Ho boy, blink an eye and we already one week away from saying goodbye to these shows. For now, while people have every right reasons to regard this Summer season as lackluster, I’m thinking of 3 shows that can earn its place to my top 10 of the year. Well, we still one season away from the year so nothing set in stone yet, but by quick look to the next season, it seems to rely a bit too much on original shows, which can go either way. This week is a week where the shows reach conclusion arc, so we can finally see if all the building-up paid off in the end. Sirius the Jeager is still unavailable at this writing. Anyway, read on to see my thoughts on the anime this week.
Shichisei no Subaru (ep11)
I must say I didn’t expect to enjoy Nozomi as a bad guy this much. At least she has personality and she has a clear motivation. I suspect when she’s back as a good girl she’d become plain again. Takanori decides to confront her is as cliche as it goes, but it’s done quite nicely so I’m okay with that. My real concern lies in its overall structure, which I believe the last episode can’t solve all the plot threads. Which also means that it will get cut halfway. Why? This kind of story doesn’t need to pad out for more than 1-cour, mind you. We get to the point where we never really find out about Asahi’s 6 year absence, and while this episode suggests that they can manipulate their sense in real life, it’s just too late of the game now. One thing for sure, I’m not gonna bother to continue this even if the second cour is announced (which is unlikely).
Grand Blue (ep10)
After what it feels like a lifetime of teasing us, the group finally arrives in Okinawa for their trip. While some of my usual complaint is still there: the bit where Iori sleeps with two beautiful big-boob girls is another product of male’s fantasy for example; I quite enjoy this episode otherwise. Like the two senpais, Grand Blue takes diving fairly seriously and all these sequences revolving around diving is a joy to watch. It also helps that the second part is seen through Aina’s perspective, one of the most normal person out of this group. What she learns: the true power of friendship is something simple but relatable. Iori and Kohei’s constant rivalry can be a bit too much at times, but silliness is an integral part of this show so I’ll just live with it.
Asobi Asobase (ep11)
This episode is, by far, the most focus episode in an entire Asobi Asobase. It moves around some related-themes, with new characters that make a good impression and many “cameo” that shines through little screen time they have. Overall. it’s an enjoyable episode from start to finish. The President has a chance to go against her type when she runs across the hallway to the “opposite-san” (the boy’s school). The Occult club has their moments with making a cookie that turns their sensei into cookie-maniac zombie. Maeda and Olivia’s brother add their own presence into the skits. The main MVP, however, revolves around vice-president (whom you might remember for giving death-threat at the Council speech). The whole act of her sparkly make-up face and her “monstrous” face without makeup might sound a bit mean-spirit, yet Asobi Asobase mostly gets away with it. I’m excited to see how the director-cut version of their movie will pan out.
My Hero Academia 3 (ep61)
Like how the show frames it, this is a totally unnecessary fight between Deku and Midoyira. Yet MHA is smart enough to squeeze out many compelling drama regarding those characters, and it’s significant in many ways. First, this fight is a very first time they both see each other as equal rival, nothing more, nothing less. Second, this fight marks the first time where they explode their true emotions to each other, both on those things they admire/hate from the other, their own vulnerability and on All Might, their idol. It’s the only time that we see Deku carries a burden as he considered himself the real cause that brings the end to All Might. Turn out, this fight is necessary after all. With this, both Deku and Midoyira can be able to be on the same page and look at the same direction now.
Hi Score Girl (ep09-10)
Last week, episode 9 was nowhere to be seen but this week, not only episode 9 but they released the next episode earlier than normal. That is the life of this little-seen show. Episode 9 marks the growth in Naru’s perspective as it’s nice to see him sacrifices his games in order to pursuit his study – so that he can attend to the same high school with Oono. Even if he doesn’t realize it, he has grown fond to Oono. Even when Hidaka proves to be a great challenger that shatters his gaming pride, all he can think about is to get better in order to face Oono. Poor Hidaka. I can feel a lot for this girl. The effort, even the weight she puts in those games just tell you how much she cares about Haruo, and yet, Haruo never seems to notice. I like the fact that these three characters study in different high schools now, so that now they’re even more related through games and arcade than before.
After the break last week (due to the Hokkaido earthquake), we are back with this final match between Ayano and Nagisa. While I can’t say I care too much about this match, Hanebado begins in a solid note. Having our two main characters flashback to their previous match, each questions the exact same concern: “what do they play badminton for?”. Although Nagisa and Ayano have different issues regarding their struggles, they all come down to that very question and I believe Hanebado nails it right there. Ayano plays badminton to win her mom’s attention again, while that match crushes Nagisa’s confidence to pieces. They all have good reasons to play this final match, except that… Ayano doesn’t take it very seriously at all. It’s just a bit of a shame that Hanebado portrays her as a one-sided boss who apparently need to learn her own lesson during this match. It’s Nagisa who do most of the lifting this week. Make no mistake, she regards this final match more as a match to overcome herself rather than to win Ayano.
Tsukumogami Kashimasu (ep09)
Two weeks in a row, Tsukumogami makes the best out of its little side story. This time it revolves around the main cast, more specifically about the whereabout of neechan’s ex-suitor. It leads to some interesting parallels, and provides a resolve that for once, feel satisfying. They still couldn’t find out about the man, or the incense burner, mind you, but this episode is all about the people who looking for it, about these girls who still can’t move on from their pass and about these boys who do the best they can just to help out the girls they love. Frankly, it’s a level of dynamic narrative that I didn’t expect from this show. In addition, the relationship between tsukumogami and human get much better this week. These tsukimogami obviously cares about this story since it has something to do with their owners, and for once, our main cast share their thoughts to these spirits. Based on the preview, I suppose it will have another unrelated story next week, but I’m sure that they will be back to this story real soon.
Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight (ep10)
The narrative beat of Revue Starlight has reached its new tempo with the end of the audition. All the things that Revue Starlight has been building up to begin to payoff this week. I must say though, it comes out a bit too predictable this week. We have the last stage audition with literally the supporting cast was put on the audience sits, the duet duel that decides the ultimate pair. But before that we have both Karen – Hikari pair and Tendou – Claudine reaffirm their roles and their relationship again. And then the ending which parallels exactly with what going on in the Starlight play. Mind you, there are still two episodes left so it’s possible (there’s a high chance it will happen eventually) that Karen and Hikari will rewrite the Starlight’s written fate. That can’t hide the fact that Revue Starlight this week lacks a factor to truly wow us.
Planet With (ep11)
Another episode where this show tops itself once again. By that I don’t mean it in terms of quality, I mean more that this episode builds on top of what happened in last episodes. I made this analogy down at the chatbox and I still think it rings true: imagine Planet With as a pancake where the new layer is built around the previous layers. This week, we get 5 year forward to the now-growing up version of every member of the cast (and the fact that most of them keep wearing the same clothes after 5 years. I’m looking at you, maid Ginko). We have the big battle against the dragon where they make it clear that fighting the dragon isn’t an act to revenge, it’s more that they help to free the dragon to its original form. It’s not a mind-blowing chokeful of brilliant ideas like previous episodes, but it does its job. The CG fights remain lackey and fakey, however, but everything else promises a true closure for this restless anime that feel like no other show this year.
Banana Fish (ep11)
We have a much slower episode that aims to develop the bond between Ash and Eiji. While part of me pleased that the show’s finally slowing down after a string of neck-break episodes, this episode for me is just half-way there. On one hand, we can see clearly how emotional dependence Ash is towards Eiji now. He’s more relaxed around him and he acts like a vulnerable kid his age. Ash, after all, is just a 17 year-old-boy. His cutey reactions and this “pumpkin” story,on the other hand, feel calculated to me to show us that: “yeah, Ash can be a child sometimes”. I suspect it’s more of the manner they convey those that put me off a bit. Still, at the end Ash again transforms into super-hacker (isn’t it Daru job from Steins;Gate?) with many Hollywood level of implausible and over-the-top masterplan that again reminds me how I never fully embrace Banana Fish as much as I could.
Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro (ep10)
Well, no surprises here. Chio-chan flips back to its usual self. Chio-chan has always been a minimalist-set show, with mundane set up in which only a handful of characters carry the gag. It rings especially true this week, as Chio’s antic makes up the first half and Manana’s wild imagination drives the second. As per usual with the show, it has some amusing little moments but it can’t help but drag out a fair bit, plus the fact that the punching lines are underwhelming in both segments. The first bit can totally be summed up as Chio-chan has a late-game night. I must say I pretty enjoy Chio’s game persona. The fact that she would betray her comrades for the cash is totally in character. While the whole thing goes pleasantly enough, it lacks the necessary punchline to make this segment memorable. In the second half, Chio and Manana rehearse on what Asobi Asobase did few weeks ago: sniffing at each other’s armpit to find out if they smell. The saving grace in this segment is how Manana goes from pity to blaming Chio for many completely unrelated failures in her life. We witness how that train of thought goes (well, her thought-process makes sense to me) and how she reacts “crazily” to the eyes of people who can’t follow her thoughts. With only one episode, I just hope Chio-chan goes all out for once.
Hataraku Saibou (ep11)
This week in Hataraku Saibou, our body receives a heat shock. Appropriately every cells are sweating and even White Blood Cells nearly collapse because of the heat. In terms of sickness, I’m glad the show keeps mixing up all different types of diseases/ incidents of our body and how the cells react. Villain is notoriously weak and annoying this week, and the cast is only functional, not particularly stand out or anything. I think the show has passed its prime with the Cancer episode, but there’s still plenty of other things to enjoy. Just see their interpretation to the sweating or the needle, for example. I just hope maybe in the last episode they can sum up all the characters, or give more space for chemistry between White and Red Blood Cells.
Steins;Gate 0 (ep21)
In a way, episode like this reinforces the shortcoming of Steins;Gate 0 as a whole. This episode, I must say, is a solid one that has clear struggles and character growth. But the fact is, first, it still feels like a big stretch that Okabe has to do go back, bit by bit for 400 times. I mean, 40 times would be a high enough stake, but 400 times? You can’t expect me to believe that he won’t run into any kind of trouble in those times. Second, by compressing the whole journey into a single episode (well, 2/3 of an episode really), it makes me question why they don’t give this more episodes instead of tanking in the middle with many filler episodes (on top of my head, the Kagari’s lullaby episode and Daru’s romance episode are OVA-level of important). The journey would have sunken into me more if they have more time to explore it. Third, this episode makes a good use of Amadeus-Kurisu which, again, reminds me how the show has been underused her greatly. Still, I enjoy the repeated-conversations when Okabe wakes up (another implausible note: when you just wake up from coma, your body needs long time to function again, so Okabe can’t just jump out of the bed like he does here), and it feels great to see him finally embracing his mad-scientist persona again. So yeah, it’s an episode that mostly deliver what I needed, but its “brilliance” makes me realize how the whole show has been a missed opportunity.