Haikyuu!!: Karasuno Koukou VS Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou – 03
It was a classic edition of Haikyuu this week, right in the series’ sweet spot. There’s something to be said for consistency, and this show certainly has it. I’m not as a rule a fan of this kind of pacing for sports anime – the type where a single game (or set) takes weeks and weeks to play out. But Haikyuu is so good at depicting in-game action that it’s somewhat immune to the problems caused by this narrative style.
There are two obvious standout players for Shiratori, Ushijima and Tendou, and Haikyuu as usual does a very good job of placing their roles in context. Shiratori is at heart a straightforward team – height and power – and of course, Ushijima reflects this. He’s a colossus – the ultimate example of a weapon that can’t be stopped even if you know it’s coming. His presence is huge, and the fact that we feel that so strongly is a testament to the storytelling here.
Tendou is a bit more complicated. He’s a kind of (barely) toned-down Midousuji Akira, the kind of guy who loves to get into the head of his opponents. His “guess blocking” approach is interesting, and I liked how Tsukishima was set up as the natural foil for it. In a sense Tsukki rejects Ukai’s advice not to think too much, but his thinking yields good results – and he’s being true to himself. I also continue to think Suga and Kageyama playing together is an effective wildcard Ukai doesn’t use often enough. If you have a setter who’s also one of your best spikers, why not use a lineup that allows you to use that to your advantage – to keep the enemy that much more uncertain as to what’s coming?
Drifters – 03
I wasn’t as keen on the third episode of Drifters as I was the first two. The whole thing began to take on an unsettlingly light novel feel (though the source material is a manga) for starters. And in canonizing Kanno Naoshi, Drifters is sailing into some potentially dangerous waters, though it’s too early to know if that’s going to be a major problem. There’s nothing inherently wrong in depicting Kanno as a hero figure, but too often in these sorts of military fantasies it’s the kind of thing that’s symptomatic of a larger nationalist bent. We’ll see.
Drifters remains an interesting melange of elements, an awful lot of which this week had something distinctly “Lord of the Rings” about them. The Black King stood at the head of an army of orcs and goblins, commanded an army of generals on winged beasts, and even had a big scary eye as his symbol. But the premise is decidedly a muddle, with the time-travel element at the heart of it. The Black King is at war with a group of magicians called the Octoberists, and where they use Drifters in their battles, he uses other displaced military figures called “Ends”. What lands historical figures on the side of good or evil? Too early to say, but it doesn’t seem to directly correspond to the role they played before their deaths.
In that light we’re introduced to two more Drifters, the Carthaginian legend Hannibal Barca and his great foil, the Roman general Scipio Africanus (not to mention – Butch and Sundance!?). Interestingly both these men died in exile, not battle, and they had a certain mutual respect despite their being on opposing sides (as demonstrated in the generous terms Scipio offered Hannibal after defeating him at last) – Hannibal’s tactics became staples of the Roman army. There’s enough of interest in Drifters to keep me around for now – I’d like to see how guys like these two interact with the likes of Oda, and learn just what’s going on behind this larger conflict. But there some worrying signs that give me pause, and I’m nowhere near ready to commit.
Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – 03
Watamodou is a pretty funny show, I have to admit, and that’s really the Hippocratic Oath for any comedy. If you imagine that Uchimaki-kun from Konobi got to high school and found not just Usami but three other RL girls who were hot for him, that’s sort of the premise here. And as comedy of errors go, that’s a pretty solid setup.
I’m still trying to decide if I should be bothered by how depressingly superficial all this is, though. First off you’ve got four guys who only became interested in Kae after she lost weight. And she, for her part, refuses to see them as anything other then the otome game or shoujo tropes (or character lookalikes) she neatly slots them into. And then they go about trying to fight over her and divide her up as if she were a cake, and not a person. It’s all alarmingly shallow, really. But the thing is… Isn’t high school pretty much like that in real life? I mean, Watamodou is obviously exaggerating for comic effect, but generally speaking, high school social interaction is an alarmingly shallow exercise (and adulthood doesn’t always get much better).
I think what tips this into the black for me is that the series is also quite good at the satirical side of things, from the cosplay cafe full of Attack on Titan wannabees to the way it slyly pits the shoujo and BL cliches against each other. This is not meta-satire on the level of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (second season when??) by any means, but it’s skillfully executed and entertaining. And for now, that’s enough.