And here we go with the second semi-final of the 2016 edition of ‘A Crunchyroll of the Dice!’ After this, the final two match-ups will be set, with one series battling Love Live! for third place and the other taking on the formidable Flying Witch for the top spot. As always, before we begin, I give you … a quick reminder of the rules:
- The QF winners have been paired up for battle, and I will now be watching episode three of each anime
- If the series has multiple seasons, Istick with season 1
- I have to at least try to watch the episode, no matter what show has made it through
So, the hype. Heading into this battle, Amanchu! is looking the strongest. Thanks to some lucky draws, it romped to a 12 – 0 victory over The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, then almost repeated the feat with an 11 – 1 win over Rio Rainbow Gate. Kiznaiver had a harder route to the semi-finals in some respects, taking Trinity Seven 10 -2, then moving on to an 8 – 4 victory over Wanna be The Strongest In The World. Can Amanchu! continue its run of easy victories, or will Kiznaivers continued battling be enough to see it through? Let’s find out …
We open up with a shot of the school swimming pool and the sound of students talking about going to lunch. Futaba notes that girls tend to form groups and that she feels nervous at times like that, then glances over her shoulder at Hikari’s empty seat. From the wonderful way that the animation is done, it’s clear that she’s beginning to see Hikari as integral in coping with this new life. Futaba, in an effort to move forward, takes a deep breath and stands up, ready to talk to a group of girls in front of her, but sits back down again. She tries to convince herself that she’s fine by herself, but she’s fooling no one. Up jumps the chillaxed opening, leaving us to ponder where Hikari may be. We return to see Futaba and Hikari walking along together, Futaba pushing her scooter and Hikari blowing her whistle merrily. Futaba thanks her for asking her to walk home with her and for coming up at lunch and asking to each together. Hikari had been buying croissants. Futaba is nervous after moving from Tokyo. She does like Izu, but she’s struggling not to be cowardly. She apologises for rambling on and Hikari tells her not to worry as she loves to listen to people talk, which makes Futaba smile. Futaba finds it all very strange as she never talks about herself this much.
Hikari admits that she’s not good at talking to people, and Futaba seems surprised, citing how confidently she introduced herself to the class. Hikari says that she can’t think how to put things into words, and when that happens she ends up overdoing it with her actions. In the end, she gives up trying to explain and reverts to the whistle. An idea strikes Hikari, and she leads Futaba away from the bus stop and up a hill. The girls keep moving until Futaba says that it’s club trial day tomorrow and wonders what you do in the trials. She hopes that any seniors are not scary and that she can fit in. Hikari whistles at Futaba, and she says that she can’t understand what she’s saying. Hikari, in full on Zippy-face-mode leads Futaba away again, this time taking her to the top of the road. She tells Futaba that her grandma told her that people who are miserable living in the moment find misery anytime, anywhere. She giggles, dances about, and spins Futaba around, showing her an absolutely stunning scene: the sakura trees are blooming and, where they flank either side of a road, they form a tunnel of sakura. Hikari knew that Futaba wouldn’t have seen the place before as she’d only just moved there, and she feels happy to share it with Futaba. She says that her grandma also says that those who are happy living in the moment find happiness anytime, anywhere. The petals whoosh out while Hikari tells Futaba that she’ll be there with her, so she’ll be fine tomorrow, the day after, and ever after. Futaba thinks to herself that Hikari was doing her best to cheer her up. With a smile, decides that the sakura isn’t the only reason she’s happy, and uses Hikari’s nickname, Pikari, at least internally. That’s a sweet moment.
