Spring 2017 – Week 8 in Review

The anime… is good. Really, if anything, I can only complain that this season’s incredibly consistent quality has made it a whole lot harder to come up with reasonable topics for these intro paragraphs. I’ve been leaning on the meta well a bit too heavily, but given I’ve dropped everything that ever caused me any pain whatsoever, it’s just hard to stay even-handed here. Sakura Quest has shrugged off its early messiness, My Hero Academia is slam dunking its brilliant source material, and The Eccentric Family 2 likely had its best episode yet. I try to stay impartial, but folks, it might be time to recommend you try Anime. I’ve heard it’s pretty okay.

Alright, I think that’s around my required word count. Now let’s both of us escape this preamble and RUN THIS WEEK DOWN!

At this point, Sakura Quest feels like it’s finally settled into itself. Early on, the show was a bit stranded between poignant little coming-of-age reflections and kinda lousy sitcom drama, but the last few episodes have been driven by consistently strong and well-articulated conflicts, and this episode was no exception. Shiori is the character closest to Manoyama, and her growth over these past few episodes has been spectacular, leading naturally to her now asking questions about her life ten years from now, and finally taking the lead on one of the tourism bureau’s projects. Sakura Quest now feels like a group of real people navigating comically heightened but fundamentally relatable conflicts that are consistently elevated by universal themes of aging, community, and identity. That is exactly the show I was hoping to see.

Tsuki ga Kirei emerged from its week off much the same as ever, still preoccupied with the small but emotionally significant minutiae of adolescent romance. As with last episode, I really appreciated how this one focused on an extremely specific but very real phenomena within such active relationships – the sense that your relationship isn’t necessarily a real thing, and that it could float away on the breeze. Akane, Kotarou, and even Chinatsu all struggled with the solidity of this show’s central romance in their own distinctive ways, with Chinatsu getting possibly my two favorite scenes of the episode in the bargain. I’m not really sure how it’s always the character who doesn’t win who ends up becoming the fan favorite, but Chinatsu is certainly getting there for me.

This week’s Re:Creators was basically death flag city for Mamika, which I can’t say I’m all that happy about. Mamika is easily my favorite character in this show, and her conversations with Alice are almost always my favorite scenes, so I’d be very sad to see her gone. The show has certainly respected her philosophy and character though, so if she dies in a heroic attempt to save Altair, I suppose I can live with that.

Leading up to that climactic battle, Mamika’s talk with Alice this week was as strong as ever. Alice has very legitimate reasons to hate this world – in fact, watching her struggle through her old life felt somewhat like a rebuke of stories that are cruel to their characters just for the hell of it. But though Alice frames Mamika’s positive attitude as “naivety,” both Mamika’s words here and her subsequent confrontation with Altair demonstrated that she understands the weight of pain and hypocrisy underlying this world, and she embraces it anyway. Though the other characters might look down on her, Mamika has already formed a bridge between both sides and straight-up solved this show’s central mystery all by herself. I guess magical girls are just too strong for this world.

My Hero Academia lent Uraraka’s inevitable defeat as much grandeur and solemnity as it could muster this week, ably capturing the finer points of one of this arc’s most satisfying battles. One of the major challenges in adapting manga to anime is the management of pacing, and I thought this episode handled that quite well. Uraraka’s fight built steadily across the first half, leading to that climactic moment with her meteor shower in the air – and then, defeat.

The fundamental nature of this conflict is also just kinda impressive in either medium. My Hero Academia managed to take a fight that seemed like a foregone conclusion from the outset and actually make it tense and dramatically rewarding, without ever betraying the fact that Bakugo is just a much stronger physical fighter than Uraraka. And the fact that Uraraka fought well enough to make it seem like she had a chance helped the sadness and catharsis of the second half land as well. This sports festival arc sure is a special thing.

The Eccentric Family also went all-out this week, offering an episode that simultaneously demonstrated the show’s vivid strengths as an immediate character drama, warm family-focused slice of life, and thematic exploration of family, responsibility, and growing up. Yasaburo’s role in his family’s future took center stage in a way it hasn’t since way back in the first season, with Soun’s death offering the perfect opportunity for him and all of his brothers to reassess their life paths. Among many great choices, I really loved the moment when Yasaburo lost his cool and yelled at Yaichiro. Yasaburo prides himself on staying removed from daily drama, so seeing him pushed to the breaking point was a poignant reminder of how insecure he really feels about all of Kyoto’s drama. And the final scene between Kaisei and him was just as good, demonstrating the unique charm of their very specific chemistry. But picking favorites in this episode seems silly – this one was just a stunner from start to finish.

One thought on “Spring 2017 – Week 8 in Review

  1. Mamika’s been fantastic, almost single-handedly keeping Re:Creators among my favorites these past few weeks. She really nailed that honest, powerful, hopefulness, even (especially?) when she held to it despite recognizing that it might not get her as far in the new world. If this is the end for her I will be sad.

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