「憧憬」 (SHOUKEI)

It’s all fun and games till someone loses an eye…

The great Arata mash-up of 2013 is underway, and scheduled to run for the next two weeks. Something, as they say, had to give – there was no way the adaptation was simply going to present about 20% of the manga and stop. The approach we’re seeing is along the lines of what I suggested last week appeared to be happening – bits and pieces of character arcs which superficially seem to have no chance of being adapted are being grafted together, as a sort of sampler platter of the breadth of the manga.

In the end I suppose this isn’t a wholly surprising development, for the simple reason that a studio can go two ways in adapting a long manga into a short series: they can go huge, or they can go small (or, the third way I suppose is to pull a Deadman Wonderland and effectively stop mid-sentence). The small option means stripping the story down to its bare essentials and focusing on only the bones of the story – Satelight’s choice here appears to be more of the ten miles wide, one inch deep approach. Either way, manga fans won’t be pleased – and the truth is, there are no good answers in a situation like this. A series like Arata Kangatari should never be adapted in one cour, and all a director can do is try to make something that captures at least the flavor of the source material.

And there, I think, Yasuda-sensei has managed to do pretty well. Things are quite different in the gleaming city of Suzukura in the anime version, though we still have Zokusho Hiroko guiding Hinohara’s party into the city as they don’t have the money to pay the exorbitant entrance tax. Though Hiroko is posing as a mid-level bureaucrat named Suehiro it’s clear he has an unnatural interest in Hinohara and his party, something they’re nowhere near as suspicious of as they should be. Kannagi, though, knows something is amiss – and Hiroko certainly knows who he is. As Suehiro does his spying/research for Yorunami, the others go straight to work – there’s always work in Suzukura – the boys in a quarry and Kotoha in a textile factory.

It’s inside that quarry that Hinohara and Kanate make the acquaintance of Ruka (an anime-original character) an orphan boy who shows them the ugly underside of the shining city on the hill. There’s quite a bit changed in the dynamic here, which finds Hiroko anxious to find someone who can return his boss to the kind soul he was before his quest for perfection turned him into a cruel tyrant. The notion of Suzukura as a kind of capitalist paradise with a nightmarish underbelly does carry over, as does the changing dynamic between Kotoha and Hinohara. She’s not calling him "-sama" anymore, an acknowledgement that he’s not the Arata she grew up with, but the interesting thing is that this has brought the two of them closer together. A layer of formality between them has been removed (much to Kanate’s horror) and she’s seeing the good side of this other world’s Arata.

The other major occurrence of the episode is the fated meeting between Akachi and Kadowaki, though again much-changed from the manga (apart from the ultimate result). Kadowaki’s patrons among the Six Sho see Akachi as the template for Kadowaki – someone who betrayed a former friend he felt betrayed him, and used his hatred to fuel his power. Problem is Akachi isn’t much of a team player, and certainly not when it comes to a peach-fuzz kid with big notions of personal revenge. The lesson Akachi chooses to teach Kadowaki ia s pretty harsh one, and there’s some context to this moment that we really didn’t get in this episode – I won’t say more, as I still hope we do next week. It appears the major focus there, though, will be the meeting of Hinohara and Yorunami, which could theoretically take us to the end of the anime. Of Arata in Tokyo there’s no sign, and I fear we’re going to see very little on that front in the two episodes we have remaining.


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  1. This is what happens when they only give us 1 season of a big series.I always find myself asking the question “Why make the anime at all?”.If you can’t do the series justice why make an anime at all? You might as well have went the Denpa Kyoushi route and made an anime commercial if you just wanted people to know more about the series or get interested in it ;/

    1. You really do just get this feeling at some point. Just don’t make it at all if you aren’t going to do it right. You can’t do a series like this in one cour and get it to feel right. The rushed feeling is just getting crazy the closer we get to the end. Changing motivations, timelines, removing encounters and characters just to get to a decent stopping point before they run out of landing strip.

      No one will take risks anymore. Just animate the series or give it enough episodes that you don’t have to rush like crazy. Find a good stopping point and actually give it the right number of episodes to get there.

      Guess we’ll just have to see how they wrap this up and kind of lament what could have been.

    2. You know they have utterly destroyed so many adaptations/summaries like this in the last 3-4 years. I can’t even count how many times I’ve said the same thing. I know I said that this series get drawn out to the max in the manga but when they start cutting & pasting chapters together so bloody awkwardly like this . . .

      I just don’t know what I’m even watching anymore, & that’s coming from someone who has stuck with the manga merely to see it end one day. I don’t even care how it ends.

  2. Well, that was a bit underwhelming.

    Of all the episodes thus far, this one went the farthest away from the source material. They introduce the anime-only character Ruka and change the entire moral concerning Hiruko and his city. They speed up the meeting of Akachi and Kadowaki, but then cut out the entire fight between the two and really just the over all impact of the scene. It seems as if in these last few episodes they just decided to rush through everything and like I thought, it feels cliche and contrived.

    For more in depth explanation:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    It looks like Arata and Yorunami do their match next week and that will end the Yorunami arc. Arata right now is still in his weak stage so he still wants to beat his opponents not by fighting, but by “changing their spirits”, which is a cliche trait that I find annoying in many anime MCs. However, Arata will eventually learn that there are some opponents that you can’t sweet talk and some you are just going to have to all out fight.

    I also wonder if they are ever going to get back to the other Arata and the arrival of Harunawa in this anime? We only have two episodes left. Hopefully this show doesn’t end on too much of a trainwreck. I give this episode a 6/10.


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