Spring 2015, Week 2: Highlights of the Week

Whoa, highlights are on a different day this season! That’s right, they sure are! Due to Ore Monogatari!! being a blog show and airing on Wednesday, Wednesdays are going to be pretty tight for me schedule wise, so I’m bumping highlights back to Tuesday for Spring 2015. This actually works pretty well, as it means the majority of shows will be on the same episode number, with a few shows (Nisekoi:PunchlinePleiadesOre Monogatari!!) being an episode back. For full disclosure, there’s also a matter of search rankings: the Ore Monogatari!! posts will rank better if there’s been posting on the blog in the days prior. So, that’s that! Hope it doesn’t bother anyone much! Let’s get to it!

Show by Rock!

Blood Blockade Battlefront, Episode 2: Visually dense, totally thrilling. An incredible episode.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Episode 2: If I survive this season alive it will be a honest to goodness Christmas miracle because holy wow the adorableness that this season is putting out is just absurd. It’s not like Yuki-chan has a monopoly on the cute, but this week’s episode was some genuinely squeal-worthy stuff—like Kyon and Nagato in a fake snowball fight using cotton snow and sharing Kyon’s Santa outfit to keep warm out in the cold under the snow. I’m not even a Nagato x Kyon shipper from the main series and I can’t resist how freaking cute this stuff is. The other big note this episode was the real debut of Haruhi Suzumiya herself, who in this alternate timeline recruits a glasses-less Nagato to help her draw her sky drawing. I really liked how Haruhi’s crazy need to encounter the supernatural has been preserved in Yuki-chan and that the force of her personality remains intact enough to actually serve as a plot point in motivating Nagato along in her goals. This is fan fiction, sure, but it’s very well constructed fan fiction.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

Show by Rock!, Episode 2: I liked this show last week; this week, I love it. I didn’t think Show by Rock! could one-up itself in its sophomore outing (I was just hoping for it to stay level, honestly), but forget that! Thanks to the absurd introduction of SHINGANCRIMSONZ and more amazing Cyan faces and sheep girl being sheep girl, this episode was even funnier, even crazier, and just generally even better than the premiere. This isn’t even guilty pleasure level stuff—it’s just plain good fun, a running collection of gags, nonsense, and J-Pop that fulfills my need for campy music anime with aplomb. The other big thing to like here is that all the characters—especially the SHINGANCRIMSONZ guys and even Mamoru Miyano’s Syu☆cho—are just huge dorks, which is my absolute favorite kind of cast for a show like this. Crazy fun is well and good, but when you have characters who are lovable just because they’re a little bit dense in their own unique ways, crazy fun becomes endearing as well as just fun. Anyways, the fears that Show by Rock!‘s premiere was just a flash in the pan is gone; this is a good show.

Show by Rock!

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU 2, Episode 2: Wow, I didn’t realize how totally clumsy that tile was until I wrote it all the way out. So, anyways, a lot of the issues that I was having with SNAFU 2 in its first episode were alleviated by this episode—the chemistry between Yukino, Yui, and Hachiman was back, I felt like I started to remember what kind of relationships these people all have with each other, and the character designs even started to look a bit more normal to me (although they do look flat/plain bad in some spots). The side-effect of all those worries going away was me remembering what I really like about this show and, most importantly, that I think I’ll get the most out of it if I’m marathoning it, not watching it weekly. Particularly for arcs like this, where the emotional connections carry over from one week to the next, I’d rather be able to see the entire situation spin out at once than have to wait and remember every week. So, SNAFU 2 is going on hold until it’s done air—hey, maybe I’ll get a chance to rewatch the first season between now and then!

Oregairu 2

Plastic Memories, Episode 2: I feel a bit bad that I waited until late Monday to watch this episode, because it was really good! Not quite great, but really good. Tsukasa (I can’t not hear “tú casa” every time they say his name) is proving himself to be one of the top male characters of the season with his combination of good-heartedness, his strong work ethic, and his ability to empathize with other people. His little speech to Isla about the manual (accompanied by some of Dogakobo’s signature silly character acting) and the subsequent suggestions that he handle the negotiations was the highlight of the episode for me. It’s a little early, perhaps, to be making sweeping statement on the show, but it really feels like Plastic Memories has settled into a nice groove in terms of the show it wants to be. This episode was more comedic and the moment of retrieval was kind of shuffled to the background of the episode’s structure behind the ED, but it really does feel to me like the show know where it wants to go. That’s a good place to be two episodes in.

