A Crunchyroll Of The Dice QF: Rio Rainbow Gate vs Amanchu!

Welcome one, and welcome all, I hope while reading, you have ball! Another edition of ‘A Crunchyroll of the Dice’, is about to begin! But first, as always, the rules:

  1. The winners of round one has been paired up for battle, and I will now be watching episode two of each anime
  2. If the series has multiple seasons, Istick with season 1
  3. I have to at least try to watch the episode, no matter what show has made it through

After I watch both episodes, I will give a spoiler filled run-down of my thoughts on each and then compare them in several categories, giving points to the winner in each. This time around, we have an odd-ball pairing as the massive ball of fan service that is Rio Rainbow Gate takes on the laid back stylings of Amanchu! While Rio took a surprisingly strong 8 – 4 victory over Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Amanchu! is coming in even stronger after taking the feature’s second clean sweep by beating The Pet Girl of Sakurasou 12 – 0. Will either side manager an easy victory this time? Let’s find out!

 

Rio Rainbow Gate

rio1The opening is fairly standard, with plenty of shots of Rio doing dealer type stuff, plus a bunch of other characters that we haven’t met yet. There’s nothing overly offensive here, nor anything overly surprising. It’s mostly a collection of top heavy women in various outfits, and an obligatory shot of Rio’s cute pet ferret, Chip. We open the episode with a fan service heavy advert for the casino that Rio works in, and then learn that Rio is particularly annoyed that she needs to appear in a dance show. She decides to give the owner a piece of her mind and marches towards the camera. What we get here is a close-up of her bosom bouncing. A lot. With comedy boing sounds effects. I kid you not. The owner, Howard, asks Rio if she only wants dealer work, and she says yes. He surprisingly agrees and introduces Ania, a twin-ginger-pig-tails trainee from Russia. She is a fan of Rio’s it seems, and Rio is told to train her. Ania is overjoyed, but Rio is unsure. She changes her tune rather quickly when Howard pulls out a bikini-clad poster for the next show though.

Rio takes Ania to her room and asks her to show what she can do. The recruit runs through some standard shuffling tricks that you can see in any casino, and Rio gives her a pass for card skills, then says she’ll check out her roulette work next. Ania spots a card on Rio’s sideboard, and proclaims it to be a ‘Gate’. Rio confirms that she’s a ‘Gate Holder’, and Mint asks what that means. Rio explains that the International Casino Dealer’s Guild issue thirteen of these cards, all spread throughout the world. The ones that hold them, Gate Holders, challenge other dealers with their Gates on the line. We cut abruptly to some guy in a car telling a lady that the dealer who collects all thirteen Gates will be named the strongest dealer by the guild, and then we jump back to Rio. Rio is very bashful about how great Ania thinks she is, and explains that the Gate was given to her by a mysterious man after she won a game. She plays down the importance of it but does say that she’s interested in the title. Getting back on track, Rio moves things towards the roulette wheel, and Ania magically turns into a klutz just in time to trip over herself for a timely butt shot for the camera.

Back to man in the car, Elvis, and he’s rambling about optimal driving conditions with his all-girl fan club. He appears to be heading towards Rio with a challenge in mind. Meanwhile, Rio is dealing cards, and we see Ania stumbling about with drinks. Rio wonders if she’ll be OK, and I wonder if Ania is going to be a one-joke character. Over Ania goes again. And then again, this time smashing the carefully stacked champagne glasses. She apologises, but when she bows to do so, she butt-bumps a slot machine and a domino effect ensues … she must have some powerful glutes! Slot machines are heavy ol’ things after all! More trips and smashes, more destruction, and she helps Rosa from the last episode win the jackpot.

rio2The other staff ask Rio if she’s actually training the girl, and we see Ania being dragged off by Rosa. Another bang, and another crash … and Elvis turns up. He helps a guy win at craps, then helps a girl win at the slots. Next, he turns his attention to the pool table. All the while, he’s gathering more and more women into his entourage. As he wonders along, Ania smashes some glasses, and he helps her out, cutting his finger in the process. He tries his smooth talking, but Ania ignores it and puts a plaster on his finger instead. Elvis would be upset, but he spots Rio and takes a stroll over. He throws down his Gate and challenges Rio to a battle. Queue serious face from Rio. Half way through the episode and it does feel like we’ve covered quite a bit actually. This has a much better balance than the first episode now that it’s heading into the storyline rather than just a bunch of shots of Rio bouncing all over the place.

