Yup, Ghost in the Shell is coming back again this year. Last year they did a loose retelling of The Stand Alone Complex series or even the series in general with Ghost in The Shell: Arise which actively explored Makoto’s army history and the beginning of Public Security Section 9 which is the paramilitary operations that handle tough to crack down cases, and also functions a bit differently than police or army. It is a median of sorts in a world where armed forces are as extreme as the terrorism or criminals they fight.
Arise episodes were long, as in feature length movie length, and reintroduced concepts from all the media related to the series. Arise was additionally noted to reintroduce Makoto’s original look from the ’95 (or ’96) movie with basic front bangs (not the curved ones) and a younger major. Her clothes also mimic the original movie but had some of the glossiness of The Stand Alone Complex series minus the overtly exotic or outre sexual look. Her original look is still pretty popular due to its classical imprint and it looks like it will be continued in the 2015 “retelling” of sorts of the original Ghost in the Shell. It is to mark 25 years of this innovative and philosophical anime that made it an international phenomenon with its still unique concepts of humanity, cybernetics, personhood and identity.
I am totally psyched to see this movie 😀
(Below is the Anime News Network article)
(picture from Ain’t it Cool News http://www.aintitcool.com/node/69962)
Yes, finally watching another basketball anime 😀 My favourite is obviously Slam Dunk 🙂
It’s a discombobulated watching though. I decided to skim a bit because there are like 40 episodes and there is gonna be a 3rd TV series soon and I need to watch all of this in a short time it feels. Though as soon as I can I am gonna marathon all of it because I am bit busy right now with studies so marathoning is quite not happening at the moment.
I think 2nd TV series is where Kuroko no Basket really starts shining. I really like Kuroko. Tetsu is this strange, deadpan character. What;s cool is that of all the characters he is the most unique and I can actually feel it palpitate in him, around him and out of him. I really love that his actions are a bit unpredictable and that he is a very ghostly character. No one detects him until like he is 2 inches or 2 seconds away which is a good running gag 😄
A complaint I have of Kuroko no Basket is that it has some very glaring flaws. I think I give the mangaka props for making a lead hero as passive to a certain extent to an otome heroine: I can actually imagine this guy being pushed around by a Tsundere love interest prior to any interaction (that does happen in the anime). Yet he does have that virtuoso quality of being inconspicuous and super fast reflexes so that’s pretty awesome. Yet Kuroko steals the show pretty much. I am noticing that none of the other characters are given that much introspection. Yes, they have distinct traits some of them but most of them don’t.
Even out of the Miracle 5 only Seijuro Akashi is the one that is both enigmatic and shares an aura similar to Kuroko’s. That guy screams Yandere which is interesting. This is the first Yandere character I saw in a sports anime not to mention a guy. There are many layers to this guy so I hope they do focus on him a lot.
I guess this is also the fault of adapting animes early from manga. I notice that before people use to wait a bit more for manga to progress a lot before they made them animations. Nowadays, anything that sells well will be turned out very quickly. This makes an anime weak in layers which is also Shingeki no Kyojin suffered from to a certain extent. Compared to Slam Dunk this anime also suffers from that. Also Slam Dunk also focused a lot on training the protagonist Hanamichi Sakuragi to become an A class basketball player. Those practice sessions are detailed making me involved with the characters. This is not done as much in this anime. I would also like to see the players on daily life interactions. In Slam Dunk each character even minor was shown a lot outside the court doing well what normal adolescents/young adults do and that made a fulfilling experience. In this aspect Kuroko noBasket is detached. You want to invest on all the characters so it would be nice to see them out of their comfort zones.
Especially this can be shown about Seijuro. Apparently, he is both an academic and athletic prodigy which is like the Leonardo Da Vinci in this anime. However, Seijuro is also very disembodied person because his genius alienates him from even himself. His father pushes him a lot to be the best and he comes from wealth and privilege. It would be great to know what his thoughts on are about different things. I remember in Jigoku Shoujo or Hell Girl live action series the very first episode showed a rich girl who thought that the poor or less financially fortunate should work and that they deserved no privilege. I know this anime is about basketball but all characters have a wide range of interests especially this guy I would want to know what he thought about, his state of thinking of his self and society. After all, what do prodigies like him think on.
The character designs, well at times they are repetitive, they are not so clean and distinguished as they should be but the level of detail to anatomy is priceless. The flexibility of muscles and body movements are beautifully choreographed:
At this moment I do think Slam Dunk is a more variegated anime as in still top notch and Kuroko no Basket has a lot of strong points. However, I do think it needs to pull up more to match against that anime. Yes, Kuroko no Basket does have some great moments especially in game play but I do want it to also focus on character depth and study. In the 2nd TV series the introduction of Aomine actually show deep insecurities and vulnerabilities on Tetsuya Kuroko and there were some beautiful expressions and emotions related. If the anime can retain such dimensions it is definitely a great piece of animation and story with spectacular execution.
So, what do you think of this anime? What do you think of both Slam Dunk and Kuroko no Basket, the pros and cons of both series?
Watching the anime Shirobako at this moment. I am really interested in this shounen which deals with anime making and production. The characters have nice design distinctions (actually, the male characters do I wished the females did as well). The males are so nicely distinguishable I was really, really taken to that as well. Sure, there are the general attractive guys but there are some that look what you may say “average” faces but not so average physiques. Also fat dudes and clean cut hair dudes with bearded dudes. This is for even people who seems support staff. But most of the girls are still moe fair how boring. C’mon guys make the girls fat too or cute or even muscular as Mikasa from Shingeki no Kyojin 🙂
Apparently the animator/director or storywriter actually based many of the characters on real people who work on this industry.
I think, from what I gleaned from Wikipedia, this is different from Shungiku Nakamura;s usual flare. Hybrid Child is about a android type project who grows as love is invested onto him. The manga explores the couples but also the creator of the Hybrid Child as in which young boy/man made him conceive of the blueprint. It is science fiction with yaoi elements strewn in and the premise is interesting. I was currently watching Junjou Romantica and the main couple depresses me because like Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi it starts great the first 2 episodes then just go downhill. Not to mention, I shouldn’t have given Masamune a hard time because Akihiko is a bigger pervert and a pretty annoying piece of shit at least they show Masamune working his ass off. They don’t focus on Akihiko’s eccentricities after the first two episodes much and that sucks. I hope some fan in fanfiction makes a more reliable character.
Anyway the first episode is out and the others are gonna be out as follows: 26 Nov, 24 Dec + 28 Dec 2015. It’s just a 4 part OVA series but I guess that’s okay.
You know when I saw Fushigi Yuugi what made me like it? Yeah Miaka got a guy kinda easy, unrealistic there, but her love was never smooth sailing — Tamahome and her had lost of tame but crucial arguments and didn’t just go out on flirting first they knew each other as people before they fell in love. This was beautifully contrasted in Yui who just was attracted to Tamahome and she was the perfection “anti-otome” symbol of the show. This is also done in a Shounen anime where in Rurouni Kenshin Kaoru and Kenshin are also not on each others’ kimonos and the attraction “anti-otomo” symbol was Megumi who was very attracted to Kenshin but well it was always made clear that her feelings are like a little cough compared to the entire respiratory that was in between Kenshin and Kaoru.
Now Seth Adam Smith may be a Christian dude and we may not have much in common but his article actually made a lot of sense. Don’t trust me, read on:
Our society places a lot of emphasis on feelings. We are taught that we should always follow our feelings and do whatever makes us happy. But feelings are very fickle and fleeting. Real love, on the other hand, is like the north star in the storms of life; it is constant, sure, and true. Whenever we’re lost and confused we can find strength in the love that we have chosen…
Love is so much more than some random, euphoric feeling. And real love isn’t always fluffy, cute, and cuddly. More often than not, real love has its sleeves rolled up, dirt and grime smeared on its arms, and sweat dripping down its forehead. Real love asks us to do hard things—to forgive one another, to support each other’s dreams, to comfort in times of grief, or to care for family. Real love isn’t easy—and it’s nothing like the wedding day—but it’s far more meaningful and wonderful.
Yeah, real love is not supposed to be just cuddles and kick (that’s a good title for an otome XD) it supposed to have something in it that can be worked out. All those animes of old 80s and 90s actually tried to “make love” as in more meaningful than sex or even kissing or seduction and it worked. Nowadays characters fall for each other because they are “pretty”, “hot” or “cute” Hell Rurouni Kenshin is a shounen anime and Kenshin is not the sexiest guy (though to me he is) in the show apparently Hiko, his teacher holds more candles and so does Aoshi and Sanosuke. Kaoru is considerably less attracted than Megumi even Yumi but their love makes heart throb. Miaka is less attractive than Yui and also Tamahome is not attractive than Hotohori or even the villain Nakago but their love is real and that what also made those works masterpieces.
