What a hectic week this has been, with some of the strongest shows moving all the way down my personal list I guess this is the result of the rule-of-three system. Don’t believe that the week wasn’t without its highlights though – one of my favourite episodes of the year aired this week and warranted an entire video dissecting it. Although not a positive highlight, an episode this week also made me physically nauseous so it’s definitely been one hell of a week.
PACHI RANGERS, EDUCATION DISCUSSION AND CRIMINAL INVASION OF PRIVACY
COMEDY, ROMANCE | ANIMATED BY DIOMEDEA | DIR: KUSAKAWA, KEIZOU
Our weekly source of stupidity is here again and it’s still as strong as ever. As always, split into four sections around five minutes each and every single one landed at around the same impact. As apposed to episodes prior where one clearly dominated, this week evenly distributed its laughs making for a more fulfilling episode overall. Quite surprisingly, the section where Yoshiko’s ridiculous brain pattern baffles a psychology teacher hit home a bit too much. Ranting on how people attempt to understand internal thoughts and how education is more than reading from a textbook, this episode seemed to have some message that clearly wanted to get out. Thankfully though, not to the detriment of the show as its comedy worked around the dialogue – almost like throwing a punch and then soothing it afterwards. Nothing too out of the ordinary for this completely ridiculous comedy show.
Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler
CONTINUES TO EARN ITS R RATING; THE NARRATIVE BECOMES DARKER BY THE MINUTE
MYSTERY, PSYCHOLOGICAL | ANIMATED BY MAPPA | DIR: HAYASHI, YUUCHIROU
Up until this point, Kakegurui felt unsettling at best. With the grotesque detail in each character’s facial expressions and the generally morbid tone to the academy, this show exuded an aura of discomfort. This episode completely stepped over that line and physically made me feel sick. First and foremost, there was clear intention for this episode to make their spectators feel disgusted and it conveyed that intention pretty damn well. Complaining about something that a show presented well would be foolish but just know that I had to take a good half hour to recover from this one. The academy is a dark place where the rich have complete control over the poor and viewers generally expect media to refrain from the gruesome details. That being said, this episode was well put together and the latter half which focused on the character development of Saotome was thoroughly enjoyable. It’s always nice to see a character that came off as blatantly unbearable in the first episode become someone that spectators can share their enjoyment.
Knights & Magic
ERNESTI’S PROWESS CONFLICTING WITH THE WORLD’S SILHOUETTE KNIGHT LEGACY
ACTION, FANTASY | ANIMATED BY 8BIT | DIR: YAMAMOTO, YUSUKE
Possibly the weakest episode of Knights & Magic so far, this week’s writing mimicked the current state of Silhoutte Knights – stiff and awkward. Having ignored it for the past few weeks in hope that it would redeem itself, this week emphasised how dull and lazy it is for a show to have a constant omniscient narrator. Every single plot element in this episode was physically told to the spectator instead of presenting it in an ambiguous or interesting manner. One line literally saying “Kid’s thoughts were right” before cutting to a scene proving his thoughts to be right – what was the point in narrating there? Small features like this have been pushed aside due to the show’s focus on engaging battle sequences (and although this episode featured one), this week decided to spend so much time explaining the backstory that we realise how clunky this show’s writing is. That being said, there were two animation sequences that surprised me and showed the studio taking various angles and camera movements that are difficult to pull off in animation. Not the strongest episode we’ve seen but not a large signifier that this show will go downhill as a result.
