I guess I should have stopped talking about the anime being good! The cosmos apparently did not appreciate my joy, and so this week in anime was pretty friggin’ bad. The Eccentric Family had easily its worst episode of the season, Sakura Quest kinda fell into its lazy sitcom mode, and Re:Creators took a couple of turns so disappointing that I felt tempted to drop the show altogether. Not really a good showing for what had looked like a pretty bulletproof season.
Still, My Hero Academia had a fucking amazing episode, and one bad week isn’t really enough to shake anything I’m watching. Plus I know you guys love to read through my suffering, so I guess at least one audience gets to benefit from this week’s disappointments. Let’s start with the good news and run this week down!
This week’s Tsuki ga Kirei felt like Akane and Kotarou’s reward for suffering through all the anxieties of the last few episodes. After a brief bit of social discomfort courtesy of their now-public relationship status, the rest of the episode was a breezy date that followed them from after school all the way through a summer festival. While Tsuki ga Kirei’s last few episodes have demonstrated that actually getting into a relationship isn’t really the end of drama, this episode was equally adept at demonstrating how active relationships can be just as charming and rewarding in a positive sense as people striving to get together. Tsuki ga Kirei is far from a perfect show, but I’d be happy to see other shows take lessons from this one, and actually let their leads get together.
My Hero Academia went goddamn insane for this week’s episode, lavishing the Deku-Todoroki fight in all the visual spectacle it could muster. Beyond the sharp pacing and gorgeous animation of sequences like their final clash, this week obviously benefited from the fact that this was the crowning moment of the story’s most tightly written arc so far. All of the arc’s consistent questions about parents and children were leading up to this climactic moment, where Deku’s happy circumstances offered him the strength to reach out to someone with a far less supportive family. Todoroki’s violent history and fear of becoming his father were a natural counterpoint to Deku’s origins, and the story acknowledged the seriousness of those conditions while still offering an optimistic path forward. Even on a tactical level, the shift from the early minutes of Deku using his fingers like ammunition to the later segments of the two brawling in more emotionally driven terms was handled with grace. They nailed it.
Sakura Quest offered a pretty routine conclusion to its food festival arc this week, resolving Shiori’s dedicated narrative cleanly, if not with any real distinction. Part of my dissatisfaction with this episode was likely due to the fact that I just think Sakura Quest is a more powerful production when its protagonists aren’t winning – I’m clearly not against optimistic narratives in general, but when Sakura Quest goes optimistic, it tends to come off like a routine episodic sitcom. The somen festival here didn’t really offer any dramatic or character-based thrills, and the simple resolution to Shiori’s sister’s narrative made me wonder why her story was even introduced in the first place. That said, the episode did do a reasonable job of illustrating Shiori’s growth, and most of the comedy here was still pretty solid, so Sakura Quest is still a perfectly watchable show. I guess I should expect a mix of hits and misses from this one.
Continuing with the bad news, this week’s Eccentric Family was unfortunately the weakest episode of the second season. The second season as a whole has been a bit of a step down from the bar set by the first, and this episode neatly demonstrated at least a couple of reasons why. Much of the content here felt like a direct retread of the first season’s conflicts, and on top of that, the jumble of conflicts being addressed here felt very unfocused as well. There were certainly nice individual scenes, like Yajiro’s exit and Benten’s final arrival, but overall this felt like a board-arranging episode in a show that normally aims for a much higher level of episode-to-episode delights. But the season’s been pretty consistent on the whole, so hopefully next week will be a return to form.
And apparently not desiring to be left out, Re:Creators didn’t so much have a “step down” so much as it mostly straight-up sucked this week. First off, the episode opened by killing Mamika, which made me realize her character was maybe 75% of the reason I’m still watching this show. Grim, bloody battle royales do almost nothing for me, but the way the show contrasted its world against Mamika’s philosophy was great, and removing her means I basically only care about Meteora now. On top of that, her death was turned into a kind of contrived misunderstanding dance by Magane, which is pretty much the least interesting direction this story could go. The conflicts prompted by the different ways this show’s creations view the human world, and the ways humans view them, are pretty fascinating – in contrast, “we’re killing each other because someone tricked us into thinking we’re enemies” is about the cheapest possible dramatic motivation. Perhaps if Magane were better-written or had a motivation beyond “I’m evil lol” that might work, but right now she’s not a character, she’s a force of narrative contrivance.
That said, the episode concluded with Sota finally opening up to Meteora, so all hope isn’t lost quite yet. This was close to a backbreaking episode for Re:Creators, but I’m gonna give it another episode to see if it’s truly lost or not.