Musaigen no Phantom World – 08

Love is a canvas furnished by nature, and embroidered by imagination. Voltaire

I think this one will go down as one of my favorite episodes that KyoAni has ever made; and it’s the perfect spiritual successor to Kyoukai no Kanata 06. But it’s not for the obvious reason – the supposed fanservice.

“Hey, I don’t mind Fanservice…

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I’ve been trying to work the salad dressing gag into one of these posts since the show began- I think I’ve found the right way just short of the character covered in sandwich spread. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s cover the bookends.

First we got a brief introduction into storytelling. OK, I’m stretching that, we got a mention of combination and permutation, dropped by the students’ teacher at the episodes beginning; for once the cold open didn’t really punch the thematic clock like it usually does. A story is a collection of parts, a combination of plot, characterizations, action, reaction, exposition, theme, etc. If you put them down any which way, you stand the chance of getting a disjointed or nonsensical story. But a well thought out permutation makes all the difference.

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I mention this because of the show’s other bookend, going into all of these crazy motions to solve the problem when the tools to do so was right there as the character’s disposal at the very beginning; either one – Kurumi’s heartfelt question, as she proved to be able to do last episode, or Haruhiro’s questionable summoning of alien octopus crazy star god, that he foreshadowed well in advance. So why did’t they use either method? Hell, why not used Ruru to talk to all phantoms to begin with? Well, they wouldn’t have a story if they did that! Ah, fanservice, it really is a random ain’t it? Well, so is human nature, as comedy is distance, can’t get more distant that drawings on a TV….

Actually, it wasn’t at all this time around. That was rather the point. They pretty much paced this one perfectly; from the get go they wrote it layers. There was the suspiciously alike-in-looks to the main girls in our cast Beach Troop. Everyone was waiting for them, they were buxom, they were sexy, they were powerful, and they were ultimately useless. When Mai tried to duplicate their methods, she got the exact same treatment they did; a big old lick from the fanboy/monkey.

There were other methods used  as well, but I would just like to focus on how perfect Koito’s crazy method was brought about. Most fanservice is built on how un-natural and forced some poses are, or how physics defying some of the situations get. Her’s was built on how foolish it is to ask a character to act out of character. And they did it with such self-referential purpose.

Which is pretty much what everyone was doing at one moment or the next; just happy to toss themselves in to solving the problem without thinking. Most of them never having a moment to even establish a character so far as the background players go. But for our main cast, Kurumi should have known better than to allow a stuffed toy into a bath. Paper, paint, water and steam is not a good combo Haru, and you just lost major points for the panto horse, dude. Reina, you shouldn’t have a single bit of shame in who you are, etc.

Speaking of Haru, the monkey out of him turnout was one for the books. While the rest of the macaque entourage loved Mai’s red butt treatment, Haru’s boyish cuteness is what ultimately sealed the deal for the big one-eyed, big forearmed boss. All of that pretty much underlines how absurd it all is, and how sometimes fans can get out of hand and out of mind when it comes to it; I bet KyoAni was channeling the reactions to Free! with that scene.

Extra Bits…..

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…so long as it’s appropriate to the story”

 – is perhaps one of the most half-arsed and misguided things to say about anime along with, “I’ll waste my time time watching three of these, even though I’ve already judged it from the first one, the first fifteen minutes in as something you don’t wanna watch”. Any storytelling element is mostly subjective, which is this case it’s prankish titillation, which I’d rather have than violence for the sake of it nearly every single time. So, judge on how the element is used, not just or only that it is used.

So long as humans use human sexuality to sell product then we will have fanservice – and here you thought them using our next of kin with the snow monkeys was random. This episode is as close as you can get to showing how appropriate the trope of fanservice can be…Kyoto Animation knows exactly what it’s doing, and does it well. They’ve been saying quite a bit about narrative tropes with this show, and it’s been appreciated on my part. Now after saying all this, are there brighter bulbs out there? Dimmer? Maybe, but for me, this one episode had enough illumination to be brilliant, lampshades and all…

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…or just the bare bulb, whatever works…

Next Time…

We gonna get us a samurai and a new character it looks like…


All around nerd that enjoys just about any anime genre. I love history, politics, public policy, the sciences, literature, arts...pretty much anything can make me geeky...except sports. Follow me @theskylion
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11 Responses to “Musaigen no Phantom World – 08”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Throughout the show thus far, we’ve had rabbits, bears, cats and now monkeys. Are there anymore members of the animal kingdom we should expect?

    Usually some animes have a point where the characters eventually go to a hot spring but with Phantom World’s twist, the hot spring’s coming to them. A little too much to suppose something will always happen in the same order.

    Yeah, personally, this week was rather weak on the entertainment meter. Not that there was much to expect already. What put me off were the over the top hijinks and the students hamming things up with their corny attacks on the Phantom. Last episode had more fun. One matter is that the fanservice wasn’t a problem.

  2. zztop says:

    I’ve heard this episode is anime original ( together with some of the previous episodes) -Kyoani’s really pandering to its target audience here. The only problem is that there’s no available translation of the source light novel to compare to, to see what major changes were made.
    And Kyoani CAN get away with it, because they own the novel rights.

    • skylion says:

      I don’t really see these as any sort of problems. One, I’ve never been a fan of a studio being over-beholden to a source; they need to tell the story to suit the anime medium, not do a direct blow by blow account of the prose medium in visual form.

      As for pandering, that’s completely subjective. They are playing a very coy little game with fanservice in this show. I mean, there is no nudity, there’s not overt sexuality.

  3. Highway says:

    I like the feel that this show is giving to the ‘conflict’ between Phantoms and Humans. It could easily have been the normal dire situation, where humans have to take the phantoms super seriously, and have to put on their serious faces and wring their hands about it.

    But instead, they kind of take it as a lark. If the phantoms aren’t really hurting anyone, and I think only a couple have even had the potential to do so, they have a bit of fun with it. That’s exactly what was going on here. And that’s why the posing was so great by the students: They were getting their chance to show the rest of the school how good they were, without it being a high pressure situation. Most of the phantoms have been somewhere else, so this was kind of the “homecoming” event, where the whole school is watching.

    I really can’t see where this show is doing anything wrong. It’s a lot of fun, it’s really well-made, it’s an interesting setup, it’s coherent and consistent and just plain good.

    • skylion says:

      Phantoms are the “noisy upstairs neighbors”, “that one guy that won’t shut up about X”, “your mildly racist relative at a family gathering”, “your friend that is trying to sell you stuff” So yeah, they aren’t for beating as much as they are for tolerating.

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