Depending on what shows I’ve seen by the time this goes up, this could be a very different style of the Weekly Roundup. So this has been one of the most hectic weeks in a long time, moving into my dorm for University hasn’t left much time at all for anime. As of now I’m writing the introduction in advance and this week seems to be a pretty strong one. Even though some of my personal favourites aren’t performing quite on form and the ones I love to slate are trying to redeem themselves, it’s not been a terrible time so far.
PUNK GIRL’S EAR PIERCING, INITIAL D STANDS FOR DOG AND A BATTLE OF LIKE MINDS
COMEDY, ROMANCE | ANIMATED BY DIOMEDEA | DIR: KUSAKAWA, KEIZOU
For a series entirely focused around hectic dialogue, insane scenarios and unbelievably stupid characters, this episode is the crowning achievement. As a feature we’re seeing more prominently, we begin with the Punk Girl. Trying her best to pierce use an ear piercing machine during lunch break in class, Yoshiko swifts comes along to… actually help out. Yeah, she doesn’t just go in and ruin things as usual. Given that the Punk Girl herself is being presented as an idiot aswell, it’s no surprise that their friendship is becoming more apparent by the episode – which is a great thing to see. In addition to that, this is another episode where our “male lead” doesn’t appear whatsoever (excluding fantasy scenes of our resident Student Council Leader). Following this lighthearted and somewhat warming scene is an Initial D parody, or just a parody of every racing manga out there really. Some nameless thug on a motorbike is challenged to a race by Yoshiko and Dog – remember that’s what she called her dog. Quite amazingly, the entire scene is animated in the form of a manga. Keeping everything black and white with the movement to a minimum, retaining the effect of an “animated manga”. This was really well done and a nice change of pace. The next sequence was pretty standard: Yoshiko plays in the park with the middle school friends and things get out of hand. Our final scene however, was one to really push the boundaries of how far this show would lead in the questionable category. Following A-Kun’s little sister home (immediate red flag), the Student Council Pres is hoping to get ahead with her “stalking” by introducing herself to the family. Not giving much time to think, Yoshiko’s mom, who’s been seen all over the place recently, soon makes it apparent that her plan is futile. We get some intense physical battle scene before getting into Konosuba levels of undergarment treachery levels. All in all, a crazy episode that barely dips at all.
Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler
WITH THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP, WE CAN ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING IN THIS CORRUPT ACADEMY
MYSTERY, PSYCHOLOGICAL | ANIMATED BY MAPPA | DIR: HAYASHI, YUUCHIROU
This show really is just kind of giving up on the whole Gambling aspect aren’t they? Sure, the episode revolved around the game being played on the main stage, but the amount of dialogue, exposition and character building is a true deterrent to an immersive gambling anime. Following the utterly abysmal school idol two-parter, we’re now treated to a battle of whits between the insane and unpredictable Yumeko and the analytical level headed Manyuda. That sounds like a great premise doesn’t it? A logical mind attempting to decipher the actions of someone who is truly a slave to the game. As is becoming the case for multiple setups now, the idea is so much more interesting than the actual execution. This is primarily down to the underwhelming lack of runtime dedicated to actually watching the game. While I haven’t timed it myself, I’m sure that this episode spent more time explaining the rules of the game than actually putting chips on the line. Speaking of which, that’s another downfall of this show. Kakegurui has no sense of scale. Throughout the whole episode, only two turns were taken because Yumeko’s insane personality led her to go all-in before we – as an audience – could even enjoy the game. Sure we’re meant to relate to the actual spectators in the show, irritated and confused at her play, but at the end of the day you’re still making your audience irritated and confused. Then to top it all off, the show attempts to present a character that’s been relegated to the back-lines since episode two as a strong relatable soul. As with the first episode of the Yumemi two-parter last time, this spent all of its time with setup and I hope next episode actually provides (because we’ve been waiting for three weeks now).
