Spring 2015 – Week 8 in Review

Holy crap did this week have some peaks. God damn. Not all the episodes here were great, but the ones that were… I’d be surprised and ecstatic to see Oregairu and Euphonium’s episodes here somehow be challenged for positions in the top 5 episodes of the year. They were both just That Good – that full of everything that makes their respective series great, and that satisfying as a realization of everything that had come before. Those two episodes were stunning, and I feel lucky to be watching two shows that good in the same season.

Anyway, some other episodes came out too, I guess. Let’s run ’em down!

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders 44: We got a slice of everything in this week’s JoJo. The show opened with the cruel trick of taking back last week’s cliffhanger, only to have Iggy take the fall instead. This was tragic, because Iggy’s awesome, but at least it meant we got two goddamn Iggy death montages in one season. And friggin’ Polnareff finally got a truly badass moment at the end of Vanilla Ice’s fight, with his well-earned ‘go to hell’ being one of the more satisfying moments of Stardust Crusaders. This was a long, exciting, and well-composed fight, and the ending was just as satisfying as the rest of it.

The episode then jumped focus over to Suzy Q, where we got what may be the last home team update before the finale. And then we got a very silly “fight” with the core JoJos, with Jotaro’s “that’s right, we’re friends… of justice, that is” just once again proving he’s the most entertaining asshole you could hope for. Even in the final moments, we’re getting a great mix of action, comedy, and drama here. Stardust Crusaders is on one crazy roll.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure


Holy crap was this an episode. One half stern, laser-focused critique by Sensei, one half deafening catharsis as Hachiman finally lets his friends and, most importantly, himself in on his feelings. This is the truth he’s been running around, the truth so many people spend so much of their lives running around, the insecurity that leads him to construct a false castle of assumed security and objectivity. This was so good.

His life won’t entirely change from here on out, of course. He’s still the same person he was before – no one changes personalities because they learn something new, just like no one can understand others just because they want to. But god is it ever a relief to see this. Things should get better, in some ways. And he has at least admitted that he cares to the people he needs the most. Watching this episode was the best kind of exhausting. I am content.


Blood Blockade Battlefront 8: Another slightly lesser episode of BBB this week, mainly because Zapp’s just not the most compelling member of the cast. It was still a lot of fun, though and once again demonstrated the show’s confidence in the things it does best. The brief battle sequence with K.K. and Steven was excellent, full of nice visual details and sweet impact frames, and Zapp’s master was a fine riff on the heartless, withered sensei formula. I also liked how mirrors and reflections were made a constant theme throughout this episode, starting from a very stark reflection of K.K. in a car window, continuing through K.K. and Steven shouting “mirrors” in order to discover the vampire, and finally reaching their most clear articulation in the reveal that Black’s evil self is actually a reflection sharing his body. Additionally, the sequence where Black took on this burden was deliberately set up to reflect the scene from the beginning of the overall show, when Leo gained his own power. Some parts of this show are very loud, but every episode also demonstrates nice elements of understated core storytelling. Practiced energy, earned confidence.

Blood Blockade Battlefront

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 8: Hot springs episode! You guys have seen hot springs episodes, right?

Good. Then you’ve seen this episode.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

Sound! Euphonium 8: Aaand somehow ably matching Oregairu’s staggering peak, Euphonium gracefully pulled off one of the best episodes Kyoto Animation has ever conceived. Pretty much every element of this episode was wonderful, and the Hazuki conflict would have been the well-earned highlight of a lesser episode, but holy god damn that Kousaka-Kumiko sequence. Just… just incredible. Beautiful, perfectly paced, brilliantly written, featuring stellar voice acting work and ungodly animation, just a staggering extension of their relationship. That sequence was like, “I’ll give you the stars” good. That was a masterpiece.

