Good grief, have we already passed the halfway mark for the Spring 2015 season? I guess time flies when you’re going through major life transitions…or something like that. Anyways, I’m back, which means it’s time for one gigantic post covering the last two weeks I’ve been silent—but before that, how about a little announcement?
Mage in a Barrel is now on Patreon!
This is something that’s been in the works for a while now, but I didn’t really feel good about asking for pledges while I was on hiatus. Now that I’m back and have a more established schedule, I’m excited to announce that you can now help support my compulsive anime blogging on Patreon. I’ve come up with a few fun rewards that I think are sustainable over a long period of time, should you decide to join on as a patron. Hopefully, this new step will also enable me to keep coming up with new types of content (I have a few ideas for audio-visual content kicking around in my head right now) by giving me a little more financial flexibility.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not in dire financial straits or anything—I’m not launching this to avoid be able to pay rent or anything like that—but I am currently in something of a transitionary period in my employment and things are going to be a bit tight for me in the coming months. I’ll make it either way, but if you feel like helping out it would certainly help me cut down on overtime hours so I can spend more time working on the blog. Anyways, I’m super excited about this and whether or not you are able to help out as a patron, I’m really grateful for your support!
Midseason Recap (Weeks 6-7)
Anyways, enough of that—let’s talk about what’s been going on in the anime world in the last few weeks while I’ve been away. Due to the massive number of episodes that are going to be covered, I’m organizing this by day of the week, so hopefully that keeps things readable.
Sunday: Yamada-kun, Show by Rock!, Hello!! Kininro Mosaic
- Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (Episodes 4 & 5)
- Yamada and co. have turned into one of my favorite shows of the season thanks to the excellent work of the Michiko Yokote writing team. By way of a quick word collage of the words that come to mind thinking about both the source manga and the anime adaptation—energetic, quickly paced, fun, rabidly likable come to mind—I think it’s appropriate to say that the anime has taken pretty much all of the manga’s strengths and expanded upon them. The Yamada x Urara moments have been total knockouts, even more so than they were in the manga; the voice acting has done an incredible job selling the body switching gimmick, beside instilling a whole lot of verve into the show despite minimal animation; and the soundtrack is one of the season’s best (probably second only to BBB) with it’s blend of classical pieces and peppy electronic hooks. I’m totally happy with Yamada-kun right now, more so than with many of my shows this season.
- Show by Rock! (Episodes 6 & 7)
- Show by Rock!‘s coming out of a genuinely hilarious episode thanks SHINGANCRIMSONZ apparently bottomless capacity for being incredible doofuses, episodes six and seven also stood out of SBR!‘s best episodes visually. Between the ethereal lighting and colors of the beach (and oh my gosh Moa’s revelation scene was absolutely gorgeous) and the creatively wacky art design of the yokai town, it seems SBR!‘s got a genuinely talented art design team who’ve been kind of limited by the neon-heavy borders of MIDI City. As far as the show’s content goes, the main charm here continues to be the oversized personalities of the characters—even though Plasmagica is a little more grounded than SHINGANCRIMSONZ, there are still some great absurdities in the girls’ group, like Moa’s casually handled revelation as an alien.
- Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic (Episodes 6 & 7)
- As per the norm, there’s not much to report here. Kinmoza keeps on clicking along with the same old formula and the same batch of adorable, silly, and adorably silly characters. Karen continues to be the show’s highlight, but Shino has actually been getting me to crack up a lot with some of her non-featured jokes. Kinmoza‘s hit:miss ratio with its jokes is really something astounding and it makes the show a joy to watch each and every week.
Tuesday: Sound! Euphonium, Mikagura School Suite
- Sound! Euphonium (Episode 6)
- Well, there were jawdropping hairflips in Eupho‘s sixth episode, but KyoAni, director Tatsuya Ishihara, and the apparently irrelevant Jukki Hanada (script for all 7 episodes so far, as well as series composition—seriously, why is no one talking about this guy at all?) are pretty much unfailing in delivering solid episodes that are sneakily excellent. Attention to detail really seems to be Eupho‘s calling card halfway through the show, whether that be in the little nuances of what the characters say, how they move, how the camera shoots different moments. It’s all meticulously calculated, but in a way that’s most invisible (as seems to be Hanada’s style) except in the big moments. For a show about a high school band, Sound! Euphonium‘s surprisingly quiet in the way it goes about being good.
- Mikagura School Suite (Dropped)
- I don’t think I ever made an official announcement that I’d dropped Mikagura, so here it is. One episode without a cool battle was all it took for me to tire of the show; sadly, Juri Kimura’s excellent voice work wasn’t enough on its own.
