The weekly roundup or rundown or highlights (or whatever you want to call them) are back! As it happens, I’m going back to the normal Wednesday release schedule for this season…and you’ll also notice that I’ve navigated away from the clunky “Highlights of the Week” to something a bit snappier (and maybe a bit more SEO friendly): “Anime Weekly.” In the end, nothing’s really changing—this is still going to be the catch-all post for the week that compiles my thoughts on everything I’ve been watching. It’s just easier to type out the title now.
And a good thing, too, because despite my best efforts to cull my watchlist for this season, I’m still carrying 15 shows—5 more than the target set for myself at the beginning of the season.
Gate, Episode 2: I was expecting a lot worse than we got, and somehow the surgically efficient quality of A-1 Picture’s storytelling made Gate pretty darn entertaining this week. I’m still holding out for the girls with pretty hair colors to show up (and we were blessed with the redhead’s brief entrance this week), but while we bide our time with the members of the JDSF we’ve at least got Private(?) Kuribayashi to tide us over. Elsewhere, there’s a kind of ridiculous likability that’s starting to manifest on occasion—like with the JDSF’s hilariously uptight warning sign—even as the “serious” story is definitely a bit too serious for its own good. Thankfully, Gate seems to be staying mostly in lighthearted territory for now (the bit where Yoji and his otaku buddy start singing a mahou shoujo theme song really cracked me up). I’m still not sold on the show as a keeper for a full 24 episodes, but I’m at least engaged enough to stick around until the cute anime girls show up for real.
Classroom Crisis, Episode 2: If you don’t already, you should know about my love for Gundam Build Fighters, a show with a intense love for all things bright and beautiful—and Classroom Crisis, which is made by the same people, is very much cut from the same cloth as Build Fighters, with one critical difference: Classroom Crisis is actually articulating director Kenji Nagasaki & co.’s ideas in its themes and story. It’s the conceptual thesis to Build Fighter‘s lived example. And I love it for that. There’s an undeniable love and affection for the medium, the story, and the characters that underlies every moment of this production. That’d be enough to charm me on its own, but Classroom Crisis offers more. Like Shirobako, the titular crisis that is CC’s main conflict—the managerial transfer student’s orders to disassemble the preternaturally talented and creatively inspired A-TEC class—stands on a line of bitter reality without ever tipping into despair. Combined with the thematic thesis that’s already forming, this blend of fantastically-realistic story and hopeless infatuation with inspiration, creativity, and joy is well on its way to being a critical statement on why we need joy in our lives. Keep coming, CC. I’m with you all the way.
Charlotte, Episode 2: Jury’s still out on this one, but I’m leaning more towards keeping it than I am towards dropping it. At this point, Charlotte‘s greatest asset isn’t in its story, but in its ability to use strong voice acting and character animation to make its characters, if not likable, at least fun to watch. I’m honestly not quite sure how I feel about the trip to see Nao’s insane brother or about the impending external threat of evil scientists looking to experiment on teens, but at this point it’s much more wait and see than “oh, no—please not this.” We all know who’s writing this show and we all know that Charlotte will eventually turn on the tearjerkers, but if Maeda can continue to build up my affection for the characters through comedy (the sandwich teleportation scene was gold) and effectively build up the world in which they live, we might have ourselves a real gem. In the interim, Charlotte‘s one of those shows that I’m genuinely immersed in while watching—always a good sign and a good reason to keep on watching.
