Merry Christmas, Internet! My present to you? A new Anime Redux! It was delayed because of the holidays, but there’s really no way I can choose not to talk about a week of so much awesome.
There’s only one week to go, and I don’t think we’re prepared. But in order to see why, we’ll really have to delve into this week’s offerings. So let’s get to it.
I’m gonna be straight with you. I don’t think any episode has made me more certain of this show’s deserving to be in the Anime TKO Finals as this one. This episode was fantastic. Touko’s actual emotions spilling into her rehearsals for the stage show while she wrestles with what she’s learned about her sister? Excellent. Yuu and Sayaka’s continued kinda-sorta rivalry? Rather amusing. But the thing that pushed it over the edge? Basically the entire second half. All of it. Every single drop. Yuu taking the initiative to walk home with Touko, inviting her over because she knows something’s wrong? It’s a baby step for her character development, as she’s been getting for pretty much the whole season.
Touko confiding in Yuu about what she’s learned, regarding her sister? A great moment, in its own right. Right up through her point-blank telling Yuu not to fall in love with her. I especially liked the really subtle visual touches to that scene. Just before that, she was in her doki doki mode. But once again, when Yuu thoughtlessly let her growing affection for her slip, the entire mood of the scene changed. It went from something very sweet to something dark. In that moment, reading Touko’s expression, it’s almost as if she’s completely hollow. It’s a similar expression to one she’s had before. And it’s driven home by the waning sunlight casting a shadow over her. It’s just a really tense, uncomfortable scene, topped with her admission of hating herself and not being able to love someone who likes the things she hates.
But the scene that really makes it is right after that. Just this sudden explosion from Yuu after she’s parted ways with Touko for the evening where she finally, finally takes a leap forward. Previously, every time it looked like she might, their relationship wound up knocking her a step or two backward. Largely due to her own passive nature. All this time, Yuu’s been afraid to act because she was afraid of the possibility of change, in a way. But now she’s throwing that aside because she can’t stand by and watch Touko despair like she is. And the action she decides to take? Changing the script behind everyone’s back to better suit their real-life situation and force Touko to confront herself is actually brilliant, considering how much the play mirrors their actual situation. It’s also been hinted at since the script became a thing. So it was set up pretty well. Overall, this episode is definitely among the World’s Finest.
And then there’s this show, which I actually watched the latest episode of after Yagate Kimi ni Naru‘s latest. And it once again showed me exactly why it was so difficult to pin down a finalist. This is yet another marvelous episode, now very much focused on Kaede and, to a lesser extent, Sakuta. I’m not sure we’ll really get to the bottom of his issue by the end of this series, but what we can derive from this episode is that things we probably need to check in with a cardiologist after having our hearts so thoroughly broken. Here we’ve spent an entire season with Kaede. We’ve been there to watch her grow, ever-so-slowly. And that growth suddenly exploded in the previous episode, seeing her moving forward a great deal. She makes even more steps in this episode, with the help of her brother. Aaand then the promptly erased. Why? Because she regains her old personality and memories, essentially losing all the ones we know her to have.
The funny thing about this is that it essentially makes her a viable to the comparison to the character in Kano’s play from Yagete Kimi ni Naru. It’s especially prevalent because of what Kano and Yuu talk about in the end. How the important part is who she is and what she believes now, not who she used to be. And it’s something Kaede actually embodies. She didn’t have a clue who she once was and it bothered her immensely, having everyone constantly talking to her about a life she doesn’t remember. But Sakuta acknowledges her for the person she is now, not who she once was. Thus we’re right with Sakuta in how distraught he is when the old Kaede returns. It is an amazing, fascinating, and likely entirely unintentional parallel between these two shows.
But the real thing I’m interested in is what they do with this in the final episode. The show seems to be using the concept as an allegory for social anxiety – something I deal with personally and know a great deal about. I’m not sure what direction they take it in. My thinking is that the “new” Kaede was the old one’s way of coping. She forgot everything and regressed into this childish, completely new personality that, let’s be honest, was unhealthy for her, effectively causing her to have to relearn pretty much everything about social interaction. So what happens next? When Sakuta helps her overcome her fears regarding social situations, her old self inevitably returns. I honestly can’t say whether or not “new” Kaede ever returns. But it’d be a good allegory for personal character transformation, in a way. Leaving one’s past self behind in order to grow. Though there’s probably something critical to be said about that as this is complete past obliteration. Even when people do want to reinvent themselves, it’s never a 100% overhaul. Something survives. So we’ll see. But as things stand, this episode is absolutely among the World’s Finest.
