Wednesday, February 3, 2016

AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across The Blue Episode #4 Review

Meat makes me happy!

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)
As the flying circus training season progresses for the Kunahama Institute's new team, the skills and abilities of almost every member begin to skyrocket as well. Asuka and Misaki are both improving at an incredibly impressive pace, while Mashiro, on the other hand, is starting to feel like she's being left in the dust. After watching the two other girls compete in a practice match, she starts to feel like she can't even keep up with Asuka -- which is a total red flag in her book considering how terrible she was just weeks ago. Needless to say, Mashiro starts falling into a relatively depressing slump and spends most of her time laying in bed talking to her stuffed animal friends about her desire to get better. To her good fortune, however, she winds up bumping into Rika from Takafuji High who is on her way home one night. Being basically desperate at this point, Mashiro requests that Rika play an impromptu match against her. This ultimately results in Rika taking the petite and fiery white-haired girl under her wing as an apprentice.

Mashiro, who is trying incredibly hard to improve and catch up to Asuka, has some trouble with Rika's training at first. Considering that Mashiro has been as a fighter since the formation of the Kunahama flying circus team, she has a hard time grasping the basics of speeding. But once Rika coerces her into tossing aside everything she knows and just going back to the starting line, things begin to look up. After just one week of nightly training sessions, Mashiro has heightened her skills to an all-time personal peak. The most interesting part of this, however, is how quickly the relationship between these two girls grows. Just a week ago, they were strangers who only knew each other from the short-lived Kunahama/Takafuji training camp. Now, Rika and Mashiro are getting together nearly every night and eating noodles and doing other things that girls do when they hang out. It's actually quite adorable.

After the training ends and the two begin to wrap up their nightly sessions with each other, Mashiro makes a sort of confession to Rika as she is leaving. Using her stuffed animal as a medium for communication with the Takafuji starter, Mashiro claims that she wants to take their relationship to the next level. Unfortunately, it can be assumed that she means this in a totally platonic, non-yuri way (Damn). Being a delightful and cheery spirit, Rika agrees and the two laugh the night away as things go from tough to jubilant in the blink of an eye.

The next day, Mashiro takes on Asuka in a practice match. This time around, she is no longer the empty shell of a flying circus player she was just a week ago. In fact, she even has a special move up her sleeve tailored in a way that is sure to completely counter Asuka. As the match goes on, Mashiro unveils that secret technique and ultimately goes on to win the match, showing that sometimes practice really does make perfection. In the end, all of the girls wind up right back at Mashiro's house to once again eat noodles and do more girl things before the episode comes to an end.

In Summary:
This installment of AOKANA is a delightful glimpse into Mashiro's character and really helps viewers create a bond with her. Prior to this episode, Mashiro was just the rambunctious girl that was tied to Misaki's hip. However, now that the series has shone some light on her, she's seen as this hilarious and innocent, yet passionate and determined individual with a desire to improve herself as not only a flying circus player but as a person. The relationship quickly crafted between her and Rika features some of the best character chemistry in the series so far and there wasn't really any point in the episode where it didn't seem that way. I'm actually really impressed with how this episode played out in comparison to the previous three. And just as I wanted it to, AOKANA tossed aside the flying circus background information and utilized its time for character progression, which is extremely hopeful in terms of how this series should play out.

Grade: B+

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

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