With two more shows dropped this week, it’s looking like I’m finally approaching some kind of sustainable schedule. Thursdays are still goddamn ridiculous, and who knows if I’ll ever catch up on Mushishi, but the weekend is starting to look kind of manageable at this point. All the shows I’m most enjoying are still extremely impressive – Shirobako, KimiUso, FSN, and Bahamut all put out possibly their best episodes this week, and Parasyte held pretty steady. Let’s run them down!
Fate/stay night 3: Christ, this show sure is a lot of fun when it’s fight time, huh? That was one goddamn entertaining block of television.
Fate just looks so fucking expensive. The CG sheen they lather on everything, all the extra visual frills – ufotable’s big setpieces always run like luxury cars, with plenty of flair even if they’re kind of hollow. And I think they’re getting better about that! Fate/Zero’s fights felt poorly choreographed and overly floaty to me, but the clashes in this episode had weight. Speed. It’s kinda hard to convey power that surpasses what people can visually follow, but this episode did an admirable job – watching Berserker toss Saber around like a rag doll was terrifying, gripping stuff. It’s almost a shame the show can’t do this all the time.
Actually, there’s no “almost” to that. If Fate/stay night were just 50% awesome battles and 50% Rin and Archer hanging out, it would clearly be a perfect show.
Chaika -avenging battle- 3: Episodes like this make me pretty happy I’m not covering Chaika for ANN. It was just “a Chaika episode” – the characters rambled around the countryside, Chaika acted adorable on the seashore, and then they found a Gaz relic. This episode’s positive detail was Chaika’s personality shift – it’s nice seeing her come to value her own identity more than her mission, something that works well both for her arc and for the show’s themes. This episode’s negative detail was, unfortunately, kind of a doozie – Toru’s “fine, if you don’t want our help, we’re leaving” felt completely unearned and out of character. I get the feeling this is the kind of moment that was slowly built up to across the light novels, but in the show, we’ve had virtually no indication of any growing frustration with Toru – there were a couple dismissals of her desire to visit the island, but nothing that would make this seem like any more than a plot contrivance. Toru picked up the idiot ball in order for the group to be arbitrarily separated, making the drama in this episode’s final act feel wincingly artificial. It’s a shame, but eh, I’m not expecting Shakespeare from Chaika Yes Chaika.
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace 4: Yeah, I’m done with this show. The first segment here, when they were all putting on cosplay outfits, instantly made me think “welp, they gotta fill that airtime somehow.” Not a good place to be! Like with last week’s episode, the ultimate emotional moments of this week’s dramatic conflict were actually handled very well – but the show just isn’t funny, and so every episode feels like fifteen minutes of padding surrounding five minutes of well-realized personal drama. In a season this good, that is not good enough.
Shirobako 3: This show is just a joy. The production almost stalled out this week – their choice to redo episode four’s key moment ended in terrible crunch for everyone involved, along with Aoi briefly losing her mind. It’s amazing how light this show manages to feel despite its extreme density – even though it’s thrown close to thirty characters at us, the episode bounces along by maintaining the focus on whatever’s relevant to Aoi at any exact moment, and working hard to make sure the audience understands the stakes and most relevant conflicts.
And the cast is so damn likable, too! From the episode director bargaining with Aoi for more time to sleep, to the general manager collapsing when they learn about the server shut-down, everybody here just radiates personality. Shirobako is just brimming with tiny, endearing details – the AD enjoying a moment at home with his son, the episode director attempting to stopwatch-time a silly Arupin reaction, the fact that every single character has their own distinctive “goddamnit Tarou” face. Everything about Shirobako feels passionate, and the overall production is just cheery and likable even when everything’s falling apart.
Amagi Brilliant Park 4: Amagi seems to be settling into a solid but unremarkable neutral. Its characters aren’t terribly unique, but the show knows how to articulate backstory and character development. Its jokes don’t always land, but the cast is endearing enough to get away with that. And the show isn’t moving forward that quickly, but its top-notch aesthetics make for reasonably engaging heel-dragging anyway. It’s a very high quality team turning in an adequate job – and if that sounds like damning with faint praise, that’s intentional. KyoAni have done better, but Amagi’s a reasonable show.
KimiUso 3: I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but so far it hasn’t happened. Romances have a tendency to fall apart in my arms – either all their potential will evaporate immediately (Golden Time) or they’ll squander what gifts they have through drama-circles and too-conservative plotting (NagiAsu). So far, KimiUso’s threading the needle – everything it does is engaging, its characters are bouncing off each other extremely well, and it’s actually moving. Moving incredibly fast, in fact – I really didn’t expect the two leads to already be tied into a performance together by the third episode! The animation remains solid, the direction is very strong (I particularly liked how they depicted the scene of Kaori getting off at the hospital), and this episode’s dramatic finale really, really worked for me. It could fall apart at any moment, but it definitely hasn’t fallen apart yet.
Log Horizon S2 4: This week on Log Horizon, nothing fucking happened.
Sword Art Online S2 16: This week on Sword Art Online, stuff actually happened!
The Fruit of Grisaia 4: Every episode of Grisaia is about sixty percent this, thirty percent this, and ten percent this. Fortunately, I actually found myself too bored to finish this episode, so it’s looking like my inexplicable fascination with Grisaia has ended. FREE AT LAST.
Parasyte 3: My actual writeup for ANN this week covered all three episodes of Parasyte so far, but this week in particular didn’t really change what I like about this show. There were some nice individual details here – the contrast between what type of “animal” each of the players here (Shinichi, Migi, the teacher, A-san) are plays nicely into the food-chain messages we’re digging at, and seeing Migi and Shinichi working together is pretty great. It’s honestly been long enough since I’ve read the manga that I can’t really remember it that well, but I’m guessing this show will just get better and better as Shinichi and Migi start to actually learn from each other.
Rage of Bahamut 4: What do you even say about an episode like this. “Today in Bahamut, Favaro and Amira attempt to cross the ocean, but their ship is attacked by a giant enemy crab. Soon after, their boat is taken over by evil mermen, but then Kaisar and Rita crash a shipful of zombie pirates into them. Favaro duels the demon merman captain on a tightrope, and then Amira and Kaisar are electrocuted and dragged into the sky by a giant tentacle.”
WHAT IS THIS SHOW. “Basically perfect,” I guess? It’s holding pretty close to “the best possible riff on Hollywood adventure movies,” and at this point actually outdoing, or at the very least matching, a lot of the classic films it’s paying tribute to. Last week was a perfect little zombie movie, this week was a perfect high-seas adventure, and it’s anyone’s guess what next week will bring. And it’s not even just “a bunch of random cool stuff happening” – the plotting of this show actually makes sense, and Bahamut is still careful to keep elaborating its characters and moving the pieces forward even as it somehow arrives at setpieces like “zombies and mermen tumble into the sea while demon captain is devoured by giant crab.” Bahamut is a hell of a thing.