And so the summer ends. I really couldn’t be more burnt out on talking about anime, considering I just finished three 8+ page essays on TWGOK, Uchouten Kazoku, and Gatchaman Crowds, but I’ll at least wave my hand in the direction of final impressions.
Initially, I wasn’t really sure if there was a point to reviewing this one. I mean, it’s the third season of a self-aware harem comedy/parody. If you’re watching it, you know what you’re getting, and if you’re not, you know why you’re not. What would be the audience for a piece like that?
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this season basically makes the show. Sure, it’s always been funny. Sure, it’s always taken pointed but lighthearted jabs at harem scenarios and anime character writing. But this season takes the gloves off. This season makes a point.
Alright, I’m gonna use one of my least favorite words here. Normally, I think it’s both misapplied and meaningless, but for once, it just might be appropriate.
TWGOK S3 completes the show’s arc as a deconstruction of harem comedies.
Keima you better not fuck this up I swear to god. Although I don’t know how he can avoid screwing this up – Chihiro’s basically demanding he give up on the system he’s relied on so far, and actually falling in love with the girls isn’t necessarily any better than his usual shenanigans. Plus screw Ayumi who cares about her anyway. Alright. Gotta maintain some distance here. Can’t let this shit get to me. Gotta stay cool.
Agh can’t do it Chihiro better win. I know the manga is ongoing, and they still have to actually resolve the goddess stuff (though at this point it’s pretty clear the point of this arc has been merely to complicate the standard structure, not actually replace it). But I don’t give a crap about any of that. Keima and Chihiro are funny and adorable together, and she’s the only non-demon he seems comfortable being his usual abrasive self with. I know this show’s largely a comedy, but give me a hint of real romance and I will not be satisfied with anything but. Pander to me, show. PANDER TO ME.
Very excited for this one. Glorious confrontation, glorious consequences. Chihiro actually learning what Keima is has to be one of the best possible directions they could take this – she’s always had one of the best honest rapports with Keima, and I think promoting her to series regular would make the usual dynamic much more entertaining.
Either way, Keima’s probably gonna get hit again. Win-win!
Keima how are you going to make this okay. Last episode sucked. And by sucked I mean it was clearly the best thing this series has ever done, holy shit TWGOK when did you get this good. Keima is finally suffering real consequences from constantly manipulating people, and the show’s not pulling any punches. I’m glad they’re also revealing how tired of all this he’s become – he isn’t just an asshole, and the fact that his standard system of dealing with the world has deeply hurt someone clearly weighs on him. I hope they don’t give that weariness up – frankly, I like shows that put their characters through the emotional gauntlet, and I’d like to see more cracks appear in Keima’s heretofore close to unflappable confidence. This is honestly the last show I thought I’d be hoping would take its characters emotions seriously, but last episode was a complete game-changer.
Of course now that I’ve said that, we’re gonna have a wacky misunderstanding festival date episode or something, right?
0:12 – Uh oh. Looks like he’ll have to use… that
Gawd that line’s so trashy. Can’t believe they used it in Gargantia
0:32 – Predator mode activated
2:38 – Will Keima’s talents ever stop emerging?
3:04 – And we’re back into anime archetype land . Sure, he callously mocked my best friend’s feelings – but he might like me!
3:42 – This director really loves Ayumi’s boobs
3:49 – Seriously though these shots
7:08 – This isn’t wacky at all
7:34 – NOW he chooses honesty? Yeah, seriously
7:53 – I really could get used to this. Also love Keima’s incredibly terrible plan here
9:12 – Yeah jeez, how dare she be honest with Chihiro
10:09 – Still not seeing the wackiness
10:34 – Well crap. This escalated quickly
11:17 – Aw, Haqua gets her big damn hero moment
16:26 – Maybe my favorite line of the show. Look, we’re not making Shakespeare here, alright?