So, I wish that today’s market also looks at these things. Yes I know that otome is also for fun but you see this mentality in all shows I mean seriously in both Log Horizon, Sword Art Online, etcetera that couples fall in love way too easily or the girl or guy character is a “type” that must be fallen in love with. I also saw this Blood-C where the antagonist was rooted for as a great person because he did so much for Saya. Hello, no, he did those things because he was selfish and wanted Saya to change — on the contrary Blood + had Haji and Saya going through a lot then thry became love not some selfish guy trying to change someone or kill others just to see if his love can be experimentally come true. Which is the lousiest. So fail Blood -C compared to Blood + and guess what many love stories nowadays fail even the sort of actual cuteness of Goku and ChiChi or Bulma and Vegeta.
So, yeah love, real love takes both effort and the cuddles so yeah writers write more substantial things again 🙂
I just saw the end of DRAMAtical Murder the TV series based on the yaoi game of the same name. If those of who don’t know DRAMAtical Murder (DM for short) is also produced by the same creators who made Togainu no Chi, Sweet Pool and the lesser know semi-furry themed yaoi game Lamento — yeah, it is made by the distinguished boys’ love producer NiTro+CHiraL. This post does have spoilers as most of my posts. Spoilers on DM and also other Nitro-CHiraL stuff.
(Ok I started writing this like some days ago but posted it now)
DRAMAtical Murder is the second time their series was made into an anime. And yeah, it was an improvement if Togainu no Chi. Not that I had the same complaints as the fans of TGNNC that it was not fair to the game, in my opinion, it was a good adaptation of a game that uses points of character elimination (as in character death) to actually progress with story. I am not really going to talk about DRAMAtical Murder in full in this post because a) I need pictures and b) I will make an in-depth review of the whole series and c) I will do an episode by episode review as well as I watched attentively the whole series.
Chiral is the artist who helps write, I assumed, most of the original framework for these yaoi stories and she does a great enough job. NiTro+CHiraL is known for his deep and riveting storytelling and DRAMAtical Murder was no exception. I will not lie I do want more layers in the story but given it is a yaoi visually based game with routes involved I do applaud its integrity to make somewhat impressionable stories if not altogether remembering. Its premises are always something that can twist the ordinary but not so overly shoujo or shounen; it has its own directory of both powers, minutiae of everyday life and a cast of characters that will pervade or not.
The problem of adapting is that it is by the book. Some people hate when loyalty to a medium is severed. I myself complain at times of the same thing. Yet the medium is not a novel. It is a route based game so certain deviations are put as in an anime adaptation you will see all the routes somehow balance one another. The storyline is almost verbatim to what people had experienced in the different routes in the game (minus of course NiTro+CHiraL’s infamous bad endings which are graphically violent, bloody and disturbing to say the least really scary shit). I feel that to fans it is a good treat of seeing their beloved characters in motion and doing things without that multiple choice menu meaning someone else is doing the actions for them and as it is animated it now has cinematic pace. Yet my nagging feeling is that is it always necessary?
Togainu no Chi had an ending that actually carried on the story a bit. People hated it because there was no conclusive coupling. I actually applauded there wasn’t because the decision would be too sudden and too misplaced: though they hinted some Rin/Akira tension mostly because of all the routes that was in my opinion and even on a good pace the best ending of them all but I am not complaining because I am satisfied because that was not conclusive either. And it was also deviated from Rin’s route. So, there was no real coupling and it just focused on Akira’s growth as a person. It was a bit dark and murky but given the circumstances I preferred it the way it was. Of course, people hated it. I for one was happy seeing Akira realizing his destiny at stopping Shiki and just going for it. Shiki himself, like some Voldemort character, has accepted Akira as his rival, though Nano was always his obsession rather than rival. It made sense to me as the series was more or less based on Akira just realizing what and who he is and going on from there.
DRAMAticak Murder follows the same themes only different storytelling and other minor or major differences. Firstly, you will immediately notice that its art and animation is not dark and gothic inducing as TGNNC and that it has brighter colours. It is more based on internet, web, digital applications and interfaces so it also has a neon tint and timncture in colouring. Also it does not have character elimination much. It actually allows any character to become more ruthless rather than just die of your choices or presented circumstances of said choices. So if your route character becomes evil you either suffer or become as debased as him so in that way the bad endings has a darker flare than TGNNC but I guess because of the way it is presented it was somewhat tolerable to me though it is as dark and twisted as TGNNC. If you have a good ending what I enjoyed is I think many other characters can move on with their lives too. I am happy that this is not self centered. I mean why should the main character be so valuable as to always affect others so exponentially. And because it has less character elimination you feel overall happy getting a good ending.
DRAMtical Murder TV series or anime was a more heavy experience than Togainu no Chi the anime. This was both good and bad but mostly it is good. TGNNC was a bit lacking in story narrative that is okay because it was NiTro+CHiraL’s first work so it can have a few scratches here and there. Watching TGNNC felt ok, but it was a very loose and elastic experience. You feel that there are plus points but that this anime needs more to be 12 episodes long and it isn’t. Rather I was more interested in seeing how Akira and Shiki settle scores in the end. That was my feeling for it; I have mixed feelings. With DM those were not so much there. They imp-roved on their story execution and each epiosde was loaded. Yes, for a 12 epiosde anime arc I will say loaded. It can do better but what it did was not so bad. It focused on Aoba Seragaki and also on the emotional turmoils and formations of the other characters a bit too. Each episode after epiosde six felt like a mini route or mini arc on helping both Aoba and a character that has a route and that is pretty good. This sort iof execution was missing in Togainu no Chi anime because well TGNNU was a bit more difficult to arc and branch as character selection in game that led to routes were I think pretty sudden death too. Though some trhings in DM may remain a mystery it is not so nagging. The anime covered pretty much all the bases.
Each character was given ample enough time for a 12 episode arc; each character had someone else they hated or disliked or even pursued which was detailed. There was no one really wanting because if you see the series in one go even you will notice that it gave every major and some minor event in DRAMAtical Murder the game credence and attention. That is a good feat for a 12 episode anime arc that played around with a yaoi game that had many routes. There were both slice of life activities, both character arcs and details about the main plot. The series is character driven more. It is not shounen or shoujo that each thing is easily cured by a fight or interaction so they did focus on some messy things and some communication/ In shounen you have elaborate fights, in shoujo you have elaborate interactions in DM you can a equal pacing of talking and some reveals. Some may say that makes DM boring and they might not like it. I understand this. It is not a regular anime. It is yaoi based anime that left all the sex and sweat off. Except for some tame shounen-ai moments you get nada and I appreciate that too. The anime is not aimed to be yaoi. It is meant to please fans, attract new viewers and probably just mix some ingredients together. If it was yaoi you would find it in the hentai section.
The minor characters in the anime are still minor characters here. One of the mot crucial minor characters here is Sei Seragaki. Sei’s existence is pretty much tied up to Aoba realizing some stuff for himself and he is mostly used as a plot device. I actually mention Sei because Sei is a character I really love. I think even the two fuckers Virus and Trip are given more exposition in the original game (if you get bad routes) than Sei. Sei is both a noble and a very good natured character. He wants the best for his younger twin brother Aoba and wants his end as he has suffered a lot and now wants freedom from it. Because his physical state is so bad he knows he will not survive thus asks Aoba to use his scrap of destruction (he had the scrap of creation) to destroy him. This is where I wanted severely for NiTro+CHiraL to deviate from the original script and just go ahead and keep Sei alive. Ren can do something else to keep on living so it is important to me that Sei should have been given a second chance at life. Instead, they followed it to much on the script only deviating that Virus and Trip (because I think in the original it was not) calls Aoba to inform him that Sei is in the hospital after a year has passed from the Endgame. I mean it took Ren a year to live in his new body as Sei has told him to use his but if Sei was so damaged I think it would have been suitable that his body die out. I know the soul can triumph where the body can’t and now Ren is no longer Aoba but a soul independent I think he can somehow get a new body. I am thoroughly displeased at Sei’s death as to me he was the best innocent there was; though he says he is responsible for helping Toue Konzerin for long I do believe he was always treated as a lab rat thus he is more a victim always than an perpetrator.
