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Kekkai Sensen – 03

「世界と世界のゲーム」 (Sekai to sekai no geemu)
“A Game of Two Worlds”

Episode 3 of Kekkai Sensen is more of the same, and oh so different.

I’m more or less in the same boat with Blood Blockade Battlefront that I have been from the beginning. That is to say, the style is way ahead of the substance for me, at least so far. But the style is so good that it almost doesn’t seem to matter a lot of the time. There aren’t a lot of shows that I could say that about, but this one so overflowing with creative mojo that it transcends my normal standards for evaluating anime.

One thing that really stands out for me with this series is the music. Obviously the OP and especially the ED are excellent, but take a look at what Matsumoto-sensei has done with the BGM. In the premiere, it was exclusively a bebop-styled jazz that recalled Baccano!. In the second ep we saw a taste of Pillows-esque guitar and bass tracks that inevitably brought FLCL to mind. And this week we started out with a vocal track that sounded Indian or Arabic-influenced to introduce us to the “Alterworld” – a landscape even more surreal and dreamlike than Hellsalem’s Lot. Then it switched to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (“Ode to Joy”) as the backdrop for one of the strangest gaming sequences we’ve seen in anime for awhile. All so very different, yet all so fitting for the moment and effective.

The other thing that must be said is that it’s not as though the substance of Kekkai Sensen is terrible, or even uninteresting – it’s definitely neither – just a bit unformed. There’s some intriguing stuff out there but so far, it’s all pretty abstract. We were introduced to a bunch of new characters and concepts this week – K.K. (Orikasa Ai), an ally of Klaus’ with connections to the underworld. The boss of that underworld, the alien insectoid Don Arlelelle Eruca Fulgrouche (81 year-old Iizuka Shouzo). And the game of Prosfair, something like a futuristic version of chess and a favorite of both Klaus and Arlelelle (Klaus is also quite find of chess, which he likes to play online on what looks like an original Apple Mac).

The MacGuffin of this episode is the spread of Angel Scale, a powerful drug that offers strange abilities to alter one’s physical state. Libra is keen to stop it, but information on who’s running it is scarce through normal channels. That means a trip to meet Arlelelle, who seems to view Klaus as the ultimate Prosfair challenge. The Don never loses, but Klaus can at least hold him to a draw for long periods of time – and for the Don, that’s worth a mint. He also challenges Russian chessmaster Ulchenko (Mikami Satoshi) an arrogant SOB who disdains Klaus’ advice and seeks the Don’s aid in procuring nuclear weapons for the former USSR.

This Prosfair battle is certainly style over substance, but with Ludwig van as the soundtrack and these amazing visuals, what style it is. Ulchenko challenges Arlelelle to a 9-hour battle – extended to 10 to include Ulchenko’s request that Arlelelle eliminate Klaus and KK (which I suspect the Don would have refused even if he’d lost) – and can’t hack it. Klaus offers to play for Ulchenko’s life, as well as the information about Angel Scale, to which Arlelelle agrees with the alarming condition that Klaus must hold out for 99 hours.

My takeaway from all this is that Klais is one hell of a bro, and GAR too – never mind his selfless act on behalf of the ungrateful Ulchenko, just holding out for 99 hours against the Don is remarkable. Clearly it’s this match rather than the Angel Scale plot which is the point of the episode. As for Leo, he’s a bit player here. He moves into the office after having been kicked out of his tenement apartment (turned into a luxury hotel) and suffers some not especially funny abuse from Zapp. And he meets up again with White, who seems not to be an actual ghost but instead a symbolic one, a girl confined to the hospital for three years. Just what her (anime-original) role is going to be is still very much a mystery, but I’ll just add it to the pile – I don’t know where we’re going but I’m enjoying the ride.

 

Preview

April 19, 2015 at 9:19 pm
24 comments »
  • April 19, 2015 at 9:48 pmRyan Ashfyre

  • April 19, 2015 at 9:58 pmBlood_X

    Someone please make Prosfair real.
    That game looks dope.

    • April 19, 2015 at 10:02 pmguardian enzo

      Didn’t Sheldon Cooper do that?

  • April 19, 2015 at 11:05 pm5ofSpades

    Have not felt this kind of excited air from an anime in a long time. Pumped for next week.

  • April 19, 2015 at 11:12 pmjebnemo

    The original Mac was monochrome, so Klaus might have a Color Classic.

  • April 19, 2015 at 11:34 pmHunter-wolf

    Very few action animes these days would dedicate an entire episode to a such a bizzare boardgame match like this, this anime isn’t afraid to do it and do it with a ton of style, again getting some serious Bebop vibes here,the boldness of the director and that air of confidence, the jazzy music (or rather the music in general), the feeling that you are watching something so unique and different, hope it keeps going that strong till the finish line.

    Oh, and damn, what i would do to get a Sonic Monkey.. They are damn adorable.

    • April 20, 2015 at 12:56 amKaleRylan

      It’s true. Very unique show. It has little to none of the stuff I normally seek in anime, but it’s just so… I don’t know. Kind of in your face awesome. It’s like it knows that it’s weird, but it just owns it so completely.

      • April 20, 2015 at 1:37 amGuardian Enzo

        I think you owe it to yourself to watch some of the classics from the 95-05 period (and Kyousougiga) if you like what Kekkai Sensen is bringing to the table.

  • April 20, 2015 at 12:13 amKF

  • April 20, 2015 at 1:42 ampimpolla

    I think this one is my favorite anime of the season! thank you for covering Guardian Enzo !! :D

  • April 20, 2015 at 4:16 amZannafar

    According to people who know a lot more about movies than I do, this episode was apparently a homage to the classic movie The Seventh Seal.

  • April 20, 2015 at 6:02 amMiaminights

    It’s certainly an odd show, but damn it’s fun and intriguing!

  • April 20, 2015 at 7:36 amTheVoid

    Less future chess and more a Rubik’s Cube, Dungeons and Dragons, and a chess board were accidentally fused together and out come the beauty that is Prosfair. The boards even start to include spheres to play on as the game goes on.

    I thought it was pretty clear Klaus was a bro the moment he showed up in the ED playing patty cake with Leo.

  • April 20, 2015 at 8:35 amShinwinds

    “Prosfair” one of the most important point in this episode. the only thing i complained about this episode is “How to play Prosfair?”. Really it’s make me curious how the game played, c’mon guys we want to play prosfair too. :D

  • April 20, 2015 at 9:39 amMb

    Not sure, where the series is heading, but you see some growth and feeling for the chars so far.

    • April 20, 2015 at 11:05 amHunter-Wolf

      I see it taking the Bebop format and style, every episode tells an individual story that is something entirely fresh and unique but ties with the world building and fleshing out the characters, eventually half-way through the series the focus shifts from individual episodes to focusing on the overarching plot (which gets hinted at several times before) just like Bebop … if that’s the case (and this episode indicates so) than i’d be really glad since i haven’t seen a series like that in a long time.

      • April 20, 2015 at 12:16 pmMb

        Might be the case. Through, to be said, Bebop did it to perfection and was quite funny as well (besides the drama). I am not sure if the characters in Kekkai are that unique (considering the comic / hero elements).

  • April 20, 2015 at 5:06 pmhaseo0408

    And here I thought that Magic Chess in Harry Potter was incredible! Prosfair is even better but it´s a pitty that it would kill most humans that dare play it.

  • May 8, 2015 at 11:35 pmDazelene

    Anyone know what song was used for the bgm music was before the ending sequence?