It’s week five, and things are just trucking along now. Pretty much all of my shows are away from the potential drop bubble at this point, leaving me with a bunch of stuff I’m really enjoying watching each week. Some shows are getting better by the week, others hitting some rough patches, but overall there’s nary a one among them that I’m not excited to watch each week. And that’s the way a weekly schedule should be.
Gakkou Gurashi, Episode 4: Although this week episode wasn’t quite at the same level as last week’s standout offering—Kurumi’s race to the cars, in particular, felt pretty flat to me (production limits starting to show here a bit)—the strengths of Gakkou Gurashi remain the same: strong visual direction, a really dark sense of humor, and a lot of good creative choices. The overall structure of anime right now, the “how did they get here?” concept, is working really effectively because it plays off our already established knowledge of the anime’s present time status quo and cultivates a sense of dread because you know, YOU KNOW—anybody who shows up in the past who isn’t in the present time…well…yeah. And because Gakkou Gurashi keeps settling down at the time at the moment of the disaster, we’re almost constantly in a state of wondering when things are going to go wrong. When will the elevator rise…and what will be inside?
Classroom Crisis, Episode 5: Aww man, a beach episode? Classroom Crisis, you should be better than this! Actually, as far as beach episodes go, this one definitely fell on the better side of the trope—which isn’t say that much, but at least it’s something! As per the Classroom Crisis form, the show had a few little twists on the tropes, but it’s also still engaging those tropes. I wish it wouldn’t, but since it did, I’m happy to see that there were a pile of little pieces that made the things I’ve seen over and over again go down a little bit easier: Sera and Angelina drinking together, Iris terrorizing Nagisa on the road, the trap the girls set up for the peeping boys, A-TEC singing the show’s OP on the bus, and Mizuki’s endless smiling faces. All in all, it wasn’t a terrible way to kick off the “Nagisa slowly finds himself acclimating to the A-TEC students” thing that was inevitably going to happen, but a beach episode is still a beach episode. Hopefully Classroom Crisis got it all out of its system this week.
Durarara!! x2-2, Episode 5: After long last, we’re finally starting to get into the real meat of this season’s story—and the effects are immediate and very positive. Durarara!!‘s greatest strength has always been in its ability to juggle a ton of moving parts, letting them cross paths and then go their own ways, and then having them them cross new paths. With Mikado already in action, Kida starting to move, and even the impossibly static Anri trying to address the changes she’s sensing around her, all the other players on the field suddenly seem more dynamic and purposed in their movements. Another element here is this episode’s choice to fracture the narrative by characters, rather than by time (as we saw with Akabayashi’s episode), which absolved this episode of the somewhat traditional storytelling feel that has “plagued” many episodes of the new season. Durarara!! simply isn’t just one character’s story—it’s the story of this city—and when an episode understands that, it’s almost guaranteed to be good.
Gatchaman Crowds insight, Episode 5: Well, the citizens of Japan have steered themselves right into what you might call a real pot of poo. Electing Gelsedra is, to anyone in this show with any brains at all—Riziumu, Jo, Hajime, Rui, and even Berg Katze—obviously a really bad idea. Even Tsubasa, although she can’t say it yet, seems to recognize this instinctively. And yet, here we are with the first alien prime minister in the history of the country. The really interesting thing here is that, although Tsubasa and Gelsedra rushed to save Rui’s life and stop Riziumu, they’ve essentially adopted the practical effects of his theories on human beings as their own. Elected by the whims of the masses, they will most certainly feel the heat of the masses’ whimsy when the tides shift. That is to say, things around about to get really bad in Gatchaman Crowds insight before they can get better—and through all of this, Hajime (the incarnation of the first season’s philosophies) has stay silent. Will she ever make her move? Or will Berg Katze exhaust her to the point where she can no longer be a voice?
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, Episode 5: At this point, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Shirayuki-hime has become my favorite show of the season. Led by Masahiro Ando’s continually excellent direction and Michiru Oshima’s impossibly beautiful OST (an element without which the show simply wouldn’t be the same), Shirayuki-hime is walking the delicate line of lowkey, feel-good character relationship development without falling into the twin traps of stasis or being boring. This is a very carefully, thoughtfully constructed show, and the attention to detail that’s clearly gone into the production at all levels (writing included) is paying off big time as the characters continue to grow and reveal more of themselves to the audience and to each other. Best of all, Shirayuki-hime continues to play with shoujo standards like the guy standing over the girl with her back to a wall and undercutting them with Zen’s genuine admiration and respect for Shirayuki. I love it.
Overlord, Episode 5: Overlord continues to impress me by the simple fact that it continues to be entertaining and not suck. Yes, I know it’s a low bar, but with all the potential pitfalls Overlord could fall into, avoiding them with pretty solid consistency is impressive and has made it a genuinely interesting watch each week. The plotting and use of new side-characters before we know anything about them weakens the sense of suspense a bit, but thanks to some sillier moments (mostly revolving around Nabe this week) Overlord‘s stayed away from being so self-serious that the slower pacing starts to drag. The anime has done a really admirable job of making this whole story feel like a fun adventure, even when it just involves throwing people around bars and meeting new teammates at the guild, so I’m pretty sold on watching this one through the end even if it never gets into the “let’s conquer the world!” part.
- Gate, Episode 5: I have to stick it out for another week because there is a battle coming next week and maybe Lelei will get to do something cool? Otherwise, this episode was kind of bland thanks to too much princess backstory and not enough of things actually moving forward. I’m not watching Gate for sob stories. I’m watching it because I want to see cute anime girls curb stomp some bad guys.
- Ushio to Tora, Episode 5: An episode notable for a lot of reasons, but Nakamura showing up big time was by far the best highlight of the episode. She and Ushio have even better chemistry and Ushio and Tora do, and Nakamura clearly knows this boy she likes really well—and she’s willing to make sure he stays the boy she likes, and the boy he is.
- Miss Monochrome S2, Episode 5: Another week of Miss Monochrome, another really mean joke at the expense of our poor android idol.
- Working!!!, Episode 5: Can you feel Inami x Souta becoming more and more real by the episode??? I can, and I’m delighted. Delighted, I tell you!
- Castle Town Dandelion, Episode 5: Please, let’s stay away from the subtle or not-so-subtle incest undertones. Misaki and Haruka work well enough on their own without having to blush at each other. Also, I quite liked Misaki’s internal conflict this episode—for a 4koma anime, I think it handle things really well.