17:23 – Wow, this really brings the harem masculine savior fantasy thing to a whole new level
18:09 – A third-act peace offering from the loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules? Hey, if the narrative shoe fits, wear it
19:27 – Ooh, good trick. Totally forgot about that
20:16 – Aw, just let her join the damn team. This show’s a big jerk
Welp, guess it’s endgame time. I’m glad they haven’t just dropped the significance of Chihiro’s situation – this episode certainly wasn’t very kind, but that’s vastly preferable to just dropping her character to focus on the derpy fantasy stuff (I agree with Ayumi, it could use a rewrite). As I’ve said before, her and Keima seem to possess actual chemistry, and not just senpai-noticed-me archetype-versus-MC level chemistry. I would be happy to see her be a more regular presence going forward.
Anyway, aside from that it was a pretty workmanly episode, mainly lifted by its best gags (Elsie once again works incredibly well in small doses). Looks like we’re well on our way to the thrilling finale.
Who’s ready for some tears? I’m ready for some tears. Keima’s been getting away with this date-juggling for too long, and I think it’s time for the hammer to fall. Bring on the waterworks.
0:12 – It begins! You might not like what you find, Ayumi!
2:49 – Oh god that expression. Yeah, I know that feeling.
Chihiro is maybe the only capture-girl Keima actually seems to have real conversations with, and not just lines from that archetype’s script. I guess that’s the consequence of her being defined as the “normal” girl
3:07 – Jeez, this scene is really good. Most romantic comedies that actually want you to care about the romance can’t pull together scenes this refreshingly grounded and honest
3:47 – NO! BAD Katsuragi! We do not shove girls onto benches!
3:59 – Keima seems even more shook up than usual. And look, he’s learned about consent!
4:15 – ABORT. ABORT. Man, now I don’t want any delicious tears. These two are actually pretty adorable together
5:37 – HOLY SHIT KEIMA YOU TREMENDOUS ASSHOLE. Keima plz no
6:37 – She actually likes Katsuragi , and not one of his endless variations on debonair MC-kun. A new experience for him
7:42 – Ermahgerd this is such a good direction to take this. Keima’s greatest challenge – a girl who likes him for him
8:55 – KEIMA WHYYYYY
9:56 – Seriously holy shit this scene. That was awful.
10:22 – Don’t even try it Keima . This is gonna be one satisfying slap
10:35 – Aw man even better. HIT HIM AGAIN
Incidentally, I realize Keima’s working for the ostensible “greater good” here, but… fuck it, HIT HIM AGAIN
10:55 – Aw, Keima. His position really is pretty terrible
13:03 – This scene is pretty great . Diana is a bad friend
14:00 – Is Keima even going to be able to go back to games after this arc? Chihiro has pretty definitely shown the consequences of toying with people like this
14:16 – Suffering yesss
21:35 – IT’S ALL CONNECTED . I actually love the silliness of these deductions
21:57 – Brilliant!
Christ. That was even more tragic than I could have imagined. Goddamn was that Chihiro scene exhausting.
It’s nice to see Keima actually cracking, and also being forced to do some legitimately horrible things for the sake of the mission. Apparently toying with people’s emotions isn’t all fun and games after all!
Oh right, I knew I had something important to do today. Watch a silly harem comedy and overanalyze its self-aware takedowns of genre craft.
0:10 – This show is extremely silly . Was Haqua and Elsie’s entire graduating class female?
2:13 – Man, Keima does so much work to make this more watchable than your garden-variety harem. Most harem leads are such milquetoast self-insert “nice guy” nobodies that it immediately strains credulity that a handful of girls would all suddenly fall in love with them. It makes the power fantasy angle kind of overwhelmingly evident, it makes for a set of totally unbelievable female characters, and it results in regularly stilted and repetitive banter. Keima, on the other hand, always works to make himself some kind of bizarre anime-negaverse brand of charming, and he always knows exactly what he wants. That lends itself to more distinctive little dramatic arcs, better banter, and much more believable romantic progression.
