’s working you have a very good episode – and that’s what this was.  I could care less about the kidnapping of Kouhime (keep my moeblob, please) by the creepy old dude from Phantasm but I could watch Kyousuke and Eiji (Ono Yuuki) throw cars and scooters at each other all day.  The big revelation to come out of all this of course is that Hime is in fact a youkai – a fact she’s kept hidden from the town for six years thanks to a little memory-wipe from Yae-san.  I frankly don’t think it’s much of a big deal in context as it’s made out to be, considering the realities of Sakura New Town.

That leaves us with Hime sidelined, for the moment, and Akina trying to clean up the mess without her.  That means someone has to get to the top of Tokyo Tower to disable the Anti-Youkai Field The Tall Man is using to Gilooly the various youkai in opposition to him, but his half-youkai Eiji is keeping Akina and Kyousuke busy even as Kotoha and Ao have their hands full with his pet giant schmoo-dinosaur.    If you care about those sort of details, that is – which I do a little, but mostly I’m just enjoying the ride.

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7 comments

  1. e

    *pumped* and that's why Tian has gained a place as my Kingdom favourite chara among the currently living. Go mah pretteh 8D. Now if we could get some more Lei soon-ish…
    The episode did a good job highlighting both the difference and the smilarities between the three young men and the Tian vs Lun Hu motives. Next episode where?

  2. d

    "I don't generally see the point in posting on a show three days after it airs. Failing that I may do summary posts every few weeks"

    Speaking for myself, I'm enjoying the commentary. Discussion extends the entertainment value of the show. Either way, I hope you continue.

    With this episode, just about all premise of serious tension is gone for me. The direction is pure comedy, not drama, and the meta games of tsundere princess playing tsundere is the tip of the iceberg making me fall over laughing. I cannot take any of this show seriously anymore, and I'm ok with that. If our main character somehow died, and was not ressurrected, I would expect him to be in an otaku-hell after-life, suffering pratfalls and jokes at his expense. Much like robot-hell in Futurama.

    The previous episode pulled a good one having our Petrarca crying, though as viewers we rationally knew Myuseru wasn't going to die (due to plot armor, EP, OP, etc), the emotional chain was yanked.

    Focus on Elbia's eyes were effectively creepy for me this episode in spite of knowing it was a comedy.

    Its just a fun show, and the execution is nice for the most part, and I like hearing about it. I can't name all the bloody references they have, but I liked the Princess Maker insert. You're definitely right about being the most meta of the current crop!

  3. t

    finally we got to see Tian's true colors. still not completely, but he is both strong in combat and in strategy. I think he is quite a model. most of the time so far he is eccentric, yet he is commited to the battles. it would seem his decision to go out and fight came out from an emotion or impulse, which is partly true, yet he doesn't allow that kind of stuff to interfere his judgement. he knows exactly what he is doing. I wonder how Xin and Wang Ben will be in par with him mostly in this battle. one is wounded, the other is much more impulse when it comes to fighting…and he wants to take revenge of that 1000-general. so..it's not gonna be that easy.

    YQ was such a great episode.
    despite the fact that this ep advanced a bit more than usual, it didn't push itself or the story or plot. and it felt great in terms of pace.
    naturally Hime and Akina are getting a bit more focus. but it's only a bit 'cause we can feel how each one of the characters is unique and contributes in its own way (Hey-Ho Satelliteooooooooo 😛 )

  4. Z

    Is it just me or has the nurse's dress shrunk even more?

  5. R

    First of all, I'm happy to hear that you're considering doing summary posts every few weeks for certain shows. I just hope that you can have more time besides blogging.

    Secondly, I'm just gonna turn on the 2D-chan in me for a second. With Miyuki-boy and Meng Tian this season…mmm…nice.

    Okay, seriously, I really like this episode. What I like the most is how this show brilliantly creates the fictional version of the young Meng Tian. Meng Tian is very well-known — and possibly the most known amongst the Meng's — to the later generations. His fame — good or bad — may not rival Zheng's, the first emperor, but his successes in fending off the Xiongnu and his involvement in the construction of the Great Wall definitely helped him leave mark on history for over 2000 years.

    I like the Kingdom's version of Meng Tian — he's totally showing off his skills of being a great general with his abilities to foster a bold vision, think ahead, and get buy-in. And we only saw glimpses of his brilliance in this episode. Yes, I'm fangirling here, and I don't care. I'm just excited for the episodes to come — I can't wait to see how smart this young general can be to battle with Lun Hu who has brains, physical prowess, and years of experience in battlefields.

    One more thing that I like about this episode is the script. It totally shows off Meng Tian's negotiation skills — he knows how to get his counterparts, when to tease, when to praise, and when to calm them. Every line that he delivered inside Wang Ben's tent drew the other two into his plan more and more and before he even revealed everything. He's totally like the puppet master without being aggressive and offensive. Of course, how Wang Ben and Xin acted themselves is a nice balance to the whole conversation. I think the script makes this episode so interesting to watch when for the most part it's only characters talking.

  6. I would have said Meng Yi was the most well-known – I certainly think he was the most influential, historically – but that's a matter for debate. I kind of wish we were seeing more of him and Diao – I miss 'em.

  7. R

    Yes, that's probably a matter for debate. Well, I learnt a bit of Chinese history when I was a kid, so watching Kingdom is like I'm cheating…teehee. From the very little that I know, I'd say that Meng Yi was the most trusted. He probably offered advice or contributed to a lot of policies made at his time, but he didn't have as many accomplishments that impacted the future generations as his brother, so I'd say that Meng Tian's more known to the people today.

    Yes, I miss Meng Yi and Diao, too, but what I miss the most is all the politics in the palaces and between kingdoms. Episode 2 was really good, and we seldom come across stories about politics.

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