Redline is the best anime movie I have ever seen. By which I mean it is the best anime I’ve ever seen and the best movie I’ve ever seen. While this summer season is certainly one for the books, it’s not delivering anything quite like that movie (and it wouldn’t be fair to ask it to). But because the movie’s now available free on youtube,* and because this is definitely the most fun season to be a part of since subs of the movie became available roughly 2 years ago, I decided to pay tribute by summarizing how everyone’s doing at (roughly) the halfway hash in the words of Sweet JP and co.
[Warning: Spoilers, if that kind of thing bothers you.]
Dangan Ronpa is so damn campy. But I love campy. So I love it. In all seriousness, there was a choice to be made when this anime was adapted. The staff could take the source material and turn it into a serious work about a bunch of teenagers forced to kill each other in a sadistic game they’ve been trapped inside of. Not that that genre is atallsaturated. Or they could just make an anime that celebrates the already zany source material and went wild with the game-adaptation portion. There were plenty of points this episode where I found myself thinking “oh yeah, this is a game adaptation”, but there were exactly zero where I found myself minding.
The reason this episode post took so long is that there was so much brilliance in this episode I legitimately had to watch the episode a good 4 more times, take my reaction notes from different runs, organize them, and edit in some shot-for-shot analysis for the past two days. There was too much stuff both important and sublimely executed that I couldn’t not talk about all of it. Short version: It takes some effort to parlay one character’s death flags into development for another who’s never met her before. This is one episode I’ll be coming back to along with Dear Hibito and Brian as go-tos for why Space Brothers is the best anime of the decade to date, easily the best episode of anime to air since I started this blog, and probably one of my all-time favorites. Like its main character, this show has no ceiling.
I kind of understand why Space Brothers has a huge overlap with fandoms of various battle series. One, it’s an objectively good show with very understandable messages. Two, it’s been on crunchyroll for a year, so it’s had plenty of time to catch the eye of the people who come there for Naruto (i.e. the majority of users). Three, similar to a good battle series like Hunter x Hunter, it can set an arc based on a very rigid set of rules and ideas, but grow very complicated very quickly, while being a thrillfest the whole way. The sealed-capsule arc was a great example of that approach in action, as was the more recent lunar-crash arc. The comeback competition is really just the latest example, this time featuring Engineering, but knowing that it’s somewhat formulaic doesn’t make it any less exciting to watch.
Bonus points for viewers who happen to have built a robot before
It’s like this show is making up for lost time in the recaps by showing off its high gear constantly. In addition to the conclusion of a great flashback, we got an absolutely killer stinger for the engineering competition. This is Ayumu Watanabe’s natural rhythm.
Full disclosure: Mysterious Girlfriend X is a show about a couple that swaps spit on a daily basis. If you’re the type of person who rejects shows on premise, you probably won’t give this one any more of a chance than reading the plot summary. Once you get past that one hurdle, though, the show is a decent romance which gets a lot of extra punch from an ominous, quirky soundtrack and an approach that treats the characters with dignity.
I’m really convinced at this point that Ayumu Watanabe can fascinate with literally anything. In the latest bit of proof, this week he made a guy surfing the internet gut-wrenchingly engaging. What’s more, he did it without even needing to resort to the *ahem* stylized approach.
If the past two episodes were about making Vincent Bold a huge jerk, then this one was all about making him a great, well-rounded character with surprising charm and principle. I’m impressed to the extent that Space Brothers always impresses me.
Before Space Brothers aired, I was kind of ambivalent on it. The director, Ayumu Watanabe, was new in the sense that his only other experience was a ton of Doraemon, and he was helming two shows that season (Mysterious Girlfriend X being the second one). Also, I knew from my research into what would later become my Manga Japanese Critics Love panel that the manga (winner of Kodansha and Shogakukan manga awards in 2011 and 2010, respectively) was over 18 volumes long, so it would be very difficult to cover that in what seemed destined for a one-season timeslot. So it was with more caution than optimism that I got on Crunchyroll in the aftermath of Ohio State’s 62-64 NCAA Tournament loss to Kansas to check out the first episode.