Well folks, it’s time for the Week in Review. Once again, my lack of weekly anime watches has me fumbling around for other stuff to write about, but the anime I am watching was pretty strong this week, so I can only slightly complain. My Hero Academia friggin’ nailed the end of the Hero Killer arc, and Made in Abyss is already making the most of its great premise and gorgeous art design. This season may be a show or two short of a full package, but hey, that just means I can work on more Current Projects for everybody. We may be in the midst of a drought, but our backlogs are a vast ocean just waiting to be explored. Anyway, I’ll quit with the doomsaying here, and get work running this week down!
We finally, well and truly entered the abyss in this week’s Made in Abyss, diving into the depths with a finality that actually surprised me. Three episodes in, I wasn’t really expecting the show to already discard all of its secondary characters – I figured either Rico and Reg might actually get caught, or that we’d split our time between following them and returning to the surface crew. But Made in Abyss actually made the most audience-pleasing choice of all, dropping our two leads an almost unrecoverable distance into the pit pretty much immediately. The material with Rico’s adult friend didn’t really thrill me here, but the moments of them exploring and fleeing and foraging for food were all wonderful. Made in Abyss is more purely dedicated to Adventure as an ideal than virtually any other show, and it’s actually being executed with enough consistent beauty to make that work. I cannot wait to see whatever comes next.
My Hero Academia made the absolute most of the Hero Killer arc’s finale, combining solid animation and even better direction to arrive at one of season two’s best episodes. The My Hero Academia adaptation’s direction has played it safe far too often in the past, sticking awkwardly closely to manga panels, but I felt this episode’s punchy transitions and well-used animation solidly elevated it above the manga’s rendition of this material. The voice acting and color work actually managed to make Stain feel even more imposing than in the manga, and the material added for Endeavor here was thrilling in its own way. Perhaps I just don’t remember it that well, but I felt this episode demonstrated a nuance in the relationship between Todoroki and Endeavor that the manga didn’t really convey. Either way, both the final fight in the alley and the Nomu battles in the streets were terrific, making this a more than respectable conclusion to one of My Hero Academia’s lesser arcs.
Classroom of the Elite went just as stupid as I was fearing this week, ending on a secret personality twist that pretty much severed my hopes for it actually amounting to anything more than schlocky, classroom-performance-as-battle-royale fun. That said, the battle royale thing could still be a pretty fine time, so I’m not feeling too bad about sticking with this one. And as long as its campy stuff is still intermingled with occasional reflections on the inhumanity of society, I certainly won’t lack for things to write about.
And rounding out my anime week, Tsuredure Children introduced a few new characters this week, including a pair whose gimmick is (so far) “the texting couple.” One of Tsuredure Children’s greatest strengths, beyond its general ear for comedy and all that, is how perfectly well-observed everything feels – that is, it all feels like something you could easily see happening, if not something that actually did happen to you. The various pitfalls of this texting duo were very exactly that, from the girl’s incredibly strained texting posture to the boy freaking out about the time delay between texts when his partner was just busy eating peaches. In a show that’s built around the charm and comedy of conversational misunderstandings, texting offered a rich new vein of true-to-life romcom failures, making this new couple a great addition to the series.
The return to Goda and Kamine was also great, not only because it’s just nice to see these couples actually dating, but also because of the welcome shift in perspective. Goda and Kamine’s big conceit is that they can never tell what the other is thinking, so flipping from the Goda-perspective confession to the Kamine-perspective early dating made for a charming reversal. I really don’t know where this incredibly well-realized romcom came from, but it’s putting pretty much all its romantic competition to shame.
Moving on from anime, this week’s Game of Thrones did a great deal more work in answering one of my biggest questions coming into this season: how the heck are they gonna make this tough for Daenerys. At the start of season seven, Daenerys had the support of the Tyrells, the Martells, and Yara Greyjoy’s fleet within the Seven Kingdoms themselves. Additionally, she had an army of Unsullied, an army of Dothraki, three friggin’ full-grown dragons, and control of Dragonstone, pretty much the perfect place to launch an attack on King’s Landing. In contrast, Cersei just had what was left of the Lannister army and (very soon) Euron Greyjoy, with everyone in the North actively hating her and Littlefinger allied with them. That’s not a good recipe for an underdog story – given those conditions, Daenerys should have crushed Cersei’s opposition with time for tea.
In light of that, the first few episodes of season seven have very understandably gone about systematically destroying all of her resources. Her fleets are crushed, Westerosi allies dead or captured, and even her Unsullied are trapped a continent away. All these brutal defeats have had the awkward side effect of making Tyrion look like the worst strategist in the history of the Seven Kingdoms, but they’ve been kinda necessary to establish a conflict where it actually looks like Daenerys will probably lose. I mentioned before how the first episodes of this season felt like a sequence of series-long payoffs – that segment has ended, and now it’s clear that Game of Thrones is planning on wiping the board for one last build to victory, starting with Daenerys at nothing and Cersei at everything. Frankly, I don’t really like Daenerys at this point (she’s not a particularly good leader, she has a bad temperament for it anyway, and her rags to riches narrative is full of convenient holes), but I can appreciate how hard the show is working to keep things dramatic.