Fall 2016 – Week 10 in Review

We’re coming to the close now. With 2016 ending on America electing its first Russia-approved candidate, it’s a little hard for anime to really shock me, and so I’m perfectly fine with embracing stability in my Japanese cartoons. The fall’s highlights all seem to be ending strong at this point – Euphonium has risen from a weak middle arc to some stunning Asuka-focused material, Flip Flappers is actually making a coherent transition into its more straightforward endgame, and Yuri on Ice is finally giving Victor the focus he needs. And if strong new episodes aren’t enough for you, I also made posts I’m happy with for fans at either end of the pool: a next step recommendation list for new fans, and a dive into Studio Pablo’s background work for regulars. But these posts are for celebrating the week’s anime, so let’s get right back to that and RUN THIS WEEK DOWN!

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Sound! Euphonium 2 – Episode 10

Euphonium had another stunner this week, finishing off Asuka’s story in the most cathartic possible manner. Even Mamiko’s material was really great this time, and the contrast between the two couldn’t be starker – Mamiko’s scene was all quiet reflections on the realities of family, Asuka’s was a melodramatic showdown between two of the show’s most compelling figures. Euphonium 2 has had some rough patches, but this last arc has been the series at its best.

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

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Fall 2016 – Week 9 in Review

Turns out anime is good, everybody. Who would have guessed! As usual, nearly everything I’m watching this season operated at a level I generally just associate with my seasonal favorite, leaving me with a pile of cartoon riches to luxuriate in. Euphonium rallied from a weaker episode with possibly the strongest episode of the season, March continued to lay sturdy dramatic bricks in between episodic pleasures, and Flip Flappers steered itself right back towards the compelling bonds between the three leads. Even JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was acting like it had something to prove, working hard to give Hayato’s struggle all the manic energy it deserves. Anime will likely go back to being bad again soon, but I can’t say I mind having barely anything to complain about. But I’m not doing this critic shtick for nothing, so let’s start off with some complaints and then work our way to the fawning praise!

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Sound! Euphonium 2 – Episode 9

Hoo boy was this a stunner. I was feeling a little down on this show after last week’s fairly mundane episode, but then Ishidate had to show up and just blow the doors off Asuka’s story. This was one of the best episodes in either season of Euphonium, a stunning tribute to one of the show’s most enigmatic and compelling characters. Asuka is a terrific character, and sometimes it feels like this is the only studio equipped to handle her. Euphonium continues to be full of wonderful surprises.

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

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Fall 2016 – Week 8 in Review

This week in anime felt a little lonely, courtesy of March taking a sick day, but the rest of our contenders did their best to liven things. Flip Flappers and Euphonium had unexpectedly ordinary episodes (at least for those shows’ definitions of ordinary), but Girlish Number continued to focus on strong character writing over industry commentary, which is definitely where the show shines. Kira found himself with yet another ridiculously specific serial killing-enabling power, and Yuri on Ice decided it was time to introduce a tragic incest narrative and make Yurio a catboy. All in all it was a pretty standard week down on the anime farm, but I still found a thing or two worth talking about. Let’s run ‘em down!

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Sound! Euphonium 2 – Episode 8

Sound! Euphonium had a pretty subdued episode this week, and seemed to be in something of a dramatic transition period. Mamiko’s clashes with her family were the most compelling moments here, but those generally rode on the inherent nature of the conflict or the show’s terrific voice acting more than astonishing visual execution. Certainly not an ostentatious episode, but still a pretty reasonable one. And of course, small Kumiko is very good.

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

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Fall 2016 – Week 7 in Review

It was very clear this week that many of this season’s shows took careful notes based on my first half in review post, and adjusted their content accordingly. Normally it takes at least a few weeks for shows to shift gears based on my exact preferences, so I was happy to see the response time so accelerated here. Shows like Girlish Number and Sound! Euphonium clearly took my complaints to heart, and as we all know, being able to accept constructive criticism is an admirable quality. I’m glad we can all agree anime turns out better when it listens to me specifically.

Alright, impossibility of my writing affecting anime production in any way whatsoever aside, this week really did see many shows directly tackling some of my existing complaints. Girlish Number dug in to its cast, Euphonium emphasized the variables that had worked in the first season, Yuri on Ice offered its most well-earned and best-composed personal material yet, and Flip Flappers was just fantastic in all regards. The fall season continues to impress in new ways, so let’s start with those flip flaps and RUN ‘EM DOWN!

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Sound! Euphonium 2 – Episode 7

Sound! Euphonium really returned to the strengths of the first season this week, with a conflict that echoed that season’s key variables in both its relevant characters and its thematic substance. Haruka and Asuka make for a fascinating pair, and this episode made the most of each of them, making for a strong comeback after some shaky narrative territory. I’ve been told the third book is stronger than the second in general, so here’s to more great character drama to come!

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

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Fall 2016 – First Half in Review

The season’s halfway point has arrived! Normally this is the part where I’d comment on how quickly time seems to be passing, and probably make some offhand gesture towards our inescapable mortality, but given we just concluded one of the most horrific and dispiriting political contests in my country’s history, it really doesn’t seem like time’s been passing all that fast lately. But if you wanted fatigued political commentary, you’d check my twitter feed – in spite of all else, the world keeps turning, and that means talking about cartoons!

This season has been offering us a terrific bounty so far, presenting close to half the shows that will likely star in my year-end list. The better shows get, the more small-minded and useless it seems to rank them in any kind of reductive list, but what’s the point of a tradition if it’s not celebrated far past the point of reason? So let’s once more do that thing I always do, starting at the top and running down my favorites of the season so far!

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Sound! Euphonium – Episode 6

Sound! Euphonium had a goofy cooldown episode this week, which was reasonable enough for what it is. As I discuss at length in my review, Euphonium’s second season has consistently suffered for its adaptive nature, and so I’m not really expecting it to match the self-contained greatness of the first season. It’s messier, and the drama emerges far less naturally from the fundamentals of the narrative, and that’s just what we gotta deal with. Anime is a tricky business!

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

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