The next day arrives, and the students are all out thinking about clubs. Hikari has dragged Futaba to the Diving Club, of course, and they go inside. Katori, the girls’ teacher is there. She says they’re just in time. She says that there had been a complaint that there were signs that someone snuck into the club room last week and wondered if either of them may know who it was. Futaba smiles and tries to hide it, but Hikari jumps in and says it was her. Katori whomps her on the head with a yellow flipper. Futaba owns up too, and Katori whomps Hikari again, proclaiming that she was probably the one that dragged Futaba along. In fairness, she called it! She asks what they’re doing there, and Hikari says she wants to join, while Futaba wants to take part in the trial period. Katori welcomes them, revealing herself as the Diving Club Advisor. Hikari says it’s a surprise, but Katori points out that it was clearly labelled on the bulletin board. Hikari had already decided to join, so didn’t check the board, and Futaba hadn’t been planning to join any clubs. Hikari asks if Cha the cat is really the advisor, and Futaba cuts in, asking if she’d be diving straight away. Katori says that no, they have to study first. To her surprise, Futaba is a little disappointed. She also seems disappointed that Katori calls Hikari Pikari.
Study begins by talking about air pressure differences inside and outside your body causing a ringing in the ears. As water is denser than air, it changes the pressure more than air does. Katori asks what happens when they dive to a certain point, and (with help from Hikari) Futaba correctly guesses that the natural air pockets in your ears get crushed. To prevent this, all you need to do is maintain a consistent air volume. Even this won’t get the air to your ears normally though, so you need to divert it yourself. Katori mentions ear equalisation and calls Pikari to help her, and Futaba makes a mental note of the name Pikari being used again. Katori explains the ear equalisation methods: swallow your saliva, move your jaw left and right, and pinch your nose and send air to your ears. As the third is recommended for beginners, Katori tells Futaba to try, calling her Teko, the nickname that Hikari gave her. It takes Futaba a moment to realise that she’s Teko, bless her, and she tries … and gets it right! Whoop! Hikari gets up close and congratulates Futaba, and Futaba goes bright red. Katori cuts in though and asks Futaba to guess the ironclad rule of diving. Futaba has no idea, so Katori gives her a clue: think about what happens when you rise to surface rather than what happens during the dive. She asks what will happen if you have optimum air for thirty meters then rise to ten meters? Hikari points her to the board, and Futaba starts to think it through, finally noting that the air volume will double, blowing your lungs. To prevent that, you should let air out of your body. The ironclad rule is: never stop breathing underwater, as this will naturally adjust the air pressure.
Futaba smiles and thinks about all the things that she found scary, and how her desire to see more of this strange new world has taken shape and fallen into place like a jigsaw. Each piece has a reason and meaning, and it’s fun. The two girls bond over the excitement and how interesting it all is while Katori and Cha look on. Hikari says ‘let’s dive together, Teko’. Futaba responds by agreeing and calling Hikari Pikari. Sudden shock as Hikari starts to blush subtly, then Futaba goes bright red, and Hikari gets excited about Futaba using her nickname for the first time. Hikari glomps Futaba off her chair and the episode ends on a scenic shot of the sky with the sakura floating by. I have no idea if the diving advice given there was accurate, but I’m working on the assumption that it is. That episode whizzed by.
We pick up exactly where we left off last week with Maki confessing to murder. Then she says that she’s just kidding and asks Sonozaki how they get out of this situation. Oh. That’s disappointing. I thought that murder was an interesting little twist for Maki. Sonozaki confirms that the kiznaivers will be disbanded if they survive the Summer Vacation that starts next week. Maki goes to leave and Tenga says that she still hasn’t finished her introduction. Maki tells him that she has a terrible personality, and we cut to a mysterious person in raggedy clothes in a darkened room. Ooh, intrigue! Opening flashy bits and trance music, go!
And we’re back with Kacchon as he pulls a plaster off, cooks breakfast for Tenga, and remembers Chidori saying that she loved him. Tenga has decided to protect Kacchon so that he doesn’t get hurt (and in turn hurt everyone else). Kacchon agrees to let Tenga use his phone, to which Tenga responds by grabbing him by the shirt and telling him that letting someone else use your smartphone is unthinkable. He threatens to flatten Kacchon if he lets random guys do stuff to him. Suddenly, there’s a kizna flash and Tenga drops to the floor in pain. Chidori calls to check if Kacchon felt it too. Chidori then becomes embarrassed that she called without thinking, as they live next door to each other. Tenga loves that they live so close by and takes a diving leap from one balcony to another. He nails the jumps, then slips, causing everyone pain.