Sei’s death is very unsatisfactory to me. In Togainu no Chi many characters die due to your choices and though many find it sad I accepted it as a narrative route strategy . With Sei my acceptance is mired with vexation at best, it is quite thin. To kill of a character that may have potential for other things is surely very pathetic. It doesn’t fit either structurally or artistically with the entire story. In the end Aoba evolves himself and his power a lot. He becomes able to do both what he was designed to do and also pick up Sei’s quality (as Ren projected himself into an ALLMATE puppy). Ren then, not as Aoba’s consciousness anymore or Aoba anymore, due to the grand scheme of things became his own entity. So, in the end there is a lot happening to Aoba and people around him. Sei is not given a chance to evolve though his character is such that because of possibly neural pathways he shared with Aoba (as their hair was connected as birth making them conjoined to a degree) he may have a natural telepathic link with him. To ensure his death was final he decided to tell Aoba to destroy that link so that he can ensure that after his physical body dies nothing fragmentary even has a chance to stay behind. I find Sei interesting so I did not value his character profile as some moody guy who just wants to make his death final. It is stupid and quite arbitrary for him considering there can be more done for him.
In the end, DRAMAtical Murder is enjoyable. It is something if put more thought into can actually expand bigger. But no one really want to do that. So, it just became a copy of the game add hoc which is somewhat frustrating. I do think this yaoi or otome or harem franchises should grow a pair and evolve themselves. Tenchi Muyo did it long ago and I was so pleased that in Tenchi Muyo in Love 2 there was a form of conclusion or even aftersense. I think these animes need more screen time, more substantial writing, more everything…I could actually see some if not many rhyme battles happening in DM, many more plot twists, many more antagonists and a lot of even traveling other places but not they are happy with just adapting with the same formula as game. I won’t lie there were times I fan girl squealed and there were moments I liked but I do want more substance in my anime.
Make no mistake, Kuroshitsuji is Ciel’s story in every sense. Sebastian is a co-lead, certainly, but his role here is more or less written – it’s Ciel’s which continues to write itself as the story progresses. I’ve said this before, but Kuroshitsuji is primarily a tale of victimization. It splits the world into two camps, victims and those who exploit them, and in most cases it’s pretty easy to tell which group each character belongs to. And when characters try to claw their way from the first group into the second, we invariably get tragedy – tragedy like the story of the Noah’s Ark orphans. There can be no doubt that they were victims of society’s cruelty (this episode alone reveals the full extent) yet they made victims out of scores of other children thinking it was the toll required to stop being victims themselves
Another anime review of Kuroshitsuji Circus Hen by Lostinanime so I thought I would share 🙂
As usual this post will be MAJOR SPOILER inducing and will SPOILERS for all Kuroshitsuji media like 1st TV series, manga, and 2nd TV series with the new series which is actually an extension of the first TV series story-line in both manga and anime.
I know I didn’t do a whole series review. It will take time for me to do that. I was on vacation last week and I hadn’t properly seen the whole 10 episode series of this story arc yet. Those of you who know Kuroshitsuji know that Circus Hen or that Book of Circus is one of the most crucial story arcs in the Kuroshitsuji main manga and anime. The manga is not finished yet but this is one of the most riveting, dark, sad and alarmingly unpleasant story arcs in the main story line. I give Yana Toboso props for writing this arc because I think it was not easy for her. Also, this non-ease is illustrated by being introduced to so-called “antagonists” that many fans of the series and also manga had grown to love and also empathize with. Though we had this already with Madam Red I think it got exponentially bigger with the Noah’s Ark Circus troupe.
I am not really telling the story of Circus Hen because it is available in full form in Kuroshitsuji Wiki and also a good synopsis is available in Wikipedia. Let me just say the Circus Hen introduces some characters who unfortunately do not stay with us in the long run and some others who are better off dead and buried under tons and tons of brick. Others I know I will miss a lot like really a lot because they are the embodiment of a form of nobility you don’t inherit. Basically it is a mission Phantomhive is handed that elucidates and exposes that Ciel underwent when he was 10 and a weirdass fetishist guy called Baron Kelvin who wants something that only Ciel can give (apparently at the end he can’t). The Circus, Noah’s Ark Circus, is made up of people like Joker, Beast, Jumbo, Doll, Dagger, etc who are kidnapping children for Baron Kelvin. It also introduces another fetishist called the Doctor who is severely and disturbingly into body modification. All these characters save Snake die brutal deaths. Joker and Doll, in my opinion, really did not deserve them because they are really good people who got stuck with the bad lot. I know the others are not bad people either but the high wire trope were becoming too systematized into killing and hurting so it’s not that they deserved death (I am never gonna be a fit person to say anyone fictional or otherwise did though some atrocious individuals are unanimously agreed by fans that they are better off rotting) but I think as they died in battle with Phantomhive’s army (his other servants) it was just the situation that made their deaths acceptable enough. I do feel bad for both of them as to me both parties were used as pawns rather than individuals. That was the most painful bit for me. I think if all of them, Phatomhive’s army and the Circus troupe, got together they would know how similar they were.
I think there are 2 reasons why the first adaptation did not have this story included with the canon first TV series (not that 2nd series is not canon but the 1st is actually more manga involved and follows the Toboso’s original stories pretty much on the dot). First, it is technicality. Book of Circus is an arc that has more spoilers than many arcs, and it is very long (this series had 10 episodes devoted to it). If you want a viewing audience to want suspense at what happened or going to happen to Ciel Book of Circus is too telling in a way. It also elevated the Undertaker’s role more than previously shown (which I really liked) and depicted a lot that could not be shown in the first anime TV series. It would probably lengthen the 26 episode structure and I think as that is the standard anime set the producers decided why not. Also as the manga is not even finished now it wasn’t the right choice to put so much information in.
I think the second reason is more important. Book of Circus shows a very nasty and bad side of Ciel. In fact many people hated Ciel’s behaviour in Circus Hen where he is culpable for mass murder, emotional manipulation and blackmail of a more or less an innocent and does pretty much malicious things. In the first TV series Ciel was depicted almost as a textbook victim and a classic apathetic type individual who due to facing torture and losing so much (mostly his childhood innocence) was molded into more or less a cold, calculating coerced adult sort of creature who did not truly like himself or what he did but managed to survive on some form of idea concerning getting revenge. His childishness remained, however, as he never truly suspected the Queen, the person he followed, to be the very person responsible for the crimes committed against him.
Ciel is very aloof and cold in Circus Hen and no one really questions him because no one really knows him and Sebastian is not really a type to question; as a demon, like Ryuk the Shinigami in Death Note, his task is to be amused and help Ciel accomplish his goals. Those goals are limited but that is what Toboso unknowingly perhaps shows — demons are more limited creatures than humans. True, Sebastian is physically very strong and has lot of finesse and skill but as he is a demon he is always contract bound and has to be loyal to Ciel without much question. Ciel is very detached in Circus Hen and this is how Toboso shows the nature of his abused self and his fears and terrors. As I never read the manga I did not know that Ciel had a great aversion for blood due to being always around it and bathed in his own when he was sold as a “pet” to a perverse cult that enjoyed sadism performed on children. But in Circus Hen anime it is horribly shown that any form of bloodiness really upsets Ciel. Also it was mentioned by fans who read the manga that Ciel hated being touched also because what the cult did. And he also suffers from asthma. We see all of these in Circus Hen anime adaptation.
It is a good thing that Circus Hen was adapted later (for me it’s ok either way) because Circus Hen is actually a very weighty and dark arc in the series and as many fans disliked what Ciel did that reaction was a reason that people promoting the anime series would want it excluded so that when people see in development that Ciel does grow it would be easier to digest. Actually from what I read from fans in a forum Ciel does visually regret his actions in Circus Hen as in later chapters he is shown to be more quiet and reserved and somewhat shaken. I think the first TV series was also aimed with making Ciel and Sebastian more consistent in the usual anime fair from what I read on fans reaction on the manga it is not always like that in the anime as Ciel and Sebastian do act a bit more erratically there. Circus Hen adaptation did however bring some manga bones into the story because apparently Sebastian is always teasing Ciel and making even at times condescending remarks at him which is very absent in the 1st TV series and also 2nd TV series (with the 2nd series much had happened so Sebastian probably thought it wiser to keep his mouth shut).
But in this anime finale Ciel has another minor breakdown and Sebastian really can’t soothe him (it seems demons do not know basic human behaviour as shown at how Sebastian was a bad cook when he started working for Ciel as human taste alluded him so he had learn what it might be). The first breakdown in Ciel is deviating from what the Queen ordered him to do which also made fans and me to a certain degree angry and kinda disappointed — he decides to burn all the children kidnapped by the circus and Kelvin mansion as he could not see his old torture chamber replicated. This was done with the breaking point of Kelvin’s Doctor started replicating the torture he faced on another child (in an earlier episode of this series it was shown that she was a flower girl that was kidnapped; it was very sad seeing her cheerful and laughing face become well dull, automaton lifeless. I seriously wondered what happened to these poor children). Ciel could not bear it any longer. Seeing all of these brought the 13 year old back to his memories when he was tortured and almost left for dead when he was 10 by a cult who really were a bunch of fuckers that should rot in hell. Sebastian as a demon loves debilitation and destruction so he only mentions once that Ciel is deviating from what the Queen had ordered so but then Ciel persists in using his pentagram seal that he wants this and Sebastian is contract bound, well the demon puts the place on fire and does what he is told.
