Overall, this week in anime wasn’t too bad. While the top shows didn’t wow me much, it’s the lower tier shows that delivered the goods. A bit shake up in the ranking as a result. Let’s get down to it.
13) Caligula (ep07)
And this episode ends up to be my ending point for Caligula. Like I pretty much expected last week, this week serves a breather between the first arc last week and the next arc to come, which also means we have a first half of the cast gathering together, eating hot pot and spouting nonsense. Even worse, the main character isn’t there, yet we don’t feel missing much, furthers reminds me how bland a lead he is. The cast doesn’t fair any better with downright stupid dialogues. The second half when they get down to the nature of the lead boy and μ is actually quite competent with its stylist visuals and he seems like the one who created μ and this Mobius universe in a first place, which is quite intriguing. But it comes to the point where I don’t care for the plot, nor their characters, to keep spending with.
12) Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan 2 (ep18)
Not that this episode is bad or anything, it comes to the point where Saiki K is consistent with its gags that it’s hard to properly rank it based on weekly viewing. We indeed have a new character this week, a chatterbox who gets his nose under Saiki case. While I still enjoyed what happened, this new thread isn’t that refreshing or sharp compare to Saiki’s best material. And the rich kid’s routine is one of my least favorite part in the anime.
11) Piano no Mori (ep07)
We have a 5-year jump-skip and it’s all for the better. Prior to this, one of the thing that ticks me off the most is how obvious everyone in the show regards Kai as a prodigy, even his friend/rival Shuuhei admits as such, despite winning the national tournament. I’m glad to see that this episode faces head on with that plot thread. Shuuhei has come to a point where he can’t progress anymore, where he feels the limits to reach his dream and where his confident gets down to the point where he doesn’t enjoy playing piano anymore. His meeting up with Kai, thus, plays a necessary step back for him to find his love for his chosen path, and a goal for him to step forward again. All that and I enjoy the chemistry between two boys who raised in a very different circumstance who shared the same passion. This show is doing pretty well.
10) Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai (ep08)
Tada-kun’s plot this last week displays what I believe the show’s true nature: a romantic at heart between our main leads, with long glances, a bit fantasy elements and over-the-top cast to boost. At long last, after way over half-mark of its runs, Teresa realizes her feeling for Tada-kun, and it’s an important step. It helps that the way the show displays her affection is subtle, cute and legitimately touching – a rare contrast to its tendency to exaggerate. Tada-kun, however, is still a bland character and I think we will have a host of unrelated conflicts unfold their ways to our mains. Do I think that they will end up being together? Maybe. It’s 50-50 at this point, consider Teresa is still a princess of a nation, and thus has to perform her duty. I hope the show goes for more realistic path but I’m not holding my breath on it. But for once, I am interested to see how this going to end.
9) Hisone to Masotan (ep07)
HisoMaso takes a big fall this week. I feel utterly uneasy at this new development. It tries to sell us the ideas that women’s low self-esteem and insecurity are the best way to “soulmate” their dragons, and worse, learning the whole conspiracy method of crushing these poor girls’ hearts to make sure they’ll ever love again, so they can devote all their hearts to pilot the dragons? Really? I figure my uneasiness lies in the fact that these girls, our D-Pilots are the victims and clueless about all this, and virtually no one in the higher-ups question about it or that Ilboshi guy’s decision morally, instead they just roll with it. The show should focus on the dragons – their pilots relationship, or even focus to develop our girls, not this. The show’s writer Mari Osada is most infamously known for injecting unnecessary and drawn-out romances and it seems like she again hits the streak in this episode.
8) Wotakoi (ep07)
We have an enjoyable but usual-as-business Wotakoi episode. It splits into 2 parts. The first is a meta-game where these four roleplay in an online game, and it’s funny because you can still see how much of a geek each individual is, and how their real personality still breathes through under those game characters (I like the bits about Momose charges in to attack the monster because that’s who she is). The second part plays out more like a normal sitcom for me, but it’s still nice to observe this different pair-up and how one character thinks of the others. Also it’s a nice chance of pace to include some other side characters, even if they’re just assholes who unknowingly talk about your girlfriends in the back.
