Weekly Digest 5/17/15 – Owari no Seraph, Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Owari no Seraph - 07 -5 Sidonia 2 - 06 -15 Fate UBW - 19 -13

Sidonia is developing one of the weirdest love triangles in recent anime history.

Owari no Seraph – 07

Owari no Seraph - 07 -1 Owari no Seraph - 07 -2 Owari no Seraph - 07 -3
Owari no Seraph - 07 -4 Owari no Seraph - 07 -6 Owari no Seraph - 07 -7
Owari no Seraph - 07 -8 Owari no Seraph - 07 -9 Owari no Seraph - 07 -10
Owari no Seraph - 07 -11 Owari no Seraph - 07 -12 Owari no Seraph - 07 -13
Owari no Seraph - 07 -14 Owari no Seraph - 07 -15 Owari no Seraph - 07 -16
Owari no Seraph - 07 -17 Owari no Seraph - 07 -18 Owari no Seraph - 07 -19
Owari no Seraph - 07 -20 Owari no Seraph - 07 -21 Owari no Seraph - 07 -22

If Owari no Seraph were a one-cour show I obviously would have committed one way or the other by now, but because it’s a split-cour I’ve let this drag out longer than I normally would.  Every time I’ve been about to drop it something has snagged me and kept me around, but after this episode I think my patience is just about exhausted.

Unfortunately Kagami Takaya keeps reminding me why, before I started this series, I considered him a hack.  The cliches and tropes are so thick in the air, and the plot so arbitrary and nonsensical, that as much as I love the art design here – and that’s a lot – I just can’t see myself sticking around any longer in blogging terms.  The addition of the supremely annoying Sanguu Mitsuba (Iguchi Yuka) certainly doesn’t help – she’s pretty much every irritating female LN character trait embodied in one body.  But the whole military exercise this week – if you can call it that – played like the inane scenes in the school, except transplanted onto the streets of a ruined Shinjuku-ku.

That’s the sad paradox here.  Those depictions of Harajuku and Omotesando were wonderful –  impressionistic and evocative.  But no matter how beautiful the sets, if the play itself is badly written it’s going to fail.  You could break down every aspect of this new five-person squad’s mission and none of their actions hold up to any logical scrutiny, but it is what it is – Kagami.  Maybe next week will surprise me – this series has done it before – but I just don’t think the gorgeous backgrounds and somewhat interesting premise are going to be able to trump everything about Owari no Seraph that’s predictable and downright dumb.

Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – 06

Sidonia 2 - 06 -1 Sidonia 2 - 06 -2 Sidonia 2 - 06 -3
Sidonia 2 - 06 -4 Sidonia 2 - 06 -5 Sidonia 2 - 06 -6
Sidonia 2 - 06 -7 Sidonia 2 - 06 -8 Sidonia 2 - 06 -9
Sidonia 2 - 06 -10 Sidonia 2 - 06 -11 Sidonia 2 - 06 -12
Sidonia 2 - 06 -13 Sidonia 2 - 06 -14 Sidonia 2 - 06 -16
Sidonia 2 - 06 -17 Sidonia 2 - 06 -18 Sidonia 2 - 06 -19
Sidonia 2 - 06 -20 Sidonia 2 - 06 -21 Sidonia 2 - 06 -22

The slice of life stuff I can pretty well dispense with here, I think – by now, my feelings about Sidonia no Kishi as a comedy are pretty much an open book.  It’s amazing how forgettable these non-epic Sidonia eps are, though I’d say this one was actually a half-step above the series’ norm.  Some of the stuff with Shmoomugi busting through the pipes to snuggle up to Tanikaze (and Izana, at least for a while) was actually sort of amusing.  I can say this – if Tsumugi ever switches from deredere to full yandere, things are going to get incredibly ugly.

The meat of the episode comes in the B-plot, where we see Izana’s grandma in the process of developing a superweapon – a graviton cannon capable of blowing everything within 10 KM its beam clean out of existence.  Call me cynical, but the prospect of this kind of technology in the hands of Kobayashi is pretty terrifying – and as always, it’s this side of the show that’s really compelling.  Kobayashi, Bunrakunato – Sidonia is pretty screwed here as far as I can see, with megalomaniacal immortals holding all the reins of power.

There is one other moment in the episode that’s full of portent, and that’s conversation Nagate and Shoomugi have on the subject of stag beetles.  It’s pretty clear the stag beetle “only seeing us a big, scary predators it could never communicate with” (in Shmoomugi’s words) is a metaphor for humans and gauna.  But are we see the stag beetle in that metaphor, or are the gauna?