Ciel later after everything is over mentions that he was totally broken when was stabbed and tortured on the slab (the same thing that happened to the flower girl in Episode 9) pretty much indicating that this was his breaking point again. Ironically, Sebastian seems pretty non-creative or rather wants Ciel to gain his revenge a bit by engulfing the manor in flames the same way that Ciel’s own manor was engulfed in flames on his 10th birthday destroying his family and life. Probably, it was to make Ciel forget that he had lost so much but it was pretty generic way to destroy a manor.
This is one of the first times in the Kuroshitsuji media that Sebastian is shown to be useless to Ciel’s actual well being. Truthfully, it is subtly there in every crucial arc. Sebastian really does not know what’s best for Ciel and that is because he is a contract demon so it is not in his nature to know basic emotions and ethics; he may mock them but does not truly know them. Also wanting to eat a soul is never really the best for anyone; I think we can get a universal consensus on that. That is why demons can only approach really abused and depressed individuals who are so muddled that they are not in their right minds when they make contracts such as this. Of course both Ciel and Sebastian have major evolution in the 2nd TV series. Ciel becomes more astute, forgiving and well matured and finally as a demon he feels he can finally escape who he is and actually live a full life (not scream at Sebastian to come devour his soul which was kinda kiddy but yeah I think by doing this the show reminds us that Ciel is still a kid). Though Sebastian still is contract bound and I did not enjoy Ciel being so awful behaved and belligerently teasing Sebastian about it what I did like is that both of them had a definite evolution on who and what they are. It is true by the end of 2nd TV series Ciel had lost all those who was important to him in a way and I felt really sad at the sudden loss of others of him as well but given his life it was obvious that he could not be with them anymore. I think this was also there when he had finished his revenge so maybe Ciel knew that it was impossible for him to keep what he once had but ironically he could have it partly if not all but given that the Queen wanted him dead and all the trials that he faced it was really evident that being Earl Phantomhive was useless. Ciel may have had Elizabeth’s love forever and maybe have married her but yeah he could not keep his title as noble society was against Phantomhive.
Going back to Circus Hen, what fans really hated, as did I, that Ciel ordered Sebastian to kill Doll/Freckles. It is actually the worst thing Ciel ever did in his life. I think he realizes this later because by the 2nd TV series Ciel has become in many ways like Doll by the end. In the manga, I read in Kuroshitsuji Wiki, Ciel is more cruel to Doll. When she arrives seeing the mansion burning she tries to hold Ciel and asked what happened but Ciel pushes her away and I think meanly say that he had killed all her loved ones. In this anime, however, Ciel’s breakdown rage is omitted to show that Ciel is pretty numb and devastated that in his broken state when Doll in rage and sorrow charges head on with a dagger to attack him he just mentions Sebastian indicating that he wants her dead. Of course, he was in Sebastian’s arms all this time. And he admitted to Doll that his Smile persona was a lie and all the emotions associated with it but I deduce that he was partly lying. Like Alois/Jim in the 2nd TV series Ciel is still at that point where he can’t accept genuine affection from people as Toboso had once said about Alois/Jim that it is very hard for an abused and tortured person, downright scary, to see actual and genuine love and warmth. And in his really messed up state he asks Doll to be killed which is very cruel. I did wish that Doll had survived. I really liked her. Maybe, she is still alive? After all we never do see her dead as we see the others. Of course of the main circus crew Snake is the only one who is alive. In the manga Ciel says cruelly that he employs Snake as a butler in his household for a “pet” effect because he never tells Snake that the others are dead. In the anime they didn’t show this as of yet but fans mention that Ciel actually is hiding his real emotions (as usual). Due to his actions he had employed Snake as a form of reprieve because he was responsible of killing the others. A fan mentioned that this may be also he felt excruciating misery for killing Doll for Doll did genuinely care about him. Doll really reminded me of the demon Hannah who became so akin to human and fell deeply in love with Luca and Jim that she just wanted to be a family with them.
I really mourn for Doll and Joker for these characters really got to me. Joker said that he knew he was doing something wrong but he just couldn’t bear poverty and destitution anymore especially for his friends and other children at the workhouse. Nobles make an unfair and discrepant society and then use the manhandled to do their dirty work. Joker is more of a victim than Ciel but like Ciel and Jim they are more alike than each party care to know and acknowledge. Unfortunately, Joker does not really get what happened to Ciel but hearing the Baron finally reveal it, I think he did feel sorry for him but the situation is that that all parties are too acclimatized to their abuse. That is why I got mad that Ciel said indirectly that he killing Joker is nothing personal and that it was natural for him to want to protect what he loved. But the world exists for the sake of stealing and being stolen from, according to Ciel Phantomhive (:/), and that these two sorts of people can only exist, so, it is without any malice that Ciel says he steals their futures now. That is pretty pathetic coming for a guy who made revenge his only goal in life to reclaim some of the dignity he had lost. By saying that Ciel don’t you realize how stupid you are sounding? Then what will living for revenge even accomplish seeing that you are going to, according to your logic, lose your dignity again right for if you steal back something that can again be stolen then why sell your soul to a demon for something like that for even your satiation of it was short lived? Yeah, a kid in adult clothing, a poor tortured kid. By this time Joker is so demoralised that he hardly can question what Ciel has spoken. To be honest, Joker is so much like Ciel in the abused department that I can understand his despair and sadness very much. I think what angered me a lot, but was expected given the situations these individuals faced (and as Jim/Alois also faced), is that Ciel doesn’t recognize that both he and Joker are the same. They were both pawns who were used (Ciel still being used) as an entertainment or tool for those mirthless, lifeless pieces of shit nobles.
I think for Toboso Circus Hen was a treatise to what the abused, mentally, psychologically, emotionally and physically go through. They are so confused, upset and scarred that they do fail to recognize the humanity that they themselves have in others. As I said Toboso wrote beautifully this arc, this is to me the most beautiful arc of the series (aside the Jim/Alois storyline) because by the end of it Ciel has become aware what a flawed and broken individual he really is. Without such an epiphany it would be really difficult for him to start growing up. And as this arc was, as I learned from Kuroshitsuji Wiki or I think some other site, after the Curry Challenge episodes, we do see Ciel gestate a different kind of attitude by the end. In flashbacks, we also see the Jack the Ripper arc where Ciel faces Madam Red — I think aside fandom pleasing the flashback also served as a method to show the levels of Ciel hardening his heart. Sebastian is obviously fascinated that when he mentions that Ciel should not feel sad about Madam Red’s death but Ciel, shocking Sebastian, had said that he was not sad as Madam Red is just like a learning experience (:/) and that she got what was coming to basically. Sebastian becomes really delighted and we are shown a motif with Ciel in what feels like a British style of Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa anyway :)) and the voice over of Sebastian says that Ciel will trample over anyone and everyone,(we are shown pictures of a bloodied and fallen Elizabeth, his army even Prince Soma), to get to his goals and that is also what is beautiful (well to Sebastian) about him.
Ironically, by the 1st TV series and the 2nd TV Series end we see that Ciel did the opposite of everything Sebastian had anticipated. By that time the Great Fire of London was incorporated also to Ciel’s ascension out of the Queen’s trap and live for himself for once. And his aims became almost heroic and selfless because in the end he also did want to stop London from burning down. In the 2nd TV series Ciel does leave to start a new life not reminiscent of his one tied to a duplicitous monarchy. Thus he did everything in a bit of reverse of what he was blinded by at first. Ciel is by the end of the series more attuned to who is and what he wants: he wanted freedom from his abuses and the person in relation to those abuses. His title did still link to that terrible position in which he would always be targeted so he happily resigned it. The Phantomhive name which he wanted to restore actually became meaningless because now he wanted to live solely for his own individuality. That is one of the best charter progress for a person ensnared by abuse and revenge. Circus Hen is one of the aspects that enabled Ciel to think more differently about who and what he is because obviously he felt something strong both in resentment but also empathy about the troupe. They were lost souls like him and maybe that is why it was so hard to actually face them.
