Last week I was busy. Thankfully, most episodes seem to have gone on in a manner that made talking about two episodes at once easier. Since I’m going to be very busy next week, the mid-season post will likely only appear next Friday.
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). It’s a bit less organized this time around, because it’s averaging two episodes’ worth of content, and not in any scientific manner.
1) Concrete Revolutio Episodes 4-5:
This series seems to have found its footing with episode 3. I can still see many people don’t and won’t like it, but in episode 3 it had shown what it wants to be about, and has been about it ever since, and also, well, more concrete, if you will forgive my pun. A two-parter, which continuing the theme of episode 3 is about our nature, about who we choose to be, rather than who we were born as. Kaiju, the great monsters of Japanese cinema, what are they here for? What are they to us? And especially to Jiro, and so we explore the questions of the monster within, media control, and tie it to the student revolts of the 1960s. It’s all about lies, and while the “theme” might appear to be with how those in power manipulate others, and even manipulate nature, it seems to all come down to the lies we’re willing to tell others whom we claim to love.
Kikko hasn’t been getting much screen-time for the last couple of episodes, and in light of that I’d like to point out that in the concurrently releasing manga, Jiro is the sole main character, or so it’d appear from its premise. And even here, it mostly appears to be the story of the Bureau through Jiro, and Kikko is just the helpful vantage point from which to see it.
2) Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora Episodes 17-18:
A two-episode story covered in this post makes things very easy. Ushio became a beast, and everyone, or rather, all the girls he had saved in the past grouped together to save him in turn. The “I can’t allow girls to cry” idea that appeared a couple of episodes ago is paying dividends, though I’m still not sold on it. The action, sacrifices, and emotional turmoil in these two episodes were pretty good, but I had some issues with the emotional pay-off, where Ushio described how he wishes to see his friends again, the ones who saved him, as they watched him and he wasn’t aware of it. It was a good moment, and I think I’d have loved it unabashedly in text/manga form, but it felt as if it dragged on for too long in animated form. Still, good character moments, good action, and good emotions. Ushio and Tora remains my most enjoyable watch this season, and a pretty good one at that.
3) Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans / Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans Episodes 4-5:
Art quality took another dip, which is impressive considering how low it’s been. Our resident “rotten adult” revealed his true colours, and the theme of “trust” was broached, that trust has to be earned, and you can act as if you trust someone untrustworthy, so long as you prepare for their betrayal – you can give people chances, but you need to be ready for when they fail you. I was bemused by how seemingly everyone went to space, but guess it’s easier than trying to check in on home and the people there, and they’re all one happy family anyway.
The “non-rotten adults” who are here for more than a moment merely to save a point (as Crank was) had been introduced, and they had recognized MC-kun’s worth, just as he recognized that they are formidable enemies as well. Aside from setting free the indebted, which was the other face of “trusting and giving other chances,” these two episodes were mostly plot-progress, as we move to space, and onward to more important, more “diplomatic” confrontations.
4) One Punch Man Episodes 4-5:
Episode 4 felt tired. I barely took screenshots, I didn’t tweet about it, and I wrote all of 5-6 lines about it in my notes-file (yes, I have some notes written for every show I watch. How/when will I ever share them? Unknown). It just felt tired. The crazy ninja archetype was cool, but Saitama is sort of like Tatsuya Shiba from Mahouka in the sense that the moment he acts, everyone else gets to be less cool.
But episode 5? Man, I wish Genos were the star of this show, he has cool moments, he has cool action. Yes, this episode made its focal point the joke that it’s the Saitama show and not the Genos show, but I think in so doing it just revealed how it could’ve been better. In part because the Saitama show isn’t all that clever or funny. Anyway, Saitama had some cool moments himself this episode, as he got to fight against objects, against how people look down on him, and thus truly got to go all out and be cool. There were also finally signs of a future “plot” to come, which could only help this show, as rehashing the same single joke got old around episode 2.
