Hello all, and welcome back to the Week in Review! This was another strong week in what’s turning out to be an all-around excellent season, marked by great shows in a pretty broad spread of genres. I’d kinda figured this season would be Eccentric Family and The Rest, but given My Hero Academia’s improvements and the unexpected strength of shows like Tsuki ga Kirei and Re:Creators, I really don’t have anything to complain about. Let’s not waste any time then, and get started RUNNING THIS WEEK DOWN!
This week’s My Hero Academia was a blast from start to finish. The show is definitely starting to lean on flashbacks to a somewhat worrying extent, but the finale of the cavalry battle was so thrilling that I couldn’t really get mad. The second round of the sports festival is definitely the most clever design-wise – forcing the cast into mismatched teams really helps to emphasize the diverse possible applications of their powers, letting somewhat narrow abilities combine with others into far more creative tactical juggernauts. I ended up watching this one with housemates, which really helped bolster the sports festival atmosphere – the show’s powers are treated smartly enough that it’s fun to cheer and commentate right along with Eraserhead and company. I’m very happy this season is turning out so well.
On the other hand, the newest Sakura Quest was unfortunately a pretty significant step down from the show’s usual standard. Foregoing the show’s usual emphasis on realistic young adult character drama and reflections on a changing era, this one was mostly just sitcom shenanigans starring a wacky inventor and a grumbly young wood carver. Not only were those characters not particularly interesting, but I also didn’t really like how this episode framed its larger conflicts as “innovation versus tradition” in terms of the town committee and whatnot. If the conflicts this show were grappling with were as easy as “celebrating the past versus embracing the future,” the show wouldn’t be particularly compelling – it’s the fact that this show’s issues are unsolvable problems that neither of those approaches can truly solve that makes it interesting. I like shows that ask hard questions, but I’m not on board for papering them over with simplistic solutions.
Tsuki ga Kirei’s leads were sent on a class trip to a very special place this week: the land of awful CG golems. Wandering around vaguely familiar sights, they were continuously accosted by horrific, low-resolution monsters, some of whom even walked straight up to the screen. How these terrible creatures didn’t drive our heroes mad, I may never know.
Anyway, yeah, this week’s Tsuki ga Kirei was a visual disaster. Fortunately, the actual character stuff was just as strong as ever, making great use of the trip to further cement Akane and Kotarou’s relationships with their larger social groups. The finale sequence here would have been a standout if not for the horrible CG intruders, but was still a reasonably conceptualized dramatic peak with a variety of small highlights. Tsuki ga Kirei may summarize everything that’s wrong with modern anime in a visual sense, but it’s still doing a lot of things right.
The Eccentric Family jumped up yet another tier this week, offering its best episode of the season on the tail of its previous best episode of the season. The relationship between Yaichiro and Gyokuran was illustrated in beautiful, intimate detail this week, telling a natural love story across well-chosen memories and a complicated present day fiasco. Gyokuran was given much of this episode’s best material, and already feels like a fully realized person – her mix of self-doubt, social propriety, general intelligence, and underlying fire came through clearly, making her engagements with Yaichiro feel like a match between true and well-matched equals. Eccentric Family is expanding this world in ways that feel perfectly natural, demonstrating the living nature of this city and society all along the way. I’m so happy to have this show back.
I also finally caught up on Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul this week, which is just a lovely time all around. The show doesn’t really take place in the same genre as Genesis, which I consider a bit of a shame – we rarely get the original’s kind of inventive, propulsive adventures, whereas this season’s focused action-drama is a bit more mundane. That said, the show looks at least as good as the original, and Nina has been a staggeringly good addition to the cast. Nina by herself pretty much makes up for this season’s narrative disappointments, and it’s clear the story is building to some kind of mid-season explosion. Couple the show’s charming cast with its great animation and art design, and you’ve still got a high-tier fantasy series, if one with a much smaller sense of scale than Genesis.
Finally, if I wasn’t hooked before, Meteroa’s big monologue in this week’s Re:Creators would have easily tipped me over. Meteora was essentially forced to come to terms with the death of her world’s god, and the need to find meaning once it’s clear your world has no greater meaning. The odd style of optimism she found in the idea that her world would still live on, and that her creator had clearly loved the place and characters he’d invented, was one of the most strangely touching things I’ve seen in a very long time. There are a thousand interesting ideas to explore with a premise as rich as Re:Creators, and “finding a personal faith in the beauty and emotional honesty of the literature that brought you to life” is probably one of the best of them.
All in all, this was an extremely talk-heavy episode, which seems to be a common issue for Ei Aoki shows. Fortunately, like with the Meteora scene, most of the talking here was actually pretty interesting – the Military Princess monologuing about crushing her enemies wasn’t really great, but watching Alice and Magical Slayer Mamiko bond was great. Re:Creators is both novel and good, a rare and powerful combination.