In which our favorite damedame detectives make their triumphant return.
We’ll get to the milkys in a second but first some housekeeping. Last week we debuted a new feature: Pedantic Perspective Audio. Our first audio feature is a 65-entry single-elimination bracket to determine the best anime ED of all time. Look for part 2 of this later in the week. Second, I finished number six in the countdown of my top twenty anime of all time: True Tears. I feel I may have overrated it a tad based on my initial experience watching it 4 ½ years ago but it’s still a really solid show that doesn’t get the praise it deserves. Anyway, when you’re done checking those two out, you can move on to this week’s Power Rankings:
1. Shirobako (Episode 19)
It would take a minor miracle at this point to keep Shirobako’s second half from running the table this winter. It wouldn’t count for ending my personal streak of no show being an end to end number one because its first half didn’t rank number one every week, but it’s still a testament to how good the show is. (And, if we’re being fair, how mediocre everything else is) This week I really liked what they did with Hiraoka. Prior to this week he just came off as an unrepentant asshole but his conversations with Yano this week helped to humanize him and give us a glimpse of the motivations behind his abrasive cynicism. He sees himself as the only one in the office who has it all figured out and everybody who still is passionate and loves their job is just deluding themselves in his mind. It’s a misanthropic and kind of sad perspective but it explains how dismissive he is towards everybody who seems to give a crap at Musani and why he’s switched studios so much. Related: It’s so nice to have Yano back. I love the space she occupies in this show as the person young enough to still feel like one of the new guys capable of connecting with Miyamori and her peers but at the same time experienced and knowledgeable enough to provide guidance to those around her. She’s just great. The second half of the episode was a really nice reflection on the history of Musani (complete with awesome 70s fashion in the flashbacks) and it did a good job of showing how even people who later come to be regarded as great by history don’t see themselves that way at the time. They’re just doing their best trying to meet their deadlines and it’s only looking back that they realized what they accomplished. It’s yet another example of Shirobako’s wonderfully uplifting yet realistic message.
2. Koufuku Graffiti (Episode 7)
You could basically throw everything from ranks two through five into a hat this week and pull them out in a random order and I’d mostly agree with that ranking. There’s nothing I really love in here so whatever I put at number two is more of an “I guess this is okay” type of endorsement rather than anything stronger. Koufuku Graffiti gets the honor this week with an episode that was much improved from last week’s really mediocre offering. It’s still not all the way there to the level of other similar shows about cute girls doing cute things and the blame still lies at the feet of Shaft and Shinbou. Seeing Kirin and Shiina try to cook for Ryou was cute but the result was merely satisfying rather than something truly heartwarming. Maybe they’ll do better next week.
3. Kantai Collection: KanColle (Episode 7)
Is it a bad sign when a show about naval battles is really bad at naval battles? That feels like it would be Not Good. It often feels like KanColle is trying to be Girls und Panzer or Strike Witches and simply failing. In particular I don’t feel like Fubuki as a flagship works at all. It feels like she was assigned the role over more experienced and more competent shipgirls because she’s the designated main character. Thus when she’s called on to lead the team into battle the whole thing feels awkward and forced. I was also hoping they’d downplay the whole “combat damage = clothing damage” thing from the game but that reared its ugly head this week as well. Plus the transitions into and out of CG seem to be getting more jarring as the show goes on. Really the only thing carrying the show at this point is Touyama Nao. But her doing her Karen voice is enough for a number three ranking since it reminds me we’re getting a Kiniro Mosaic sequel next season.
4. The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls (Episode 7)
This week Cinderella Girls did exactly what the idolmaster TV series and movie before it did and reached for drama that the show just can’t carry. I don’t know why all the entries in the franchise so far have fallen prey to this. Maybe it’s because the creators feel the need to justify themselves as something more than just a silly idol show or maybe they thing this will generate more empathy for the characters but it just comes off as mechanical and forced. The conversation that Producer and Mio had was an important one but it should have come at least ten minutes earlier in the episode. Instead the characters just kind of moped for the first half as if to say “this is a really serious problem isn’t it?” without actually making a significant effort to solve the problem. The good news is that these bouts of poorly conceived drama tend to be temporary and the idolmaster goes back to what it’s good at before long.
5. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Episode 18)
If Shigatsu could just be nothing but performance scenes maybe the show would be onto something. The performances are consistently beautiful and when you just sit back and admire the aesthetics and enjoy the music you can ignore the pacing and tonal issues the original story has. Unfortunately as soon as the performance ends the issues come roaring back. The show is by no means terrible but it’s frustrating because so much effort and care when into animating it but the story that animation is used in service of is actually fairly mediocre.
6. Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Episode 6)
Ugh, what do you say about an episode like this? There was some okay character work (I think?) but it was almost completely obscured by the way the camera leered at Utaha throughout the episode. I know this is supposed to appeal to me on some level but it just left me feeling uncomfortable. It’s sad because the characters in this show are really good. Or at least the female ones are. Tomoya himself is pretty much otaku, self-insert garbage but whatever. The point is that the character writing shows some potential and the rest of the show demonstrates zero interest in realizing that potential. You can kind of tell that the same person who wrote White Album 2 is in there somewhere but this work is a completely different beast and not at all on the level of his previous work.
7. Parasyte (Episode 19)
Parasyte seems to have stopped going in circles with Shinichi moping but it seems like we’ve ended up with a show that resembles the things I didn’t really like about Zankyou no Terror last summer. Something similar to ZanTero isn’t the worst thing in the world and it’s probably better than what we were getting for the previous handful of episodes but it’s more in line with the low expectations I had for Parasyte before it aired rather than the level of quality we saw in the first ten or so episodes. At this point I’m pretty much committed to finishing Parasyte but I can’t say I’m happy about it.
8. Tantei Kageki Milky Homes TD (Episode 5, 6 and 7)
Milky Holmes episode 5 was delayed by ISIS of all things (the fifth episode had a kidnapping-related plot and happened to coincide with the kidnapping of Japanese journalists by ISIS, hence the cancellation) and I hadn’t bothered to catch up until this weekend. Bad news is, the show is still dumb. Really, really dumb. The good news is, Milky Holmes’ specific brand of dumb is actually pretty amusing. I know gags like Sheryl disguising herself as Kokoro and then smacking herself in the face for saying “Kokoro-chan” isn’t exactly high-brow humor but I find it enjoyable. Keep doing what you’re doing milkys. It’s alright by me.
9. Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! (Episode 7)
Odd numbered episode so it was time for another good episode of Binan and the pattern more or less held true. No monster battle was a welcome change although the resultant episode of nothing but nonsense left something to be desired. It was occasionally funny but just not all the way there. There are some cases of characters just hanging around and being themselves that work for me no matter the gender of the characters involved and others that just don’t work with male characters. I think this episode falls into the latter category. It had some good moments but this level of fanservice and vague homoeroticism isn’t going to work for me in a gender-flipped format.
10. Shinmai Maou no Testament (Episode 7)
Testament decided to put together an episode that was all plot and action with no harem hijinks or fanservice. As such, this episode was awful. You can check out the carnage here. The good news is that next week’s episode sounds promising.