Look at this rabbit in my hand. See the rabbit? Surprise! It’s actually a turtle.
Pretty impressive, huh?
Alright, maybe that one didn’t work on you. How about this one. Look at this character – she’s just a mild-mannered high school student, right? Surprise! She’s actually an evil wizard.
Still nothing? Hm.
Okay, one more. Look at this upbeat, slice of life story. Got a good picture of it? Surprise! It’s actually a dystopian sci-fi drama.
Alright, you get the picture. Let’s talk about plot twists.
Shinichi found some new friends this week, and then set off to murder an old one. Parasyte’s pretty much just a smart thriller with very high-quality ingredients at the moment – its ideas are always simmering, but the base dynamics of its narrative and the way it keeps intelligently introducing new variables are what keep it engaging episode to episode. It’s a fine thing to see.
There was no Rage of Bahamut this week, but everything else kept up the year-saving tempo. KimiUso exchanged last week’s animation showcase for a more subdued but equally impressive character-focused episode, Shirobako gave us moe animation tsunderes, and Amagi pulled off another Haruhi-style triumph. But the real surprise this week was Sword Art Online – following on the heels of a fairly pointless filler arc and tedious exposition episode, SAO pulled out what was quite possibly its best episode of all time, and almost definitely its best fight of all time. Even if you don’t watch SAO, I might still recommend just checking out the second half of that episode if you enjoy fight scenes – the direction and animation were all kinds of impressive this time. You did good, Sword Art.
Anyway. Let’s run down the week!
So this episode was one part reasonable character drama in the real world, one part possibly the best fight scene SAO’s ever had. I figured last week’s exposition-fest meant the show was holding back, but damn. The show’s already inherently better when it’s not revolving around Kirito, but this episode really did bring its own strengths to the table - for once, I have basically nothing bad to say about it. I know the good times never really last, but I wouldn’t be watching friggin’ SAO if I weren’t eternally optimistic. Please hold together, Mother’s Rosario!
Training montage time! We’re still on the Akatsuki/Lenessia narrative, which is finally kicking into character-development overdrive. I felt Akatsuki’s stuff was a little overplayed this episode, but really liked the Lenessia bits… but this is me, so you really shouldn’t trust anything I say about Lenessia and Log Horizon. What with all the narrative-tidying the flavor text reveal managed this week, it’s looking like all the pieces are in place to wrap this story up next time. Bring on the fight scenes!
In other news, this guy’s shirt:
Parasyte’s obviously been a solid show all this season, but it somehow felt like this episode was the moment when it really kicked into high gear. The pacing has accelerated, Migi and Shinichi’s relationship is gaining complexity, and Shinichi himself is becoming a more ambiguous and compelling character. Even the music was good for once! Hopefully the show maintains this standard going forward.
It’s that time again! Forget earnest textual critique, emotional reflection, or thematic exploration, it’s time to PUT SHIT IN A LIST WOOOO. This season has offered us a ridiculous bounty of shows, and I’ve responded in kind by ruthlessly punishing anything that fails to continuously dazzle my senses. I dropped Garo, I dropped Grisaia, I dropped Inou Battle… at this point, it’s pretty likely I’m even dropping Psycho-Pass (I’ve stalled on watching the latest episode, so I left it off the list). In spite of that, this season continues to offer a hefty pile of top-tier shows, all of them jockeying for that storied number one spot. Who gets the spot? Why, it’s motherfuckin