Spring breezes (here in Australia), blink an eye and this season already reached half-way. Only 6 more weeks until we get to the close of this 2018 year. For this mid-season point I’m going to do something different. I will group them in the order of their quality (purely subjective of course). Normally this is a good week for me to drop the last two shows, but since both of them will end their mini-arc next week, I’ll give them some leeway this time. In overall, only two shows make it to the elite list – shows that actually have a great shot on my Yearly Top 10, but that doesn’t mean this list gonna stay this way until the rest of its run. Now without any further ado, let’s jump in:
Akanesasu Shoujo (ep06)
To be frank I’m about to drop this show after this episode, but this episode 6 is actually one of the most enjoyable so far. Part of it is because of this alternative world that feels eerily off that is always my cup of tea. It’s the world that is their enemy this time and it’s a nice shake for Akanesasu. In addition, I quite like the main protagonist this week, she’s calm and collected. While I can relate her issue of enjoy being alone, I feel the show pushes a bit too much to spell that out to us. And she’s smart too. Within spending a day in the new world, she’s starting to realize that something off, while the others (minus Asuka) become addictive to their little screen phone. I don’t really expect Akanesasu to have a social commentary, but I’m sure glad that at least it tries.
Release the Spyce (ep06)
Spyce, on the other hand, is god awful this week. This episode is the most boring one out of all shows this week, thank to the addition of a new character that is cliche, and totally non-realistic in any way. This new girl is supposed to be a spy, but how on earth she falls into Tsukikage’s radar as soon as she arrives? Why letting Hatsume knows about her real identity? And then her encounter with Hatsume embrace all the tropes that I feel it’s a pretty shell that felt hollow inside. Her resentment, for example, feels stupid at best. The plot, in addition, moves in an unbelievable way that take me out of the story multiple times. I suppose next week we gonna close this plot thread so I’m still on board for one more week, but the future doesn’t look bright for Spyce.
Shaky Little Trees
RErideD: Tokigoe No Derrida (ep06)
RErideD still has heaps of interesting ideas and none skill whatsoever to polish them. This week, we delve into Derrida’s many attempts of “Revive” the past, which in itself is an intriguing idea. However, when that idea is explained by some vague logic like “the key here is I have to remember vividly” it’s kind of implausible to follow. Then the various butterfly effects kick in even though he did nothing in the past, and its changes are so little that the show trembles hard on the ground it stands. The only feeling that I got out of this episode is not confusing (thank God), but underwhelmed for all the wasted potential it has.
Goblin Slayer (ep06)
It’s another quest for Goblin Slayer and the Gang and as far as it concerns, it’s a decent one so far. Problem with it is that it just isn’t varied or significant enough for us to care. Last quest, we have the new team members got a taste (literally) of what killing goblins is like. This quest we have none of the personal stuffs going on, making it a pure action series at this point. For bloody violence this show sure is satisfying but I need more development and conflicts from the cast. Otherwise it just fall flats on the ground.
Zombieland Saga (ep06)
OMG ZOMBIELAND SAGA, where is the brilliance of the first two episodes? Where is the snappy comment on idol world? Now this show becomes a generic idol show that happens to be zombie. Normally, in any other show, the main conflict between two idols’ contrasting views regarding how they should interact with fans could be a gold mine to explore, but for Zombieland sadly it doesn’t work as well. This episode furthers displays how the show attempts at drama between the core cast, but they can’t still hide the absurdity of the reasons behind both Ai and Junko’s death. And other members sadly become scarecrows with no personality. Next week can prove to be interesting, however, with Fran Chouchou going full metal again. At least I’ll be watching for some fun.
Karakuri Circus (ep05)
Well, it was a bad filler episode. One Big big big issue with Karakuri Circus is that it’s a shounen show, so when it slows down with no actual action it suffers the most. This episode is meant to be a breather where we see the effect of Narumi to the kid and Shirogane as they move on with life. But it’s so stupid and nonsesical that it’s kind of (only kind of) refreshing to see it embraces that silliness with all its heart. Like a bad singer who sings her heart out that you can’t do anything but admire for the effort. The kid acts in an obvious way until he shows off all the scars, but worse is Shirogane as suddenly, she attends highschool and do the gymanstic rolls that put her through the basketball hoop. Wow, just wow. I just hope the show’s back to action soon because it’s where its weirdness, its grand emotions and its larger than life characters are the most apparent.
