「記憶コピペ作戦」 (Kioku Kopipe Sakusen)
“Operation Copy+Paste Memories”

When people list the strengths of Kyoto Animation, they usually cite their animation, or maybe their faithful adaptations, or maybe their moe-tastic character designs. I go a different direction, though. When I hear ‘Kyoto Animation’, I think ‘casual clothes‘.

Extra designs take extra work, so I don’t exactly fault a studio when they they stick with, say, a school uniform for every scene a character is in, especially when adapting a work with set designs that one may not feel entirely comfortable deviating from. Maybe one extra outfit for days off, and that’s about it. But Kyoto Animation—not exclusively, but notably—always makes sure to design (or steal from fashion magazines) stylish casual outfits for their characters. In fact, in this episode the main cast of Musaigen no Phantom World go through a second, not including the stereotypical Chinese cosplay. Little details like rotating wardrobes makes the setting feel more organic, which is a plus. Same thing with rotating hairstyles. Especially if that hairstyle is a ponytail. ‘Actually, ponytails turn me on’. Mmm, that’s right.

What were we talking about? Oh right, the episode. If you insist.

Unlike previous episodes, number three of Phantom World isn’t distinctively a two part-er, instead dedicating its full runtime to a character episode for Kawakami Mai. What do we really know of her so far? Really, only that she knows kung-fu. Which means we have an episode where everyone was kung-fu fighting! Does that sound one-dimensional? Fear not, there is more depth to this episode by way of shifting pseudoscience. How else are we going to give people martial arts skills? As if we were in the Matrix apparently; by downloading them (now the eyecatches all make sense). Turns out, memories are amazing. They let you perform incredible physical feats. They give you superpowers. And they can all be accessed through the weird and wonderful world of the collective unconscious through the magic of cranial trauma (isn’t this the part where they switch bodies, though?). Somewhere in Switzerland, Jung is rolling in his grave. But how else are we going to delve into Mai’s childhood? It’s a good thing that Mai was so comfortable with the idea of letting letting her privacy be mentally violated (well, not that comfortable), or else we would never have gotten all this character development for her. By which I mean the revelation that, as a child, she was exactly the same as she is now.

Will this lesson on the fallibility of human memory, the sentimental flower metaphor, and the blast into Mai’s past come back up in the future? Like the 27th slice of pizza washed down with Mountain Dew, almost certainly. I don’t think Phantom World would have put this much emphasis on happy family flashbacks and a running theme about perceptions if it wasn’t planning something. That’s something to look forward to, perhaps. Even if that isn’t exactly your fare, there are other threads of plot hinted at that the substance-focused half of Phantom World can lead to. The last member of the main cast has not been recruited yet. In addition, yhere’s Team E’s fangirl #1 who has been stalking them in an unexpectedly creepy way (don’t trust any little girls who talk to their bear. Nor bears in general). There’s a delicious jealous Reina (maybe envious of a closer relationship with her onee-sama). And, still in this episode, there’s the suspicious company Arayashiki, which we discover the teacher has ties to and is apparently willing to engage in arguably unethical research for.

So, yeah, I still believe that there’s going to be a relatively serious plot to be developed in Musaigen no Phantom World. Don’t get the same impression? Well, I finally remember where I heard of ‘Arayashiki’ before: Kara no Kyoukai. The arayashiki is the Buddhist variant of the collective unconscious. As the name of a shady corporation with a history of screwing with people’s heads, that sounds rather ominous. But I’m sure they’ve learnt their lesson and nothing bad involving them will ever happen again.

An update on whether I’ll be blogging Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu, by the way: my schedule probably won’t accommodate weekly coverage of the show. That’s a bit of a shame, but it’ll probably make for good end post material down the line.

28 Comments

  1. This Episode feel strange for me. a bit confusing. episode 3, they put introducing this little girl on hold, for some “strange” background of the Girl with our Boy?.. Okay…

    Worldwidedepp
    1. – This Memories is a bit strange
      – This 2 Girls of her Youth just waiting for her to appear
      – Should he not just only get her “Kung Fu” memories? But instead he got all of them?

      Worldwidedepp
      1. -they let these 2 Phantom girls (that even speak) get away. Why did they not “eating” them?

        As i said, this Episode should had pushed more back to episode 6 or 8.. This Bond creating was to soon

        Worldwidedepp
      2. Because our kids aren’t murderers? There’s no need to eliminate a pair of thinking beings once they’ve stopped causing trouble for people. Also those are two of Mai’s oldest friends, even if her memories of things are a little jumbled. She doesn’t want to kill them.

