In which it gets better, I swear.
1. Shirobako (Episode 18)
Another crisis this week on Shirobako although to be fair, I’m not sure what they were expecting when they contracted with a studio named “Titanic”. My favorite part of Shirobako this week was what the show did to contrast the newcomers and the old timers in the industry. We got to see newbie voice actress Suzuki Kyouko and all her uncertainty be guided by the calming hand of an experienced producer. I also can’t help but feel for Ookura who simultaneously understands that his behavior doesn’t work with the way the industry works these days but is also too set in his ways to change it. Shirobako has a gift for humanizing the struggles that people in the industry face and this week was no different.
2. The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls (Episode 6)
This was a much better episode of Cinderella Girls than last week’s and it helps illustrate why the previous episode didn’t work. Mio’s outburst at the end of the episode was just as selfish and petty as Miku’s behavior last week but in Mio’s case the reasoning was laid out and the emotions felt genuine. Rather than throwing on cat ears and adding a “nyaa” to every sentence, we actually see why Mio feels the way she does and understand where this is coming from. It’s further evidence that Cinderella Girls is simply better when it keeps the focus on the main trio because they actually feel like real people and not one-note gimmicks. I did find Rin joining Mio in her anger to be a bit out of place as she always seemed like the one who wouldn’t get worked up like this. Still, while it wasn’t perfect, this was a huge improvement for a show that was threatening to lose me.
3. Kantai Collection: KanColle (Episode 6)
It looks like the silly, episodic KanColle is the one we’re going to be getting for the foreseeable future and I personally am okay with that. The show has some pretty funny gags even if I miss some of them due to my lack of knowledge regarding the original game. This week’s curry cook-off managed to showcase the cast in a way that felt natural rather than feeling like they’re being paraded in front of us simply to appease the fans. It’s certainly not substantial but it’s entertaining and that’s pretty much all I want from KanColle at this point.
4. Koufuku Graffiti (Episode 6)
Okay, what the hell was that Koufuku Graffiti? I put up with the occasional erotic eating moment but this week they didn’t even try to hide the fact that the camera was ogling the girls. Popsicles in the bathtub is the kind of nonsense I expect out of a mediocre harem show like Testament, not from a Manga Time Kirara anime with Okada Mari on series comp. The show has moments where it retains that calming atmosphere like the early part of this episode or the flashback to summer with Ryou’s grandmother, but more often than not it just feels like the girls are putting on a performance rather than acting naturally. They behave in awkward ways and seem to glance at the camera a little too often for it to feel like their natural, everyday lives. The show’s not a disaster (yet) but it’s pretty clear that Koufuku Graffiti struggles with the things that normally make me love this genre.
5. Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Episode 5)
We’re five episodes in and I’m still not really sure where Saekano stands on Tomoya’s behavior. The end of last week’s episode made me think that the author realizes how screwed up he is and Megumi will be the voice of reason but the bulk of the narrative this week was pretty dismissive of her making things less clear. There are still moments of clarity where Megumi manages to point out something obvious that the others miss with the heads constantly stuck in their otaku hobbies. On the other hand, a lot of this episode seemed to revel in that same detachment from society as a whole. Saekano does seem to have some moderately interesting ideas about people hiding their true selves and the creative process but I don’t know how effective it will ultimately be at articulating them.
6. Parasyte (Episode 18)
Things got better for Parasyte as well this week. The show started with the redemption of Tamura Reiko, at least as far as she was capable of being redeemed. I thought the way she took the form of Shinichi’s mother and used his memories of his mother was really effective both in terms of achieving her goals and also restoring my emotional engagement. When in doubt lean on familial ties I guess. The ending with the introduction of the man who (apparently?) can identify parasites was interesting although it also feels like the show is kind of drifting rather than moving the narrative with any larger purpose. Still, drifting in interesting directions is an improvement over whatever the show was doing the previous few weeks.
7. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Episode 17)
Bad news everyone, I’ve decided to discontinue episodic posts on Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. At this point I felt like I was repeating myself a lot and it wasn’t worth the time with the CFA crunch starting to get to me. I probably won’t be doing any episodic posts until Summer season after the exam is over although I’ll still be wrapping up my top 20 posts and doing weekly power rankings, plus a new feature you guys should see later this week.
Anyway, this was kind of what I’ve come to expect from KimiUso by now. The show has been steadily improving in terms of emotional resonance and I really liked hearing Kousei describe the feeling of sharing your performance with other people as well as seeing Kaori slowly beginning to doubt her own worth when she can’t play the violin. However, these moments of clarity continue to be broken up by bad comedy and questionable writing decisions. The Ryouta/Kaori situation continues to be a thorn in the show’s side as I never bought it for a second but they’re still trotting it out there to inform Kousei’s feelings towards Kaori which feels like little more than a stall tactic at this point. We’re though seventeen out of twenty-two episodes now and the only evidence that there’s anything really going on between the two is the characters’ insistence that there is. Nothing we’ve actually seen supports it at all. Still, barring any new issues, KimiUso seems on track to reach a comfortable mediocrity by the end.
8. Shinmai Maou no Testament (Episode 6)
This was an episode filled with mediocre action and one ridiculous scene in the middle. It’s scenes like that keeping this show afloat because the plot certainly isn’t getting it done. You can read all our reactions to this episode here.
9. Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! (Episode 6)
Like clockwork we get an even-numbered episode and Binan isn’t good anymore. Binan seems to be the Geno Smith of anime. I do like it when the show poke fun at magical girl tropes like when the boys observe that the enemies always appear right next to them for some reason. However, the villain this week felt like a worse version of “San-ban” from Meganebu. Really most things this show does are worse version of the same thing from Meganebu. Even the actual monster this week was pretty underwhelming. I was hoping to see some puns about love making/screwing but I guess the joke doesn’t translate. Oh well.