Spring 2015 – Week 11 in Review

The lack of BBB made for a noticeably lighter week this time, considering I’m only watching seven shows, but JoJo stepped up to the action plate with one of its all-time best and also most ridiculous episodes. Those two things aren’t necessarily the same, either – there were plenty of Stardust Crusaders episodes that, while they were certainly ridiculous, simply weren’t that exciting. No sense of danger, and more just wacky and nonsensical than “goddamnit JoJos that solution is ridiculous.” Here, like with the best of Battle Tendency, the absurdity came from the contrast between the heavy, consistent stakes and the wild, ridiculous execution and solutions. It…

Wait, hold on, JoJo’s gonna get its own section anyway. Alright, let’s get right to that then, and RUN ‘EM DOWN.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders 47: JoJo coming out on friday night really is a blessing. What better way to end the week than with Jotaro’s ridiculous swagger, Dio’s absurd lines? I won’t lie, I was pretty deep in my cups for this episode, and that felt pretty much perfect; the episode was just one moment after another of completely JoJo madness, with Dio’s overthinking and Jotaro’s stone-cold plotting forming a perfect complementary pair. The episodes from the bad guy’s perspective are always a joy, since at that point, the threat has generally been reversed to the point of just waiting to see the hero’s trick. And this episode danced between Dio and Jotaro very well – it felt tense, but not oppressive, consistently exciting and also triumphant throughout. The visual pacing of The World worked really well (fast-fast-fast BWAAAAA slow Dio gloating, fast-fast-fast BWAAAA), Jotaro’s intensely stupid tricks were in top form, and there was just a really satisfying weight and flow to the whole battle. This episode was an experience, and I don’t think you need me to tell you about it. Great fucking work, JoJo.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

Oregairu S2 11: Another excellent episode this week, as we finally got some focus on the compelling and generally well-used Hayato. Apparently this episode adapted an entire light novel volume by itself, which I find even more impressive; it came off extremely smoothly in anime form, feeling neither disjointed nor overly rushed. It actually felt like a natural companion to the Hayato-Hachiman material from the first half, giving the whole season a slightly tighter sense of structure. Things are progressing nicely, and we’re now approaching material that hasn’t even been published yet, so it’s looking like season two of Oregairu will successfully tie itself up as my actual dream sequel.


Sound! Euphonium 11: And what’s that, Euphonium was good too, this is just preposterous. We had a really focused episode this week, as the drama centered entirely on the leadup to Kousaka and Kaori’s thrilling rematch. This gave me the chance to go pretty deep on all the various compelling characters that make up our little band group, and gave Kyoto Animation the chance to basically throw caution to the wind as far as “yep, these characters are definitely into each other, nope there’s no ambiguity here” goes. KyoAni obviously have a history of baiting romance and then retreating, and anime in general has a terrible, terrible track record when it comes to respecting gay characters, but I really am not sure I’ve ever seen something this blatant get wheeled back by the end. I’ll be frustrated if they do, and I’m not sure if it’s more or less frustrating that the show is otherwise so very, very good.

Sound! Euphonium

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 23: Many of the central characters talked for a while in this episode. It turned out Assassin was still alive, so he talked about his past (which actually contained a cute concept, the idea that the “heroes” of the grail can actually just be the concept of heroes, even if the truth of their existence was otherwise) until Saber fought him (another of the episode’s best moments, if very brief). Gil rambled about his powerfulness at Shirou for a while, and then they shot swords at each other. Rin yanked Shinji out of the grail, which seemed like an awkward turn considering he tried to assault her, but fit with Shirou’s “I’ll try to save everyone” thing, so I guess that’s what they were going for. Aaand… I think that’s it? That’s about all my notes have got. After so many straight bad episodes, I’m basically just running on stubbornness with this show – there’s nothing I’m invested in anymore, and not much even to stare at, meaning every episode feels very, very long. I’m gonna finish it, but I don’t feel particularly proud of that.

