Winter 2016 – Week 9 in Review

Anime stayed pretty respectable this week, offering up reasonable episodes all around. It seems like Rakugo’s going to the only show I can call truly great by the end of this season, though. ERASED just has too many moments where its thriller mechanics drag down its more compelling variables, and though Grimgar is quite interesting and unique, it’s also a very uneven production. The season’s second tier is also somewhat questionable; Konosuba and Dagashi Kashi both regularly gesture towards jokes that don’t work in the slightest, and Active Raid is pretty much just an average crime procedural. The season has managed to hold together to the point where I’m not actively disappointed, but I’m still very ready for the much richer spring season to begin.

That said, at least Rakugo continues to knock it out of the park every week. So let’s start right there as we run ’em down!

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Winter 2016 – Week 8 in Review

Anime was good this week! Basically every show I’m watching had a solid episode, and some impressed with legitimate highlights, too. Both Konosuba and Dagashi Kashi have now established their character relationships firmly enough that they can often just coast on audience investment, and ERASED pulled off a real stunner this week, focusing largely on Hinazuki’s feelings for the first time. Grimgar executed a major action sequence with characteristic emotional grace, and Rakugo Shinju continued to be just as great as it always is. This season has a fairly light spread of shows, but you don’t really need catalog depth if the first couple tiers are holding strong. Let’s get right into this week’s highlights and RUN ‘EM DOWN!

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The Magic of the Stage in Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

My newest editorial is up over at ANN! This one very unsurprisingly tackles my favorite show of the season, Rakugo Shinju, going into it largely from the perspective of how its framing choices elevate its performance scenes. Rakugo definitely gives me more than enough to talk about, and it was actually kind of a challenge here to decide what not to discuss. The show is a fantastic work, the easy highlight of the year so far, and I really enjoyed digging into it. I hope you enjoy the piece!

The Magic of the Stage in Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

Rakugo

Winter 2016 – Week 7 in Review

This week in anime was a week in anime. We’re entering that stretch of the season where shows often become kinda tough to write about – they’ve established a firm rhythm and personality at this point, but they’re not quite into the leadup to the climax, and so episodes can oftentimes just be described as “pretty much like the last episode, I guess.” Even a show like Konosuba, one of this season’s most inconsistent wildcards, is now at least becoming steady in its inconsistency. There were some slight dips and slight rises among individual shows, but everything is at the moment falling within the margin of error of its existing expectations. That doesn’t mean things are impossible to talk about – that just means I have to work harder to find good points of interest. So sit there and appreciate my hard work as I run this week down!

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Winter 2016 – Week 5 in Review

I hate to say it, but this was not a good week in anime. Everything beyond Rakugo Shinju and ERASED has been kinda iffy this season, but this week, not only did ERASED put out its worst episode by far, but both Dimension W and KonoSuba were so bad that I’m probably dropping them until further notice. I was already sort of on the edge with both of those shows, and it honestly wouldn’t take that much to convince me to give KonoSuba another episode, but when half the shows you’re watching disappoint you, it’s not a good scene. ERASED in particular was a real disappointment – the show’s existing issues of overselling dramatic peaks and just being too much of a boilerplate thriller took over entirely this week, leaving me with an episode that felt more silly than dramatically effective. But that said, there were also highlights to make up the difference, and I can always use the time saved to work on more Current Projects! Let’s start at the top and RUN ‘EM DOWN.

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Winter 2016 – Week 4 in Review

Things are still settling to some extent here in the fourth week, largely due to the fact that a full third of my current watch group consists of comedies. Comedies are tricky, and comedies are inconsistent, and comedies have much less of a tendency to settle into a reliable groove than most genres. So while Rakugo and ERASED continue to be excellent week after week, this time Konosuba was pretty terrible, while Dagashi Kashi was actually consistently funny. Other than that, I’m beginning to lose patience with Dimension W – the show is reasonably watchable, but absolutely nothing beyond that, possessing virtually no personality and being more interesting as a demographic artifact than an actual piece of media. Grimgar, on the other hand, is all personality, personality to a fault, and that actually makes it my third-favorite show at the moment. All that and more in this week’s Week in Review! Let’s RUN ‘EM DOWN!

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Winter 2016 – Week 3 in Review

The season’s shows are still jostling at this point, jockeying for position and demonstrating which of their early strengths they can maintain and as-of-yet not quite imploding. Rakugo Shinju and ERASED are the easy top contenders, but beyond that, it’s a mixed field of shows that are either imbalanced, lacking in ambition, or somewhat inconsistent, but all still more or less worth watching. It’s probably not the generally strongest member of this pack, but Grimgar is actually the one I have the highest hopes for. The show’s weaknesses are loud and frustrating and obvious, but its strengths are very unique, and that appeals to me more than something like Dimension W’s straightforward but somewhat flavorless polish. But the overall crop still makes this easily the best season since last spring, so I’d say this is a good place to be. Let’s RUN ‘EM DOWN!

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