“So you like poppies, Chise?”
-Elias Ainsworth to Chise Hatori, The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Episode 2
The ink is still drying on Chise Hatori’s signature when the above line appears across the cityscape: April showers bring May flowers. Given Chise’s initial mental state in the opening moments of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, the proverb is obvious. Before reaching the point where she signs that contract, Chise has seen and lived through some horrifying things. This is her turning point.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride also uses flower language liberally throughout its first episode to set the mood, giving small hints and insight into Chise’s circumstances.
It’s rare to find a series that focuses on fashion beyond a unified aesthetic and looks at current trends, especially when it comes to the ephemeral nature of Japanese street fashion. However, URAHARA, despite a few flaws in visual direction and dialogue, tackles just that in a way that, even if unintended, is interesting in context of the current Tokyo street fashion climate.
With this post, I’d also like to announce my return to the Crunchyroll features team. You can find my first post on URAHARA and the current climate of Harajuku street fashion here.
Like last year when I blogged Orange and Kiznaiver, I won’t be putting up posts here announcing my Crunchyroll articles, unless I receive overwhelming feedback requesting this.
“We aren’t singing so we can be used by you!”
-Touma Amagase to President Kuroi (flashback), The Idolm@ster: SideM, Episode 00
A minute into the pre-premiere episode of The Idolm@ster: SideM, I wondered why the venue pictured was so small. The three-man group of Jupiter is a well-known Idolm@ster commodity, after all. Presumably, they’re not even the stars of the SideM anime.
Instead, Jupiter are the end goal at the proverbial finish line for SideM‘s burgeoning trainees. These young men should be filling arenas like 765 Productions do later in this episode — or at least larger concert venues like the one in The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls‘ “Onegai Cinderella” performance — not performing in a hole-in-the-wall place that looks to be slightly larger than the average bar.
Another minute later, I quickly realized that the venue’s comparatively small size was the point of the entire opening.
“You know, that girl simply left without ever turning to look back, but I could see her profile. And she was just like all of the cave raiders I’ve seen. That eye I saw was full of longing. And then, I remembered what it was I wanted to be one day.”
-Riko on meeting Mitty, Made in Abyss, Episode 13
When we first meet her, Riko is bored.
Cave raiding still excites her, but she’s already looking into her own future to a time when she won’t be stuck on the first layer, combing through graves that have already been dug up by countless red whistle trainees for run-of-the-mill artifacts. Initially presented as part of a larger vertical society where the delvers give back to the community in the form of artifacts or new Abyss discoveries, cave raiding first appears to be a societal contribution first.
Yet, from the moment she appears in the series’ first episode, Riko’s desire is far more selfish. She admits to hoarding the Star Compass because its value as an artifact that guides its user towards the truth of the Abyss is more important to her personal goals. She is rarely in the present, talking instead of a far-off time when she’s a white whistle like her mother, Lyza.
Riko looks into the Abyss and sees her mother. Riko looks into the Abyss and sees endless opportunity and possibility. Riko looks into the Abyss and sees her own insatiable curiosity, the inevitable pull that every human has towards something.