Weekly Digest 5/10/15 – Owari no Serpah, Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Sidonia 2 - 05 -19 Owari no Seraph - 06 -22 Fate UBW -18 -11

For the love of God, Sidonia, please stop trying to be funny.

Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – 05

Sidonia 2 - 05 -1 Sidonia 2 - 05 -2 Sidonia 2 - 05 -3
Sidonia 2 - 05 -4 Sidonia 2 - 05 -5 Sidonia 2 - 05 -6
Sidonia 2 - 05 -7 Sidonia 2 - 05 -8 Sidonia 2 - 05 -9
Sidonia 2 - 05 -10 Sidonia 2 - 05 -11 Sidonia 2 - 05 -12
Sidonia 2 - 05 -13 Sidonia 2 - 05 -14 Sidonia 2 - 05 -15
Sidonia 2 - 05 -16 Sidonia 2 - 05 -17 Sidonia 2 - 05 -18
Sidonia 2 - 05 -20 Sidonia 2 - 05 -21 Sidonia 2 - 05 -22

Is there a show that’s less adept at comedy than Sidonia, yet still attempts it so often?  It’s really egregious – not only is every stab at humor basically the same joke over and over, but it’s a terrible joke to begin with.

This was definitely a step-down from last week’s stellar effort, but again, predicting this show’s fortunes is like shooting fish in a barrel.  We left the tactics and scope of battle behind and focused on character, with predictably inconsistent results.  There was some cute stuff with Shmoomugi – her love of books, freaking out a cat (understandably), generally being kawaii in a very odd way.  And of course any focus on Izana is welcome.  He/she has suffered injuries serious enough to require the replacement of an arm and leg, and rather than waiting for new limbs to grow (“It takes a long time”, it seems) Izana has chosen to go with mechanical prosthetics.  Whether this has an impact on Izana remaining a pilot remains to be seen.

The whole subplot with Izana and Nagate scheming to show Shmoomugi the residential block – and forgetting there was a planned deceleration coming – was the sort of caper Sidonia just isn’t very good at.  We do get an interesting moment at the end when Nagate returns home to find his belongings dumped on the sidewalk – he’s been kicked out of the dorms because, after all, he’s not a trainee and hasn’t been for a while.  His answer is to move in with Izana, which fills me with mixed emotions because it has “hijinks” written all over it, and you know Sidonia and hijinks.  Still – it’s Izana, so maybe it’ll deliver the goods.

Owari no Seraph – 06

Owari no Seraph - 06 -1 Owari no Seraph - 06 -2 Owari no Seraph - 06 -3
Owari no Seraph - 06 -4 Owari no Seraph - 06 -5 Owari no Seraph - 06 -6
Owari no Seraph - 06 -7 Owari no Seraph - 06 -8 Owari no Seraph - 06 -9
Owari no Seraph - 06 -10 Owari no Seraph - 06 -11 Owari no Seraph - 06 -12
Owari no Seraph - 06 -13 Owari no Seraph - 06 -14 Owari no Seraph - 06 -15
Owari no Seraph - 06 -16 Owari no Seraph - 06 -17 Owari no Seraph - 06 -18
Owari no Seraph - 06 -19 Owari no Seraph - 06 -20 Owari no Seraph - 06 -21
Owari no Seraph - 06 -23 Owari no Seraph - 06 -24 Owari no Seraph - 06 -25

If I’m honest, there’s a part of the blogger in me that approaches an episode like this one almost hoping it’ll be a disaster so I can just cut the cord (and I know I’m not alone in that) and get some damn sleep.  But the heart wants what it wants, and I want at least one more ep of Owari no Seraph, because I quite liked this one.

The shounen tropes flowed hot and heavy here, but that was OK – at least we were out of the damn school, and that blew through the series like a breath of fresh air.  While the animation was pretty pedestrian, once again the cinematography and art design in the scenes depicting the worlds of illusion the target demons created for the three boys trying to master them was very nicely done.

One line from this episode I especially liked – “We hate love, and we love lust”.  That seems to sum up the demon side of the Seraph equation pretty well.  Another memorable moment came when Asuramaru (Yamamura Hibiku) told Yuu that it was humans he should be afraid of, because they’re much more dangerous than demons or vampires – and I suspect that’s going to be a growing theme in the rest of the series.  Asuramaru also told Yuu that he was “10% non-human already”, though that bombshell is left hanging when he and Kimizuki are forced to deal with a rogue Youichi, who’s lost his own struggle to subdue a demon and gain a cursed weapon.

