Is It Fair Being Compared to Perfection? What Does Perfection Look Like? | Weekly Anime Redux
Two “perfect” Senpais, two Kohais intent on not adoring them. But each has their own reasons.
The end is approaching. How will the remaining shows on my side of this competition proceed?
Perfection is a difficult concept to grasp. When we get down to it, perfection should be an impossible standard. It’d require everyone agreeing on it. And so we have Mai – a superstar who seems to be the picture of perfection. At least in the eyes of her little sister, Nodoka – the idol from the TV in the previous episode. I’m glad we didn’t have to spend overly long figuring that out, actually. It was pretty immediate, and it allowed us to get to the meat of the episode a lot quicker as we tried to figure out exactly why this has happened. I also like that the central reason surrounding all of this was so quickly figured out, or at least a red herring was introduced. Nodoka’s inferiority complex seems like a pretty sound reason. Thus comes the matter of resolving it.
Then there’s Mai, whose faring no better. If I had to guess, she’s as much part of the cause as Nodoka is, seeing as she clearly has some ill feelings of her own. Even if they’re exceptionally misplaced. Though I get the impression that she’s over it (or, rather, she tells herself she is) and the argument she wound up having was more of a “Good, you’ve acknowledged it. Now deal with it, like me” talk than anything. And I think talking with Kunimi’s girlfriend actually provided at least a little more insight… into her as well as this situation. She’s still awful (though she did admittedly help, a couple episodes ago), but at least it kind of informs her character a bit more, even if subtlely.
Of course, Nodoka’s a weird case, being in a situation of having to reconcile her ill feelings toward her sister and her admiration of her. Because there is a very clear and genuine admiration. I’m really looking forward to how this resolves. Because it did a masterful job of setting everything up, polishing this often-used trope into something on the quality of World’s Finest material.
Yuu is really good at lying to herself. But that’s honestly one of the things that make this series so interesting. How, exactly, does one identify that special feeling? That whole interaction with Maki in the school was actually a really great one for once again letting us get into her head. Yuu would honestly be the epitome of an unreliable narrator in her own story if it was told entirely from her perspective. She definitely has more internal monologue than anyone else in the show, but it says a lot that Maki is more of an audience surrogate than she is. And it makes sense, considering his whole disposition. It’s made that much clearer when, later in the episode, Yuu’s heart most definitely goes doki doki. A fact she calls attention to, later on, when she and Touko are having another romantic moment. Though Yuu seems fully intent on lying to herself about it. And maybe she’s convinced. But given that she knows Touko doesn’t want her falling in love with her, it’s possibly entirely willful. After all, Yuu is lonely and definitely doesn’t want to lose Touko.
But speaking of their moment, the communication in their relationship is surprisingly good. Touko gets a bit carried away, at times, but she generally makes sure Yuu is comfortable with whatever she does and apologies when she does get ahead of herself. It’s just standard healthy relationship stuff that one doesn’t normally expect in stories like this, and it goes a long way towards defining exactly what their relationship is.
The continued emphasis on Touko’s outer image is also a really strong aspect of this series, to me. She appears absolutely perfect to those around her, with the exception of Yuu and Sayaka. So Koyomi asking about Touko’s flaws, only for Yuu to keep them to herself, is something I’m liking. I also liked Koyomi’s resolution to that situation. It was very writer-ly. I especially like how it relates back to Yuu. When they’re having that moment, she internally lists all the “perfect” things she likes about Touko, before going well out of her way to convince herself that it’s “nothing special.” And, at face value, it makes sense. If everyone likes these things about her, then there can’t be anything special about it, right? But her meaning wasn’t quite the obvious. She was more meaning that just liking someone’s obvious good points doesn’t necessarily equal love. Still logical, but an obvious excuse for her to go on lying to herself. How this resolves is going to be incredibly interesting, for certain. As things go, though, this episode was Super Effective.
There isn’t a large volume to be said about this episode, on its own, as most of it was action and seriously fun action, at that. As Kanzaki continues to fight Acqua, she’s fighting a losing battle. And there’s something about this that I think kinda clicked. So this is all a part of the World War III arc of the light novels – The biggest, most ambitious arc (up to this point), by far. One could be forgiven for missing Touma, Index, and the others in this. But I think that’s missing the point of this arc. Touma doesn’t, truthfully, get much development until a bit later. This arc essentially acts as something of a massive in-universe crossover, if that makes sense. And watching Kanzaki be the focus of this episode, while Itsuwa was the focus of the last one, and that entire multi-episode stint of focus on the other two actual protagonists (Accelerator and Hamazura) just helped it sink in. And I think it actually works pretty well. The first season was pretty much all Touma and Index. The second season eases you into the idea of this world being more than just the two of them by giving Accelerator some more screentime in a leading role. Now Hamazura and everyone get their turns.
As for this episode, in particular, I think the fight between Kanzaki and Acqua was just plain cool, highlighted by having the Amakusa seeing exactly what kind of damage these two were causing while fighting, wondering if it was hopeless after all. Kanzaki swallowing her pride to ask them for help was a good moment for her because it showed what Touma taught her, after everything was said and done. But the real highlight of the episode was Misaka.