Rosa and the other patrons are excited to witness a Gate battle, and Elvis spills some line about how he understands if Rio doesn’t want to fight, as it’s a tragedy for her to have to fight the man she loves. I think he may be rather up himself you know. Rio is confused by this, but Elvis persists, stating that all women fall in love with him. He pushes for the battle and Rio acts unsure, but Howard appears on the big screen, from where I assume he likes to occasionally appear and pretend to be the wizard of Oz, and accepts the Gate Battle on Rio’s behalf. Rio is upset, of course. We head to the beach though, where a giant roulette wheel tears its way through the sand. This is Howard’s Ultimate Roulette (he must have installed it just in case). Shockingly, Howard gives an inspirational speech about Gate Holders carrying their dreams, and Rio feels the power of his cigar-chompin’ inspiration, setting herself resolutely on course for battle. Howard has prepared a costume change too, complete with magical golden light to bring about the new clothes. It’s … a bright green (and not quite properly fitted) bikini under a pair of short-short-shorts. The shorts are open rather than zipped and buttoned up, and the poorly chosen bikini size ensure maximum under-boob. Rio is most upset, noting that it’s the outfit from the poster Howard showed her earlier. Howard laughs evilly and proclaims that it looks good on Rio.

Down on the sand, Mint makes an innocent comment about Rio cosplaying to become one with the game, but Ania notices that Rio isn’t enjoying it. Elvis gets into the spirit of things and strips down to his swim shorts and six pack. The rules are then explained: one person will throw the ball and the other will bet on red or black, and if the person betting is right, they win, and if they’re wrong, they lose … because the roulette wheel didn’t make that obvious. Anyway, Ania is now up top in front of the wheel spinner control thing, and Elvis lets Rio choose who will do what. She decides to bet. Elvis asks if he can try throwing the ball a few times as he’s never played roulette like this before, and Rio says that he can. He picks up what appears to be a yellow bowling ball and talks about how great he is. He starts ding his calculations and bowls for black 2 … and gets it. Red 14 … Black 29 … both spot on. He declares it time to start as the numbers love him more than anyone else.

rio3With the magic of Elvis vision, we see Ania and Rio’s clothes disappear, only to be replaced by rotating numbers. Elvis bowls, confidently aiming for Black 33. Rio watches and a Red 1 jumps in front of her. Randomly, Elvis and Rio start playing beach volleyball, which of course means that Rio struggles to remain clothed. Rio declares that the numbers love all who love the game, and bets Red. The ball lands in Red, and she wins. Elvis’s calculations were fine, but the plaster than Ania put on his finger came off on the ball and botched it on him. And now the ladies are leaving him. He babbles a bit and Ania takes his Gate from him, meaning Rio now has two. Ania and Mint bring a celebratory cake, and Ania trips. Again. We cut the end credits which feature another montage of Rio wearing very little while other characters occasionally drop by to try to steal the limelight from Rio’s Fan Service Super Powers. This is all very tiring though, and Chip falls asleep.

The fan service got a bit silly towards the end, but in all, that was actually a pretty fun episode.

 

Amanchu!

am3Next up, we return to the chilled out world of Hikari and Futaba. Hikari is explaining the five step checklist for diver’s before they get in the water: preparation, location, time, air, and action. She is applying this to being ready to head off to school and is pulling her best Zippy faces. She throws in an obligatory whistle blow, heads outside, and is thrilled with the weather. The opening theme kicks in and it’s as chilled out as you’d expect from the series, with the focus primarily on Futaba and Hikari, but with shots of the various other characters thrown in. The swimming scenes naturally feature swimsuits, but they don’t feel like they’re supposed to be as fan service-y as Rio Rainbow Gate. It just goes to show that presentation can make what is essentially the same thing take on a whole different feel.

Hikari waits at the bus stop for the Tokai bus, merrily blowing her whistle and sniffing her bus ticket. What smells better, that or her textbook? It’s pretty close! She picks the ‘deluxe special seat’ and we cut to Futaba in bed. Her alarm goes off, and she still has no messages from her old friends. She gets up grumbling about everything being unfamiliar, but Hikari pops into her mind and she gets a little confused. Back at the bus, Hikari is giving the Zippy-smile to a bug on the outside of the window while someone else gets on. She runs across to the other side of the bus and opens the window so that she can feel the breeze, and this leaves her fellow passenger (her teacher, Katori) struggling with the chill. The stop button lights up for the shopping district, and Hikari gets tempted to push it … but the Katori steals her thunder and gets there first.

Hikari gets off in a bit of a funk and then realises that the other passenger was Katori. This cheers her up a little and they get to talking. Hikari hadn’t noticed Katori on the bus, and the teacher asks why she got off at the shopping stop rather than taking the bus all the way to the school. Hikari managed to get up early, so thought that she’d take the scenic route to school. Katori questions what she means by scenic route, and Hikari states that it’s a way to take in the morning in all its glory. Hikari seems to have adopted ‘whoop’ as a catchphrase for this episode. Katori is impressed that Hikari knows this route. Hikari asks if she takes the route every day, and she says no, only when she has the time. It’s good for some morning healing time though.