Plus the show both doesn’t get caught in static love drama and also draws great humor from the distance between anime character psychology and human psychology. Which is kinda key, since taking any of this seriously as actual romance swiftly leads to dark places .
6:37 – Why is that doll so funny
6:48 – Life is suffering for Keima
8:42 – Well this is different
9:57 – Thank god for Keima’s anime-logic universe . If this were the real world, he’d be screwed
10:30 – Man, these wings keep getting easier and easier
16:31 – His strategies are almost immediately defeated by any girl who isn’t introverted/isolated. Kind of a limited power
19:33 – TWGOK keeps it classy
20:05 – Oh god, this is gonna be so bad. He’s gonna make some big play, and it’ll actually work, but she won’t have a goddess, so gaaahhhhh man I’m uncomfortable just thinking about it
Welp, this is gonna end miserably. Brace for impact, folks
Alright, one goddess to go, let’s get to it.
0:24 – What Elsie’s been up to: Established
4:56 – I like how Keima himself has no silly pride outside of his game-mastery. Since he’s not really dealing with emotional issues any more, he’s basically just making himself a different kind of moe for each of the girls
10:22 – Think faster, Lelouch
12:24 – Wow, he’s really reaching. Well, everyone in this world is a stereotype anyway, I’m sure it’ll work out
13:19 – I figured after the last two episodes that we were done with all the wacky double-date shenanigans, but they are seriously committing to this one. But that particular romcom scenario never tends to end well…
13:55 – I don’t even… See, normally these scenes play out with the protagonist (man or woman, this cliche is gender-neutral) simply trying to keep the two dates from running into each other. Here, he’s perfectly happy trying to seduce everyone simultaneously. Goddamn, Keima
15:14 – This scene is amazing
18:57 – Fortunately for Keima, characters in this game-world are entirely incapable of reading moods or subtext
Welp, Keima’s fucked. He got too ambitious and deservedly had it blow up in his face. Ayumi being an adult about the situation is going to make his secret harem ending pretty difficult – apparently dating three members of the same band is just one too many.
Great episode. It was one of the funniest of the season, both because he and Ayumi have a great dynamic and because the wacky misunderstanding double-booked-date hat trick is inherently ridiculous. That approach also answered my biggest complaint about last week’s episode, which was that it played its simple romcom narrative extremely straight – this week started off with one cliche (the sick visit), rudely merged it into another (the double-booked-date), and then had Keima actually attempt to double-win the date, which is completely insane and also extremely Keima. Better luck next time, Lelouch.
Well, last episode was funny and unique and pretty adorable. We now have two goddesses left, with in my opinion the girls from the first and second seasons’ most memorable arcs possibly hosting them. But as long as Keima keeps up his business-time Lelouch impression, I’ll probably be happy whatever this episode does.
1:42 – Shiori’s got some fairly understanding priorities there. Dating other men while crossdressing is pretty much fine, but breaking your promise?
2:21 – It does somewhat strain credulity to think any of these unrealistically prim high school girls aren’t more worried about the glaring gaps in their memories . Because obviously I watch this show for its grounded narrative consistency
2:26 – Of course Shiori would get the loli goddess
4:38 – Is Keima just pot committed to crossdressing at this point? Or does he just feel more comfortable in a skirt now? Whatever dude, just askin’
4:43 – The ultimate betrayal. Seriously though Shiori, I know that feel – give someone your manuscript and you expect a little goddamn courtesy
5:06 – Shiori’s arguments with herself are awesome . Like Watamote if Tomoko weren’t creepy and hateful
5:40 – Well there’s one explanation. Keima’s finally fuckin’ lost it
6:27 – Keima timed this out well
7:32 – Shiori hides in books, is amazed at a system that allows her to avoid human contact while ordering, and considers a good meal the best reason to be alive. This story’s starting to hit a little too close to home…
8:57 – Keima – once the distant and lofty protagonist assisted by the fawning Elsie, now proudly declaring victory in a wig, flanked by the indifferent Haqua . How far he’s come
11:46 – Don’t we all . So this is an episode about storytelling within a show that is itself a satire based on storytelling conventions, apparently
13:18 – “Writing is impossible unless I get a flash of inspiration.” Hate to tell you, Shiori, but writing doesn’t actually work that way
13:51 – Shiori’s sections are a lot of fun . This season has been such a step up from the first two in general
15:41 – Wrong attitude, Shiori . You don’t have to write about yourself, but fiction is inherently narcissistic – if you’re going to push yourself through hundreds of pages and months of editing, you have to believe your thoughts are goddamn fascinating. Don’t give me this self-pitying shit!
