Not the most impressive week in anime, but Ping Pong was so damn good that it doesn’t really matter. JoJo also pulled off a stellar episode this week, and Chaika at least promised a great upcoming episode, so I can’t really complain. I guess I’m mainly just annoyed that One Week Friends has fallen apart.
Now that I’ve told you about my week in anime, I guess I should tell you about my week in anime.
Hitsugi no Chaika 10: This episode was pretty much pure plot, which doesn’t give me much to talk about. But it was certainly entertaining to watch! Some nice action sequences, a serious escalation of the building conflict, and a multi-pronged cliffhanger for next week’s possible first act climax. Looks like the episodic adventures have come to an end.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure 11: I was hoping this week’s episode would keep up the momentum, and I wasn’t disappointed – Jojo spent no time mourning the loss of Avdol, and instead sped ahead into a showdown with the mirror-master, Centerfold. This felt like classic Jojo – two very silly heroes pinned against absurd odds, surviving through clever tricks like kicking dust in the eyes of children. It was nice to see Kakyoin get great moments of both heroism and ridiculousness – I loved his daring rescue of Polnareff, directly followed by an elbow to the face that RESTORED THEIR FRIENDSHIP RAHHH MACHISMO YEAH. We also found a successor to “your next line will be” in the “My name is Inigo Montoya” speeches given by both our heroes, and the episode overall found a great balance of action and comedy. I was fairly sure Avdol’s fire-bird avatar meant he’d be phoenixing himself back to life this episode, but maybe he’s actually dead? I’m pretty okay with that – Avdol was definitely the least interesting of our protagonists, and it seemed unlikely he’d top the “Avdol, say something” moment Jotaro handed him back in Shark Week. Onward to Egypt!
Knights of Sidonia 10: This week’s episode began by somewhat surreally threatening to be a double date haunted house episode, which I frankly have to applaud Sidonia for implying in the context of a space opera focused largely on transhumanism. Fortunately, Tanikaze’s suitors were promptly drugged and stolen away, and the show proceeded to drop a pretty serious truth-bomb – the Gauna actually attack Sidonia because they are drawn to the radiation produced by its anti-Gauna weapons. That’s kind of a big deal! It certainly lends some credence to the demilitarization faction, at least.
Aside from that, this episode mainly introduced a big new weapon and had Tanikaze use it to save the settlers in the nick of time, which wasn’t the most exciting conflict, but it also featured some reasonably effective Izana moments. Izana seems to be the one member of the central cast that doesn’t truly buy into the narrative as presented – s/he (not really sure what pronoun I should use) actually sees the settlers’ choice as potentially idyllic, and is terrified of becoming a pilot and being ground up by Sidonia’s “survival at all costs” human-military apparatus. That’s a fairly compelling conflict, so I hope Izana survives long enough for it to actually amount to something!
Mushishi S2 9: A simple story this time, one about parents and children, and the lies we tell for the people we love. It’s interesting to contrast this one with the cursed arm story from earlier in this season – that story was very directly about how issues like domestic abuse are passed down through a family, and the sins of the old generation recreate themselves in the new. Here, the parents choose to sacrifice and lie to their child out of love, but the result is nearly the same – their son grows into a man who sacrifices of himself for his family, no matter what their own wishes may be. And even learning the truth of this does not change him – as his mother sacrificed for him, so is he willing to sacrifice in turn. Of course, his presence in the epilogue seems to imply that perhaps compromise isn’t out of the question – perhaps his father managed to convince him to take the purge, and protected him one last time.
This wasn’t the most graceful episode, I have to say – the Mushi were mainly just a supernatural instigator to get the story moving (though their lifecycle does neatly mirror the cycle of parental choices being passed on to children), and the story didn’t contain the multiple levels of thematic reflection that the series’ best episodes do. It was still a fair enough episode, though – it’s just that episodes like the rainbow chase and the seashell birds kind of spoil us.
One Week Friends 11: Kinda seems like Hase turns back into his first-few-episodes self when he’s not around Fujimiya. His conversations with Kujo this week were really refreshing – he was blunt, actually kind of perceptive, and totally upbeat/earnest.
Unfortunately, Hase’s conversations with Fujimiya were just… not. He’s sullen, selfish, dishonest – he’s making problems where they don’t exist, and not trusting Fujimiya to be honest and pull her own weight in the friendship. It’s aggravating to watch, at this point – he’s always been kind of a jerk, but the show’s just coddling him in his problems. He needs to trust in order to grow, and right now, he clearly doesn’t trust Fujimiya.
This show’s definitely had wheel-spinning issues for a while now, but Hase himself is a much more fundamental problem, and at the moment I’m not sure how it could end in a way that would fix that. “Avoiding telling Fujimiya the truth and isolating her for what you assume to be her own benefit” is not where I was hoping this show would go for a final conflict. I optimistically theorized last week that this show was actually aware of how fundamentally problematic Hase’s attitudes are… well, it seems like that’s just not the case. And he’s being such a shitty person that I’m just not interested in seeing the show pretend to “redeem” him.
Ping Pong 10: Holy shit was this episode good. Kazama has easily been as central to this show’s narrative as anyone, and the resolution of his ping pong philosophy was a joy to behold. I am very happy with my post on this one.