Going back, Ciel may have hidden most of his actual feelings concerning Madam Red because in her casket he had repeated affectionately what his father had once told her — that her hair like licorice burning in the sunshine (as seen in the 1st TV series). But going back to Circus Hen this dream of Madam Red is sort of instrumental to the coming events that Ciel will partake in. Ciel shows almost the same exterior regarding the death of the Circus and the children. However, this time he does make a more stable contribution for his actions. I think the anime added and rather elaborated what Toboso wrote because fans were also quite angry (well, I was really disappointed too) about what Ciel said concerning the death of the children. Well, we are shown he is affected by their deaths but as usual decides to be quiet about his feelings — yet looks on an young girl selling oranges whilst getting on a train and says to Sebastian to buy one. This train is going to the workhouse that Joker and the others felt compelled to protect. In the journey Ciel felt that the children would not recover from the strain that they experienced. He felt this as he was once in their position, and on the slab when he was brutally impaled, when he felt completely broken he made that contract with a demon. That was what he felt made him recover as he now had something, someone that his as he puts it “mine” and he was able to work through a recovery. Well, Sebastian was the only demon there. The children were young and would never be normal. Sebastian smiles and says that his deduction is arrogant. Ciel says that though he is arrogant, he is not arrogant enough to believe that he can save those children from what they endured.
Fans were still outraged by this. To be honest that is a pitiful deduction. It is, I think Toboso’s way of showing Ciel as still immature and a very traumatized child, because only a child will focus so deeply that the universe seems to revolve solely around them. Because fans made a right explanation — not all people need the demon contract to survive, not all people would need Ciel to recover and they could do these things on their own. Ciel was acting as a mutilated child when he spoke. Deep inside him his ideals of being noble hero were squashed against a psychological dilemma that didn’t rupture in time (that is why the OVA depicting him as Hamlet is spot on). Of course, the workhouse was not taken care of by Baron Kelvin and it fell to ruin. Seeing this really disturbs and shocks Ciel to the core.
This is when poor Ciel has another breakdown laughing maniacally he says to Sebastian that the troupe was protecting something that did not exist. Vile, stupid and struggling desperately to attain unattainable, that is what Ciel thinks humans are and says so to Sebastian. Who seemingly agrees, but not fully. Ciel’s hat’s ribbon becomes suddenly loose and flutters away in the wind. Sebastian also makes no real attempt to catch it. Both he and Ciel seem confused and befuddled. The black ribbon goes in the air and images of a happy Joker coming and bowing are shown then the rest of the troupe doing their specialties are shown happily together. Ciel looks on, in what feels a mixture mourning and amazement, the gravity of both makes his face cast a shadow, with his lips open, mouth slightly hanging, of something akin impenetrable gloom. Suddenly Doll comes first also dressed in her altered costume of white then all the Noah’s Ark Circus individuals become as they were without their body modifications. True beauty in what they originally were. And Doll also unspoiled by prosthetic tampering runs towards them and is accepted by her family. Sebastian agrees that humans are more complicated than demons. They possess ludicrous dreams, make endless excuses and do a lot of vile things to get what they want or desperately try to get what they want but somehow they can also recover, come back or do something more unexpected than before that is why they are also interesting. As the black ribbon flutters, which suggested the gravity of mourning and it was beautifully done truly, Circus Hen anime ends with Sebastian smiling as he realizes that humans are always interesting.
When Ciel had Sebastian kill Doll/Freckles The Undertaker was nearby. And he chastised Ciel in monologue for his actions. Saying that he has warned Ciel that he must take care of his soul, because everyone is given one. He had told Ciel not to abuse his power time again and again. But he has. And this will be detrimental to no one but Ciel. He will realize what he has lost only after it has been extinguished, when it crumbles and decays. And so The Undertaker rightfully stated that Ciel is his own demise, or rather the path leading to his own demise. Because he decides not to actually think before he does actions (as seen he is completely blank at the moment) and that is why he will lose more and more until he has nothing. Of course, at that moment Ciel did not recognize this. But the end of the 2nd TV series we see that when Ciel is turned into a demon he does realize that he had been undone by no one but himself. It was probably very painful for him to leave everyone behind but he had no other choice anymore. Yet, one think The Undertaker was wrong about that Ciel has now even both as a human and a demon got some enlightenment in his understanding of things. Probably he now knows that his soul is very important and when Sebastian and Ciel jump into the void he does want a more ideal and a more empathetic world and wants it more than anything. And he had seen it, slivers of it, in Jim who he ultimately accepted as an image of his own. An image he won’t ever erase. Jim may also have wanted him to be a demon not only as revenge on Clause and Sebastian choosing Ciel as a favourite dish but also to free Ciel from his contract. Jim is evidence of the great God Given adaptability of humans that demons truly lack.
In Circus Hen I felt really sad that Joker died. Joker is the irreducible protagonist/antagonist of this arc. I really understood why fans love him as I grew him to love him too. His death left a very deep impression on me as characters can do. I felt an inexplicable pain. Seeing his sadness, rage and also helplessness at being used as a pawn and being bled to death was so anguishing for me. Ironically, he is the true noble of all the series combined. Because he was loyal and tried his best to help people but he was guilt stricken at what he had to do because he reluctantly did those things. I think that is why he could not have a love with Beast (on side note: Sebastian having sex with Beast was pretty unexpected and how casually he does not take off much kind of shows that to Sebastian seduction and sex is purely business :P) because she can only think of running away. Joker could not run away. As it shows in his flashback that being in the manor Joker conceives that humans will always be dissatisfied because Dagger looked unhappy though they were not living the gutter anymore. But Dagger wanted to play but was lacking a leg to run about. But then Jumbo helped him up and they could run along and play. We see an intimate moment with Joker and Beast, almost close to touching hands distance, where Joker comments if he hand another arm he could carry her. This line is symbolic for Joker because that is what he is about; he has been carrying the burden and responsibility of all the people who relied on him. That is why he could not reciprocate Beats;s affections because she did not get this about him I assume. She was thinking that they should run away but Joker could not because he was already so intensely involved with his troupe, his family, running away would be a betrayal to them to handle the burdens by themselves. And he was not of a character to do so.
Joker is one of the most heroic characters in the series. I think Ciel becomes almost like him in the end. Joker is truly one of the most memorable characters in the series and I do love him a lot. I love his strength and his redemptive qualities. I love how beautifully deep down he is kind and contemplative, and socially aware. That is why sadly the nursery rhyme of Tom the piper of only being able to play over the hills and far away is associated with him and the Circus. They were not analytical (a fault Ciel too has) that what was happening to them, how their prosthetic were made from the children bones they had abducted how Kelvin gave jackshit about them and how if he had done more he might be able to have peace. I really think if Toboso continued his storyline it would have been beautiful because he is much like a cool protagonist, at times more than Ciel.
This arc really sheds a lot on human apathy and empathy, and it was also a critique of society and social injustice. Toboso really did well writing this arc as it was poignant and something that stays with you. Ciel made a huge mistake by listening to much to the Queen and the Noah’s Ark Circus’s demise is evidence of it. Now he has to pay the price, as The Undertaker stated, for thinking too callously and presumably rationally and not emotionally. And those acquainted with the Kuroshitsuji 1st and 2nd TV series know that he does. Yet he also matures from it. When he sees the black ribbon floating and the Circus troupe Ciel is seized a great sadness. Maybe he realizes then what he had done. After all isn’t his goals also as worthless as what the Circus had>? To protect a house is also his cause and so he too realizes what they would have realized later or more so if they had been introspective that they were being used so their ideals and dreams are better off put somewhere else.
I really loved the ending theme of Circus Hen anime. In some parts Ciel is animated almost with an adultish sort of body or what anime characters 17 and older have (maybe they did try to aesthetically make Ciel look more adult) but the ballad in darkness in a bathtub is a great touch. Over all as an extension of the first series I really loved Circus Hen. One prominent difference about this series compared to 2nd TV series is that it had less shounen-ai which is good in my opinion but it was still there. Not just copious amounts that disturbed the flow. It had all the makings of a great story arc. I do not why they took 4 years to animate it though as the 2nd TV series was in 2010 and we only got OVAs after that. One question:
What is Ciel and Sebastian’s outcome after the 2nd TV series? I am more interested on that. Though Toboso was involved in the 2nd TV series it wasn’t her original idea and according to the Kuroshitsuji Wiki she had mentioned that if the 2nd TV series happened not to pretend that the first didn’t happen and that is what the producers did. The 2nd Tv series is connected to the first and that is how it also progressed.
I am very curious and hopefully God let me watch what happens to Ciel afterwards. C’mon I really want to see what Ciel and Sebastian do after the 2nd TV series so people start animating it already! And hopefully we all get to see it soon! 😀
The entire 2nd TV series was building up to this moment. The moment Haruka would snap. It wasn’t easy to watch. Yet, also the entire episode was geared on it exponentially. This was episode 9.
