Winter 2016 – Week 4 in Anime (Part 1)

This is a weird week where Fall carryovers dominated this parade of shows. Well, it’s not Erased or Rakugo. Shall we start?

It feels like this week in anime is mostly spent on build-ups. While these are necessary to make a good show, there are not much highs and lows in terms of entertainment or emotional impact. Erased and Rakugo are basically doing warm ups for the big events in their respective fourth episodes which are actually well executed. It’s just that these are preceded by excellent offerings so I am not as hot to these two this week. That is why a highly episodic anime series came right of the top.

GREAT

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Wait. Not Erased or Rakugo? Are you kidding me?! No. I am serious about this one.

Controversial opinion time: Lupin III (2015) has the best episode among all Winter 2016 shows I have seen so far for this week. Do you remember the excellent 2012 Fujiko spinoff? Yes. That dark Lupin III installment. It seems like this episode took a tangential reference to it (mind control, narcotics and such) and still made it fun. Lupin III is at its best when it tries to show something dark and intellectual instead of its typical gag-focused hijinks. This week focused on Gecco and his apparent ability to kill a person within 24 hours if he wanted too without getting his hands dirty. That is, through mind-controlling people. I also adore the mystery component of this episode as to why he was able to do so and how Lupin III played with his fancy until he humiliated him big time! The fight scenes of Goemon and Jigen also made this episode slick in terms of action, which I honestly miss because there were a lot more with the Fujiko spinoff. So… Lupin III (2015) is actually fun if Zenigata is not around? But there’s episode 13 and 14! But… Okay. I will try to remember that.

For the first time, I am ranking Erased ahead just because I thought it was more evenly paced this week. Yet I really do not care that much with the ranking this time since both of these shows decided to lie low and make good (but lukewarm) build ups for the next episodes.

Erased delivered School Live!’s episode 9 which is basically fluff only executed much better. Satoru and Hinazuki are fun to watch with Satoru still pulling all those comedic moments (saying his thoughts out loud) and the touching scenes are really poignant in executing this good slice of life episode…

… until I saw the last part. Great. Way to leave a bitter but good aftertaste, huh? I actually love that “Oh Crap” look in Satoru’s eyes when he realized he might have failed in his mission towards the end. I guess I will begin to sound like a broken record by telling how proper it overlays the mystery part but the background music this week is so overdone that it felt almost gimmicky.

Speaking of Shouwa Rakugo, is it just me or the pacing has gone way faster than normal this week? I think the staff is taking their creative freedom in adopting this manga because there is no fixed format in this show! Not that I really care since the dynamic of Sukeroku (Shin-chan) and Kikuhiko (Yakumo) made this week a normal excellent Rakugo episode. Now that I think of it, Shouwa Rakugo really loves to emphasize the importance of body language in a show! Every stare of Yakumo means something, Shin-chan’s apparent jealousy is shown through this less than genki demure and that girl’s advances! Yakumo is torn between giving in to his desire (he lost to it though) and refraining it because he knows Shin-chan likes her. Also, we have a cool rakugo performance this week! Given the same character rich game-face of this show, why did I not love this like the last three episodes? Erased overdid its soundtrack, this one has an anemic OST this week. Where’s my jazzy music Rakugo?! With the next week rumored to have 55 minutes in run time, I think it is just proper to keep this one in low profiles as the main dish will be on next week!

ALMOST THERE

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Yes. Phantom World delivered its most KyoAni-like episode this week.

Kyoto Animations is a studio most known for their strength in delivering arguably the best visuals in anime and making poignant scenes which burn at the back of the mind of viewers. Who would have thought they can still create one from an ecchi show like Phantom World? With no shameless ecchi in this episode, they pulled a heartwarming piece with Reina being at the center of it. It certainly looks like Phantoms are REALLY CREATED by the human mind as I think the ones they encountered this week were products of Reina’s wishful thinking and her not-so-happy family. The goodbye scene is also well-done too at least on a visual level. However, it barely made into this group because I do not know if the humor is flat or just too bizarre for my taste. Rabbit house? Really?

Assassination Classroom‘s fourth episode stayed in it what it knows best: making us laugh. I like this series best when they are either confined in the classroom doing their hijinks or battling out the main academy in terms of academic performance. This week relied fully on the former and I had some good laughs especially with the class giving them codenames (Da Densest is the best! LOL at Karasuma and the Tsundere sniper). It’s more than enough for to regain this time and made its place here. Also, color me excited with what I adore about Assassination Classroom for next week – its tendency to put some thought provoking aspects on the Japanese education system.

JUST DECENT

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This is not April Fool’s. Haruchika managed to be a second-rate Hyouka this week!

Haruchika is still doing a lame mystery this week but it at least tries to make proper build up for its resolution. That is not the main reason why I am fine with this episode though. I am still irked by Haruto’s robotic knowledge which comes off as plot convenient in solving mysteries but outside that, I am beginning to like him as a character. He may not realize it but he is basically the male equivalent of Chika. I am literally guffawing with the two’s apparent love triangle with the Sensei and I laughed some more when Haruto’s sister actually asked him why does he want to be with Sensei too much! Then Chika answered, covering him up like what a true friend does. LOL I mean, that’s how you do comedy PA Works! Well, big minuses for the awkward Engrish this week and the lame as heck mystery with a dramatic punch as light as feather. This is the blandest Christmas episode I have seen in my anime life too. Well, which is just fine since the anime has no intention to show its glamour anyway.

There’s not much to say about Sekkou Boys this week aside from the fact that it confirmed by theory that the ones who look the most disciplined are the ones who are dork. Way to go St. Georgio! I smirked throughout the commercial – he Georgiong! LOL.

Norn 9 has managed to pull some emotional punches courtesy of Kakeru and Koharu poignant moments towards the second half of this episode. I laughed with Senri’s eccentricities, touched with the white haired guy and the other lady. Then Akito entered and it spoiled some of my experience in this average show. I mean, I love your VA but until when are you going to play this annoying bratty kid who has apparently no abilities?! A bigger issue in this show, I am liking Norn9 because of the character moments but because of their sheer quantity, some of their scenes feel like extended promotional videos outside of the two main leads. My biggest issue, can they go the World right now? Ugh.

EH?

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My reaction to this episode.

Divine Gate is actually tolerable when it goes full pretentious but it is all flat when it tries to make its plot bigger. I was just yawning for most of the time in this episode. They tackled something called the Blue Christmas which is supposed to be another layer to our resident angsty lead Aoto. Well, my take is either the killer is Aoto’s brother or he has a split personality. Not much happened in this one really. Except for that guy who blabbered about his love at first sight with the other Aoto. I am disgusted with how animes normally portray homosexuals. Do they have to be always creepy and lewd? Ugh.

What is also the main rule in that Stride game? Is it about the exhibitions you do or just the speed in your race? It does not make sense if you put some thinking about it Prince of Stride – Alternative. I also question the set of rules in this game, I mean… why let two opposing players sit in each other in giving instructions? Is there a psychological prerequisite in it? I am also annoyed with Ayumu. That guy. Ugh.

… and oh, the sensei can speak normally. Darn it. For the episode itself, it was a by the number sports show that was made worse because I still do not have anything to care about these characters.

As regards to Dagashi Kashi, I really appreciate its effort to bring us the knowledge about some Japanese culture as to what Rakugo is doing right now but I cannot even smirk with the ecchi laden jokes. Are they supposed to be funny or something? At least it’s trying to be quirky. Yet, I am still struggling to find the humor in this series. I will still stand by the fact that Saya is the best girl in this series.

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