The two fall into step, and are both strolling along happily. The scenery continues to be lovely here, even when we’re way from the picturesque sea scenes and instead walking the town. The attention to detail in how the local area is portrayed is really a strong point for the series. Anyway, the two spontaneously decide to race. Meanwhile, Futaba is sat alone at home when her phone goes off. Chizuru has sent a message to tell her to ride safely and not to be late. This makes Futaba smile, and she texts back to say that she’s off. She seems really reliant on electronic communication. Back to the race and Zippy is keeping pace with an angry looking Kokeshi Doll. They start trading over-taking, until Katori pulls ahead. Realising that she’s left Hikari behind, she slows with a victorious smile … and Hikari comes flying through the air with a massive jump. Well done to the animators for avoiding unnecessary fan service on that one! Hikari lands up ahead, proclaims that she has the lead, and dashes off, leaving Katori stunned.am4

Futaba is pootling along on her bike just as Hikari hits the most scenic part of the route: a residential area on a slope. Hikari comments that running down the slope would acquire skills akin to that of a master scuba diver … such obstacles can easily be overcome with youthful energy! But wait! What’s this? Katori has grabbed a lift on the back of someone’s bike, and pulls into the lead! Hikari may have youthful energy, but she has adult charm, and that wins out! Hikari won’t give up though, and takes a short cut down the wooded hill. To the utter shock of Katori (and Futaba who’s stopped to take pictures), Hikari flies through the air and almost regains the lead, but hurts herself in the process. Katori comes running, and Hikari uses her whistle to state that her legs have gone numb. Katori can’t understand her, but makes her promise not to do a giant stride from that far up again. Something clicks about the phrase ‘giant stride’ and Hikari asks Katori if she’s a diver too. She is! Whoop! Hugs, and a discovery of being dive buddies! Futaba is less impressed, and stares at her accidental photo of Hikari, deciding that she’s a weirdo. I do hope that she’s being light hearted there or that would be pretty mean spirited, especially with how nice Hikari has been to her.

The school day ends with Katori telling the class that, as of Monday, they switch to full days with six periods. She also mentions that the bulletin board will contain details of all the school clubs. Futaba decides that this is ‘meh’ and that she’ll spend the next three years in the Going Home Club. While the other pupils start thinking about clubs, Futaba walks straight past the board to continue her moodiness. The picturesque scenery raises a smile though, and she starts to try to take a photo, but notices Hikari sneaking off somewhere. Noting that she’s going in the opposite direction to the front gate, she decides to follow her. Futaba catches up with Hikari and refuses to play along with the Teko nickname she gave her in the last episode. They stare at each other a little, then Hikari takes Futaba’s hand and drags her off to the pool area. Futaba remembers that Hikari is a scuba diver, puts two and two together, and tries to remind her that the club trials don’t start until next week. Hikari is having none of this though and marches straight in. Futaba, panicking, cries out to Hikari that she’ll get in trouble, but Hikari is busy telling someone that she’s surprised to see them there. Curious as to why Hikari is making such happy noises, she steps in to find her with … the cat from episode one.

Hikari decides that the cat must be a member of the club. As the cat says ‘cha’ a lot, Hikari nicknames it Cha and asks if it’s the Club Advisor. Futaba says that it probably just snuck in and starts studying the diving suites. Hikari asks if she’s interested in them, and Futaba goes shy, saying that they look kinda cool. This is Hikari’s territory, and she explains the difference between wet and dry diving suites, and Futaba makes the mistake of asking how dry suites are completely waterproof. Hikari gets changed into the suit (off screen), and asks Futaba to close the back zipper. She shows where the rubber seals are, and explains that the zipper is similar to those used in space suits.

Being a bad influence, Hikari convinces Futaba to try a wetsuit on too. Hikari thinks she looks great in it, and drags her off to the pool. Hikari ducks down and Futaba asks if she’s ill, but Hikari explains that doing this and opening the neck seal gets rid of the excess air in one go. Futaba joins in and is shocked to find that it’s fun. Hikari, being as brazen as she is, takes a flying leap into the pool, leaving a panicked Futaba on the side. Hikari offers a hand to Futaba, and Futaba goes bright red and won’t jump in. Club Adviser Cha jumps in though and decides to rest on Hikari’s stomach while she floats.

am2Futaba is feeling bad as Hikari has been leading her around and getting her to do audacious things that she wouldn’t normally even dream of. She catches Hikari’s eye, and starts thinking about how miserable she’s been since leaving her old friends behind. Somehow, Hikari has shone brightly in her eyes, despite being from an unfamiliar world, and watching her enjoy herself to the fullest gives rise to an excitement in Futaba’s heart. Futaba dives in and lets herself float, staring up at the sky. Hikari says that when you’re underwater, at first you can only hear the sound of your own breathing, but you gradually start to become one with the ocean. It’s at the moment that you can’t tell when your body ends and the ocean begins that it hits her that we were all born from the sea. The two girls look at each other, and Hikari asks if Futaba would like to try diving with her. Futaba blushes slightly and realises that she wasn’t as hesitant about coming to school today compared to yesterday, and that the reason is simple: Hikari is there. She smiles and says that she’ll think about it. The relaxing end music kicks in again and we close the episode down.

