The week in anime: June 3, 2013

I’m probably going to start wrapping up my Super Serial posts with these roundups. The main reason is that I don’t really care about anime news. I’m not really that into the industry side of it. Maybe once upon a time I was, but nowadays not so much. Also I’m not sure what to do with episode recaps. I’ll have to think of a way to make them more interesting. In the meantime, here are this past week’s items of note.

The live action Akira‘s premise sounds like something that would happen in a Sacha Baron Cohen movie

What we did was, the idea is that there’d been a massive economic crash in the United States and in our desperation, we sold Manhattan Island to the Japanese, who were becoming a very powerful economic force, and they were having an overpopulation problem, because Japan is a series of islands, it can only accommodate so many people. So they just bought Manhattan Island, and it became the fifth island of Japan, and they populated it. It became New Tokyo, and it was just off the coast of the United States.

Oh yeah, that’s a pretty simple solution if you think about it. Thing is, Manhattan’s crowded as hell and it’s only got 1.6 million people living on it. If Japan’s so overpopulated that they need to buy another island, why would it be one as small as Manhattan?

Then there’s the problem of having to Westernize the film. That thought is hilarious to me. You know why Akira was so provocative and influential in the first place? It’s because the film was steeped in the Japanese zeitgeist. Sure its story plays on many timeless and universal tropes, but what made Akira so singularly effective was its place in the culture of 80s Japan. Updating it for a western audience would be like updating Jimmy Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner, replacing the melody with Jana Gana Mana, and saying it’s been updated for audiences in India.

Writer Gary Whitta used to be the editor in chief for PC Gamer, so it kind of saddens me to see that this is something that he actually worked on. In case you didn’t know, I’m not the biggest Akira fan. I enjoyed the parts of the manga I’ve read, but I’m not into the film at all. Even so, Akira has a legacy – an important one – so I feel like the death of the live action adaptation is for the best.

Shingeki no Kyojin‘s cast tries to sing the OP

Best OP of the season? Best OP of the season.

Now watching: A Certain Scientific Railgun S episode 8

Railgun S episode 8

I really enjoyed this episode. Mikoto is in full-on brooding angst mode, so the show thoughtfully provided a playful, incredibly cute, and utterly sociopathic loli antagonist to fight her. The bulk of the episode is spent on their battle, but it’s worthwhile to see what tricks Mikoto (and Frenda) have up their sleeves. If you didn’t know what a Level 5 could do before, you do now. Frenda almost steals the show with her cutesy antics, but Mikoto delivers a few awesome lines.

For example, Mikoto is running up some stairs, straight into one of Frenda’s ambushes. Frenda blows up the stairs, but when the smoke clears, we see Mikoto using her powers to levitate the debris, saving her from a nasty fall. After not giving a single fuck about Frenda’s trick, Mikoto drops this badass boast: “If you wanted me to fall, you should’ve rebuilt this whole building without any iron in it.” Frenda promptly calls hax and goes to her fallback plan.

Later on, when Frenda thinks she has the upper hand, she decides to deliver the killing blow to Mikoto. Unfortunately, she spews a bunch of crap about Mikoto’s fate, and how she was born to be killed. This leads to a great little monologue:

Born to be killed? Accepting some shitty fate without trying to escape, struggling, or searching for help? Accepting it like it’s perfectly natural? THE FUCK’S WRONG WITH YOU?

Naturally, this is spoken alongside a montage of the Misaka sisters. I’ve come to the realization that basically the entire battle could have come straight out of Tenjo Tenge.

Now watching: Shingeki no Kyojin episodes 1-9

Shingeki no Kyojin

I started watching Shingeki no Kyojin over the weekend, and before I knew it, I had watched all nine available episodes by Saturday night. The first episode is a doozy, and is definitely one of the better first episodes I can remember. The anime continually barrages you with grueling hopelessness, but also interrupts it with bizarre comic relief. For example, the above scene happens after something incredibly dark and depressing happens. But I found it hilarious that Eren (the protagonist) would make such a cool guy gesture, but then completely mess it up.

The story has been progressing nicely, building a sense of hopelessness and desperation. Then in its darkest hour, something strange and unexpected saves the day, and episode 9 ends with a bit of a mindscrew cliffhanger.

I have to mention the main characters too. Eren is your typical hot-headed, idealistic youth who seems to get in way over his head. Normally I hate his type of character in anime, but Shingeki no Kyojin does a good enough job explaining his motivations and giving him depth that I started cheering for him. His sister Mikasa (Railgun fans, try not to get confused) is also a great character, showing complexity in her alternating moments of vulnerability and extreme badassery.

When I look at my favorite female characters from these shows – Mikoto and Mikasa – one thing they have in common is competence. What makes a likable female character is not measured in the amount of moe cliches you can slap on her; you have to make her competent and show it. Mikoto demonstrated in the space of ten minutes why she’s a Level 5: reasoning skills, intuition, reflexes, and complete mastery over her power. Mikasa, similarly, demonstrates why she’s at the top of her class, showing incredible fighting skills, determination, and the ability to keep a clear head under stress. Instead of wanting to cuddle them, I admire them, and that makes me more engaged in the show.

Game of Thrones recap: yep, that happened.