Weekly Anime Round-Up (May 30th – June 6th): The capitalist metaphor of Madoka Magica and Reviews of Dorohedoro and Jujutsu Kaisen

Dorohedoro is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Q Hayashida. It tells the story of Caiman, a victim of a magic attack, resulting in Caiman being left with a lizard head. I reviewed the series and considered it one of the best anime series in the last decade. Chris Joynson over at Never Argue with a Fish reviews Dorohedoro and loves the series “creativity.” He says that:

Sometimes I just have to marvel at anime. I mean there are many, many reasons why I’ve been watching it for the majority of my life now, but one of the main ones is the sheer breadth and creativity of its stories. Where else am I going to come across a show that opens with a man with a lizard head biting down some other dude’s head, only for another head to work its way up the lizard man’s throat and start talking?

Chris Joynson

Irina review Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen has been a massive hit and has become one of the best received and most successful manga/anime series in years. Like Dorohedoro, I reviewed the first anime season. Irina reviewed the series and was captivated by the animation from MAPPA, “I’m pretty impressed by Mappa lately. . . they certainly know how to create some eye-catching animation.” Overall, Irina concludes what most fans of Jujutsu Kaisen have, the series is a great action shonen;

Season 1 of Jujutsu Kaisen is a strong start to what could become a future classic of action shonen anime. It’s not breaking any molds but it’s a prime example of its genre

Irina

Madoka Magica and the capitalist metaphor

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of those highly regarded anime you hear about from time to time. I always intend to watch it but can’t seem to find the time. Anyway, Audrey Dubois explores how Madoka Magica can be seen as a metaphor for capitalism. Using an “economic lens,” Dubois discusses how Kyubey exploits the magical girls employing them as “freelancers,” into deadly work without “protection.” Kyubey’s manipulations result in isolation, conflict, and ultimately the magical girl’s destruction.

Kyubey’s character is truly a masterclass in labor exploitation. He conditions his magical girls to view potential allies as rivals and targets the most vulnerable candidates to continue his profit machine. His exaggerated evil might help viewers recognize those manipulative tactics when they arise in real life.

Dubois

My Hero Academia Season 5, Episode 10: Deku’s Blackwhip bursts free

In My Hero Academia Season 5, Episode 10 starts with Izuku taking the lead. His classmates note Izuku and his team’s strategy resembles Bakugo’s team. Deku first encounters Neito, who taunts Deku. With Shinso on the team, Deku has to remain silent otherwise he might get caught. Nieto does manage to provoke Deku by slandering Bakugo. Pissed, Deku prepares to fire off a Delaware Smash. Elsewhere, Ochaco, Mina, and Minoru set a trap for Class 1-B. At the same time, Class 1-B attempts to locate them. Nirengeki Shoda looks like a lost member of the Ginyu Force in his scouter and armor. Shoda Quirk, Twin Impact is a little unclear. It is described as the ability to “create a second impact remotely and at his discretion.” I keep thinking it must be like Yuji from Jujutsu Kaisens, Divergent Fist.

Anyway, he’s joined by Reiko Yanagi aka Poltergeist whose Quirk allows her to “telekinetically manipulate objects and people close to her.” Yui Kodai Quirk, Size allows her to alter the size of nonliving things. Together they send a barrage of objects at them. Suddenly, Izuku feels a surge of power and black tendrils emerge from his arm. The black tendrils are far more powerful than they appeared in the manga. Regardless, as Deku loses control, Ochaco rushes to help. The previous user of One For All appears and informs him that the Quirk is called Blackwhip. The Quirk grants the user “the ability to produce black energy tendrils from any part of their body and command them at will.” Deku is the first user of One For All that has been granted access to the other user’s Quirks.

I’m a manga reader so I know how far Deku has gotten with this Quirk and the others. However, in this episode, it’s clear that he can’t use the experience of All Might to help him. While he will be supported, Deku is largely on his own. After this distraction, Neito attacks him, hoping to take advantage. I’m starting to like Neito. He’s one of the anti-heroes in this series. It would be interesting to see if he seems like an anti-hero when in conflict with villains. Class 1-B and Class 1-A clash in a brawl, while, Vlad, All Might, and Shota watch from close by. They agree to let them continue despite Blackwhip’s emergence.


One Piece Chapter 1014: The Alliance begins to fall


I won’t even waste time contemplating whether Luffy is alive or dead. He’s alive. Or he’ll survive. What I wonder is how? In One Piece chapter 1014, “The Ham,” the alliance begins to unravel as Kiado and his Beast Pirates get the upper hand. As Luffy falls of Onigashima and into the sea, Kaido declares his victory. Before he does, Kiado notes that Luffy’s use of Haoshoku Haki was “crude and clumsy.” I was pleasantly surprised by this outcome. Let me explain. I fully expected that Luffy would win this fight, even if it was going to be a difficult one.

