Spring 2016 – Week 11 in Review

The season is wrapping up at this point, but this season’s shows still have a few surprises left. In this case, the main surprise was My Hero Academia and JoJo switching places – My Hero Academia was on fire this week, easily vaulting over its usual failings, while JoJo turned down the temperature for an episode that unfortunately evoked some of Stardust Crusaders’ worst tendencies. But aside from that, everything was pretty much business as usual. Concrete Revolutio is speeding towards what’s likely to be an astoundingly good finale, Flying Witch is as consistent as ever, Luluco is still unsure of whether it wants to be a real show or not, etcetera. All this and more in today’s week in review, as we cast our eyes backward and RUN ‘EM DOWN.

As mentioned, My Hero Academia was a whole lot of fun this week. This was the real meat of the villain arc, after all – nearly every single member of 1-A got to contribute in some capacity, and there was a real sense of tension and risk throughout. My Hero Academia’s main issues were still present to an extent (mediocre animation, slow pacing), but getting to see all of these interesting characters strut their stuff made this a fine time anyway. It was great seeing Iida’s classmates all contribute in their own ways to that desperation escape, and equally fun seeing the electric boy and earphones girl bicker and fight together. But perhaps best of all was the sense of danger.

My Hero Academia has largely been about tests and trials so far, meaning there’s rarely been a sense that anyone might actually get hurt – but here, the sense of Midoriya and his classmates legitimately being on the edge of death was clear all through the second half. Through a combination of the hands villain’s fantastic voice acting, the visual gauntlet of Eraser Head being crushed, and the clear desperation moves of Midoriya’s friends, everything was perfectly tuned to make All Might’s arrival just as thrilling as it was meant to be. My Hero Academia has turned out to be a far weaker show than it deserved to be, but it’s hard to keep material like this down.

My Hero Academia

In contrast, we had a much weaker episode of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure this week. An outsourced episode, in fact, so there wasn’t much of the visual energy and creativity that’s so far helped make Diamond is Unbreakable such a hit. And even the narrative material wasn’t really up to par this time; with Okuyasu’s The Hand squaring off against Red Hot Chili Pepper, it felt more like a Stardust Crusaders-era episodic fight than the more recent wackiness. It’s kind of funny how much one season of Diamond is Unbreakable has raised my expectations of what JoJo can be.

That said, leaning into a more Stardust Crusaders-style tone wasn’t all bad. For one thing, having Okuyasu’s fight basically center on whether his innate stupidity would win out over his overwhelming strength was a pretty nice conflict. And for another, I appreciated how hanging out with Jotaro essentially made Josuke act like a Stardust Crusader – that is, a huge asshole to all of his friends. I had almost forgotten what a bunch of jerks the Stardust Crusaders were.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

Kiznaiver had plenty more of the good stuff this week, even if it was accompanied by some plot plot exposition gobbledygook. In spite of their relationship standing as the big “mystery” of the series, I’ve never been terribly interested in the exact bond Katsuhira and Sonozaki used to share – that’s always felt more like a pat twist than character development, whereas their active present-day conversations are actually really compelling. But I thoroughly enjoyed the ways this episode gave Nico and Hisomu’s feelings and strengths so much emphasis, and I’m looking forward to Katsuhira and Sonozaki’s next confrontation. You can basically always count on Kiznaiver to make the big emotional moments beautiful in a new way.


Flying Witch was also up to most of its reliable tricks, contrasting a comedy-heavy first half against a largely atmosphere second. I was a big fan of this choice; the material in the cooking class was very solid, but the transition from that to the open sky of the apple orchard felt like a real breath of fresh air. It was nice to see Nao get some focus material for once, and also kinda fun to learn about the mechanics of apple farming. As usual, the charmed life of a witch seems to have a lot more to do with appreciating the world around you than casting dramatic spells. Magic is what you make of it.

Flying Witch

I started off this week’s Concrete Revolutio already feeling pretty melancholy, as we abruptly learned that the bureau had finally been disbanded. Their presence had always been a lie placed on top of a bigger lie, but the bureau still felt like a comforting element of stability in Concrete Revolutio’s fractured world. It felt like a real government organization – deeply flawed and sometimes destructive, but at least fundamentally committed to a certain ideal of public service.

And of course, things only got worse from there. From a fond goodbye for the bureau’s long-suffering human employee, things escalated towards an actual war between the “good” superhumans and the natural beasts that the world governments saw fit to villainize. With her loyalties finally tested, Emi killed Ultima herself, an inevitable act that spiraled into world-impacting violence. The powers that be have successfully turned the fate of superhumans into an internal struggle, where governments win out while those that can be made politically useful are turned against those fit only to be fuel. And of course, none of this is fantastical or unusual – every persecuted group has had many who join the ruling party in pursuit of either safety or a misguided ideal, and when Jaguar speculates on some other world that harnessed nuclear power and thus achieved piece, it’s clearly intended to be the bitterest of hopes.