Plastic Memories

Sound! Euphonium, Episode 2: A great episode of Sound! Euphonium this week. Aside from all the typical KyoAni strengths—nice character animation, good comedic timing, gorgeous background, and nice character designs—the the thing that’s impressed me most is the accuracy with which the show is portraying one of the fundamental high school club conflicts: the tension between those who really want to try and those who just want to have fun. Having been in show choir for three years in high school, this is a battle with which I’m all too familiar. The club senpais putting things to a vote puts a lot of pressure on those who don’t really want to conform to the desires of those who really do want to go to Nationals, and I’m absolutely certain we’ll see the stress lines show up sooner rather than later. What’s interesting is that Taki-sensei allows them to take this route without intervention; I’m quite fascinated to see what his role is going to be in the inevitable conflict.

Sound! Euphonium

Short Takes

Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic, Episode 2: “Open sesame!” This show kills me; it’s terrible, but there’s no better way to die.

Yamada-kun, Episode 1: I was worried they wouldn’t really be able to capture the charm of the manga, but, while it’s still not quite the same, Yamada-kun the anime is still pretty darn charming, although it definitely could be crafted with a little more skill than it is. The Liden Films production values are pretty barebones, but the characters generally stay on model and the animation is at least substantial enough to convey the action of the scenes. The characters are Yamada-kun‘s greatest strength anyways, so as long as the spirit of the characters is coming through, all is well. The OP song (and minimalist animation) are pretty great, too!

Danmachi, Episode 2: Eyaaaaa, so cute! Bell is a gift. We’re very nearly to the end of the first volume of the light novel, so new territory (for me) is cropping up soon. I’m very pleased with the adaptation so far and I’m currently working on an editorial-style piece on Danmachi for Thursday, so look forward to that!

Mikagura Gakuen, Episode 2: Kind of a dull episode thanks to the club tour bit and the battle itself wasn’t all that exciting until Eruna got her power and the sakuga bits actually kicked in. Cool to know Dogakobo has the staff to be able to do that for an episode like this even while they’re doing two shows. Overall, though, Mikagura is really show the seams of its tropey magic high school premise, so hopefully Eruna getting powers will open up the rest of the things the show can do.

Assassination Classroom: I haven’t forgotten about it or dropped it! I’m just behind! I’ll catch up soon!

19 thoughts on “Spring 2015, Week 2: Highlights of the Week

  1. Ah, pfui. Bad day for me though as I can’t watch the Tuesday shows or read your post until Wens night (or sometime Thurs if it’s the week I have a Wens meeting), as they’re shows that my lady and I are watching together and I have a regular Tues evening meeting.

    So, the weekly wall o’ text will pretty much consistently be a day or two late. It’s not you, it’s me as the saying goes.

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    • Ah, sorry it’s a bad day for you! Earlier in the week is better for me, but if there are other people for whom Thursday works better, I might be able to make the change to accommodate you guys. 🙂 If not, I’ll look forward to your comments on Wednesday/Thursday!

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  2. Well Tuesday’s a good day for me, because it’s coming off the lightest part of my week. I have no shows on Sunday, and my only Monday and Tuesday shows are Kaitou Joker and Euphonium, so even if I don’t get to all my Friday and Saturday shows right away, I should be caught up by Tuesday night.

    Be back later tonight with my thoughts on some of this week’s episodes.

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  3. Trying to play catch up with the anime season.

    Just started Sound! Euphonium 1st episode. It has charmed me. The mild and ordinary slice-of-life-ish pace fits with me really well.

    Next up would be Plastic Memory and perhaps Show By Rock. Need some pushes on Show By Rock though.

    Liked DanMachi. I hope it gets more interesting to keep me hyped. Wasn’t like a ‘must watch on this instance!’ like Oregairu or BBB even. Still enjoyed the show though.

    Re-watching HxH 2011 actually made me late on following this season. Still need to complete Baby Step S1 and even Monogatari SS. Can’t believe I actually stopped Monogatari.

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    • Yeah, Euphonium is great! It’s rare that a show can throw me into reflections on my high school experience, but it’s totally done that for me, in a good way.

      Watch Show by Rock! It’s crazy and funny and cute, and has some really absurd CGI (that looks quite good, by the way). I think it’s really hilarious.