The shift of focus to Hikari was a good move for this episode I think, and it was good to get a little more of Katori too. Thinking about it, I wonder if Futaba will end up focussing on photography at some point in the series, as she seems to like taking photos with her phone.

 

Let the battle commence!

I will now compare each series on several different aspects. The winning series in each category gets two points, and both series get one point in the case of a draw. Being the quarter finals, we’ll be using a few different categories this time: Best Story Progression, Best Character Progression, Best Individual Scene, Best Character, Best Animation, and Best Soundtrack.

Rio Rainbow Gate got itself off to a strong start here. While the first episode saw it meander through what was nothing more than a character introduction, this time, it went straight in with introducing the overall story. Meanwhile, Amanchu! continues to take a scenic stroll through the underlying tale of Hikari and Futaba’s friendship. This is a difficult one to judge because both series move at distinctly different paces. Rio has opted for a full-steam ahead approach, while Amanchu! is more a show for the ‘slow-and-steady’ approach. In terms of which one progressed the most, when you look at it in terms of their individual styles of storytelling, they’re both pretty close. Best Story Progression: Draw

Rio Rainbow Gate may appear to have sped up when it comes to storytelling, but character progression doesn’t appear to be something that it has any interest in. Even with the reveal of Rio being a Gate Holder, it didn’t really do much to progress her (or anyone else) as a character. Amanchu! does a little better here. Surprisingly, although Hikari took centre stage, I actually felt that she had the least character progression of the episode; she was just full-on Pikari all episode. Katori’s playful attitude and competitive streak were brought out well though. Futaba slowly coming to the realisation that she can cope, and that she has friends in the here and now, not just in the past, was also a good step forward. Best Character Progression: Amanchu!

While full of its own kind of action, Rio Rainbow Gate struggled to put together a truly memorable scene here, mostly thanks to it getting stuck focussing on Ania and her clumsiness. Meanwhile, Amanchu! didn’t have anything that stood out as ‘cool’ in the same way that Lupin III Part 4 had Jigen’s grenade shooting antics, but it did create some memorable moments. The entire race between Hikari and Katori was wonderful, and genuinely made me laugh at times. The closing scene is the one that really stood out though. It was subtle, but it got its message through loud and clear. Oh, and the animation was great to boot! Best Individual Scene: Relaxing in life (Amanchu!)

Katori. There isn’t even a discussion to be had here. Rio is fine as a lead for the sort of show that she stars in, but there isn’t really much to her. With the exception of the one-dimensional Ania and Elvis, the side characters didn’t have much to do either. Meanwhile, Katori’s willingness to get along with her pupils, her competitive nature, and the addition of her scuba skills (which pretty much guarantee that we’ll see more of her when club activities start) put her head and shoulders above the other characters this week. Best Character: Katori (Amanchu!)

Rio Rainbow Gate is actually pretty competent. While the animators obviously have a fixation on bouncy bits, they do do a generally decent job. Amanchu! though goes out of its way to try to stand out. Generally speaking, the animation is smooth, but it’s the little things that make it so good. The scenery is beautiful, the facial expressions are wonderfully quirky, and little things like the movement in the clothing folds when Hikari is flying through the air put it head and shoulders above its foe. Best Animation: Amanchu!

The category has a similar thing going on that the ‘Best Animation’ one does. Rio Rainbow Gate has a perfectly serviceable soundtrack. There’s nothing that specifically stands out, and it doesn’t really add to the show, but it’s fine. On the other hand, Amanchu! uses the soundtrack to help set the overall tone of the episode, adding to the chilled out qualities of the show rather than just placing something that sounds like it fits over the top of the goings on. Best Soundtrack: Amanchu!

 am1

Final Scores: Rio Rainbow Gate – 1 point, Amanchu! – 11 points

Amanchu! continues to be a strong entrant in the tournament, and came remarkably close to grabbing its second clean sweep of the tournament. As it stands, it’s been remarkably consistent, and this is going to be key in the semi-finals when it faces the winner of Kiznaiver and Wanna Be The Strongest In The World. Rio Rainbow Gate is not undeserving of praise though. As a show, the two episode that I watched were far more enjoyable that I expected, with its major strength being that it knows exactly what type of show it is and is comfortable in putting itself across that way. Will I continue with it? Maybe. It strikes me as a show that you can drift in and out of, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this battle as much as I did. Until next time!

 

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