Knights & Magic
MORE OF THE SAME BLAND DIALOGUE BUT NOT THE WORST EPISODE I’VE SEEN
ACTION, FANTASY | ANIMATED BY 8BIT | DIR: YAMAMOTO, YUSUKE
It’s pretty poor form when an episode is deemed average and seen as a high point in the latter half of the series. I knew it couldn’t get much worse given the episode I had to sit through last week, so I went into this one with a positive mindset. For the most part, this week was more of the same “stuff” but balanced much better than before. Becoming a habit for Knights & Magic, we’re introduced to yet another antagonist in the most clunky way possible. We’re drip fed his face in the Opening Song which felt as cheap as anything and then we discover he’s supposed to be the counterpart to our main character. Again, it’s nothing we haven’t seen and it was pretty decently handled when the actual scene involving him started. If there weren’t so many boring antagonists all over the place (each with their own 4-5 minute scenes and then forgotten about), this show might feel a bit more structured. Knight’s & Magic attempts to build this massive world of numerous nations all fighting against each other despite having spent half of the season showing off each new mech that Ernesti built. Another trend I hope doesn’t return for the third time is the lacklustre emphasis on these mech battle sequences that strengthened this show in the first place. It’s clear that they’re trying to ease off on the battles to present the shift in pace and escalate the stakes of each one. The comparison that keeps coming to mind is how Code Geass is structured – but that series had multiple seasons each with many more episodes. Now, I’m not familiar with writing for an anime series. But to me, if Knights & Magic just stuck to being a simple battle show then it would’ve been much more enjoyable as a whole. Maybe using a war of two nations each with their own commanders making revolutionary adjustments to the Silhouette Knight legacy. Then you have a clear progression of time and a clear protagonist-antagonist couple. It’s just an idea I had while writing this – it would take a lot more than a simple idea to fix this show. Not the worst performance we’ve seen but nowhere near the best.
Koi to Uso (Love and Lies)
EXPLORE THE MYSTERIES HIDDEN BY TAKASAKI AND THE LIES USED TO PROTECT THEM
DRAMA, ROMANCE | ANIMATED BY LIDENFILMS | DIR: TAKUNO, SEIKI
Flashback sequences have always been a pet peeve of mine. Thinking about this episode critically and what it set out to accomplish, I think it worked it in pretty well. Koi to Uso has been the most inconsistent show of the season for me, which makes it incredibly difficult to judge the strength of each episode on an individual basis. Although last week’s drama performance theme worked well for conveying internal emotions and displaying them in a visual format, this one didn’t really do, well anything. We’re finally given some context to the mysterious white haired girl – Igarashi – who’s revealed to be a monotone emotionless genius (original) and related by blood to the creator of the notices. Before that however, is a pretty dull scene where the characters go backstage to congratulate the performance of last episode. Nothing important really happens except eluding to the setting for a later episode, it’s all very tiresome and boring. But yeah, the latter half takes on a flashback standpoint to reveal the backstory behind Takasaki and Igarashi. While it’s all kinda touching and rewarding to see how these characters come together, it just feels bland. Koi to Uso intrigued me with its appeal of the twisted side to relationships and how government control can affect teenagers in love. Half of this episode was dedicated to a generic “enemies become friends” sequence without any real payoff. They’ve set up an antagonist and ever so slightly touched on the fact that Yukari is going to have to make a decision soon. Let’s hope this week of boring setup will be worth it.
Made in Abyss
WHAT HAPPENED TO MY HAPPY GO LUCKY CAVE RAIDING SHOW?
SCI-FI, ADVENTURE | ANIMATED BY KINEMA CITRUS | DIR: KOJIMA, MASAYUKI
If this show is trying its best to make me emotional in every single episode then it deserves the gold medal. Now it makes sense why the last episode kept such a tight focus on Riko’s development as a cave raider and how this duo tackle the Abyss as a unit. Now into the fourth layer of the depths, we encounter the most treacherous terrain combined with the most intelligent and unforgiving creatures. If Reg could learn how to use his Incinerator without passing out for hours afterwards, this show would’ve ended ten episodes ago. Thankfully (for the sake of a well balanced show), that’s not the case and the pair had to figure out how to defeat their opponent who outclasses them in every single aspect. With every action/adventure series, there has to be consequences that come of certain decisions. Otherwise, the whole show feels weightless and you can go into every episode without worrying about the characters within it. Made in Abyss proved this week that they are not dancing around the idea of dark and painful consequences. Never before have I seen so much blood come out of such a small creature, that’s all I’ll say. This episode was incredibly gruesome and brought home the fact that the result of the slightest mistake truly is life or death. Oh right, and we were also introduced to the animal hybrid character who we’ve seen in the Opening/Ending visuals for ten episodes now. She seems cute (I think it’s a she) and is probably going to rectify at least some of the issues that were a result of this episode’s in-universe blunder. Episode Ten is fantastically well written with Reg’s Voice Actor (Mariya Ise) putting on the most emotional performance I’ve heard in a long time.