Gatchaman Crowds Insight, Episode 2: As always, Gatchaman Crowds keeps on rolling with the Big Ideas—introducing the season’s main villain as an ideologically (although not methodically, you’ll noticed) reversed version of Rui. Although I adore Hajime and everything she stands for, Rui’s probably my favorite character among the cast of Crowds. Hajime may be the show’s thesis-giver, but it’s Rui who’s more rooted in the reality of hope and, thus, the disappointment of reality. It always hurts to see Rui have to go back on his ideals because they are so good in concept, but so very difficult to manifest positively due to the nature of the world and human beings. And, of course, there’s also Tsubasa, the Gatchaman who can’t transform—the hero who isn’t really a hero yet, except to those who already love her. The OP seems to peg Tsubasa as, eventually, Hajime’s equal and counterpart, but those days seem to be far off and, more importantly, Tsubasa’s thematic place within the Crowds conversation is unknown as now. In the end, though, this is Gatchaman Crowds and I trust it to give us both a wild ride and a whole lot to think about.
Rokka, Episode 2: Whoo boy, this show looks pretty. Frankly, compared to the other pretty fantasy show of the season (Shirayuki-hime), I prefer Rokka‘s visual aesthetic (although I like Shirayuki-hime‘s OST better—both are by Michiru Oshima, who also did the Blast of Tempest OST). Adlet and Nashetania have both proven to be fun characters, although Nashetania’s playful teasing has made her stand out a little bit more than Adlet. The story itself is moving along as decent pace, as we’ve encountered 3 of the 6 Braves already—although Fremy Speeddraw seems to have a bit more to her story than simply being named one of the heroes of the world. I’m looking forward to her and Adlet’s seemingly inevitable battle next week, as well as to hearing why exactly she’s been killing potential Braves (if that’s actually true). In any case, my wories that Rokka wouldn’t really be a good show to watch weekly seem to have been mostly negated. I’ll be keeping this one until I tire of it, if that ever happens.
Castle Town Dandelion, Episode 2: This show is already one of my favorites of the season. There’s a lovely, charming realism to the Sakurada siblings’ sometimes loving, sometimes contentious relationships, a sort of refreshing vibe that extends to the show as a whole. It’s just a nice show and a nice show to watch. There’s no guile here and although we’ve run into a few animeisms (the panty jokes in episode 1), there’s more than a generous supply of emotionally genuine moments. Satou’s confession, Akane’s pure (no gross incest undertones here!) worry about what a relationship for Shu might do to their relationship, and even Kanade’s impatience with her younger siblings camera shy ways all resonate with the truth of a basis in reality I think is immediately apparent to anyone who’s ever had siblings. In short, I love this show—it’s cute in more ways than just the character designs and it makes me happy watching it. Oh, and it’s funny~
- Miss Monochrome S2, Episode 2: Kana Asumi appears as a psycho drag racing loli to accompany Yui Horie’s Vocaloid idol character. Also, this week was The Adolescence of Miss Monochrome, which was cool.
- Ushio to Tora, Episode 2: Still solidly entertaining and the chemistry between our titular jerkfaces continues to improve. This is a shounen anime through and through, built on solid shounen fundamentals. There’s not really ever going to be much to talk about with it, but MAPPA and Studio VOLN are doing an excellent job keeping the production sharp and the execution engaging.
- Durarara!! x2-2, Episode 2: Better than the premiere, definitely, although Namie has never been one of my favorites in the show. Mika, however, I do like quite a lot—and I was quite excited to find out that she’s actually got the agency to do things like gather information for herself. Information is power in this world and although knowing what she does puts Mika at risk, it also gives her leverage that she can use. And who knows when Narita will decide to have her use it…
- Working!!!, Episode 2: Inami is adorable, I’m still thrilled to have Kana Asumi in a full lead role again (Popura), Yamada is as precocious as ever—and everything else at Wagnaria is as it ought to be. Romantic developments, though…I’m as eager to see those as Souma is.
- Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, Episode 2: Still pretty, still very well directed—also still featuring kind of run-of-the-mill characters. Zen and Shirayuki are pretty and nice and stuff, but they don’t really feel like people yet. But once that element of the show falls into place…
Phew, that was long—and that’s not even everything I’m watching this season! I’m behind on Overlord thanks to my internet at home being broken and the Thursday shows haven’t had their second episodes yet. Next week, though, everything show be in order.