I had to take a couple weekends off again due to training for a promotion. So there’s a huge step up in my life affairs! In addition, I find that, most of the time, I catch up on weekly anime right before the next week episodes start airing, which makes my weekly write up seem like old news before I even start it. Well I don’t want to miss another week so here I am starting a blog at 1 AM. This week was primarily satisfactory on all fronts but didn’t really have anything to seal the deal as an episode to remember. I guess I should be glad that Fate/Stay is past one of it’s most contrived confrontations and that My Love Story is continually honing it’s craft at being a terrific romantic comedy. Blood Blockade Battlefront brought us another creative episode, and Arslan is confidently building it’s world with more interesting pieces. So with that said, let’s once again leave our mundane world for a bit and talk about ANIME.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan
There were two major scenes in this episode, one of which was easily the most impactful fight sequence in the series so far. Arslan has shown steady signs of continual improvement, warranting me to believe that in the end, this will be the anime with the biggest pay off thanks to all of it’s careful attention to detail.
The first scene was Arslan finally meeting his long lost acquaintance from the very first episode. His return to the story was something I was highly anticipating, and while he didn’t make as dramatic of a re-entrance as I expected, he still came off as a very well-rounded character. A young teen that still has the ideals of a pure-hearted young boy, only completely skewed toward the Lusitanian way of life. It proved that two little boys can have the same sort of vision, and without losing sight of it, can end up in two completely opposite positions. It was funny seeing him spout words of how Arslan must be some demonic looking figure. Arslan is still on the light side with comic relief, so the few gags they have really resonate right now.
Then, on the tail end of the episode, our beloved, manliest of men, Daryun came face to…masked-face with the masked man. This fight played out wonderfully, and seeing two of the most formidable people go toe to toe seems much more rare, or special than in a shounen anime where you just know that they will fight eventually. Also, given the fact that Daryun has trouble fighting the masked-man, it makes me curious about the combat skills of Geive, who seemed to manage him just fine in the earlier episode, though it may have been the lucky break with the fire.
Arslan is already benefiting from it’s solid foundation and steady trickle of character development. The animation still leaves a lot to be desired, almost to the point where I already want to see a remake. Hopefully, in the next cour, they get an increased budget. Arslan himself is still slowly turning into the “king” we all want him to be, but as this episode proved testament to, he’s still a bit of a dunce. I still like him, dunce or not.
Episode 9 – “Beneath the Mask” – 8.5/10
Blood Blockade Battlefront
We got another stylized episode that focuses on two developments, one was an action spectacle that culminated in the addition of a new team member for Libra. The other was conveying the importance of roles that both Black and White have for the main events of Blood Blockade Battlefront. Both of these aspects were handled fine, but this episode just didn’t have the singular point that hit me as strongly as some of the previous episodes. Perhaps it’s because this episode is kind of a precursor to a much more climactic future episode.
We open right in the thick of the action as the team members of Libra are working together to take the enemy down. It’s a nice bit of character intricacy seeing all of them cooperate together, but, I wasn’t too invested into the action this time around. I never really have been. It all looks cool with all the massive kanji and all the other bells and whistles, but it was never the real reason I loved this anime. Therefore this scene was kind of just a slow burn, or above-average popcorn entertainment.
Lulling in the background was Mr. Coin Flipper teasing us with some dastardly stuff. Then the story shifts it’s focus on Black and White, and reveals their past, along with an uncanny similarity between White’s past and Leo’s, our main character. It was all quite evocative, and seeing them as kids was adorable. It helped widen my range of emotions with Black because even with his split personality, I still liked him a lot less than White. This is what led to the cliffhanger of sorts, where White is faced with a huge dilemma that decides the fate of Leo, and the world they are in. A dilemma that involves a lesser of two evils, and we as an audience don’t want to see either take effect.
Episode 9 – “Z’s Longest Day (Part 2)” – 8/10
Are people actually dying in Fairy Tail? I mean…it happens, but never quite as quickly, and surprisingly as this. Tartarus Arc is starting by firing on all cylinders, throwing Fairy Tail right into the middle of the most dangerous enemies yet.
