「男は学習の庭に来ます」 (Otoko wa gakushuu no niwa ni kimasu)
“The Man Who Came to the Garden of Learning”
This week, Kuromukuro takes it back to anime’s favorite setting.
That’s right, school’s in session bitches.
Up until now, Kuromukuro has primarily concerned itself with fantastic battles, as well as developing the central dynamic between its protagonists. The show’s most recent episode aims to establish the status quo—familiarizing us with the setting we’re gonna be seeing for the coming weeks. This makes the sudden shift to a high school setting all the more jarring. The show’s tone has been cheery and friendly, but often grand and dramatic for some really intense scenes these past few weeks. Episode four brought it down to earth with this change of scenery, introducing a bevy of lighter, high school-pertinent—from the obnoxious horny dudes, to the school counsellor, and so on—into the mix.
At first glance, I can’t say I’m especially pleased with it. In these scenes, the show seems to completely transform into something unrecognizable. Suddenly characters are concerning themselves with petty, every-day high school shenanigans. Not to say this is a bad thing, but up until now these guys were preoccupied with combating alien demon robots. Scenes usually took place in a freakin’ UN facility. There was a great sense of pertinence and power to the show, even in the quieter moments. Their motivations and goals were marked by some larger, ongoing story.
To see them now deal with typical teenage antics is a little off-putting. Again, a break away from the action is never a bad thing, but this new setting sports a radically different cast of characters than what we’ve been accustomed to. The show is now committing time to subplots involving unrequited high school crushes—something I previously wouldn’t imagine the series to take on. My biggest fear is that the show continues to oscillate between these drastically different settings, with little to no crossover. Will these new high school characters bear any relevance to the already established character goals and motivations, or will they get screen time to merely provide the requisite high school antics? I don’t know, but I’m hoping the show will find some medium in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, I don’t think the show even made an entirely convincing case to enjoy these new characters to begin with. The ragtag group of guys already strikes me as a mix between unlikable and forgettable—and not even in the fun way. The smug dude with the phone is obnoxious and pervy, and we’re given no reason to root for this beanie-wearing love-struck teen. Also, the health counsellor is an entirely perplexing character. I’m guessing she’ll bear more relevance later on, but right now she’s nothing but an awkward, bumbling weirdo. Her comedic bits (if you could call them that) weren’t funny, just really uncomfortable. Why is she so inclined to help our samurai friend out other than the description of her job? Why is so awkward about it? Does she behave this awkwardly in general or just this situation in particular? There was just no takeaway from her introduction.
Small funny moments from our main characters still abounded, though. In particular, watching Ken—er—Kennosuke, hastily tap away at his portable dictionary during almost any conversation is a hilarious way to convey the guy’s honest efforts to adapt. I also audibly chuckled when the crowd of student onlookers cheered and awed at Kennosuke and Yukina depart, though that was perhaps out of surprise more than anything else.
Despite all that however, things got demonstrably familiar and exciting when the episode finally decided to kick things into gear. I’m excited for next week’s battle, and what our characters will find out about our antagonists.
26 episodes confirmed for Kuromukuro.
Plenty of time to showcase the mech mystery, high school antics and the new characters, provided the writers can keep a good grip on the story direction.
im starting to get eva vibes from this show; mechs piloted by kids; threats that come from an unknown source; kid with a camera and a bad boy trying to get close to the action; a pilot who feels unsure of herself and sorta lives in the shadow of their parent; trained pilots in some organization. I know it seems like the template for most mechas nowadays but this veered closer to eva for some reason. M
Well, it would make sense for Kuromukuro to have some resemblance to Evangelion. PA Works’ president Horikawa was head of the production desk for Evangelion’s TV series. Additionally, Kuromukuro’s director Okamura directed and animated some episodes of Evangelion’s TV series and drew animation for parts of the End of Evangelion movie.
PA Works’s HQ is located in Toyama, and its president and founder used to state how he wanted a PA series to just have a mecha fight in downtown Toyama city, and mechas based from the Kurobe Dam.
So from a meta view, it makes sense for the alien mechs to target Toyama in this series rather than the usual big cities of Tokyo and/or Osaka. (Plus the series gets to showcase its homebase prefecture too!)
Some pictures of the real life Toyama Airport, where the mechs landed. The local Jinzu River flows right next to it.
Welp, that’s a lot of things to absorb there for our resident “man-out-of-time” (quoting from Jig’s episode 2 impression); With
KennyKennosuke trying to adopt into the modern world (with a electronic dictionary that he can barely use), accepting that the role of a samurai is virtually extinct, and then trying to “get along” with a group of pilots/navigator pairs that may as well be hostile to him. All the while trying to finish some unfinished from his own time (whatever that is).
OTOH, not many would understand the 4 idioms that Sophie spoke of about the virtues of a samurai (if the fansubs didn’t look it up)…
Show Spoiler ▼
At least next week’s about the revenge attempt by that yellow geoframe.
Idealized bushido virtues during the Edo period, which is completely alien to the Samurai guy (early Sengoku period). (and the language is different too)
The character bios do list Sophie as a “samurai aficionado”, which likely explains why she’s not happy with Yukina having Kenn by her side…
Romanticized version of history meets the ‘real deal’.
I didn’t mind the school setting though I do agree those boys were lame and question marks abound for the counsellor.
The comments from the peanut gallery were funny and realistic.
All in all it’s giving me a lil Fullmetal Panic vibe and I don’t mind that.
So far, what does everyone like most about Kuromukuro? For myself, it’s mostly the mystery of the aliens and their motives(but the interactions, comedy, etc. are good too).
Surprise! this is not mecha-alien-combat anime, it is school-based romcom…
Complete with clingy jealous girl… erm boyfriend, sexy nurse/counselor, and a transfer student not quite of this world…
New pilot gets a callsign “Ken”! (which might not be that bad considering Ken= sword…)
Sebastian: JSDF job is but a cover , my true calling is that of BUTLER!
Am I the only one who yelled “SIT!” when Yukina biribiri-ed Kennosuke (Inuyasha was one of my fave classics…)?
I felt so bad for Kennosuke when he got info on the end of feudalism in Japan…
I am not mourning the old system, but he got crushed by knowing his rentire way of life disappeared more profoundly than his beloved princess…
That’s International High School for child of Kurobe Research Institute’s employees according to setting, plus we already know there will be School part from the PV and Poster, so it’s not really surprising and jarring.
Also that “Uma” need both of them to start up, so it’s actually make sense put them together as possible as they can, including send Ken to school.
Maybe you should put down your bias and fear to School part and enjoy the show.
Really digging this show. Including the confusing/weird character interactions that are so typical of PA Works!