Well, let’s get to it. Last week’s episode was easily the best episode of the season to date, but everything else has really stepped it up this week – Kill la Kill, Samurai Flamenco, and Space Dandy all hit very surprising, very encouraging high notes. Will Sekai Seifuku stay ahead of the pack? Stay tuned.
Alright, that’s a kind of crap introduction. In all seriousness, last week’s episode demonstrated some very specific, very important strengths. What were they?
First, that the show’s sense of humor isn’t limited to sitting on a silly premise and some gags – it actually used the premise for satirical ends far sharper and far funnier than anything we’ve seen yet. It wasn’t content to coast on its premise, it actually explored it in a smart, interesting way.
Second, that the show really, really knows how to use the episodic format well. The episode had a theme and story of all of its own, but it also understood the importance of its place in a larger narrative – it provided a great deal of relevant backstory regarding Yasu, Gorou, and Kate even as it went about illustrating its own standalone fable.
And finally, that this show is actually about things. The first two episodes were enjoyable on their own and demonstrated the potential for interesting ideas – number three saw that potential fully, smartly realized. It was a story about the dangers of extremism and the importance of empathizing with even those you disagree with, and its final verdict was we are not very good at doing that. This show’s got bite, and its ostensibly silly premise is ripe for more such angry statements. I’m eager to see what it says next.
There we go. Alright, let’s get to this.
0:22 – I’m gonna choose to interpret this as more cute than creepy. And the whole room’s another nice indicator of the wild disconnect between the family of Kate the girl and the subordinates of Venera the Great
0:29 – Now that’s interesting. A room that’s basically just a cell for sleeping in. Is it an indicator of her spartan ideals? Not likely. A sign that she doesn’t value either possessions or time alone? Possibly. Or it could be something else entirely. But it clearly doesn’t mean nothing
1:37 – Well this is looking like a demented origin story. And we’re getting a contrast between two worlds again, here – the mundane, disappointing real world, and the fanciful imagined worlds of childhood. Which is another great way of interpreting the events of episode 3, or this show in general – the disconnect between the idealistic, black-and-white values of childhood and the nuance we must acknowledge in order to engage with the real world
1:39 – Right, of course. Just like only children could believe you can actually change the world
1:46 – Man, it is demented for them to be presenting ideas like this immediately after the madness of the last episode. Normally, this is a positive message – “we have to believe in something beyond this grim reality,” “cynicality only brings us down,” etc. But of course last episode presented the awful downside of ideals, where a refusal to engage with the nuanced reality of a situation and a belief in lofty, arbitrary ideals ended up causing widespread suffering. Believing in something can result in an even more dangerous disengagement from the world than believing in nothing
5:07 – They really nailed the way kids talk, or at least Kate’s specific kind of kid. She never just thinks things, she’sabsolutely certain of them!
5:27 – Nice design for this area
5:57 – Kaaate yesss
6;28 – Why employ one evil omen when you can use a herd of them? The Utena school of self-mocking symbolism
6:31 – The towel is a nice touch. So many tiny gags in this show
7:36 – Yes of course
8:05 – I was gonna say “it’s like they’ve designed an adventure for kids” and then of course the show does this
8:47 – So now we’re dungeon crawling. Good thing Dva brought his goggles and sword!
8:58 – I like how Asuta’s excited, but Kate and Natasha are all “meh, vendor trash”
9:00 – Wow Asuta sucks
10:03 – And that’s two down. Wonder what the silly reveal will be
11:51 – That’s the power of youth – passion and ideas without the tempering influence of age and experience. It can accomplish great things, and challenge ideas that adults consider set in stone, but it’s a wild, dangerous force. It’s why Kate isn’t just the one who will change the world, but is also the only one who can
12:16 – Like truth and justice!
13:13 – Oh god. This is what we get for trusting grown-ups
14:37 – What a strange, vague story. Gonna have to think about that one
15:00 – Another lost child. With the solidity of her parents gone, Kate is something new to believe in
15:15 – Yeah, there’s the key line. Maybe we didn’t need to see anything beyond “stop playing with those toys and go outside” – the moment her parents lost faith in her was the moment she was left in the darkness. But Kate believes in them with the certainty of a child’s love. Natasha even gets to be one of the leaders!
I like how all Kate’s lines here basically read as chuuni scene direction, too. “Now we’re being attacked by a dragon! Duck!”
17:44 – Her parents, her memories, or what her parents thought of her? This song is perfect
Well, sorry I didn’t make comments throughout those last minutes. Here are some of the moments I felt inclined to pause at, but didn’t because I was actually kinda tearing up a bit. That was a very, very effective conclusion to Natasha’s little story – unlike last week’s episode, this one fell entirely on the optimistic side of their little family. The importance of people who believe in you, and people you can believe in – the importance of home. That shot of Natasha thoughtfully staring at the cinders of her painful memories – that shot of Kate looking back and smiling as they surge towards the bright future she’s promised them.
That was a very good episode. I’m liking this show more and more.