Fall 2016 – Week 13 in Review

Welp, only half my shows even aired this week, so I guess we’ll be keeping this one brief. It was all endings this time, which pretty much went down as expect – while Girlish Number’s last episode as a bit underwhelming, both Euphonium and Flip Flappers nailed the dismount, which was a great relief. As extremely good shows near their end points, I often feel more anxious than excited; when you’re competing for the big leagues, all I’m hoping for is an ending I’ll be happy to return to over the years. Euphonium and Flip Flappers both more or less managed that, so I can’t really complain. Let’s start Girlish Number and run these three down!

Girlish Number concluded with a fairly conventional finale rush, as Chitose finally found the motivation to actually push herself for the sake of her career. A lot of this episode’s conflict felt like going through narrative motions, and Chitose’s big speech wasn’t exactly revelatory, but it was still a consistently funny, dramatically successful ending. Girlish Number didn’t end up being a lasting favorite for me, but I certainly can’t complain about getting more shows with this level of character writing. Here’s wishing Wataru Watari great fortune in lending his snarky talents to many more shows to come.

Sound! Euphonium ended not in crazy theatrics, but with a series of slow and tearful goodbyes. With the entirety of the final tournament relegated to last week, this episode had enough time to construct a very satisfying epilogue that brought closure to basically every narrative that still needed it. In retrospect, I realize Reina’s conclusion last week was actually meant for Taki as well – though it played as comedy at the time, his “that makes me glad I became a teacher” was essentially closure for his story. And with those narratives settled, this one was free to give plenty of time to settle Kumiko’s debts with Asuka. The adaptation structure of Euphonium’s second season has resulted in some characters rising and falling in relevance in sometimes awkward ways, but Kumiko and Asuka’s relationship has always been one of the show’s greatest strengths, and its conclusion here was wonderful. I’ve already said as much as I could possibly say about this episode, and I’m still kinda basking in its loveliness. Nice going, Euphonium.

As it turns out, all the crazy finale theatrics were actually saving themselves for Flip Flappers. This week’s conclusion was an exuberant celebration of everything that made the show great, from vivid worlds and animation to thoughtful character writing and a firm focus on finding your identity. As with before, Flip Flappers borrowed visual ideas from only the best sources to construct its own cohesive world – the child broiler of Penguindrum for the opening segment, the more realistic conclusion of Tatami Galaxy for the ending. But what it did with those pieces was entirely Flip Flappers.

If I have any complaints about this episode, it’s that I don’t quite feel the identity of “Dark Mimi” ever fully came together – I think it would have been easy to solve that by directly comparing her to the version of Cocona from the third episode, but I feel that could have used a little more overt acknowledgment. But Flip Flappers has pretty much never been about overt acknowledgment – it’s a show that put tremendous trust in the audience, assuming viewers could parse its manic but constantly purposeful visual storytelling to bring its story home. And the conclusion was exactly what it needed to be – confronted with a Mimi who wanted only to draw the whole world into her own emptiness, Cocona and Papika flew straight into her, filling her absence with their love. Even Dr. Salt got some great heroic turns, which I think he’d thoroughly earned at this point. We rarely get shows that are this visually inspired and this smartly written, much less shows whose smart writing is largely articulated through the worlds their characters inhabit. Flip Flappers is a special one.

One thought on “Fall 2016 – Week 13 in Review

  1. I feel like the FlipFlaps had a great concluding episode, but I can’t shake the complicated feeling I get from how incredible the middle episodes were. Like the show went from “creative novelty” to “one of the best things ever” to “really solid show.” Feels really hard to evaluate the whole thing fairly.

    On top of that, the writer and background artist changes seem to color everyone’s opinions with the impression (or maybe just the illusion?) of “wasted potential.”

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