I’m sort of busy right now in real life with many assignments being due for school (ah, the grad student life), so there might not be an overview next week. Well, with how I’m feeling about this season, maybe it is for the best.
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 7 (SNAFU Too!):
This was an interesting episode. While it didn’t have the high drama of episode 2 with Hachiman’s self-sacrificing fake-confession and his friends’ disapproval, nor Hayama and Haruno’s scenes with him in episode 4, outright calling him a “Monster of Rationality” or telling him to stop sacrificing himself, but this episode might have been more powerful in its quiet moments. This episode shows us the results of a season and a half of Hachiman trying to grow, of admitting how much it is a mask he’s maintaining, and how he’s ready to admit it’s not the best thing for him or those around him.
Not only Hachiman, but Yukino is ready to make the same admission at the same time, and so neither is ready to actually listen and hear the other’s plea for trust and closeness. As Hachiman said when the episode started, he isn’t yet mature enough to know what to say. The episode also had enjoyable Iroha and Komachi bits, a return of Tsurumi Rumi from the first season, and more time with ol’ Jazz Hands.
As always, here’s a lengthy write-up about the episode, breaking down all the things, and with a lengthier mini(?)-editorial.
2) Kekkai Sensen / Blood Blockade Battlefront Episodes 6-7:
So, two episodes. Two enjoyable vignettes. Leonardo’s friend with Mr. Spore-Man the Hamburger lover was neat. It’s interesting how this species isn’t aware of their power, because whenever it manifests, they and everyone around them who’s been exposed promptly forgets about it. It also makes relationship hard as being agitated or excited mean the relationship ends, which is especially a case for new relationships, or in the case of a culmination of a long one.
Anyway, this episode and the one where we watched Klaus beat the snot out of alien scum were both fun, but I’m reminded of my thoughts on Noragami – if the point is to have episodic content, then it’s amusing enough, but it’s nothing all that special as far as episodics go – they’re enjoyable as watched, but don’t leave much of a mark. But where’s what they’re building towards? I’d be less worried if it weren’t a 12 episoder, but thus far the show is on course to being “good”, but not remarkable, beyond “Had a noteworthy directorial style.” Yes, I should enjoy it for what it is, and I do, but I keep feeling it could’ve been so much more than just vignettes painting the world and the characters in very broad strokes, and then abandoning all the setting leads it opens.
Seems next episode we’ll get plot! A first parter, with Black! I’m excited about it.
3) Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches / Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo Episodes 1-4:
Mostly caught up! This is a pretty bog-standard enjoyable empty calorie RomCom anime show, of the sort I said I’d try to avoid watching this season, but since I’m too busy with school to start a backlog show, and because my show quota was falling way too low, I picked it up. It’s the sort of show I wished Nisekoi to be, with funny reaction faces, over the top but also sometimes quiet characters, and just fun and comfy shenanigans. It’s fun seeing how a show predicated on one character kissing others has characters very bashful about the concept of romantic kisses.
Also, the voice actors having to use another voice when “possessed”, especially Maaya Uchida, is the best part of the show. I gotta wonder if her Rikka/Hajime voice is her real voice, or her standard “anime voice”, now. Just a fun little show. Nothing special, but it fills a hole.
4) Ore Monogatari!! / My Love Story!! Episode 6:
So much for Yamato’s big secret. My biggest complaint with the show thus far was how one-dimensional Yamato is, how she has nothing going for her beyond being described as “cute”, and wouldn’t you know it, the big conflict that dominated two entire episodes boiled down to being used to make Yamato “cute”, for the tropy and annoying as heck “I want to hold hands, I’m so lewd!” joke. That’s the sort of thing I expect to get resolved in under 5 minutes. But as I said before, shoujo/shounen aren’t really about how girls/boys work, but a fantastical version of it, of how they want to work, or what excites them to think about, and in this case, it’s physical closeness, of a relationship taking on a physically intimate aspect. I guess it’s quite extraordinary, otherwise, why would so many RomCom shows end the moment the platonic relationship is no longer platonic, and far before physical intimacy can crop in?
Regardless, this episode was cute, Sunakawa Ai is still an interesting character, but this episode together with the last one just couldn’t support the time allotted to them, and it ended up being much ado about nothing. Cute nothing, at least. Full notes and longer write-up for the episode here.
5) Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Episode 7:
The first fight! This should’ve been exciting, right? A shounen battler’s focus should be on the battles, right? Well, bringing a whole cow carcass to a competition and then cutting it by leaping in the air like a twerp sure look impressive, and with all the silly things in such shows one shouldn’t speak of realism, but this was just incredibly stupid.
There’s a problem with cooking competitions in this regard, and it isn’t that they aren’t really exciting, but that they’re non-interactive. Master Chef (of which I’ve watched a lot), or Project Runway (of which I also watched a lot) try to make it more exciting by focusing the lens on the time pressure, and constantly moving back and forth between contestants, as well as trying to get us to care more about the interpersonal drama.
Shokugeki managed neither of those, instead relying on pushing all the visual knobs up to 11, and its characters only looking stupid as a result – A character announcing to the world she will now put her food in the oven, really? Mito tasting Soma’s food, or the judges’ over the top reactions were just incredibly flaccid. Just like the show.
It’s a slightly below-average shounen with some enjoyable bits. I’m going to put it on hold for now.
6) Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Episode 19 (Cour 2, episode 7):
It says something when the best part of not just the episode, but the entire season thus far, the one I felt the most emotional over, was the one in which Lancer smacked Shinji and he flew over so comically. Well, it tells you two things: First, Shinji is a little shit, and that characterization worked, and second, that this season was otherwise incredibly weak in delivering either memorable moments or relatable characters.
Also, about Shinji, relying on sexual assault, again, to show us how much of a creep he is? It’s as if Nasu learned how to create villains from the same place as Reki Kawahara, the author of Sword Art Online (which I like, but his villains suck).
What else did we have this episode? It actually made sense, when Archer told Shirou to kill himself, to avoid the fate he will bring about, because Shirou has always spoken of his willingness to die for his ideals, so time to put up, right? Except, this is a shounen battler, and this is an Idiot Plot, one that not only works because the main characters are idiots, but them being idiotic is the actual plot point.
That people repeated their stupid lines which we’ve heard before countless times did not help this episode. It was like shit on a hot and rainy day. I’d drop this show if I weren’t so far into it and the end weren’t in sight.
So, where are we in this season? Shokugeki isn’t any better or worse than Yamada-kun, honestly, and while Yamada-kun is just as cliched, it feels like it’s cliched because it truly enjoys this sort of thing, whereas Shokugeki no Soma feels as if it’s aping the other shounen battlers without really caring or understanding what makes them tick, and trying to replace it by making over the top, instead of actually trying to dig down for some heart.
The two “Ore” shows also contrasted interestingly this week, with both of them having conflicts, but whereas OreGairu underplayed one of the most important scenes in the show so it came off extra strong, Ore Monogatari!! instead chose to overplay a minor episode, so it ended up feeling a tad flat.
This wasn’t a good week, but it wasn’t bad either, it’s not like I hated Shokugeki or Ore Monogatari this week, just underwhelmed or feeling like it could’ve been handled better. But man, Fate/Stay Night sure was bad. Well, here’s to next week!
Let’s try something different, which show this past week had the episode most unlike it in terms of quality? A “bad show” with the best episode, or a great show with a terrible episode?