This was supposed to go up on Wednesday, but between my cat having surgery (4 teeth removed), and me finding myself busy with all sort of things, it was delayed. I’m going to cover 2-3 episodes of each of the currently airing shows I’ve watched over the past three weeks, the cutoff is this past Wednesday. Next week will hopefully have an editorial, the mid-season post, and then we’ll go back to normal, including a post on Hyouka and another on rewatching Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The shows covered will be Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Death Parade, Durarara!!x2, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt arc, Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch), Log Horizon S2, Shirobako, The Rolling Girls, and Tokyo Ghoul Root A.
Shows listed roughly in order of how much I liked the episodes in question.
1) Durarara!!x2 Shou episodes 3-5:
I love Durarara!!, and I love the way in which its stories are told, how they are just presented, and it’s not the action through which the story is told, it’s not necessarily the events occurring, but the way characters and storylines intersect. We have an increasingly large cast of characters, and rather than dilute the broth, or mean things take longer to occur, it feels as if the opposite is taking place, with me feeling as if one episode contained enough material for three distinct episodes, and none of it feeling rushed or ignored.
But for those who do like action and overt plot, it seems all the embers are slowly collected, and things are picking up steam, and I was so unready for the last episode ending when it did. I can’t really talk too much about the content of the episodes, because so much is going on, that it’s just simpler, and so much more fun, to watch the episodes. We get soliloquies on the nature of humans, emotions. We get demonstrations of group dynamics, inter-group dynamics, and so much more.
I also put up the page with my post-episodic editorials for the show, wherein I gush about the show, its structure, and how it does work.
2) Shirobako episodes 15-17:
A new show, Miyamori, who was recently a newbie, now has new people working under her. Same for Ema. What could go wrong in such a setup? Well, nothing is going wrong because of this, but we have everything going wrong regardless, with an experienced person working under Miyamori and actively sabotaging her, the manga author’s agent lack of care finally bites everyone in the ass, and crunch time is upon everyone.
We also have an exploration of teamwork, and emotional vulnerability, of how hard it is to feel responsible for an entire team’s work when something goes wrong, and how easy it is for others to not give you the support you need.
Shirobako is a show about adulthood. There’s a veneer of optimism on top, but it’s very slight. It’s a show that demonstrates how things can go wrong, and it’s not Murphy’s Law, it’s just working with others, and how we try to put everything back in order afterwards.
3) Death Parade episodes 3-5:
Meet the Buddha, meet his workers, meet judges who must render judgment based on memories and people’s reactions to extreme situations which do not necessarily reflect their nature. Is the focus of the show the nature of the people judged? Is it on the extreme situations and how people act in them? Or is the focus on the judges, their lives, and the decisions they make, where judging them requires judging everything – the people, the situation, and the judgment given?
To be human is to constantly judge. To be a human in a social situation is to be judged. Regardless of what the focus is, it’s a very fascinating show, and I think very highly of each of its episodes.
4) Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch) episodes 3-4:
Long week, so haven’t watched this week’s episode yet. I’m still enjoying Maria quite a bit, and the last two episodes were very much about how this show complements Maoyu Maou Yusha (Demon-Lord and Hero) – there’s a price to war, but there’s also a price to be paid when you stop it. There are those who make their living off of war, and should you take their livelihood away, they’ll turn on the population of their own side, lest they starve.
It’s also interesting, how the archangel forced Maria to choose – there is no happiness for everyone, if you help someone near, then someone far will suffer, so she has to choose between her happiness, or the world’s. You don’t get to have it all. Considering it’s somewhat of a story about losing one’s innocence, that message, of “You can’t have it all,” is quite fitting.
5) Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu) episodes 3-4:
Episodes 3-4 cemented the place of this show as “Great Teacher Onizuka-lite”. If you haven’t watched GTO, then I’d recommend putting this show to the side and watching GTO instead. If you’ve watched GTO and want something close to it, then it fits. We’ve had a teacher-hating student who got this way due to being betrayed by teachers previously, and we have an outsider assassin who is shown the magic that is going on in the classroom, between Koro-sensei and the students.
And that’s the biggest failing of the show, it’s as subtle as a brick to the head. It keeps spelling out what is going on, rather than letting you grow to see it over time on your own, and it concludes within each episode what could grow to the surface over an entire arc. It’s an enjoyable series, but it’s not going for subtlety, at all. Well, that’s sort of what you expect with Kishi Seiji (DanganRonpa, Angel Beats!) as the director.
6) Parasyte: The Maxim (Kiseiju) episodes 15-17:
These episodes continue the slow descent of Shinichi’s into his role as Batman-Spiderman and his struggle against losing his humanity, while the parasites slowly grow more human, more empathetic. Not necessarily more “humane”, mind you, but they take up the social organization of humans, they learn to converse with one another.
If there’s any one problem with the show is how slow it all is. I think it has a place, because this is very much a process. But of course, being a narrative, you don’t actually have to show us every single step of it. Episode 17 ended in quite an interesting place, as all the storylines converge, and I can feel the inhuman monster is going to make the most human of requests from Shinichi, for which he might not yet be ready.
