Wednesday, January 27, 2016

AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across The Blue Episode #3 Review

Hinata, could you play a match against me?

What They Say:
The Kunahama Institute is one of the first in the world to give out new anti-gravity footwear to its students. Not only does this invention change the way the basic world functions, with students now being able to shoot across the sky, but it also gives birth to a new sport -- The Flying Circus. Asuka Kurashina is a new transfer student at Kunahama who has never wanted anything more than the ability to fly. Suddenly mixed in with students who have already mastered the art of flight, Asuka must overcome physical and mental barriers as she adapts to a new environment filled with new people, all while trying to master a new way of life.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
The time has come for the Kunahama flying circus team to strengthen their skills and take on a new challenge -- training camp. And while that idea doesn't sound particularly hard, it becomes a lot more frightening when they find out just who they will be training alongside. Reiko Satouin's own stomping ground, Takafuji High, decides (At the recommendation of Kagami-sensei) that it would be beneficial in some way or another to host the newbies of Kunahama Institute. Now, you'd think that just having to put up with Reiko would be enough the ruin this training getaway, but when Takafuji's captain (And reigning national champion), Shindou Kazunari, shows his face, things get a little more...complicated.

The first time we see Shindou is in the middle of the night while Masaya is sitting along the shoreline being the somber and slightly-angsty teen he is. It becomes evident that the two know each other after a few vocal exchanges and Shindou quickly hints at the real reasoning behind Takafuji and Kunahama getting together -- so that he could see Masaya again (In a totally non-Yaoi way). Apparently, Hinata Masaya used to be sort of a role model for Shindou. And all the time that the two were apart, Shindou practiced and honed his abilities in the hopes that he would, one day, get to play a match against his former role model/new rival. Obviously, though, Masaya has no more interest in playing flying circus and deflects the national champion's request for a game the following day. Instead, three sets of 1v1 games are formed: Asuka vs. Rika (That girl that Masaya keeps accidentally seeing naked who apparently goes to a school miles away from him despite living next door), Mashiro vs. Reiko, and finally Misaki vs. Shindou.

The first and third matches are the ones that we really get to see the most of, considering the second match is essentially just a brief moment of proof that Reiko Satouin is still too good at flying circus. Anyway, in match one, we finally get to see Rika in action -- and boy is she fast. Even with Masaya's help, Asuka has an incredibly hard time deciphering the currently-clothed Rika's aerial maneuvers (With weird names like "Low yo-yo"). But eventually, she gives her air kick turn another try and succeeds (Bringing her success rate to 66.7%) and scores a single point before the match timer runs out. The third match, though, is where things get intense. Misaki, being frustrated over Shindou's cocky, dismissive attitude toward her, gets herself fired up and ready to annihilate the overly-purple champion. However, he is still a champion and starts crushing her right off the bat to the point where he actually stops because it's just too unfair. But instead of just giving up the match, he challenges her to a "Dogfight," in which both players become strict fighters and divert all mental and physical resources on...well, attacking the other player. After a few twisty yellow/purple lines make their way across the sky and the intensity between the two players heightens, Misaki does actually land one attack on Shindou, ultimately making her the Asuka of the day. Apart from Asuka.

Apart from the pure action and more flying circus stuff, there is still a decent amount of semi-exposition present in this episode. It is now, even more, confirmed that Masaya was once a star flying circus player. Hell, he even has a rival now. Asuka, on the other hand, grows as a player too, seeing as she is seemingly able to air kick turn whenever she wants now. Rika even gets some slight profile growth this time around and isn't just used as a fanservice tool for Masaya anymore. Oh, and speaking of fanservice, there was a hot spring scene in this episode. Do I really have to say anymore?

In Summary:
Things seem to be picking up for AOKANA. We have a clear view of who "The bad guy" is for the time being, and the characters all have balanced screen time. In addition to this, the Kunahama seems to be getting a grip on its abilities at a surprisingly fast rate. The fanservice in this episode seems to outweigh that of the former two, but that can mostly be attributed to the hot spring scene. I still can't seem to bring myself to really enjoy the game of flying circus, though. More things keep being introduced to the sport that, in no way, really change it. There are just different methods of flying around and touching the opponent's back. Being a series centralized on a sport, AOKANA needs to rely heavily on the fact that the viewers will actually enjoy that sport. And as of right now, flying circus is the worst part of the series. Hey, maybe I'll become more interested in it as the show goes on, but right now, the only things that matter to me are the characters and the potential for drama.

Grade: B-

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

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