        Wanderer
      3. “- Should he not just only get her “Kung Fu” memories? But instead he got all of them?”
        That’s because they can’t control this memory synchronization yet. He was going to access that “kung fu” part, but how do you access just part of it if you don’t even know how to do memory sync at all? They were just lucky that the memory sync were working after all.

        RyuuGP
  2. you’re a ponytail lover too…yes!! i have a partner in crime (along with Kyon from haruhi) But yea i definitely see there being more to this whole unconscious data bank plot line they have going on. What’s peculiar is how haruhiko can tap into the metapysical world due to his ability as a summoner. Another thing to note is that i dont think that’s the end of the reveals behind Mai’s past. 1. We see in the Opening that haruhiko has some sort of connection to mai but for some reason they dont seem to remember (and i think it ties to the whole memory rewrite stuff this ep brought up). This ep notes that no one seems to want to work with Mai and that she seems most comfortable working with haruhiko than anything else. i think there’s an underlying reason behind all that; a reason that neither mai or haruhiko are consciously aware of. Then there’s reina, who seems to really want mai’s affection; I guess fellowship between females was really important back in her old school (that and she just seems to want a place to belong). It’s odd that this weeks ep ends on Reina wishing she was closer to them which makes me think next ep is going to focus on her and whatever she’s got going on

    sonicsenryaku
    1. During Mai and Ichijo’s date I was actually fixated on Reina’s ponytail. Memories of Hibike Euphonium’s Kumiko in ponytail are now resurfacing. Actually make that all the times in Hibike Euphonium when most of the girls were in ponytails.

      Zhinvu
    1. Yeah, I’m seriously unimpressed by this series. Feels like a bad adaptation of a bad LN. Stupid premise (even by LN standards), cliched plotlines (again, even by LN standards) and the action scenes feel badly paced (guy gets enough time to sketch a picture and then do a summoning ritual, wtf?). So far the only thing I’ve liked was the soundwave robot.

      Higer
  3. Kyoto Animation may be a company that wrote the book on pandering, but damn it if they don’t have “Playful Comradery” down to a science. This show is nothing and stands for nothing but if you turn your brain off it’s actually quite fun. And of course pretty to look at. Assemble the whole team already!

    sosbrigade1991
  4. (don’t trust any little girls who talk to their bear. Nor bears in general)
    – NEVER trust the kuma!

    Casual clothes are a bonus from any animation studio; real people have closets and wardrobes.

    As far as Mai having a violet childhood – violent kids grow up into violet adolescents. It’s not a surprise. Mai trying to alter her memories as being “shy” and “withdrawn” where she was more a supporting character from the cast of Ranma 1/2 is self-denial. The Japanese ideal of young maidens being “demure” and strong-but-soft conflicts heavily with the American feminist “strong and sultry”. Haruhiko being Mai’s punch bag is stereotypical of the only male in the party, however, and it’s going to get old after a while.

    But I hope Mai’s happy: she’s turned a potential harmless pair of “bridge spirits” into kung-fu warriors. I know anime has adolescents being very strong when in martial arts, even at 14-16 years old, but shouldn’t a warrior peak around 28 years of age or so? Imagine a more adult, gritter Musaigen no Phantom World sequel with Mai-chan now a ninja expert…

    jhpace1
  5. Honestly, that was the kind of episode i’ve been wishing Phantom World to approach. Monster-of-the week format that focuses on each characters’ quirks and silliness with just a little spice of drama to tickle my heart, with some mysteries here and there to advance the plot forward. I know it’s not very special storytelling, but i was absolutely entertained by everything here. From Mai’s backstories, Haruhiko’s powers, the date scene, to Reina being jealous of the two. They just worked for me.

    Also, holy crap that finishing move! The moment Haruhiko and Mai joined hands together and made such a cliched martial arts pose, i knew something awesome was going to happen. And it did.

    Amiluhur
  6. Reina, rather than simply being jealous of somebody else being close to somebody she wants to be close to, is jealous of the close bond Haruhiko and Mai share with each other, a kind of bond that she’s never had the opportunity to forge. Though, as she stated at the end, she does want to get closer to both of them.

    Yes, both of them. I have come to the conclusion that she holds affection for both Haruhiko and Mai. Mai is, of course, her awe-inspiring onee-sama (Mai-oneesama…Mayonnaise-sama…heh!), while she’s undeniably getting closer to “Haruhiko-kun” (though him getting too close, too quickly still provokes her “How dare you!” routine), with her denials just making her more suspicious, and that adorable pouty face she’s making is because she’s kind of envious of both being closer to other than she is (despite the obvious lack of romantic tension between the two during that whole “date”), in addition to hear just wanting to have a close bond in general.

