Anime held pretty darn steady this week. In a season this strong, I’m not forced to watch shows that I have to pray for every week – the only inconsistent show I’m watching is Kiznaiver, and even that has established a really strong rhythm over the last several episodes. Concrete Revolutio had a very rich episode this week, and Flying Witch continued to make strong use of the magical cafe for fantasy and humor. Luluco was crap, but hey, Luluco’s been crap for a few weeks now, even that’s not a surprise. I’ve still got plenty (of Conrevo) to discuss though, so let’s start with the conclusion of Koichi’s whirlwind romance and RUN ‘EM DOWN!
First off, the second half of the Yukako JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure saga was possibly not quite as good as the first, but that’s likely because it’d already given away so many of its major tricks. Some of the material here felt a little retread-ish or simply flat; in particular, Koichi trying to hold Yukako back at the door revisited home invasion material we’ve seen before without really adding anything to it. But in truth, I only have minor complaints about this one. Yukako continued to be easily the most fun “villain” of Diamond is Unbreakable (I really do hope she comes back at some point, though that seems unlikely), and Koichi is the kind of hero it’s hard not to root for. The promotional materials and first few episodes led me to assume Koichi would simply be a Speedwagon-style hanger-on character, so it’s great seeing him handle a variety of challenges all by himself. Him not being into Yukako does seem to imply he has terrible taste in women, but in his defense, Diamond is Unbreakable was written well before “crush me into the dirt” became one of the sincerest terms of endearment. I guess I can forgive him for not wanting to be stepped on by Yukako forever.
Kiznaiver held the course this week, offering an even mix of reasonable character drama and phenomenal aesthetic execution. There are definitely some members of Kiznaiver’s cast that aren’t quite as fleshed out as they could be, and the show’s writing skews a bit too heavily towards archetypal for everything to be as deeply felt as it could, but those problems are largely mitigated by how gorgeous and well composed everything is. There was a remarkable sense of atmosphere all through this episode, facilitated by the excellent music and many Sonozaki-focused interludes. And with most of the cast getting at least a couple solid moments, Kiznaiver is looking strong moving into its final stretch.
The Lost Village remained its inimitable self, with Hayato joining most of the cast in crazytown through the reveal of his perfectly Lost Villagian backstory. The show’s joke density isn’t just high for its genre, it’s high for anime comedies altogether – The Lost Village is constantly peppered with ridiculous asides and visual non-sequiturs and delightful anticlimaxes. It’s been clear for quite a while now that Mitsumune is actually the perfect protagonist for this show – not only is his backstory possibly the most ridiculous one, but his utter inability to ever act in anything resembling a heroic manner makes him a fine champion for a show built on never doing anything right. The Lost Village is showing no sign of stopping now.
This week’s My Hero Academia covered some of the early manga’s least interesting material – namely, the downtime between Midoriya versus Bakugo and the villain attack. In the manga, this material is basically just a lull of thirty or so pages, one that allows for Iida and the rest of the class to gain a little texture. In the anime, a conflict that boils down to “a lot of people are trying to get through a door” turned into the centerpiece of a twenty minute episode. There were still lots of nice moments here, from Tsuyu dunking on Bakugo to the whole class getting some time to bond on the bus, but as usual, My Hero Academia’s glacial pacing and kinda standard execution are turning what could possibly be a 9 shounen into something closer to a 6 or 7. “Execution matters” is a universal and ever-relevant truth of media, and My Hero Academia is bearing the more unfortunate consequences of that fact.
Flying Witch doubled down on the Spirited Away feel of the previous episode, as Makoto and her friends got introduced to a few of the regulars at the witch cafe. I really appreciated the heightened sense of magic that accompanied the show’s usual strong atmosphere, and wouldn’t mind a show that crossed this tone with a strong dash of Mushishi… meaning I should really get around to watching Natsume’s Book of Friends, which I’ve heard is pretty much exactly that. Always more great shows to watch!
This whole “hey, let’s visit other shows” stretch has been pretty weak tea, but this week’s Space Patrol Luluco definitely took the bullshit cake. Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia at least contained material worth riffing on – Sex and Violence with Machspeed is essentially a hyper-condensed explanation of why I don’t really like Imaishi. The dude likes extremely loud and extremely crass humor and violence – as far as favored subject matter goes, he’s basically like Araki if you replaced blood and screaming with boobs and boners. Sex and Violence with Machspeed is 100% undiluted Imaishi, and this episode was more or less a direct (if mercifully brief) retread of that short’s exact plot. Escape this hell, Luluco. Finish this garbage mini-season and run far away.
And finally, dear lord was Concrete Revolutio dense this week. The “episodic conflict” this week was largely focused on NUTS, a new giant robot initiative created by the prime minister in order to solidify his flagging reputation, strengthen his relationship with the states, and address the Superhuman Problem. But by the end, the program ended up being shelved, as scandals erupted over the dangerous side-effects of the machine fuel and the prime minister’s backroom deals. In the end, the only winner in that conflict was the publicity agency – they won credit for the program, lost nothing when it destroyed the prime minister’s reputation, and even benefited on the side from the “dangerous actions” of illegal superhumans like Shiba attempting to stop the program.
But the NUTS program ended up almost feeling like a sidebar in an episode that simultaneously centered focus back on Jiro and began pulling in a vast number of the show’s disparate narrative strings. We’re moving towards the true finale now, and Jiro’s nature physically, psychologically, and thematically are all becoming absolutely key.
Jiro was repeatedly challenged this week on the limits of his idealism. When Shiba attacked the government’s robot, Jaguar was only angry at Jiro for not picking a side, whatever it was. Jiro just wants to be a “superhuman for justice,” but the line he’s been treading has essentially made his actions meaningless. When Shiba gets angry at his passivity, he responds with “we’re comrades fighting for superhumans. Isn’t that enough?” He’s content to play hero and help individuals, but his actions don’t truly change anything. Shiba and the others are trying to change things on a societal level, while Jiro is just making castles in a play-acting sandbox.
On top of that, Jiro’s nature as an icon of the bomb was raised consistently throughout this episode. Jiro is the bomb, essentially – his birth replaced the bombing of Hiroshima, and his every action emphasizes the fact that in this world, seeking change implies violence. The publicity group are villainous in many ways, but they are pursuing a kind of peace – in contrast, the terrorism of Jiro’s allies eventually prompts the Megashinn duo to label them as enemies of peace altogether.
And jeez, that Megashinn fight! One more gorgeous highlight by Yutaka Nakamura, a uniquely staggered and staged battle between two epic powers. There is just so much to enjoy in this show every single week. It is an embarrassment of riches.