Summer 2013 – Week 7 in Review

Management: I think a lot of people find this format more friendly/useful than the timestamp writeups, and I write these things either way, so I think I’ll be posting them here going forward. Also, feel free to let me know anything you’d like more of in the comments.

This week was so good. My top two shows for this season are swiftly becoming two of my all-time favorites, and both of them had fantastic turns this week that seemed to indicate a honing of focus for the second half. Those first:

Uchouten Kazoku 7: This episode got me right in the gut. It started off extremely strong, with one last beautiful Benten vignette before returning the focus to the brothers. But the key here was the ending. This whole episode, the perspective shifted subtly but in a crucial way – while Yasaburou was still prominent, the focus this week was on illuminating the various sides of his put-upon older brother, Yaichirou. Seeing the contrast in his behavior towards the professor (calm, deferential), his rivals (confident, authoritative), and his brothers (childish, honest) really drove home the fact that his family is the one thing he truly relies on and lowers his guard towards. Which made the final scene, when his brother confessed to his role in their father’s death, absolutely heartbreaking. Yaichirou starts off essentially begging his brother to be innocent, and falls apart with a cry and collapse when he is let down. Right now, the political issues are secondary – this is Yaichirou realizing the one thing he trusts cannot be relied on. In a narrative sense, this moment clearly points towards what conflicts will cloud the second half of this show. But in its own context, it is one more incredibly personal and relatable moment in a show absolutely brimming with them, and its tragedy does nothing to diminish its beauty.

God, I hope this show maintains this quality to the end. So far I think it’s a goddamn masterpiece.

Gatchaman Crowds 6: Not to be outdone (by much, seriously, that Kazoku episode killed me), Gatchaman Crowds pulled out all the stops this week. The cliffhanger meeting from last week was delayed only so the existence of Gatchamen could become public knowledge, and the repercussions of this were as predictable as they were awesome. While the Gatchamen went to ground, Rui was forced to act – the existence of actual superheroes would throw a serious wrench in his “everyone’s a hero, no-one’s a hero” master plan. And so he arranges a meeting with Hajime through a fun set piece demonstrating the power of GALAX, ending with a clash where Hajime takes all of five minutes to acknowledge, question, and dismantle Rui’s philosophy. Hajime ain’t nothing to fuck with. Sugane and Hajime’s relationship also progressed this episode, with Sugane finally getting it through his thick skull that Hajime is far smarter than any of them. This show is heating up.

Monogatari S2 6: It sure is tough being the first seed in a season with two of the best dark horses in recent history. This episode of Monogatari got a bit too indulgent and pointlessly Isin-ish in the first half, but the second half was a lot of fun. Shinobu’s lack of fucks regarding the dynamics of time travel, and Araragi’s extremely valid and well-thought-out concerns (which he only mentions after the fact, of course, because at the time a girl had said she needed his help), made for an extremely entertaining ride. These two have one of my favorite dynamics in the show, and sending them off on a buddy cop time travel story promises all kinds of great shenanigans.

Free! 7: Thank god. Last week’s slice of life tedium feels thoroughly behind us, because this week saw a new episode director (the one behind K-On and Tamako Market, surprisingly) inject a massive infusion of visual distinction and purpose into the proceedings. Great direction and cinematography throughout this week, and virtually everything that happened was purposeful. This show’s narrative is absolute pap, but good direction can make almost anything compelling, and this episode proved that. Nice work, Free.

TWGOK S3 7: One of the funniest episodes yet for TWGOK, with this episode attempting to pull a double-booked-date double-seduction hat trick (yes, I know a hat trick involves three things, shut up). Not much else to say – last week disappointed me because it played the romantic scenario too straight, and this week bashed two or three romantic scenarios together at the same time, with Keima continuously ratcheting up his ambition despite barely being able to stand. This is comedy I can get behind.

C3-bu 7: Eh, I’m just enjoying this show for what it is at this point. This episode was pleasant, and the characters were pleasant, and the pacing was pleasant. Yura slowly becoming a moesoft tyrant is pretty great, and her characterization is well-realized. It’s a show with middling ambitions that pretty much always hits the mark.

Hunter x Hunter 93: This show is so great. This week transitioned from a tyrannical genetic mutant establishing a human meat farm to… a teenage boy tailing his friend on a date to watch out for any funny business. And it worked. It always works. I don’t know how they do it, but this show is fun and fast-paced and well-directed and full of creative ideas or great twists on old ones every single time.

So yeah. Almost everything was excellent this week. No complaints from me.