Winter 2017 – Week 9 in Review

The winter heavyweights were both firing on all cylinders this week. Fresh from directing what’s apparently the most perfect anime film ever, Yamada turned in what was likely Dragon Maid’s most technically accomplished episode yet. And over in Rakugo land, the final act continued in fierce fashion, as Bon struggled mightily against his own obsolescence. Seasons aren’t necessarily defined by only their best shows, but Winter ‘17’s top tier is making a strong argument in that favor. We only ever remember our favorites from any given year, anyway – even if nothing else stands out, as long as they shine bright, anime will keep. Let’s dive right into those and the other shows of the week!

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The Great Passage – Episode 1

The Great Passage opens with an evocative shot of a ferris wheel suspended over a great sea, an expanse the narrator describes as the “vast ocean of words.” Our thoughts are imperfect instruments with no inherent vessel, and so our natural state is to be stranded on islands of misunderstanding. Words give our meaning form, and allow our thoughts to connect across this sea. And dictionaries are the ships that cross it, offering clear and sturdy definitions to master the tides.

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 20

And so Shimada’s battle comes to an end. This episode wasn’t necessarily a full highlight, but the opening dream sequence was one of my favorite things the show’s pulled off yet, and there were plenty of other little highlights scattered throughout. I’m going to miss this focus on Shimada, but March doesn’t seem like a show that’d let a good character go to waste, so I’m sure we’ll see him again. You fought hard, Shimada. Now get some goddamn sleep.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below!

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Seiren – Episode 9

Seiren began its third arc this week, and that’s about all there is to say about it. Shoichi’s relationship with Kyoko does seem like it’ll be a bit more believable than the last two – instead of either being unconvincingly taken by Shoichi’s non-charms or the ultimate gamer girl, Kyoko has simply been friends with him forever. Their believable chemistry could easily make this Seiren’s best arc yet, but the bar has been set pretty low, so that still wouldn’t necessarily be all that impressive. Ah well.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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Why It Works: Tanya the Evil’s Unlikely Conscience

I turned back to Tanya for this week’s Why It Works, exploring what was easily the show’s most unexpectedly powerful episode yet. It’s pretty tricky to make a war story that actually, successfully embodies the awful nature of war, but somehow I think the fascist loli show nailed it. Partitioning was the key – Tanya is normally a pretty fun watch, but this episode was intentionally sober and dispiriting from start to finish. It was a pretty great episode!

Why It Works: Tanya the Evil’s Unlikely Conscience

Planetes – Episode 26

Planetes’ final episode is one long goodbye to all the people we’ve come to know. There’s virtually no conflict in this episode – as a series of arrivals and departures and long-awaited meetings, it feels more like a family reunion than a space drama. It’s bittersweet, as everything in life tends to be. It offers as much hope as a show like Planetes could hope to give.

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Bakemonogatari – Episode 7

We powered through the second episode of Suruga Monkey this time, which was largely spent establishing Araragi and Kanbaru’s relationship. The two of them have a pretty great rapport – like with Mayoi, they’re basically immediately friends, but unlike with Mayoi, at least half of Kanbaru’s jokes involve dunking on Araragi. I can’t say I mind having her lead the story for a bit!

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 6

Alright, let’s get right back in to Ojamajo Doremi. Last episode saw Doremi using magic to “save” her first classmate, if we are going by an incredibly loose and criminally generous definition of save. She also almost got herself, her classmate, and an innocent (if questionably designed) puppy killed in the process, but hey, magic is more art than science. The main trio also discovered the wonders of capitalism, and Majo Rika was bullied into investing in a new cash register. I am not sure I understand children’s entertainment anymore.

Anyway. All of that was plenty of fun, so let’s jump right in and see what episode six has in store. Ojamajo ho!

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Rurouni Kenshin Part III: The Legend Ends – Review

Today I conclude my journey through the live-action Kenshin films. This one was unfortunately the worst of the three, reflecting all of the dramatic sagginess you often end up with in trilogies. The film barely has a dramatic arc, and the plans of both its heroes and villains make too little sense to harbor much tension. Still, the fights were fun, and overall this was a pretty charming interpretation of the franchise. I didn’t watch all that much Kenshin as a teenager, but this trilogy definitely sold me on his world.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my brief notes below.

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Winter 2017 – Week 8 in Review

Anime was perfectly alright this week! No ridiculous highlights to report, but also no dramatic failures, with pretty much all my trusted shows turning in reasonable performances. Tanya apparently spent its week off meditating on the true ugliness of war, which was nice to see, while Dragon Maid recovered from last week’s missteps with a perfectly satisfying beach episode. Seiren wasn’t great, but Seiren isn’t great, so that’s not really news. And most importantly, I caught up on all of Kemono Friends, and even wrote an article over at Crunchyroll about one of the show’s various strengths. It’s been a satisfying week over here in anime land. Let’s take a look!

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