Oda has done this in the past, but I’m surprised that Luffy failed. Don’t get me wrong, Luffy will defeat Kaido at some point, but it may not be this arc. When Luffy “fought” Big Mom he actually stood no chance. The Strawhat’s had to flee. Luffy becoming the “fifth Emperor” was premature and largely media propaganda. Luffy learned the difficult and rare ability, Haoshoku Haki, very quickly. It was an extraordinary accomplishment. However, Luffy failed to master it. Kaido and Big Mom aren’t going to lose so easily. Kiado then makes a reference to “Joy Boy.”


Who is Joy Boy?

In One Piece, Joy Boy was a historic figure from the Void Century. He was first mentioned on the Ryugu Poneglyph Nico Robin read. He’s important to the residents of Fish-Man Island. Joy Boy attempted to raise Noah and broke his promise to the Island’s citizens. He left a letter (in the form of a poneglyph) apologizing for his failure. Joy Boy left behind the treasure that will become known as One Piece. It is expected that Joy Boy will return. Oda occasionally reminds us what’s at stake and aspects of the series that may have been forgotten.

Regardless, Bao Huang informs Kaido that Momonosuke has been located. He tells her he’ll find him and that she should announce Luffy’s defeat. Oda continues his callbacks when Momonosuke hears the “Voice of All Things.” The users of the “voice” are able to understand “the words conveyed by inanimate objects and animals that do not speak the human language.” So far the users of this ability have been, Gol D. Roger, Oden, Luffy, the Three-Eyed Tribe, and Momonosuke. On the Live Floor, Chopper fails to make much of a dent in Queen. In another callback, we see Caesar Clown mocking Chopper’s Rumble Balls for being too weak. He gives Chopper a list of chemicals that increase his Monster Point time from 3 minutes to 30 minutes. Suddenly, Bao announces the defeat of the Scabbards and Luffy.


Kiado strikes down Kin’emon

Kanjuro locates Momonosuke, Shinobu, Kikunojo, and Kin’emon before Kiado does. He disguises himself as Oden once more and is able to fatally wound Kikunojo. Kin’emon enraged cuts Kanjuro down. As he collapses, Kiado bursts through the wall and prepares to kill Momonosuke with his kanabo. Kin’emon prepares to defend Shinobu as she takes Momonosuke and runs. Kiado’s kanabo comes crashing down on Kin’emon’s head. Is he dead? Maybe. Kin’emon’s devil fruit ability, Fuku Fuku no Mi, allows him to change various articles of clothing. Specifically, he can create armor. Furthermore, he’s able to Busoshoku Haki. If he can combine these two thing he might survive long enough to stall Kiado.

So far the fights in this arc have been underwhelming. Most of the battles have been too short. It feels rushed. Maybe, Oda doesn’t want every fight to be 40 chapters long. That makes since considering how many characters are in this arc. Overall, the alliance needs someone to save them. Maybe the marines will interfere not to help the alliance directly but to stop Kiado. Anyway, Luffy needs someone to save him. I’m guessing Jinbe who we haven’t seen in a while would do it.

My Hero Academia Season 5, Episode 9: Bakugo goes beast mode

Bakugo to the rescue in My Hero Academia Season 5 Episode 9.
Bakugo to the rescue

Season 5, Episode 9 – “Early Bird!”

Katsuki Bakugo has always seemed like he’d make a perfect villain. He rude, violent, short-tempered, and his Quirk is “explosion.” His treatment of others particularly Deku is dismissive and meanspirited. Initially, he wasn’t very complex but as My Hero Academia progresses he’s starting to show that he has more depth. At the beginning of the series, Bakugo was good at everything including grades. The positive response from others causes him to develop a massive ego. Despite his abilities when he gets to U.A. he realizes that he’s not the only talented would-be hero. It undermines his sense of self. Kohei Horikoshi has been playing with our expectations of heroes and villains in My Hero Academia. For example, both Shoto and Bakugo are considered the best students in U.A. and would be expected to win everything. However, they fail to get their hero licenses because of their poor attitudes.