The Good Batch
Double Decker! Doug And Kirill (ep06)
Double Decker focuses on the lead duo this week, especially involving Kirill and his long-lost ‘sister’. It’s pretty to look at, it’s fun most of the times but this episode falls back to its own issue: there’s just not much substance underneath. They have many memorable characters with distinctive traits but ultimately at the end of the day you don’t learn much about them. I don’t know how relevant this ‘sister’ will be in the grand scheme (and how on earth didn’t Kirill aware of it), but I just hope the show either make an intersting case like last week, or develop the cast’s dynamic further.
Tsurune: Kazemai Koukou Kyuudoubu (ep04)
Tsurune has its first proper team archering and so far it’s all nice and dandy. The good news about this show is that it’s consistently good. The story is built gradually and the characters are developed steadily. The bad news about this show is that it’s totally predictable. All the narrative bits feel familiar, even down to the dialogues. My biggest disappointment so far is the total lack of interest for the female cast. Although they’re there, they’re just merely decoration at this point (do you remember any of the girls’ name, or how good they are at shooting bow? This boy group so far is interesting, mostly because each of them have such different personaliy and they bounce off each other reasonably well. So far, it’s a solid execution show but I do expect it to be more than this.
Seishun Buta Yarou Wa Bunny Girl-Senpai No Yume Wo Minai (ep06)
We get to the end of this second arc, and while I find it a bit of a lightweight compare to the first act, it still offers me plenty of good times. The strength of this arc comes squarely on the chemistry between Sakuto and Koga. While I’d love it to focus a bit more on psychological issue of the girl, the moment where Koga being honest to her feeling felt satisfying. Jugding this arc as a whole, I think there’s a room for development for sure, as I feel the stake of this arc is particularly low (even Mai doesn’t see Koga as a romantic threat at all, which is kind of refreshing). Next arc will be about Sakuta’s first crush, in the form of middle school version. Just reading that premise, I’m already excited.
Banana Fish (ep18)
Banana Fish has one heck of a forminable guy this week. Ash’s former sensei is cool and dangerous at the same time, the exact opposite with Arthur. What I don’t really buy, is the extend of sacrifice Ash willing to do to protect Eiji. Doesn’t it cross his mind that they can kill Eiji even after he gives in? Banana Fish just tries so damn hard again to 1) sell us the Eiji – Ash relationship and 2) sell us about Ash as a martyr. Well, he gets abducted again so at this point I just gives up guessing how he’s going to escape. The charms has weakened quite a fair bit.
Golden Kamuy (ep17)
Goddamn it Golden Kamuy. Just at the moment I think a certain guy is too badass to die, he has a bullet onto his forehead. Golden Kamuy feels pretty comfortable with its goofy tone now, and it keeps piling up one motherfucking characters on top of the others. But the real winner in this episode is how it comes right to the core dynamic between Asirpa and Sugimoto. As they’re ducking inside the body of the deer, they provide a truly genuine relationship with natural chemistry (Ash and Eiji, take note!!) that you can say for sure how much they’re fond of the company of each other. I always know that Golden Kamuy has an ability to go epic and crazy, I didn’t expect it can pull of an emotional satisfying sequence. Well done, Kamuy.
Yagate Kimi Ni Naru (ep06)
Bloom into You raises up several bars with the excellence of this episode. It’s hard for me to pinpoint what makes it work so well in this episode, but for me after this week many pieces start to become relevant. First is Yuu. While I’m never a fan of her character, this episode marks the first time she actively seek for answers regarding Nanami. This action might be sutble, but it indicates how much Yuu actually cares for her senpai, she just needs to come to term with it. Second is Nanami, the reveal at the end twists the show into Scums’ Wish terrority, which for me is a total unexpected but welcome route to take. I hope the show keeps up with this.