It made me really sad. It was cathartic as a visual medium and storytelling apparatus. I was really engrossed by his mental exhaustion. So much so that I actually didn’t want to see the stretch. I decided to wait and pull into what I saw disaster coming this way and it was awful.
Like Haruka I too stared in completely amazement, as he limpidly stared into the glossy lights of the swimming arena blankly as though caught in an asphyxiating tremor, not weakness but not strength, just numbness. I knew it — he can’t take pressure. That is a flaw but not to deride him: it is the most human thing elaborated with both visuals and Haruka’s face hanging in defeat (as rinsbae in Tumblr also noted). Haruka had a mental breakdown. It was cleanly understood. He just couldn’t take the pressure. Everyone was down on his throat about his freestyle swimming and it got to him. The propensity of the pressure they gave him was too much. From his school principal, to Rin and his teammates, to teachers to random scouts — everyone was thinking that Haru was a swimming machine and they just wanted to see him perform. And it got to Haruka. He always stated that “free” even short for his style and short for “freedom” was the way he swam. It is not that in competitions he didn’t feel pressure it was still amicable pressure. It was when his entire existence was just bounded, as in being defined by others as only a thing he had to do nor else it made no sense, to his “freestyle” then it lost its freedom. It became really corrupted to him. It became something vicarious and not something that he himself understood as his own, as his self, it became a projection alone as a trick. Haruka never swam for that. To him swimming was both aesthetic, talent but also empathy and a portion of his soul transmuted. It just lost that integrity when the pressure to perform came in.
Even the genius hurts and gets defeated when encountered with such negative social icons of perfection.
Such pressure to perform to an angle that is “full” not “fullest” but rather typed on as something like technical, technicality and reduced to the methodology of technique alone made Haruka lose it. Everyone felt that he could succeed and that success is very well, only defined, by the scouts’s eyes beholding that image of excellence rather than all the emotions, efforts, energy and sweet exhaustion that prepares and is parcel to the entirety of the art. Haruka felt reduced to a mechanical image. Like a wind-up doll he felt meaning castigated, chastised his soul made into a minimal binary of “performing well” and “not performing well” — in that moment, swimming lost meaning to him as something he bonded and became bonded to; it just became a game, a series of performances. Ironically, Judith Butler would call this “performativity” and I go with that theoretical and philosophical practice. It became difficult for Haruka to process his feelings, all his life, from the first season he had a tenacity, a firmness, to love water but also be ordinary. It was crucial to him not to be determined as a prodigy. Maybe, one will say he is a loser but to him the prodigious title was encapsulated with problems. It did not make an appealing gesture, it brought an attention to him, a mechanical and detached attention rather than an enormous empathetic one. To him competition was an event that made him win affection, bonds and a sense of camaraderie-ship with his friends. Swimming was always that to him and competitions expanded that sequence of events, perhaps not chronologically yet astute and enabled his need to breathe and be calm and live a full life.
Swimming had lost that when it became only a sport. Only something that just defined him as an athlete but not a person. It became a lose and cheap term for him. He also got horribly afraid. This was not something he wanted. Not something he was prepared for; the territory and the way it was expressed was not him. He got naturally afraid and did not know this water, this water of only being a sporty person or oriented only in sports. His prodigy is not limited only to performances. So, he got tired and stopped. He was afraid and also this scouting thing made him feel less of what he was. It just made him sad.
Running, it is painfully obvious how this is getting to him:
So, he stopped.
The nightmare that Haruka had was equally terrifying and expressive of performance and what is integral. Like overactive enthusiasm and logical theory it makes him feel claustrophobic and feel wooden. It was very nicely done to explain his psychological state:
This part was a very good development of a character. It was both telling of him and telling of socio-economic and socio-cultural norms that are and should be open to critique. Is an athlete only a name, a performance and a title? To Haruka it was not. Water and understanding water is a large part of his life in fact from the Free! Wiki you can read the director say that water is a vehicle of expression for him. It was a way he communicates. He did not want his communication to be only treated as something like this; something just as a race to determine fastest or slowest. That is why he communicated a breakdown. He stood still. His watery tongue was dry and could not reach his kinesis and state of being.
Haruka Nanase had a mental breakdown.
Was it necessary? Yeah clean as day and night it was. Everyone was so excited that Haruka was a dream of potential success. No one asked if Haruka wanted that kind of success and that kind of exposure. Makoto never asked directly and sure as hell Rin didn’t either. Haruka is subtle — his face in silence makes small ripples and in those silent ripples his body language also moves and wrinkles what he feels. Haruka did not know what to feel because everyone is counting on him to make an impression. But to Haruka he doesn’t want to make one. It is tiring doing that.
In Tumblr many had made gifs, graphics out of this and I remember lingering on a set of images showing Haruka stopping and Rin blinking and interspersed with the confrontation they have at the end. It was heartbreaking to watch a genius, a human character to lose in something that he so passionately loved all because of pressure and apathetic views and intentions of treating him as a performance. It really got me.
With this I think the story wants to question if someone’s love for a sport is just a fancy consumption? Shouldn’t people ask what and why they do so elegantly a sport or an art or a science and actually be understood as whole individuals whose success is not truly always a title but rather also a universe of their own, sacred God-given right to explore and know themselves and others. It is the human element that seems to be askew or replaced by just a perfunctory need to consume brilliance. This brilliance lives short. Like a firefly or butterfly destines to die with so many probabilities of feeling incomplete coerced brilliance makes a beauty into a capital, a taxation of exhaustion and defeat. The Tumblr user yannychigi also beautifully wrote on this:
Can I just give my two cents on this one.
To Haruka, he and the water share a bond no person can ever hope to understand- intimate but based on respect.
What I’ve noticed is that the water is like some sort of mirror. It shapes into form based on the feelings of whoever enters it’s territory.
In this case. Haru.
When Haru’s mind was clear and free of any doubts or insecurities, the water danced with him. Every swish, every splash collided with Haru’s movements.
And it was beautiful.
But during the regionals…
Haru was in darkness. So the water mirrored his heart.
Because there was hesitation and fear…the water hesitated as well.
Instead of syncing with Haru’s swimming, it became the chains that binded Haru to a hault.
And so Haru stopped.
And the chains were no more.
It was almost like the water itself wanted to tell Haru…
“You’re heart is not Free”
“That’s enough, Haru”
“Don’t struggle anymore”
In the entire series, both Free! Iwatobi Swim Club and Free!Eternal Summer, you have never seen Haruka break this badly. Or get mad so furiously. When Rin wants an answer, when Rin wants to know how could he just throw away his future — Haruka just snaps some more and becomes volatile. He just can’t take this impending question of future and a potency of what might be termed as “prodigious future” because to him it feels lifeless, antagonizing and thoroughly not him.
Though we are very close to the end. This was riveting. It was very hard to watch but also very important to the narratives of everything. What do these young men want? What do they need? Rin was at failure to understand that he had trained for this challenge and this moment for almost all of his life. Haruka hadn’t. Haruka may be a genius but his life has run along pretty smoothly till now. What so-called ordinary people may not find challenging prodigies can find frustrating, bothersome and many a times defeating. Haruka did things with ease so a challenge like this was also something he never faced before. Things came to him easily enough just not this. It was very difficult for him to understand this. It was him reaching a point he didn’t before. It was scary, confusing and he didn’t know who to ask to help him. It just happens to be something that he couldn’t overcome at the moment.
It might be pathetic but it’s real. Haruka may be using a bit of escapism but I understand him. Humans are not trained for perfection. They are more inclined for error. It was egregious for everyone to heap all their little toxic bag of expectations on Haruka it was also a limit on him and a non-skill in him to not be dexterous about this. He could have just swam and not care about if he came second or third — he could have swam at his own pace and be happy that what he was feeling regularly or the feelings most intimate to him: loving the feel, heart, texture and mobility of water. But of course he did not know that. Haruka is not really prominent troubleshooter. We have seen this earlier when Nagisa showed up and he couldn’t do much or even recognise that Nagisa is feeling troubled. It is good that by showing this Haruka may have broken the “Mary Sue/Gary Stu” position he had with most people who knew him (audience included). Not to mention he seems a bit repenting about the situation as he feels he let his friends down. Maybe, he also feels he let himself down too. A situation like this is very painful.
Will Haruka get out of this? Maybe, but I had said earlier that even if Haruka did nor fully get into swimming competitively it did not mean anything because he will still be a great, prodigious athletic swimmer. In fact, he could get into professional swimming and also leave it after he felt it satisfied his cravings and be a chief or something else as the chief avatar we see him in the ending theme “Future Fish”.
What matters is that we are being broken out of the idyllic for and of Haruka’s character. All of this has made him more human and more relatable and more of a person than a frigid character. It added layers to other distinct parts of him.
