Yet another revised Top 10 List done. 2006 this time. I think I come off as kinda negative in this post, but yeah, these series wouldn’t be on this list if I didn’t have a good amount of love for them.
Yep. This week’s episode of Polar Bear Cafe proves everything I said in this post.
He gives the classic sad backstory that’s meant to deflect any suspicion. Even without that “weren’t you in construction” comment that cemented his story as fabricated, the bit is way too precious and sappy to be plausible. Yeah, I’m not buying his “separated from his family and being taken in by fishermen” spiel. But you can’t help but suspect that he’s dropping little bits of truth admist his blatant lies.
Maybe Polar Bear is an orphan. Maybe he was taken in by a government program that trains youngsters to be covert agents. Being a polar bear, he’d be a perfect Cold War agent, since the northern wastes are shared by NATO and Soviet nations. He would have been a perfect agent on either side of the matter, being able to traverse the north and enter any nation with borders around the Arctic Circle.
And that’s how he would have met Grizzly. That flashback to where we see the two of them practicing “fishing” could have been from when they trained together in their youth. Fishing for salmon is a way to train bears in hand to hand combat by having them become proficient in their natural hunting skills. What’s an enemy agent but a big land-bound fish? Killing him follows the same principles.
So Polar Bear’s “touching” story is his way of letting us know about his past without letting us know more than we need to know. We know that he’s lived a lonely life, albeit in a different context. We know he doesn’t know his family and will likely never see them again. We know that he and Grizzly have known each other forever. And we know that Polar Bear is a masterful liar, able to string everyone along without them caring that they’re never going to know the full truth.
And all of this brings up a completely different matter: Are animals in the Polar Bear Cafe world bound by nationality. I’m assuming this takes place in some quasi-Japan, yet none of the animals in this show are native to the country. Are animals considered citizens of their country of origin? Is Panda a legal immigrant, or is his family in the country illegally? Maybe he’s a legal citizen because he was born in the country, hence why he’s able to get a job while the rest of his panda family can’t (since we never see them leave their home)? Do penguins have a nationality? Are they bound to the nation that “controls” their portion of Antarctica? Or are they citizens of, say, Argentina or Chile since many of them migrate there? Maybe Penguin was born in an aquarium and is a natural-born citizen? Polar Bear is likely able to get forged passports, so his nationality isn’t relevant, but what about other Polar Bears? Can one come down from the north and claim citizenship in Canada or something? Do various animals have reservations like Native Americans? Maybe there’s a buffalo reservation somewhere in the western US or something.
Damn, man, I need to know this stuff.
Alrighty then, let’s talk about the upcoming Fall 2014.
I’mma following based on the chart below. We’ll start with the first row.
I’ve actually read the manga not too long ago. Assuming this opens up with the Bugs 2 expedition, which is the first story set after the prologue (which was covered in an OVA), I think Landon might like it, if only for the trashiness of it. It goes downhill after that first story arc though. By god does it go fucking downhill… I’ll have Landon watch that first arc/cour/whatever, but I’ll probably skip this series myself. I might watch the first ep just to see how the art looks though.
Aikatsu! 3rd Season
I’ll watch this once I watch the first 2 seasons. So, probably never.
Amagi Brilliant Park
Based on the summary, it almost sounds like it has potential. Depending on how they play the show up. Like, if it was in a “4-koma” style or something like Working.
But looking at the cover art… no, looks like it’ll suck quite a bit. And a closer look shows this is based on a novel, which doubly increases the chance and amount of suckage. Total miss. Well, unless Landon makes the sacrifice to give it a shot and gives it a good report. Then I MIGHT, but otherwise, no.
Log Horizon Second Series
I really wouldn’t recommend the first season of Log Horizon. By the end of that first season, it got terrible even for me. BUT, despite that, I actually enjoyed most of it, although probably not for the same reaons most others enjoyed it for. So on that note, yeah, I’ll probably watch this second season, but once again, I probably wouldn’t recommend it.
Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works
Nanatsu no Taizai
Tried reading the manga long ago, couldn’t get through that first chapter for some reason. So not gonna bother with the anime either.
Looks like a kiddy show. I’ll probably give it a miss. The character designs look cute, but surprisingly, I’m not actually a kiddy show kinda guy.
