The spring season came to a full end this week, finishing off with a double helping of Flying Witch to help make up for our dearly departed Lost Village and Conrevo. Most of the other shows I’ve been watching have been pretty consistent, and this week confirmed that – Kiznaiver’s conclusion was the best it could be given the circumstances of its existing narrative, My Hero Academia finished a fairly simple arc with as much passion as it could muster, and Flying Witch charmed for every dang minute. Luluco was probably the biggest upset, as its fairly strong conclusion raised my overall impression of the show a tick. And heck, if I just pretend the cameo episodes never happened, it’s even better!
Anyway, enough preamble. Let’s sweep up the season’s loose ends and RUN ‘EM DOWN!
At last, My Hero Academia discovered an appropriate excuse for its overlong, motionless slow pans – All Might being so weakened by his fight last episode that he’d un-transform if he moved. All Might’s bluff was actually pretty tense here; this is one of the classic gambits where shounen adaptations like to stall for time, and there’s a reason for it. There was an inherent tension in All Might attempting to win purely off of the emotional volatility of his opponents, and a great sense of relief when the teachers arrived. This didn’t really feel all that much like a climax overall, considering it was really just the end of a minor arc with a fairly subdued conclusion, but it still made for a fairly respectable end to this version of My Hero Academia.
In spite of my unhappiness with some of the adaptation choices, I’m thrilled to know we’re getting a second season. Not only is the upcoming material just far more engaging than what we’ve seen so far, but I’m hoping the somewhat lukewarm reception this anime has gotten in terms of sales and viewer numbers will convince the committee it’s worth it to speed up the consumption of source material. There’s still a phenomenal show in My Hero Academia, even if this season wasn’t it. I’m very ready for more.
Flying Witch saw us off with a pair of episodes showcasing all of its many usual wonders. Flying Witch is extremely good at making the mundane seem enchanting for its own sake, which was clear in sequences like the hotcake breakfast here, but that strength also means that when something overtly magical shows up, it can feel truly breathtaking. Crazy superpowers and massive magical showcases can start to blur together when they’re the norm – but when Flying Witch shifts from chatting with friends to visiting a massive flying whale, you can really sense the wonder of the moment. It was nice that the show got to stretch its fantastical limbs a bit there, and appropriate that the show ended on Makoto’s friends napping around her as she witnessed one more slice of the magic in the world. Flying Witch was excellent from start to finish, a warm and well-crafted vacation with a charming collection of characters. It was nice having a show like this to rely on.
Kiznaiver arrived at a perfectly reasonable conclusion this week, finally giving Sonozaki the humanity she probably needed at least four or five episodes ago. The fact that Sonozaki only became a person outside of her plot presence here was pretty bad, given this finale hinged on her emotional development, but Kiznaiver has always had some major missed notes. Everything else here was pretty excellent – Nico, Honoka, Chidori, and Tenga all got some great personal moments, the epilogue was cute as hell, and I really liked stuff like Katsuhira casually saying “I love you, but everything you’re doing right now is completely crazy.” These characters really did arrive at some great emotional intimacy, in the end. A character-focused story where the characters actually shine can only be so unsuccessful.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was just off the goddamn walls this week, juggling the show’s most focused and effective emotional narrative so far with a conflict about a god damn invisible baby. On the one hand, Diamond is Unbreakable has so far created enough of a character focus to actually be able to lean on Josuke’s internal conflict. Stardust Crusaders wouldn’t be able to dedicate the first third of an episode to a son coming to terms with his father’s frailty – those characters were all assholes, and generally only worked as comedic devices (barring exceptional circumstances like the dramatically heightened Vanilla Ice battle). But Josuke’s a likable kid, and his feelings here make perfect sense. On top of that, the episode’s conflict actually worked as a perfect sounding board for his feelings – not only did the invisible baby offer plenty of opportunities for Josuke to lean into his sometimes misguided resentment towards his father, but it was also a pretty on-the-nose way for Josuke to prove that he himself would be a more responsible father figure.
But for all that grounded and legitimately effective character work, this was also an episode about a god damn invisible baby. Invisible baby making Joseph looking senile. Invisible baby pooping in Joseph’s hand. Invisible baby gets its makeup done. Invisible baby forcing Joseph to deal with the tyranny of choice inside a baby store.
This week’s JoJo was a perfect marriage of actual character writing and classic JoJo insanity. Diamond is Unbreakable is a hell of a show.
And Space Patrol Luluco ended on one more visually compelling episode, making for a nice farewell to a very uneven show. The show never really made up for that turgid shift into cameo episodes, and the humor of the first few episodes was largely replaced by Imaishi’s standard “let’s just keep rambling attack names and going bigger” by the end, but it was nice to see the show actually brought to life with some stellar animation for once. A Luluco that was only half as many episodes, cut out all the completely superfluous episodes, and featured strong direction/animation all the way through would probably have been a pretty great short – as is, I’m fine with the occasional successes of this one. It still feels like we’re getting closer to a show that actually makes best use of Imaishi’s talents.