16:35 – “Katsuragi-kuuuUuUuuUUuuun!” Her constantly breaking voice is pretty great
20:02 – Hm. Well, Shiori, I admire the effort, but… frankly, I agree with your first instincts. Your life is incredibly boring
Eh, that was okay. More of a conventional story than Yui’s, and with none of the manic energy of the earlier parts. Shiori’s inner monologue was the standout here, I think – the story’s actual resolution felt kinda bland to me, and too much like one of the routine stories this show is normally about taking apart. But Shiori’s a very fun character to follow, and I still enjoyed this episode. Onward!
The saga of Lelouch and the Seven Goddesses continues. Or is it six? Crap. Can’t remember. Anyway. I find motivated but put-upon and aggravated Keima far more amusing than generally disinterested Keima, so I’ve been loving these past couple episodes. Unlike most shows with allegedly smart protagonists, this show makes no secret of the fact that he’s surrounded by idiots – in fact, his living in a world where people are so simple that dating sim rules actually apply is pretty much the entire point. His dealing with the tiresome fact that everyone will inevitably fall in love with him has been pretty recently fantastic. Don’t worry, Keima. We’ve all obviously been there.
0:42 – “You’re not dating all my sisters, are you?” “Meh, can’t say.” Keima don’t give a fuck
1:01 – KEIMA DON’T GIVE A FUCK
3:24 – I love this show for its’ sophisticated humor
3:36 – Keima’s flawless shy tsundere impression
5:15 – Oh god
7:20 – I guess the rest of the class is taking this pretty well
11:17 – Wow, Keima can actually activate his own shoujo sparkles
11:41 – Yui brings out all of Keima’s best faces
12:19 – Keima should do all his scheming in one of those ridiculous maid headbands
13:12 – “Mom and Dad are so busy, I never get a home-cooked meal… I’m so happy I could cry.” Oh man, pulling out that plot angle, eh? She might be better than you, Keima
13:26 – Don’t worry Keima, I’m sure you’ll get used to it
14:17 – Do anime hoodlums practice that expression in the mirror or something? Is there a handbook for that sort of thing?
16:26 – “On the battlefield?” “Well, it’s ancient history now.” Because it’s literally ancient history.
18:01 – Jeez, this is one elaborate ride!
18:16 – Oh, it’s demons. That makes more sense
19:06 – This is awesome. I figured they’d just be making straight gags out of the Yui/Keima gender role stuff, but now Yui is actually fighting to save a catatonic princess Keima from the forces of hell. Rock on
19:51 – Oh shit Keima you so crafty
Right, and their teacher is just hanging out on the roof. That’s where I do all my foreboding contemplation.
Anyway, that episode was again pretty great, mainly because the Yui/Keima dynamic is way more interesting than the standard captures. Because of this, it worked well despite pulling back from the capture-juggling of the last two episodes. We’re kind of running out of Goddesses to capture at this point, so I guess we’re nearing the point where all the hell nonsense becomes relevant again. I’m not sure how they’ll handle that drama, but I’m mainly interested in seeing Keima as the leader of a hell-fighting team entirely composed of goddesses representing girls who want to jump his bones. That seems… complicated.