Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – 09
As expected, it was finally Shinomiya’s time to shine in this week’s Watamodou (srsly Guys, get to work popularizing that). And on the whole it didn’t disappoint – it was a highly entertaining episode given the limitations the story places on the character.
Let’s be honest here – while we’re never going to find out in the anime anyway, Shinomiya-kun really has no chance to “win” Watamodou. That is, unless Kae turns out to have a shotacon fetish stronger than all her myriad other fetishes. Of course there is also his dojikko appeal, and clearly that plays a note Kae likes to hear – but on balance I just don’t see it. That basically reduces the poor guy to a comic relief character most of the time, which is a thankless job in a harem series.
Given that, I thought this episode did a nice job giving Shino a decent showcase this week – playing up his tropes without totally dissing him. Shino is pasty, scrawny, awkward, shy – pretty much your stereotypical pretty boy in these sorts of shows. But he’s got feelings, and they’re hurt over the way he’s perceived (not least by himself). A beach episode is fraught with obvious pitfalls for Shino, and this one doesn’t disappoint – he has to take his shirt off, he’s terrible on a boogie board, and he’s of little use when the local scumbags start mashing on the girls. But all this does give him the ultimate outsider’s chance with Kae – the “kawaisou effect”. It requires pretty much total surrender of male pride for a dude to work this angle with a girl, but a guy’s got to play the cards he’s dealt.
After that it’s a comedy of tragic errors for Shino, right down to getting tangled in vines after he runs away from the group into the forest. But even that ignominy has an upside, as Kae gives in to her tentacle-rape fantasies – that’s the paradox of Shino’s life, that all of his most ignoble failings as a traditional male are the basis of his slim hope with Kae. And I’ll give him credit for this – when staring down the three toughs in the abandoned hotel (Japan actually is full of those), Shino did exactly what a guy in his position should have done – go straight for the balls.
Drifters – 09
Drifters continues to be a tough show for me to figure out (though I’ll almost surely have at least one more season to try, if I so choose). Every time I think I’ve formed an opinion about it, it jags in the opposite direction and I have to reset my expectations a bit. It’s not that often we see such extremes of strong and repellent elements combined on the same series. It’s interesting, but it can be more than a little frustrating as well.
No question about it, there are some brain cells behind Drifters – it takes on some big questions and knows the right ones to ask. This whole notion of perspective and its role in shaping history is a fascinating path to follow – James Burke did so brilliantly in series like “The Day the Universe Changed.” It’s not coincidental that it’s Oda who spots that this is the Drifters’ role in this saga, why they’ve been recruited – it was his ability to free himself from preconceptions and see the world differently that allowed him to rise to power in Japan. For Toyohisa, the brilliance manifests itself in a different way – he sees how Olmine’s “Stone Wall” spell can be used as a devastating weapon, not simply as the defense the Octoberists used it. And it’s Hannibal’s unique perspective which sees it as a means to breach a besieged castle’s walls.
Also of note this week was the liberation of the dwarves, which is quite intentionally an allusion to Allied soldiers arriving at a concentration camp. Let’s not forget who it was that founded the Orte Empire which enslaved the Dwarves and Elves, and Drifters spares us little detail – right down to Oda’s warning that eating solid food after a period of prolonged starvation could lead to death (which happened to many camp survivors). Perspective plays in here, too, as Toyohisa agrees to allow the remaining soldiers to flee if they surrender – but assumes their leader will commit harikiri. This notion is absurd to him – he never even considers the possibility until Toyohisa suggests it, because in his culture such a thing is unheard of.
It’s going to be interesting to see where Drifters tacks as it sails deeper into these Nazi-infested waters. Will it continue to chart a middle course of amoral neutrality, or indulge its tendency for moral equivalency regarding the atrocities of World War II? Or will it (probably not) assert a genuine distinction between the two sides in that historical conflict and cast the blame where it belongs? That’s all going to be confused by the overriding matter of the Black King, who’s goal is to create a better world – just not for the humans who inhabit this one, but rather the “monsters“. This series is biting off an awfully big mouthful here – we’re going to find out a lot about its chewing capacity.