If there’s anything these past two weeks have shown about the spring 2014 season it’s that there are plenty of decent shows. Nothing has been fantastic so far, aside from Mushishi and Jojo of course, but the season has only started and it looks promising so far. Black Bullet has greatly improved from its first episode with its exploration of darker themes, and No Game No Life continues to deliver quality entertainment mixed with some mind games and some truly wonderful animation direction.
Black Bullet Episode 2 Review
So far, this episode is the one that surprised me the most because the first episode was incredibly average while this one actually did things right. What did it do right? The darker side of this anime. The episode delves into subjects like discrimination, the cruelty of the world, the powerlessness of the characters against such cruelty, and other darker themes. A method that good shows tend to do to support those themes is to first of all create moral conflict. We see that, while the masked antagonist is literally out for everyone’s heads, the society that Aihara Enju and Satomi Rentarou are trying to protect is the very society that shuns those who protect it. Whatever Seitenshi and her governor tries to do to make the Cursed Children accepted in society is simply not enough. Such change takes time, and even if our main protagonists understand that, it’s still difficult to deal with a world like this when the consequences of being one of the Cursed Children are so severe. Is this what our masked antagonist, Hiruko Kagetane, is trying to overturn? Is Hiruko Kagetane trying to convince Rentarou to switch sides because he senses his dissatisfaction with the world or is it because he sees Rentarou as a threat that could become a powerful ally? Perhaps Hiruko knows more of Rentarou than we think? What do the protagonists do when neither side is the side they feel they truly belong in? What changes in their viewpoint will occur as they face these moral conundrums?
These questions and many more are points that this episode raised well without explicitly stating them. I also must highlight the part where Rentarou recalls his past with Enju near the end of the episode. While the dialogue at the end of it is extremely generic and unnecessary, his flashback to when Enju smiled after she ate his food was something I felt to be the example of how portraying an emotional event purely by showing it has power that portraying that same scene with more dialogue doesn’t have. Not that the flashback has no dialogue whatsoever, but it’s kept simple enough to just give a context and isn’t used to try and affect the audience emotionally which is key when it comes to showing instead of telling. The usage of animations is, as you’d expect, key here and its done very well in that not only her eyes light up, but her cheeks become flushed as she smiles after tasting the food. It’s a small touch, but it’s one that expresses something words never could. Whereas before I felt that Enju was just a generic “genki girl,” after this scene she became someone with more depth which made me appreciate her character more. Even her relationship with Rentarou is something I look at differently from before. I first took it as a generic relationship where the girl likes the main character “just because.” With a reason behind her behavior and what they’ve been through, it’s not quite that shallow anymore. I could go on, but then this would actually turn into a full episode review which means I’ll probably do just that sometime in the near future. This second episode is a vast improvement of the first, and I suggest those people who dropped this anime on the first to try this episode out and for those who didn’t try this anime at all to give it a shot.
No Game No Life Episode 2 Review
The mind games for the rock paper scissors match is quite solid, but it still doesn’t show the true potential of the series (I hope) as that was nevertheless a fairly simple game. Not that it’s not nice seeing this as some thought was clearly put behind the creation of the game on the writer’s part. If you enjoyed this rock paper scissors match, then please do check out Kaiji. That anime expands upon the game even further in a unique way. What impressed me this episode besides that is the humor and the animation direction. Heck, who would have expected that the first “WRRYYYYY” came out of No Game No Life of all anime? Even the steph-a-scope which I would have thought to be an annoying gimmick had anyone told me about it earlier is humorous in its own right. There are just slightly unexpected moments, such as when Stephanie bashes her head in so hard her head was bleeding in the next scene, that are added on top of these reactions that make it far more entertaining to see than it would have been otherwise. It helps that Stephanie is voiced by Hikasa Yoko. What’s also especially great is the dynamic between Shiro and Sora. They literally need each other to function, but they also complement each other well whether it be in playing games or just creating funny scenes. I’m fairly glad that, while they’re dependent on each other, Shiro is not crazily infatuated with Sora and vice versa. It’s a very endearing sibling relationship that is perfectly captured by the animation direction. That picturesque moment when Shiro is reading a book while Sora is standing behind her exemplifies their close bond perfectly. The fantasy backdrops, the detailed insides of structures, and many smaller things really add to the experience. It’s what you’d expect from a studio like Madhouse. The game is only going to be more intense from here, and things are happening quickly. The way I anticipate this anime coming out every week is much like how I anticipated Log Horizon in the past two seasons which is great. Apparently we’ll be getting a pretty crazy chess match next week. Just what I wanted. Let the mind games continue!