In which everybody is in love
1. Nagi no Asukara
Once again Nagi has managed to avoid resolving the issues I fully the next episode to resolve. In this case Manaka waking didn’t exactly provide much insight into what her feelings for Hikari are or if they even exist. It was enlightening to see the differences between how Hikari, Kaname and now Manaka have reacted after they woke up. In Manaka’s case we saw almost pure glee at the new scenery she had never seen before with almost no thought put towards the time she lost or the changes in those who had stayed on the surface. For all the hate she’s gotten for being a crybaby Manaka was surprisingly resilient under these circumstances. It will be interesting to see how things go once she actually interacts with Tsumugu. Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess. Whatever happens though I feel confident it will be handled with the deft character writing that we’ve seen in the first 21 episodes which is certainly a recipe for success.
2. Sakura Trick
The race between the bottom dropping out of Sakura Trick and Sakura Trick ending continues and so far it looks good for Sakura Trick to complete its run before I realize that it isn’t actually any good. This week they earned my approval via a combination of an entirely too adorable misunderstanding from Yuu and some impotent matchmaking from Mitsuki. Logically it would be easy to say that Yuu’s misunderstanding about who the wedding was for shouldn’t have gone on as long as it did or that Mitsuki should have done more to figure out what was actually going on between Yuu and Haruka sooner but if nothing else the Sonoda sisters have a propensity to take an idea and run with it without figuring out if it’s accurate or not. It helps that Yuu agreeing to attend the wedding and Mitsuki meekly trying to make things right while fighting her own Haruka obsession were both incredibly cute. If it’s in character and it’s cute that’s all I really ask for from Sakura Trick. (Is there an analogue to the “Rule of Cool” called the “Rule of Cute”? Because if there isn’t there should be)
3. Inari Konkon Koi Iroha
Like Sakura Trick, Inari had a very cute episode this week although there was much more on offer with InaKon than just cuteness. Inari’s guilt over unintentionally using her power was arguably irrational but I do like the concept of examining how one would react if all if your selfish desires were manifested in reality against your will. I think from that angle her distress was completely understandable. The show did get dangerously close to undermining the main relationship through what amounted to a series of weird coincidences but fortunately things are actually looking up for Inari and Tanabashi. You may have noticed that I have a soft spot for yuri and a lot of that is because two girls in love is twice as cute as one girl in love. This episode of InaKon showed us that a boy in love can be cute in its own right too and I find myself even more invested in Inari and Tanabashi getting together now. Getting the viewer to care about the main couple should be the primary goal of any romance and InaKon is doing a great job on that front. Here’s hoping they can keep things together in the final three episodes.
4. Witch Craft Works
Well that escalated quickly. In case you were wondering Witch Craft Works is a very very silly show and I say that with all the affection in the world for it. This episode was a feast for those of us who are fans of the little random things that sometimes will show up in the background of a shot in WCW with very little fanfare ranging from characters with cat ears to people riding on dogs to tanks. After heaping praise upon the tower witches for their absurd antics in the past I have to say the main couple are finally growing on me, particularly Ayaka. Seeing her back story in this episode really helped flesh out her character and her continuing poorly concealed jealous streak regarding Honoka is a joy to watch. It seems like the big things are finally falling into place while Witch Craft Works continues to get the little things right making this one of the best new shows of the season.
5. Chuunibyou Ren
This episode serves as further evidence that the secret to making a good episode of ChuuRen is to completely marginalize the main couple. I can’t say that’s a good sign for the show overall but I can’t not give the show a little bump in this week’s ranking for doing what they did. Besides the obvious draw of the blatant Dekmori x Nibutani baiting this episode entertained with the cast struggling to parse the concept of a “fake real Mori Summer” versus the “real fake Mori Summer.” On the other hand, I continue to be disappointed by how determined this season seems to be to undermine the main conclusions of the first season. The message of the first season, at least in my mind, is that Chuunibyou can be part of who you are but it shouldn’t be used as a crutch to avoid dealing with your real problems. In season two it seems like every time somebody has a problem the solution has been to get more chuuni. Rikka is the primary culprit here as Chuunibyou seems to be her method of dealing with absolutely everything but this week Nibutani’s ultimate method of dealing with the fake real Mori Summer was to engage her in a fantasy battle. I’m sure it was fun for the animators but it was a very disappointing conclusion to an otherwise enjoyable episode.
6. Saki: Zenkoku Hen
We’re finally on to round four and the heavy hitters are moving in. (Or the one with the heavy chest at any rate) I was somewhat underwhelmed with how the third players match ended since it seemed like time ran out just as Hisa was getting into a rhythm but I guess we can’t make things too easy for our heroes. I am kind of concerned about the future of Eisui in this tournament since I really would like to see them move on but they don’t seem to be about to make a move which is disheartening. Still, all the focus with their team has been on the two players yet to play so maybe a big comeback is in the offering for this team. I say that but it is starting to look like we won’t get to see the next round in the iteration of the Saki anime which is really too bad. Given how slowly these things can move I have to wonder how long it will be before we will see the national championship animated.
