Third week is here, and only a couple of premieres were left. This show is ridiculous, I mean, due to the earthquakes in Japan, Sakamoto and Kabaneri were both delayed, and I still found myself almost overwhelmed by the number of shows I’m covering. I didn’t get to watch Joker Game this week, because of how busy I am, and how tired watching shows in one-episode increments makes me, but more on that in the overview at the end of this post.
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) Concrete Revolutio Episode 15:
I wonder if such an episode could have taken place in a show other than Concrete Revolutio. There were elements here that could’ve existed in Samurai Flamenco but didn’t. The raw number of topics brought up was very Gatchaman Crowds-esque, and the spin on history was necessary. So, what did we have this episode, if we boil it down? How we’re shackled by society and expectations, and how the quest to not be beholden to others is the quest to end society, or remove ourselves utterly from it. But not because we want to be “free”, but because the specific laws in place constrain us. So, we deal with how idols and superheroes are shackled by public expectations, and discrimination against homosexuals, and those who go against the government, and superheroes. Because all of these go against the order of “How Things Should Be™.” Idols are so powerful and so held in line because they are the epitome of how things should be, how people should be, how they should be kept safe. Not from harm, but “under control”.
Superheroes straddle the line, between maintaining the status quo (see the Bureau, and Earth-chan), and how they’re vigilantes that challenge the social order, the police, and could turn against it at any given time. And that’s why idols and homosexuals are regulated so heavily in this world, especially via the metaphor of superheroes, because they can upset the status quo.
I actually didn’t really discuss these specific ideas in the weekly write-up, but talked more about how the show uses Jirou and the situation as a metaphor for humanity in other ways, so give that a look as well! Really, the show had a lot of ideas to discuss.
2) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Part 4): Diamond is Unbreakable Episode 3:
Once I finish Stardust Crusaders’ last swatch of episodes, I’ll be writing something about JoJo and me in general, and what I like and dislike about it, and why. But, I did like this episode. The OP told me that Okuyasu is going to end up being one of the main characters of the series, and I’m not surprised. He’s certainly a JoJo character (and protagonist) in terms of how over the top he is, and not in the “Oh, I’m so over-the-top despicable/cowardly” like Alessi or Angelo were, or even as showmanlike as D’Arby (the Gambler). He’s also not one for a puzzle per se, rather going for a straight fight. Punches thrown, power against power.
I also noted how the show is building towards Jotaro with Josuke’s mother, and I could see Jotaro’s “good grief” coming from miles away as he was mistaken for his ancient grandfather. All in all, the episode had fun characters, a head-on match, and more good visuals and sounds. This is the JoJo I missed, because it was fun. I just hope the villains who don’t end up as allies get to be as cool.
3) Flying Witch Episode 2:
If we look at the “stakes” of this series, they’re as low as it gets. Or are they? Getting lost on the way home, getting your cousin with whom you live to not be afraid of you, and making new friends and getting them to know you. That’s what a lot of drama stories revolve around. But the way the show tackles those issues is very low-key. Episode 2, if possible, had even lower stakes. Just as the show keeps bringing up, gently, how bad Makoto is with directions, the show uses Chinatsu once more to show fear of the unknown and the occult, and the growing fascination over it. Chinatsu is also the most “Yotsubato” character of the lot with her facial expressions and reactions, but since the Harbinger of Spring wasn’t much of a character yet, and his part wasn’t interesting, it was a bit less charming than Makoto and Chinatsu meeting along. We also didn’t get to see him bring forth Spring, unlike Makoto taking flight in the first episode.
The other half of the episode, well, it had lowered the stakes even further. We just got to see Makoto and Kei making tempura. That’s it. Nothing more. I usually don’t really enjoy such shows, because, well, I’m bored by them. But somehow Flying Witch worked for me, and I found myself smiling throughout the entire episode. It wasn’t as good as the premiere, but it was still plenty good for me.
4) My Hero Academia / Boku no Hero Academia Episode 3:
Episode 2 of Hero Academia was pretty great, with the emotional pay-off. Episode 3 continued it, with some pretty great lines by All Might, and Deku putting in the effort to try and achieve what he’s always dreamed of (which also raises the question of why he didn’t do so up until now, but also the seeming answer that in a world that revolves around “quirks”, people might not put as much effort into bettering themselves, directly). And we finished the episode on an exciting note, because we’re going to see the tests! We’re going to see how Deku manages to pass through, and whether he actually gained the power he supposedly did this episode. And we met some interesting characters.
Wait, what about this episode? And yeah, that’s unfortunately what I’m trying to get at. While this episode had some neat moments, and it covered some necessary content, it felt as if most of the episode was just ticking a checkbox, and doing it as slowly as possible. This was a fine half an episode’s worth of content (or even slightly less), but it was stretched. It’s not that the episode felt bad as a result, because it didn’t. It just felt sort of empty. This sort of pacing is very common to shounen battlers adaptations, because Shounen Jump properties want to keep getting episodes, or to draw you to the manga. This is why I prefer to watch them in batches. Well, I do hope next episode is as exciting as it promises to be, because this episode was neither exciting nor heartfelt. But at least it had some good moments, and the production quality of the episode remained solid.
