Spring 2016 Recap: Funimation Edition

The Spring 2016 season’s all done! Though the number of series I watched this season on Funimation is lower than previous Funimation seasons, there were some gems here, as well as one I just couldn’t bring myself to finish. Here’s my Spring 2016 Funimation wrap-up!

By the way, there are spoilers below. Please don’t read this if you haven’t seen the shows, especially My Hero Academia.

Concrete Revolutio

Devila was both beautiful and complete "other." Capture from the Funimation stream.
Devila was both beautiful and complete “other.” Capture from the Funimation stream.

I reviewed the first episode of Concrete Revolutio back in October of 2015. I liked it right away. I enjoyed its unique visual style, I liked the varied and vibrant characters, and I found a lot to think about from the show’s pervasive social and political commentary. The plot jumped back and forth in time, which I sometimes found hard to follow, but since the jumps were more often than not driven by dramatic necessity, I dealt with it. I only reviewed the first season, though, because after trying to explain 12 episodes, I frankly felt exhausted!

Despite not reviewing the second season, I really wanted to watch it. I’m glad I did. The second season contained some of the most beautiful scenes in the entire series, and it wrapped up all of the many plot-lines.

For example, in the episode Devila and Devilo (reviewed here in Geekorner-Geekulture), humans try to justify their actions against non-humans by starting a train fire and blamed it on the non-humans. Devilo, a god-like being that swims in magma, comes to the surface from his world deep in the Earth’s crust to see what people are all about. The way he speaks is unusual: he strings observations together that shouldn’t be meaningful, but his voice had the effect of enthralling people. They began following him, and that came to the attention of the wrong people: the National Public Security Forces. Saying that Devilo was a terrorist, they attempted to apprehend him. Being more or less a god, that doesn’t go well for them, yet he and his protector refrain from killing anyone. While this was happening, Emi Kino had descended into the Earth to talk to Devilo’s sister, Queen Devila. She seemed to grasp what was happening and came to the surface. In a moment that showed just how petty, small-minded, and grasping humans were, Devila took Devilo into space, where they said they’d await a more mature humanity. That doesn’t sound particularly beautiful (at least from the perspective of us humans), but the animation for both Devila and Devilo as they swam through the air, and the beauty the artwork conveyed, was really something to see. I’ve seldom seen an anime evoke such a sense of distant, other-ness beauty before.

Season 2 wrapped up the plot lines surround Jirou. Capture from the Funimation stream.
Season 2 wrapped up the plot lines surround Jirou. Capture from the Funimation stream.

The show also wrapped up the plot-lines surrounding Jirou Hitoyoshi’s origin and how his birth and actions affected the events through the show. I don’t need to enumerate the events to make my point. I just want to say that I found him to be a tragic figure in the classical sense.

I had some minor quibbles. Kikko Hoshino’s nature changed through the course of the series. We have her “familiar” Uru’s word for that, because the change didn’t seem to have any visible impact on the plot. So, why bring it up? Was it a feint? A throw-away observation? Or was there really a point, and I missed it amid all of the other things that were happening? The show never lacked for action and plot development, that’s for sure!

I’m really glad I watched both seasons. The show helped me think through some of the political strife our world’s trying to get through now. Isn’t art all about helping us understand life from a fresh perspective?

Check out these Concrete Revolutio items from Amazon:

And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online?

The show with Hideki Nishimura playing an on-line fantasy game. He’s an armored knight, and he’s pretty good at it. But he doesn’t trust girls after asking another player, Nekohime, to marry him in-game. She declined, saying she was actually a guy in real life (IRL). After that, he stayed away from that aspect of the game as much as he could.

<> had no idea that his guild was actually filled with women. Capture from the Funimation stream.
Nishimura had no idea that his guild was actually filled with women. Or that Tamaki, his in-game wife, thought she was therefore his IRL wife! Capture from the Funimation stream.

Some time passes and he joins a small guild with three other members. Schwein is a Sword Dancer, Apricot is a Wizard, and Ako, the only female character, is a healer. He’s caught off guard when Ako confesses her love for him. Despite his discomfort, her relentless affection wears him down, so he agrees. 

