This write-up covers two weeks, because the episodes didn’t necessarily give enough to describe for one episode lately. The shows are ordered based on how much I liked the episodes in question or thought were good.
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, Parasyte: the Maxim (Kiseiju), and Shirobako.
1) Death Parade episodes 8-9:
It should’ve been obvious by now, and episode 8 did all but say it, and then came along episode 9 and truly did say it – this isn’t about the people being judged, it’s about Decim. We judge the people we see, we judge their judgments, and most of all, we judge the one who passes the judgment, trying to figure out if he made the right decision, and if he made it for the right reasons. This reminds me of the Gorgias Socratic Dialogue, where what I often found problematic in the dialogues was actually brought out.
Those episodes were strong. They were strong from the people’s story, to Decim and Onna’s interactions, to the judgment. And we had a character filling in the same role as Decim, giving the show’s clearest opinion on it – Decim is a person who will let one person rape or murder another as he watches, or even provide them their victim, because he must get all the “darkness” out, and observe it, before he can judge it. And that’s inhuman, and harmful.
2) Shirobako episodes 20-21:
The main point of these two episodes is delivered through Hiraoka, who blames others for getting a break for their gender, who lashes at others for pinning their workload on him, for being happy. You see, Hiraoka burned out, he is unhappy. He is unhappy with putting in time and effort and feeling people only say it’s his work when something goes wrong, not when everything goes right. He’s a facilitator, and he feels slighted. When you’re unhappy, nothing comes off right. He doesn’t put in enough effort now, and thus others don’t want to work with him, which keeps things spiraling in this manner.
Aoi is asking anyone why they work in the business, what’s in it for them. Many of the answers aren’t at all romantic, “I just kept working at it, and ended up doing so.” – The show flat-out says that those who end up in it for the long road are often those who do the work because it’s work, not those who came in with dreams of how it’d be amazing just because it’s “Anime”.
Hiraoka is still an asshole, don’t get me wrong, but he’s one you can understand. That’s the difference between an explanation and an excuse – we understand him, but his actions are still unacceptable. Shirobako, as always, is a human story.
3) Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch) episodes 8-9:
Things get heavy. Maria is facing a similar situation to Maou in Maoyu, where she was dragged in front of the people. The stakes here are smaller, and much more personal. The people Maria saved, the people she spent all this time and effort helping are turned against her. Even Martha is pushed, with Maria’s blessing, to throw a rock against Maria, in order to save her family from trouble. Being thrown a rock by Martha is just another example of what it is that Maria is doing all this time, sacrificing herself for the sake of the innocent people.
We’ve also had a battle, showing how things really turn out, close and personal, and how quickly people turn on one another when things go wrong, alongside Galfa’s quest for power, and the sacrifices he’ll make, alongside one of the most underplayed and solid scenes of sexual assault I’ve seen in media.
This show is doing God’s work.
3) Durarara!!x2 Shou episodes 8-9:
Recovering from the terrible lack of actual animation, in large part by having less moving sequences and planning around it, Durarara!! is back to form. Things are moving, things are getting interwoven. It’s about the weight of expectations, and how assuming things about others can end with terrible, and to us the viewers, potentially amusing thoughts, as Varona assumes Celty wants to kill Mikado, for instance. I’d say it’s very hard to discuss Durarara!! in this manner, as it’s best viewed in motion, but I do it after every episode, so here are my two write-ups for these two episodes. Know that I love them greatly, but also take some issues with the setup, which at times feels like setup, before everything comes crushing down.
5) Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu) episodes 7-8:
Standard fare, students who didn’t have people accept them and thus tried to “find themselves” in all the wrong places, finding acceptance in this class. Alongside even assassins receiving life-affirming guidance from Koro-sensei. Enjoyable enough, but not much more to say, honestly.
6) Log Horizon S2 episodes 21-22:
Log Horizon’s final arc, just as last year, revolves around spending time in Akihabara and facing off some external threat. We’ve been given some exposition, some twists on the nature of the world, which I always find intriguing, but it doesn’t add up entirely thus far. So this world is another world, but the aliens (yes, really) who can help us get back don’t know how we got here, or where “here” is, per se? And the real issues, the real engine of the story, the widening gap between players is left mostly in the background. I did like them noting that only financially aiding the weaker players who aren’t succeeding because they can’t stop pining back for our own world, won’t solve anything, but in so doing they also removed any and all mention of those who aren’t making ends meet because the stronger players and guilds are monopolizing the market, cutting off the venue for more interesting social commentary.
The “alternate characters” being taken over was nice, but I’d have expected something more to be done with them, similarly to how the gold-farming bots were given consciousness. These episodes were “fine”, which is most of what Log Horizon provides us with.
7) Parasyte: The Maxim (Kiseiju) episodes 20-21:
Finally, the show gets to tell us some of what it truly thinks, about life, and humanity. We have the “Humans are the parasites of this world, and anything that curtails them is just doing evolution, and the world, a service,” but delivered from Hiraoka who is a non-character it wasn’t terribly moving. Another dose of “humans are the real monsters” from our resident serial killer, as expected. We also had another notion on what life is, life is to never give up, to always try to run away and protect yourself, to have sex as a way to leave something behind when you know you’re about to die.
Honestly, those two episodes felt like they could’ve been delivered in a much shorter time-span. It just felt like a pretty empty and dry experience.
8) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc (2nd season) episodes 8-9 (32-33):
Stardust Crusaders isn’t helped by giving two weeks to each Stand, but even if it had only given each Stand a single episode, it’d still be bad. You see, you can argue that the pacing is bad, which it is, but the length of each arc is only adding insult to injury. It’s bad in the same way as watching Power Rangers’ “Monster of the Week” right now would be bad, and unpalatable to most of us. Jotaro has as much character as a piece of placard (even Inaho from Aldnoah.Zero has more), and the rest of the Jojos are just jokes walking around for the most part. The fights? It’s not even monster of the week as much as it is “shtick of the week”, and most fights are solved by Jotaro punching faster or harder than anyone could imagine. No real thought into any of it.
With all that said, this arc has been the worst of the content given to us by Stardust Crusaders. Baby Polnareff wasn’t endearing, a gratuitous and minutes-long sequence as the camera shows baby Polnareff excited by a good looking woman washing his naked body, and lingering on her bosom, a literal sequence of him pooping on his assailant, an unlikeable and unimaginative enemy. And how was it concluded? By baby Jotaro still punching hard enough to save the day…
There’s been a total of three episodes I really enjoyed in Stardust Crusader’s entire run, and even they were mostly 7-8 out of 10. I expect a solid show to have most of its episode around that point, not 10%. And so, this show is on hold/dropped. I might catch up now and then, but every time I’ve been told, “Just wait, next arc is better!” – but that’s what source material fans are wont to do, and the ratio of good to mediocre or bad content is just not worth it.
The last couple of weeks had been tiring in terms of anime. Some shows are great, but it still feels like the pre-finale slump. Or perhaps it’s just the experience of writing about it. I’ve been supplementing that with quite a lot of western television.
Well, the good stuff remains consistently strong, but the inertia making me go through the “okay” stuff is taking a small toll.
How do you feel about the end of seasons? Do you feel the itch for new material as shows drag their feet before their finales?