A lot of words spent on how things don’t always work for me this week. OreGairu worked, Ore Monogatari did too. It’s something about “My” (Ore), I guess. More seriously, aside from stand-out moments this week had a lot of moments I enjoyed, even as most episodes were underwhelming.
As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst).
1) OreGairu S2 Episode 5 (SNAFU Too!):
This has been the show’s weakest episode this season aside from the very first one. It also means it was stronger than all but one episode in the first season, and stronger than most anime episodes out there in general. Just like every other week, I wrote a full episodic-notes post for the episode, where I break down all the interactions. This episode in particular had several moments of interest, and of hope, and then despair.
The first is that Hachiman actually tried to do things differently, in that he attempted to convince someone to change their situation and realize their goals, rather than help them avoid change. But then rejected Hikki’s action, for reasons that were hard to figure out, but it did seem for the most part, until the very final scene, to be about wishing to outdo her sister, to help others, and just like Hachiman, needing an excuse to help others.
The final scene and showed me and Hachiman, that if you convince yourself that the solution is either to “lose the club” or “maintain the club as is,” you lose the capability of seeing alternate options, where you can maintain the club while still accepting some form of change. But no one considered this aside from Yukino. And this is how Hachiman failed Yukino, by being unable to change.
And then came Hachiman’s very mature realization – Since his personality can’t change so rapidly, faced with the same situation, he’d make the same choice every time. It might be wrong, but one does not have a choice when one only has one option one knows how to pick. And that’s Hikki’s story in a single line. And trying to grow out of it or dealing with the ramifications is what this show is all about.
2) Ore Monogatari!! / My Love Story!! Episode 4:
For me the most important line in this episode was when Suna said his life will be too boring without Takeo, answering one of the reasons he’s his friend – the cold and detached Suna feels at ease with Takeo, and can open up.
The other scene was after Yamato’s friends badmouthed Takeo, and he was so ridiculously “glass half-full” sort of guy – “The important thing to me is that now I know you boasted of me to your friends!” though he should’ve focused on how Yamato was hurt, but I guess he did, and tried to cheer her up in the most subtle of his actions in the show thus far, though I might just be reading too much into it.
The episode was otherwise filled with amusing moments, over the top moments, and reaction faces. While Suna’s call to Takeo and Yamato having to be restrained so she won’t leap into the fire were being hammered with the sad stick, it sort of worked on me since it’s what the entire show was working for thus far, so kudos for it. Could’ve been handled much worse.
3) Sidonia No Kishi / Knights of Sidonia S2 Episode 3:
This was such a weird episode, because the entire middle section of it was the show reminding us that at some level, it’s a shounen show that needs to fulfill its trope quota, from Tanikaze bringing food as a gift because he’s oh-so-silly, to walking in on a naked girl and getting kicked unconscious, to the girl running away rather than apologize to him later. And of course, GunPla models, effectively, in a non-Gundam shows! Also, the harem is real.
The last part of the “Shounen quota” is where we get to the rest of what happened in the episode – everyone who’s willing to go ahead and be brave but isn’t the main character is going to get punished for it. We have humanity going on an offensive against the enemy that decimated most of them. Seems foolhardy in the extreme. Well, that’s what comprises the backbone of such shows.
4) Kekkai Sensen / Blood Blockade Battlefront Episode 5:
This episode didn’t really work for me. To clarify, it’s not that I disliked this episode, but only that I didn’t like it. It left me cold.
We’ve had some cute reaction faces courtesy of Zapp and Leo, we’ve had Chain being nonchalantly cool and sort of “zoned-out”, and we’ve had the introduction of Hummer Blood Hammer (dat naming convention), who seemed like he’d be an interesting “character” with the combination of two distinct personalities who still work together against an old flame/enemy, but isn’t there yet.
But, with all of the visual flair we usually get in the show, it just felt that all of it didn’t really serve to enhance the characters or action, but stood there divorced of it. It felt more like a cliffnotes or RomCom version of “events happen” than an organized whole that captivates you.
The last segment was better, with Leonardo taking White out for a date, but while it had its charm, it didn’t work on me emotionally as the characters aren’t really realized personalities yet. And White’s brother and Femt slowly build up towards something.
This screenshot helped me realize some of my “issue” with the show, and this episode. It’s basically a Marvel Universe series. There’s just no real sense of consequences to anything happening. Things happen, and then are forgotten and left behind. Only Leonardo and White’s relationship bucks this trend.
5) Plastic Memories Episode 5:
This was an average episode. Average is a curious term, as if I’m taking two or more figures and yield an average, but in this case, it’s exactly what I’m talking about: Many interesting ideas, some solid character build-up moments, but all just so terribly executed. Also, it feels as if this episode were at least two episodes, if not three, compressed into the space of a single one.
First, on the good front, in a manner similar to what I explored in my episode 1 write-up, there were just so many interesting ideas alluded to in this episode, from Giftias being treated under the same laws as humans, to the ramifications of how fucked up it is that Souta, a grade schooler, first had to sign away his guardian, and then has to deal with the authorities after she’s gone missing. You could also consider some of that to be a downside, if you think the author of the work simply didn’t create an internally consistent world, so these harrowing moments shouldn’t even exist (and speaking of authorities, where’s the police?).
Then we’ve had more moments used to establish Isla’s character and position, from the obvious of not wanting memories as the good ones can hurt even more than the sad ones, to wanting to be useful to Tsukasa, and to beneeded, and thus give meaning to her existence. We’ve also had some more fleshing out of Michiru’s past, but here we get to the bad.
