I don’t tend to enjoy writing negative stuff. If I can make some kind of upbeat game or challenge out of it, like I did when writing about Strike Witches or Dragonar Academy, it can be pretty okay – but when it’s just a grim reporting of disappointment and failure, continuing week after week, that’s just the saddest kind of writing. I like being enthusiastic about stuff, and sharing that enthusiasm with people, and lately it’s been feeling like my week in review posts are just too dang negative. But like all good critics, I’m going to remain confident the problem isn’t with me, it’s with the media. I’m just watching too many bad shows! I’ve got bad shows I’m watching on contract and bad shows I’m watching on faith and mediocre shows I’m watching for their occasional glimmers of greatness. If not for all these bad shows, everything would be fine.
So yeah, I’m looking forward to next season. The only show I’ll really be sad to see go is Owarimonogatari, and that one ended so well that I can’t even complain (plus hey, Kizu’s on its way). Other than that, this shambling collections of rejects and ne’er-do-wells can just shuffle on into the past, and we can embrace a whole new collection of anime hopes and dreams. Plus I’ll be posting my top ten shows of the year about a week from now, and it doesn’t really get more positive than that! This cloud shall pass, but for now, let’s take a somewhat skeptical look back at this week’s shows and RUN ‘EM DOWN.
And so The Perfect Insider comes to an end. This episode was pretty much of a piece with the last one – more meaningless pseudo-philosophy from our resident pseudo-geniuses, more glum reflections on how this entire show has essentially been yanking my chain. There were definitely nice moments here, though – the whole thing looked perfectly nice (I’m still totally cool with this show’s subdued color palette), and the long conversation between Moe and Souhei was actually pretty great. But basically every Magata moment was a chore, and there were a lot of Magata moments. Congratulations, Perfect Insider. You really had me going there.
This week in anime wasn’t the best, I’m sad to say. My reliable favorites were reliable-to-great, but… well, there are only two of those. And everything else kinda let me down. I feel like I’ve more or less set myself up for disappointment this season – instead of accepting that it’s a bad season and relying wholly on backlist shows to get me through, I’ve basically just assumed a handful of shows are permanently in “dud episodes” and keep feeling disappointed when they consistently prove their dud episodes are actually just their normal episodes. It’s no way to live, frankly, and I don’t actually know if next season offers any escape – considering how tentative my excitement is for basically everything on my preview list, it seems pretty likely that Monogatari and Iron-Blooded Orphans will be next season’s best shows, too.
But I don’t mean to depress you. Even if this week’s shows were bad (and even when it comes to what I was reviewing for ANN, they were), that doesn’t mean I don’t have stuff to say about ’em. And hey, not every show tripped on its face – in fact, Owarimonogatari pulled off an episode that I’d probably count among the best of the year. So let’s put on a brave face, assume a stiff upper lip, and contort your muscles in any other way you feel appropriate as we RUN ‘EM DOWN.
Good lord was this episode ever silly. Perfect Insider’s mystery has always been silly, but this episode just completely leaned into its “reveals” as if it was expecting them to come off as either compelling or profound, and noooope. Like Souhei and Magata’s philosophy, it’s just total nonsense. I guess I got taken in on the long con by this show, but I don’t really mind – there were plenty of strong elements throughout (even this episode was very pretty), and I’d rather be optimistic about shows than not. Sometimes a show knows its characters are ridiculous, and sometimes it’s just as ridiculous as they are.
We’re approaching the end of the season, which at this point means we’re also approaching the end of the year. On a seasonal level, this means shows have really stopped pulling out too many surprises – Perfect Insider and One Punch Man demonstrated some welcome strengths over the last few weeks, but even they seem to be settling into a rhythm for the finales. And on an annual level, this means holy crap it’s time to do all that end-of-the-year nonsense! I’ve more or less settled on my top ten shows of the year, and am working my butt off to manage that list, weekly reviews, actual full show reviews, and regular current project articles for all you lovely people. It’s been an extremely busy week on basically all those fronts; I spent a great deal of last week barreling through way too many episodes of Black Lagoon, and this past weekend I also managed to sneak in the excellent When Marnie Was There. All those and many more attractions in this here week in review! Let’s RUN IT ALL DOWN!
The Perfect Insider had a fine episode this week, though not a spectacular one. Some of that admittedly comes down to storytelling preference – while I was all about the evocative flashbacks and nice character moments of the last two weeks, an episode wholly focused on mystery plot is almost guaranteed not to thrill me. But even though this mystery is completely ridiculous, this episode had solid pacing and enough coherent reveals to keep things interesting. Plus reviewing it gave me a chance to talk about mystery storytelling in general, which is always fun
This week in anime was really good! Super good, in fact! It wasn’t just held up by one or two shows – almost every show I’m watching (aside from Beautiful Bones, but that doesn’t really count) either held strong or pulled off one of its best episodes, and a bunch of these episodes even demonstrated strengths their shows hadn’t previously exhibited. The Perfect Insider was full of strong character moments, Owarimonogatari returned to the beautiful art designs of arcs long past, and One Punch Man succeeded not just as an animation showcase, but as an emotional drama. I’ve got all sorts of good things to say about these episodes, so let’s get right to it and RUN ‘EM DOWN!
The Perfect Insider pulled out another great episode this week, cementing the rally it began in last week’s episode. Instead of working to push the overt narrative forward or give us lots of new information, this one instead honed in on the relationship between Moe and Souhei, offering up some of their most compelling exchanges since the very first episode. Between last week’s reveals and this week’s behavior, Souhei is actually somehow coming into his own as a character, coming across as pretentious for sure, but also legitimately dedicated to Moe in a familial way. Now that it seems clear there’s never going to be any romance there, and for a very good and understandable reason, their relationship is much more engaging. I hope the show can keep this up through the ending.
It’s Wednesday again, which means time once more for the ol’ week in anime! And this week in anime was… well, it was a week in anime. Not really all that much to report, frankly – pretty much everything maintained a fairly even keel, acting more or less in the ways you’d expect them to act. The biggest outlier this time was The Perfect Insider, in that it was both very good and good in ways that defied standard expectations, but everything else existed within its expected parameters. That said, there’s still plenty of finer details to sift through, and I actually watched a fair amount of non-weekly anime this week, so don’t worry, I’ll make today’s tour worth your while. So pull up a comfortable chair and let’s RUN ‘EM DOWN.
The Perfect Insider rallied back in style this week, speeding up and digging in and whatever other cliche term you want to use for something that wasn’t doing well no longer continuing to do that. We got great scenes with Moe, Magata, and (amazingly) Souhei, a bunch of compelling visual ideas, and more plot/character movement in one episode than we’ve seen in half the series so far. Moe’s journey in Magata’s dream-machine was probably the highlight – those CG legos seemed questionable when they were just sitting there in Magata’s room, but if that concession was necessary to allow for this visual trick, I am all for it. Watching young Moe crying in the hanger as the background disintegrated behind her is one of the most compelling anime images I’ve seen in a while. Nice work, Perfect Insider.