      But, before any of that—Hunter x Hunter and Monogatari SS. Both of those shows are superior to anything we’re getting this season.

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      • Just finished Euphonium EP 2. It was really good. I was not in band or choir in high school, so I had a maybe slightly different take from this. I promptly made a post on FB (also nicked few of your phrases and thoughts from your tumblr post). I’m interested in your thoughts on the reflection I get from this episode. Pardon the loooooong post.

        Wall-of-Text:

        “You probably didn’t have a choice. Everyone is subtly hiding their true feelings and gathering in the safest direction. […]”
        “Why?”
        “Because otherwise, we’d butt heads. We’d butt heads and hurt each other.”
        – Sound! Euphonium

        Sitting on the fence might be unfair. Following the crowd to be on the safe side might be dishonest. But what choice do we have? Be true to ourselves and we’d butt heads.

        Most of the time the crowd, to compromise, thinks “maybe it won’t be that hard, I don’t want to seem like I don’t care”, to acquiesce to the wishes of the few who are determined in their direction. The crowd would pick that because it is the safest, because we won’t butt heads, until they realised that in reality it /is/ going to get hard, and sink into discontent and unhappiness.

        But what choice do we have? Or maybe few of us would vote for what we want instead, to establish that alibi, to get to say “I didn’t really want to do it in the first place.” when going gets tough. But at that point we’d already be butting heads.
        Are we really that prone to conflict? Are frictions the normal, ordinary, matter-of-fact occurrence in our day-to-day?

        Well, most of the time after we butt heads, we hurt each other, and we either grew apart or glued together. So I guess its alright, right? If we grow separated, we separate; if we stay together, we are together.

        So its good enough, right? The crowd might just be thinking exactly that.

        As for the indecisive ones like me, we sit on the fence and be unfair.

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        • At least in my experience, I think people generally hope that it won’t be that bad, that just going with the flow will be enough to satisfy the people who are driving things along. Sometimes it is—or maybe just for a while.

          But you’re right, sometimes the alternative (friction from the very start) is just too undesirable. I think Aoi’s willingness to establish an alibi is unusual. So, instead, it becomes a situation where following the safe route is the best decision that can be made at the time. It’s good enough. And maybe there will be tension down the road or maybe there won’t be. But at least you can avoid the tension at the start.

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  4. Since I have so many shows this season, rather than commenting on all 12 every week, I’ve decided to just list my top five episodes of the week (as if I were an APR voter) and comment on the most interesting/notable ones that I watched. So…

    My top 5 episodes of week 2 (out of 10, since the second episodes of OreMono and Pleiades come out tomorrow):
    1. Plastic Memories
    2. Danmachi
    3. Yuki Nagato
    4. Food Wars
    5. Nanoha Vivid

    Episode thoughts:

    Plastic Memories: Last week in response to my initial thoughts, you talked about the moe factor with Isla. It’s true she has the moe look and voice, but she didn’t feel very moe to me after the first episode. I didn’t quite know why, but now I think I do. As you know, a common moe trait is clumsiness, and since it’s always played for comedy, we laugh at it automatically without thinking about it. Isla fits the “cute, clumsy girl” archetype perfectly, except that we know she’s clumsy because she’s about 90 years old in Giftia years and her functions are breaking down, like an Alzheimer’s sufferer losing her fine motor skills. So when she messes things up it really isn’t that funny at all if you do stop to think about it. It’s kind of sad, especially if you’ve ever known an Alzheimer’s patient in real life. Anyway, that’s why she doesn’t feel moe to me – she’s a serious character with a serious story stuck in an archetype that’s normally played for comedy, and that dissonance gives an edge to her character that moe girls typically don’t have.

    Danmachi: Speaking of moe girls, Hestia’s one of my early-season favorites. She’s cute as a button, of course (that part in the OP with her and Bell eating their bread together followed by their teeth-brushing dance is too adorable for words), but what I really like is her spunk and determination. Her resources may be limited compared to the other gods, but she won’t concede an inch to any of them (except in height) and genuinely tries her hardest to be the best patroness for Bell that she can; the chemistry between those two is wonderful. I also really like the mix of pantheons here. Having Greek, Norse, Hindu, and Japanese gods all together adds a lot of extra flavor to the show, and it’s probably no coincidence that Hestia’s on better terms with Hephaestus than Freya or Loki.

