In which almost everything is good.
This has been a very solid week in anime for me. Of all the shows I’m watching only two or three didn’t have a good episode this week, and even the ones that weren’t good were still okay. You’ll see me praise several shows that didn’t move in the rankings much and that’s mostly because everything was good. So with that qualifier out of the way, on with the rankings:
1. Sora no Method (Episode 7)
Sora no Method had maybe its best episode yet this week as we finally got to see Nonoka taking steps to acknowledge her mother’s passing. I wrote about how much I liked seeing Nonoka being supported by Yuzuki and Koharu here. Week after week Sora no Method nails its emotional high points without succumbing to overwrought melodrama. The show hits right in my sweet spot and I love watching it each week.
2. Shirobako (Episode 7)
Shirobako continues to gain steam and is close to challenging Sora no Method for the top spot in my rankings. (For what it’s worth, I gave both 5 points in our internal power rankings this week although that’s only because Peeved won’t let me give Sora no Method more than 5. What a jerk, am I right?) This episode was incredibly tragic and depressing as Ema is faced with a contradictory and almost impossible task but she has to push forward because that’s just life as an animator. You need to do these things in order to eat, as the old man said. The struggle to support yourself in modern society while also trying to find something fulfilling to work on is one of life’s fundamental conflicts and Shirobako presents it in an extremely authentic way. Shirobako is one of the few anime to take a long hard look at adult life and I’m so glad that it exists. Glasslip may have been the anime I thought I wanted PA Works to make bu Shirobako is what I really wanted and didn’t even realize it.
3. Yama no Susume (Episode 19)
Yama no Susume is still more “susume” than “yama” but I like how each of the last few episodes has been working towards the goal of climbing Tanigawa-dake rather than some irrelevant fluff that doesn’t do much for the characters. I’m a big fan of the way they’re integrating Yuuka into the cast and using her to flesh out Kaede’s character. Up until Yuuka arrived, Kaede had just been the hyper-competent girl who loved mountains above all else but Yuuka’s presence has added more nuance to her character. It might seem like a small thing but getting these little things right is what makes Yama no Susume so charming.
4. Parasyte (Episode 7)
Week after week Parastye keeps layering on more and more interesting wrinkles to the central conflict between humans and parasites. I’m very happy to see the introduction of another human who kept control of his brain despite being infested. It adds an interesting point of reference for Shinichi as he continues to question his own humanity. I also love the way that Shinichi is growing into a more confident version of himself as he faces these very trying times.
5. Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru (Episode 7)
I feel like the motto of Yuuki Yuuna should be “Shit is about to get real (next week)”. The show continues to put off the “real” conflict week after week and on the one hand I do feel the show is effective at building tension at some point it has to actually follow through. That said, I’m never going to complain about an episode of these characters just being cute around each other. I expected the episode title “Idyllic Happiness” to be an ironic one, but that’s pretty much what this episode was. The ominous undercurrent still cropped up at times but on the whole it was just an episode of the girls being happy together, and there are much worse things in the world than that. The post-credits sequence promises a more intense plot next week but the real pay-off may continue to always be a week away.
6. Selector Spread WIXOSS (Episode 8)
I have to think WIXOSS really is just Okada Mari doing whatever the hell she wants at this point. The plot completely falls apart under any serious level of inspection, but in the moment the show is entertaining as hell. I guess this is what happens when you get a skilled director along with a writer who is adept at stringing together narrative beats and have them produce an excuse plot to advertise your card game. I have a hard time remembering another show that had such a huge gap between the high quality of the pacing and episode construction and the paltry amount of character growth and thematic density. WIXOSS is high quality nothing but I’m okay with that.
7. Amagi Brilliant Park (Episode 8)
Amagi is simply better when the show has no point to it and just plays around with the characters. One of my favorite types of comedy is characters doing impressions of other characters and voice actors playing characters that aren’t their own and this episode nailed that perfectly. The episode did nothing to progress the story towards saving the park but I don’t care at all because the rest of the cast pretending to be Kanie was so damn funny. You know what? Screw the park. More like this please.
8. Girlfriend Beta (Episode 6)
The people down at Silver Link have tapped into some crazy alchemy where you take the male characters out of a dating sim game and create gold. Each week I feel like this show has no business being as entertaining as it is and each week I find myself thoroughly enjoying the show despite how pointless it is. Maybe this is just proof that male characters are the worst.
9. Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (Episode 7)
This was a very Jekyll and Hyde episode of UBW as the half of the episode about Archer and Shirou was outstanding and the half of the episode about Saber and Assassin was interminable garbage. Shirou and Archer’s conflict over how to best achieve their goals is in many ways very similar to the same conflict between Saber and Kiritsugu in Fate/Zero. UBW works as great companion story to FZ because of this as it furthers the conversation started in FZ. On the other hand, Saber and Assassin’s conflict was everything wrong with Fate/stay Night in a nutshell. Too much talking about nothing important and too much glorification of honor over all else. In contrast to Shirou and Archer’s conflict, this had no real underlying thematic significance and was just a pretty sword fight. And to be clear, it was extremely pretty, but it’s prettier when they’re actually fighting than when they’re blabbing about honor and sword technique. I want to like UBW because it’s so well made but it seems that things like this are inescapable and put a ceiling on how good the UBW anime can be.
10. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Episode 7)
I wrote a full post about episode six and seven of Shigatsu which you can find here. The show seems to have arrested its free-fall from episodes four and five, but it hasn’t exactly worked its way out of that hole yet. Still, the show is trending in the right direction and I’m significantly more hopeful now than I was two weeks ago.
11. Ore Twintail ni Narimasu (Episode 7)
Now that’s what I want to see out of this show. This episode kept things moving, it didn’t take itself seriously and it was as funny as the show’s been since at least episode two. The introduction of Dark Grasper has given new life to the show, and not just because she loves glasses. She’s a much more entertaining antagonist than one who has a fetish to define him and nothing else. It’s entirely possible this plot arc will run out of steam in a week or two but for now I’m glad to see Twintails back in form.
12. Daitoshokan wa Hitsujikai (Episode 7)
So I didn’t actually watch this show this week. It would probably rank here if I did watch it. Maybe I’ll get to it over the holiday weekend. The fact that I’m not exactly compelled to watch it each week can’t be a good sign though.
13. Grisaia no Kajitsu (Episode 7)
Grisaia, on the other hand, is a show I do feel compelled to watch. Not because it’s good mind you; the show is clearly an awful adaptation and the source probably isn’t that great either. I just can’t stop watching a show so delightfully insane. The show keeps flying through arcs filled with the most ridiculous plot contrivances accompanied by piss-poor attempts at emotional payoff with no build up to earn that payoff. This week I thought I was about to see a second girl blow herself up in as many episodes but instead we got a second girl pissing herself which is two more than I need to see in any show. After that, Sachi’s parents got run over in what was probably supposed to be an emotional scene but instead left my laughing out loud because of how absurd the whole thing was. It’s kind of a shame because looking at the base components of Sachi’s backstory and her conflict with her parents I could really see myself getting something out of her arc but the episode construction was so bad and the story was so rushed that no real investment was possible.