The end times approach.
So, Konosuba ended this week, marking the beginning of the last hurrah for the surprisingly good Winter 2016 season and inviting all of us to look ahead to the upcoming bounties of spring. But before we allow Winter 2016 to give up the ghost, let us remember the good times we’ve had (and are still having!).
The aforementioned Konosuba left us first, thanks to its tragically short 10 episode run (thankfully, we already have a season two coming our way). It was pretty much a vintage Good Konosuba episode, complete with great Aqua moments of both the triumphant and not-so variety, some explosions, and Darkness even showing a bit of legitimate character! I’ll reserve my overall thoughts on the show for a later date, but as finale episodes for episodic comedies go, I dunno if you can do much better than Konosuba did. It checked all the boxes of a grand finale without forgetting its greatest charms, which was delightful to see and experience. And, unlike some of the other episodes, this one was mostly devoid of wider satirical comedy, although the complaining of the wizard over not being granted enough funds to actually complete his assigned government project seemed to have more than a shade of real world commentary.
And, to close out the Konosuba section, remember: Aqua is the best.
Haikyuu!! S2 officially still has one episode left, but given that an S3 is coming and there’s not enough time to really get into anything else, I think we can more or less consider this somewhat disappointing season of cute volleyball boys close. And that feels weird to say, because Haikyuu!! ended the Karasuno–Seijoh match with what was, hands down, the sequel series’ best episode. Although Karasuno won, it was really Oikawa (that point to Iwazumi!!) and Seijoh who stole the show for me. At some point in the middle of this episode I forgot I was watching a story and started reacting to the episode as if it were a real sports game—complete with the intense bitterness over Seijoh’s loss that I feel when my real life sports teams lose. Oikawa’s not a genius, but he has worked harder than anyone to hone the talent he does have and so it hurt to see him downed by plot and circumstance so Karasuno (who have really become pretty dull as a unit, in my opinion) could truck on. Well, you can’t win them all.
One clear winner out of this week’s crop of episodes, though, was Grimgar, which successfully closed the emotional-personal side of Mary’s arc with grace and then shifted quickly to give Ranta the long-coming character redemption he’s deserved. I was talking with a friend on Twitter about Ranta earlier this week and we were both in agreement that we really don’t want Ranta to die. As I see him, he’s just as much of a scared kid as the rest of the crew—and just because he’s a jerk and a wannabe peeper doesn’t mean he’s rotten to the core. In fact, this week proved my suspicions correct that Ranta would sacrifice himself for the rest of the party if needed. I’m glad they’re going to be coming back to get him and that he’ll likely live, because that seems like the necessary conclusion to Grimgar‘s season-long musings on understanding others.
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime continued its own (albeit somewhat shorter) streak of success with a hilarious comedy episode this week that not only provided laughs, but also left us with a whole lot to think about in terms of the ways these characters relate to each other. There’s a lot of love between Zen, Mitsuhide, Kiki, Shirayuki, and Obi, but there’s also loyalty and kindness and friendship. It’s a whole range of good relationship behaviors and attitudes piled together, but I think it’s notable that even in the midst of this Zen and Mitsuhide can find room for a petty fight. Love and trust aren’t automatic antidotes to all relationship woes—even a well-established relationship will always need constant work to stay afloat and healthy. But, to come back to the main quintet, I have to say that my favorite thing about this episode was how everyone was present as Shirayuki passed her exam. Everyone was right there alongside her. It wasn’t overdone or dramatized. It just was. And it was lovely.
Somehow Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju finds itself all the way down in the middle of the post again this week—and once more, that is absolutely no comment on the episode’s quality. It was a bit lighter in tone, but the things Rakugo Shinju do are all important, even down to Konatsu being a cute little thing and getting her haircut and having rakugo performed for her. In a way, she represents the fascinating ideal of the audience, an innocent, perpetually entertained, fresh, and bright image. But the flipside to Konatsu is, in a weird way, her mother, as Miyokichi incarnates the angry, damning, unforgiving audience. They both give and they both take and they both have their reasons. Tragedy’s grim specter hangs over the theatre of life once more.
I can’t keep writing paragraphs on how wonderful Mahoutsukai Precure is, but here I am again, this time to praise how the show is handling its multiple henshin sequences. This week’s Sapphire was definitely my favorite of the three we’ve seen so far, but what really struck me when watching was how different it was from the other two. Not just because of the colors or the animation, but because it had an entirely distinct feel to it. It was elegant, graceful, and dignified, a nice contrast to the bombast of the Ruby henshin and the crispness of the Diamond henshin. We’ve presumably got a whole bunch more of these henshin coming with numerous Linkle Stones left, and I’m really excited to get to see what the staff can continue to cook up for Mirai and Riko.
And in the overtime round, we have Durarara!! x2-3 well and truly plunging into an inscrutable muck of character motivations. If Mikado has been slowly going insane, the show’s done an absolutely horrid job of cluing us into that. And if he’s doing it for some reason, it’s done a similarly terrible job making those motivations clear to the audience. My hopes for a satisfying conclusion have been pretty much dumped. GATE‘s paradrop episode was dull and featured infuriating blushes from lady knights who shouldn’t be blushing, while ERASED continued its slow march towards irrelevance with more entertaining-in-the-moment thriller camp and sadly abbreviated emotional material.
And that’s all from me! Let’s gear up for a week of finales!