5) Beautiful Bones – Sakurako’s Investigation / Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru Episodes 3-4:
I actually didn’t mind episode 3, just felt it was too short. The “solution” to the “mystery”, including how the grandmother climbed elsewhere from the final spot was, well, silly, but the episode sort of worked, and it mostly felt as if the mystery was tacked on at the end without adding much, and was rushed through because it wasn’t the actual content. You know, to a degree, that feels like what this show is really about – a highschool light novel anime adaptation with a “magical and aloof woman” (think xxxHolic, GoSick, whatever), and they just shoved the mysteries in to make it appear to be something more. The characters were fine, this episode. Nothing exciting though.
Episode 4 was a bit different, and actually focused on the mystery, and actually dragged it along into a cliffhanger. The mystery still feels a bit forced, with the “clues” shoved into our faces at every turn, but “stupid cop” acting like that on purpose, and some of the interactions not involving Sakurako herself this episode actually gave it some more air. It’s as if the effort of making Sakurako appear smart is sucking agency out of the other characters, and as if they realize it themselves in-show as well. At least without her we learned some new things about Shoutarou as well, such as how he’s into helping others, and cooking, etc., but can’t bring himself to be upfront about it with his own mother.
6) Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider Episodes 3-4:
Episode 3 of this show had been another episode that felt like it’d never end, and had brilliant exchanges such as “Her limbs have been amputated,” “Who would do something like that?” “Her murderer.” Saikawa has a “brilliant detective moment,” and it’s pretty clear that the show does build him up to be the genius looked up to, even if he fails on an interpersonal level. The mystery isn’t exciting, even if it’s a locked room mystery with you locked in with a killer(!), which is quite a failing. We still had Shiki carried on a lolita subplot, and I think at this stage, after it was revealed that what Shiki desired was to face someone smarter than herself, that she orchestrated this to a degree to see if someone could solve her riddle.
Episode 4 was much less terrible, and it might’ve been cause we had less characters espousing shitty lines, and less Saikawa being Saikawa. I dunno, this show isn’t really working on some fundamental level for me, with the drama coming in weird bursts that shatter any suspension of disbelief, and Shiki’s portrayal not being disturbing for the right reasons. P.S. please don’t learn what dissociative identity disorder, or anything about psychology or philosophy from this show. I feel there’s good content here, but it’s really not being sold well. The visual direction is pretty good though, I’ll say that.
Kagewani Episodes 4-5:
We’re getting somewhere! Progress of plot! First, we learn that these beings encroach ever closer on human territory, and on the other, we learn that there is some backstory involved, involving a competing researcher and money, and also a question of how they find about these events before they materialize. It’s still nothing great, and is more “snippets of horror atmosphere,” but it’s still surprisingly non-terrible, which is what these shorts, and horror anime as well, end up being in most cases.
Overall Thoughts on the Past Two Weeks: Week 4 I almost didn’t enjoy a single show. Week 5 I enjoyed almost every single one. Or at least, in week 5 even the shows that usually didn’t perform outperformed themselves, which is all we can ask of them. The season is continuing in a comfortable rut, and there’s nothing left on my plate that I really hate, though sometimes I just can’t get through episodes of Perfect Insider, and its bad characterization and dialogue, but I can sense there’s a good show there, so I’m sticking with it. There’s also nothing that’s really grabbing me as something to recommend others, except Ushio and Tora. Even Concrete Revolutio which I quite like is not without its flaws and is certainly not always working in unison with itself and its goals.
But that’s the season, I guess. I often speak of episode 5-6 as the best place to hop onto shows as they show you what they’re really like, and often they’re past their “first arc” here, but that seems to be mostly the case with manga or light novel adaptations who just finished their first volume (LN) or two (manga). I’m mostly watching non-LN/manga adaptations this season, so it doesn’t really seem to apply as much…
I still want to catch up on Utawarerumono, and wanted to cover it for next week’s mid-season post, but I may not have the time for that. Alas, real life obligations are like that.
I find after 5 episodes to be the optimal place for jumping onto shows, so which non-sequel shows would you recommend others at this point?