7) Golden Kamuy (ep07)
This week ties up one plot thread that is Nihei and Tanigaki and their quest for hunting down the wise wolf and overall it does a decent job at that. Continuing from where the last episode left of, this final confrontation works for me because everyone has a moment to shine. Sugimoto proves that he does have some strategy beside his strong survival skills by using the Escape Artist to… escape. Tanigaki is wise and underhanded enough to use Asirpa as a hostage, and Asirpa also more than serves her role well when she saves Tanigaki’s live by cutting his poisoned flesh. But the main stars in this arc lie in the final showdown between Nihei and Retar – the man and the force of nature itself – with a welcomed twist. Golden Kamuy might not have the excellent production by their side: all the action scenes are only just functional, and their violence is somewhat extreme, but the violence never serves as glamorized action (unlike Tarantino’s films for example – except for certain skewer sequences), it’s gruesome, and it fits with the world these characters inhibit in: gruesome, bleak, macho.
6) My Hero Academia 3 (ep46)
MHA raises an compelling drama in this calm-before-the-storm episode, in which the group has to make a decision that either way can bring out horrible consequences. The show doesn’t downplay the fact that their decisions are selfish, but what is hero if they can’t reach out for their friends when they’re in trouble? Usually in other shounen they gloss over this issue very quickly, arguing that the result justify the mean. Not here. They tackle it with so much thought so I’m glad to see the show hasn’t lost its touch. In addition, Midoriya has taken another grave injury and it does signify us that it won’t be belong that this kid’s body can’t hold the pressure anymore, and what would he become if that happens? Another version of All Might, I suppose?
5) Hinamatsuri (ep08)
The core dynamic of Nitta and Hina again is put into test this week, this time with more pressing matters. There’s a woman from Hina’s world comes to bring her back home, except – you know – she’s also scared shitless about Hina’s power. It might be a bit obvious the way the show wants to show us how Hina has grown while living with Nitta, but it mostly gets away with it by framing that change from Kei’s astounded eyes. The last laugh doesn’t really win me over because it kinda destroys my goodwill towards Nitta. But to be fair, Nitta has always been an ass himself, so they pretty deserve each other’s company. In between that crisis, we have a side story of a new Hina’s classmate, Mami, who walks the fine line between a complete fool and an adorable fool. There’s so much good laugh in this second part and never at once the show belittles Mami’s hijinks. With such a diverse cast with strong and funny characters who always found themselves in absurdist situations, Hinamatsuri retains its touch this week.
4) Darling in the FranXX (ep18)
Oh god, an episode entirely focuses on its world building, and an excellent one at that. This episode tackles on what does it mean to be human, arguably one of the most loaded questions in the history of mankind but it does it job surprisingly well here. I like the fact they regard the beginning of immortal as the end of reproduction. It somehow makes sense to me and now, the human, the Klaxosaur, and the children are put in a better light. Visually, this episode falls in an unusual FranXX’s side with the weird framing device that put the character faces in close-up, and I dig the style a lot. The Man who narrated this story, Papa, is a bit of a mixed bag, but so are all the characters we meet so far. I don’t think later episodes can reach this level of brilliance, but looking back now I’m surprised how much this show moves away from stupid silly sex jokes to something as rich as this.
3) Steins;Gate 0 (ep07)
What a clumsy way to resolve this cliffhanger last week. Using a Deux ex Machina for no good reasons, and more bewilderingly those terrorists just back down when they all have guns, and manage to leave the most obvious clue. This has to be the weakest part of Steins:Gate in its own franchise. The latter part fares much better, first with Luka’s struggle that everyone just left him behind, without knowing any of the truth. Then, to the Japanese wikipedia and then to ONE HELL OF A CLIFFHANGER. So, Okabe has shifted timeline to the one where Kurisu is still alive, which means… what’s the fate of Mayuri? How about other characters? Who was using the time machine at that time? It opens more questions than answers here, and the route ahead of Okabe isn’t going to be easy. I’m hyped.
2) Legend of Galactic Heroes – Die Neue These (ep08)
Dropping from its top spot, LoGH’s “fault” is that it focuses this time on the weaker half of the story. Not that Reinhard is any less amazing than Yang Weng-Li, and I know that the show’s is much more balanced this way, but the events played out just doesn’t compare to the Free Planets Alliance’s counterpart. Oberstein serves as a informative but cynical voice of reason for Reinhard’s reign, and the way Kircheis finishes his job in the most elegant style furthers prove how trusted Reinhard is for his subordinate. But… bringing me some more Yang Weng Li, please
1) Megalo Box (ep08)
While predictable in its overall narrative, Megalo Box has proved to be a satisfying ride as it hits most of the right notes this week. First, they manage a plausible way for Joe to come back to the ring this week. Second, it finds an intriguing twitch on that Gearless vs the Most Advanced Gear match, turns out that AI Gear can only detect other opponents’ gears, which doesn’t mean it’s an easy match for Joe. Regrettably, Megalo Box is at its weakest at the boxing match itself, given the punch always lake impact. So hopefully, they save a budget for those great fights.