This week has been pretty great across the board. I just thought I’d jot out a quick list of things I liked about it.
–Catchy dialogue machine Hitsugi no Chaika popped the cork off a couple of episodes of passive fizz that was building up for a few weeks, taking advantage of the extended format to heat some big political events to just below the flash point before just this week tossing a lit match into the fray. For the first time in the series, the two main sqauds are in the same place at the same time with somewhat non-overlapping goals. Though I’m going to go on the record as saying my favourite genre of manga are Yakuza-themed series (e.g. Tenna Toori Kaidanji and Ushijima the Loan Shark), I have an old, lasting soft spot for fantasy adventure series like Dai’s Big Adventure, Fullmetal Alchemist, and especially Violinist of Hameln that incorporate the local setting and constant characters in tangible, flavorful ways. The instant magic brainwashing thing with Akari was frustrating, although there were two things I got out of it. One, I’m capital-R ready to see these villains die Asura’s Wrath-style deaths at the hands of Frederica’s jawbones. As for the other…
-What happened in Chaika this week just made it more cathartic when Livius I unleashed a little bit of ferocious paranoid conqueror of the world and more or less yanking a power play made by the antagonists of this Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii arc out by the roots. The show was totally building up to the second arc this year (at least) where amnesia was going to be overcome by the power of love up until the above scene took place. To top it off, show has just enough time to resolve this arc next week and turn the last episode into a fun episode just about the progression Nike and Livius’ relationship. Importing stuff this season is going to be a hard choice, because while watching the series jack some Yukino Miyazawa-esque internal text cuts in the intro was tasty bacon, there’s virtually no gap between it and my present #2 of the season, which also had a strong week.
-Speaking of which, Masaki Yuasa twice. I should be a little more specific, I guess; if I had to make a list of my 10 favorite things that are current, irrespective of medium, the list would contain the following in some order:
Ace of the Diamond
Natsu no Zenjitsu
Hitsugi no Chaika
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
Team USA World Cup Matches*
So he’s got two saucy episodes on two of my favorite current shows airing this week. Food Chain was great. Ping Pong penultimate was fantastic, and featured some hands-on sound direction. Them putting that song where they did was, first-off, a ballsy-ass move, and absolutely the right decision. The show’s normal confrontation soundtrack, while awesome, works best in tense situations. The point of that scene was that Peco won the deal as a loose-shouldered Sleepy Floyd, and the music hammers the point home, albiet somewhat bluntly, while evoking that one Cromartie episode. And it seems to have gone off well; Ping Pong cracked the top 100 in amazon this week. I’m currently talking myself into a realistic scenario where it holds a solid top 200-300 position over the next couple of months ala Gatchaman Crowds and breaks 3000 copies sold.
-Puchimas, not to be outdone, brought to the table a little bit of Afu in a bear suit and a full sequence of Miki/Yayoi adding voice commentary to an already-adorable scene.
-In-between watching all this glorious stuff, I hit the halfway plot twist sequence in Tales of Xillia, which might well be my favorite bit in the franchise outside of the aftermath of the Dhaos summoning in Phantasia and the corresponding twist in Abyss. Helps that the game actually lets you pick a main character who’s relevant to the world and doing large scale magi-political stuff, rather than a mopey one who is kinda just along for the ride. Milla Maxwell was a good choice.
That’s all I got. Weeks like this are why it’s fun to be a serial fan.
*Jurgen Klinsmann sucks, Ghana is just worse.