Brief Impressions Digest 10/31/14 – Shirobako, Psycho-Pass Season 2

Shirobako - 04 -7 Shirobako - 04 -2 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -13 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -14

That was a really heartwarming, feel-good episode of anime.  Oh, and I watched Shirobako too.

Shirobako – 04

Shirobako - 04 -1 Shirobako - 04 -3 Shirobako - 04 -4
Shirobako - 04 -5 Shirobako - 04 -6 Shirobako - 04 -8
Shirobako - 04 -9 Shirobako - 04 -10 Shirobako - 04 -11
Shirobako - 04 -12 Shirobako - 04 -13 Shirobako - 04 -14

Looks like I spoke to soon in the Fall Check-in – Shirobako is the kind of show its previews suggested it would be, for one week at least.

I found this CGBC episode of Shirobako to be a lot less interesting than the mockumentary episodes have been, largely because there really hasn’t been any characterization up to this point.  So when you do a character-driven episode four episodes into a series where the characters are mainly props, it’s going to come off pretty hollow (plus, these fat jokes are pretty infantile and mean-spirited).  Putting characters with no depth through these kinds of paces is pretty much the definition of a cute girls being cute show, though this was more tolerable because at least they’re adults and we got to spend some time hearing them bitch about work.

Indeed, I might have skipped talking about the ep altogether except that I rather liked the depiction of Kichijoji, the delightful town at the terminus of the Inokashira Line about 20 minutes from Shibuya.  I lived there briefly when I came to Tokyo, but even more personal to me was seeing “Pancake Home” on-screen, because this is actually the Original Pancake House – one of my favorite American restaurant chains, which opened a branch in Kichijoji last winter which looks exactly like the one in the episode.  They even showed the “Dutch Baby” (that’s it on the right), the delightful oven pancake with lemon, butter and powdered sugar that’s one of my all-time favorite meals any time of day.

For the record, I also enjoyed seeing Sakaki audition for a show called “I Think My Harem is Slowly Falling Apart But I Might Just Be Imagining it (not final)“.  That felt like a hidden message from Mizushima-sensei that he really does want to mock what’s happening in the industry but can’t do it openly – like a kidnap victim being shown on camera who blinks out a message in Morse Code.

Psycho-Pass 2  – 04

Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -1 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -2 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -3
Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -4 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -5 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -6
Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -7 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -8 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -9
Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -10 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -11 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -12
Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -15 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -16 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -17
Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -18 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -19 Psycho Pass 2 - 04 -20

Well, wasn’t that a thing?

While the overall plot still feels like a clumsier and less nuanced ripoff of the first season’s and half the cast has clearly been hit with the stupid stick, this was easily the most entertaining episode of Psycho-Pass 2.  Admittedly it achieved that purely with shock value, but well-executed shock value is nothing to sneeze at (especially on Halloween).

The takeover of the mental health facility by one of Kamui’s acolytes was pretty darn bloody and disturbing.  For pure senseless violence it had an almost Clockwork Orange quality to it, though with none of the political satire or psychological underpinnings.  It was just good old-fashioned gore, and in dramatic terms it hit the spot – it’s really the first time in the season I’ve felt anything watching this series, even if a lot of what I felt was disgust.

I certainly felt anger too, though.  It’s pretty remarkable that so little has been learned and so little changed after the Makashima debacle in the first series.  Sybil is still stupid, the cops are still mostly idiots, and they’re still helpless if their opponent has a Crime Coefficient under 100.  Mika is the worst offender in every way of course, and she was even more repulsively useless this week – standing by helpless as an office full of victims were being brutalized because she was terrified of being blamed for a mistake.  Seriously, cocky and snarky characters and incompetent characters are both annoying as hell, but one that’s incompetent and snarky about it?

It seems I was wrong about Aoyanagi having a larger role this season – though she did for four eps, at least.  She took a few hard blows from the stupid stick as well, relying on her dominator rather than simply taking out the perp with the nail gun.  And that’s when Division 3 (who I assume are Kaisei’s lap dogs) barged and starting blowing away everyone with a CC over 300, which included most of the victims and Aoyanagi.  Seriously, is it really possible for so many people to be this stupid?  What a ridiculous debacle – yet despite all that, it was undeniably a pretty riveting 22 minutes, and I guess that’s progress.

