In which we come to you a couple days late because I’m busy working on our spring season preview.
1. Nagi no Asukara
This week’s Nagi was really cruel. We had been waiting literally twenty episodes to find out what Manaka’s true feelings were and then the show is like “Nope, not gonna tell you” and we’re left to wonder for eternity. I am curious whether this development will release Hikari from his stasis or further push him into indecisiveness. He seemed to be waiting to hear from Manaka before he ever considered moving on but I don’t know if he’s willing to make that move due to Manaka’s feelings being forcibly turned off rather than her admitting she loves somebody else. You can try to spin this in Miuna’s favor but I’m pretty sure that ship has sailed (unfortunately). All in all a very interesting set up and I’m very curious how everybody, but particularly Hikari, responds to this.
Other than that I have to say that Kaname is really starting to grate on me. The dude needs to learn to give up. I get that he’s supposed to be all hopelessly in love with Chisaki or whatever but I’d rather he take the Miuna route of watching without saying anything rather than doing something stupid. It’s not like he’s going to be going for the Sayu end so I’d rather he just get out of the picture. Although I have heard people say similar things about Miuna who I love so maybe I shouldn’t be throwing stones here. Anyway, Nagi is still great and it’s still the best thing going in the anime world these days.
2. Sakura Trick
Speaking of things that don’t change, Sakura Trick is still weapons-grade adorable. I really liked how this episode conveyed the feeling of not wanting to hang up the phone when you’re away from your loved one. Even if it’s an unreasonable demand to put her family aside for a phone call with your (girl)friend I find myself wanting to humor Yuu because I can understand how she feels. I’m conflicted about how to feel about Mitsuki’s crush on Haruka because while I find her crush incredibly sweet I also realize that ultimately it’s completely doomed. She’s certainly not the tragic figure that Miuna or Kaname are in Nagi but as far as tragic in Sakura Trick goes, Mitsuki’s probably it. When you have a show as light-hearted as Sakura Trick I guess you can kind of ignore the unspoken tragedy of things like this.
3. Inari Konkon Koi Iroha
Pretty standard episode of InaKon this week with several good things happening but also several bad things. I was wondering if/when Inari would try to transform into Uka and we found out this week. The delicate balance of keeping Uka from having her power completely drained and allowing Inari to continue seeing Uka seems to be falling apart here, although I’m still not sure they can resolve it in 2 more episodes. I would like to give the show credit for how they handled Amaterasu’s brother. In a vacuum if I knew they were going to add a character with his looks and his mannerisms to the show in episode eight I would have guessed that it would be an unequivocal disaster but InaKon actually does a very good job of balancing the humor and the drama here. I didn’t expect this character to work at all but somehow it did. That’s not to say that everything went right with him as the final way Inari got out of her plight was pretty underwhelming but it could have been so much worse.
4. Witch Craft Works
I’m starting to realize that I really don’t care about the actual story in Witch Craft Works at all. I also am starting to realize that I don’t care that I don’t care about the story. The random gags, the visual humor and pretty much anything the tower witches do is enough to keep me looking forward to the show each week despite the lack of a compelling plot. Overall Witch Craft Works is certainly more spectacle than substance at this point but the spectacle is so good that it doesn’t particularly matter. Gags like cutting away from a death fall to show us the tower witches doing tower witch things or sending messages via stuffed animal are what makes Witch Craft Works fun and I’m glad that it’s staying that way.
5. Saki: Zenkoku-hen
Saki makes its first appearance in the top 5 since the first week of the season thanks to an episode that was hard to describe as anything but “Saki”. I find it amusing that the characters continue to scheme around ideas like “when she’s in the north and the dealer is south or east and she’s drawing a corner tile and the sun is behind a cloud then…” since in the real world that would be a blatant example of over-fitting your data but in the world of Saki those bogus theories are actually what’s going on. I love how the characters manage to be extremely tactical within the context of the show’s inherent “saki-ness”. I am starting to get concerned about Eisui’s chances though because I figured mask girl would be the one to start the comeback and she just isn’t getting it done. (despite Nodoka’s best efforts too, thanks Nodoka!) Monocle girl’s power is pretty unfair even by Saki standards when she can completely lock down one of the most powerful players out there. I’m hoping she eventually breaks and Eisui can make a move because I’d hate for this next round to be the only time I get Ohara Sayaka’s character in a match. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the old lady character that apparently spends her time going around and beating unsuspecting young kids at mahjong? What the heck is that? When in Saki… I suppose.
6. Silver Spoon
Now that’s what I’m talking about Silver Spoon. Finally, an episode that has the understated seriousness that makes this show so good when it’s on its game. I find that Silver Spoon is at its best when its dealing with those little (or big) moments where the real world starts to intersect with the characters’ little high school bubble and this week’s reveal related to Komaba and his family’s finances was exactly that kind of moment. It sends the message to Hachiken that despite anybody’s best efforts you can’t put off your problems forever and sometimes you’re better off dealing with them sooner rather than later. Maybe it’s something that he can take to heart with how he handles his family situation since he’s certainly been running more than anything thus far. There was a part of me that was worried that there would be some kind of cheap solution to Komaba’s plight but I think the ultimate fate of pork bowl in season one should tell us that this isn’t a show that will pull punches. I’d like to think that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Komaba but either way this episode was certainly a step in the right direction for a show that really needed it.
