Spring 2017 – Week 3 in Review

Holy crap guys, it’s time for the Week in Review! Once again, this post turned out to be far more unmanageable than the usual standard, largely because I had so much friggin’ catching up to do. This week saw me burning through episodes of SukaSuka and Re:Creators along with my existing schedule, and yeah, I had a couple thoughts. And jeez, I still need to catch up on Rage of Bahamut… anyway. It feels like I’m still kinda sweeping up the wreckage of preview week, but hey, my untenable personal schedule equals EVEN MORE CONTENT for you guys. Enjoy it, ya bastards. Let’s run these shows down!

The Eccentric Family finally got down to business this week, and by business I mean Benten. Our dangerous heroine was as caustic and alluring as ever in her encore performance, but for me, the actual highlights of this episode were the two big magical setpieces – the magician stealing Yasaburo’s moon and Nidaime enjoying a slightly impossible luxury apartment on a very tiny roof. That second setpiece was a clear echo of Benten’s lagoon from the first season, and captured just the same sense of incidental magic and beauty. It feels like it’s going to be a little hard to write up Eccentric Family on an episodic basis, because so much of my reaction to this show is just “my god, that’s beautiful” or “I’m not crying” or “EEEEEEEEE.” But I suppose it’s the work of us joyless critics to convert that crap into numbers, so I’ll do my best.

I also watched the second episode of SukaSuka, which struck me as a more reliable indication of the show’s nature, for better and for worse. On the good side, this episode still maintained the production’s overall melancholy tone without ever dipping into the truly saccharine. SukaSuka’s premise is basically a puppy-murdering engine designed for tears, so the show’s ability to sell its own drama should be commended. There were also some great, personality-filled conversations in this episode, and the overall look remains strong.

On the negative side, a fair number of the scenes here were undercut by stuff like lolicon or orgasm jokes, and I haven’t really been sold on any of the characters yet. Not caring about the cast made sitting through this episode a bit of a struggle, as the actual dramatic hook is just too artificial to provide much appeal. I think I might be just slightly too annoyed by light novelisms and just slightly too suspicious of misery porn to keep up with SukaSuka, though the show is by all rights a perfectly fine production. It’s something I might return to, but probably not something I’ll keep up with now.

Tsuki ga Kirei’s third episode maintained the show’s very consistent appeal, offering plenty of charming conversations between our leads and culminating in a terrific moonlit confession scene. Tsuki ga Kirei’s character drama just parses as too goddamn real to ignore – from the very different ways each of our leads sees the other to their distinctive emotional tells and clear internal voices, it’s an inherent pleasure to watch these kids try and get along. The show is also still very pretty, and actually seems to be marrying its careful in-scene pacing with very snappy overall narrative pacing. This kind of intimate, carefully observed character drama feels like a genre KyoAni has copyrighted altogether, so Tsuki ga Kirei is coming as a wonderful surprise.

My Hero Academia had another solid episode this week, executing the first half of Round Two with a reasonable amount of aplomb. It seems that instead of slowing down each individual scene, like the first season, season two is electing to animate the actual content at a solid pace while buffering each episode with lengthy, unnecessary recaps. I’m actually fine with this approach – while the recaps are annoying, they don’t actively ruin the execution of the show itself, which slowing down dramatic sequences through stilted held images and mid-episode flashbacks certainly does. Adapting a big shounen property essentially seems to be an exercise in compromise, and if we’re forced to compromise, this seems like the better choice. And as far as this episode goes, the actual content was pretty terrific – dramatic cuts, some solid animation, and no unnecessary lingering on exposition. The anime was given a fantastic arc here, and it’d doing right by it so far.

Sakura Quest also stuck to its guns this week, offering plenty of funny Yoshino drama tempered with fatigued reflections on the fate of Manoyama specifically and the country at large. It’s by now become clear what P.A. Works are doing with their spiritual successor to Shirobako – instead of focusing on optimism in the face of disaster in the anime industry, they’re highlighting optimism in the face of disaster on a country-wide or even global scale. This world’s going to economic hell, and Yoshino probably won’t be able to save it, but this particular mix of world-weary knowledge and youthful, community-focused conviction is still exactly my kind of drug. “Everything sucks, let’s do our best” slots right alongside the Wrong Every Time quote within my personal psyche. Sakura Quest knows just what buttons to press.

Finally, I also caught up on Re:Creators this week, which is just a very entertaining time all around. The second and third episodes were much lighter on battles and much heavier on experimentation and exposition regarding the show’s conceit, which Re:Creators managed to make interesting through its consistently funny and thoughtful reflections on the premise. The show is full of jokes wholly unique to its concept (“ah, you’re from the anime, so you don’t know that happens yet”), but also seems interested in reflecting on both how creative works relate to their creators and how communities at large give popular works their own life.

I’m not really expecting this show to go to any profound places with all that, but it definitely makes for much more interesting setup than an entirely fabricated fantasy scenario. And the show is still working perfectly fine as a quirky battle royale, so there’s just plenty to enjoy from a variety of angles. I’m guessing the fact that this show benefits from knowledge of light novel and anime minutia might limit its western reach, and Amazon may have killed it in the cradle as far as fan discussion goes, but I could see Re:Creators really taking off. There’s a lot to like here!

3 thoughts on “Spring 2017 – Week 3 in Review

  1. I was surprised (probably shouldn’t be) at the jokes of SukaSuka. It certainly didn’t feel as boorish when I read the light novel version. I compared it favorably with Grimgar, but the Grimgar anime actually manages to elevate the favorable parts of the light novel and reduce its light novelism and sensationalism. SukaSuka elevates the light novelism instead. I guess this is why as you always said: direction matters. As it is now, I wouldn’t recommend you continue watching it.

  2. While all of your criticisms of Sukasuka episode 2 are pretty much valid (and episode 3 does have kind of the same problems, though to a lesser extent), I will say that if the expectation of “misery porn” is putting you off then I don’t think there’s really a whole lot to worry about in regards to that. At the very least it doesn’t go down the child-murdering route (or something else equally as grimdark), which I’m assuming is your biggest fear.

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