All of this plays out in fairly standard shounen fashion, right down to Guren forcing the boys to fight their comrade before stepping in at the last moment and talking Youichi back from the darkness.  I still have major problems with Owari no Seraph – too many hackneyed cliches and not enough compelling characters – but the scenario and execution remain very interesting to me, and that’s what’s keeping me around.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 18

Fate UBW -18 -1 Fate UBW -18 -2 Fate UBW -18 -3
Fate UBW -18 -4 Fate UBW -18 -5 Fate UBW -18 -6
Fate UBW -18 -7 Fate UBW -18 -8 Fate UBW -18 -9
Fate UBW -18 -10 Fate UBW -18 -12 Fate UBW -18 -13
Fate UBW -18 -14 Fate UBW -18 -15 Fate UBW -18 -16
Fate UBW -18 -17 Fate UBW -18 -18 Fate UBW -18 -19
Fate UBW -18 -20 Fate UBW -18 -21 Fate UBW -18 -22

And to those of you wondering why I continue to blog Fate Stay/night, there’s your answer.  Episodes like this one are what keep me coming back.

It was never really my intention to juxtapose them in these digest posts, but it doesn’t escape me that Sidonia and F/S n share a huge common trait – it’s easy peasy to guess how good an episode is going to be just based on the general content.  What a beautiful ep this was in every way, starting of course with ufotable’s visuals.  They can get a little heavy-handed with the CGI sometimes, to the point where it overshadows their ability to create magnificent backdrops, but this ep showed off what they can do in every facet of production.  It was one of the handsomest anime episodes I’ve seen in a long time.

Content-wise, well – it’s the classic UBW story.  Dispense with all the frivolity and what’s left is generally excellent.  This can be such a weighty series when it doesn’t dilute its own strength with pandering and poorly-executed cliche.  As Kramer would say, the cat’s out of the bag – and at long last, too.  Shirou says he “should have known all along” and perhaps we should have too – and I’m sure many of you had figured it out.  There are still elements of this storyline to be fleshed out, but it’s kind of a relief not to have to tiptoe around the truth any longer.

The truth is, I think of this series as a trial, with Shirou’s personal philosophy being judged – just as to a certain extent, Urobuchi wrote Fate/Zero as a trial of Kiritsugu’s personal philosophy.  Will UBW actually take a stand on the question, where Urobuchi (as usual) bailed?  Wait and see (though I think the answer is already clear) – but things should be relatively to the point from here on out, which is a good thing.  The face-off between Shirou, Archer and Saber wasn’t one of the series’ most violent or splashy, but the nature of the conflict added a discernible pathos to it I thought.  It’s also very interesting to see the choices being made in terms of loyalty, especially by the servants – there’s much more than command seals at work here.  The servants are very much the strength of UBW on the character front, and seeing them in this light – as people with their own priorities, loyalties and prejudices – is one of the most interesting aspects of the series.



  1. R

    Will UBW actually take a stand on the question, where Urobuchi (as usual) bailed?

    Sadly, the problem here is that there is nothing for the series to stand on or bail out of, mainly because it has no narrative perspective of its own. It simply "takes" a stand because that's what happens in the VN.

    Take the case of Archer's story. His real identity is pretty much in your face at this point, yet the series never gives its thoughts on "Archer as X (okay, I'll put it at that for those who still insist that this one is a spoiler)." It never goes beyond the teases to give the audience a complete picture of Archer's life so that they might ask whether he or Shirou is the right one (in that regard, we also never get a complete picture of Shirou's life for us to ask that question from his POV). In fact, that little "montage" of Archer's "life story" doesn't even add anything and is more like the anime saying "Oh, just go and purchase our other materials if you want to learn more". So, whatever "answer" the series posits is simply there because that's what the VN says. .

  2. d

    You are getting a bit ahead of yourself, because at this point in the VN it was mostly tease even if t was obvious already. The actual meat comes after this. They would be able to fill two episodes with it, but I don't know if they will do it.

  3. R

    I am not getting ahead of myself. All I am saying is that the anime never gives its own perspective on the UBW storyline. It never gives a new interpretation of its characters this entire time. It simply churns out what is already in the VN for much of its run..

  4. R

    … I've been thinking a lot about your words Roger.