This episode continues the prologue which is doing a brilliant job of stressing that the members of Tartarus are not to be taken lightly. Acting like a group of super-powered terrorists, they have already succeeded in decimating the magic council. A group of people who I thought were invincible, and that they’d never die in the events of Fairy Tail. I love how instead of facing them head on, Fairy Tail has to use a bit of tactical effort to try to even find the members of Tartarus. I also love the constant change in locales since Tartarus is traveling the world, hunting down council members.
This episode is the one that brought Fairy Tail into the mix because the first guild member finally fell victim to one of Tartarus’ terrorist attacks. Unlike the Sun Village arc, I am actually completely engrossed with this turn of events. I am extremely curious to know what Tartarus’ motive is. I hope it’s something clever. And I love that Fairy Tail as a whole are part of this operation. Though it remains to be seen if it truly will focus on every guild member equally. They are currently split up into multiple teams which means we’ll be getting a dynamic change of pace naturally within each episode.
Fairy Tail is finally off of the boring precursor to the Tartarus Arc, and we’re headway into an already exciting story. The writing is still sub-par, and I feel like Fairy Tail will never elevate on that front. But as a pure action anime, this is the set up we’ve all been waiting for.
Episode 235 – “Prologue – Fairies vs The Underworld” – 8.5/10
I’m glad I took a couple weeks off because I would have run out of original things to say about Fate. Luckily, this was the episode where the repetitive, needlessly exposition-heavy fight between Archer and Shirou came to an end, and Gilgamesh’s role came to the forefront. For fans of Fate/Zero, this scene with Gilgamesh also connected a lot of things with Zero’s ending.
Since I haven’t spoken at all about the Archer versus Shirou fight, here’s my two cents. I have never heard one opinion expressed in such a pointless myriad of ways. A diatribe that lost its effect after the second rendition, but went on to be expressed continuously, monotonously, for two and a half episodes. It was with reawakening relief that a blade finally hit a lethal spot, ending the fight. We didn’t leave the battle scene of the last few episode yet because Gilgamesh had some words for us too. Luckily, his were much more informative, and it sets up his role as the antagonist.
Gilgamesh had a huge part in Fate/Zero and to many, the ending of it didn’t exactly click on Gilgamesh’s part. We learn now the effects of that, which is that basically, Gilgamesh was reborn into this world. He despises this era’s lack of utility and vast overpopulation and wishes it to be more like his days where the strong were granted benefits of society, while the weak was done away with. I wonder if Gilgamesh views Shirou as worthy of his high standard of living.
Finally, the episode ended with a bloody, bodily, bang and Shinji finally went away. He has long overstayed his welcome, and the ugliness of his death was proportionate to the ugliness of every scene with his character. I have long since felt that the cast of Fate/Stay Night is much more hit or miss than Fate/Zero. I love Rin. I like Shirou. And I sometimes like Gilgamesh. I don’t mind it being between those three primarily, but it feels a lot less like a battle royale when I don’t have equal investment into each side.
Episode 21 – “Answer” – 7/10
This is starting to feel like a perfect weekly anime. Although, by the time it ends, I don’t quite think it’ll rank amongst my favorites. Either way, every week we’ve been getting this elaborately prepared dish that manages to contain a recipe in the form of a plot twist, and a taste-tester with some epic background and nickname.
This week continued from the cliffhanger last week where Souma had to return the favor to the European chef. And it’s with this chef that we are introduced to Souma’s first real rival. All of the other cooks Souma has squared off against in a battle of simmering, savoring servitude didn’t really function as a rival, but more of an obstacle. This time we have the closest thing to an equal. A similar upbringing, the experience in dealing with real-life customers, and a skill set that combines ingenuity and spontaneity.
I mentioned last time about how I wondered if Souma would ever face a challenge, and this was the closest we’ve seen. Althrough, Souma still never lost his edge of confidence, and it’s still implied that Souma is one small step ahead of his rival, as evidenced in the cook-out at the end of the episode where Souma finished his fifty servings when his rival was at 45 servings.
