In which one show soars high above the rest.
Only 9 shows this week because I dropped Yuri Kuma Ararshi and Yatterman plus Milky Holmes didn’t air. There just aren’t a lot of good shows to watch this season outside of the shining beacon that is Shirobako. Behind that is a whole bunch of meh. If you feel short-changed and want to read about a show I actually like, I wrote about the consistently inconsistent show that is Honey & Clover over the weekend. You can check that out here. Now enough plugging my own posts, on to the rankings.
1. Shirobako (Episode 17)
Shirobako continues to soar above the competition with yet another stellar episode. There’s no other way to put it other than this show is just so “real”. Everything about the show feels natural and genuine. In particular it felt like the online criticism Tarou was reading at the beginning of the episode felt like exactly the kind of criticism Shirobako faced online before it aired. “Oh that studio’s still around?” “I don’t know the main girl’s voice actress” etc. I think it’s safe to say that Shirobako has proven the haters wrong at this point. I also love how even the sillier parts of this episode never broke the atmosphere. Weaving something like Kunogi’s crazy facial expressions into the show without it feeling cheap or artificial is a gift that Mizushima has as a director and I’m not sure anybody is his equal in that regard. His immense skill at bouncing between moments that are goofy and moments that provide real insight about adult life is what makes this show so great.
2. Koufuku Graffiti (Episode 5)
This was actually a very solid episode of Koufuku Graffiti. It’s weird for me to be surprised that I enjoy a show about cute girls doing cute things but that’s what Shaft has done to me here. Other than the obligatory erotic eating moments (which they actually joked about which was a nice touch), the episode was devoid of the little annoyances that plagued earlier episodes. Shiina’s mother was adorable and I loved the sense of wonder Ryou and Kirin had towards everything about Shiina’s residence. Most importantly, the show didn’t break out of the comforting atmosphere at all this week which makes a world of difference in terms of how enjoyable the experience is. Hopefully we’ll see more like this from Koufuku going forward.
3. Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Episode 4)
Two things were clear this week on Saekano. First, I’m probably going to have to re-evaluate what I expect out of this show. At this point it seems like it’s more likely to be something that sits on the more agreeable end of the haremshit continuum but is nonetheless still haremshit. The way Eriri and Utaha play along with Tomoya’s nonsense with very little explanation makes this feel like it’s basically a harem rather than a serious show disguised as a harem. The second takeaway is that if the show is going to be good, Megumi is going to be our savior. At the end of this episode she was the one to acknowledge that Tomoya’s way of thinking about her being with other boys was gross and outdated. It’s clear that on some level the author realizes how screwed up this mentality is but it’s unclear whether the show will actually challenge it or if it will be more like episode 00 where they point out that it’s gross but do it anyway and use their awareness of it to deflect any criticism. There’s still a ton of variability in what this show is going to be.
4. The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls (Episode 5)
This was a strange episode of Cinderella Girls that sits somewhere between the problems of episode four and the high points of episode three. This episode had some interesting ideas to explore regarding the more senior idols at the production studio being jealous of newcomers getting opportunities before them. This type of fear is real and the kind of thing I’d like to see the show explore but it was hampered by the fact that most of it was done in cat ears. It feels like the show can’t get away from the gimmicks even when it’s trying to do something worthwhile. In the end Miku just comes off as petty and selfish as no effort is made to humanize her or her concerns. I did like the part about coming up with a unit name as that felt much more natural and the suggestions the girls picked were reflective of their personalities. The main takeaway seems to be that this show is always better when it’s just Uzuki, Rin and Mio and bringing in the other girls is when the problems start.
5. Kantai Collection: KanColle (Episode 5)
I think this show is just better if you pretend the end of episode three never happened and just treat it as a silly show about ship girls. I actually enjoyed a lot of the humor in this episode. Ooi being overprotective of Kitakumi is great and I absolutely love Touyama Nao doing her Karen voice as Kongou. Plus, any time you get to hear a seiyuu say “SHIT” it’s a good episode. I don’t know if KanColle is going to ever try to go back to the serious stuff again but if this is the new normal I think that’s not so bad.
6. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Episode 16)
No full Shigatsu post this week as other stuff prevented me from having time for it. This was a pretty good episode though. I liked how Kousei seems to have moved beyond the “just the sheet music” phase and is now instructing Nagi on how to put her own style into her music. The scene between Kousei and Kaori on the bicycle was really nice as well. (even though that’s illegal, which they insist on reminding us) I also like the way we see Kaori starting to feel pressure to get things done as her condition deteriorates. She’s clearly not the happy, carefree girl she was initially and as her behavior starts to resemble that of Kousei’s mother he’s understandably upset. I’m curious how this will develop and whether Kousei manages to handle this better the second time than he did with his mother. There are still the standard Shigatsu annoyances but it’s at a more or less acceptable level these days.
7. Parasyte (Episode 17)
This episode as an improvement over last week’s episode, mostly because the fight scene was better. The show let the action on the screen speak for itself without having any characters narrate what people were doing in excruciating detail. There was also a manic charm to Tamura Reiko running madly through the town laughing. That said, Parasyte’s fallen a long way to the point where the best it can do is Tamura Reiko acting insane. A lot of the compelling plot threads seem to have fallen by the wayside and the show’s run out of insightful things to say about the relative emotional capacity of human and parasites. It’s not really a bad show but it seems destined to stumble across the finish line at this point.
8. Shinmai Maou no Testament (Episode 5)
It was (thankfully) back to the fanservice this week on Testament. The less effort this show spends on luxuries like “plot” or “character growth” the better I think. You can check out all our reactions right here.
9. Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! (Episode 5)
Binan seems to like to alternate good and bad episodes. This being an odd-numbered episode, it was time for another good one. I enjoyed the way the press society members messed with the earth defense club boys as they struggled to prove hide that their advisor is actually dead. This episode also had more of the general sight gags that work for me more than some of the other things the show tries to do. We’ll see where it goes from here but there are worse things to be than an occasionally funny gender-flipped satire.