Winter 2018 Grab Bag Week 7: Grancrest Senki, Marchen Madchen

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Grab bag’s feeling a little light this week.

Grancrest Senki Episode 7

I don’t really understand the pacing of this show. It speeds through large-scale conflicts, but it devoted a large portion of episode 6 to a dance scene. Similarly, episode 7 (this week’s episode) seemed like it was trying to cram two very different stories into a single episode.

I won’t pretend like I understood this negotiation. I guess I’m just supposed to buy that Theo has such amazing charisma that he’s able to earn people’s trust with his words alone.

I guess this guy was related to the suffering in Theo’s hometown or something.

We’re finally back on the wedding from the beginning of the series. However, the fact that this guy spends the entire time talking about his love made me wonder how important this really is to the story. It was pretty obvious in the first episode that he was more invested in the relationship, so did we really need this?

Marchen Madchen Episode 06

This series really took its time to make a point. After half the series, Hazuki finally unlocks her power and introduces the main theme of the series: making your own story. It’s not that it’s a bad concept. I just

I’m slowly developing a pet peeve for unnecessary time rewinds. And this black screen with text seems like a really awkward way to set it up.

This is a really derpy face to leave on screen for longer than a second…

Honestly, I thought that Qazan and her allies had interesting powers. They all seemed to revolve around the kinds of sly tricks a street urchin would use (like stealing and lying).

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Winter 2018 Grab Bag Week 6: Mahou Tsukai no Yome, Marchen Madchen, Yuru Camp

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The situation with 3-gatsu is depressing, but it makes me glad I have this post to avoid having to fill an empty hole in the week.

Mahou Tsukai no Yome Episode 18

The episodes that focus on Chise and Elias are always interesting, but I really wish Elias wasn’t such a guarded mystery. I admit that it probably just makes him more intriguing, though.

This week’s episode does a pretty good job of emphasizing the mutual dependence Chise and Elias have. The reminder about Chise’s deteriorating condition is a pretty clear sign of dependence, but we’re also given a reminder of Elias’s own deficiencies. We’ve seen other characters call him childish, and his jealousy in this episode is a good example.

While this is a cute scene, I do feel kinda bad for how sidelined Silky tends to be. Ruth at least gets to contribute.

Marchen Madchen Episode 05

I’m not even gonna try with the special characters.

I’ve mostly been watching this series pretty idly, but I figure I should talk about it. On its face, it doesn’t really do anything new with its setup. The main character happens upon a magic school and joins it. Personally, I think the strength of the series is how it incorporates its story-based theme in small ways. The characters make small references to storytelling quirks or tropes, which fits in a world where magic derives from stories.

For example, this scene here is a pretty blatant reference to taking the blue pill.

This episode also had a small nod at romance series, pointing out that most could be solved if the protagonist just confessed to his love interest.

I think the general weakness in the show is how it builds its setting. The rules of the Hexennacht aren’t explained too well, so it generally doesn’t make sense when everyone rides Hazuki for being a liability. We’re constantly reminded that Origins are important, but there’s not a good explanation about why that’s the case.

The preview bits at the end are certainly funny, though. As for this episode in particular, it ends with Hazuki rejoining the Hexennacht after almost leaving. It’s not too unexpected as far as developments go, but I guess it works. I still don’t get why Japan gets away with having four registered contestants, though.

Yuru Camp Episode 6

I haven’t talk about this show in a while. To be fair, not too much tends to happen. That being said, I think it’s my favorite fluff show of the season. The backgrounds tend to help with that, and I think the series does a good job of presenting the outdoor experience. I say that as someone who doesn’t do too much stuff outdoors.

The way Rin’s progression has been presented has been pretty fun to watch. I like watching her solo camping, but it’s still funny to see how she’s slowly being sucked into the camping group by jealousy.

This is so relatable.

Re:Creators Final Episode (22): Finishing the story

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This epilogue didn’t end up being anything crazy, but I’d say it was a very satisfying conclusion. I think my overall impression of this series is that it had its flaws, but I really did enjoy the details put into each of the characters (I might have said this before). Also, I just want to note that I appreciate that the series didn’t revive characters for a happier ending. That was honestly surprising.

The final revelation in the series that the story is written by Meteora would normally feel like a cheap reference to itself, but I think it works in this series. The story has been constantly focused on the concept of writing stories. Plus, the series makes tons of meta references, so it’s only fitting.