Bakugo also hates any kind of affection (he equates it with pity) and he’s incapable of giving it. He even calls his mother a “hag” and his father a “clown.” Bakugo is capable of “caring” for others or at least he’s willing to protect them. However, he’s not likely to console or sympathize with people. In life and in media we are told that heroes behave in a certain way. As a result, Bakugo gave the impression that he would eventually become a villain. When he was kidnapped by the League of Villains, most of us thought he might turn. Of course, he treats the villains like anyone else and refuses to join them.

Jiro using her Quirk in My Hero Academia Season 5 Episode 9.
Jiro using her Quirk

Bakugo will lead, just follow

So how do you work with someone like Katsuki Bakugo? You let him lead and just provide support. My Hero Academia Season 5, Episode 9 offers a glimpse into how this would work. Bakugo is still abrasive but as his teammates and later Class 1-B he’s more cooperative. Both teams are heading directly into battle in order to get the advantage. Bakugo says “if they do not make the first move it is over for them . . . they do not have time to take caution, they have to act immediately.” Kyoka Jiro’s (Hearing Hero: Earphone Jack) Quirk, “Earphone Jack” has a variety of uses. Its primary use is to create violent vibrations by changing the sound of her heartbeat. However, she can also use her Quirk to “hear minuscule sounds and vibrations from her surroundings.”

This part of her Quirk is often used against her. Setsuna Tokage’s Quirk, “Lizard Tail Splitter” allows her to split her body into 50 pieces and she effectively uses it to distract Jiro. Class 1-B manages to get the early advantage on Class 1-A. However, Bakugo remains the wild card. Class 1-B’s strategy requires Bakugo to remain selfish enough, resulting in a poorly formed team. To everyone’s surprise, Bakugo and his team have a plan. What’s surprising is not that Bakugo takes the lead, but that he asks for support.

Jiro remembers Bakugo telling them “he will save them” and “they should save him.” Class 1-A forms a “perfect team.” As Shota Aizawa notes, ” Team 4-A for being able to cooperate well enough to reduce battlefield damage and efficiently capture the opposing opponents without any hassle,” and “Bakugo’s willingness to help out his teammates was the key to his team’s victory.” Katsuki Bakugo showing at least some growth has complicated how he’s understood. I think it’s no longer possible to think of him as a potential future villain. He’s a hero. Just not a particularly nice hero.

My Hero Academia: Season 5, Episode 8: Tenya and Shoto fall short

In the previous episode of My Hero Academia, Tenya shocked Juzo with his Super Move: Recipro Turbo. Passed down through the Ida family, the technique requires the user to remove their mufflers (🤢), which are then regrown, allowing the user to gain new mufflers that are more durable and faster. Tenya specifically states that the move increases his burst period from 10 seconds to 10 minutes. In My Hero Academia Season episode 8, Tenya explodes with speed, breaks free from the ice. He lacks control but is still able to overwhelm Juzo enough for the latter to flee. It may seem small but I like that instead of fighting regardless of his chance of victory, Juzo decided to leave. This should happen more in anime.

Meanwhile, Mashirao is having a difficult time handling Sen Kaibara’s Spiral Quirk. Hand-to-hand combat in My Hero Academia tends to take a back seat to the more flashy Quirks. While brief, Kaibara and Mashirao fight was refreshing. Kaibara’s Quirk, in addition to his fighting skills, makes it difficult for Mashirao to counter. Sen’s drills are capable of piercing his opponent, and at one point in the fight appears willing to “kill” Mashirao. It’s a moment that can be missed, but what would have happened if Tenya didn’t show up. Regardless, Tenya drags Sen and he’s the first to get imprisoned.

Class 1-B continue to impress

Elsewhere, Shoto is having a harder time than usual. Most of us would assume that Tetsutetsu wouldn’t stand a chance against Shoto, but his Steel Quirk makes Shoto’s Ice and Fire ineffective. The value of this arc for the audience is to show off not Class 1-A but Class 1-B. Juzo, Kaibara, and Tetsutetsu’s Quirks and strategic skills are put on display in this fight. Tenya and Shoto have their moments, only to fail. The lesser classmates, Pony, Mezo, and Mashirao have smaller moments but show their potential. Mezo’s Quirk is better for scouting. Pony’s Quirk first appears to be nearly useless. It’s so linear it’s hard to imagine that she would do much in a fight.

Mashirao is able to stop her from using them simply by holding her horns in place. Despite her limits, she’s the reason her team doesn’t lose. The intense battle ends with most of them out of commission. With no time left, Class 1-B and Class 1-A will have to settle for a draw. After the battle, Jurota makes a point that I think is the primary theme of this round, “in a real-life situation fleeing and waiting for backup is a valid and logical strategy.” The next round features Katsuki Bakugo, can he be a team player?