As I was writing out the title to this post, I had a horrible sensation that I’d accidentally typed “Winter 2015” for last week’s post—but I didn’t.
After a long day of anime watching last Friday and Saturday and some level of dedication to maintaining a solid work ethic through the days since them, I’m now completely caught up on the season’s show. I’m not really sure this is a trend that’ll continue—I kind of like just watching things when I feel like it. But what I did feel like watching Rakugo Shinju over the weekend and I’m sure glad I did. My suspicions that Rakugo Shinju is a show that you can basically watch in any mood or at any time and still be swept away by seems to be completely true, but I think I’ll continue to try and keep it set aside for when I’m really feeling. It’s just too good to waste—and the slow sense of building tragedy, conveyed primarily through the increasing sense that Kikuhiko is moving towards some kind of sad ending, or at least a sad event.
Of course (and this outside of the frenetic fujoshi tremors), the elephant in the room with Rakugo Shinju is Kikuhiko and Sukeroku’s relationship, and how Miyokichi’s appearance will affect that. A love rivalry? Kikuhiko’s been lonely for a long time before Sukeroku reappears from after the war, and even now that they’re reunited there’s still tension between them. Placing this kind of tension within the context of the tension of simply staying alive in adult life is clever—relationships straining alongside survival strains—and I’m a sucker for the feeling of the inevitable tragedy. It’s coming, but when?
I can’t wait to find out.
On the opposite side of this dynamic is ERASED, which fooled us (ha! I wasn’t actually fooled) into thinking Satoru had saved Kayo, only to reveal that, nope, things have gone back to being the same as they were before. It feels more like a lapse in concentration by Satoru by anything—if you’re trying to save a 1o year-old girl from being kidnapped and murdered, you don’t just quit after passing one success point!—and also winds up being an inevitable simply because ERASED needed something else to add tension back into the story. Unlike Rakugo Shinju‘s slow burn towards tragedy, ERASED‘s tragedy is constantly being held over our heads—because it’s already happened.
I wasn’t particularly enthralled with this week’s ERASED aside from cute Kayo faces, but it’s interesting to contrast these two excellent shows’ use of tragedy. We know what the ultimate tragedy is for both of them (ERASED: Kayo and, later, Satoru’s mother’s deaths; Rakugo Shinju: Sukeroku’s death), but the difference in awareness of the tragedy by the characters involved with it (although Rakugo Shinju‘s story has an meta element to it as well, being a story told by Yakumo…hmm…). Certainly, they’re two different ways of handling the same thing and both are using the dread to pin the audience in, but ERASED is almost about the tension, whereas in Rakugo Shinju it’s just one piece (albeit a critical one) of the overall puzzle.
Sorry I keep comparing these two shows—I think Rakugo Shinju is the better by far—but it’s fascinating to find ways the season’s two best new offerings continue to intersect in unexpected ways.
Speaking of impending drama, let’s switch over to Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, which appears to be setting course for some serious drama, the likes of which we haven’t really seen the show engage with before. I’m extremely curious to see how Masahiro Ando decides to handle this deviation from Shirayuki-hime‘s normal formula—pirate ladies dribbling wine down their faces while chugging their alcohol isn’t quite what I’d excepted of this season of Shirayuki-hime (and the direction in the scene almost felt overblown to me). Ando certainly can do big drama (see: Blast of Tempest), but I guess I’m just a tad bit worried that Shirayuki-hime‘s cast will adapt well to a more action-oriented mode.
And while I’m busy being a bit worried about a show I like, I might as well mention that this week’s Konosuba really didn’t do much for me—at least on my first watch. Darkness is simply not that funny (and the masochist bit is…ugh…not what I was hoping it would be), but I’m reminding myself that this was her intro episode. Unfortunately, Darkness really didn’t have anything to do with the extended panty robber joke, which was just as unfunny (although I’ll grudgingly admit the execution was pretty solid). On the happier side, Aqua and Megumin still seem capable of carrying the show even in small doses, so I’m expecting Konosuba to swing back towards being derpy and fun in episode four in better proportions than it was in episode three.
Also, I wrote a thing on Konosuba yesterday!
As for everything else, Dimension W was a step down from last week’s pleasantness—Mira was less of a personality and more of a fanservice/moe element, sadly—but still managed to be well-directed and have beautiful backgrounds. And despite Mira getting meta-shafted by the show, I’m maintaining my opinion that the show generally does a good job of striking a balance between having her be a cute, naive, pleasant actual character and just a blob. There are still parts and pieces (like the whole Kyouma wife thing, what) that don’t fit with her overall characterization, but in general I kind of like what they’re doing with Mira. Alongside the strong visual work, that’s enough to keep with on with Dimension W for now.
Haikyuu!! S2 may not have the same sort of fate, as I’m getting pretty wearied by its inability to recapture the magic of season one. If the upcoming episode can’t do it, I’m frankly going to despair of Haikyuu!! S2 ever returning to the heights of its predecessor and drop it. It’s a bummer, and I don’t have an explanation for why this is happening—all the staff is the same, but the show’s just not working the way it should. Whether that’s a fault in the source material (sort of where I’m leaning) or in the adaptation, I’m not sure, but it’s match point for Haikyuu!! right now.
Meanwhile, Durarara!! has stitched together a stunning two good episodes in a row. The direction’s great, the character focus and dialogue has been great, and even though this is distinctively not the same as the show’s very good original installment, it’s still pretty darn good—and that’s exciting. Kida and Anri are now more in the spotlight than they’ve been in long, long episodes, things around them are starting to move, and the show overall seems a bit like a bear finally shaking off its hibernation sleepiness.
Durarara!!-related story time from real life! The guy who sits in the cube next to mine at work has a pretty solid collection of nendoroids and other anime-type figures (Mako from Kill la Kill and Yotsuba are two I recognize—he’s a bit more old-school than I am, I think), and he recently added Celty to his collection after a recent trip to Japan. Earlier this week, our HR manager came by his cube and was asking him some questions about Celty—a tough roll since Celty’s a bit…complicated—and I ended up chiming in with a good-natured joke that showed I knew a bit about the show. After the HR manager headed off, my co-worker said he was glad someone else in the office was around to help him explain Durarara!! and I asked him if he’d been keeping up with the new series. He said he had, and together we lamented that it’s not been as good as the original. So, yeah! You can talk about anime at work and survive!
GATE is being dumb again. Here’s a tweet chain from me on the most infuriating part of the episode.
The only thing (I think) left on my schedule that I haven’t mentioned yet is Grimgar, which someone specifically asked me about last week. Here’s what I think about Grimgar, then. Its fanservice is crappy and bad, Ranta is terrible, but it’s doing interesting things elsewhere. Besides Yume being cute as heck, I mean. And with the most recent episode’s Event, I’m really curious to see where Grimgar goes from here. For me, the event itself is more about how it’s going to push the remaining party members (lol there’s the spoiler) in future episodes, and that’s not something I really want to look away from. In short, I don’t think Grimgar‘s a great show, but it is really interesting and I want to continue to watch where it goes.
Still just watching Phantom World for Guppy screenshots. This was a feature episode for her, but it wasn’t really that great—despite being the show’s best episode yet. Every time two characters have a conversation it just gets…dull…
But have a cute Kayo to finish off the post on a high note!