Wednesday has come again! Once again, I devoured an absurd bounty of anime this week, all concentrated into one friggin’ show. It turns out when I don’t have a day job, I can really crank through those reviews. Who would have guessed! I’ll probably spend next week working more on site interface stuff and freelance work, working towards establishing ways to make funding specific writeups more accessible, but for now, all I can do is marvel at the fact that I’ve probably watched around seventy episodes worth of anime in the last two weeks.
Fortunately, this week was all upside – not only did I watch the second half of a good show, even the weekly stuff put out some stellar episodes. So let’s start right there, appropriately beginning for the very first time over in this season’s reliable Trash Alley.
Because dang, these were some episodes. Prison School hit the ground running this week, with an episode that featured one of the manga’s most famed sequences – the Boobs Versus Asses battle. The first half of this episode was full of the great faces and gleefully dramatic direction that make Prison School consistently fun, but the second half was the clear standout here. The school’s director is a one-note character, but that’s true of basically everyone in this show, and the director’s single note is an excellent choice for Prison School. His stern, commanding eyes as he demanded to know the meaning of asses over boobs, and Kiyoshi’s desperate struggle to think of one perfect reason why asses are superior, were Prison School reveling in its greatest strengths. God damn does this season’s trash know what it’s about.
That trend continued in Monster Musume, which featured an episode split between a date with Mon and the introduction of a new character. The Mon date was fair enough, but the second half was definitely the highlight here. A chuunibyou Dullahan seems like the perfect addition to Monmusu’s cast, and the various sight gags of the new character demonstrating her amazing powers (like pouring tea into her neck-hole), along with the classic chuunibyou disconnect between her trying to act imposing towards Darling and immediately getting caught up in the kind of stupid bullshit that always happens in this show, added fresh humor to a show that thrives on introducing new weird-ass ideas. As Rachnea herself said, “this is starting to feel bizarre.”
The relatively respectable shows I’m watching didn’t slouch this week, either. Classroom Crisis in particular had one of its best episodes yet, as the show finally gave up on separating Nagisa from the rest of the class and let him share a great conversation with Mizuki. Like the Nagisa-Kaito conversation from a few weeks ago, this scene made excellent use of the uneven relationship and chemistry they share, and the fact that it actually doubled as a first kiss scene certainly didn’t hurt. I’ll take a dozen scenes of these two being cute over any more of Nagisa engaging in political gobbledigook.
Paranoia Agent also ran through one of its most famous sequences this week, the bitter-as-coffee anime production episode. The “Shonen Bat versus an anime studio” premise allowed Paranoia Agent to both embrace its original Kon-styled strengths (filmic horror cinematography, unreliable perspective, great lighting and sound design) and engage in new aesthetic tricks (the constant use of uneven animation-process drawings as a horror device). It was also one of the most tightly written episodes so far, meaning that overall this one goes on the top shelf for this generally excellent show.
Gatchman Crowds insight wasn’t as much of a standout this week, but that’s mainly because it’s set the highest standard for itself. I really liked the way this episode handled the shifting public thoughts on the Kuu-sama, but I was much less enthusiastic about how Rui seems to have recovered merely through receiving a pep talk from X. Rui’s fall from confidence and subsequent return just don’t feel that integrated with the rest of the narrative – I’d originally assumed Rui’s embracing of the Kuu-sama would be resolved in some way that directly tied it in to the story’s other threads, but instead Rui mainly just gets better after a while. Kind of a disappointment.
Fortunately, the Love Live Movie was definitely not a disappointment. This is partially because I correctly set my expectations beforehand – I figured this would be a big sloppy hug for the fans of the franchise, and I was right. This movie was heavy on references to jokes from the series and light on much genuinely new content, but everyone was really there just to spend more time with the Love Live cast, and spend time we did. The Love Lives went to New York, where Rin got her own damn song and the whole cast sang in Times Square. The Love Lives became famous in Japan, and Nico almost got her girlfriend stolen by Tsubasa. The Love Lives danced with a million school idols in the street, as Honoka firmly entreated the audience to love all school idols, not just the ones we’ve spent a couple seasons with. It was creaky and indulgent and a whole lot of fun, a lightweight but enjoyable sendoff to a series that’s always been a good time. I’m glad I saw it.
Of course, in between all these running shows and movies, I was also working on another review show – Turn A Gundam, that classic Tomino chestnut I started a few months back. Turn A Gundam’s second half ended up being a real pleasant surprise for me; I’d heard the second half was where it went off the rails, but I actually found this half to be consistently better than the first. I wasn’t so happy about the shift in setting here, but the show overall just had far more forward momentum, and the excellent character development done in the first half ended up reaping consistent dramatic dividends all through these episodes. Turn A Gundam ended up being a fine example of the strength of character-based writing – almost all the conflicts of this series are grounded in believable differences of perspective and values between very different parties, meaning you can feel the weight behind the actions of almost any character in the series. It is a very good way to write a story!