    Food Wars: I enjoyed this episode more than the first one. Not just because the fanservice was slightly more under control, but because of the introduction of the snobby, arrogant, and selfish Erina, whom I loathed immediately. She’s exactly the type of character who pushes a lot of my berserk buttons, and the fact that I’ve known food snobs like her IRL made her all the easier to hate. I hope she doesn’t get befriended too easily and we see a lot more of her as an antagonist, because she looks like she’s going to be a great foil for Soma. The twist at the end was an unexpected (and welcome) surprise too, even if we can be sure it’s only temporary.

    Kaitou Joker 2: Three days after Food Wars gave us an episode about a wealthy snob who makes the transfer students cook an egg delicious enough to satisfy her refined palate, this show gave us an episode where Joker’s trying to steal the most delicious egg in the world from a wealthy snob, who’s getting ready to have it cooked and served at an exclusive dinner party, but of course the snob and his chef (a blonde woman, like Erina) won’t give up the egg without a fight. I don’t know if this episode was actually supposed to parody Food Wars or not, but either way it worked great as a parody, giving us a more literal version of a “culinary battle” as well as it’s own exaggerated, over-the-top reactions and flowery flavor descriptions from people who taste the chef’s cooking (no fanservice, though, since it’s a kids show).

    Yuki Nagato: This is the only official Haruhiverse story that’s still new to me. I own both anime seasons, the movie, and all 10 light novels, but I’ve never read the DoYN manga. I bring that up because a few scenes in this week’s episode brought back some of that feeling of wonder and surprise that I got when first watching the original. Yuki’s meeting with Haruhi was a delightfully funny twist on Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody (also loved that the music in this scene was a remixed version of “Oi, Oi” from the original OST), and Yuki and Kyon in the courtyard together were just d’aww. Like you I thought they were super-cute together, even though I don’t ship them.

    Gunslinger Stratos: This stays on my list for at least another week by making the plot a little more interesting, and explaining a few things while deepening the overall mystery. I noticed some pretty good OST music too, but the art and animation is still butt-ugly, so unless they’re doing a reverse Eva and saving the budget for the second half, it’ll be totally up to the story to keep me hooked (and that’s not usually a good strategy for a video game adaptation). By coincidence I’ve watched several A-1 anime in the last few months: KimiUso, Saekano, Silver Spoon, and Vivid, plus this, and the first four are all gorgeous shows for the most part. Compared to them, it’s hard to believe Stratos is coming from the same studio.

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    • Yeah, this week’s post is a little wonky simply because of how the week worked out, but next week’s will be lined up again better since it’ll have actually been a full 7 days since the last one.

      Great observation about the kind of tragedy (really, that’s sort of what we’re headed towards, right? in a bittersweet, warm kind of way) of Isla’s character. Specifically in regards to the age factor, I do wonder if perhaps the moe effect is sort of a similar as to the whole “age regresses us to childlike states—unable to do things we used to do.”

      I’ll be writing more about Hestia in my upcoming Danmachi editorial, but you’re already hitting (at least lightly) on some of the points I’m going to be tackling.

      Yuki-chan definitely is cashing in on Haruhi nostalgia and I’m not at all unhappy about that.

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  5. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Episode 2

    There’s that Ravel again, the death flag from Your Lie in April
    I know this show is part of a larger property, and the title is The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, but… but…

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  6. I am glad you have your Highlights. Whatever you need to do to make it work!

    I am going to give you my Top 15 your / **** for your shows and wherever other shows rank with me!

    Big Disclaimer this was hard to do and I am still feeling the shows out!Its a really rough draft but had to put in some kind of order! They will be changes week to week

    1 Baby Steps 2
    2 Hibike! Euphonium / Sound! Euphonium ****
    3 Ansatsu Kyoushitsu ONGOING **** You better watch XD ! BTW The manga is great
    4 Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki
    5 Kekkai Sensen / Blood Blockade ****
    6 WORLD TRIGGER ONGOING
    7 Nisekoi 2
    8 Arslan Senki / The Heroic Legend of Arslan
    9 Ore Monogatari!! / My Love Story ****
    10 Triage X
    11 Plastic Memories ****
    12 Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season
    13 Shokugeki no Souma / Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma
    14 SNAFU 2 / My Romantic Comedy Snafu Season 2 ****
    15 Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic / Kiniro Mosaic Season 2 ****

    Your Shows not in my TOP 15 ! / reasons

    34 Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu **** A safe watchable show but lots of similar shows this season!