This episode was just all over the place, from the tonal shift, to pulling out so much information and events we had no knowledge of, and no time to incorporate into emotionally meaningful pieces, or just events!, from Kazuki’s actions three years ago, to Isla’s “sword”, to the Giftia-destroying gun, to how Wanderers act… it felt as if all of this content needed 2 episodes at the very least, if not 3, to actually breathe properly, and it also felt as if this content would’ve been much better either as a first episode (Attack on Titan style) or around episode 10 (as the pre-final conflict, to go into resolving Isla’s storyline).
However, it felt as if we were force-fed something without being prepared for it, while the direction and constant tonal shifts to comedy (R. Security dealing with Kazuki), alongside with the vastly underwhelming art (as characters had a hard time staying in model) meant that this episode was hardly enjoyable. All the ideas in the world don’t do much if they’re rushed and presented in an unappetizing manner. But at least it had aspirations, and beneath all the muck were good moments, and good scaffolding for future moments.
6) Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode 5:
Not really a lot to say. We’re going to have an assassin meat-chef, Ibuki is more than he seems. A setup episode mostly there to tell and then show us what Food Wars are actually about. And some extravagant food-making. Also, a small refrain of “out with the old, in with the new,” of having to innovate to stay at the top.
7) Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Episode 17 (Cour 2, episode 5):
There were some good action sequences (especially with the music that went alongside Archer breaking out his shield, and all those vibrant colours), but just like in Mahouka last year, they’re usually broken apart by cheesy exclamations rather than allowed to breathe and dominate the scene.
Speaking of cheesy exclamations, any episode with Caster is going to have some terribly overwrought lines. Accompanying was the usual philosophy spiel-drivel courtesy of Archer and Lancer, and then Archer and Kuzuki-sensei, through which Nasu spoke the truth that harsh libertarianism is the prerogative of sociopathy.
This was an ultimately empty episode. It was really pretty, but it was really pretty mediocrity, with the episode, lines, and direction being all over the place.
This was an interesting week. Shokugeki no Soma isn’t very good, but it’s giving us what it told us it would. Fate/Stay Night is about as good as Shokugeki, but it’s told us it can do more, so it’s a disappointment this week, and in general. Kekkai Sensen needs to find a way to shake things up a tad, in some way, or return to being more “fun” in its delivery. But aside from that? Plastic Memories and Sidonia were all over the place, Ore Monogatari!! is still charming, and OreGairu is still very good.
It’s interesting how most of what is good remains good, and what’s bad isn’t just outright bad, but more that it shows or showed signs of greatness but falls apart in terms of delivery and composition. Everything from spot 3 down, aside from Shokugeki no Soma is in that position – where you can tell what they’d like to go for, but it just doesn’t work or is crossed with too much dross.
We’re nearing the season mid-point, anything you’re particularly pleased with?
It’s sad to say, but there’s nothing I’m particularly pleased with. It’s a very, very average season for me, the likes of which I hadn’t experience yet. Since fall 2013, every season had at least one show worthy of an 8 or higher, but I’m afraid that this one will be the first to break the chain.
Ah well, we can’t expect everything to be great all the time. I still have my backlog to ease the pain!
Well, I have OreGairu S2 filling that spot for me right now, and I’m told that Hibike! Euphonium should fill that spot as well, which means it’s very likely I’ll pick it up in a couple of weeks.
Hm, a series where nothing was over 8/10? Haven’t had one in the last few years. Fall 2014 technically fit, because Shirobako didn’t end during it, but it did air, and there was also Mushishi Zoku Shou 2nd season, which I haven’t watched, but aired and would’ve received the score.
I think for me the issue isn’t the lack of top-end, but that the middle of the pack is filled with things closer to the bottom half, at least in terms of enjoyment. I usually watch enough shows that 2-3 greats and 12 meh make me not especially super-fond of the season. This time I cut down on the meh, but yeah, the top end’s percentage didn’t really increase.
Oh well, more backlog times. And backlog for me increases the pain, because it stares at me with its never-sated eyes :D
Am not a fan of OreGairu S1, and I dropped Hibiki! after E4. :P
You should perhaps just get sunglasses in that case though!
Reclaiming these lost Giftia made me think of abusive caretakers, with the Stockholm-affected victims loathe to give up imagined benefits though being saved is the right thing to do. Alzheimers is a better parallel though: As with Giftia you legitimately did live a nice life with that person, they just aren’t here anymore, even if parts of them are walking around, confused and afraid. I hope the story is more about this than the recent swerves into terrible comedy and Psycho-Pass dangerous target retrieval.
The poor engineering decisions in Plastic Memories are nearing the breaking point of my suspension of disbelief, though. It’s extremely bad practice to design a product that turns into a destructive superhuman at the end of service life; it’s like building a brake system for cars that puts power on the accelerator whenever brake fluid loses pressure, the term is ‘fail-deadly’. I guess building robots with a human level of strength is presumably so much more expensive than making them superpowerful with fragile ‘limiters’ that the savings cover legal compensation, bribing regulators, and sustaining that private army. Plus side, this basically turns the black market from slavers to weapons dealers. The mention of tracking chips as inhumane was nice as it indicates that these issues have indeed been brought up and resolved, though it makes the lack of police response to this kidnapping case even stranger.
With regards to “engineering problems,” you just gotta treat this like magic. Why does it work like this? Because magic. Those are “robots with souls,” what does soul even mean here, as opposed to consciousness, why does it work like this? Magic. I mean, surely the designers wouldn’t want it if they could get rid of it, especially after the first Wanderer, so apparently they can’t.
Suspension of Disbelief here should be aimed at how people interact with one another, the decisions they make based on the information they have. Treat anything else as magic.
And yeah, the lack of police stretched my suspension of disbelief. Makes you wonder if there’s even police here, or it’s sort of a corporate-ruled cyberpunk dystopia.