Fall 2019 Grab Bag Week 5: Gundam Build Divers Re-RISE, Assassins Pride

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I watch too many shows, so let’s talk about some other ones.

Mei is annoyed

Gundam Build Divers Re-RISE Episode 5

I’ve largely been treating this show as a relaxing sideshow, and I think it holds up decently. I like that it breaks the mold by having its main character, Hiroto Kuga, be an experienced player rather than a complete newbie. I think it’s refreshing to follow someone who knows what he’s doing, but I do wonder about how the series is handling character stories.

Par tries to leave

The story largely follows four players who find themselves thrown together D&D-style into an adventuring party within the game. I get that it’s interesting to follow along as the characters learn about each other, but I do get the sense that their pasts are a bit too mysterious. This episode is a nice opportunity for Par, but it starts with Mei displaying a preexisting relationship with Magee. Am I supposed to recognize her from the previous season?

Hiroto unveils a new form

Still, I think that the variety in the mobile suits seems interesting so far. I’ve always liked transforming Gundams, so it’s cool to watch Hiroto fight. Justice Knight is annoying so far, but what can you do? The overall story seems to be following a potential non-player ecosystem within the game, which is a natural progression from the self-aware AI that was Sarah in the previous season. The story reminds me of the focus of Infinite Dendrogram, so I think it’s promising.

Melida and Nerva are friends now

Assassins Pride Episode 4

When I last spoke about this series, I commented that I liked the concept behind its setting, but I thought that its explanations of character motivations were lacking. To be honest, that hasn’t changed all too much, but I do like that the series has been working on building its world some more. It certainly explains a lot. In other senses, I get the feeling that it’s rushing through its developments a bit. The previous episode was meant to be Melida’s debut, but this week’s episode immediately shifts to a much more important tournament without much reason.

Melida and Elise are revealed

I get that this competition is supposed to be a prestigious thing, but I still find it weird that everyone just kind of goes with it when Melida and Elise are revealed here. Also, we as the audience don’t really get a good sense of why this is a shocking reveal until it’s fully explained, which makes it feel like a weak moment. I’m not even sure I have a good sense of where Melida ranks within her school. Is she effectively a first-year?

Kufa must prove himself

I do have to give the episode credit for Carrier Marquis’s reveal. It’s not a bad fight, and I like the slight explanation of the class system within this world through her Clown class. Compared to the previous episode’s vampire reveal, it feels like a step up. Yeesh, how does Kufa trick anyone with his name?

What I Like to See: Sci-fi and What It Means for Me

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So, this is a series that I want to try out about the kinds of things I like see in a particular type of show. I don’t really want to say “genre”, because they tend to be vague, and there are some ideas I have that don’t map to genres at all. That being said, I want to start simple, so I’m going with sci-fi as a genre in this first post. There’s no Darling in the Franxx episode this week, so I thought this might be a fun way to fill the gap.

Exploring the implications of technology

I may have said this before on separate occasions, but I’ve always believed that sci-fi is at its best when a show takes technology and explores how society evolves around it. I think Black Mirror is a good example of a show that does this in an interesting way, as it tends to focus on unpredicted downsides of advancement.

In recent anime, I’m sorry to say that Beatless is actually a great example of this concept, even if the story itself is questionable. The key thing I notice in Beatless is the fact that the technology of the world consists of devices which seem attainable or already exist in some capacity, such as self-driving cars or air-conditioned clothing. You could reasonably see these advances happening in the real world within your own lifetime.

Another series that did this well was Psycho Pass. I thought the show did a great job of exploring how society changes when crime can be predicted, specifically how the justice system adapts. It also portrayed the reaction to an individual who broke these assumptions well. However, I felt like the truth behind the Sibyl System fails a bit at keeping the technology grounded in some kind of realism, but I won’t get too much into spoilers.

Time Travel

I’ve written on time travel multiple times in the past, so it’s probably not too surprising that it pops up as a contributing factor. With its inherent paradoxes and other implications, time travel has always been fascinating to me as a topic to ponder. The easiest example to give here is Steins;Gate, as I felt like the show did a great job of capturing how unforgiving the effects of time travel can be. It really drives home the idea that you can try to change the past in your favor, but the effect could be much more drastic than a single shift in your present state.

For me, the opposite end of the spectrum is a show like Orange. The quality of the show’s message aside, I always thought that the show kept to this idea that time can be edited surgically. The events of the show do not deviate drastically from the events described in the letters from the future. As a result, it felt like the main characters were just replacing the bad events and keeping the good events, which felt unrealistic.

Giant Robots

I think there will always be that child inside of me who just loves watching giant robots battle it out. There’s honestly not much more than that. Most of the shows I watched as a kid involved giant robots, so I just think it’s an unchanging part of my tastes. I will say, though, that I’ve always thought that large-scale space battles are particularly cool.

So, what are your favorite things to see in a sci-fi show? What do you look out for when you’re watching? Or, if you’re not a fan, what elements in sci-fi bother you?

Anime Review: Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans

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Phew…this series was a heck of a ride. As a quick summary, the story takes place in a world where Mars has been colonized by humanity. The main characters are what is known as Human Debris, child labor treated as lesser humans. These kids revolt against their “employers” and try to find their way in the world. The best description I’ve been able to come up with for this series is that it’s a Gundam show without all of the “frills” (if that makes sense). The mobile suits don’t have superpowers and the main characters aren’t really backed by some lofty ideals. They’re just kids thrust into a crazy world trying to find their place to call home.

Another part of the “no frills” idea is the lack of hesitation the show has with brutally murdering people. This can be a good or bad thing depending on what type of viewer you are. But the show will build some characters up as allies and then emotionally wrench them away, and it will also build other characters up as frustrating villains and cathartically gun them down without prejudice. So, all in all, a wholesome show, right? And while it’s true that they’re pretty much asking for it with an opening song literally called “RAISE YOUR FLAG”, the show could at least be a little less crazy with the death flags. Those things are everywhere…

Character-wise, I think the series has some strong ones, but runs into problems with managing the extended cast. This is especially true in the second season when characters like Hush and Julietta are introduced as characters with a lot of importance, but ultimately do nothing much to establish themselves. But like I said, there are still some really cool side characters that do pretty well, like Ride, Eugene, and Akihiro to name a few. While Mikazuki is the main character and is certainly impressive in battle, I think the fact that he’s designed as Orga’s “blunt weapon” hinders him overall.

In the music area, the show does really well. The opening songs in the show are very memorable and intense, which fit the tone of the show. The soundtrack is also very cool…it uses strings well to add the same kind of energy to the scenes in the show. Also, the first ending song makes for some really amazing lead-ins at the end of an episode. Overall I think the show was an enjoyable experience even if I think it tries too hard at times to force the emotional scenes to happen.

Overall Score: 7/10