All the premieres are behind us, and I’m sort of fine with this season. Nothing is really exciting me yet, and most of the crap had been left behind. I’m still unsure about a bunch of the shows, but it’s not like there’s much else this season to pick up. Slim pickings, but I’m fine with what I’ve got.
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). Numbers in parentheses are change from last week.
1) Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora Episode 16 (+2):
This was a pretty cool episode. It had Ushio being cool and saving everyone, and literally saying a man should come to the aid of crying women when he can, several times, which was a bit cloying, but there you have it with a middle-schooler (he’s literally chuuni) who was raised without his mother and told he should always act for the sake of the dead mother who’s watching over him. Anyway, we had cool action sequences, and self-sacrifices, and it was all gloriously shounonsense in the way I like best, with even the fanservice just sort of being there rather than being made a deal of, and Ushio and Tora being their usually cool self, and all the random monsters saying how great Ushio is.
You know, all of this content can end up terrible, which many of the recent light novel adaptations exemplify, but somehow this show is having fun with it and isn’t burying its tempo and characters in the content, and it works.
2) Concrete Revolutio Episode 3 (+4):
An interesting episode that helps set up the structure of the show, where each episode involves a Superhuman entity and that by its nature we pose a philosophical question or observation on the nature of the world, and of what occurs within the show. We also see the decisions people make at one point, and their ramifications years later. Last episode was about an “obake”, or a shape-shifter who was locked in a single form and wanted to change, which I argued he had. This episode was about androids and the nature of free will, predetermination, and what do “love” and “justice” mean when one supposedly cannot make their own decisions. The show was more interested in asking the questions than answering them, and as always, did not always make the most sense. The biggest fault of the show thus far is that with its revolving cycle of characters, the supposed main cast do not yet get to be fully fleshed out, but we still see their natures coming through, and this episode was very interesting to watch indeed. It also ended with a pretty cool action sequence, which certainly didn’t hurt matters. Am I sold on the show? Nope, it’s still pretty messy, but it seems to be going in the right direction, and this episode while not purely “good”, was certainly “not bad”, as in, not a bad one.
I wrote a small post-episode piece on this episode, which you can read here.
3) Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans / Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans Episode 3 (-2):
Reading online anime fora, you mostly find people exclaiming how cool it is to have a stone-cold killer main character, who just shoots people dead, no questions asked. Then again, we’ve had such a similarly capable protagonist who seemed incapable of emotions in another mecha show recently, which was Aldnoah.Zero, and that show tanked hard. But then again, it seemed to tank hard with viewers because of how little sense it made, not because of its unfeeling protagonist. I mean, Mahouka was generally well-received for similar reasons as well.
Anyway, Mikazuki actually has some feelings that we’ve seen, and the show is using moments of people commenting on what he’s feeling or how amazing he is to describe the characters speaking, more than it does to idolize Mikazuki – Both Kudelia and Orga look up to their image of him, but in so doing they speak of their wishes to be able to draw strengths from their weaknesses, or to face the tough situations ahead themselves.
The show kept one scummy adult around, because as a Sunrise Mecha show, that’s what adults are for. But considering how the “orphans” behave, are they truly children? And their lack of childhood, is it not perhaps what the show is about? I think it just might be. Also of note, the comedy keeps being stale generic comedy sequences (“She can’t cook! She’s flustered about it!”) and terribly integrated.
4) Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider Episode 2 (+1):
This episode had creepy content in it, which seemed to be the goal. If anything, this episode had been structured, in both tone and content not merely as a murder mystery, but as a locked room mystery, and as a ghost mystery. An island we can’t get to? And then the dramatic appearance of the “Shiki-doll-corpse” in the end, overly dramatic, not just as part of a show, but dramatic within the show itself. Moe was annoying as only a spoiled little girl who wants to be in the center of attention could be, and the show actually used this aspect of herself to draw parallels to the younger Shiki – to present Shiki as precocious, Moe as slow, or Moe as smart? Any could work, but I think the purpose was to present Shiki herself as one who likes to twist others and to be in the center of attention, especially older men (I did say “creepy”, in all of its various contexts).
The professor was still highly annoying, and it seems like my earnest wish for him to be the target of the murder mystery will not come to pass. Alas, we can’t always get what we want, at least if we’re not annoying girls who lie and manipulate everyone around them. And if we’re that, it seems we end up as part of a murder investigation, one way or the other.
I wrote a post-episode piece on this episode, which you can read here.
5) One Punch Man Episode 3 (-3):
One Punch Man relies on an inimitable sense of energy, at least in my mind. When it comes to action, it mostly has it, with amazing sequences. The problem is not only that this show is mostly a comedy with even the action being subservient to it, but that this comedy features some pretty stale comedic timing, with almost any gag being stretched beyond the breaking minute, sometimes by minutes. That was my problem with Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun as well, and I still hold that well-written comedy often can’t make the jump to the anime medium.
