This is typically the point in the season when shows start to lose a bit of momentum. First arcs are ending, production might be suffering a bit, and the great pushes from the premieres are basically out of energy. This is the time when the truly great shows separate themselves from the rest of the seasonal offerings—and as far as I’m concerned, there’s only one of those this season.
K: Return of Kings, Episode 5: We’re still kind of in build-up mode, but this episode managed to move a little bit better than last week’s (although the final conversation between Shiro and the Green King basically happened once and then happened again right in a row, just with different words each time). It’s clear K is just about done setting up the important pieces for the rest of the show—the impending implosion of Munakata, the coming war between the Green Clan and the Coffee Table Alliance, and all the backstories and prior character relationships that have lead to this point. If there’s one glaring weakness in the show, though, it’s that the thematic coherence of Shiro’s past desire to promote human evolution and his current position and the aims of the Green King aren’t quite coming together. K‘s always been a show that kind of muddles through the details and still gets by on heart and style, which means that the thematic stakes haven’t really kept up with the in-universe stakes. Which is really fine since the show continues to work overall; it’s just a little detail that could have helped make K even better than it is.
Noragami Aragoto, Episode 5: Whoa, so we’re like…basically done with the Bishamon arc, right? Unless Nora’s involvement is going to prolong Kuguha’s existence in the show, it seems like there’s not much wrap-up to do beside finishing him off and (hopefully!) healing all of Bishamon’s tainted Regalia. Kazuma, in particular, I’d like to see live. This arc really has flown by, and it’s definitely been among the show’s best offerings—seeing Yukine transform into a Blessed Vessel (while straight out of the last ditch effort shounen power-up book) was an immensely gratifying moment for this young boy who’s done so much to grow. I suppose if there’s once disappointment with Noragami Aragoto at this point, it’s that it (much like K) really kind of lacks any substantial thematic weight. At this point, the show’s basically operating solely on story, action, and characters—all of which are good things, but also which don’t carry a lot of weight outside of themselves. Noragami‘s best chances there have always been wrapped up with its use of the gods, but at this point it’s basically just the story of a goddess who bit off too much in generosity…
Gundam Tekketsu, Episode 5: So, this episode was essentially one long battle—which brought with it both good and bad things. The good: in general, the action was solid, and seeing Coral’s defeat at Mikazuki’s hands was quite gratifying (as was Tekkadan’s escape in the end). The bad: the increase in action was offset by a drop in character-focused screen time. While we did finally get to see Eugene do something besides constantly whine, the nuances of character that have been the highlight of the series for me took a backseat to some good old robot action. I don’t mean to sound too down on this episode; overall, I liked it. It’s just that I’d like the action and character work to coexist, not cancel each other out over whole episodes.
Comet Lucifer, Episode 5: Directly comparing Comet Lucifer and Gundam Tekketsu is probably a silly activity most weeks, but the heavy weight towards action in both was a unifying element in both of their episodes this week. On the whole, I think Comet Lucifer came out slightly ahead of Gundam in the action department, with Orange’s CGI mechs and the sound editing really lending a lot of weight to the two fights between Moura and Stewart. The animalistic sound effects and generally beast-like fighting style of the magic mecha continue to lend it a air of uniqueness, particularly when contrasted against Stewart’s military fighting style. As for the story, well, who knows where it’ll go now that Felia isn’t a cat loli anymore.
Concrete Revolutio, Episode 5: As far as I’m concerned, Conrevo is the best show of the season. Once again we’ve returned to this idea of disillusionment, but not just because Jiro is (again) being forced this week into confronting the grayness of the world in which he lives. Perhaps the most uncomfortable thing about this week’s episode was the degree to which it’s become apparent this young man is being used by basically everyone with whom he comes into contact (excepting Kikko, at this point). At this point, I don’t disbelieve that Emi loves Jiro, but it seems she also has no qualms against using him as a tool in the functioning of the Superhuman Bureau. And, when you think about it, it’s really the Superhuman Bureau as a whole whose motivations really remain shrouded in mystery. Although their goal—”protect superhumans”—seems noble on the surface, their methods and biases and priorities consistently portray this organization as one of questionable ethical character. But Jiro—if he even knows—doesn’t really concern himself with that. For him, he just needs to be pointed at the “enemy” so that he can take action.
New Kids on the Block!
As it happens, I picked up a couple of new shows this week out of curiosity—and liked them both. The new faces (who may or may not continue making regular appearances on Anime Weekly) are Star Musical and Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry. At this point, I’m enjoying both of them for pretty different reasons. Starmyu (seen episodes 1-4) is an imagery-laden, decently serious shoujo anime from the director of Kuroko’s Basketball, Shunsuke Tada. In my opinion, Tada is a much better fit for the arts school setting, which allows for a lot more exploration of the abstract—and his talent for handling an ensemble cast is allowed to actually work here in a way it never was in Kurobas. Rakudai (seen episodes 1-5), on the other hand, is one of the indistinguishable magic high school harems this season, but it’s got an actual romance with progression—and that’s something I don’t get enough of from any anime, so I’m willing to put up with its…uh…less classy aspects.
- The Perfect Insider, Episode 4: I’m somewhat regretful to say it, but I’m done with this show. As I’ve said before, the central mystery isn’t inherently compelling to me—and the characters, which ought to be there to pull me into the show, are just kind of floating at the service of the plot. Magata and Moe were once interesting to me, but the reveal of Magata’s multiple personalities was done in the most uninteresting way possible and Moe…just can’t carry the show on her own. Dropped.
- Miss Monochrome, Episode 5: Screw this wonderful show and its terrible, terrible puns. I’m constantly both delighted and pissed off watching it. It’s great. It’s horrible. I love it.
- Haikyuu!! S2, Episode 5: Well, I suppose the disjointed feeling this episode gave me resonates pretty well with how disjointed the Karasuno team is. Other than the high-pitched fight at the end, Haikyuu!!‘s kind of spinning its wheels right now as it preps for really going big… eventually… somewhere down the line. Right now, that’s my biggest problem with Haikyuu!!—we’re doing a lot of waiting for the headlining moments, and that’s just not what this show is good at.
- Heavy Object, Episode 5: The end is nigh. Here are this week’s livetweets.
- One Punch Man, Episode 5: Genos’ fights (actually, just Genos overall) continue to be the best thing about this show. The constant refrain of anticlimax after anticlimax in the humor is extremely wearing, but as long as we get to see Genos continue to be a try-hard self-serious hero wannabe, I’ll stick around.