Gundam Build Fighters Try
I’m… look… ing… forward to… this? Ow.
Yeah, I’m normally not a Gundam fan. I’ve found over the years that Gundam and it’s fans take the series waaaay too seriously. However, I gave the first Gundam Build Fighters a try and I… kinda… loved it? Because it doesn’t take itself seriously, and in fact, one of the themes in Gundam Build Fighters is to customize your Gundams and to make up your own story and to have FUN. Which is something that the franchise and its fans have previously DISCOURAGED.
So, I’m looking forward to GBF Try, although from the summary, it looks like this series is set nearly a decade after the previous one. I guess that works, in that Gundam series do have a tendency to timeskip. But I’ll admit that I was kinda hoping for the original cast. Since that series set up some possible grudge matches. That said, if we’re going with a new cast, then I hope we won’t get ANY characters recurring from the first series. I can see Rao (that his name?), the fat veteran guy returning in a mentor role, but I hope we WON’T even get that American Neils Nielson (that his name?) returning.
Welp, stopping here for now.
Here’s a bit of a secret shame, I stopped watching Samurai Flamenco right after episode 19. Not because it was bad or anything, but because 19 was just a plain and simple “perfect ending” anyway, so I simply lost the desire to finish up the actual series. Welp, I’ve just finally caught up on those last episodes.
After such a long time not watching Samumenco, it was nice to revisit this universe. Naturally, the final arc brings with it a new kind of superheroics. Where the series started as essentially, Kickass: the Anime, then went full on Tokusatsu Love Letter, which culminated in the Ultraman-ish episode 19. At that point, I figured it might go the way of the Tokusatsu Post-Series Movie-verse style and well… I was RIGHT.
The final arc, ranging from eps 20 to 22, fills us in on Goto’s true story and brings us a new villain in the form of Sawada Haiji, the Joker to Samumenco’s Batman. Hell, Sawada Haiji’s master plan is pretty much a variation of the Killing Joke, where the Joker tormented Commissioner Gordon in an attempt to drive Gordon insane.
But there was something “off” about this final arc. Like there’s some sort of disconnect from the “actual series”. Putting aside the fact that Samumenco never actually transforms into Samumenco at all in these final eps, unlike the previous eps where the status quo was constantly shaken, by the end of the final arc, we’re pretty much retaining the status quo left from episode 19.
In retrospect, be it intentional or not, the final arc has a feel that’s quite similar to an in-continuity post-series Tokusatsu flick. Tokusatsu tends to do movies after each of its series, and in the old days, these movies tend to be set outside of the regular continuity. But in recent times, they’ve been doing in-continuity stuff, but the things that happen in said movies, eventhough they involve fighting and defeating some new evil, tend to retain the status quo. Characters are not particularly altered so that should there be a sequel movie, said characters can simply be re-used.
Am I reaching? Perhaps. But seriously, the last 3 episodes of Samumenco can pretty much be taken as an OVA or post-series movie. If a second season were to ever happen, they could easily just ignore the revelation of Goto’s situation. Hell, if they don’t do a several years timeskip, even Sawada Haiji can be outright ignored.
This image made me all sorts of happy. Lupin crucified. Yeah, I’m a terrible person for finding such a horrible, sacrilegious image to be the height of comedy. I’m kinda proud of that. But seeing Lupin hoisted up like Christ in drag leads to some awesomely screwed up stuff.
I knew Seijun Suzuki had done some Lupin stuff in the past. I knew he co-directed one of the movies and had a role in the TV show, but beyond that I didn’t know if there was any particular episodes in which he had a direct hand. Then I read some of the awesome stuff over at Anipages and saw that he wrote the 13th episode of the 3rd Lupin series. I hadn’t watched any of the 3rd series yet, so once I heard about this particular episode I had to jump ahead and check it out.
Yeah. This is some Suzuki shit right here. It has the disjointed, dream-like logic of his best stuff. Scenes shift erratically, moving from event to event not because of any semblance of place or time but simply to move on to the next thing. The opening chase between Lupin and Zenigata feels more like something from a Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd short, especially since the chase is given absolutely no context outside of our shared knowledge that these two are perpetually on the run. Then there’s some stuff about Lupin dressing in drag so he can steal jewels at an all-women’s party held on a space shuttle shaped like a castle tower. And before all of this goes down, the castle takes a tour across a battlefield and the women on board brag about how their countries supplied the various explosives and computers for the bombs and tanks and whatnot. I especially liked how they focused upon the Japanese woman who was especially proud of how it was Japanese computers that were aboard certain missiles.