Wednesday: Ore Monogatari!!
- Ore Monogatari!! (Episode 6)
- I’m nowhere near as far behind on posts for this show as I feel. Episode six’s post is scheduled to go up on Wednesday, with episode seven following a few days after—and then I’ll be back on schedule. I’m still enjoying the show, although it’s definitely dropped a few spots in my favorites standings due to execution that doesn’t do much to elevate the material.
- Punchline (Episodes 5 & 6)
- Punchline sadly hasn’t been able to live up to the quality of its fourth episode, as the plot movements of the latest episodes really seem to be relying on character investment that I just don’t have. I know I’ve talked before about how sometimes cute character designs are enough to endear a character to me, but Punchline‘s undirected randomness and persisting forays into juvenile humor are creating enough barriers that the show’s generally weak writing on a character level is becoming an impediment. Episode 6’s “twists” felt pretty uninspired to me, as plot machinations seemingly solely for the purpose of being “surprising” really didn’t do anything for me at all. Punchline‘s pretty close to getting dropped at this point, but we’ll see what the reset does for the show this time. If episode 7 lacks a punch in the same way 6 did, I’ll have another day to keep watching Rose of Versailles.
Friday: Danmachi, Assassination Classroom, Yuki-chan, Nisekoi:
- Danmachi (Episodes 6 & 7)
- My reaction to episode 6 was immediate, emotional, and joyful. Danmachi, despite its lazy writing and annoying fanservice, persists in communicating themes that mean a whole heckuva lot to me and I really honestly love the show for that. Episode 7 was somewhat less emotionally impactful, but at this point I love every character in Danmachi enough that I’m delighted just to spend time with them each week. I’m crossing my fingers that the plot doesn’t get too weighty or start to push Bell out his “young upstart” role, but thus far Yoshiki Yamakawa has guided the show along well, so I’m not really all that worried. There might be a post in the works on episode 6’s themes…
- Assassination Classroom (Episodes 11-15)
- I’m two episodes behind right now, but I caught up with Assassination Classroom a couple of weeks back and I’m really glad I did so. I thought I didn’t need another comfortable slice-of-life type show in my schedule this season, but Assassination Classroom apparently makes for a really great marathon watch and, although I’m still wishing for more expansion with the actual students and desperately waiting for the next Irina episode, it’s just a totally nice watch that I’m happy I’ll be able to go back to in a few weeks.
- The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan (Episodes 6 & 7)
- I said this on Twitter, but I’ll say it again here: Yuki-chan has become what I imagine was once a fan ficiton someone set out to write about Nagato, before remembering halfway through that they liked Haruhi the best. Haruhi has completely taken over the show by this point and all the cute bashfulness that made the pre-Haruhi episodes charming has become more of an annoyance (or at least a drag) at this point. Things aren’t entirely lost, but there’s not much juice left in the Nagato x Kyon romantic subplot anymore with Haruhi taking up the bulk of the show’s engagement fuel.
- Nisekoi: (Episodes 5 & 6)
- Like Kinmoza, Nisekoi: is one of those cases where you get what you expect each week, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, though, the production this season has been far less consistent than with the first season—characters in recent episodes have been off-model and the signature SHAFT flair from the first season has become much more like an obligatory garnish than a main, important ingredient like it was before. Which…is kind of sad. The episodic stories are still funny and entertaining, but the content itself is really pulling the rest of the show along (as weird as that is to say about a show like Nisekoi:). Hopefully SHAFT gets things figured out.
Saturday: Blood Blockade Battlefront
- Blood Blockade Battlefront (Episodes 5-7)
- I assure, the delay in posts on BBB has nothing to do with my feelings for the show. BBB is still my favorite show this season by a mile and seemingly does whatever it feels like doing effortlessly and entertainingly. I’m super excited to write-up episode 5, not only because it means I get to watch episode 5 again, but because BBB continues to be a rewarding as visual craft as it is as entertainment.
And that’s everything! Just so you know, here’s my planned schedule for upcoming blog posts:
- Wednesday: Ore Monogatari!! 6
- Thursday/Friday: Blood Blockade Battlefront 5
- Saturday: Ore Monogatari!! 7
After that, I have a variety of other stuff I want to work on (including catching up on BBB posts), so rest assured that more fun stuff is coming your way. Thanks for reading all the way to the end of this long post, and I’ll see you tomorrow for some shoujo romcom cuteness!