May 28, 2015

The Evangelion Movies: 2.22 You Can (not) Advance, pt 3

Because what's more fun on a weekend than a movie filled with angst-ridden, emotionally stunted, just flat-out damaged kids being forced to save the world while being used by an O2STK to actually bring around the end of the world, just in an approved manner?  Right, doing a writeup of that very movie!  After pt 2, how could I not want to leap right into pt 3, huh?  I mean, other than reasons of sanity, not that that's ever been a concern of mine before.  But you know, times these days are hard, and at times like this, one's sanity becomes a precious, precious commodity, one to be treasured and nurtured, not squandered like the virtue of a Lady of the Evening named Trixie in San Diego during Fleet Week.  However, I squander my sanity gladly for the entertainment of my readers, the accumulated Pond Scum, a term I use endearingly.  You'll note, of course, that it's months after I completed the previous installment... that'll show how much I love you guys.  But enough of my self-congratulating maunderings, let's get on with the Adventures of Nigel Evangelion.

The night after they've killed the most recent Angel, Asuka has another teeny-tiny lil' breakdown.  She's used to being alone, but for whatever reason she crawls into bed with Shinji... come to think of it, it's quite possible that that's about as close to being alone as you can get with another human being.  Before you start thinking that we're getting red-hot one-on-one Eva pilot action, remember that Asuka is the one person who hasn't punched Shinji in the face.  She's perpetrated other violence upon his person, so I guess the suppose their relationship is still up in the air, but without the punch in the face you can't be sure.

Time passes  in a normal, relaxed way.  People get up, go about their days, come home.  Asuka proves to be only slightly better than feral.  Shinji doesn't whine much.  Teh Rei watches it all with an air of dull surprise.  Angelic days indeed (see what I did there?).

Except for all that Eva simulation training.  Oh yeah, that.  That sort of thing isn't exactly common.  I mean, for these kids it is, but it's not like Fred and Ginger in class 2-2 spend their afternoons stuck in a Entry Plug, surrounded by something that looks a lot like amniotic fluid, controlling giant bio-robots.  Don't worry, though... if they do, I'm sure there'll be an Evangelion movie about them.

more...

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May 26, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep08


-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep08
In contrast to last week's episode, Episode 08 was much lacking in The Goofy Cute.  She was very much a tertiary character this week, as the show focused on relationships between the mains this time around.

But that's okay, because this episode was amazing.  I mean, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed myself as much watching an episode of ANY anime as much as I did this one.  I laughed, I teared up a bit, I wished I was 30 years younger for a few minutes. 

Asuka wasn't in sight very much, but a little speech she gave after one of her friends prayed for luck at auditions was telling.  I paraphrase: "Playing music is all about your effort, hoping a god helps you just cheapens it."  Amen, and that's why I was never very good.  The thing was, I knew I wasn't very good, and that after all the effort, after all the practice... I still wouldn't be very good.  It's a humbling experience to know that.

If you're not watching Hibike! Euphonium, you're missing out on the best series this season, and probably this year.  Sure as heck it's the best series KyoAni has done since Clannad/Clannad AS.  I have high hopes for the new ARIA series coming out in a few months, but it's going to have to work really hard to surpass HibEuph.

So why aren't you watching?

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May 21, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep07

"In the end, Asuka always ends up on my mind."
-President of the band club

-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep07

A remarkably Asuka-centric episode.  "Remarkable" mainly because she barely says anything, and nothing at all to any of the main characters in a non-ensemble setting.  However, the truth is that she was the focal point.

The Goofy part of her was completely missing this time around, but her screen time was actually quite limited.  However, almost every conversation somehow became about her... and not always in a positive light.  There's an undercurrent amongst the first-year members of the band that she's too perfect, that it's all a put-on, and one can't tell where the REAL Asuka is as a result.