For that I am happy that they took this route — it was very sad and empathetic, very heartbreaking seeing him like that vulnerable and tired and I respected that he did what was honest of him.
Haruka Nanase is growing up. Maturing into a more substantial personal character.
* I know I said I might do an episode by episode summary and analysis but it is getting difficult. I might just do a full review. However, I was writing about episode 2 individually so I might put that up. I am sorry if I disappointed anyone though.
It’s hard as fuck to dissect otome games or ecchi games and animes so I do give ample credit who can see some slivers of brillainces in these genres (there are some flotsam about)
I think this anime could have had 20 episodes given that it has such a wide range of characters. Does it do well in 12? I will give my own review but I think it can do more. Kiniro no Corda franchise to me stands out as it has an actual appreciation for music classical music and how to play instruments. Unlike Uta no Prince-sama where there are vague and even at times pathetic ways in which a character’s non-existent music sheet is developed Kiniro no Corda actually has the protagonist work to get to some level of genius.
So yeah unlike Kahoko Hino who is so absent in this anime which is supposedly 8 years after her story Kanade is less personality typed but is expressive as The Pantless Anime Blogger expertly noted.
Well I saw Free!Eternal Summer Episode 2. It was actually a good one. I was interested. For those of you who are goggling to watch or see things type Free!Eternal Summer as Free! Iwatobi Swim Team is the name of the first TV series and the normal word “Free” gets you other results. Also, we are introduced to the trending and popular “makochibi” and it was who I expected a bit.
Massive Spoilers Ahead → take a detour if not want to be spoiled
* This is an ongoing series and as I did not cap it I am borrowing caps made by others from Tumblr but giving them credit for their work. Sorry for this.
As usual we are treated to hot, muscular, slender bodies that are associated with a swim stars’ physiques. As usual there is both heterosexual vibes in the guise of Gou Matsuoka who is Rin Matsuoka younger sister and still the rambunctious manager of the Iwatobi swim team. Yet this anime does have the shounen-ai flare. It is marketed with that sense that it will also satiate a boys’ love niche. I don’t have any complications with that. Many sports anime of this era have these secretions (oops innuendo :)), however, I hope that it does not tone down, alleviate the complexities of the story.
Many of you might be asking what story? I know that Free! caters a lot to erotica or even sexual responses. I mean many would say that it is a bit like K-On! only with guys. It’s story type is linear-based jumping from some conflict or the other. But then there were moments that it really goes full swing and caters to another level of responses; the ones that deal with adrenalin, the ones that make you want to these young adults and their inner mysteries. There are many things of Haruka Nanase that I really desire to know; quite pithy remarks that he said from the very beginning of the anime in the first TV series where he actually did not mind if he would not be called a swimming prodigy anymore and actually preferred that he becomes what can be called normal. This attenuates to what people think he is and who is. They usually just associate him to be a dry fish out of land; an oddball, an arrogant jerk but he is not that at all.
He loves swimming for the art of swimming, for the sake of swimming not to be adorned with medals and accolades. And that is something tricky at times. We see this. It is tricky because it is beautifully there and at the same time in the world of sports where one aspires to be a pioneering legend,m prefers to win as it is an arena fully based and blasted on performativity and competitiveness it feels very subtle and strong at the same time. It leaves its mark. I don’t like that this complexity of Haruka gets toned down only to him being some babe on swimwear; no character, male or female, deserves that especially when they possess such depth. Like water he feels almost non-consequential as a calm surface but he is actually a possessor of depth. Other details of Haruka that were not so divulged: he is very good at art — sketching and sculpting; it naturally comes to him (maybe he has some school practice because in Japanese schoold from a young age they do make you do a lot of activities both considered academic ones and non-academic ones. However, that does not deny he has a natural talent as he effortlessly understands structure and lines with shading). This is interdisciplinary strokes as its best. When you understand God given water so well you can do well in art; swimming as he does helps him maneuver in seas and see a lot of detail so his hand muscles and perception are easily polished by swimming like that. So yeah God given talents both flow into each other like an atomic circuit.
The characters in this show have a lot of potential to be complex. They have all the ingredients for it. I see it shining in the hot fire in Haruka Nanase’s eyes, or even Rin’s atypical sharp, sharp toothed smiles or gestures. When Rin is sad it fades but the visuals of this anime are excellent. From the very first season/Tv series I saw that in each slide; the colour palette is crisp and tantalizing fluid, like some segments of water; the colours have an aquamarine tint to them. Also the characters at this point are 2-Dimensional. They have a lot of eccentric qualities that merits beautiful narratives. The only “normal” bishie is a chibi-type Nagisa who jumps on and about but as this second show’s first episode showed that even has a muscular trait that sets him out: it’s his strong calves. That is actually very good for breast stroke because the calves work as a sort of pulley effect against the water (in my understanding; also he does say he specializes in breast strokes). Yet he even he wields more than a fanboy status and has all the qualities these seniors (excluding Rei who is his batch mate) have. Rei has proven he is a prodigy in his own right. Going up against Makoshiba Rin’s school captain, when he is still a novice and doing pretty good.
Of course, like the first TV series there is a complication. Only this time it’s not Rin being a jerk it’s his boyfriend friend being that. Sousuke is the new character introduced. We see him already in the the opening theme. Let;s say he is designed to be Rin’s Makoto. He has similar traits to Makoto. The hair is darker brown and the eyes are aquamarine. But he does scream that. Only thing is that he is not at all like Makoto who is quite sweet. Like Rin’s previous attitude he has a big aggression. And yeah it is directed to Haruka. I am already guessing why. He must think Haruka is destroying Rin’s aspirations and that he doesn’t deserve Rin’s strong feelings or friendships. That part is quite predictable. Though I am happy there is a new character I just don’t like the fact that he is the typical “buddy-fetish” one. I hope they don’t narrow his dimensions. Sousuke Yamazaki can be more than eye candy and also Rin’s substitute boyfriend. I wonder if Sousuke actually is angry because he feels that Haruka torn his swimming partner too? Though I would actually find it interesting if Sousuke wants to throw down Rin from his captain position and say he thinks Rin is too emotional to be a swimming athlete. That would be a total u-curve and I would appreciate it a lot. I think fans may find that also an appealing surprise.
The first episode mostly shows the bodies; the flexible, dexterous swimmers are all lining up, warming up in a way for summer may be coming soon and they want to sharpen their reflexes and breath gauge before that happens. Of course, this allows multiple fanservice to be showcased with some slice of life warm stew put into the mix. The Iwatobi Swim Club lacks facilities and also people, in contrast Rin’s schoo, Samezuki Gakuen, has people trying out all the time and have a good handful of members. This paucity is nicely shown in the absurdly hilarious way in which Haruka and friends try to recruit models using weird amateur film slides and modeling their physiques and expertise to a crowd, a bit surprisingly, full of girls. They, ironically, find this to be too brazen and whisper this amongst themselves. The Iwatobi Swim team realizes the lack of suitable members or fans. Rin is promoted to captain, reluctantly, but he seems a very good leader: all he has to do to recruit members is to give a few trial specs (there is a actually a standard they have to beat in their academy to actually make it to the team whilst Iwatobi has to be happy with any volunteer) and they go at it. In the midst of a bickering Gou and Rei, a sighing Nagisa and an optimistic Makoto Haruka tells how he feels. He would just like to have a member who likes swimming much to the dismay of Nagisa. A sliver of the gem in the episode (will Sousuke be that one?).
I was a bit surprised that Rin has not transferred to Iwatobi school as of yet. I was pretty surprised to see him. Apparently, this is not well discussed but it is shown in a small flashback that because Rin swam with Haruka in a tournament as part of the same team though they are not it did cause repercussions; maybe severe ones. Rin said he will fix it. Unfortunately, his captain handed him the mantle as the fix. Maybe he thinks he is doing Rin a favour as an Olympic swimmer doesn’t swim always with a group he favours or likes or his friends. Clearly, Rin is not too happy about it. Maybe, there is some disparity over what he really wants. Though in a later segment he clearly states, or rather ambitiously, that his goal is the same; to swim in Nationals and go through to the Olympics. I was a bit surprised because I though like Haru he wanted to swim with his friends; maybe, he wants both and the first tv series was dedicated in showing him that he wants both. That is not bad at all. Rather it adds to his character and doesn’t make him a whimsical bumpkin.
There are two swimming matches in this episode. First is a sudden 400m Freestyle medley suggested by departing captain Makishoba of Samezuki Gakuen with the Iwatobi team. In that one it is hinted that Rin did beat Haru again. This is what I like about this show. Haru is not some stereotypical Shounen lad always winning. He actually loses and doesn’t care and attempts to learn from it. It is also good sportmanship from Rin not to gloat. There is a potential, a watery fire, inside Haruka. There is no reason to oust him as his rival anytime soon. Rivals are not always made by wins and loses it is made by perseverance, compatible wavelengths and a deeply respect and understanding between two individuals. And if your rival is your friend you are at times lucky methinks as you can trust that there will be less foul play in the field.
