Okay, so apparently someone here doesn’t know how to count. And that same person couldn’t half-ass himself to correct his previous post so he decided to just combine weeks 4 and 5 in one post since for some weird reason, one show had two episodes aired in the same week. I’ve always been terrible at timing these week-in-review posts, anyway, so I guess it’s about time people were used to it by now.
But then I realized that a problem with my weekly review naming convention is that episode numbers can be ambiguous to the actual week in question, meaning if my naming sense for the week is totally off, it can throw of a reader unless I explicitly state what episode I’m talking about.
So to reduce confusion, I’ll be including the episode number in the header titles for each of the shows to be discussed — that way, no matter how stupidly I label my week-in-review post, you can be assured that you’re reading the right thoughts on the right episode.
So with that aside, let’s run down just what happened this week in animuland. It’s been a bit tiring — both in real life and in anime itself — but hey, that’s the way it is once the honeymoon of the first few weeks of a season has ended.
Made in Abyss (Ep.4)
It’s no surprise that I’m still thoroughly impressed with the production of Made in Abyss well into its fourth episode. In particular, I appreciate how the abyss, itself, is granted a sort of overarching character status in the traditional man versus nature approach to adventure titles. In many ways, this makes Made in Abyss a very functional narrative so long as it maintains its focus on this primary conflict and how its characters evolve through their small triumphs against it. And I think this is precisely what I’m looking for in a fantasy adventure title. All too often do we see contemporary works focusing too much on overly ambitious plots to the point that the narrative becomes swallowed in a convoluted web of scenarios that can only be rectified with the use of mystical McGuffins or elements of Deus ex Machina. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that if it adds to the overall character of the show — but many times, fantasy adventure titles focus too little on its own character beats to the point that their individual triumphs seem trite, relegating the whole escapade to nothing more than a passing spectacle. And if these descriptions sound familiar, this is the exact same feeling I had when I watched (and eventually dropped) Granblue Fantasy last season.
Made in Abyss, on the other hand, maintains a classic, timeless sense of storytelling that functions on a very basic level of narrative build-up — starting with setting, conflict identification, and character development through its issuance of conflict. Does this make the whole premise of Made in Abyss simple? Yes, definitely — and I think that’s important for the success of a good fantasy adventure story. I truly hope this series maintains the relative simplicity without having to needlessly complicate its already functional narrative structure; but then again, I feel confident that this will be a great show through and through — fingers crossed.
My Hero Academia (Ep. 30 )
To be honest, I wasn’t all too impressed with the show’s introspection into Tenya’s heroic attitude, simply because he is beset with the age-old problem of defining Justice. Tenya’s character is one that is exemplified by integrity, and it is his own insistence in the brand of justice exemplified by his older brother Ingenium that transforms his innocent intentions to always do the right thing into what is essentially an exertion of self-righteousness. If anything, Tenya’s character serves as a word of caution to us that heroes are humans, first and foremost, and that all heroic intentions belie a deeper, more personal motivation. How this motivation is manifested is what blurs the lines between what is considered good and evil, and so Tenya’s concept of revenge seems justified under the pretext of “justice”. Quite similarly, Hero Killer Stain’s concept of justice is undoubtedly framed as “evil”, but seems eerily similar to the sort of sentiment that was held by Tenya. How Tenya copes with this realization will be interesting, but I think is the next phase in his realization of the heroic attitude that will serve as his legacy as the successor of the Ingenium name. So all-in-all, this episode pretty much left things hanging with regard to what Tenya’s character conflict and Stain’s role mean in the greater scheme of things — so yeah, all we need now is that next episode.
NEW GAME!! (Ep. 4)
I think it goes without saying that the star of this week’s episode of NEW GAME!! was none other than our taciturn hedgehog-owner, Hifumi. Much of the show has been focusing on developing her into a more well-rounded character, offering her more and more opportunities to expand in terms of expressiveness and character interactions. Still, this episode felt a bit disjointed in its first half, beginning with a skit on Hajime’s failed attempts at acquiring a ticket to her favorite magical girl show, only to then land on a joke extolling Hifumi’s own quirkiness of character. There are better ways to execute thematic cohesion in a slice-of-life/comedy show, and this is even in the absence of any overt character conflict like that of Kou and Aoba’s last week to complicate things. Of course I’m happy to see Hifumi grow as a character, but if there’s anything to complain about thus far, it’s the ability of the show to segue its comedic setups to a reasonably sound emotional pay off. The gags in this episode were mostly isolated from the overall triumph that was Hifumi’s appointment as character team leader — but again, that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this episode. It’s just that I probably would have REALLY liked it if there were more cohesion in terms of the comedy and the slice-of-life elements. Tricky, yes, but if it’s NEW GAME!! we’re talking about, it’s surely doable (I hope).