7) Log Horizon S2 episodes 16-18:
The comfiest show around, trading much on its atmospherical characters, meaning, what we get from the show is the easy air of spending time around its likeable cast. Of course, we’re now spending time with the kids as they go on a journey, and it’s not all that interesting, right? Well, for the most part, it isn’t, but then we get to see how the “game-world that is now real” treats the topic of music, we get to spend more time with Nureha, and we get to listen to the Round Table discussing distribution of wealth, taxation of the rich, motivating people to work, and the growing wage-gap. That was intensely interesting.
So, those three episodes? The first was a bit tiresome with a whole episode of preparing for the journey, but the two episodes that followed were much more interesting than I’d thought they’d be.
8) The Rolling Girls episode 3:
The first episode of the actual series! I’m behind on the show, but that episode was really rather week. Another story cut into two, but there was just very little here. We didn’t really get to know the characters any better, we didn’t see what is at stake, just… stuff happening, in a colourful setting.
9) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc (2nd season) episodes 3-5 (Episodes 27-29):
These three episodes for me plotted a course. Oingo Boingo, the first, was a one-off episode that had me laughing quite a bit, and enjoying myself. The episode is told almost entirely from the villains’ point of view, and has a distinct lack of Jotaro. It even had a humorous ED featuring Oingo and Boingo. Then we went back to a two-episode Stand Fight, where the first episode was more than fine, with some over the top moments, some cleverness, etc., but the second part was back to the old doldrums, with action that dragged on too long, an uninteresting villain, and just… meh. Stardust Crusaders is still better right now than it’s been throughout the first half, but it’s still not what I was hoping for.
10) Tokyo Ghoul Root A episodes 3-5:
This show isn’t good, don’t get me wrong, but it managed to grow up from being terrible to being bad. In many ways it reminds me of Bleach, in how we have people with ridiculously impractical weapons, with how mysterious figures watch the going ons from a distance, making cryptic comments, with how Kaneki Ken, our protagonist, is becoming a determinator who will fight the world itself to save his friends.
There were some nice moments in Anteiku, but there are ridiculous non-characters, bad action, etc. But still, somehow, the 5th episode made me curious about what will happen next. It’s still a bad show, and I should drop it, but we don’t always make the right decisions.
Rewatching NGE and reading an entire book left my memory a bit muddy, but overall, shows are where they are. The good shows stay ahead, while the weaker shows enjoyed brief glimpses of brilliance or enjoyment, but quickly trend back to their normal positions.
Since we’re covering a significant amount of time, any specific event from the past three weeks’ worth of currently airing anime that stood out in your minds? Since I expect some spoilers, please include the show’s name as its own first line for your reply.
I know you haven’t seen it yet (or at least written about it here) so no spoilers, but Parasyte’s episode 18 really hit it out of the ballpark! I’d been getting a little tired of the show recently despite the decent writing – I guess I personally just didn’t find the mostly drama and romance-driven story arc especially compelling – but man, that episode made the whole thing worth suddenly seem worth it. A near-perfect narrative climax.
I’ve watched it. I make the cut-off point “Earlier Wednesday”, cause I’d rather not post this super-late at night, except I posted it 3 days late anyway.
I’ve had quite a few issues with episode 18. I’m not sure if I’ll write a weekly post next week or a mid-season post.
If I don’t write a weekly post, I’ll talk to you about it in emails, cause I’d rather not spoil it while saying the discussion here is up to episode 17.
It does certainly seem they finished “drawing things out”, which many shows seem to do in the middle of a 2-cour run, when they don’t actually need all the episodes they’ve been given.
I really enjoyed episode 18 of Parasyte, too!
It was quite a breath of fresh air from the romance-angst driven Kana arc and set the stage for the final arc.
I still do find Murano’s character and awkward dialogue like “are you back, Shinichi?” a bit irksome but it wasn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment of the episode.
“any specific event from the past three weeks’ worth of currently airing anime that stood out in your minds?”
How about Yuri Kuma Arashi? I presume that you are still watching this, since you have episodic notes for episodes 1 and 2.
The major complaint thrown at this series (besides people who just aren’t into Ikuhara-type stuff) is that the series is so completely drowned in symbolism, themes, and pretty backgrounds that its characters have no depth, background, or motivation with which to empathize with.
Episode 4 fixes ALL of this by telling a very Ikuhara-style fairy tale exploring Lulu’s background. Within the first half of the episode, we suddenly know more about Lulu than any of the characters in the past 3 episodes combined, and we sympathize with her backstory. “We hated you from the beginning – and loved you from the beginning, too” suddenly makes perfect sense within her context.
Episode 4, to me, is a turning point in the series. It’s what has firmly established my commitment to watching and enjoying this series, and episodes 5-7 continue to build on the characterization-focus (although it’s done in more traditional storytelling format, and not as a fairy tale book… unless of course you count the ACTUAL fairy tale book written by Kureha’s mom).
Anyway, completely unrelated to anime, as a cat owner myself, I wish the best for your kitty’s recovery!
Also looking forward to your post on Hyouka, which I personally found myself enjoying WAY more than I thought I would.
My cat took a few days to get back to eating his kibble, maybe he hoped I’d keep feeding him the soft mushy stuff, but he’s got his appetite back :)
Watching episode 18 of Hyouka last night gave me another complementary idea on what the show’s all about. I wanted to finish it, but I found myself in the wrong mood for it, so it’ll take a few days more, but there should definitely be a post about it.
And no, still stalled on Yuri Kuma, in large part because of how much time it takes to write about it, unless I watch it sans notes… And it’s hard to let go of such a rich vein of write-up thoughts.