Not much to report – this season is very easily the best of the year, pretty much every show I’m invested in is putting out stellar episodes, and I’ve dropped almost everything I’m not enjoying. At this point, the only real hanger-on is actually Psycho-Pass – I feel kind of committed to finishing it, but I’m not really enjoying the stuff it’s doing. On the other hand, KimiUso, Bahamut, Shirobako, Parasyte – any of them could comfortably be the best show of another season, and none of them show any sign of falling apart. It’s a good time to cartoon.
KimiUso 4: Holy shit, that performance! KimiUso certainly knows how to lean completely into a climax – this week’s episode drew basically everything we’ve learned about either of these characters into that one rambling, disjointed, heart-stopping duet. It was exactly the kind of mess it had to be – Kousei struggling against himself, Kaori trying to lift him up, and everyone else watching as they stumbled through their deeply broken song and dance. You almost didn’t have to watch this one to understand the conflict of the episode – it was all there in the ways the two instruments fought against each other, in Kaori’s impatient racing and Kousei’s terrified accompaniment. And instead of just matching that performance visually, the show went wild with metaphor, showering Kousei’s fear in the same kind of florid articulation that embellishes all the dialogue. What a goddamn episode!
Amagi Brilliant Park 5: I think Amagi has finally gotten into the swing of things now. This episode was pretty much a perfect slice of adventure/comedy, and felt like it would have been completely at home in Haruhi, too. The jokes were great (I loved their biker gang weapons, Sento’s ridiculous texts, Kanye’s ‘Sento!’ gag when she fell down the hole… lot of winners here), the silly mascot faces were wonderful, and at this point I’m solidly on board with the characters. Amagi’s still a show where each episode kind of has to live or die on its own merits, but this episode was basically all merits. More of this, please.
Chaika -avenging battle- 4: This was another one of those “all the parties stumble around in the same area” episodes, kinda similar to the ending arc of last season. This episode didn’t feel particularly focused for its own sake, and was mainly there to get a bunch of characters to slightly different locations and unload the series of reveals we’ve been expecting since basically forever – Chaika’s a fake, all the Chaikas were programmed to gather remains, now Gaz’s evil mad scientist is going to steal their brains mwahahaha. Frankly, the best thing in this episode was that preview image of the two Chaikas covering each other’s mouths from next week – that’s just ridiculous. Chaika, you are ridiculous.
Sword Art Online II 17: Neither tremendously impressive nor particularly disappointing, SAO ended its filler arc in a comfortable neutral. I’d actually be perfectly okay with this being “default SAO” – when the show isn’t shooting itself in the foot with specific awful decisions, it’s a goofy and poorly written but overall perfectly watchable adventure-harem thing. Hopefully Mother Rosario doesn’t go back to the Bad Place again. And I keep reposting it, but holy shit, Kirito in this image. This is pretty close to peak Kirito:
Psycho-Pass S2 4: So I, uh, hope you like violence. My first note for this week’s episode was “HOLY SHIT HE CRUSHED A GUY’S HEAD” and it basically went ever more fucked-up from there. It reminded me of a story from Sandman, actually – a psychopath locks a group of people in a diner and then just slowly destroys them. Pretty intense stuff, I guess.
I don’t really know what to say about this episode beyond “yeah, it sure was bloody.” This season’s plot just doesn’t seem to be building that well on the ideas of the first – it’s not exploring stuff we haven’t seen, it’s just a mediocre crime thriller within this universe. Frankly, I’m not really enjoying the show at this point – I’m definitely committed to finishing this one, but it’s not because I’m ever desperate to see what happens next. Thrillers like this just aren’t really my thing unless they bring something really compelling to the table, and I’m not getting that out of Psycho-Pass right now.
Shirobako 4: Shirobako’s always been a pretty unheightened drama, but this episode in particular felt almost painfully real. That’s likely because while the conflicts of an animation studio still seem kind of glamorous and exciting from a distance, when you remove these characters from their inherently interesting jobs, they’re just young people struggling like everyone else. Aoi’s conversation with her mother about seeing her name in the credits, which segues into the inescapable “are you eating right? I’ll send you some food.” Shizuka trying to put a brave face on the fact that her plans aren’t working out, with her friends’ eager desire to celebrate her life actually making things more painful. I watched this one with one of my housemates, and both of us were kind of wincing through that entire reunion – that’s not stuff we need to discover in fiction, that’s the fear we live in. I wish more shows felt this real, or were brave enough to embrace the poignant drama of everyday living.
Log Horison S2 5: Log Horizon finally decided to get its shit together this week. The episodes up until now have been fine, but that “fine” was really just a reflection of my already middling expectations for this show. This week was actually a really good episode of anime, and I’m hoping the prelude to one of Log Horizon’s regular high-gear sequences.
Fate Stay Night 4: Aaand exposition part two. I mean, there’s no helping it – the Fate universe is just filled with a whole bunch of worldbuilding bullcrap, and at some point the audience has to be told all the various magical rules and penalties. Personally, I felt the most interesting thing in this episode was Ilya’s last line – “I will make him suffer in Kiritsugu’s place.” I’d love to hear about Ilya’s perspective on her father! I’m sure there’s quite a story there, with that likely acting as one more sad inversion of the wishes of the last generation. So far, outside of the great fight scenes, FSN’s clear highlight has been seeing the tragedies of Fate/Zero as reflected in all the children the old Masters were hoping to train or protect. I hope the show continues to play up the ways Fate/Zero’s consequences inform this narrative.
Parasyte 4: This episode was full of great stuff to comment on! Really nice to be covering a show that totally justifies its own mini-essays – hopefully whatever ANN show I pick up this winter will be equally discussion-worthy. And yeah, Parasyte is very good.
Rage of Bahamut 5: So lots of fun stuff happened this episode, but I’m sure everyone here agrees that the key point of this episode was Rita being carried around in a giant backpack. Yeah, medieval armies fighting flying behemoths is great, and sure the animation of that fight between Kaisar and Favaro was ridiculously fluid, but, c’mon. Rita in a backpack. Where can this show possibly go from here.