5) Ushio to Tora Episode 29:
So, we find out where Guren came from, and also found out where Tora have. But so what? So we know Tora used to be a wielder of the Beast Spear, probably even the first, and that he hunted down youkai. I guess it’s about the irony of the situation, as well as explaining his connection to Ushio, the current wielder, while painting just how much of a betrayer Guren is. But overall, this episode relied too heavily on Hyou, a character we haven’t seen in a long while, and his non-existing emotional arc. It’s just the show pulling all of its past characters in as it gears for the final battle. We got some answers, we got some more debts and promises for closures, but it’s mostly a step on the journey. A big step down from how great the first two episodes of this cour have been. Not bad, but not exciting either. We’re getting there though, and it’s getting more personal. So even if this episode wasn’t doing much on its own, it served to make the upcoming conflicts for Kirio and Hyou more heart-felt when they do happen.
At least, that’s what I hope it’s about. The episode also felt like it was missing a cut or two, animation wise, with things changing out of the blue.
6) Re:Zero – Starting Life In Another World Episode 3:
ReZero continues its slight improvement, as it keeps getting farther and farther away from the terrible first impression of the premiere’s first half. This episode didn’t have a whole lot of “content”, mostly being made up of a desperate fight, that although it had been held in a far-too-dark setting that muddled details, had some animation highlights, and the character personalities came through in it. Felt is still great, Satella, or as we know her now, “Emilia” is still somewhat boring, while Subaru still seems to only be fluent in Tropish, the language of tropes. Elsa still needs another writer, because she only speaks “Caricature Villain.”
Well, Reinhardt was neat, and as I said, Felt was pretty great. Thankfully, though Subaru’s groin-thrusts and lame humor is as grating as ever, he’s getting less and less opportunities to interject in said manner as more characters are introduced. And apparently, Dire Things™ are underway. It’s still not a great show, but it’s developed into a decent one, and I’m still curious enough about where it’d go.
7) Kuromukuro Episodes 1-2:
A world similar to our own, but with science-fiction trappings, slightly in the future, and mysterious artifacts. Where it turns out mecha-riding samurai from long ago lay dormant, only to awaken and fight “demons”, which are mecha-riding invaders from another planet or dimension. This is the P.A. Works anniversary show, so as much as it is a mecha show, it’s a “group of teenagers find their way and have some drama” sort of show.
Very few characters have actually received any screentime, but the characterization, in terms of personality and “traits” has been pretty efficient. The show looks fine, though the protagonist’s mecha’s CG is jarring, much more-so than anything else in the series. Where will it go? Would I care for any of the characters? I’m not sure. But even if it’s likely not going to be very memorable, it’s shaping up as a very competent show. The second episode had less content, and more spectacle, that again, felt mostly competent, and had less characterization of Yukina, but at least we got to know the samurai. It was an episode that’d have worked great as part of a marathon, but wasn’t too fulfilling on its own.
The show has been licensed by Netflix, so expect the entirety of the 2-cour series to appear all at once in 6-7 months. fansubbing group gg is on the case, and although their translation is very capable, it is also very localized, especially in the case of a certain trash-talking individual in the first episode. The translation adheres to the spirit of what is said, and all but does away entirely with the letter, so consider whether you’re fine with that sort of translation or not. I was mostly fine, but a couple of instances pulled me out of the show with the artificiality.
Premiere Score: 7/10. Episode Score: 7/10. Personal Enjoyment Score: 7/10.
8) Kiznaiver Episode 2:
How do I describe the second episode of Kiznaiver? Well, mostly as it being even more of the show its premiere promised, and me not being any closer to figuring out whether it’s going to work out. I’m somewhat bemused by the show, honestly. You know how most stories hold off on big emotional reveals until you care for the characters, and if they start with “hard-hitting moments,” it’s usually because they plan to have another set of sad moments later on, and they are heaping “The Sad” on you early so you’d care about it when it reappears late? Well, if you’re not familiar with the idea, I wrote about it in the past.
Thing is, the show is revealing every character’s secret, or all but Agata’s, the true protagonist, and Sonozaki’s background. But even so, the reveals to some are silly and meaningless (Nico’s “I’m not really eccentric!”), though they give us some insight into their nature, though you feel they were added to fill some quota. While other characters’ secrets and the way they were revealed could’ve been impactful, but the show treated the event as some sort of joke, and we don’t care for the characters yet to imbue them with significance (Tenga’s fear of dogs and Yuta’s overweight past). So now the question remains, as it was after the first episode, “Where will they go from here?” Because the show uses as its foundation what most shows build towards, the nature of relationships and secrets. But something tells me that rather than leap beyond, it’d end up treading the same ground, with more secrets and pains of communication being revealed as the emotional pay-off. I’d love to be proven wrong though.
