Well shit, where the hell did all these shows come from. Last week I was basically on the verge of rechristening the Week in Review in Rakugo’s honor, and now I’ve got all these friggin’ words about dragon maids and nazi lolis. It turned out the winter season wasn’t quite done with me yet, and so it looks like we’ll be returning to my regularly scheduled ramblings. The second episode of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was miles better than the first, and the second and third episodes of Tanya were… actually really entertaining? I mean, I can at least say for sure now that the show definitely isn’t Mahouka – a great part of the appeal is watching Tanya get kicked around by the actual deity of her world. Whether that appeal keeps the show entertaining for a full season, I couldn’t begin to say, but either way, it’s time for words. Let’s start with the two newcomers and RUN THESE SHOWS DOWN!
At the urging of my twitter feed, I ended up watching this week’s Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and I’m glad I did. While the pure Kobayashi-Tohru dynamic didn’t thrill me, adding tiny dragon Kanna to the mix made the show both much funnier and much more charming. Kanna is very few steps removed from Nichijou’s Professor Hakase, and the professor is one of my favorite characters in any anime ever. From the small buffer gags to the larger sequences built on charm or visual splendor, this actually felt much closer to a Nichijou episode than the first in general. The show has established something approaching a family now, and Kobayashi’s behavior towards the inherently likable Kanna makes her more likable as well. Maidragon has snuck its way back into my regular viewing schedule.
I also caught up with Saga of Tanya the Evil this week, which- look, I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s the nazi loli show. Still, I watched the second episode on a whim, and it was actually really entertaining. Unlike Mahouka, this show knows its protagonist is an awful fuck – in fact, the episode opens with him (turns out Tanya’s actually a middle-aged manager in a little girl’s body, so yes, this is also an isekai show) getting murdered for his shittiness and then punished by god by being stuck in Tanya-form. “Sociopathic careerist is continuously punished by god for his asshole personality” is a much more compelling premise than “awesome nazi loli kicks ass and we love her,” and so far the show has made good on that premise. The thing about Tanya is on top of its inherent silliness, it’s actually very well-executed – the direction is snappy, dialogue full of personality, and overall aesthetic (mush-faced girl character aside) quite strong. I don’t know how I got here, but I guess here is where I am.
This week’s Seiren stuck largely to the show’s guns – bland harem-style romance mixed with a bunch of singularly odd kinks. I’m frankly thankful this show is so unique in its fetishes, because outside of that, there’s basically nothing of interest going on here. The protagonist has no personality, and what visual invention exists is all dedicated to gawking at the show’s female cast. Seiren is more interesting and accomplished than your average harem, but not by all that much.
March comes in like a lion was also pretty lackluster this week, unfortunately. The show can still pull off inconsistently great episodes, but its average episode quality has definitely fallen over time, as it’s been forced to rely ever more heavily on successively less compelling visual storytelling. The evocation of Rei’s panic in this episode’s first half was both uninspired visually and far too small of a conflict to sustain its own length. The depression-focused material in the second half was better, but March pretty much always nails that material, and even that was largely carried by the writing. Still, I’m hopeful things will come together as the show approaches the more meaningful conflicts its opening song hints at. There’s still a lot to enjoy here.
And continuing with the negativity, Interviews with Monster Girls hit the chopping block this week. I was initially excited to see an episode focused on the succubus teacher, but when her feelings resolved into feeling competitive about Machi’s feelings for the male teacher, I was basically done. Monster girls crushing on the dude is the least compelling direction this show could take its material, and beyond that, this episode also just wasn’t entertaining. As Tanya readily demonstrates, I can accept some dramatic toxicity if a show understands how to make that stuff fun – but this episode felt poorly sequenced and dramatically unfulfilling, and was also lighter on strong jokes than either of the first two. I might pick this one back up if I hear good things, but for now, Monster Girls is out.
Moving back into reasonable territory, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu had a perfectly solid episode, if not a standout. I’ll be interested in seeing who this one’s episode director was, because the first half of this episode struck a very different tone from the show’s usual mode. Rakugo is generally pretty conservative in its cuts outside of the big performance sequences (which helps them stand out that much more), but the early scenes at the festival were all quick, choppy cuts and extreme closeups, creating an odd sense of tension in scenes that didn’t necessarily warrant it. But this episode’s real prizes came in the second half, as Yotaro “found his rakugo” in passionately dressing down his former gang boss and Bon rewarded his pupil with a performance straight from Sukeroku. In between those, the strong bond between Yotaro and Konatsu formed the episode’s emotional turning point.
I’m still really hoping the show is going to let Konatsu perform, and just become a more active player in general in her own life. Rakugo is a self-conscious tragedy, and they’ve been deliberately setting Konatsu up as a tragic parallel of her own mother, but that route seems far less satisfying to me than one that ends with a self-possessed Konatsu who’s more than just the rock of the family. Rakugo’s been very generous in the people it’s allowed its men to become, it’d be nice if it extended the same courtesy to its heroine.
And finally, Jean really seems to be in the shit now in ACCA. The whole country seems to assume he’s a spy for the rebels, and meanwhile he’s been enlisted as an actual secret agent by two conflicting government agencies. This episode was still relatively “slow” in terms of big narrative events, but it pulled Dowa’s politics much more clearly into view, and seemed to also set up a loose timer for when things are finally going to blow. ACCA is such a generally charming experience that I’m not really desperate for things to explode, but I’m certainly ready for a shakeup of the current civil order. Enough pieces are in place now for a very satisfying political feud.