In which we have a lot of blushing faces.
1. Ore Monogatari (Episode 3)
Well, they actually did it. It looks like all my fears stemming from how last week’s episode ended were unfounded. While I’m happy we got through it, I didn’t love the way the way the actual confession happened. It felt kind of mean for Suna to trick Yamato that way, but given how dense Gouda was and how timid Yamato was it kind of had to be that way. It was clunky and awkward, just like Gouda, but the end result was extremely cute. So the question is, where do we go from here? I find myself going quickly from the ecstatic feeling of Gouda and Yamato actually acknowledging their mutual feelings to the sudden fear of “what if it doesn’t work out?” But I think that’s a good thing. The struggles of maintaining a relationship are very real and something far too rarely explored by anime. Ore Monogatari has gone from a show with a novel concept that nonetheless looked like it might just be another shoujo to being a potential classic. I’m sure the drama will come, but whatever drama it is it will be very different from what we typically expect from a show like this and that’s something worth looking forward to. Plus, those two are so cute together I just can’t even deal with it.
2. Hibike! Euphonium (Episode 3)
Another very nice episode of Euphonium this week. I really liked the way this episode created the atmosphere of a club in decline. More than just saying that the motivated second years had all quit, we were shown how this manifests in a horn section that doesn’t practice and clarinetists that laugh at their mistakes rather than attempting to fix them. Noboru was harsh in response to this but very fair in my mind. The group has voted that they want to go for nationals but if they aren’t going to act like a band that wants to go to nationals the he isn’t going to waste his time trying to teach them. A large fraction of the group seemed to respond to this with petulance, indignant that Noboru could possibly say that to them, even though they very clearly are not ready for his instruction. Who cares how bad they are right now? He has no right to tell them to practice! I’m curious how the section leaders will respond to this, but in Asuka we trust. She seems to be in control no matter the situation and I think she can pull the group out of this. I also really liked the scene at the end with Reina playing From the New World and maybe this is the turning point that motivates Kumiko to start to be less passive. Whatever the case, I still really like this show.
3. Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic (Episode 3)
I’d been waiting for it and I finally got my Ayaya episode. Aya’s inability to express her love for Yoko was one of my favorite running gags from the first season and it was on full display this week. The way Aya acts around Yoko was just adorable and I love how Yoko’s siblings immediately detected how Aya’s true feelings. Takes a tsundere to know one I guess? The episode as whole held together nicely with the superior flow I expect from a good 4koma adaptation like this. There were some really nice call backs to earlier jokes like Aya’s reaction when Shino tells Alice she’s like the sun. Add in some marginal jokes elevated by solid timing (e.g. Alice dismissing Yoko’s hair as not “dog like” enough) and you have the recipe for another outstanding episode of Kinmosa.
4. Show By Rock!! (Episode 3)
It feels strange that Show By Rock might end up being my best call from the season preview. I did push Ore Monogatari on the Friday Anime Podcast which: go me, I guess, but Mochi got the preview here so I can’t take full credit. I also was correct that Kinmosa would be good but that was as much of a gimme as I’ve ever had so that doesn’t count either. Anyway, Show By Rock. This episode had some very nice scenes fleshing out the backstories of the characters and showing the girls bonding. After that we got into the meat of the actual competition which seems to be some kind of J-Pop-y version of American Idol with more animal ears. I’m glad that Plasmagica lost the match since it would have felt like too much too soon if they had managed to win in their very first actual competition. The show did a good job of showing us that the band is growing even if they didn’t win this time. I’m hopeful that the show can build on this going forward.
5. Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (Episode 16)
This episode was back to the problems that have plagued UBW from the start. The dialog in general was clunky and the Archer/Lancer confrontation in particular felt goofy and self-important. The Shirou/Rin romance felt a bit forced as well as we’re entering the portion of UBW where it remembers it’s also a VN so we need to romance the main heroine in addition to having a grail war. I think the lack of this obligation freed up Fate/Zero which is probably part of why UBW feels like a step down from that even if the production values are still there. The really annoying part for me, however, was the insipid argument between Rin and Shirou about who should be putting themselves first rather than living for others. It wasn’t all bad though, Shinji was pretty funny this week. But when Shinji being comically evil/incompetent is the high point of the episode that’s not a great sign.
6. Yamada-kun to Nananin no Majou (Episode 2)
This show is insane and I love it. The chaotic body swapping and the voice actors getting to be goofy as hell is just a blast to watch. You can check out our entire viewing experience here.
7. Plastic Memories (Episode 4)
Well at least it didn’t get any worse. This episode managed to lay off the comedy for the most part which is good because this show doesn’t seem to have any funny jokes in its arsenal at all. The extent of its comedy is everybody being awkward about the mere possibility of boys and girls being around each other. I get that anime is full of characters fearing male/female interaction but Plastic Memories takes it to an absurd level. The story of Marcia and Souta was nice, as far as that goes, but it’s hard to get invested in these stories now that the show has lost so much of its grace and dignity. I’m fine with a show being very open about aiming for emotional impact but that needs to be accompanied by a level of respect for the characters that I just don’t think is there for Plastic Memories. The other big problem this week that Michiru is just terrible. She brings out the worst of the bad comedy I was talking about earlier and her tsundere act was old three weeks ago. I’m also iffy on the introduction of the fake terminal service people as that seems like it will distract from the things I actually want the show to explore. Finally, the board room scene where Takao got chewed out by the big boss for not cutting costs felt a bit too on the nose. Plastic Memories probably isn’t dead yet although it has a huge climb ahead of it to get back to respectability.
