Rolling Review – Children of the Whales (06)

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EPISODE SYNOPSIS:

Skylos will return to the Mud Whale very soon to wipe out the remaining “sinners”.  The citizens of the Mud Whale must now prepare for battle.  After the impassioned speech from new chancellor Suou, any and all Mud Whale members with thymia are learning to use their powers for battle.  As the title of this episode suggests though, do any of them understand that they may have to kill someone tomorrow?

Review:

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Episode 6

You ever go to the grocery store and buy something you’ve never seen before?  You come home, you eat it, and you…really don’t care for it.  You’ve bought it though, and you are a conscientious person so you don’t want to throw the whole thing out.  Periodically you eat it just to get rid of it…and eventually you tell yourself that it’s…okay tasting…

That’s my take on Children of the Whales.  We bought this show so I eat it once a week.  It sure is…okay..(I’ll just keep telling myself that…)

The show has been ever so slowly course correcting itself since Episode 4, in my opinion.  That doesn’t save it from desperately cramming a bunch of stuff in and hoping you just believe it’s working.  Episode 6 has an interesting enough underlying premise.  The thymia users of the Mud Whale now have to train themselves to kill people.

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Honey this is Anime…you are always relying on the children

Intermixed into the episode is a whole mess of topics.  Children of the Whales never knows when to quit.  Episode 6 force feeds a budding romance plot with Lykos and Chakuro, Ouni’s backstory, a cultural festival, all in in addition to two other massively confusing plot points.

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Is this a real 4 days or like…a DBZ four days?

Let’s get to the bad parts so that we can end on a good note.  Show…Neri was super confusing in Episode 5.  Why the heck did you think it was a good idea to make a double of her to add more confusion?!  What is this…a soap opera?!  It was your Nous twin all alooooooong!  I’m guessing this works a bit like Rahxephon, wherein Neri was a spirit version of the Mud Whale’s Nous.  Making Emma however, opens up a basket full of questions like, “Can the Nous all make physical spirit-people manifestations?”, “How many of these can they make?”, “Is nobody else caring that they are walking around?”. The Chancellor in Ep 4 totally seemed cool with Neri just getting absorbed back into Nous Falaina, as though he knew the whole time what she was.  Do all the Chancellors know about these spirit manifestations?  Once again, the show just…does things and doesn’t feel like explaining anything.  Regardless of how I feel about Neri/Ema, the show just infuriatingly dodges any questions Chakuro (and you the viewer) have and just flies around laughing maniacally.  Great….

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Why are there two of you?!
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I really…really…don’t like you…

At least she promises to tell Chakuro all the secrets of the plot Mud Whale if he doesn’t die in the upcoming battle.

Other terrible instances involve Captain Eye-patch and his wife.  There’s a small scene where Captain Eye-patch makes his wife cry because he’s an asshole and I literally threw my hands up in the air screaming, “WTF?!?!?”.  We were already given a reason not to like this guy because he hates his own life and disregards everyone elses.  Why would you even PUT THIS SCENE IN HERE?!?!

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I hate this guy…

Ouni’s backstory and the Sand Festival are a mixed bag.  Ouni has so little facial expression that his backstory of being a orphan accepted by the “punk-gang” holds little weight.  The guy doesn’t even cry or show feelings for the death of his friends so I feel very little for his character.  The Sand Festival seems forced because it’s trying to be the emotional counter-balance to “these kids have to kill people tomorrow”, but I am so disinterested in the Mud Whale as a whole that I only semi-felt it’s significance.