The four of them agree to meet in real life. Nishimura’s astonished to learn the truth: all three of his cohorts in the game are women! Schwein is actually Akane Segawa, Apricot is actually Kyoh Goshoin, and Ako is Ako Tamaki. This scene set up the heart of the show (a.k.a. Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta? or just Netoge for short): Nishimura is surrounded by women, and Ako sees no different between her in-game persona and her persona IRL. The rest of the show is filled with Ako’s three teammates trying to help her engage with people IRL, despite her hatred for normies (Ako’s term for people who don’t play games).

Is the show Earth-shattering? No. My initial impression was to borrow a page from the Encyclopedia Galactica and classify the show as Mostly Harmless. I think that was pretty close. But it did surprise me in a couple of ways.

First, though I called the show to task for having too much non-plot-related fan service, I have to give the show some recognition for showing that women are just as much gamers as men. That matches my personal experience in my family and circle of friends. In today’s culture where portraying a female positively in this regard can be problematic for some fans, I welcomed Netoge’s approach. 

I really enjoyed seeing the team in general, and Nishimura in particular, rally to help Ako. They didn’t try to take advantage of each other. Instead, they tried to help each other. 

The animation was enjoyable, too. The style reminded me a lot of Outbreak Company, especially in the eyes and facial expressions.

Like I said, the show offered no ground-breaking or earth-shattering material, but there are a lot of worse ways to pass 25 minutes.  

Here’s some related merchandise that you might enjoy from Amazon:

Three Leaves, Three Colors

The show was enjoyable, but it didn't have anything compelling enough to make me stop watching other shows. Capture from the Funimation stream.
The show was enjoyable, but it didn’t have anything compelling enough to make me stop watching other shows. Capture from the Funimation stream.

A slice of life kind of series, “Three Leaves, Three Colors” follows the antics of three young women in high school. Teru Hayama, the class representative, is a kind, gentle soul — unless she wants to teach someone a less, then she can apparently reduce them to tears in seconds (she’s the blonde in the picture). Futaba Odagiri is high-spirited with an appetite to match (she’s the brunette). And Youko Nishikawa is a previously rich girl whose father lost his fortune, which resulted in her living in a one room apartment with very little to eat (she’s the one with purple hair). She befriends Hayama and Odagiri, and they have minor adventures. Along the way, they meet Nishikawa’s previous maid and butler, who are doing different jobs now but are still dedicated to her.

I classified this show, like Netoge, as Mostly Harmless. It was a pleasant show in the Spring 2016 season, when Crunchyroll has more series to watch than I had time to watch them. So, unfortunately, I only made it to the fourth episode before I had to give up. I didn’t delete it from my queue because I hope to have time to finish it later. But for slice of life, it competed directly with Anne Happy. “Three Leaves, Three Colors” didn’t have any answer for Timothy, or Botan, or Ren. It came down to a battle of personalities, and I’m afraid “Three Leaves, Three Colors” lost. At least for now.

Amazon didn’t have anything for Three Leaves, Three Colors. Might I interest you in K-On material instead?

My Hero Academia

All Might was <>'s hero -- and he had a secret that made his heroism even more commendable. Capture from the Funimation stream.
All Might was Midoriya’s ideal hero — and All Might had a secret that made his heroism even more commendable. Capture from the Funimation stream.

“It’s fine now. Why? Because I am here!”

Who would have expected, at the beginning of the series, that such an over-the-top phrase would turn out to be an emotional punch in the gut?

My Hero Academia takes place in a world where some percentage of the population manifests superpowers called Quirks. Izuku Midoriya grew up studying Heroes, or those who used their Quirks to protect those without Quirks from Villains. One Hero in particular captivated him: All Might, He epitomized everything that a Hero should be: he was humble, he was powerful, and he always, always put the safety of civilians first. As he rescued civilians, he would tell them, “It’s fine now. Why? Because I am here!” He smiled as he said it. The civilians took strength from his smile; the other Heroes rallies around him.

