March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 18: Rei’s Emotional Growth

2017-02-22 16_38_08-[HorribleSubs] 3-gatsu no Lion - 18 [1080p].mkv - VLC media player

March Comes in like a Lion episode 18 builds upon Rei’s enlightened perspective, allowing us to see just how much Rei has come to trust others. Rei visits Shimada’s workshop, where Nikaido bickers with Mr. Shigeta over their contrasting game philosophies. A playful tone permeates the scene as cute metaphorical Jedi cats narrate their fiery battle. Shimada easily and comedically extinguishes the flames, throwing the two a complicated shogi question to divert their attention. All of this confirms what we’ve already come to know—everyone in the workshop is deeply passionate about shogi and they have firm beliefs on how the game should be played. Shimada, upon noticing Rei has largely been taking a backseat in the workshop, urges him on to speak his point-of-view, like one of those teachers picking on the quiet kid in class.

The fact Shimada reaches out to Rei shows how adept he is at judging the emotions of those around him. He recognizes Rei came to him because Rei wanted to change—he’s desperate to properly connect with his peers, friends, and family after years of keeping people in the dark—he just needs a shove in the right direction. Shimada asking him was his way of allowing Rei to take his first steps, to lean on them and show them the fiery passion that’s ready to burst at any moment now. Shimada’s depth of character in recent episodes—the bottomless passion that’s revealed behind his aloofness, his understanding and compassion for his peers, and his modesty—has quickly won me over, earning him a spot among my favorite characters in the series.

With the focus on Rei, the scene indeed confirms his emotional growth thus far. As he struggles to vocalize his thoughts, his choice of words reveal just how private an experience shogi is for him. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 18: Rei’s Emotional Growth”

March Comes in like a Lion, Ep 17: Drowning in Despair

2017-02-22 21_11_55-[HorribleSubs] 3-gatsu no Lion - 17 [1080p].mkv - VLC media player

“While I was running in circles getting lost, my peer has already hardened his resolve.”

Rei, March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 17

March Comes in like a Lion episode 17 has silently and ever so delicately brought to focus Rei’s shifting emotional state. With Shimada’s triumph over Gotou, everyone’s attention was on the impending challenge match between him and the man everyone deems to be the peerless shogi monster, Souya. Nikaido and Rei have both made their way to the hotel where Shimada is being interviewed just before his first of seven match showdown against Souya. While Nikaido is genuinely excited for Shimada, Rei looks physically uncomfortable and struggles to find a reason to even be at the hotel. Rei feels as though Shimada’s interviews have nothing to do with him. In his mind, he hasn’t earned the right to be there. This event demonstrates one of the central themes of March Comes in like a Lion: Sometimes our problems can feel so pervasive, so all-consuming, we can almost forget the world around us.

By giving into these thoughts, we effectively magnify our issues by isolating ourselves. In Rei’s case, his attempts to solve his familial problems lead him to move out on his own, ultimately exacerbating the root cause and giving way to an unyielding depression.  It’s no surprise, then, when Rei responds the event has nothing to do with him, as he’s been so caught up in coping with his own emotions it’s almost as if he’s forgotten those around him have emotions too.

The thing is, Rei isn’t as oblivious to people’s feelings as he seems – his plight is not the result of self-absorption, but on the contrary, altruism. He firmly believes not being a nuisance for those around him is best for everyone. Nikaido’s words point out a glaring flaw with Rei’s approach – sometimes we need the support of others to feel at ease. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion, Ep 17: Drowning in Despair”

Little Witch Academia, Episode 6: There Are No Shortcuts

2017-02-14 21_01_22-[Asenshi] Little Witch Academia - 06 [4F252ECE].mkv - VLC media player

Wouldn’t it be awesome if all it took to become good at something was a magical spell with maybe some slight pleading?

No huss and fuss over mistakes, no self-tormenting over your inability to do something you so desperately want to do, just all of the glory, right from the get-go.

Well, let me and Akko know if you find it. For now, I’ll stand the belief that real life doesn’t really work that way (although it would’ve been great to have one of these magical fountains to save me from all the heartache I experienced in art school).

Little Witch Academia’s message this episode was simple and to the point: there are no shortcuts on the path to your dreams.

Those who have followed Little Witch Academia so far will undoubtedly see a contradiction to the message with Akko only managing to overcome challenges at Luna Nova through dumb stroke of luck. At this point, we’re conditioned to expect that she’ll miraculously overcome anything thrown her way, so when Akko’s setback doesn’t go as planned this episode, it’s equally as alarming for the viewer as it is for Akko.  Continue reading “Little Witch Academia, Episode 6: There Are No Shortcuts”

ACCA: On Expectations and The Allure of Simple Delights

2017-02-08 23_07_05-[HorribleSubs] ACCA - 13-ku Kansatsu-ka - 05 [1080p].mkv - VLC media player

“To win her heart, you will need to set up a bakery for sandwich bread in Dowa.”