It doesn't appear that the upperclassmen feel the same way.  However, many of them feel something even more stinging about her: that she let the band down.  We finally discovered why there's such a dearth of second-year students in the band club, and it's about what you would expect: a group of them were more interested in socializing than playing.  However, there was a group that DID want to play seriously, and conflict inevitably resulted.  People looked to Asuka to solve the conundrum and... she didn't.  She played neutral to the whole thing, as well as turning down the position of  President.  According to one of the officers of the band club, Asuka thought it out and realized that she couldn't succeed as the President with the club in the condition it was in.

That puts a completely different spin on her "master facilitator" persona, one that's not so flattering when mixed with the fake/phony appellation.  And yet, we still don't really know the TRUE "cute goofball"... we just know what other members of the band think of her.  Big difference there, but it was a fascinating character study cleverly done.  I have hope that next week we'll actually find out more.

Because this one image teases so much about her.  We've seen a few bedrooms over the course of this show, and none of them have been so empty, so sparse, so... lonely.  You'd expect the room to be a riot of color and action and noise, given the "Goofy Cute" that resides in it, but... no.  I fear what this means about her backstory.

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May 17, 2015

Oh Why Not?

Because I haven't seen very many good AMVs for Kantai Collection, here's a mostly good one.

I say mostly because it suffers from the same problem the source song does: it's about a minute too long.  Still, up to that point a fun time is had by all. 

Or by me.  One of the two.

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May 13, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep06


-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep06

We saw both sides of Our Goofy Adoration this week.  The stern but fair taskmaster alternately teaching and berating the newby tuba player when she was on the verge of goofing off...

...and showing that she's got the chops to back up her assertions in addition to being cute and goofy.  She's clearly serious about this whole music thing, despite not being interested in running the band club.

When handed a new piece of music for auditions, she looks at it for a moment, then plays through it smoothly, error-free, and at tempo.  Meanwhile, the main character of the show, who has played the same instrument for seven years, is clearly uncomfortable with playing, tentative and slow.  While the rest of the series spins around her, Asuka is proving to be the person I want to know more about.  Sure, Kumiko, Hazuki, Sapphire and Reina are the main characters, and their relationships are intriguing, and the show is hitting on all cylinders, but I'll be darned if Asuka doesn't steal every scene she's in.  There's something about her, above and beyond the goofy cute, that makes her interesting.  She's not a main character, but she's making a good argument to be one.

It's clear there's more than 13 episodes in the story of Hibike! Euphonium.  I'm hoping a second season will be announced quickly, and that one of the episodes is Asuka-centric.  I want to know her backstory... for all that I've adopted her as a motif to talk about the series, we really don't know much about her.

I have a feeling there's more to it than we think.

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May 05, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, Ep05


-Hibike! Euphonium, Ep05
This week, the Goofy Wacko we've come to adore is almost entirely missing.  In her place is a being we've never quite seen before: Deadly Serious Asuka.  I mean, last week she was the voice of reason in a band leader meeting.  This week, she was the stern taskmaster who drove the marching band to levels they didn't know they could reach.

Because she's the Drum Major and darn well in charge on performance day.  She was also the consensus pick to be President of the Band, but she didn't want the job.  Well, no wonder she was so influential last week.

I did say "almost", didn't I?

On a completely different note, if you're not watching this show, you're missing out on perhaps the best work KyoAni has done since the Haruhi movie.  I mean, yes, there's the scene that everybody will be talking about, but they're making sure every single box is checked everywhere.

Sure, just a simple train station, but holy crap, I thought I was looking at a photograph when I saw the screenshot.  Honestly, KyoAni brought their "A"-game for this one, and when they do that, ain't nobody in the same league.

It goes without saying that the reflection of the train's lights in the stream is animated horizontally, but if you watch the scene carefully, you'll see there's also movement caused by the flow of the water.  It's a throwaway shot, on-screen for a couple of seconds at most (and, ohbytheway, the train is exactly as long, end-to-end, as the screen is wide), but there's more care put into it than you'll see in almost all flash-based style animation, and most anime in general.  Yes, I'm fanboying.  Yes, I'm gushing.  No, I don't care.  It's just.  That.  Damn.  Good.

click for bigger
I want this band to play this song.  A little bit of self-referential humor for the studio.  Now if you'll excuse me, I want to go watch this episode again.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:51 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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