Sound! Euphonium

Ore Monogatari!! 7: Ore Monogatari’s settled into a pretty comfortable neutral at this point – the relationships are stable and endearing, so this episode just spent a vignette demonstrating what it’s like when the two lovebirds have to spend a little time apart. The result was pretty much what you’d expect: Yamato spent a little time feeling insecure, Takeo spent a little time being dense, but overall the experience just brought them even closer. I’m regularly frustrated with how Takeo often exemplifies classic “I’ll take care of you” male shoujo tropes, but I couldn’t say enough good things about how Yamato is just totally earnest about liking Takeo in both an emotional and (maybe especially) physical way. It’s really nice to see an anime heroine who admits she finds her boyfriend really hot! This episode had a lot of fun with that, with Yamato acting consistently flustered at Takeo’s manly actions, which resulted in a lot of silly faces and just very relatable moments. Ore Monogatari’s chugging unassumingly but consistently along.

Ore Monogatari!!

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 20: The first half of this episode was pretty great! Really, really dynamic and well-composed fight, a nice final scene with Lancer, and even some decent elaborations on the nuances of the Archer-Shirou situation. Then… well, then it regressed back into Archer shouting a combination of wincingly cheesy and repetitive things at Shirou, followed by Shirou Finding The Resolve To Fight. I really wish this show had actually earned the emotional peaks it was striving for this week, because not only was the execution pretty dramatic, but there are also just some compelling core ideas going on here. Unfortunately, this show is not that show. That said, I took a bunch of notes this week, and it’s only in the second half that I really get frustrated, so let’s take a journey into my emotional progression across the episode:

Unlimited Blade Works

Yeaaah, Lancer holding it together to kill Kotomine! The strength to follow your ideals past the limit!

Which is nice. It’s nice that Archer’s belief is sustaining him past his magical energy even as he tries to discourage Shirou, and it’s nice that Lancer matches this

And Lancer’s just great

This really isn’t much of a death for Kotomine relative to his position in the narrative, though. Another place where this isn’t really a graceful sequel to Zero. It’s an awkward fit

Doubly so because this has become so much more Shirou’s story than anyone else’s. Which is one of the core problems of this story in general, as an anime

Hurray, more creepy sexual threat Shinji. Great stuff, this story

And Lancer picks Shinji up by the head and chucks him again. Good times

Oooh, really good animation!

Awesome smears. Great sense of dynamic motion to the bodies – they feel “more real than real,” the kind of exaggerated motions that instill a sense of momentum that makes animation SO GODDAMN GREAT

Holy crap, the direction is so good too. Great shot transitions, great pacing of the fight, great jumps all around. Using a mix of the closeups, big battle shots, and shots of the internal elements of the blades. FUN STUFF

“Keep talking tough. I’ll catch up to you soon enough.” Archer could kill Shirou if he really wanted to. But it seems like he’s training him. Which is actually a really inspiring message, when you get down to it

“What don’t I understand?” “THAT YOU EVER HAD THE SLIGHTEST CHANCE OF WINNING.” God, the “heroic” dialogue is so fucking cheesy. And yet the personal stuff can be pretty good! It’s weird – this story is renowned for things it’s terrible at, and under-discussed regarding things it’s actually pretty good at

“I don’t feel sorry for him” (Shirou tries to convince himself) “But when I feel that my feet will be taking me down his path, it feels like my heart will break”

“Judging by your face, THAT PATHETIC EXPRESSION THAT SAYS YOU’RE ABOUT TO VOMIT, you saw it, didn’t you?” It’s like the show is determined to outdo its own bad dialogue every episode

Unlimited Blade Works

“Dying because of some dumb order comes with being a heroic spirit.” Lancer is great

Pretty much every other character has basically excused themselves from this story, huh. Even Rin’s just monologuing thoughts on Archer

“I’m not the one to save him… because I agree with him.” It’s only Shirou’s irrational hope that can save him

“A fake person like you is a mistake. There is no point in such a person living.” Nice how this strikes directly back at Kiritsugu’s choices – that there has to be a point in Shirou living

And now Archer’s just doing another slow speech about how Shirou is just taking another’s ideals. Haven’t we heard this all series long?