Maggie, ACCA, Episode 5 

I’ve always been the competitive type. When I was much younger, this drive manifested in sports and other outdoorsy activities (much to the surprise of people that know me now, I was actually somewhat of an extrovert back then). During the 5th grade, I’d often be one of the last people tagged out during gym class as I viciously hurled myself at the other kids’ flags during capture the flag. I remember one time in particular I swear I was flying — I did a belly flop on the hard gym floor and knocked the wind out of myself — all for the sake of sweet, sweet victory.

As a young kid, my whole world thrived on gym and recess. There was no better fulfillment than clumsily and successfully maneuvering the army of kids trying to take me down, whether it was football, dodgeball, or whatever else. I was the (self-proclaimed) recess king.

And that’s precisely why when my homeroom teacher took my recess away I cried long streams of crocodile tears begging her to put me back out there. I looked up from behind my desk and stared out the window to see my friends all out there laughing and having a good time. I begged her: “Please, I’ll do anything!” She just looked at me for a bit before walking up to hand me the first novel of the Harry Potter series.  I looked back disgruntled: “Why would I read when I could be doing something fun outside?,” my dumb 5th grade self thought. Never in my life had I read one of those books and I sure as heck wasn’t going to spend my recess doing that. I had a ‘cool’ image to uphold to my peers.

I caved out of sheer boredom and hesitantly read a few pages.

Those few pages turned into a few chapters, and before I knew it, recess was already over but I hadn’t bothered to look up; I was completely entrenched in a world I dismissed as boring not even thirty minutes prior. I hadn’t even noticed until the teacher called my name.

Continue reading “ACCA: On Expectations and The Allure of Simple Delights”

Little Witch Academia, Episode 5: Kick Back, Relax, and Shoot Some Dragons

2017-02-06 23_55_36-[Asenshi] Little Witch Academia - 05 [6506D1AB].mkv - VLC media player

This episode of Little Witch Academia was a lot of fun, with plenty of explosive action and comedic dialogue to get the momentum of the narrative rolling. But for as whimsical as the plot may seem—and believe me, the show revels in it—there’s some strong hints at the depths of drama the show is capable of handling.

The show persisted with its whimsical tone through the colorful cast of characters. There’s a whole lot of personality to these seemingly simple girls and it’s the small things like how they interact with their environments that reveal it. We start with an unexpected homage to the Powerpuff Girls, but with its own hilarious twist. Kagari concocts the formula with vicious delight: “Sugar, spice, and everything nice.” The cake batter erupts onto her face, covering her in a thick layer of goo. Things like Sucy taking a lick of Kagari’s failed experiment, Jasminka hounding away at a bag of potato chips, and Constanze using a microwave to show off her resourcefulness add a layer of delight to the already joyful atmosphere. They’re all characters that are awesome in their own right.

Constanze pulls out a friggin’ magic shotgun to blast dragons later on in the episode.  Amanda churns in for some playful banter, teasing Kagari’s ineptitude as a witch. She’s just kicking back and relaxing while Kagari is taking everything seriously. Their banter escalates and they inevitably find themselves at each other’s throats. Joyful music began to contrast Kagari’s plight to hint at an impending subtle drama that’s about to unfold.  There’s a lot of underlying friction between the two, but its explored and handled in consistency with the shows lighthearted feel. Continue reading “Little Witch Academia, Episode 5: Kick Back, Relax, and Shoot Some Dragons”

ACCA, Episode 4: A Brief Lull

2017-02-06 00_46_40-[HorribleSubs] ACCA - 13-ku Kansatsu-ka - 04 [1080p].mkv - VLC media player

This week’s ACCA felt as though it took a break from its main storyline. We still had some of the excellent storytelling components of earlier episodes: The aura of mystery, vibrant color palettes, and the suspense of impending doom, but they largely felt subdued and less focused. Scenes like Nino in the background snooping around didn’t stay long enough to make any lasting impressions on what was going on. Instead, the focus was a snippet into the history of the small, traditional town of Suitsu district and its own civil unrest. Continue reading “ACCA, Episode 4: A Brief Lull”

March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 16: There’s No Shame in Asking for Help

2017-02-05 19_21_22-[HorribleSubs] 3-gatsu no Lion - 16 [1080p].mkv - VLC media player

March Comes in like a Lion was unexpectedly calm this week. The explosive fight between Shimada and Gotou in episodes prior had me under the belief that this next battle of theirs would be one of equal magnitude. Instead, the focus wasn’t on the battle itself (the match had virtually no screen time), but on the preparations of what’s to come. Continue reading “March Comes in like a Lion, Episode 16: There’s No Shame in Asking for Help”