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Ouni Then
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Ouni Now: If you can spot the difference you win a prize

 

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If you kids keep throwing that sand, someone’s gonna lose an eye…

To end on a good note, the art has come back into form.  This episode is beautiful to look at and I’m really happy about that.  The art is the only real redeeming feature of this show thus far.  The second piece I really like is how often Sami’s name comes up.  That girl is getting more development in death than she ever did in life.  I thought her confession to Chakuro in Episode 4 was handled nicely, I liked that Lykos remembered their brief interaction, and the fact that Chakuro talks to her spirit in the small moments of peace shows a bond of love that I can get behind.  The show has been neglecting to show meaningful relationships or character growth, and these sequences of remembering Sami permeate though multiple episodes, really sealing the feeling (hey that rhymes!) for me.  More of this please!  I’m concerned for how things are progressing though as Lykos seems to be making a move for Chakuro’s affections.  Cut that out show…

 

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Wow…Sami is like the most meaningful character now…
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Ugh….booooooooo

Summary

After the momentary peace of Episode 6, we are off to battle in Episode 7.  Clearly 4 days meant…now.  Gotta keep things moving at the speed of whiplash, eh show?

Children of the Whales is not great and every episode seems crammed to the gills with stuff…not necessary meaningful stuff, just…stuff.  I’m trying to absorb the good parts here at the halfway point, but overall I feel very little for almost everything on screen.  Here’s to hoping the second half answers the questions from the first half.  Please leave a comment if the manga is secretly waaaaay better than the show.  The world is interesting enough that I’d want to read a better written story set here.


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Rolling Review – Children of the Whales (02)

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EPISODE SYNOPSIS:

Newly kidnapped Chakuro and Lykos (the name given to the mysterious girl) head back to the floating island and uncover an unsettling phenomenon.  Afterwards, the festival of the Star Locusts, known as the “Locust Swarm”, occurs and events happen that make it so life for all of Falaina will never be the same again.

Review:

Warning: Massive spoilers for Episode 2.

Just one second…

craaaaaaack

Sorry, I needed to reset my neck after the whiplash of Episode 2.

Oh my Heavens.  I knew Children of the Whales was moving a little fast when Episode 1 ended with a return to the mysterious floating island.  It seemed that should have come a little later in the series, after we learned more about Lykos, or loaded more Chekov’s guns or something.  Instead, our return to the island drops a seemingly massive plot point about what “Lykos” actually is so we are just barreling straight in.

It’s not that this plot point isn’t interesting, it’s that it’s thrown at you with such speed that it fails to have any impact.  A giant pulsing blob that eats people’s emotions and is the cause of some great war outside of the Mud Whale?!  That seems really important!  Let’s spend more than five or so minutes on it!  Despite this world shattering revelation, both Chakuro and Ouni decide it’s cool to hide all the details from the village elders.  Guys…what are you doing?!

CREEEEEEEPPPPPYYY
This seems INCREDIBLY important. Whelp…time to keep this all to ourselves and ignore it.

Afterwards, we are immediately ripped BACK to the mudwhale where the show feels like it can shed the heaviness of the previous sequence and bounce right into cutesy mode.  Oh look, we are going to a festival and Oh hey, there’s some budding romance here!  Isn’t that adorable?!  Umm…show…I’m still focusing on the part where there’s an island full of bodies and a pulsing blob structure that EATS…PEOPLE’S…EMOTIONS…

You know, the one we did nothing about and just LEFT THERE on the island!  It’s as though the show thinks it’s done something clever by leading itself off with a mystery and deluding you into thinking that all is calm now.

Oh Chakuro…you had to know this was going to end in tears…

As if I’m gonna fall for THAT nonsense!  Without missing a beat the show decides to end on a crazy-ass revelation from Lykos and mass murder.  Now I hope you can appreciate why my neck hurts.

Yes…these are clown soldiers on a floating dirigible thing…this is where we are now…

To give the Episode credit where credit is due, it continues to look and sound (we get the theme song!) beautiful.  The festival in particular is gorgeous to look at and listen to, and is a nice piece of cultural detail for life on the Mud Whale.  All the character designs are colorful and eye catching.  In contrast, Lykos’s blob-like structure’s animation style is particularly striking (it’s like a creepy clear gel) and gives the viewer an uncanny feeling.  It really drives home that point of being otherwordly.

So preeeettttyyyyy!