The trio of kiznaivers walk along and Chidori covers Tenga’s kiznaiver scar with a bandage. They are surprised to find that Tenga is only one still feeling the pain after his fall. Kacchon theorises that they share instant pain, but not the residual effects, and Chidori thinks back to the earlier flash of pain that they experienced. Tenga wanders off to find out who it was and flatten them. He’s a regular Incredible Hulk this episode isn’t he? Now alone together, Chidori tells Kacchon that it was past tense when she said she loved him. He says that’s OK and he can forget she said it if she wants, but she tells him off, questioning whether it meant so little to him. Kacchon fumbles his words a bit but makes it clear that he just didn’t want to be bothersome for Chidori.
In school, the trio meet up with Nico and find that Sonozaki isn’t about. Maki is also there and seems OK. Yuta wanders by with some girls hanging off him and is also fine by the looks of things, but Tenga starts questioning him about whether he was hit by a bus or anything. Chidori then sticks her oar in and asks to speak to him about the future. All of a sudden. Yuta’s mini-harem is looking a bit confused. Nico then flashes the picture of Yuta in his obese youth, and he relents to the idea of everyone talking. They head up to the roof and start to chat, but the conversation is cut short by another flash of pain. There be another kiznaiver then. That will be the raggedy man of intrigue I reckon. Kacchon notices a D7 on his kiznaiver scar, and I mean that literally, not in a D&D style dice way. Chidori says that when Tenga fell, it said D2. Maki wonders if they were all assigned numbers, and that this means there’s a seventh kiznaiver.
Sonozaki’s voice appears shortly after Tenga threatens to violate her, and she says that there’s a meeting she’d like them to go to. The mission is to find the seventh. We get a brief shot of the mystery man having gone through a glass window. We come back from the break to see Yuta asking his harem if any of them are wounded. Tenga is taking a more direct route, outright asking people if they’re kiznaivers. Maki and Chidori step in and discuss whether being a kiznaiver was a secret or not. The only thing linking the crew are that they’re all in the same class, so they’re working on that being a good starting point. Maki says that she keeps feeling a very slight pain in the back of her head, and we cut to Nico punching Kacchon. They’ve been going door to door and doing this, watching to see if anyone reacts which, as points out, is actually pretty intuitive. Nice gets upset that she’s given away that she’s smart, but reverts to form when it’s pointed out that it was a compliment. Yuta says that the only one they haven’t checked is a guy called Hisomu. He hasn’t attended class at all since entering the school and is set to repeat the year.
The gang go off to visit Hisomu at home and Nico says that he’s famous at the hospital for coming in for lots of short-term stays due to bruises and broken bones. Chidori wonders if he’s being bullied, but Yuta throws out that he could be staging car crashes to get ay-outs. Maki suggests failed suicide. Kacchon feels sorry for him regardless of the reason, and Tenga decides that they should all help him. He slaps Kacchon on the back, and the gang think that he cried out in pain, but then remember that he doesn’t feel pain. Hisomu is on the move! They give chase and spot him just as he leaps from two stories up and face plants. Nico thinks he’s hot though. They lose him at the station, and Tenga punches Yuta so that they can hear Hisomu cry out again. This method of hunting goes on for a little bit as they slowly close in on the run-away kiznaiver, finally spotting him as he slides by on a shopping trolley.
Tenga decides that it’s clobbering time again, and Chidori volunteers to take the hit this time! Nico then joins the queue behind her. Tenga reluctantly makes a move to do as requested, but the neighbourhood watch accost him. Chidori says that it wouldn’t just be her getting hurt, Tenga would be hurt too, and the interlopers cry out in shock that she’s in a domestic violence mindset. Kacchon dashes off and catches up t Hisomu. He explains why they’re chasing him and offers to help in any way he wants, and Hisomu questions why. Kacchon wants to connect and know how others think. Hisomu asks if he really want to help, and Kacchon says he does, so Hisomu drags him to the edge of a bridge and asks him to die! The others catch up and prevent Kacchon being thrown over the edge. Tenga mangles his speech about sharing bodies, and Hisomu eventually scarpers. Tenga surmises that words won’t affect Hisomu, so they need to make him understand what’s happening, right down to his bones. He mounts the edge of the bridge and looks down into the traffic … he starts to shake, and can’t jump. But Kacchon can! Kacchon gets hit by a truck and bounces into a car, coming up bloody and concussed while Hisomu falls to the floor. Chidori and Tenga rush to Kacchon while the others crowd Hisomu. They aren’t sure why he’s still down, unless he gets a bigger share of the pain, so they roll him over. The guy looks like he’s in absolute ecstasy. The mission clears while Hisomu makes some suspect sounds, and we end the episode with Sonozaki giving a presentation about the kiznaivers and their various classifications such as normal, thug, immoral and so on. For me, that was the most focused episode of the series thus far.