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12 comments

  1. R

    "Corruption Robot: Sadoka Mazoka"

    Heh, Shirobako isn't even being subtle here.

    Putting characters with no depth through these kinds of paces is pretty much the definition of a cute girls being cute show, though this was more tolerable because at least they're adults and we got to spend some time hearing them bitch about work.

    Sadly, they tend to favor the cute girls being cute part a bit topo much, that it can be rather jarring when they do adult stuff. And I guess it's time for me to give my verdict too. This one won't hold for 24 episodes.

  2. A

    It's like the case with me and Kill La Kill: I heard it was going to be not one but TWO-cour…… and I 100% could not be convinced it was. Shirobako didn't seem to have a ton going for it in the first episodes but at least it was entertaining, somewhat educational to how animation is produced in Japan, and the main girl was relatable. Now, I hear it's 24 episodes??! …. what??? I suppose since we finished the first "arc" per say in the first 4 episodes, the rest will focus on the other 4 main girls, giving them all their own story. ….that guess was quickly proved false when we kept seeing the recurring animation staff members this week again. This was the first week since the pilot where the other 4 main girls had any role! And I fear the rest of the show will wear thin to make way for uneventful, cutesy, moe fluff.

  3. w

    I'm not sure Mizushima is trying to mock the anime industry. I mean, he works there. I don't know this for sure, but I imagine a lot of people in his position don't work in anime unless they want to. So there's obviously a reason he works there; a passion for it that keeps him around. Why would he want to mercilessly rip that apart? No, I think Shirobako is the product of people who love anime. They know it has serious issues, they know how dumb and inane some of the things they produce are, but they still love it unconditionally. LN harems and all.

  4. If you believe a condition of working in an industry is that you love it unconditionally, I fear for the future of that industry.

  5. w

    That's not really what I was getting at >_< I just think Shirobako is supposed to be a reminder that for most of these people, creating anime is a labour of love.

  6. H

    I know your feelings on more Psycho-Pass, but I'm hoping S2 will reveal itself to provide a solid narrative reason for the movie tie-in. If it can bridge S1 and the film together, then it's served an existential purpose I suppose.

    What is Production I.G working on now instead of Psycho-Pass? (aside from the movie) Seems bizarre they'd leave such a hot property in the hands of lesser talent.

  7. I haven't heard the explanation behind that, so I really have no idea – it does seem odd, given how popular this series was. Tatsunoko isn't so much lesser in my view, but this actually isn't among their best work IMO.

  8. Z

    I thought Tow Ubukata was an actual writer of some standing. Shouldn't that make it better then?

    All I know that I.G are working on is Daiya no Ace.

  9. w

    He is, but he's in charge of the general stuff, I think. The real script writer, the one in charge of the specifics is Kumagai Jun.

  10. K

    You have to forgive Aoyanagi. She was legally bounded by law to use the Dominator. It was only the third time that it failed her and the first time it fail her she manage to rectified later it by blowing up the bomber.

  11. E

    Seconded that. They are cops, man.
    There are regulations to be followed.
    The same applies to our current real life cops.
    They have to use the designated guns.
    They can't just grab a samurai or a random revolver and start shooting.

  12. m

    This feels like a total farce… I get that we're trying to get that this society is brainwashed and most believe that Sibyl is the absolute rule, but when you tell the story from the "sane/sensible" Tsunemori's perspective, it just looks like whatever others are doing is idiotic. We don't really get the pathos here when we don't understand how the general society thinks (the people don't look like they even think actually).

    And yes why is Mika sooo insolent, towards Tsunemori who is both her senior in age and rank. I mean, hellooo?? EQ? She ruins 90% of the show for me since she's pretty prominent.

    Despite all that, I did enjoy the episode for the gore. I found the premise of "What Colour" intriguing, but the Sibyl preaching is getting a bit too much for me (I mean it's nothing new already). I hope they up the character development, if not, at least make the plot more coherent.

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