Some strong episodes and some weak ones this week, but fortunately the shows that could really be damaged by a weak link (Ping Pong, One Week Friends) came out swinging. Running them down…
Hitsugi no Chaika 6: We finally reached Toru’s first turning (Toruning) point this week. Initially, Chaika offered him exactly what he thought he wanted – a return to clear goals and violent living, where his identity as a saboteur was once again worth something. But this week, Red Chaika offered him an even better version of that deal, forcing him to make some actual decisions about who he really is. Kinda funny that I just released a post on characterization wants versus needs, because this is a pretty classic example – what Toru wants is to simply return to a time and lifestyle where he could have purpose without deeply questioning anything, but what Toru needs is to find a newself-image in a time of peace. And his original Chaika is offering him that, and subconsciously he knows that – but self-reflection and growth are tricky things that don’t come about just because you realize they’re needed. Toru’s a good guy though, and his struggle has never been an overwhelming one – he makes the forward-thinking call, and stays with the person who he actually cares about in a non-saboteur capacity.
Also, this show has way better action sequences than Kill la Kill or Fate/Zero. COME AT ME, NERDS.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders 6: This week’s greatest moment was likely when the orangutan, the first villain unable to explain his own superpowers, thoughtfully fetched a dictionary to explain his powers anyway. The narrator went ahead and explained his powers as well afterwards, but it’s nice to see villains respecting the common courtesy of Jojo-battles, even if they spend the rest of their time leering at naked children. It’s also very considerate of the narrator to elaborate on what triumphant giggles mean in orangutan-speak!
Man, there sure was a lot of naked little girl in this one, though. That was pretty creepy!
Knights of Sidonia 6: I feel like the world tells this story so much better than this story does. That’s not really meant as a slight – this show’s narrative is perfectly fine, even if the romance drama and dark council stuff is all kinda played out. It’s just that the atmosphere and sense of passive story imparted through the sets and variables of this world are so good, really – they steal the show every episode. I really liked the huge, impersonal memorial this episode – the shot as the protagonists were leaving really ground in the sense of sterility and isolation in this place. And I also liked Hoshijiro’s “it really feels like home!” contrasted against the vast, dark, empty cafeteria. While the sinister council provides a pretty on-the-nose example of that “to what lengths will humanity give up its humanity to survive” theme, I find the passive vastness and emptiness of this world to be a much stronger reflection of what these people have given up, and what they still have left.
Also, that ending! Brilliant stuff. I talked in the third episode about how this show understands that combat isn’t a series of super-awesome action scenes – it’s short and brutal and over before it begins. Well, you can’t really get much more “over before it begins” than this ending, huh? No resolution, no catharsis – you’re just left with questions and emptiness, like Tanikaze himself. A perfect choice.
Ping Pong 6: Once again Ping Pong gets a full post. This was probably my favorite episode so far, and that song sequence in the middle is going to end up one of my top anime moments of the year. What a beautiful, heartbreaking, heartwarming little show. Wenge is the best.
One Week Friends 7: This show is very dangerous. Pretty much every scene is endearing, but my favorite this week was easily the slow, rambling scene after Hase admits he thinks Fujimiya is cute. Fujimiya just sitting there in stunned, happy silence as an unrelated exchange whimsically played out before her was a lovely, very relatable detail that I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen more often. Well, not actually that surprised, considering how bad anime characters are at revealing their feelings – but it should be more common, and it was handled really well here. Nobody drew attention to it – the camera simply hung close to either Fujimiya’s face or back, letting her contented silence speak for itself. It’s kind of funny how many romcoms just basically skip the “rom” entirely, and jump characters from bickering acquaintances to lovers in maybe the last half-episode. Not so here – we’re seeing characters fall in love.
Captain Earth 7: So now Pitz dictates when the bad guys are going to attack? It’s like they’re making fun of exactly how arbitrary the actual plot of this friggin’ show is.
Yeah, I couldn’t make it through this episode. Maybe I’ll pick it back up if people say it improves, but currently it feels like it’s just wasting my time. The characters exist in a world-vacuum and aren’t even all that interesting anyway. Sorry, Captain Earth. It’s not you, it’s… wait, no, it’s totally you. Try harder!