Irozuku Sekai No Ashita Kara (ep06)
Irozuku takes us to episode 6 for something significant happen, but even then it’s decidedly under-dramatic. This week, we have a whole lot more of magical moments that certainly are the feast to the eyes, and develop many underlying themes of its narrative. The central of the conflict this week is Hitomi and Aoi, as Hitomi unknowingly sucked into his painting world. The result is one of the most gorgeous sequences I’ve seen in recent memories. It’s abstract, it’s colorful and it’s painting-like that opens to a world of of its own. What makes it ticks, in addition, is how well these elements Hitomi sees bode well to Aoi’s creativity struggles. She sees herself in the vast desert, a dead golden fish that signifies Aoi’s creativity block. That fish, as Hitomi soon finds out, was Aoi’s first creation way back to his junior year. She further sees a black figure who literally tries to recapture the fish, as he follows the fish he’s unknowingly sucked into the black hole. Once again, Irozuku triumphs in its visual department that speaks so well to the theme that its writing can’t never match. Indeed, once again, it’s the visual presentation – not the narrative Irozuku has been building up to – that grabs me the most in this episode.
Kaze Ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru (ep06)
Fuiteiru again is pretty solid, and now King’s issue is resolved and now he joins with the rest of the track team. It’s basically a King episode, as we see how he worries about his future, how he feels alone and how he doesn’t use his free time well (mahjong and stuffs). The argument to bring him back from his best friend, admittedly, doesn’t fly well with me. His argument basically revolves around if you have to pick between forced to do something and do it voluntarily, you’d go for it with all your might. But they always have the option of not participating, right? Nevertheless, the group grows some fans now and are improving, so the next episode which is about the first track meet will prove to be interesting for them to have a reality check.
“They shouldn’t making episodes without kaiju in them “
It’s very cheeky of GRIDMAN to meta-comment on this episode, as indeed there isn’t any big fight between Gridman and kaiju monsters this week. We still get an introduction of new kaiju, however, and the fight in human forms. That’s the thing about GRIDMAN, it’s a show that knows full well all the formula of tokusatsu genre, and it does something interesting with these formulas. The main characteristic of GRIDMAN so far is minimalist. There isn’t a constant background music in this show but once it’s there, it matters. There isn’t too many people in the show (my favorite bits are the ones where the cast riding an empty public transportation), but once you see them, they have an impact to the story. Even the angles in which GRIDMAN places its shots are decidedly deceptive as hell, in a sense that if you look at certain scenes in another angle, that world might appear to be a different world. And with this episode, this sense of “off” comes into the forefront. In an essence, this is a rather interesting episode, not only because it shakes up its own usual recipe, but that it connects different pairs, parallel them in an interchangeable way (the use of the same settings and same plot device for example) so that all the dots are linked at the end. We have 3 interweaving meet-up from our three main characters: Yuuta with the mysterious kaiju Anoshiras (his name isn’t mentioned in the episode); Rikka with Anti that proves to be a nice contrast with how Akane treats him; and finally Akane herself and Shou. The same motifs are there: they all eat something, while being surveillanced by a member of the Squad, down to Yuuta – Anoshiras eating the same bread at the same place in the same shot as Rikka and Anti moments ago. This could be a a game-changer that changes everyone’s role in the story, but let’s wait and see how well GRIDMAN deal with this new development.
Thunderbolt Fantasy 2 (ep06)
This week has many game-changing events, and many Gui Niao’s wittiest lines and expressions to boost. The moment the Vapewiz puts his finger to his cheek I know the show loses none of its charms. This week, the monk Di Kong becomes more prominent into this whole affair. As we predicted, the monk can prove to be an interesting villain, given how immoral he is. That is not to say he loves to wreak havoc or seeks out for fame and power like the villains in the first season. It’s that he has no sense of judgement and justice and has no value of human life (even his own), and that could prove very dangerous if he falls for the wrong cause, or simply, if he can’t find the right path to lead. When he meets our team Shang Bu Huan and Lang Wu Yao who are in pursuit of Princess Cruelty (more on her later), he decides not to help out our guys. That sets off the evil-detector of Lang Wu Yao, and he’s in killing mode again – or as Gui Niao puts it, it’s hard to deal with a person who doesn’t talk. Well, he might be right to assume that Di Kong will be dangerous, but there’s no way he can just blast off and determined on destroying people like that. Later on, he “sweet-talks” our Princess Cruelty (more like completely destroy her ego but you know what I mean) into re-access her whole philosophy of life. Well played, dude. Thunderbolt is charging ahead in full gear now. There’s no stopping this puppet train now.