7. Space Dandy
If ever there was a show that was hard to get a read on it would be Space Dandy. Part of this is because the show can’t seem to stick with a single idea for much more than fifteen minutes never mind trying to string together multiple episodes on a single idea. The idea of an episodic anime where each episode is largely self-contained is fine but it would help if there was at least some continuity from episode to episode to help with the overall character and world building. The only constant seems to be the Gogols trying to chase down Dandy although we remain stubbornly in the dark about why they do what they do. Still, what Dandy lacks in coherence it makes up for with unique plot ideas and solid comedic writing. Despite the inherent dissonance in this week’s major plot points the show managed to handle both the comedic moments involving translating dog speak and sentient flea brothers and the poignant moments of Laika’s final moments with aplomb. The episode was a bit schizophrenic but it didn’t detract from the laughs or the emotional highs nearly as much as one would expect if you just wrote down what happened. Space Dandy is a show that is certainly hard to put a label on which I guess has to count for something.
8. Silver Spoon
Oh Silver Spoon, there are time when you’re so good but then you turn around and pull something that just leaves me scratching my head. This episode started out with exactly the kind of subdued tone that characterizes the best parts of Silver Spoon. It also looked like we were finally making progress on the Hachiken/Mikage front which I’ve been waiting almost twenty episodes for now. Unfortunately, like always, this was eventually pushed aside from something marginally less interesting: baseball. When I realized this was going to be a baseball-centric episode I had a lot of trepidation since baseball is a sport I’m intimately familiar with and anime centering on sports I know all the ins and outs of tend to make me mad more than anything. However, through twenty-one minutes of the episode it looked like Silver Spoon was actually doing a good job of handling things. The strategies employed by both teams were realistic and none of the events on the field of play required significant suspension of disbelief. Then the last play of the game happened and I was left shaking my head. An untimely gust of wind moving a baseball about five times as far as any real wind could isn’t really that big a deal as far as sports anime gaffes go but it was incredibly frustrating both because of how free from pretense the rest of the episode was and because the same thing could have been accomplished with something much less unreasonable like a bad bounce on the infield or the ball getting lost in the sun. That’s not enough to completely invalidate all the good parts of this episode but it did leave a bad taste in my mouth afterwards.
Moving on to another entry in the category of “shows that should be better than they are” we have D-Frag. Each week I find myself thoroughly enjoying the show outside the moments where Kazama decides to shout something stupid. You could cut 60-90 seconds of his bullshit from each episode and this would move up the list about five spots. Unfortunately I can’t magically remove this issue and we’re left with a show that has plenty of good points but is dragged down by one bad tsukkomi after another. It’s even bad by tsukkomi standards. There are better ways that Kazama could respond to the insanity around him. I would much prefer a snarky Kazama that sarcastically points out the crazy things the people around him do rather than the current incarnation that simply shouts what just happened. If you replaced Kazama with Kyon this show would be great. Still, I do have a soft spot for Takao and the “zipper boing” gag was really funny (when Kazama wasn’t shouting about it) so the show wasn’t all bad. Takao being lovely doesn’t hurt either.
I knew Nourin could be lewd at times but holy crap that was lewd even by Nourin standards. I guess that’s what you get when you have an episode centered on the 40-year-old bachelorette teacher. I said that Space Dandy has trouble holding a thought beyond a full episode but it seems like Nourin can’t hold a thought for five minutes. It’s not a total loss though because the jokes are pretty funny. Silver Link does seem to have a certain flair for over the top mad hat comedy. It may not be classy but it gets the job done.
11. The Pilot’s Love Song
Once again there was very little chance that I’d like this episode given how action centric it was but even by action standards this was pretty dumb. In general I don’t like the typical flow of action scenes where combat will favor one side completely at all times. It never feels like both sides are making progress but rather one side scoring all the hits and the other side getting nothing done. Then things flip completely and the other side takes over. Rather than feeling like two evenly matched opponents these scenes come off as cheap and contrived. Such was the case with this episode of Love Song where at first it appeared that the student planes had some sort of bullet repelling field around them until suddenly they couldn’t avoid getting shot down with the barbarians taking out almost every plane (conspicuously leaving the ones with main characters for last). Nothing about this felt genuine at all and it was a real pain to watch. Combine that with the patent absurdity of a barely trained group of students taking on these barbarians and the entire thing falls apart. I don’t know how they expect us to believe that students firing single shot rifles from the backs of moving planes can take on experienced fighters with mounted machine guns on their planes. Yet somehow all of this was supposed to be a thrilling battle rather than something that leaves the viewer rolling his or her eyes.
12. Golden Time
Remember when Golden Time was good? It feels like so long ago now that I stopped blogging Kyoukai no Kanata because Golden Time was clearly the superior show. Now Kyoukai’s long gone and while it was clearly a disappointment it doesn’t compare to the tripe Golden Time is offering up on a weekly basis these days. At this point Golden Time has thrown any sense of causation out the window in favor of just slapping events together regardless of whether they logically follow from any previous events. To top it all off conclude the episode with one of the biggest plot conveniences this side of Code Geass. It’s enough to make me wonder how this show was ever good.
I was very tempted to move Golden Time below ImoCho this week. I say move Golden Time below ImoCho because the move would have been because Golden Time was so bad since ImoCho certainly hasn’t done anything worthwhile lately. It’s a truly special show that can start out transcendently bad and then proceeds to fail to even get bad right. If only they’d tell us what’s in the box…