Unlimited Blade Works

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 11: Things rewound a bit this week in order for us to see the events of last week from new-Nagato’s perspective, leaving us with a few answers and a relatively solid path forward. This episode was almost as good as last week’s, and the incredible contrast between this material and the earlier stuff actually kinda makes me wonder whether most comedy-slice of life shows are just doomed to be bad. There are good comedies and slice of life shows, but maybe succeeding there just requires a different set of sensibilities than succeeding in other genres? It just seems weird to me that the same team who made these last two episodes would also look at the level of writing and comedy in the prior episodes and think “yes. This is fine.” It’s a strange world we live in.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

Ore Monogatari!! 10: In contrast to last week’s very grounded highlights, this week was just all fun Yamato-Takeo shenanigans all the time, and it… well, it might actually have been my favorite episode so far. The episode was just really damn funny, graced with a higher concentration of absurd gags and silly faces than any of the others, existing in a comfortably conflict-free zone and rumbling along through really solid pacing. Ore Monogatari has reached the point where it can sort of make fun of itself, which it did here through the nicely timed cutbacks to the folks back home (Yamato’s friends squealing over her romance were great, as was the long-awaited reveal of Takeo’s father, who was very much what you’d expect from Takeo’s father). And the biggest running gag here was Yamato’s unholy thirst for Takeo, illustrated through a vast array of ridiculous faces, which as I’ve said before is easily one of my favorite parts of this story. Yamato’s a teenager, and she finds her boyfriend super hot! This is a cool and natural thing to portray in media, and makes her seem way more relatable! Please, other romances, take notes on having your characters demonstrate both emotional and physical attraction – it actually makes your stories way better!

Ore Monogatari!!

9 thoughts on “Spring 2015 – Week 11 in Review

  1. Since you kinda brought it up, here’s rule #1 of Nasuverse magic: Concepts are pretty much the most powerful thing.

  2. This weeks Fate atleast had more stuff happening (pew pew swords) instead of people just talking the whole goddamn episode… What a nice breeze of fresh air in a long sunken ship.

    • I just wish they’d picked a more interesting type of fighting than the sword beam spam. It feels a lot less dynamic and interesting than watching Saber fight, or Berserker. Plus we’ve seen a whole lot of it at this point 🙁

      • Oh yea, I agree. But at this point I just take anything that is not only talking about the same thing over and over.

  3. Sounds like Yuki-chan’s been suffering from Obligatory Manga Humor Syndrome, where regardless of comedic talent or tonal appropriateness, a mangaka will try tragically to make parts of their work funny. Many otherwise great stories such as Sankarea and FMA have been ravaged by the disease.

    • Personally I actually loved the comedy in FMA. I think Arakawa-sensei can be really funny and it relieved her story from being 100% doom-and-gloom all the time. Which is appropriate to me, it feels more lifelike. Even in the shittiest of situations, won’t there be a moment when people just crack a joke? Or where something happens that is somewhat funny/ironic even though it’s not really a moment to laugh? The world can just be random that way.

      • I think there’s plenty of stuff that manages to weave the goofy or ironic comedy in with otherwise serious material. I think shows like Katanagatari, Shirobako, and Hunter X Hunter do great jobs at that. I’d like to attribute those successes to how tonally unobtrusive the comedy in each of those shows is, whereas the worst offenders I’ve seen, stuff like Sankarea and KimiUso, tend to actually break the action to go into what feel like prepared comedy sketches. That’s kind of a general anime problem, but something I see in a lot of mange too.

  4. but maybe succeeding there just requires a different set of sensibilities than succeeding in other genres

    Well, yeah. If Aku no Hana’s main priority was its oppressive atmosphere, then SoL’s main priority is the opposite through the same mechanism, soothing atmosphere above all else. That includes fangless humor, because that would extend beyond appropriate levels of comfort. The likes of Aria or Lucky Star are at the top of the SoL game because it steps out of just providing comfort for little but powerful character moments, resonating with what came before. But if you aren’t prioritising the atmosphere? Yeah, there’s a reason I stalled out on Aria for a long time. You absolutely have to be in the right state of mind to enjoy this kind of stuff, and it’s a state of mind not usually compatible with traditional narrative media analysis.

  5. I haven’t seen anyone mention the most brilliant aspect of this week’s Euphonium. The penultimate scene in episode 11 was basically a mirroring of the earlier scene when Taki-Sensei asked the band to decide on their goal for the year.

    In that episode a lot of attention was drawn to the fact that Kumiko abstained from voting. In contrast, in this episode Kumiko was one of the few characters to actually voice her opinion. For me, this showed huge character growth on her part and, in a way, showed what Euphonium does so well. Euph really does take the old adage of show don’t tell to heart — so much so that a lot of people missed the significance of this scene.

    Beyond that, this episode had so many other wonderful moments. You can tell so much about the friendship and understanding Kumiko shares with Hazuki and Midori when they basically tell her to go have lunch with Reina.

    I don’t know, when you consider the moments you mentioned in your ANN review and the ones I just highlighted—along with the fact that this episode basically looked like a Makoto Shinkai movie—I think it’s safe to say this was one of the Euph’s strongest episodes, even when judged against the exceptional quality of its predecessors.

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