This week was purely enjoyable, and I have to admit that I am addicted to all these zany food recipes. The dialing back of the “porn” in food porn has made this anime all the more enjoyable, and now it’s just strangely erotic every once in a while. I’m enjoying the gusto with which everything is presented, and I think it has already succeeded in making food exciting. But just how deep this anime gets remains to be seen, and that’s what’s keeping it from being something truly special for me.
Episode 9 – “The Breading to Adorn the Mountains” – 8.5/10
What the HELL is that over-powered beyond belief Argonaut ability?! Seriously, if left unchecked, this thing could derail the entire anime. The friendship is power aspect is starting to bear some poisonous fruit. And this is coming off the spectacle of an episode that was last week with one of the most empowering, and inspiring Shounen moments of the season. Luckily we get a pleasant new party member who kind of stole the show.
So the episode starts with the tantalizing notion of Bell receiving a new skill with unknown properties. I was thinking it would be a small ability, or effect that would grant him a new tactical edge in battle. We’ll get back to that, because in the episode, it wasn’t revealed instantaneously. Bell is celebrating his reaching level 2, and heads are turning due to the record speed at which he attained it. Bell is getting a little famous, and his harem is growing all the more adoring of him. Just when I thought things couldn’t get better for the guy, he gets a new party member who can also craft him new armor, and it happens to be the same blacksmith Bell was already a fan of. However, I love the blacksmith. Show me more of him, please.
Seriously, Bell is due for some misfortune, and yes, I’m saying that after his incident with Lilica. That’s because of Argonaut, the unknown skill that was teasing us this entire episode. Come to find out, it’s much more than a simple tactic. It’s a move that kills an overwhelming foe in one hit. This was kind of the limit for me. I never liked Bell as a character because he doesn’t have much of my sympathy. Sure, his ideals align with mine, so I can relate to him, but there’s a key difference between relatability and sympathy. While I agree with Bell, I don’t like the idea of a hero who’s given all this crap just because he yearns for it.
I don’t like harems. I never have, because rarely does the man seem like he realistically deserves all the positive attention. I feel the same here. Bell is simply trying hard, and is being rewarded immensely from every perceivable nook and cranny of this world. I still love this anime. It hits the adventure/shounen traits perfectly, making it one of the most enjoyable and upbeat anime this season, but coming from someone who likes realistic character struggles and a bit of pessimism to balance out the optimism, this hero is just completely spoiled. That’s the only characteristic I don’t like.
Episode 9 – “Blacksmith” – 8.5/10
Now, keep in mind that this episode was still great. I can probably say confidently that it is, and will remain my least favorite episode of this game. Mainly because it features the least shifts in momentum thus far, and I know that next episode will bring some serious shit.
What I liked about this episode is that it continued the noble act of fleshing out EVERY SINGLE PLAYER IN THE GAME. If you had a favorite character that wasn’t one of the glory hogging main characters, then this game was sure to give them their moment in fame. This episode continued that, but was kind of the least interesting of them. However, I’d rather burn one episode to make sure everyone gets their due, than to have all this amazing development, but actually skip someone.
The game itself didn’t feature much in the way of a change of pace. Because of this, nothing really left my jaw hanging. It’s in these lulls that Kuroko’s sometimes feels like a bit much. It’s crazy intensity works when the game is changing states so dynamically, but when the game is static, all the crazy moves, and the crazy names for the crazy moves, and the crazy mind games behind the crazy moves with the crazy names, all seem to be nor naught. Games in this anime are at their best when the pace of the game is threatening to change. I believe next week will have a lot of that, but this week didn’t really have any. That is why it was my least favorite.
Episode 71 – “In My Own Way, I’m Desparate” – 8.5/10
My Love Story
Keep it up Ore Monogatari. If you give me more episodes like this, you may be on your way to reaching the likes of my favorite romantic comedies like Clannad and Toradora.