Using Meteora as an author also somewhat addresses a complaint I’ve had with the series, the fact that the series largely ignores the mechanics of the world it’s presenting. Given that Meteora is still fairly new to the “real world”, she has no reason to really know as much about it. She’s a bit justified in keeping those details out because she’s still learning how the real world is supposed to work.

To that point, the most curious piece of this episode was this conversation about what will happen to the creations after they return to their story. Will they branch themselves into another world or will they be forced back into the whims of their creators? It’s kind of a weird hole in this series becuase it has some free will implications.

It also approaches some fun questions about “world creation”. If they can go back and create a new world, that means that a force other than a “creator” can create a world. You could also argue that their time in the “real world” influenced their creators, which in turn influenced their story. So in a way, they did change their world.

On a more positive note, I think this line is probably my favorite one from this episode. All in all, it’s a good point. Despite all of the effort that the creators put into the story they built, none of it was able to defeat Altair. What ended it all was effectively a miracle…which I can agree is kinda disappointing in some ways.

I just have one final comment on this episode. While I get that Magane was given her exit in her airport scene, I was honestly surprised that she had no cameo in this episode. Did I miss it?

Final Score: 8/10

Re:Creators Episode 21: What a story

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Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting a resolution in this episode. It’s an interesting ending because I feel like the vague concept of having Setsuna talk Altair out of her plans to destroy the world was pretty much the only way this ending could have played out. It was already established that none of the other creations could stand up to Altair. However, I still don’t think I could have guessed how this episode ended up happening.

I think part of what makes this ending difficult is it largely depends on how you see Setsuna. At the end of the day, she’s a creation spawned from Sota’s memory of Setsuna. If you see her as a fake, this could be a really cruel ending for Altair, despite how it’s presented.

I feel like the multiple references to a “miracle” of Setsuna’s creation are meant to suggest that she’s more than just a shadow of Sota’s guilt, but it’s a bit hard to say. Part of what has always bugged me about this series is that the mechanics of the world are really fuzzy. It’s possible that part of the miracle of her creation was the fact that she’s actually more like Setsuna than Sota intended.

Sota’s “resolution” in this ending is also a bit hard to reconcile. On the one hand, he literally created Setsuna and his fake version “forgave” him for how he treated the real Setsuna. I’m really not sure what to make of that.

On the other hand, what he said about wanting to see Setsuna’s world was interesting. With the help of the people he’s met in this series, he was able to recreate Setsuna. It’s kind of the question of whether a creator is necessarily “above” their creation. It might be related to the general message of the series.

Anyway, I’m curious to see what happens next week. It looks like we’re getting some sort of epilogue, and I’m wondering what will happen to the creations. Presumably, they all just go back to their worlds. However, you could argue that they’ve separated themselves enough from their worlds to the point where they no longer need to return.

Re:Creators Episode 20: Secret weapons

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Okay, Altair. Now you’re just showing off. After everything that happened in last week’s episode, this week’s episode felt a bit lacking, but it still had its good points. Sirius was an interesting twist, but I think her presentation was really poor in this episode. She’s deemed the ultimate secret weapon that the Creators have been preparing, but she’s basically just a throwaway to give Sota the stage.

My main issue with Sirius was that she was effectively buried in this world’s technobabble, making her impossible to understand. All of this talk of “Existence Coefficients” and such come out of nowhere. I get the sense that Sirius was never meant to work, but I would at least hope to have some understanding of her purpose. Why would the creators think they could just slap together a creation and use it to take over Altair’s personality?

As strange as it sounds, Yuya’s condition makes me feel a bit better about last week’s episode. I was expecting a massacre of creations leading up to the ending. So the fact that he hasn’t fully disappeared makes me feel like the series isn’t expecting some blanket resurrection to solve everything.

And of course, the big reveal of this week’s episode was the fact that Sota has injected Setsuna into the Birdcage in a final attempt to change Altair’s mind. Given how impossibly strong Altair has shown herself to be, that’s pretty much the only possible ending at this point. It makes things interesting.

My only real comment is that I still don’t get what Magane did. It was a good buildup to the realization of Setsuna to have Magane chant her spell in sync with Sota, but I still don’t get how that power helped. Plus, can Sota still do more with it?

Final side comment: this scene was a ridiculous amount of effort to create a flail.

