「華麗なるアレシマ」 (Kareinaru Areshima)
“The Splendid Areshima”
Hey, these chumps are back! After they got shot down in the very first episode and we didn’t hear hide nor hair of them again I was sure they had died in woeful obscurity. Yet, here they are again, now with a 3D upgrade, even. That means that we can officially consider them significant characters who probably have a few flights in them yet. At least, they’re significant enough to do one moderately impressive thing before slinking back into their established mediocrity. Although they’re still really just glorified fodder, I’m rooting for them, and I hope that their ‘rebuild our decimated squadron’ subplot gets a happy ending. Or at least some acknowledgement.
But it’s not just the fodder-pilots; this episode was a side-characer bonanza. Not only do we have old faces popping up again, we also have some new ones, mainly this guy. And what an overloaded character he is. Wealthy CEO, politician, ace pilot, and a magician? Any two of those would be a character, three is indecisive, four is madness. He is actually unhinged but at least he’s fun, and considering how he’s probably going to be important (again, 3D) it’s good that he makes an impression. And perhaps it’s because he’s a politician that they need to go the extra mile to make him fun. Politicians, in their base form, are not fun in the slightest, they being masters of only one art: using a lot of words to say absolutely nothing. To be fair, in their profession saying the wrong thing can be career-ending so for them meaningless drivel is simply a survival mechanism, but it doesn’t exactly make for great television. Since Kotobuki seems to have a significant political component (which gets more attention than the fact that ALL THE OCEANS HAVE DISAPPEARED) I guess they need to spice up their politicians. Mainly by making them terrible politicians. I mean, I respect Councillor Julia’s iron will, but she can really do better a better job of hiding her crazy.
Which brings me to one of the notable weaknesses of Kotobuki: characterisation. Now, Kotobuki does a lot of things well and is in general a good show. The characterisation isn’t even all that bad. It’s got plenty of interesting characters with strong impressions. But in building these strong impressions over a short time frame it has sacrificed subtlety. Too much of characterisation, I feel, is done in dialogue, with characters being overeager to tell us things about themselves and people they know. It’s rather ham-fisted way to do things, and can even break suspension of disbelief, e.g. when Julia decides to blurt out all her motivations and relationships to a bunch of contractors at the first provocation. And it’s not even the most effective way to do things; information sinks in deeper when we’re allowed to work things out ourselves. We don’t need to be told that Reona takes debts very seriously, just showing her repaying even small debts obsessively was enough. ‘Show don’t tell’ is Writing 101. You just need a bit of faith in your audience and believe that they will spot the clues.
But again, Kotobuki is overall a good show and this is just a minor quibble. And indeed, Reona’s characterisation is hardly done. It seems that this arc will be continuing into next week, and I’m sure more will come out of it for her yet.