More than that, all of Saitama’s power means the one and only time he was involved in an exciting fight as the exciting fighter was in his dream sequence, otherwise it’s always the villains who get to do, but even so, a fight when one side is dynamic and evolves and the other moves isn’t as exciting as one where both sides are. The Genos Show, on the other hand, features exciting fights non-stop.
It’s sad, but by episode 3 this show already feels tired, as only over-chewed jokes can be. I’m still going to give it some time, and the fights are still cool, but man, show, please shape it up. Going as far as to repeat the “stop narrating someone’s backstory without end” joke? What a shame.
6) Beautiful Bones – Sakurako’s Investigation / Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru Episode 2 (-2):
Shows aimed at kids and starring kids often portray adults in general, and government representatives in particular as incapable and inefficient, in order to leave the teen protagonists room to step in and save the day. It often comes off as heavy-handed. Well, Sakurako-san has an adult main character, and yet the way they portrayed the police officer was beyond that by several orders of magnitude. So inept and bumbling that you might have mistaken him for a comic relief character, if the other characters didn’t react to him seriously, and the show assumed an uber-serious mood with murder and attempted murder occurring.
We did get some characterization, but it was less characterization of the characters and more just seeing bits and pieces of their history, and that Sakurako actually worries about Shoutarou‘s well-being. Oh, we also had an entire House M.D. episode condensed into a single minute. Yes, House was never really about the mysteries, but that meant any would be sense of tension was just removed entirely. This episode had too many non-people characters, and lacked a lot of the fun, by trying for seriousness and missing the mark.
7) Heavy Object Episode 3 (+0):
This show at its best was just below average, so what do you do with this show at its worst? You drop it, that’s what. No, we didn’t have fanservice this time, but fanservice is almost taken for granted in anime these days, but what we did have was, well, let’s go down the list. We’ve had bad anime-logic, with explosives not killing anyone though the explosion was strong enough to destroy a super-tank and be seen from kilometers away, or people holding guns so they’re aimed at their own allies or their bodies. That’s normal, that’s just the small touches that most shows tend to fail at.
Moving on, we had the basic setting, people within, or simple logistics not make sense, such as being chased for 8 hours by the super weapon to distract it from your allies, when it could’ve killed them and then gone after you, yet those 8 hours aren’t enough for you to have accomplished the main distraction goal, only for those hours who spent 8 hours running away to be able to come to your aid at a moment’s notice. Or how there’s an enemy base, literally within walking distance of your base, without your side putting any form of surveillance on it. Or how no one thought of sabotage, nor to defend against it. But again, that’s just lack of logic, if that’s all we had, the show would’ve just been underwhelming, so let’s move on.
Bad direction, with over-emphasis of showing characters from below to create tension in scenes where the characters don’t sell it, and other bad attempts at tension. Enemies who are caricature humans, who speak of “heathens” and torture and rape, who are not only not convincing, but are non-characters. There was one good callback to the sensor that stopped Milinda from operating her Baby Magnum, but it was too brief both here and there, and with an episode that is this bad, in a show that is this underwhelming, adding just how stupid the world and the characters are did way too much for me to want to keep on watching this drivel. Dropped.
Kagewani Episode 3:
A surprisingly self-contained and even somewhat optimistic end to this episode? It’s not just “Here are some monsters and how they interact with humanity,” without actually telling a story, but a story told of love lost and reclaimed, and everyone ends up walking around in a haze, not knowing what to do, was very fitting. There was a sign of connecting the three episodes, but right now they’re still mini-X-Files episodes, and while not great, they’re pretty watchable.
Overall Thoughts on the Week: So, “Good” this week had been Ushio and Tora and Gundam, with me really enjoying but still not being fully sold on Concrete Revolutio. Perfect Insider still shows careful but overblown directing, and annoying characters that diminish my enjoyment, while Sakurako-san is still more enjoyable, but oh so ridiculous, perhaps a bit too much so. Heavy Object was the worst it’s been, and I’m fed up with it, so away it goes.
Shows I’m sure about, as in, I’m sure what I think of them is what I’ll get? Ushio and Tora, Heavy Object, and One Punch Man. It may not be what I like, but it’s a known quantity. 2 episodes in and I’m still not entirely sure where either Sakurako-san or Perfect Insider is going, but I think I actually am, and am just trying to not admit it to myself. I know how badly we spoke of last season, but even though the handful of shows I am still watching are fine, I don’t actually enjoy them all that much, which is in contrast for the shows I kept up with last season, which I enjoyed, but weren’t as good. Then again, the shows I didn’t keep up with last season include the ones I expected to be good.
I’m rambling, but the take-away is that there aren’t a lot of show of interest this season, and the shows that are of interest aren’t all shaping up to be good, but they’re still holding my interest, and that’s fine.
I don’t buy into the “Three Episode Rule”, so instead, which shows grabbed you, and which failed to grab you, by this point?