Sonozaki’s existence in the show still bothers me. The way she goes about things is too artificial and forced. Sonozaki feels as if her understanding of how humans actually interact is non-existent. Sure, the show is somewhat going for that “cold and calculated, more than slightly insane” sort of vibe, but as it feels as if the show’s view of humanity and human relationships come through her mouth, that worries me. If I were to describe the exposure therapy method the show is taking for phobias and forming social interactions, I’d describe it as “outdated” and well, “wrong“, almost morally so.
So it’s definitely a very interesting experience, watching the show. But I can’t say I really care for most of the characters or the plot-beats thus far. It feels as if the show is often on the wrong side of “Show, don’t tell,” as it bloody screams through its show with Sonozaki’s commentary. But hey, it’s still early. There’s still a lot of potential here. Visually, the show is still a treat though.
9) Big Order Episode 1:
I rewatched Mirai Nikki (Future Diary) a month ago. Mirai Nikki and Big Order share a mangaka, and also a Series Composer. Comparisons then, are inevitable. Both series have deaths, splatters of blood, sexual overtones and undertones, and a general “dark” view of the world. The difference is, the Mirai Nikki anime was pretty fast-paced, and had a sense of fun to it. The sexuality and nudity in it, though it had a lot more than most shows, didn’t feel as if they were over the top, but as something that is “just there”, which is quite a success considering how much of it there’s been.
On the other hand, Big Order’s premiere has a lot of material. Most other premieres don’t cover as much ground, in terms of character introduction, world-setting, and theme/tone setup in their first 2-3 episodes, if they even manage it in the first arc. That makes what I’m about to say even more surprising: The episode felt relatively empty. Nothing in it really felt tense or exciting, and the protagonist’s power being so ridiculously strong, and the other characters being presented as loons, doesn’t promise me a spectacle of an overpowered protagonist smashing all opposition in an interesting manner, but one that seems like it’d be relatively dull. The show has good music, but the visuals, both in terms of execution and in terms of direction felt lacking. Oh yeah, remember my mention of sexual violence in Mirai Nikki? This series had a scene where it went for these overtones in a manner that felt far more gratuitious and unnecessary than anything Mirai Nikki had done, while giving it to us as sound only and in a relatively small dose. As I said, it’s not the content, but the delivery that stop things from being fun.
This type of show works all about the fun, and directors rarely improve from episode to episode, but I’m going to give it another episode to try and hook me.
Premiere Score: 8/10. Episode Score: 7/10. Personal Enjoyment Score: 6/10.
10) Bungo Stray Dogs Episode 2:
Things we knew before the series started: Atsushi will join the agency. Things we knew for sure after the first episode: Atsushi will join the agency. So, we haven’t seen him actually join, and this is where a very slight time-skip that omits the obvious, with us seeing how he’s adjusting after joining, or a five minute segment in an episode would’ve been fine. Nope. We get an entire episode filled with more non-comedy just to see the hijinks of how Atsushi is made into part of the group. The last few seconds of the episode were much more serious in tone, but I just can’t trust the show to deliver an enjoyable experience, as it seems to prefer resorting to funny faces, anime tropes (We’ve even had the requisite “Onii-chan!” pairing), and “we’re so funny” school of comedy. If I hear it improved in ways that differ from these, I might come back to it later, but for now, I’m out. On hold/dropped.
Overall Thoughts on the Week: This season is a problem, of the sort we’re lucky to have. When the last two seasons passed their half-mark, though I’ve watched 5 or more series on a weekly basis, I didn’t find 5 series I’d vote on for the communal bloggers’ Anime Power Ranking. There just weren’t enough shows that I wanted to highlight in a positive way. This season, I have far too many such shows. Even if most of them didn’t excite me this week in any stand-out manner, I found the top 3 very good, numbers 4-5 more than adequate, and even spots 6-8 were enjoyable enough. 8 shows that I’d have been happy to vote for on the weekly APR. And all of this without Joker Game (which I’ll watch later tonight or tomorrow), or Sakamoto and Kabaneri, postponed as they were due to the earthquake.
Frankly, that’s too many series for me to watch while jotting some personal notes and taking screenshots over each of them. Solutions? I’ll likely drop a number of series next week, or rather, put them on hold. Kuromukuro for instance seems like a perfectly fine show, but one that doesn’t give me anything I don’t feel I’m getting elsewhere and that could be marathoned after it ends anyway. Sakamoto might be better served watched during lunch breaks when I have the time, and anyway, does Sakamoto really need any notes from me? So I’ll probably cut down some shows, while cutting down on the note-taking for others, and also only giving a few shows a sentence or two for the weekly write-up. I mean, if the total amount of time I give each episode (including this write-up) is 50 minutes, and I can cut it down to 25, that already allows me to keep watching more shows.
But the real issue is that I just find gearing myself up to watch a show tiring. When I watch 1 episode and then move to another series, I pay this “tax” again. I don’t have it while marathoning. As such, 10 shows a week is growing to be my max, especially with the seasons changing rapidly back and forth where I live also taking a toll on my patience and mood. So we’ll see! Again, I’d much rather have a season such as this, where I’m finding myself wanting to keep watching too many series, to seasons where nothing really seems worth it.
Dear readers, any particular thoughts on this past week’s crop of episodes, or on my thoughts on them?