“Hypocrisy like that can’t save anyone. No… you never knew what you ought to save.” GAWD this is bad. Archer, you hurt this show so much

This arc has managed to make the awesome Archer-Shirou concept boring and emotionally sterile

And the epic music comes in. I guess this part is supposed to be dramatic? They keep saying the same stuff, though

And Saber’s scabbard protects Shirou! Okay

“Just because you’re correct doesn’t mean you’re right.” Fine Shirou. You know what… fine.

“I’ll destroy the me that is you!” How did it come to this. I have made terrible life choices

19 thoughts on “Spring 2015 – Week 8 in Review

  1. This was quite a week! I agree with you on Euph and OreGairu. Simply brilliant episodes. KyoAni proving again that they are masters of small character moments. And those backgrounds!
    But I kind of liked this Fate episode aswell (even the second half, maybe just because the last 2 or 3 weeks were really dull). I just wish Archer would talk much less… Atleast this was a nice step up and I hope we finish strong (please…).

  2. This season of oregairu is so good. I’m surprised by how many Hikki apologists actually managed to understand and accept that he was wrong, finally. Got used to Hikki design but the girls still looks very off to me, almost get a creepy vibes from it in some scenes (why are the noses so high and those concave shins should be illegals), especially for Yukinon, her face proportion are inconsistent in weird ways varying between normal and extremely long (I wish characters had individual animators like the west do). But that’s just unimportant nitpicking haha.

    And yea Ore Mono is settling itself and I realized that I stopped caring about the show, its became very repetitive and unengaging for me.. Dropping it and finally picking up Euphonium, was waiting to see if it could keep its praises.

  3. I find it amazing to read your emotional progress throughout UBW. I LOVED that episode, but I recognize that it wouldn’t fly for some people. Your notes made me laugh so much, just bc you seemed to LOVE the first part, but i could see you slowly get more and more fed up with the second bit. It’s a shame that had to happen for you, but at least you enjoyed the first bit!!!

    Also, I’m sort of confused on one thing: do you dislike archer, or the words that come out of his mouth?

  4. Going into Euphonium, my biggest reservation may have been how the Kumiko/Reina middle school conflict seemed it would make for rather pointless drama. Oh, how mistaken I was. Now they really do feel like perfect foils with a ton to learn from one another.

    • They bounce off each other so well! Chemistry like that is such a rare and valuable thing, and here it’s just one variable among Euphonium’s many other strengths.

  5. Am I correct to say that the “I’ll give you the stars” scene comes from Bakamonogatari. What did you like about it so much, since it’s easily my favorite episode from that series?

    • Yep! I’d have to watch that scene again to give a proper answer though, but yeah, it’s an incredible sequence.

  6. I think that last Fate/Stay night episode really hit the nadir for me. To make an analogy, I would love to travel back in time to kill myself before watching it. Because, really how dumb are the Shirou’s.

    The entire conversation should go like this:

    Future Shirou: I was betrayed, died, and became an immortal bitter creature. And I must kill you to prevent that from happening.

    Present Shirou: Why don’t you just tell me what happened so that I can use that foreknowledge to prevent the tragedy from unfolding.

    Future Shirou: …..hmmm you’re right.

    • Honestly, you can reduce the actual debate here to:

      Archer: “It’s impossible to save everyone!”

      Shirou: “…’kay.”

    • To reference DBZ abridged…

      Future Shirou: I was betrayed, died, and became an immortal bitter creature. And I must kill you to prevent that from happening.

      Present Shirou: Well, now that you’ve told me I sure won’t do that! So shouldn’t that create a time paradox and make you disappear? Unless the universe runs on multiverse theory, that is.

      beat, Archer is still there

      Future Shirou: Shit. Multiverse theory it is.