Summary

Children of the Whales is not getting off on the right foot in this episode.  It throws a massive reveal at you early on, and then proceeds to just jarringly yank you into a calm moment, before wildly swinging you back into sheer mayhem.  It needs to calm down and let some more information build up before it just throws large plot points and events down like this.  Hopefully it takes some time to do that and course corrects before things get more out of hand.


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Rolling Review – Made in Abyss (11)

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EPISODE SYNOPSIS:

Nanachi takes Reg and Riko back to her hut so she can tend to Riko’s arm and drain the poison out of her system. Reg goes hunting for items and later, begins to hear voices in his head that sound awfully familiar. The mystery of the Abyss continues to deepen as Nanachi reveals herself as a Hollow.

Review:

After the soul breaking Episode 10, Episode 11 is surprisingly tame. Nanachi sends Reg on a mission to collect ingredients to help cure Riko’s poison. He’s also collecting Nanachi’s dinner, but hey, he was out anyway so why not?!

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Well duh, delivery boy!  Of course you’d pick up dinner on the way home!

If I had to guess, I am going to state that I think the writers of Made in Abyss are poising themselves to roll out tragedies in a strategic manner. I think they realize if all you do is pump out tragedy, the audience eventually becomes immune to it. Giving people a break and then handing out another set of pain is more effective for drawing out emotion.

Nanachi’s introduction as an “acidly sarcastic” individual lets us all take a breather from the sickening sequences we experienced last episode. Watching her playfully torture Reg into doing what she wants is very entertaining and I appreciated the show’s choice in her character design. Given her adorable bunny body it would have been easy for the creators to make her cutesy and poised to be the “moe soft toy sell” of the show. Instead she’s like an old lady who’s seen too much sh&t in her life and knows a thing or two.

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Whatcha starin’ at kid?!

This episode is more on the edge of what Scott’s been getting, where not a lot happens but the show still crams meaning into it’s 20 minute run time. We learn more about the Abyss and its creature. We also gain some insight into the eco system of the Fourth Layer. I desperately want a water bear, by the way. Just look at these little cuties!

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They have widdle mustaches!!!

I really admire this show’s attention to detail and desire to showcase the Abyss as a living, breathing, biome of sorts. It’d be very simple to design the show to just be a series of downward trials where super deadly monsters live, akin to a “Pit of Trials” in an RPG. Instead the show wants you to know that there’s beauty, peace, AND danger lurking here. Some parts of the Abyss even look like a paradise. I mean seriously…who doesn’t want giant hot tubs practically everywhere you go!

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Hot Tub Time Machine!

If I had to complain about one thing, it would be the show’s random dives into perversity. These are short moments but they are just…out of place and bizarre. I admire that the show candidly does what it needs to do (in the beginning of Ep. 11 Reg just gives Riko mouth to mouth, without that stupid anime-nonsense of “Oh my God, it’s a kiss!!” *blushies*), but this gets undone when Reg is blushing like a summer rose everytime Riko needs to get naked or some manner of bodily function is mentioned. It’s weirdly atonal.

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Really…show…really?!

Now, it’s back to my first comment; Rolling out tragedies slowly and giving you a break in-between. In the midst of the peace of this episode, we get the next painful hook set up. Reg overhears a noise and Nanachi reveals that it’s her roommate Mitty. When Mitty is revealed there’s an instant recoil. The show has given me Episode 10 with no holds barred, so my mind is aflutter with horrible thoughts as to how Mitty came about. Nanachi makes to no bones about explaining that Mitty and herself are Hollows aka victims of the Abyss’s curse. She also says some things that are very curious. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting this weekend to learn more.

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No sarcasm here.  This genuinely scarred me a little…
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Curiouser… and Curiouser..

SUMMARY:

Made in Abyss takes a little break to get poor Riko patched up and drop us some more mysteries. The show really seems to know how to layer in pain and it’s likely that the last two episodes of this show are gonna cause more heartbreak. Regardless of that, the show’s incredible art direction, attention to detail and well realized world keep me eager for more.


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