Re:Creators Episode 19: Falling apart

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This week’s episode definitely had a lot of stuff going on, but it was also a bit worrying. I’m wondering if the series gave away its hand a bit too much. When too many characters start dying, I tend to suspect that they will be brought back later. Honestly, I would be much more impressed with this series if they don’t bring anyone back at this point.

I’m also wondering a bit how I would feel as a viewer in this event. Doesn’t Altair seem annoyingly strong at this point? I feel like I’d have trouble accepting that.

Alicetaria’s death definitely has me conflicted. I like how it ended, with Altair taunting her for believing that she is the main character in this story. The fact that Alicetaria is the main character of her story and the sole savior of her world has been brought up multiple times in this series, so it’s a fitting end for her. I guess I just didn’t feel anything for her death. After going through Mamika’s death, Alicetaria didn’t seem to deserve a death like that.

This moment with Hikayu was pretty funny for me. It sounded like a reference to the fact that fighting games aren’t usually known for having strong stories.

For what it’s worth, Selesia had a pretty good end despite how unconvincing it was. She starts by acknowledging that the story of her reality is a terrible story, one that is completely out of the control of her Creator. She then defies everyone to decide her own ending, realizing how she has negatively impacted the mission and using her own will to benefit the team. Matsubara’s plea about forgetting the story was also pretty great too because Selesia had already forsaken the story by that point.

Re:Creators Episode 18: Everyone is assembled!

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There was definitely a lot of stuff going on in this episode, but I think it’s pretty easy to boil it down. Pretty much everyone has turned on Altair. And with Charon’s entrance, I think we’ve covered pretty much every character that needs to be introduced in this battle (except a potential new design from Sota).

I still think Suruga is overestimating her fans. She states that using Meteora to bring back Blitz’s daughter was easier than expected, but I honestly think it wouldn’t have been too hard to bring her back within the context of her story. That being said, this definitely explains Meteora’s comment to Suruga about the story.

Hikayu’s redesign was definitely the strangest one in my eyes. I was expecting her to gain some random powers, but she was basically ported into a completely different game type. Still, I enjoyed her moments a lot more than I expected. Her entrance was hilarious, and it was pretty great that she was the one who eventually defeated Sho.

Sota and Magane’s discussion is probably my favorite piece of this episode. Sota shows a distinctly different approach from his previous conversation with Magane, indicating that he’s actually changed. And rather than stubbornly attacking Magane, he tries to understand her stance to properly reject it.

Now I’m just curious to what extent Magane ended up helping him. I still don’t have a great grasp of how her power works, so I’m not entirely sure what Sota can do now. Can he create without needing approval from the audience?

The spoiler piece was unexpectedly funny for how tense this battle is supposed to be.

It’s also great that even the creation can’t believe the creator’s story. That’s gotta be rough.

I don’t really want to sound like I’m complaining about Alicetaria’s section of the episode, but I kinda wish her betrayal had more of an impact in the battle itself. Charon seems to have stolen the spotlight there. I suppose there’s still plenty of time for her to contribute.

Given how easily Sho’s issues with Yuuya seem to have been resolved in this episode, I’m surprised that Charon’s reveal is such a big deal. Just how impactful is this supposed to be? My only thought is that it’s a fun display of how Yuuya and Selesia approached their stories. Yuuya willingly accepted information from his creator while Selesia chose not to hear anything from the light novel version of her story. Maybe it’s finally coming back to bite her.

Re:Creators Episode 17: Plans everywhere

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Whew…we finally got an episode. This week’s episode seems to answer the question I’ve been asking since the Chamber Festival plan was created. Why would Altair even play along with this plan? Based on the episode, I guess the answer is that she expected it to happen and already planned to defeat them anyway.

There are a lot of good moments in this episode, so I want to take a second to address the action first. For the most part, I thought the abilities displayed in the episode looked pretty cool, but I thought the fighting itself was lacking. Alicetaria pretty much played cat and mouse with Rui and Selesia was constantly slashing and shooting at a shield of swords. That being said, the scene where Alicetaria uses her lightning to stop Rui’s blasts was pretty awesome.

I really don’t have much to say about the Mirokuji fight. I still think it’s not an interesting fight to have in a show that pits different genres against each other. If you compare the face-off to the fight between Alicetaria and Rui, they’re just completely different in terms of atmosphere. Though, I will say that the “attacking through glass” thing was cool.