    18 Show By Rock!! **** I was happier with EP 2 I think I ranked this too low but there’s next

    28 Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo / Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches**** Could go higher but its an ep behind already !

    22 Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon? / Danmachi**** another I see room to go higher!

    17 Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku / Mikagura School Suite**** I should had Show by Rock over this but next week! EP 2 got good when Eruna got her powers! The one thing that holds me back is the absence of songs ( Last Note OST ) for each club member / I think the ED had a different song but to go compare and then listen to the song takes a lot of effort!

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    • Don’t worry! I’ll get back to Assassination Classroom eventually! It’s just that I know it’ll be a really easy show to marathon to catch back up, so I’m not too worried about it at this point.

      Definitely agree on there being a lot of shows similar to Yuki-chan this season. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a flood of so many cute fluff/romance shows in a single season.

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  7. Finally a chance to get caught up, it’s been a crazy busy week…

    The Labyrinth of Grisaia ep 0; Man, did they hop right to the grimdark. But on reflection, this was already established in Fruit so I should have expected it. Yuuiji’s backstory is expanded on and is darker than alluded to in the first series. We also learn more about Kazuki… and this manages to make the Angelic Howl arc of Fruit even more chilling in retrospect. (Neither are trivial accomplishments.)

    Plastic Memories; Is playing out (so far) pretty much as telegraphed in the first ep, though it was nice to see Tsukasa being fleshed out. I mostly agree with what you said, but I think they’re spending far too much time on secondary (or at least lesser main) characters than is warranted in a one cour show. There’s been a lot of subtle padding, which doesn’t bode well for the balance of the season. The idea(s) behind the show remain interesting, but they really need to work out their pacing problems (soon) lest they join the rolls of the bottle rockets.

    Sound Euphonium; Your high school club experience was very different from mine… I was in Quiz Bowl and (briefly) on the debate team. There was never any question we were going in for all the marbles. (Alas, the quiz bowl team blew the tie-breaker in the All-County and that was that.) Anyhow, I’m loving Kumiko’s characterization… she’s frustrated as hell, and self aware enough to know something is off with her life, but not yet mature enough to know what and why. A very typical teenager, but they’ve managed to avoid crossing the line into stereotypical.

    In terms of pacing and characterization, so far this is the best executed show this season. (Save possibly the ever charming Otaku Husband.)

    Otaku Teacher; Meh. Mostly about Junichirou’s character (which is pretty one dimensional and didn’t need the screen time) and an extended set up for the plot twist in the final line. Not nearly as amusing as the first ep.

    From the “pretending I’m writing this Tuesday evening” perspective, I think that catches up with all I have to say… (There’s more shows, but they were mostly talked about in the various First Impressions posts.) It looks like I’ll be out of sync all season, and thus it will take a bit to hit my stride. Also, not writing on one cup of coffee will help, but this is a busy week segueing into a busy weekend – I have to be up at 5.30 tomorrow to go on a photo shoot with the photo club!

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    • Whew, you’re busier than I am!

      I do agree that PlaMemo still needs to work on fleshing out its main characters, but I’m not too worried about the way things have go so far. I do think they’re into “need to start the overarching” plot territory with this upcoming episode, but other than that I think things have been fine—if not entirely masterful.

      Hopefully things will settle in for you next week! This edition of the highlights was a bit wonky just because of the timing, but the cycle will be established next week, so I’m hoping that sorts things out a bit.

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    • Hey, I did Quiz Bowl too! We called it Academic Challenge, but it was the same thing. And yeah, we took it pretty seriously (although we had fun, too), largely because our club adviser was very gung-ho about it. We’d been coming up just short in district for a long time, and it was always the same school who beat us (one of the local Catholic schools, of course). Finally in my senior year we beat them and made it to Nationals for the first time ever. The fault line in our group wasn’t between take it serious vs. take it easy – we all wanted that trip to New Orleans for Nationals (and hey, who wouldn’t?). For us it was really more of a starters vs. reserves thing. Our club adviser always chose our starting lineups, but I was the team captain so I could also pick substitutes between rounds, and we had a few people on the team that she never picked even as subs, since they didn’t excel in any subjects that weren’t already covered by the rest of us. So the only time they ever got to play was when I called them in. Our adviser sometimes grumbled about that, but they really appreciated it.
      And yes, I’m really enjoying Kumiko’s character. A normal teenager who’s allowed to act like a normal teenager…what a novel concept.

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