That phrase would take on a subtly different message in the last episodes.

As a cruel twist of fate, Midoriya doesn’t manifest a Quirk during adolescence. He’s absolutely devastated. As long as he could remember, all he wanted to do was become a hero. When he realized that was the one course not open to him, he fell into a funk, and only his continued studies of Hero tactics and abilities kept him going. But then because a Villain captures best (and abusive) friend Katsuki Bakugou, and without even understanding why himself, Midoriya attacks the villain. Only All Might’s direct intervention saved him, but with a twist: All Might had been hanging back, waiting for other Heroes, because he had been badly injured in a battle with a Villain. Now, he can only maintain his Hero facade for a few hours a day. Otherwise, he looks like a frail beach bum. Seeing Midoriya act so selflessly inspired All Might, and he was able to save the day.

To honor Midoriya, All Might passed on his own power, All for One, to the young Quirk-less one. Unlike most other Quirks, All Might’s Quirk doesn’t manifest naturally; it’s passed on via DNA. So, All Might asks Midoriya to swallow one of All Might’s hairs (with a follicle). There’s only one catch: Midoriya’s body needs time to get used to the power, and until that happens, using All for One could have catastrophic results. He finds out just how catastrophic when he tries out for U. A. High, the premiere school for Heroes. He does terribly in the mock battle until a young girl who had been nice to him, Ochako Urarka, was in danger of being crushed by a giant robot. Midoriya didn’t hesitate then: he launched himself at the robot and destroyed it with one punch. Unfortunately, his body, unused to the power of All for One, almost came apart: he shattered both legs and one arm. Fortunately for him, Recovery Girl (a.k.a. Chiyo Shuuzenji) was able to patch him up at only the cost of his stamina, which he could rebuild with rest.

He passed the exam.

While fighting against the villains, <> learned he could rely on some students, while others were a bit less helpful. Capture from the Funimation stream.
While fighting against the villains, Midoriya learned he could rely on some students (like Asui), while others were a bit less helpful. Capture from the Funimation stream.

These episodes were a lot of fun, but the later episodes had a much more dramatic impact. Villains attack the school during a student exercise when only two teachers were present. The students had to hold their own until the other teachers arrived. Midoriya teams up with Tsuyu Asui, whose Quirk manifests as frog-like/amphibian traits, and Minoru Mineta, who Quirk Pop Off lets him throw sticky balls from his head.* Mineta is a complete wreck. He’s terrified, he doesn’t know what to do, and he can’t listen to what Asui or Midoriya try to tell him. The other two, though, performed superbly. Midoriya, as we saw in earlier episodes, has strong analytical skills; Asui was a great tactician and observer. They both kept their calm and work together to defeat the Villains around them. I have to say that the episodes with Asui and Midoriya fighting side by side were almost the most dramatically satisfying in the series.

The most satisfying, though, was the next to last episode. The Villains had attacked the students with the intention of tricking All Might into coming to save them. They had intelligence that All Might might have weakened over the years (they didn’t know he was actually injured), so they threw obstacle after obstacle at him before he even got to the school that morning. By the time of the attack, he was running on fumes; he didn’t think he could maintain his All Might form at all.

Then he heard the students were in danger.

When he arrived on the scene, he said, as expected, “It’s fine now. Why? Because I am here.”

The students reacted with tremendous relief; some even cried. But Midoriya was anything but relieved. He knew about All Might’s limitations. He saw that this time, All Might didn’t smile. He was furious. The Hero knew he’d been tricked; he knew he had little time; but his Hero code of ethics compelled him to come to the aid of his students.

All Might was near the end of his endurance. Midoriya knew it. 

I thought that moment was the high point of the series. The dramatic tension between most of the student’s relief, All Might’s furious dedication, and Midoriya’s terror that his mentor would perish, was worth the price of admission.

I’ve spoiled enough; I won’t say how the battle ended. But any show that can deliver scenes like the one I just described is absolutely worth watching.

* It’s as strange as it sounds.

Amazon has some cool My Hero Academia merchandise available:

Post Author: tcrow