Alicetaria is probably my favorite surprise from this episode. We already saw part of her planning, but I wasn’t expecting her to fight alongside Altair while putting it into action. She looks like she’s building up to a big betrayal moment, which I look forward to seeing. But even aside from that, this episode had Alicetaria looking much more expressive and dynamic as a character, as opposed to her previous self.

And then, of course, I want to talk about the big Blitz Talker scene in this episode. While there’s some pretty standard stuff about brushing off the efforts of the successful in that scene, I liked that Suruga was straight about her motivations, without any of the fluffier speech that the other authors (and Sota) used. She knows what she wants to accomplish and she’s truly aware that she’s the god of Blitz’s world.

I’m also not too confused about the fact that Suruga revived Blitz’s daughter. I’ve interacted with enough people to know that fans have no problem with the idea of bringing a dead character back to life in anime, so it’s not like it would be hard to get fan acceptance.

Re:Creators Episode 16: Preparing for the final fight

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This week’s episode ended up being pretty chill as we reach the final moments before the big battle. I’m really curious about how the Birdcage business is going to play out because we still seem to have a lot of time left in the series. The somewhat carefree mood of this episode combined with that makes me wonder if we’re in for some pain in the next episode. We know this is a series that’s not afraid to kill a major character after all.

But hey…with the breaks that this series has been taking with episode releases, maybe we’re just in for an extended slugfest of a finale. We’ve been given a lot of setup in the past few episodes. The new characters on Altair’s side need to interact with the main characters. Alicetaria still has to reveal her secret plan involving Magane. And if everyone potentially has new powers, there could be quite a lot to see.

I wasn’t sure about Selesia’s driving scene at the beginning of the episode, but it made a lot more sense when Vogelchevalier appeared near the end. I guess it’s also a throwback to the first episode of the series, which is a nice thing to do right before you head into a “final” battle. Still, I have to wonder if Rui would have been more appropriate, but I suppose he’s already had his leisurely drive with Sota.

I’m a bit curious about this scene with Meteora and Suruga. Suruga is Blitz Talker’s creator, so she probably has to handicap him in some way in the final battle. But something about this scene makes me wonder why Meteora felt the need to ask whether she was truly okay. Was this just innocuous?

I don’t really have a problem with drunk Kikuchihara, but it feels a bit cheap to have the characters comment on how hard her job is when we don’t really have much of an indication as the audience. I get that organizing an event of this scale would be difficult, but we could at least get some sense that she’s doing everything herself.

I had to include this scene. It’s just too real, man…

Is the secret weapon just the character that Sota’s creating? Surely, it can’t be that important, so maybe there’s something more going on. This seems like a bit of a cruel tease…

Re:Creators Episode 15: Waifu power?

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Haha they actually did it. The new character Hikayu is actually from a romance game, and an eroge at that. Nicely played. While her lack of ability (other than panty showing) seems odd in this series, I have to admit it’s an interesting inclusion if the Creations are determined by popularity alone (and it’s probably the only way to avoid going full hentai). I’m not sure I’m convinced about the fan disc idea to give her powers. It seems maybe a little too obvious to be showing up just now, but maybe that’s why there are so few video game characters in this series.

Blitz seems to finally get some introduction in this episode. If I understand his motives correctly, he sees Altair as the “daughter” he was forced to kill in his own series, so he has resolved to help her out. I guess that makes sense, but it’s simpler than I was expecting. I guess another part of it might be that he wants revenge on his creator for forcing him into the situation in the story too.

The second new Creation also had me thinking a bit. First off, what determines whether a second character from the same series appears in the world? Is it just the popularity of the character alone? Just based on “character popularity polls” alone, I would think that it’s much more likely for people to like multiple characters from a really popular series than a more diverse character set.

And secondly, doesn’t it feel like cheating to bring another character in from the same series? A lot of this show revolves around how these people from different types of stories don’t mix well. Something about bringing in a pre-determined relationship between characters doesn’t sit well with me.

I’m still not sure what to make of Alicetaria’s conversation with Magane (other than the fact that Magane’s towel seems to have powers of its own). It makes sense that these two might work together because they’re both in the grey area when it comes to allegiances. They also have the history to make it work. I just don’t get what Alicetaria was trying to accomplish with that conversation. She seemed like she had a request for Magane, but she doesn’t really make one. My interpretation was that she was just trying to get a feel for Magane’s nature in preparation for a future request.