And we’re back for the second half of Stardust Crusaders! This one won’t be a huge surprise if you’ve been following my week in review posts – I found SC’s second half to be a huge improvement over the first, and a legitimate return to form for the show overall. Lots of exciting fights with far better narrative composition, some really great visual tricks echoing the style of the first season, and even better music. The last dozen or so episodes of SC in particular were almost all the series at its best, from Pet Shop through Vanilla Ice and on to Dio himself. Egypt Arc has me eagerly awaiting the third season/fourth arc, whenever JoJo returns to us.
Spring season is nearly ending, bringing with it that seasonal terror of aging and a whole bunch of finales. Spring’s shows seem to be ending reasonably well on average, though this week had its stronger and weaker episodes. The big hit this time was Blood Blockade Battlefront, which rallied back from a weaker episode and a recap with likely its best episode so far. Sound! Euphonium had a stellar episode as well, though it’s hard to pick a favorite in that one. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure also had a fine ending, and Nagato Yuki-chan maintained its streak, though the staying power of its current trick seems like it may be running out. Other episodes were less strong, but nothing seems to be actually falling apart at this point – I’ve dropped too aggressively for that. Anyway, let’s get to ’em!
The lack of BBB made for a noticeably lighter week this time, considering I’m only watching seven shows, but JoJo stepped up to the action plate with one of its all-time best and also most ridiculous episodes. Those two things aren’t necessarily the same, either – there were plenty of Stardust Crusaders episodes that, while they were certainly ridiculous, simply weren’t that exciting. No sense of danger, and more just wacky and nonsensical than “goddamnit JoJos that solution is ridiculous.” Here, like with the best of Battle Tendency, the absurdity came from the contrast between the heavy, consistent stakes and the wild, ridiculous execution and solutions. It…
Wait, hold on, JoJo’s gonna get its own section anyway. Alright, let’s get right to that then, and RUN ‘EM DOWN.
Another very fine week in a very fine season. Oregairu and Euphonium both pulled off characteristically wonderful episodes this week, but the real surprises were JoJo and – I’m serious – Nagato Yuki. On the JoJo side, the Dio-Kakyoin fight managed to not only be exciting and entertaining, but genuinely beautiful. And on the Nagato Yuki side, an abrupt shift in tone resulted in an episode that was almost equally beautiful in its own way, slow-building and melancholy and just brimming with a compelling, deeply felt sense of atmosphere. Color me extremely surprised!
Alright, enough preamble. LET’S RUN ‘EM DOWN.
I should have something piercing and salient to say here, but really I’m just staring at all the stupid faces I chose for the episodes this week and giggling to myself. Goddamnit Takeo. Goddamnit Shinji. Hurray for silly anime faces.
Anyway, some anime came out this week. It wasn’t the best week, outside of Oregairu having one more Holy Shit Good episode, but most of the episodes were reasonable nonetheless. Let’s run ’em down!
Holy crap did this week have some peaks. God damn. Not all the episodes here were great, but the ones that were… I’d be surprised and ecstatic to see Oregairu and Euphonium’s episodes here somehow be challenged for positions in the top 5 episodes of the year. They were both just That Good – that full of everything that makes their respective series great, and that satisfying as a realization of everything that had come before. Those two episodes were stunning, and I feel lucky to be watching two shows that good in the same season.
Anyway, some other episodes came out too, I guess. Let’s run ’em down!
There were some good episodes this week, with JoJo and Oregairu tossing out particular standouts, but overall, I have to say this one was defined by its worst episodes. Nagato Yuki had a second straight episode that was just completely without merit, and Unlimited Blade Works hit what I really, deeply hope has to be rock bottom. Last week I expressed hope that Caster’s absence would help the show regain a sense of momentum – well, apparently Archer had other plans. He’s always been one of the weakest parts of this show, and this episode was his grand performance, where twenty minutes of dialogue conveyed ten lines of information we already knew. I’m too far in to stop now, but UBW is not making the ride easy.
But that’s enough doom and gloom for now. Let’s talk JOJO.
Time again at last. Episodes have passed, cartoons have risen and fallen, and the moment has arrived for us to once again slot stories into a reductive hierarchy that cheapens the very idea of media consumption. Does ranking shows inherently contribute to a system that commodifies art and undercuts the complexity of emotional engagement? Are we essentially belittling ourselves by implying that our relationship with the stories we choose to consume can be summed up through a simple “eh, at least it’s better than this other one?” Will any of the people whose attitudes I’m critiquing in this opening paragraph possibly not skip to the numbers themselves, rendering this sarcastic thought experiment totally pointless?
Maybe so. But goddamnit, we’re gonna do it anyway.
Things have remained consistent this week – so consistent that I’m almost regretting dropping the wildcards. Not that I don’t have enough to watch, of course – a new review came out this week, and there should be more coming soon, so I’ve certainly been watching plenty of cartoons. But what is there to say about this season? The top three (Oregairu, BBB, Sound! Euphonium) remain incredibly stable, Ore Monogatari!! is as heartwarming as ever, and JoJo, UBW, and Yuki are all doing things you’d probably expect from them. I don’t want any of the great shows to fail, so I guess it’s up to the bottom half to surprise me – time to shape up, action shows and Yuki! Give me at least an opening paragraph’s worth of human interest story, so I don’t need to return to the “I’ve got nothing to talk about” well for two weeks straight.
Alright, filled my word quota. LET’S RUN ‘EM DOWN.
It was do or die time this week, and two shows ended up on the chopping block – both Plastic Memories and Punch Line won’t be joining us for the rest of the season. Punch Line was always a stretch, but I’m pretty sad to see Plastic Memories go. Fortunately, those drops are really just reflective of what I already knew about this season – the top tier is fantastic, everything else is kinda crap. BBB, Oregairu, Sound! Euphonium, and Ore Monogatari!! remain excellent, Unlimited Blade Works and JoJo are still perfectly entertaining, and Nagato Yuki is… well, Nagato Yuki. Keep doing your thing, Nagato.