BARELY ANY IN-WORK DEVELOPMENT, FELT MORE LIKE A SEASON ONE EPISODE
SLICE OF LIFE, COMEDY | ANIMATED BY DOGA KOBO | DIR: YOSHIYUKI, FUJIWARA
Before I begin, let me be clear that New Game Season 2 is a drastic improvement on the first season (which was already an incredibly strong show). Where the first season spent its time introducing character traits, playing up the newcomer at work dynamic and fluffy sequences, the second slowed it down. In the last nine episodes we’ve seen so much character development and progression in the workplace that I could’ve never expected in such a short space of time. This tenth one however, felt like it was missing something – that wow moment that each episode establishes in my head. So we open on Hajime and Yun out at another street performance babysitting. It’s all going as you would expect with a few jokes and jabs at each other until a new character comes into the frame – an old high school friend of Hajime’s. Nothing really happens with this. They engage in an awkward conversation and it works as the conversational trampoline to kick start the next interaction but that’s about it. Unless we see this mystery character again in some form, or she acts as a contrast to Hajime’s older self, this sequence felt pretty lacklustre. Fanservice is the word I would use, more emphasis on making Hajime and Yun look cute together rather than using the time to produce something engaging.
Saving the day, the next scene takes place in the Programming section where the show explores the nature of employment. Narumi is a new hire who’s been working hard to study and get a qualification specifically to work at a company like EagleJump. She’s confident, competent and shows a readiness to learn new things. Nenecchi on the other hand, kind of got a free pass for making (what in the industry would be considered) something akin to a browser game you’d find on Newgrounds. This is what we come to expect of this second season, impactful dialogue that delves into the nature of this unique setting and it’s fantastic. As someone who’s become incredibly attached to Nenecchi along these past few episodes, this really was a powerful sequence.
Then the episode ends on more fanservice. That’s really all it is, more playful scenes of fluff with the new hires in their apartment fighting off a cockroach. It sure seems convinient that we’ve seen both of them just get out of their shower at one time or another. Obviously it’s New Game which fanservice is not a surprise in the slightest but it felt more connected to the comedy than this episode. Still a decent one, but one of my least favourite of the season so far.
Welcome to the Ballroom
FLASHBACK TO ADORABLE MAKO/GAJU SIBLINGS AND BATTLING ON THE FLOOR
COMEDY, SPORTS | ANIMATED BY PRODUCTION I.G | DIR: ITAZU, YOSHIMI
One of the somewhat weaker episodes of Welcome to the Ballroom, the majority of this episode revolved around the backstory and legacy of the Agaki siblings. Although fleshing out their past was adorable to watch and heartwarming nonetheless the rest of the episode felt somewhat average. Perhaps it’s down to my high hopes for this show and putting it on the pedestal for the last ten weeks, but for an episode of this series to feel average is pretty important. Not only did this episode make prominent and blatant use of repeated sequences (both from older episodes and just repeated from this one), but the whole thing felt somewhat cheap. As before, the flashback was great. But when the rest of your twenty minute run time feels lacklustre in comparison, you kind of lose that wow factor. For once this season, there really isn’t that much to be said about this one and it’s actually pretty shocking. Don’t get it twisted, this is clearly a major set up for the main event next week. With this week ending just before the dance that can make or break the Tenpei Cup, it’s somewhat understandable that this episode felt a little slow in the grand scheme of things. However, I haven’t been kind to other shows that have done the same and I have to admit that it’s a little disappointing. If I didn’t know that the next episode is going to be fantastic (which it is, I know it), I’d be more upset than I actually am.