Then the episode gets weird.
The castle/shuttle lands and Fujiko has some men take Lupin and the women captive. Zenigata is called in to pay the ransom for the women and Lupin, but when he can’t drum up the money for Lupin’s release, Fujiko has Lupin crucified while he’s still wearing women’s bloomers. Just as Lupin’s about to have spears plunged into him by Fujiko and one of the captive women, a flock of crows attacks. This allow Zenigata to hoist up Lupin and carry him off, cross and all.
Yeah. Zenigata’s carrying Lupin’s cross.
The madness doesn’t stop there. Zenigata loses hold of the cross and Lupin goes tumbling into a river. Just as Lupin’s about to go over the edge of a waterfall, Goemon appears out of nowhere and cuts Lupin’s bonds. OK. First off, Goemon was apparently half a world away before this happened, since I’m assuming the shuttle traveled pretty far from its launch point, so he’s all but teleported across the globe just to act as Lupin’s savior. But that isn’t what’s especially strange about this moment. After cutting the bonds, Goemon expounds upon how he’s placing his faith in Lupin but he makes no play to save Lupin as he goes over the edge of the waterfall.
So Lupin’s been crucified, died, and apparently resurrected by higher powers, and now the one person wholly independent of Lupin has placed their faith in him. Really. Goemon’s his own man and isn’t as intrinsically bound to Lupin the way Zenigata, Fujiko, and Jigen seem to be. He’s at Lupin’s side by his own volition and is now placing his faith in him by the very same volition.
But Lupin’s journey isn’t over. As he falls over the waterfall he finds a cave. Within this cave he comes across one of the crows that allowed for him to be set free from Fujiko’s crucifixion ceremony. The thing attacks him, but Lupin wins out by grabbing a hold of the bird’s wings and beating it on the ground until it’s dead. Lupin proceeds to devour the bird raw.
This little bit is cool based on something that happens at the end of the episode. Zenigata and Lupin have one last battle of wits, and in the process Zenigata compares Lupin to these crows. To Zenigata, Lupin’s nothing but a dirty, thieving, scavenging bird, and yeah, that’s pretty much Lupin. He’s a bird that likes shiny things and enjoys the act of procuring such shiny baubles more than any rational man should. That moment in the cave essentially had Lupin killing that image of himself. If you wanna get all allegorical, maybe it’s him killing those shadows the dudes chained up in Plato’s cave believed were reality. Lupin’s killing this false image of himself as nothing more than a filthy crow, and in the process he’s allowed to become that so-called “philosopher” that’s trying to explain the reality beyond that cave.
That adds some interesting bits to what happens after Lupin emerges from that cave. When Lupin emerges, he comes across a building in which numerous costumes are housed. There are masks of famous archetypes, famous fictional characters, and even characters from the Lupin TV series. Lupin chooses to don a Zenigata costume, and this leads to yet another Looney Tune like moment in the finale as Lupin-as-Zenigata and Zenigata himself duke it out in a game of “which is which” without the aid of a third-party to be the one to choose. It ends with Zenigata caught in his own trap, as if he forgot who he was for a moment. It’s almost as if Zenigata and Lupin are one and the same, or at the very least interchangeable. It didn’t matter which one got caught since the chase would resume next episode.
But yeah, the next episode has to happen. The chase has to continue. Neither character can win because that’d render their existence meaningless. So that damn crow reappears just as it seems Lupin is on the verge of self-discovery and enlightenment. Lupin’s purpose has been fulfilled. He’s been able to destroy his false reality and attempt to find the truth. He’s shown that he and Zenigata are at least figuratively one and the same. Lupin is solved, but the crow reappears and casts its illusion upon Lupin one more time. That look in Lupin’s eyes at the end of the episode is all of his accomplishments in this episode being erased. He can’t be allowed to grow as a character. He can’t change. He’s Lupin and fate deems that he remain as such.
And then the next episode preview rolls.