And even as Concrete Revolutio stirs towards an all-encompassing thematic crescendo, it’s still full of heartbreaking individual moments. Watching Earth-chan and Shiba be cut down was awful to see, deeply personal violence intercut with repeated reflections on whether justice and heroism are just the fading dreams of a waking child. If anyone in this world has attempted to seek a true peace, it is those two – constantly tormented by their own understanding of the world’s complexity, they worked tirelessly to represent true justice until the government cut them down. Concrete Revolutio does not want anyone to walk away from this show comfortably.

Concrete Revolutio

The Lost Village lived up to its usual expectations this week, though the demands of arriving at an actual narrative conclusion are forcing it to be a little more coherent than it’d probably like to. That said, Mizushima and Okada are both such practiced professionals that it’s actually making this segue look pretty easy; sure, all these ingredients might be ridiculous, but strong direction and narrative composition can make basically any set of materials gel into a coherent whole. The bus driver’s arc conclusion was even handled with actual grace, a word I never thought I’d apply to this show. And with stuff like Valkana’s tantrum and Yottsun’s everything making sure the comedy stayed consistent as well, I don’t have all that much to complain about.

The Lost Village

Finally this week’s Space Patrol Luluco did its best to split the difference between being a sloppy kiss to other Trigger properties and an actual show in its own right. Luluco had the classic rock bottom moment, and was turned around by an emotional pep talk from… Inferno Cop. But unlike the earlier episodes, it felt more like Inferno Cop was visiting Luluco’s show than she was visiting his – their conversation was actually pretty darn restrained, and focused mainly on emphasizing that “other people don’t get to dictate what’s normal” theme. There’s a pretty okay show somewhere in Luluco, once you sweep away all the lazy references and accept that it’s always going to look like an Adult Swim cartoon. I don’t really mind having watched it.


4 thoughts on “Spring 2016 – Week 11 in Review

  1. Regarding Kiznaiver’s unnecessary plot exposition details, I can agree to a certain extent that it doesn’t really matter and shouldn’t be focused on, but I’m not sure the alternative is necessarily better. I was inspired to rewatch Kokoro Connect since it has a similar premise, and there the antagonist/Author Avatar literally comes down in one of the early episodes to tell the cast that they shouldn’t think too hard about how it all works and it’s all just an excuse to push their buttons and see how they’ll react.

    Which is definitely honest, and sort of amusing from a meta perspective, but being told straight up that the premise doesn’t matter and that we should be focusing on character development instead can also be deeply unsatisfying. I’m not really sure where the happy medium would be, if it exists at all. It might just be an inherent flaw with trying to set up blatantly artificial situations to sell emotional points.

    • I think the best choices are things like “keep it simple but make the background feel robust and considered” and “make sure none of the show’s key emotional points hinge on the arbitrary science stuff.” It’s definitely a tricky balance, but it is doable.

  2. The last three episodes really turned Luluco around for me. Largely because SaV is such a piece of shit I was surprised that its tribute was actually quite entertaining. This time around, the visual aesthetic worked great and it ended S3 on good will after the horrendous Witch Academia episode.

    I loved the way Luluco’s heartbreak was portrayed and how the pieces that were built up (Nova’s indifference, the ED) came together. I usually wait a week to watch a lot of shows, but episode 10 made me want to go straight to episode 11.

    It was also interesting realizing that other than both being skeleton leather cops on fire, Over Justice and Inferno Cop don’t look all too similar.

  3. I’ve finally caught up to Concrete Revolutio after missing a few episodes, and damn the last episode really hurt. I think one of Concrete Revolutio’s great strengths is how well it captures the desperation you can feel when you don’t know what to do. When you start questioning yourself and your justice, it can quickly feel like justice itself disappears, and no action seems to have a point anymore. Jiro’s journey does a really good job of conveying this struggle, I think. This also goes back to the finale of season 1, with Claude’s great desperation on justice, freedom and peace infringuing upon each other.

    Eventually he has found back the courage to act. But what seems to ensue as a result is a war which may lead to greater destruction than the bomb he is compared to, Hiroshima.
    I also really liked the fusion with Shiba who was too focused on action and not questioning how own ideals, or was unable bear the load of it, rather.

    Jiro has been really pulling the show’s themes together, I think.

    That this last episode was so heartbreaking also shows how much Concrete Revolutio has improved on the early lack of emotional grounding. It’s turned from a battle of ideals to a fully realized story, and what a story it is. Concrete Revolutio is really shaping up to be, as you said on your twitter, a masterpiece. And I’m saying this even though I think I’ve only understood half of what it’s saying.

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