Koi to Uso (Love and Lies)
BECOMING VISUALLY REPETITIVE, KEPT TOGETHER BARELY THROUGH ITS CHARACTERS
DRAMA, ROMANCE | ANIMATED BY LIDENFILMS | DIR: TAKUNO, SEIKI
Following the trend of this week, unfortunately this episode felt like the weakest of the lot so far aswell. Visually, this show has never been the most impressive of the season. Although I love the artstyle and there are a few background-exaggerated sequences, in terms of visual direction there’s little more than alternating close ups. Combining this with the small number of settings and backgrounds, Koi to Uso is starting to feel somewhat lacking. Thankfully, a romance/drama is all about its story and characters – both of which are improving with each week (at a rather slow rate that is). It’s difficult to pinpoint my issues with this episode, it felt as if time was passing in-universe but so little was being accomplished in terms of the narrative. This would be fine if this time was supplemented with comedic or memorable sequences, but instead it’s filled with tripe dialogue and teenagers being way too embarrassed for their age. Establishing a few questions while introducing the situation for next week, I’m hoping we’ll see an improvement that rewards such a slow setup.
Made in Abyss
WE’RE DESCENDING RAPIDLY AND THINGS ARE GONNA GET DARK
SCI-FI, ADVENTURE | ANIMATED BY KINEMA CITRUS | DIR: KOJIMA, MASAYUKI
With Riko and Reg’s journey into The Abyss now underway, I expected a lot more filler content before moving as fast as they did. Although it was there in the form of breakfast preparations, this episode condensed a remarkable amount in twenty minutes. Not only does the change of scenery enable a wider range of stunning backgrounds, but the animation quality is still amazing me. That being said, the show still focused on its dialogue and exposition over visually engaging cave-raiding sequences. Somewhat reversing the effect Knights & Magic has, its this show’s characters that are carrying the narrative and a smidgen of that was seen here. Albeit brief, some of the more powerful dialogue has begun to instil emotions in me and with the clear promise of darker situations in the future, I’m expecting Made in Abyss to be a heart breaker.
NENECCHI FINALLY GETS THE TIME SHE DESERVES AND SOME GREAT HIFUMI MOMENTS
SLICE OF LIFE, COMEDY | ANIMATED BY DOGA KOBO | DIR: YOSHIYUKI, FUJIWARA
New Game!! continues to leap miles ahead of the already fantastic expectations of its prequel. With Aoba struggling to handle her new title and balancing her inexperience, this episode focused a lot on character emotions and how they cope with them. In Aoba’s case, I know already that I’m going to make a video dissecting the visual direction and cinematography of this episode as it really is fantastic at displaying how her emotions vary as the scene progresses. In addition, this episode also conveyed the immense amount of progress Hifumi has made in her social anxiety and working as part of a team. I absolutely adore how this episode had these two character interact having found a link in their in-capabilities. Working on a project like a video game with such creative intensity is difficult when you have dozens of individuals all imprinting their own experiences and ideas. Oh yeah, and Nenecchi is becoming more of a main character since the first season and I am so excited to see more of her interactions with Umiko. Once again this show proves to me that no other show will top it in terms of personal attachment and pure love, my personal highlight of the week for sure.
Welcome to the Ballroom
WITH THE FIRE IGNITED WITHIN HYODO, THIS EPISODE KNOCKS IT OUT OF THE PARK
COMEDY, SPORTS | ANIMATED BY PRODUCTION I.G | DIR: ITAZU, YOSHIMI
Although I consider this week’s strongest episode to be awarded to New Game!!, this was an incredibly enjoyable favourite of mine. Not only were the incredible cliffhangers set up in the episode previous explained, but the doors that have opened as a result have truly blown this show out of the water. The possibilities for this show are immense and it each character that has been established (or just introduced) is engaging to watch and work excellently in the ballroom atmosphere. Visually, it was incredibly difficult choosing one image to use for this post as there were dozens of fantastic shots in this episode. Its composition and clever use of mirrors/windows were a testament to the experienced staff behind this incredible show. Every week I have a thought that “perhaps this is the one for the animation quality to drop”. A show of this magnitude has no right to be as perfectly animated as it is, the visuals have been absolutely stellar and I cannot thank Production I.G for displaying such a masterful piece of work. Whereas before this show would be a pleasant surprise upon airing, this is now the most anticipated show on my list.