Before the second match the team heads to their old Iwatobi Swim Club building which has been reconstructed (weird whacky way in which the construction company meant to bulldoze it suddenly had a company shutdown and their old teacher, Goro, decided to buy it partly and salvage parts and just rebuild it). Their own pool is still dirty and closed for winter and as it is open-air it would be unpractical and against regulations to swim in it. They swim in the club instead prepping for the match while Sousuke (not revealed at that time) carefully observes Haruka.
In the second match, which is like a general non-pro tournament, Rin and Haruka go off against each other again. With innuendo laden speech said beforehand (how Rin plans to make Haruka’s cold face heat up O_O)
and then with crisp visuals they show them underwater. Their speedy swimming is captured in gaspy faces as though…you get it. But then technique overpowers fanservice. Rin who was in the lead sees Haruka gaining up after the turnover. Haruka realizes that Rin has much practice than him, though he mentions he has been training, so he conserved his energy but then went full on to catch up to Rin. I actually started cheering as the adrenalin got high. They both finished at the exact same time getting a new record in the tournament and Rin high fives Haruka. Then happily said he knew he would get him fired up to which Haruka remarks that he is still normal.
Afterwards he get treated to a visual feast. Not of swimming bodies. But of a cleaned Iwatobi pool. And submerged and floating in them are lovely cherry blossoms. Haru remembered that Rin wanted to swim in a cherry blossom filled pool when they were young,. Making captain means he deserves a nice surprise. The tactic didn’t work to recruit anyone but at least Rin gets what he wanted. Well, during their bickering it starts to suddenly winter rain and they head in. That is when Rin asks Makoto and Haru what they plan to do after high school as he clearing swimming that swim route or plans to. Makoto laughs it that he is undecided. Haru honestly answers with a blank. Making Rin realize they haven’t thought of anything yet.
This angle is organic and nicely done that I liked it a lot. Like many young adults and adolescents high school is the pinnacle of existence as in you do that and other things thinking it is permanent. It never is. Haruka is too obsessed with swimming so he hardly thought about it. Makoto’s laugh (as I realized after reading Tumblr posts that suggest that once he was suicidal) is an aversion technique at times. Perhaps he is so used to the team especially picking up Haruka and all that (bromance to the max) that he hasn’t gotten or doesn’t want to think about a separate life. Makoto, from my experience of the character, is at times cheery because he gets depressed and sad easily. He is more attached than Nagisa and at times uses smiles as a way to hide his worries. I am also thinking that Makoto may have already decided what he wants and just doesn’t want to say it yet. Probably because Haruka also gets sad intensely from time to time. I was thinking Makoto may have decided to go to university but feels panicky about leaving the others. It happens amongst friends of such closeness.
That is pretty much the episode. It ends with Sousuke joining Rin’s academy and we finally getting to see his face on screen pass OP theme. It the preview it shows that he haughtily corners Haruka. Already ready to start the tension of competition.
About the question that what they will be when they graduate high school. The whole ending thing was somewhat dedicated to that:
No, he is supposed to be an actual cop not a stripper. Yeah, I know hypnotic hips (laughs). Makoto becomes a fireman, Nagisa an astronaut which was one that really confused me (I did not know he was interested in those things like that but yeah I am all for it), Rei is a scientist and Haruka aside from some mermaid shots happens to be a chef (cooking mackerel all the time gets you places I guess).
The show may be centering on the narrative that you may have a dream in sports but if you don’t make it or after that you might have other dreams. I think I really liked that they are going with this message. Many a times we think Rin is just pursuing Olympic medals because his father had him and his sister and couldn’t go for it. I think he is forgetting that his fathers dreams may have changed or that he had other dreams. The anime may be showing that there are more to sportsman than sports and that your God given life is not over till its over and that you can do many other stuff you want to do. Though yeah the ED theme is also sexy but it does bring out that message too,
Overall, if Free! can break its own confines and just be complex as well as fanservicey from time to time it can be very interesting. A lot of shows, recently, have been so fanservicey that it would be nice to see non-fanservice qualities in a show that is so liked for fanservice. Breaking its presumptions and just upping its game.
* * Vistit http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/free!-eternal-summer for fun gifs and caps
Just, a little experiment I am trying; a comedy and also a dating game based on the Otomes of before
Our main character is 4 different things at the same time but it can gear shift depending on certain story factors.
Teruko Totsi is seemingly a regular girl of a mixed ancestry thus darker skin and black eyes. Her short wavy hair and skin tone make her stand out. But what makes her stand on more is her enduring “sickness” — she lives periods of her live in different stages and like a ovulation cycle it targets her not only based on moods but also seemingly random interactions.
a: Teruko becomes a 17 year old high school introvert at a prestigious gakuen and is known as the absentee in transmission. Her only seemingly friends usually talk about her poor health. As a 17 year old Teruko is a bit quieter than most but partakes in sports and drama. Her most favourite sports are swimming and basketball. She is affiliated with no clubs though but is asked sometimes to join as her skills are not totally bad.
b: Teruko becomes a 26 year old university student who studies Physics in a small Polytechnic. She is more social and boisterous than many and sometimes annoys her peers. This Teruko has a fear of wider water bodies as she see apparently cant swim. Plays only tennis at times but is not good at it.
c: Teruko becomes a 37 year employee at a corporation where she specializes in administering certain projects related to language acquisition and is a sort of a management trainer to some people. Professional and sometimes cold she does smile alot and is quite good at what she does.
d. Teruko x is a odd creature, age unknown, profession unknown, only that in this state Teruko attains a heterochromatic stage where her left eye becomes blue and glows at times. This Teruko has a lot of bruises and gashes and is known as the aloof hermit.
Partners/Romances (might extend later):
1. Rokuro – class president at Teruko’s gakuen. Is usually concerned about her but is hard on her because he thinks she is wasting her potentials. Thinks she has hikikimori and often wishes the school would intervene a bit more on her case. Is an excellent archer.
2. Manabu: school resident delinquent. Slender and muscular and usually seen with stitches or bandages by Teruko. However, is an excellent chess player. Likes sitting next to Teruko when she comes to school but doesnt talk to her much. Thinks Teruko is an escort or is a wild child. Doesn’t get along with Rokuro though her tension is mostly confined to stares and forced politeness.
3. Hisao. A junior classman who has a crush on Teruko when he saw a good form 3 point shot from her. Tries to get her attention. Is cute and nice but is actually quite tall and looks older than he is. Doesn’t get along with his parents and thinks Teruko is a model disobedient child to her parents too. Likes buying Tereko strawberries when he sees her.
4. Eiji: A chem lab in Teruko’s university who likes to see old films and read Josei/Shoujo manga.
5. Professor Aramaki: Biology teacher who specializes in biogenetics and works full time in a well known pharmaceutical. Is very quiet and looks sad at times. Has asthma and is divorced. Likes Teruko’s social amicability but blushes a bit around her.
6. Fumio: the supposed failing Uni student and apparently is more into porn. Is also supposed to be majoring in physics but likes designing machines. Teruko doesn’t mind him as a partner and he first enjoys Teruko’s lack of school gossip as some people are too mean to him. But he thinks he understands Teruko’s absences and they both talk alot.
7. Arata: A quiet biology student who sometimes works as Aramaki’s assistant. Is talented but wants to quit studying due to unknown reasons. Likes to sometimes daydream and go off by himself. Is seen at times scrapbooking bugs and flowers. Is picked on for his shy nature.
8. Setsuna: Teruko’s colleague at the company he works in. Is an accountant but also paints landscapes. Is easily scared and apparently not treated nicely by his male coworkers. Likes Teruko’s confidence and skills.
9 CEO Nemuro: Is a computer genius and a known misanthrope. Talks in codes and dry statements. Hates too much noise and values thoroughness. Teruko get along, surprisingly very well and he likes her detailing convos.
10: Genji: a older man who Teruko X interacts with seems to know CEO Nemura though only socially.
11. Halcyon: an assassin that Teruko x supposedly knows. Is very enigmatic and enjoys sharing snacks with Teruko and watch TV with her. Loves talking to her too
12. XYX an unknown person who Teruko sees and knows and calls “Gnome” as a nickname. Sometimes Teruko ends up seeing him in her apartment and he casually leaves. Known for his good manners and smiles Teruko thinks he is like her.
I thought writing an Otome type script would be fun. Project pulse! Tell me guys what ya think 🙂