    Incidentally, from what I’ve heard (as in, don’t quote me as a reliable source),
    Show Spoiler ▼

    Really sad that you won’t be blogging this, I really liked your posts on it. Especially as next week is going to be a Reina focus episode.
    Show Spoiler ▼

    starqo
  7. There’s two bits that rubbed me the wrong way. Firstly, the guy gets no sympathy (trope!) whatsoever for his injuries whether accidental or inflicted by Mai or any female in general. (He’s a guy, he’s supposed to just take it!)

    The other is the fact that Mai turned out to be a childhood bully (albeit innocently) and it occured to not a single person to at least apologise for it. No, the best way do deal with a former victims is to beat them up again into submission with a smile! After all, they’re just phantoms! And phantoms are only to be sealed up!

    It’s a damn shame because as reviewed, KyoAni has indeed put in so much effort into this. Shame the writing staff couldn’t too.

    kageKun
    1. After all, they’re just phantoms! And phantoms are only to be sealed up!

      You’ll note the girls weren’t sealed. They left of their own volition.

      This is one of those commonly-seen sorts of story types, generally speaking. Those girls had trained for years to get revenge on Mai, and they were focused on that. They weren’t likely to stop, even if she apologized to them. The standard response to this sort of thing is to beat the violent person up until they can’t fight anymore, and then try to talk sense into them when they’re no long capable of using violence as an interruption tactic.

      Wanderer
      1. It’s not the fighting part that bothered me. It’s the fact that nobody, not even for a second considered that Mai should at least apologise to the two phantoms she tormented. If she did that and they insisted on fighting anyway, then fine, brawl it up. But she didn’t. Everybody considered violence as a first resort, even after the revelation. That’s the part I can’t readily accept.

        kageKun
      2. She was kind of still in shock over discovering that her memories were wrong when they charged in to attack again, at which point combat-training took over.

        Simply put, this is this and that is that. The fight and any need to apologize on her part are two different things. If they fight, she’ll fight. I think you may not have caught the nonverbal communication at the end of it, however. When she took their hands, praised them for their ability, and helped them up, there was… understanding between them. They were happy to have fought each other, and both sides looked forward to meeting in order to fight again. The girls’ anger was gone. Apologizing then… wouldn’t have worked. Between them at that point such words wouldn’t have been needed. Both sides had accepted each other as fighters worthy of praise, and they weren’t enemies any longer.

        …I can’t explain it well, but there’s a whole mindset involved in this that I’ve seen before in anime and such. This is an accepted resolution for problems. It isn’t intended to dismiss the aggreived party’s issues: in fact that party accepts that having fought their best they no longer feel a need to hold their grudge.

        Wanderer
  8. I must add how much I hate what is Kyoani doing here, same shit as Hibike with the yuribait when that isn’t even the meaning of that scene.

    It is almost an original episode, kyoani delivering tons of changes as always on any adaptation.

    episode 1 and 2 are focused on fanservice instead of getting more into the story, adding yuribait – adding original stuff like episode 3er.

    1.- Koito wasn’t in the first volume and she didn’t appear at the point where Kyoani showed her. We can see the backlash on episode 3 where they didn’t even know how to use that character.
    2.- Reina sucking Haru’s finger, in this scene the Light Novel shows this as a gag, something dumb coming from Reina but Kyoani turned this into something lewd and different.
    3.- Mai-Reina-Haru on the last episode, the yuribait was unnecessary because the meaning of this scene is different.
    4.- As for the other girls and the loli, well they are just side characters forever and the worst part is how the story is just focused on 3 characters.
    I must say this is the point where we can see Mai’s feelings coming out – but she failed -, same goes for Reina which is pretty obvious since she already have a crush on Haru.
    Other thing that can be confusing is why after Koito’s debut she didnt get any time now, well the explanation to this is simple, Kyoani rushed her presentation in the story and now they can’t change the rest of the episodes to fit her here.

    -Hibike – increasing the amount of yuri in the story to the point almost everyone who don’t know about the books thinks this is a yuri show.Hibike was just a series full of Yuri pretending to be serious just to bait the fans so they can earn more money from that – even when the books already have some of those Yuri interactions between the characters – and anyone with a little knowledge about the original books and how Kyoani works knows that.

    Hakuro

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