This week, I actually fell behind on Ping Pong, of all things. Not because I don’t have any interest in watching it – on the contrary, it was actually because of precisely what I warned myself I wouldn’t do this season. I’ve somehow found myself doing Ping Pong writeups, meaning Ping Pong tends to get pushed back until I feel like I have time to do a Ping Pong writeup, meaning Ping Pong gets neglected. And it’s so good too goddamnit this system is terrible.
Not that that’s any real excuse, considering I posted another three SAO writeups this weekend. Can’t really justify that one, huh.
Alright, enough of my moral failings. Let’s get to the shows I did watch!
Hitsugi no Chaika 9: This week’s theme was “memories,” a topic where the mechanical elements of this show handily reflect the thematic ones. As Chaika explains at the beginning, memories can actually replace magical fuel here – you can burn up your old experiences to power your vehicle, or your gun. That’s possibly a comforting thought in this war-weary world, and the show smartly spends the rest of the episode exploring the value of painful memories. Not only did this give a chance to explore Toru and Akari’s childhood and motivation, it pretty much directly laid out the importance of remembering and learning from loss and regret, an idea relevant both to these characters specifically and this world at large, a world that seems possibly headed towards yet another senseless war. The theme-illustration here obviously wasn’t on par with a show like Mushishi or Kino’s Journey, but it was handled perfectly reasonably, and we got a number of nice character moments along the way. Chaika continues to chug very confidently along.
Knights of Sidonia 9: Sidonia’s a pretty creepy place, you guys! This episode featured sentient tentacle monsters and lobotomized clone-prisoners, but for me, the one detail that stuck out was the news announcement regarding planetary emigration. The protests of those opposed to war with the Gauna have kind of been background noise for most of the show, and the Captain’s offhand solution has basically been to shuttle all the protesters away and frame it as their natural choice. It’s kind of reflective of how Sidonia itself is just one more organism in this show, and in this show, organisms are constantly evolving, pruning themselves, changing and hardening and struggling to survive. According to the perspective we’re given, Sidonia doesn’t really have the luxury of being a many-minded organism – it must be a simple, war-focused creature to survive. As Kunato bitterly remarks, soldiers don’t have regrets, and Sidonia is a soldier before it is a collection of human-esque beings.
In other news, Tanikaze’s harem grows even stronger. My feelings pretty much mirror Izana’s.
Mushishi S2 8: Not my favorite episode of Mushishi this week, but still a fine one. The visual effects of the Mushi were impressive, and the story was essentially Mushishi’s version of a coming-of-age story. A boy takes the Mushi gifts he’s been granted as something he is owed or has earned, and is punished for it. He sulks in response to this, and refuses to take responsibility for his actions – but ultimately, he is forced discard his hubris, and accept responsibility for his own actions and future. In the end, the scolding he accepts from his father as he whistles to save his mother demonstrates he’s learned that what matters is not how others perceive his actions, or whether he is rewarded for them, but whether they actually result in worthwhile action. He can’t buy respect with seashell trinkets.
Fables are fun, huh? Mushishi is pretty dang good at this stuff.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders 10: A strange cowboy-ish man with a homing revolver, an assassin Stand with mirror powers, and a supremely dramatic maybe-death for one of our brave heroes. This episode felt like Battle Tendency, and Battle Tendency feels good – it moved quickly and featured both great fights and great conversations, and there was even enough JoJo absurdity (goddamnit that pig) to still keep up that surreal JoJo edge. Hopefully this momentum keeps up!
One Week Friends 10: There’s always a strange tension in One Week Friends, and that tension’s name is Hase. Hase is kind of a jerk – he tries hard to do what he thinks he’s supposed to, but he really does want something from Fujimiya, and he’s not honest with either her or himself. That’s always basically been kind of a barely-spoken subtext of this show, but this episode made it very overt – lines like “I’m frustrated a creep like him ruined all my hard work” are all about him, and paint his friendship with Fujimiya as a “project” he almost expects compensation for. In that light, his constant pondering of whether he’s actually doing any good for her take on a much less flattering color – it’s like he’s fishing for validation, and now that Fujimiya has actually fully reset her memories, he’s no longer getting it. Hase is not a bad person, but he would be a better one if he were able to accept that he is not a perfect one. The show has tonally been fairly hands-off when it comes to his problems, letting his words and Shogo’s responses to them basically speak for themselves, but I’m happy to see that his problems are gaining as much prominence as Fujimiya’s as we approach the ending. He can’t help his friends until he learns to treat them like friends, and to do that he’s going to first have to deal with himself.
…is all what I’m hoping this show is actually doing. Reaaally hoping this show is that smart, and doesn’t just unreservedly agree with Hase’s choices. Reading comments on this show, where people are basically just hating on Hajime and moaning about how hard things are for Hase, is frankly kind of dispiriting – it’d be a shame if the show itself also lacked real self-awareness.