Winter 2017 – Week 4 in Review

Well now I’ve got too many damn shows. Having added two shows to the schedule, along with rewatching and writing the hell out of Bakemonogatari, means I’m actually feeling at least as overbooked as I did last season, and I don’t even have something as infinitely layered as Flip Flappers to make all my Crunchyroll articles easy. This anime gig is tough! Still, “too many good shows” is not the worst of problems, and I certainly don’t mind this season shaping up to be more respectable than anticipated. Thank you KyoAni for introducing me to my perfect dragon daughter, your charity truly knows no bounds. Let’s get right to it and RUN SOME SHOWS DOWN!

This week’s Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu felt like pure, delicious fanservice. We started off by jumping ahead a few years, a seemingly dramatic shift that I’ve always appreciated Rakugo’s ability to make natural. The big shifts in our lives don’t happen all at once – there are long periods of simply living between any theoretical “dramatic highlights.” Rakugo jumping through time makes it feel oddly “realistic” in a sense, as this really does feel like the story of these characters’ lives.

But the actual treat of this episode was finally seeing Konatsu perform. Konatsu’s talent for rakugo has been one of the show’s most tempting dramatic threads from the very first episode, and seeing her finally embrace her passion was a total joy. Konatsu definitely seems to have become less bitter over the years, and her relationship with Yotaro reflects the easy comfort of longtime companionship. Her range of expression in this episode was terrific both on and off the stage – from bickering with Yotaro to selling her very silly story, it was clear how much she restrains herself in Bon’s presence. Her performance felt a little rough but extremely passionate, which was perfect for her experience. And her excitement both during and after the show were wonderfully conveyed through the show’s reliably smart closeups, emphasizing details like her flushed cheeks and nervously tensed feet. I really hope this isn’t the end for Konatsu’s rakugo career.

Seiren ended its first arc this week, which was… well, basically nothing. Seiren itself is basically nothing – its writing and visual execution aren’t good enough to inspire an intellectual or emotional response, but also not bad enough or even weird enough to inspire a meaningful negative reaction, either. It’s kind of weird, at least as far as its fetishes go, but there are countless anime that are casually weirder than Seiren, and which also commit to their weirdness more. I really just hope the show embraces its own strange edges more, because otherwise this is going to be a very boring ride.

March comes in like a lion recovered from a couple of underwhelming episodes this week, offering a welcome mood shift for Rei and some strong context for his relationship with Kyouko. The opening sequence of Kyouko entering his bedroom was definitely the highlight for me; the scene’s blue color palette, slow pacing, and subdued sound design strongly conveyed the sensation of a memory that verges on a dream. But the rest of the episode was satisfying too, bringing a real sense of tension to Gotou’s match with Shimada. March has returned to a pretty healthy place.

ACCA was at its most action-packed this week, as Jean’s visit to the tradition-beholden Suitsu district ended in an impromptu local coup. It’s odd to say, given ACCA is pacing itself as slowly as humanly possible already, but I didn’t feel like there was really enough buildup for this episode’s drama to really land. We learned about Suitsu’s existence only minutes before its people took to the streets, so this wasn’t any kind of payoff, and the ending tied itself together so neatly that this episode might as well not have existed. I really like ACCA’s multi-tiered political games, but episodes like this make it hard to feel like actions in this world have meaningful consequences. ACCA’s still an enjoyable show in its own right, but its highly episodic structure somewhat dampens its impact as a political thriller.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid wasn’t quite as satisfying this week as last time, but when you accept that my standard of Maidragon evaluation is “exactly how much time was Kanna allowed to be Kanna this week,” the addition of new characters makes that inevitable. I actually liked how Tohru just happened to invite two of her dragon friends to a random dinner get-together – shows like this generally give each new character their own introductory episode, but treating the friends she’s always known like actual friends she’s always known played into Maidragon’s generally low-key, oddly realistic tone. And this episode was full of great gags, from the strong use of Dark Souls to Kobayashi giving her dragon a car wash. Plus Kanna really did make the most of the scenes she got here, so I guess I can’t really complain. Maidragon continues to come off like Nichijou’s kinda puny but generally endearing sibling.

And Saga of Tanya the Evil stuck closely to its traditional guns, building up Tanya’s easy student life for most of an episode before sending it all crashing down. I don’t actually think I’ll ever get tired of the world dumping on Tanya, and was very happy to see the show understands “screw you Tanya, here’s some more life for you” is its biggest hook. The more Tanya touts the power of her capitalist mindset’s ability to lord over a fascist state, the more satisfying it feels when she gets assigned to the Getting Murdered With Knives Squad or whatever else the show can cook up. Tanya is basically its own kind of comfort food, but falls at the far end of the spectrum from Maidragon – while that show’s all about celebrating love for its characters, Tanya is pure, beautiful schadenfreude.

3 thoughts on “Winter 2017 – Week 4 in Review

  1. Before saying anything, I’d like like to address that I’m a long time follower and love your write-ups. Now, with respect to Acca, I actually think that even though it didn’t feel like a payoff to anything, as you say, but it actually gave a lot of clues to what’s to come, while also giving some insight into Jean’s character and the reason why everybody claims Acca not to be peaceful. However, I do think it would have been nicer to have more development for this episode. I’d love to hear your opinion about this, since this section is so short.

  2. Now that I can see that you watched Seiren… I really think that you should try Kuzu no Honkai/Scum’s Wish, if you haven’t already. The antithesis of Seiren, but done exceptionally well.

  3. The real irony about Tanya is that she gets screwed by her being too good at what she does. She’s basically like Kira Yoshikage in that she only wants a quiet life, but she didn’t get the part where she doesn’t have to stand out in order for that to work. So she keeps showing off and then after overdoing it she ends up in the spotlight and on the front lines.

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