Oh, and also – Nagate and Izana are officially living together, now in Nagate’s swanky new digs on the outer wall.  This relationship is such an odd one and Nihei-sensei is so clumsy writing relationships that I honestly have no idea if we’re seeing some sort of romantic progress here or not, but it is sort of interesting to watch.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 19

Fate UBW - 19 -1 Fate UBW - 19 -2 Fate UBW - 19 -3
Fate UBW - 19 -4 Fate UBW - 19 -5 Fate UBW - 19 -6
Fate UBW - 19 -7 Fate UBW - 19 -8 Fate UBW - 19 -9
Fate UBW - 19 -10 Fate UBW - 19 -11 Fate UBW - 19 -12
Fate UBW - 19 -14 Fate UBW - 19 -15 Fate UBW - 19 -16
Fate UBW - 19 -17 Fate UBW - 19 -18 Fate UBW - 19 -19
Fate UBW - 19 -20 Fate UBW - 19 -21 Fate UBW - 19 -22

Well, the truth is pretty much laid out on the table at this point.  Archer is Shirou and Shirou is Archer, and none other than Kirei has been pulling Lancer’s strings all along.  He’s a hell of a manipulator, this one – I don’t agree with much that Rin says, but she’s right in believing there’s no way Kirei would die that easily.  He’s like a cockroach.

Fundamentally, this ep boils down to the idealogical conflict at the heart of Shirou’s character.  Seeing Lancer struck down for refusing to obey Kirei’s order to kill Rin was certainly a headline moment – the fate of Lancers in Fate seems to be a pretty ugly one.  But the main event is Archer laying out the truth of the universe as he sees it, as Shirou stands by listening in silence, staring at the sword Archer has tossed at his feet.

I have to agree with Saber on this one – as a “Guardian” (stay frosty) who exists outside of time, it seems like a pretty big stretch to say that killing Shirou in this timeline will erase Archer’s heroic sprit existence.  But desperate times call for desperate measures, and it’s easy to see Archer’s existence as a kind of perfect hell.  Can there be a more ill-fitting tandem than pure idealism and immortality to begin with?  Add to that the fact that Archer’s role is basically to act as a living weapon of pure consequentialism and it’s easy to see why the poor bastard would be willing to try anything to end his endless cycle of despair.

In a sense, one could almost say this is a case of the son growing up to be like the father he swore he would never become, even if that is a bit of an oversimplification.  There’s still some twists and turns to be navigated here, certainly, but the gist of what Unlimited Blade Works is really about should be clear now.  Rather than a value judgment of Shirou’s personal philosophy – and Archer’s – I think it’s more a reflection on what trying to live by it has done to both of them.



  1. d

    I really liked the UBW this week, my only minor nitpick to it is that they removed the last line Archer says to Saber and I always liked it as a way to end the soliloquy.

    "And one more thing, Saber. I put up with being a Guardian just for this one moment. I'm not looking for results, not anymore. This is my way of throwing all of my misery at the stupidity of a punk named Emiya Shirou, who ended up a clown at the end of his idiotic utopia."

  2. J

    I've watched the other two TV anime and have finally come to the conclusion that the Fate thing is just hollow at the core. Inane in the membrane. It's not that I dislike the characters (I'm much easier than Enzo), but the set-up just crushes everything. It ends up being so much blather re-arranged into various permutations. The final little nit is the ham-handed use of the grail. I have absolutely no religious objections, nor am I opposed to cultural appropriation (writers do it all the time), but taking the grail and giving it a will makes it look to me that the Type-Moon people were just casting about for some well known and supposedly powerful "holy" object to use. They should have just made up some artifact and used it for the same purpose.

  3. d

    The Holy Grail is a symbol that fits perfectly with the idea of legendary heroes and myths being reborn.

  4. S

    I don't really care but the concept of the Grail in F S/N is clearly as random as it gets and possibly came up originally out of sheer association of ideas because of Saber being King Arthur (whose knights were famously involved in the search for it).

    I too think the Fate franchise is a bit too overblown for its own good. It's a wonderful setup for an "Ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny" kind of story, but instead of revelling in its potential for spectacular historical-mythological action it tries to deal with ethical philosophy and often gets long-winded and pretentious in the attempt. I liked F/Z much better because Urobuchi is a better writer than Nasu, and even that resented from the relationship with F S/N. As for F S/N itself, it's hard to ignore how plagued it is by narrative choices dictated either by said pretentiousness/preachiness or by its porn-esque requirements. Including King Arthur being a well-endowed blonde girl and each route being centred around some kind of otherwise out-of-place romantic relationship.

  5. A

    I wonder if they ever explain why there are identical looking characters in Sidonia.

  6. Adachi Syndrome?

  7. J

    Didn't they mention the disaster of 100 years previous? Repopulation required cloning.

  8. J

    And just skylarking, but why wouldn't Yure make a clone of herself, and third-gendered to boot.

  9. p

    I've really been digging the last few episodes of UBW. Why did it take so long for it to get going? Do you think Ufotable heard the complaints about F/Z lagging in the second half so they decided to switch it around?

  10. E

    Its more probable that they have to speed up since there's only 1/4 of the story left…

  11. p

    That makes me wonder if the show could have been one cour instead of two? I feel like the whole first half could have been cut down to a few episodes.

  12. E

    I'm actually most curious on whats going to happen with Assassin. Any story involving Sasaki Koujiro is A-ok in my book.

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