Well, I’m sure you knew it was coming. I reviewed the first half about a year ago, and now that the second half’s blurays have finally come out, it’s time to go once more into the breach. I actually really enjoyed UBW’s first half, even if I already felt its writing was somewhat dragging down its fantasy-action appeal. But here in the second half, the turgid writing pretty much wholly sinks the production, resulting in one of the least compelling shows I’ve watched in recent memory. UBW’s second half is a mess, and it’s a shame, because there really are some nice fundamental ideas in there. Ah well.
The final week has arrived! And there’s… basically nothing to talk about. With JoJo already over and Blood Blockade Battlefront resting up before its oversized finale, the only non-ANN shows I actually had to watch this week were Unlimited Blade Works and Ore Monogatari!! And I didn’t even watch OreMono! Sorry OreMono, I just couldn’t find the time/interest for you – as I’ve said before, OreMono isn’t one of those shows that fills me with desire to catch up when I’m not watching it, and considering the sort of static rhythms it’s gotten into over time, it’s just hard to muster up the enthusiasm. So we’ve got a mini-sized Week in Review this week, but don’t worry – with the summer season about to begin, there’ll be pleeenty to talk about soon enough. The preview guide is waiting. I can hear its call. Soon, soon, all will burn.
Alright, let’s run down what we’ve got!
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.
I made a lot of people mad a little while ago. Angry forum threads, capslock responses filling up my ask.fm inbox, the whole nine yards. I even heard people were planning on emailing my editor! It was an exciting time for everyone, but I can’t say I didn’t deserve it. I did something that, if you’re truly, deeply attached to your experience of a media object, can be absolutely unforgivable.
I watched a show wrong.