7. Chuunibyou Ren
And on the other end of the spectrum, we’re back to bad Chuunibyou, or at least the Chuunibyou that isn’t pandering to me. Beach episodes in general are pretty pointless but somehow this episode of ChuuRen seemed extra pointless. At least the first season’s beach episode offered some sort of pretext for visiting the beach and the semblance of character development even though we all implicitly knew that the episode was going to be mostly faffing about in swimsuits. This episode dropped all of the pretense which I guess you can almost sort of respect but it’s kind of hard to when you know these people are capable of an episode that delivers swimsuits and content without pretense. The plot of the episode, such as it was, seems to be that Rikka is “losing” her powers which is somehow supposed to be a bad thing? I thought that was all part of the maturation process but at this point it seems like everyone is afraid of ever being less chuuni which seems kind of backwards if you ask me. I also didn’t care for adding another painfully cute character in this episode. It would be nice if they’d fix their existing cute characters before adding another to the pile. I’ve got a hint for you KyoAni: there’s a problem with Chuunibyou Ren and it isn’t a lack of eccentric little girls.
8. Space Dandy
I find that the more surreal or experimental Space Dandy gets, the less I enjoy the show. I can’t find particular fault with the episode but I still didn’t like it. It certainly accomplished what it set out to accomplish but it largely fell flat for me as somebody who isn’t going to be won over an overly unique visual style. It’s kind of like how I respect the work of somebody like Yuasa Masaaki but I generally have almost zero interest in his actual work cine his directing style just doesn’t do it for me. I will say that I’m surprised at the number of melancholy mono no aware-ish scenes Space Dandy has had. First there was episode five and then Laika last week and this week the scene where the plants return to being plants. It was a nice scene but not enough to really get this episode back into positive territory.
So it would seem that being a terrible tsukkomi is hereditary because Kazama’s sister seems to have the same problem as her brother. One would have hoped that an episode this light on Kazama himself would have been a net positive for D-Frag but unfortunately his sister more than filled the void he left. Still, Takao being Takao keeps this from being a total loss. Maybe I’m just so tired of the bad tsukkomis that even boob jokes seem like high comedy but I did laugh a few times at this episode which is nice, I guess.
When is a beach episode not a beach episode? When they spend the entire time rolling in the mud like pigs I guess. This episode as a whole felt like a really bad version of Silver Spoon which is what I was afraid Nourin was going to be in the first place. The show works when it’s heavy on the references and lewd humor and light on the actual plot and emotion. Flipping the two this week did Nourin no favors. As a side note, I find myself thinking that watching a video of Hanazawa Kana recording her part in this show might be more entertaining than the show itself. I hate her character but watching her deliver those lines seems delightful.
11. The Pilot’s Love Song
Love Song seems to have left the poorly written action behind in favor of some poorly written drama. Yay? I guess? The episode started off with everybody getting mopey over something we as viewers didn’t actually care about since Mitty only mattered inasmuch the show told us he mattered rather than the viewer actually caring whether the guy with 20 death flags sticking out of him actually lived or died. This was followed up with an extremely odd decision for Claire to confirm Karl’s identity immediately after kissing him. I would have thought that she was worried about him being the supposedly dead Karl La-Hire she would have checked before kissing him. Once she goes through with the kiss I would have thought it was the point of no return and she would try to stall things even more. Instead she picked possibly the most painful moment to confirm his identity and reveal her own. Karl responds by painfully overacting and then we awkarly transition to Claire going full Nina Viento for reasons not adequately explained. The episode tops everything off with Ari inexplicably deciding that Nina Viento is actually Claire and confronting her about this. Fortunately nobody else notices or even seems to care which, what? I guess I should expect this from Love Song at this point but that doesn’t exactly make it any less dumb.
12. Golden Time
Oh Golden Time. In a different time or in a different place this might have been an actual good episode but in this case it merely served as a reminder of the wasted potential this show represents. There were plenty of actual good moments this week but a lot of the characters’ actions don’t really make sense at this point in the show given what’s happened in the preceding episodes. It’s a shame because it really drives home the point that Golden Time is a lost cause. Even when the characters do something good it falls flat because of how thoroughly they’ve been undermined at this point. Such a pointless waste.
Whereas Golden Time is a tragic tale of wasted potential ImoCho is… a tragic tale of wasted un-potential? Or something? I don’t know. The point is ImoCho had the chance to be historically bad and instead it’s just boring. You could have been something ImoCho. You could have been a contender (for worst anime I’ve ever watched). Instead you’re nothing. And you always will be nothing.