I get why people might not like Misaka in this series, as much as in her spin-off, but the fact is that they’re the same character. And it shows when she’s allowed to have these genuinely empathetic moments that get to the core of what makes her… well… her. Despite all she’s been through, and everything she’s done to get to where she is, feeling useless to someone you care about is a feeling she’s tragically all too familiar with. And it’s that rare moment of vulnerability from her that makes me enjoy her character so much. Especially when, once Touma’s gone, she has that little revelation. It’s just a really good moment in a Super Effective episode.
Yes, it’s been culled. But no one said I couldn’t still talk about it. So. Seems like these last few episodes see fit to cut to the chase. The love diamond imploded, albeit not quite as direly as I expected. But there’s still time. Sho’s out of the equation now… kind of. But now there’s still an emotionally distraught Asagi and a conflicted Yuito to worry about. That said, this episode was great for Hitomi, as it really brings her development around, not quite full-circle, but she’s getting there. It’s directly noted exactly how much she’s changed on several occasions, and this was her at peak proactivity. She was honestly the one that catalyzed all of this and when a challenge came her way, she retreated for a bit before building up the confidence to take a leap of her own volition. She notes that she’s only changed so much because of everyone else. And while there’s truth to that, it doesn’t disvalue the fact that she has, in fact, grown. If anything, it just makes her come out looking even better because letting people in is hard.
On another note, there’s also Sho to talk about. When I caught on to his little crush on Hitomi, I got a little worried. P.A Works likes its melodrama, so I was concerned this whole love diamond would be more of a big, overly dramatic thing. Which I’m not sure would’ve worked for this series. IT could’ve been emotional, yes, but melodramatic is something I’d see in a series that’s much more passionate, like Toradora or… well… anything Mari Okada had a hand in, really. That being said, there are still 4 episodes to go and two or three romantic loose-ends to tie up. As well as what will likely be a tearjerking conclusion… in the sad way. But for this episode, I’m glad Sho’s involvement in the situation was actually pretty mature. Overall, I’d say this was a Super Effective episode.
Well then. This episode was pretty much all-in on the conflict between Fanzell and his former students… or student, as it were. Because Mars is pretty quick to jump to his aid against the psychotic one – Ladros. Circumstances aside, though, the episode was just… fine. The fight scenes were once again pretty “meh,” and indulged in a bit of recycled animation I wasn’t a fan of. Ladros, himself was kind of interesting, but only in what we got to see of his flashback from Fanzell, and not by any merit of his own. It’s likely that whatever he allowed them to do to him drove him insane, but he’s really just a sociopath. Somewhat entertaining in the way he still talks like a psychopathic child, but that’s about it. Overall, the episode was fine as Junk Food but not much beyond that.
And this is (part of) why I love Hiyori. This episode. Right here. And also probably why Yato feels the same… in a different manner, but still. Hiyori was undoubtedly the hero of this episode. When everything with Yukine came to a head, she was the one who found the last needed divine instrument, making certain not to choose Nora (an act which has other repercussions, later). She was the first one to reach out to Yukine and slow his crossing over. But that’s not to say everything about this episode was on her being awesome. The episode had pretty much everything. Sure there wasn’t a lot of traditional “action,” but this series actually has very little in the way of outright fight scenes, anyway. What the series is best at is conveying incredibly strong emotion. Everything that Yukine had been going through – the isolation he felt, the anguish over his current state – it all reached its peak in a heartbreaking scene as the other divine instruments did their best to “punish” him. And then there’s the strength in the sense of dread looming over the whole situation. This episode is just awesome across the board, and possibly my favorite in the series.
Overall Episode Medalists
So, in case it wasn’t obvious, this week’s winner of the Gold Medal is Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai, but only barely. Honestly, I’m running out of ways to call this show and its competition amazing.
It mostly comes down to the episode’s effect as a whole. Every aspect of this episode contributed to its overall quality. Meanwhile, this week’s Silver Medal runner-up – Yagate Kimi ni Naru – though also fantastic, owed more of its success to a few things being handled extremely well. This week’s episode of Toaru Majutsu no Index III was a lot of fun, and had an incredibly strong couple of characters moments, to boot. But it was still mostly action and not quite to the same tier as some of the previous action scenes, even if it was “bigger.” Something like Touma vs. Accelerator, for example, is smaller but overall stronger in storytelling. So this episode takes home the Bronze Medal, this week.
If any character singlehandedly held up an episode, this week, it was Yuu. I doubt I have to specify all the reasons, at this point. At least not any more than I already did. Put simply, her internal monologue is excellent and while the development of her relationship with Touko is slow, I think that slow pace works for the series, overall.
Unique Achievement: Realism Points
I can’t even decide which of these bits is more realistic…
Unique Achievement: Doki Doki Quotient
Yuu probably spent 99% of the match on fire… because of how fast her heart had to be pounding for most of it. You can probably pinpoint, down to the eye-twinkle, exactly when her heart goes Doki Doki, during this sequence.
Unique Achievement: Best Back-and-Forths
Even with Mai being body-swapped, she and Sakuta just have some of the best interactions of the season. Even if this time they were a slight bit tamer.
And that’s that. We’re nearing the semifinals in Anime TKO. And with my having three of this, this next round is gonna be tough on me. Choosing between Yagate Kimi ni Naru and Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai is not going to be easy. But to see what Toaru Majutsu no Index is up against, a week from now, check out EvilBob’s latest recap of SSSS.Gridman. Let me know what you thought of this week’s episodes, down below. Thanks for reading, as always. Keep up the Awesome and Take Care.