Magical Circle Guru Guru (Ep. 4)
You could say it’s about time that “toilet humor” I was talking about last week reared its ugly face. Indeed, this week’s episode of Magical Circle Guru Guru went all the way to dish out farts and boobs and basically the naughty-naughty bits that belie its cute exterior. It also goes without saying that much of the humor was still on-point as far as ridiculing RPGs go, but was nevertheless as inane as it was stupid. Still, it’s always fun to watch something pointless like this every now and then — and at the very least, it definitely knows how to give its viewers a good time — if they’re the right type of viewer for it. I’m pretty sure that this is a pretty esoteric title for most, but if you’re anything like me, then you’ll be enjoying yourself pretty much every week — farts, boogers, poop and all.
Re:CREATORS (Ep. 16)
Things are finally starting to move in Re:CREATORS… and that’s about it. I’ve pretty much gotten used to this shows knack of building up tension through bland character exposition, but I think what’s bugging me more is how everyone keeps talking about this “mega-crossover-anime” that’s supposedly gonna give them all new powers and how I can’t seem to appreciate it given I don’t have the appropriate context. Maybe give us an idea of what the heck they’ve been working on so that things don’t seem too convenient? But then again, that’d be spoiling what’s gonna happen in the “cage match”, so yeah, go figure. It’s a very weird setup to have to hear characters talk about their own production without giving the viewer any context. All we have to work on is that it’s big enough to receive the acceptance of the fans, and that government intervention essentially proved how inept the anime industry is at self-governance. It’s a weird meta-argument that kinda sends a weird image to me (because I honestly think the government is just as inept as anime production studios), but then again I don’t know what it’s like to work on anime like the fate of the world depends on it. Maybe I’m overthinking things, but I honestly thing these issues are just a result of the plot in general. If anything, this entire episode felt like a waste of time if only to ramp up the tension leading to the big fight. Oh well, gotta have them pre-match teasers, right?
Welcome to the Ballroom (Eps. 4 & 5)
I’m not a fan of how this show utilizes deceptive framing in order to create dramatic tension. What that means is that we are lead to believe that Hyodou’s sudden burst of gusto was directly challenging Fujita in an aggressive manner, as if to assert that what he was demanding the latter return was his partner, Shizuka. When in fact the reality is that what he wanted was the very fervor that gives meaning to his skill as a dancer — that sense of immersion in the dance that allows you to transcend the experience of the dance and become one with the performance — the power to truly enjoy what you’re doing. And the only reason why the show frames Hyodou as a “demon” on the dance floor is for the dramatic contrast when he tells Fujita to “take care of Shizuka” for him. It’s this deceptive framing that adds a sour tone to the narrative, especially when it’s revealed that Sengoku’s true reason for throwing Fujita into the fray was to save Shizuka the hassle of a disqualification though default. It’s not like we’re here to make martyrs out of middle schoolers, so Sengoku’s intentions seem ill-spirited, if anything.
I’m thinking of writing about deceptive framing and how this is utilized for effect in different shows. This sort of direction can actually work to the benefit of a narrative — if done correctly — but in the case of Welcome to the Ballroom, only furthers my reservations towards the show’s overall ability to convey a meaningful drama.
Sakura Quest (Ep. 17 & 18)
I really wasn’t a fan of this arc. Not only did if seem so circuitous to have to go on a wild goose chase to find the missing relics of the Manoyama Festival, but it was also “directed” by the similarly round-about shenanigans of a senile professor. Everything about his character was just so text book dull that his air of self-importance made his schemes to empower the elderly members of a far-flung town in Manoyama seem too perfect. Owing to a lack of any emotional attachment to his character, his eventual death also meant nothing to the overall production, making everything seem pointless. Sure, there was a nice bit of character introspection with Sanae realizing the importance of her role to resolve the conflict, but the whole execution of this arc was both eccentric and messy. I have no idea what the hell happened these past two episode, but dear God do I hope we don’t have to go through the same crap just to find those other two relics. For the sake of my sanity, I can’t possibly handle another professor character with his self-indulgent quips.
Whew, that was a pretty weird week. What are your thoughts on any of the shows I discussed this week? Do share them in the comments below — I’m curious to know your thoughts, as well. Until next time, ciao!