Fell behind on basically everything this week because of Anime Boston, so I’m struggling to catch up as fast as I can. Of what I have watched, well…
Kill la Kill 23: Another reasonable episode this week, propped up by a hell of a lot of beautiful frames and some legitimately solid work in concluding Ryuuko and Satsuki’s arcs. As I said last week, they kind of had to shoehorn in an arc for Satsuki, but Ryuuko’s actions this week were actually well-chosen – she ended up concocting a plan that required her to play dead and then ignore her mother completely, pretty handily demonstrating she’s gained a little self-awareness and self-control. That was pretty satisfying to see, and the rest of the episode did what Kill la Kill always does best – beautiful, ridiculous spectacle. This show’s lack of any real thematic weight and uneven character work is kind of dampening my ability to care about the stuff happening, but it’s certainly happening as hard as it possibly can.
Actually, let’s dig into that a little bit more, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about on my own a lot recently. I don’t care about Kill la Kill. I think its ideas are slapdash and irreverent to the point of almost mocking the idea of thematic coherence, I think its narrative structure basically fell apart in the second half, I think it’s full of cheap, meaningless fanservice, and I think all of its characters are simplistic and often inconsistent devices. I actually kind of wanted Ryuuko to die this episode, because I think she’s both a bad character and an unpleasant person. And while I can applaud the visual execution, how much can I say that’s really worth in the absence of any investment? I mean, it is an aesthetically impressive show – its direction is excellent, its aesthetic is distinctive, its music and shot-to-shot pacing are top notch. I’m stuck in the position of wondering how to evaluate a show that’s good at basically everything I don’t care about and none of the things I do. What number do I assign that?
Samurai Flamenco 21: “But once evil was gone, there wasn’t a need for Samurai Flamenco anymore.” Untrue. Absolutely untrue. And that’s the whole point of the show, really. We don’t need heroes to vanquish evil. Evil’s a constant, evil’s a part of us, evil’s a fact of life. No, we need heroes because we need heroes – we need people we can absolutely believe in, to inspire us and make us strong. We need role models, we need champions, we need targets of love and faith and obsession and hope. We need to feel there is something greater than us, something that will never give up, never surrender, never die, never accept evil. As children we may want to become this thing, but even as adults we know faith is real. It’s powerful and dangerous, but also inescapable and capable of great things.
Sorry, at this point, pretty much every episode of Flamenco has me furiously drafting my upcoming review. It’s ending so well! Completely astounded that Flamenco actually found a way to tie all its concepts together.
Sekai Seifuku 11: Another great episode in what’s now apparently just Sekai Seifuku’s default mode – whimsical, melancholy, endlessly endearing family drama. This episode drew all sorts of direct, piercing parallels between the leadership styles of Kate and Asuta’s father, and the ending proved the worth of Kate’s system – Asuta finally found the confidence to seek out who he really is in the company of those who accept him. All the stuff about masks and identity has really boiled down to another reflection of what family really means – you don’t need a mask with your family, because they love you for who you are. This has always been the Winter ’14 show with the greatest potential, and seeing that potential realized has been a real treat.
Log Horizon 25 (COMPLETE): For a finale that was really more of a second season bait, this episode was actually surprisingly satisfying. Even more surprising for the fact that the conflict brewing over the last two episodes just kind of fizzled in the first five minutes, with the rest of the first half being dedicated to romantic drama that clearly won’t pay off until whenever the series decides to start wrapping up. Yeah, it was all the second half here – Shiroe’s confrontation with the ruler of the West was a satisfying climax to his season-long quest for purpose that featured Log Horizon’s writer at his socially-focused, cynical best while providing ample bait for future conflicts. There’ve been weak stretches throughout, the production has rarely been more than serviceable, and the writing has clear strengths and weaknesses, but Log Horizon was an enjoyable ride that I’ll be happy to see coming back. Solid 6/10.
Space Dandy 12: Normally, when I don’t like a Space Dandy, I can at least say “well, that was probably fun for the visual people.” This episode wasn’t visually impressive, and really just felt like a mediocre western daytime cartoon, so… yeah, not the best.