This week focused not on the adorable relationship between Yamato and Takeo, but between the best bros since Gon and Killua from Hunter X Hunter. It’s been teased for a very long time that Suna may have something troubling on his mind. Whether that was the fear of loneliness or not was the true question. It turns out, it was nothing like that. Instead, Suna has been dealing with unsettling family matters, and it brought one of our first true conflicting dilemmas to our as-of-yet uncorrupted story.
Takeo had to choose between his best friend and his girlfriend. Granted, Suna, being such a wonderful person, made sure that Takeo didn’t miss his girlfriend’s birthday. However, it was painful, in a good way, to see Suna acting like such a martyr so casually. I grew to love their companionship even more. In fact, it was the most hard-hitting thing in the anime thus far, and I hope that the anime continues down this path. I hear great things about the source material, so I’m sure I have nothing to fear, and am delighted to see what surprising turns this anime takes next.
Episode 8 – “My Friend” – 9.5/10
Dang it Plastic Memories, you had me. With that Wanderer double whammy a couple weeks back, I thought this anime was going to explode into terrific writing and character potential. Instead, you doubled back and are now completely focused on the not-as-interesting romance.
Gone is that dark turn, and I don’t think we’re ever going back. I want to love Plastic Memories. I really do because it’s premise is thoughtful, and the execution on the things most unique to Plastic Memories are astounding. However, this anime is torturing me with it’s priorities right now. It is not delving into the characteristics that make this anime unique. Instead, it’s latching onto the most regular, average thing about it: the romance between Isla and Tsukasa. Their romance isn’t bad, but it’s nothing I’d recommend. I wanted to recommend Plastic Memories for it’s science-themed drama. Now I don’t think I can.
This week, and the week before were both just on the boring side, trying to squeeze out emotion of a relationship dynamic we’ve all seen before, rather then let the emotion reveal itself effortlessly in the world’s more pressing problems. I’m usually a sucker for romance, but the last time a sci-fi comedy laid a romance on me, it was between Makise and Okabe in Stein’s Gate. And not to compare, but Isla and Tsukasa have nothing on them two. i’m hoping this anime has one more suprise. One more enrapturing thing to explore before it starts down the tragic end to the romance. If not, I may just forget about this anime. Yes, that’s a memory pun.
Episode 9 – “After the Festival” – 7/10
Well this was probably the most subtly graceful episode of the season. Honestly, as far as pure character interactions go, this was the episode of the week. Hibike just knows how to evoke all the smallest emotions with their detailed facial expressions and carefully written dialogue.
This week’s focus wasn’t on the band, however. This time we got to see the underlying love triangle come to fruition. A love triangle that you don’t have to worry about being archaic, and bland, because even the main character realizes how cliche this situation is. The way she doesn’t care, or chooses to remove herself from things like this shows that she’s a character who naturally elevates herself above typical anime tropes.
This culminated in the wonderful journey up the mountainside with Reina and Kumiko, the former of which has never really opened up to the audience. This is the first time we’ve seen her, and she is a refreshingly dark, and passionate personality. There were some undertones of intimacy between them, but I’m not going to hazard a guess as to whether they are supposed to be gaining actual affection for each other. If so, they already sold me on it. I love seeing these two together. The way that Reina described her interest in Kumiko was poetic, flattering, and completely believable.
Sound Euphonium is one of those anime where if I look close and deep, it seems utterly flawless. But, it’s not one I’m raving about because if I zoom out a bit, I don’t really care, or get too drawn in to the overarching plot, at least not near as much as the fascinating interplay between the band mates. It nails the atmosphere and conversational nature of the “school” setting, but it fails to really hammer in something substantial for me to remember it by…yet.
Episode 8 – “Festival Triangle” – 9/10
And that concludes this week. Nothing too stellar save for the standout My Love Story episode, but I’m really hoping next week will knock it out of the park. I have high hopes for a few of these anime, and now that we’re winding down to season finale time, it’s appropriate for things to start picking up very quickly. Thanks for taking the time to read, I will have another week or two off because I am going to an anime convention next weekend, and in order to have that off I will be working alot the weekend after that. But expect at least one new blog before I head to the convention on something special. An update to my top 50 anime list.