  7. aaaaa dammit I won’t be able to watch Eupohnium until tomorrow. This is true suffering

    Really disappointed by UBW though. I thought things would pick up for good after last week’s episode, but they somehow managed to screw this one up too… what the hell.
    I’m at least looking forward to seeing how they handle the dolphin scene, which I assume is coming up in the next week or two.

  8. http://rereadsandreviews.com/2015/05/24/ubw-20/
    This more or less sums up my thoughts on the episode. I’m curious if you’d agree with this review though. The difference between this review and yours more or less shows it’s a matter of preference. You understand all the stuff about Shirou just fine, you’re just not emotionally invested or anything, and that’s fine.

    (Which makes the allegations of VN purists all the more stupid)

  9. Euphonium and Oregairu have really pushed the limits of high school slice of life/rom coms. Beautiful really in their own way. But a special shout out to Euphonium this episode. Oregairu I had expected to be up there. Euphonium though came as a surprise. Reminds of the way Spice and Wolf hooked me. I mean at its surface Euphonium is a story that promises to be either one or all of mind numbing, cloying, or gauche. But by Bebop anime does it again. This episode was gorged with enough finesse and emotional resonance that one could only marvel at the execution of it. What a spring it is this year.

  10. “That sequence was like, ‘I’ll give you the stars’ good.” Is there some particular scene in a show, or a whole other show, to which you’re referring with that line?

    • I should have clarified – that’s referring to a specific sequence in Bakemonogatari’s 12th episode, which I’d say is one of the best scenes in any show I’ve watched.

  11. I seriously ignored Euphonium at first, thinking it was a rehash of K-On! And although I liked Amagi Brilliant Park I still felt KyoAni had likely just ran out on the last two years, and boy did I get a surprise after binge watching the available episodes. The chemistry among the characters reminds me a lot of that endearing chemistry among Oreki and Chitanda, although I still believe the scenery animation can give a bit more and even surpass Hyouka ( a show that imo runs over all the competition in that aspect, except maybe for Garden of Words and 5 cm per second)

    UBW is turning into such a boring hassle that the movie actually seems quite good now with the rushed pace. Ufotable is nearly unmatched on fights’ animation, but they should create something that’s not an adaptation of the Nasuverse now that they have adapted the only two things worth the time (Fate Zero and Garden of Sinners)

    And I’m not sure how comfortable I am with this Oregairu… I’m thrilled that Hikki is trying to change and come out of stasis, but at the same time the journey is coming to an end which gets me sad.

  12. I did enjoyed how Archer was talking in parts of this episode. He actually sounded angry and frustrated, something besides cockiness for once. It’s the little things, Bobduh. Gotta make it through this show somehow.

  13. Greatly directed episode. That was an inspired choice of the director to emphasize the parallels between Saber/Shirou because the paths they took are similar http://i.imgur.com/wVfh8S2.jpg Even to the very pull of the sword. Saber, just as Shirou, set off on a path that was chosen for her. I’ve always appreciated Saber & Shirou’s bond because no matter the route they care for each other because they understand each other.

    And it’s Avalon*, Saber’s scabbard, which has cast a warm protective barrier around Shirou throughout the show. A tender rem(a)inder of Kiritsugu’s wish. Shirou has reexamined his ideal, and admits it has flaws. But that doesn’t make his ideal less beautiful nor not worth fighting for.

    *F/Z watchers should recognize since it’s what Iri used the entire time to keep from breaking down and what Kiritsugu used during his fight against Kirei to tank his hits.

    KyoAni knocked it out the park with Eupho, but they always do once their teeth has sunk into some good material. Their direction/animation is already of the highest order, give them some good content along with it and it’s a match made in heaven.

  14. That was a bit mean of Jojo’s this week. They spend all that time getting you ready for Polnareff’s death and then just yank that back and kill Iggy instead in less than a minute. Rude.

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