    Don't call me crazy, but I'll go on a limb and say that maybe -possibly- the anime is doing an "adaptation" of the Unlimited Blade Works route of the VN.

  5. R

    Jokes aside, there's a lot more to the backstory and we will get it eventually.
    Rin monologue's in this episode served as the final clue for the oblivious. It wasn't meant to be too expository.

  6. C

    Seraph is still okay, and its production values are still pretty good. But honestly? I'm tire of how predictable it is… It's one thing to predict what's gonna happen and another is to sit back and wait until the predictable events transpire so the plot can get it over with and move to something else.

  7. B

    I enjoyed your thoughts on Fate/Zero, and I’ve enjoyed your thoughts on this iteration as well. But what’s struck me here is that you’ve really misread Kiritsugu, and consequently you’ve misread Urobuchi’s judgement of him, and his philosophy.

    Major Fate/Zero spoilers ahead.

    The Kiritsugu of Fate/Zero isn’t a moral relativist. In truth, he’s utilitarian to the point of dogmatism – he reminded me of nothing so much as a doctrinaire Communist, a firm believer that if he puts his head down and does what has to has to be done, the resulting utopia will ultimately make everything worth it. This might look to you like relativism – murder in one circumstance is good, and another circumstance is bad – but it’s not, for the simple reason there’s always a right answer and a wrong answer to any given dilemma, even if it isn’t immediately apparent.

    But of course while Communism is the best example of this line of thinking, Kiritsugu it goes without saying that Kiritsugu himself isn’t one. Indeed, as a character, he was written after its failure, and with its failure in mind. Knowing there’s no mundane, non-magical way of creating any kind of lasting utopia, he pins his hopes on the Grail. And in pursuing it, he employs the ruthless, no holds barred utilitarianism that characterized the intellectual underpinnings of Communist regimes.

    What’s the saying, an idealist will do worse things for free than someone else will do for money?

    Ultimately, of course the grail doesn’t offer Kiritsugu the way out that he thinks it will. Just like the totalitarian states never actually gave way to a stateless utopia, all the grail offers is the same brutality he’s been using all along, just on a grander scale. And consequently he recoils from it, and from his past actions, because without the greater good he was banking on coming to pass, he can no longer justify them.

    That’s Urobuchi’s judgement of Kiritsugu’s philosophy – he rejects it. And Kiritsugu, to his enduring credit, rejects it as well when the truth of the grail is finally revealed to him, even though it means admitting that all of his cold blooded killings where for nothing. From then on, he never attempts to justify his past, nor does he try to find some new shortcut to utopia.

    Though he’s initially dazed as he confronts the enormity of what he’s done, he doesn’t despair, and he doesn’t kill himself. He saves Shirou from the rubble, and does his best to raise him. And from what we see, he does all right. Shirou’s a good kid, after all, however aggravating he might be sometimes from a narrative perspective. And he didn’t come by his unwavering commitment to do the right thing in a vacuum. His disagreement with Kiritsugu seems to be in what he can accomplish – Kiritsugu seems to believe the most one can do is to strive to live a good life, while Shirou, as a teenager with a strong sense of justice and an apparent believe in his own invulnerability – seriously dude, you’re going to square off against Gilgamesh with a kendo sword? – is much more sanguine about what he can hope to accomplish.

    I really think Urobuchi was going for a character arc like Tarrou’s from The Plague. (Though of course we only see Tarrou’s arc in flashback. The character we meet is the man at the end of the journey, disillusioned with revolution, but still doing his damnedest on a more modest scale. Of course Fate’s a prequel, so I guess it fits.)

  8. I got that lecture about 30 times while I was blogging F/Z, and I don't buy it now any more than I did then.

  9. B

    It wasn't intended as a lecture. But I understand if you don't want to engage. There's only so many hours in a day, and fewer still to spend talking things over with strangers.

    All the best.

  10. S

    I thought F/Z was quite in-your-face about what Bad Hippo said… not the subtlest in fact in almost spelling it out word for word. It was a more interesting conflict than UBW's for sure for me (that might also depend on Urobuchi being a better writer than Nasu though).

  11. E

    I feel quite glad you're blogging Seraph for now, most communities I see seem to be bashing it endlessly so a level-headed view is definitely appreciated. It is quite an average show overall though, several people have said it gets better with character development after they start fighting vampires so I'm hoping for that at least.

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