Summer 2013 – Week 13 in Review

And so the summer ends. I really couldn’t be more burnt out on talking about anime, considering I just finished three 8+ page essays on TWGOK, Uchouten Kazoku, and Gatchaman Crowds, but I’ll at least wave my hand in the direction of final impressions.

Uchouten Kazoku 13 (END): Couldn’t really be more satisfied. This episode resolved the conflict with Soun and the question of “what is the nature of a tanuki” by tying it in with the human professor from the Friday Fellows, who abandons his Fellowsdom in order to save Mom Tanuki. His philosophy was one of the quirkier elements of the show, and it was extremely endearing to see him ultimately say, “I changed my mind! Screw you guys, I don’t need your approval!” Really satisfying end for that character – in fact, it featured really satisfying ends for almost everyone, with Benten returning to her original adopted family, Yaichiro deciding he really doesn’t have to be his dad after all, and Yajirou making me maybe cry a little bit shut up with his stuttered apology to Mom. And it was funny and fun, and Akadama-sensei blew a bunch of people into the sky, and Benten secured the Ara Ara crown with her “Oh my, a tiger” response to Yaichirou breaking the door down, and it ended with everyone making New Year’s wishes and enjoying each other’s company. This show has given us so much. There’s nothing more I could ask.

Gatchaman Crowds 12 (END): I think I summed up my mini-thoughts for this one pretty well in the episodic, so here’s that blurb:

Man, I really didn’t think this show could do it. I figured it was juggling far too many balls, and that something was bound to give – they’d simplify the conflict, they’d jury-rig an escape route, they’d focus on only a couple of the ambiguities they’d raised. But I think they nailed it. They might not have settled on an immediately practical, or possibly even feasible philosophy, but they pulled the ideas together and stood their ground on a single thematic resolution. The internet is powerful and dangerous, and most people will not naturally act in a way conducive to the most harmonious society, but given equal power and the guiding force of “social/societal fun”, great progress can be made. This doesn’t remove the necessity of leaders – people of true passion, skill, and high-mindedness will always be valuable and necessary. This also doesn’t remove the responsibility of leadership – crowdsourcing and horizontal power are no excuse for abandoning what you yourself have the power to do. But the internet’s power can really be used to update the world.

Well, at least that’s what the show thinks. And I think it articulated that argument really well, and pulled in all sorts of interesting other sub-ideas along the way, and the ride was fun and colorful, and the storytelling was smart and fast-paced and never willing to let any idea stand unquestioned.

Damn. That was a really, really excellent show.

The World God Only Knows S3 13 (END): Continuing with the streak of great endings, TWGOK’s finale basically elevated the entire show for me. It kept the focus close, forcing Keima to acknowledge the repercussions of his actions, and closed the arc with Chihiro in devastating fashion. Though the show has always been funny, this season has actually been slowly building Keima’s disillusionment with his own philosophy, and this episode really drove that home, featuring a piercing demonstration of the effects his actions have had both on others and himself. Seriously, it was pretty great.

Free! 12 (END): Free! ended in fairly appropriate fashion – with a maudlin, ham-fisted resolution to its trivial, paint-by-numbers conflict, along with some very well-animated swimming. Please try a little harder this season, KyoAni.

Monogatari S2 13Great episode! This arc is turning out just as well as I’d hoped – and I only don’t say “far better than I’d hoped” because at this point, I pretty much expect every new arc of Monogatari to be one of the best things it’s ever done. This entire season of Monogatari has blown the prior content out of the water, and though I actually really like the earlier Monogatari stuff, at this point the disparity is so vast that it feels like a Clannad/After Story situation (well, if I actually agreed with that perspective) – even if you don’t like the early stuff, it is worth suffering through for this fantastic psychological/paranormal drama, which blows almost everything else in anime out of the water. The direction is fantastic, the dialogue is great, the story is well-constructed, the character insight is brutal. This is a formidable goddamn show.

C3-bu 13 (END): I didn’t actually watch this, because apparently it was just a fanservice bonus episode. That didn’t keep me from writing a review, though – here are my thoughts on the series overall.

Attack on Titan 25 (END): Yep, finally caught up with the behemoth. I actually quite liked this last act – not only has the show finally decided to be about something (in fact, now the problem’s in theother direction – practically every third line is “but what if WE’RE the real monsters?!?”), but Armin and Jean’s character development has actually kicked in, making them fairly satisfying protagonists. Eren still sucks, though. But yeah, these last three episodes were well-paced actiony fun, and that’s really all I wanted from this show in the first place. The show overall is obviously pretty light and has plenty of issues regarding pacing, direction, and writing, but I think it pulled itself together into a solid piece of popcorn.

Hunter x Hunter 98: And then, as if to mock Titan for even attempting to have thematic depth, HxH manages in one episode to raise, question, and resolve the thematic point Titan dithered on for a good six episodes. “Yes, war is terrible. Yes, we have to do terrible things for the greater good. But that is the burden we must bear.” There. Done. Resolved. Nice work, HxH!