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. The categories are: Best Story Progression, Best Character Progression, Best Individual Scene, Best Character, Best Animation, and Best Soundtrack.
OK, so this was a good week for story progression, albeit in different ways. Amanchu! really hasn’t swayed from course, and remains a nice, gentle series that has thus far focused on the two main girls and how they’re adapting to their new school. What I love about this set-up is that they are both so different in how they deal with their hang-ups. The big story here was Futaba using the name ‘Pikari’ for the first time and taking a few steps towards happiness. Meanwhile, Kiznaiver saw a weird backtrack on Maki before shooting off into introducing the seventh kiznaiver and seeing some bonds form between the cast. In particular, I liked the team up of Kacchon, Chidori and Tenga. So both series were effective, and differently but equally so. Best Story Progression: Draw
Kiznaiver may have moved the story along well this episode, but in terms of outright character progression, it faltered. Kacchon’s admission to wanting to connect was good, but it was a very small step. In Amanchu! we had Futaba’s continued steps towards comfort and happiness. While it was in essence a similar sort of thing to Kacchon’s revelation, the execution made it feel bigger somehow, and that gives it enough of an edge to take the points here. Best Character Progression: Amanchu!
So, Kiznaiver … The end scene was intriguing, and Tenga’s balcony jumping antics did make me smile. Amanchu! though went for a different approach and managed to throw out a few good candidates here. The cherry blossom tunnel was really pretty, and the internal monologue from Futaba started to push her towards the equally nice episode ending scene where she chose happiness and then set Hikari off by using her nickname. For sheer overall impact, Amanchu! gets the points here. Best Individual Scene: Sakura Tunnel’s and Companionship (Amanchu!)
I really, really want to give the points to Amanchu! again here, largely because the entire cast thus far is so likeable. The thing is though, Kiznaiver actually came up trumps for me with this one. Tenga was an absolute joy in all his Flattenin’ Time glory. He was funny, kept things interesting in his trio with Chidori and Kacchon, and was all-in-all a very cool character this time around. Best Character: Tenga (Kiznaiver)
I’m going to come out say it straight away. This one is a draw. Amanchu! is so good at both the scenic moments and the subtle little things that make a series standout. Kiznaiver may not have the same level of beauty to it, but the animation is still top notch in terms of both smoothness and having interesting designs. Both shows are so different, but both so good in this category. Best Animation: Draw
Kiznaiver has a good soundtrack. The opening and closing themes are fun, and the music that creeps in during the episodes are perfectly fine. Thus far, it really hasn’t had any major missteps in this department. What gives Amanchu! the edge is that the music never really feels like it’s just there to tie in with the scene on screen, it feels like it’s there to enhance it. Case in point: the background music when the kiznaivers turn Hisomu over at the end of the episode fits. The music during the sakura tunnel scene in Amanchu! fits. What sets it apart is that the sakura tunnel background piece adds tot eh feel of the scene rather than just sits there. That’s why the points go to Amanchu! here. Best Soundtrack: Amanchu!
Final Scores: Amanchu! – 8 points, Kiznaiver – 4 points
And that wraps up the semi-finals! Next up, Love Live! School Idol project steps up to the plate against Kiznaiver in the battle for third place, and then, a chilled out final will see Flying Witch and Amanchu! duke it out. How will the final pieces fall? We’ll find out soon! Until next time, thanks for reading.