8. Houkago no Pleiades (Episode 3)
Houkago no Pleiades has set up some very nice pieces through three episodes. The vaguely “world line”-like concept introduced in this episode is intriguing and I like how they’re weaving it into the girls’ search for identity as they grow up. That theme of identity also provided for some really nice moments between Subaru and her parents as they discussed engine parts as a metaphor for people working together. The weakest part of the show is the actual combat as each fight seems to follow the same formula of the girls identifying an engine part, attempting to capture it and then jerk-ass red hair shows up and tried to steal it from them. If Pleiades can learn some new tricks for the combat sequences and bring all of this identity stuff together it could turn out to be a really solid show. If instead it relies on swimsuit gags and repetitive combat, well, it’ll be less good but probably still watchable. If nothing else the show has really pretty skies which is nice.
9. Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu (Episode 4)
Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. That episode was too cruel. I’m not really a huge Yuki fan or a Yuki/Kyon shipper but goddamn that ending hurt. It’s really disheartening to see a show that was ostensibly going to be about Yuki and her relationship with Kyon get hijacked so thoroughly by Haruhi. I praised her involvement last week but when she starts stepping on Yuki’s romantic ambitions and scoring points with Kyon while Yuki’s diligently working on chocolate at home I start to lose my affection for her. At times this episode just felt like a discount version of Melancholy rather than trying to be its own thing. I did enjoy the portions that just involved Tsuruya, Asakura, Mikuru and Yuki hanging out together. Tsuruya and Asakura’s controlling and borderline abusive antics can get tired but the discussion of chocolates and how to approach romance was actually pretty endearing. I also think the way Asakura looks out for Yuki and helps her along is really sweet. We’ll see where they go from here but I really don’t want this show to develop a mean streak. I don’t think my heart could take it.
10. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha ViVid (Episode 4)
This happened occasionally throughout the first three episodes but in episode four I really got the feeling that I’m missing a lot in ViVid having not seen the second half of A’s or any of StrikerS. It’s kind of how I imagine watching Saki Achiga-hen would feel if you hadn’t seen the first season, or had only seen half of it. This episode was full of introductions where it was clear from the tone and framing that these were supposed to be old friends you’re seeing for the first time in a while but I felt more like Einhard: suddenly overwhelmed by this influx of people I don’t really know. Nanoha and Fate are the only characters I have any real attachment to and correspondingly their scenes are my favorite ones in each episode. The show isn’t exactly bad, it’s just running on a nostalgia that I don’t have (yet). I’m going to drop this one, not due to low quality or boredom but just because I don’t think I can really enjoy it properly yet and I’d like to shorten my viewing list.
11. Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyouku (Episode 3)
Mikagura has always been a barren desert of random, mostly bad comedy in between oases in the form of yuri jokes. Unfortunately those oases are becoming farther and farther apart. I’d say the show isn’t focusing on what I want but that would imply that the show actually has a focus. For the life of me I’m still not sure what the show’s supposed to be about after three episodes. The plot seems to switch gears as often as Eruna sets her eyes on a new girl. The plotting is incoherent and the battles have no flow to them. Now that the novelty of the main character and her goofy antics have worn off there’s really nothing left here. Dropped.
12. Re-Kan (Episode 4)
Here’s another one that’s probably worn out its welcome. Unlike Mikagura, Re-Kan didn’t deteriorate so much as it never really did enough to justify keeping it on my watching list. The show occasionally makes me chuckle and it can certainly be heartwarming at times but it just isn’t compelling enough often enough for me to stick with it. Dropped.
13. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku (Episode 4)
Oregairu’s still here, for now anyway. It’s a really tough call for me whether to keep this up or move it to the dropped list. As I’ve said before, Oregairu is not a bad show, but I still don’t enjoy watching it. There were one or two moments this episode that I really enjoyed, particularly Yui’s moment of completely honesty and vulnerability with Hachiman at the end. That scene probably kept this from being a sure drop as the overwhelming feeling I had during the rest of the episode was “I wish I was watching Toradora instead of this right now.” But one or two moments doesn’t mean much when you spend the majority of the episode checking the seek bar and being upset that you aren’t farther along in the episode. I’m withholding judgement for now but things look bleak for Oregairu.
14. Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka (Episode 4)
Something terrible happened this week on DanMachi: Eina took off her glasses. You can read more of my ranting about this horrible injustice later this week when our DanMachi group watch post goes up. Sufficient to say I was fairly traumatized. I don’t remember what else happened this week. You can probably find that in the other post too. I’m going to go sulk in a corner with my glasses.