And this is where things start getting really good. The war is underway and one of the three princesses from the previous arc is leading her country into the charge against both the Science Side and the Magic Side. What does that mean? Well, it means everyone’s in a bind at the moment. Index has gotten herself caught, as have the queen, the leader of Necessarius, and the youngest princess. Touma is off to go do his hero thing, since he hasn’t actually gotten to do that for what feels like an eternity. And now we’re involved in a clash between two knights over the youngest princess – one wanting to protect her, the other commanded to kill her. And, really, this is all actually very easy to follow.
I think most of the problem with this particular season may honestly come from how different it was to previous ones, which had a very “Touma vs. The World” vibe. This season brought in everyone. And Touma’s had very few moments to shine, instead letting Kaori, Accelerator, Hamazura, and Itsuwa have big moments and relegating Touma to one big hero moment, and one relatively minor one. The issue I think comes from the science side. Unless you’re thoroughly familiar with all of the series, including A Certain Scientific Railgun, you are extremely likely to be completely lost in this arc as soon as the science side stuff takes center stage. And that throws off the momentum enough that some can’t get back into it when the magic stuff returns to the forefront in this arc. I personally really like how this is building. Though, as I’ve said, the series is mostly mediocre with really Super Effective peaks. And this episode is one of them, with a decent emotional core and some cool action.
Oof. S’all I’m saying. Honestly, there’s not a whole lot to talk about with this episode. Here we finally see the culmination of all the time Hitomi’s spent in the past, making friends and memories with them. She feels truly happy, in that moment. But there’s a very subtle thing to note. Even with the ability to see colors around her in one instance, the people are still in black and white. And the colors inevitably vanish anyway. It’s all on the final episode, now, to resolve her and Yuito’s romantic tension, assuming they even do. She’s about to leave and has sorted out all of her feelings… except for one – love. So what happens in the final episode is likely to be extremely bittersweet and tear-jerkingly emotional. But what happens in this episode is Super Effective at showing us how very different Hitomi is, now. She’s come a long way, and I honestly hope we get to see a little of what her life in the future is actually like, after all this.
Ah. Here we go. Super Saiya- I mean Demon Form. Asta gets a new power-up in the form of a new transformation, born of the demon dwelling in the fifth leaf of his grimoire. That’s all fine and dandy. I actually like the concept around that, actually. It’s on-the-nose, but it works. But I’m just gonna be honest, here. I’ve seen a looot of people praising the animation of this episode and fight sequence and… I can kinda see why? But only during, maybe, the second half of the fight. The Yami vs. Licht fight, the Asta vs. Vetto fight, both were examples of this show’s animation on overdrive, but done well. Because it flowed really smoothly and was pretty clear. This… didn’t start out, that way. There were definitely some cool individual shots, but this is just a case of the sum of the parts actually being greater than the whole. The fight did, thankfully, evolve into something more comprehensible and less “style for its own sake,” as it went on.
As for the rest of the episode. Eh. It was fine. Lots of mildly irritating exposition from the Witch Queen about Asta’s powers (because, apparently, we couldn’t put any of that stuff together, ourselves…) but it was otherwise some dumb fun Junk Food. Nice cliffhanger and all, I suppose. And expect more Vanessa character development in the next episode, which I’m honestly looking forward to more than anything else in this arc.
And thus we come to this. The final episode in the first season of Noragami. And what should happen? Hiyori winds up accidentally tagging along during the mission to restore her memories. Funny how much this week deals with memory loss, in retrospect. Though far less profound or severe in this case. Still, it says a lot that even without her memories of Yato and Yukine, Hiyori’s still an integral part of their group, fully ready to help however she can.
But let’s get real. The main draw of this episode was the fight. And oh what a fight it was. The climactic battle Hiyori’s memories and entire personhood was pretty much exactly what I’d hoped it would be and still holds up as a plain awesome battle. It just goes to show exactly how much Hiyori has come to mean to them both that they were able to transcend themselves in order to win. But seeing the shift in Yato’s personality upon believing she was forever lost was both satisfying, in a way (Until the resolution of the Yukine problem, he’d been rather flippant regarding her) and soul-crushing. Getting her back was a just reward, of course… and also a given, since she’s the main character. Overall, a great finale to a really damn good show. And yes. I will be looking at the second season, come Winter. But first, let’s finish up with Fall.
Overall Episode Medalists
Once again, I’m leaving Yagate Kimi ni Naru out of the running for this section because it’s already in the finals. It has nothing more to prove. What does that mean? Well, what’s left on the list? There’s once again no contest, this week. The Gold Medal goes with Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai.
I just can’t express enough how much I love it and how amazingly smart the show truly is. Meanwhile, this week’s Silver Medal goes to Toaru Majutsu no Index III and the Bronze Medal to Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara. Both good episodes for completely different reasons. But this week’s Irozuku perhaps ended a bit abruptly and did meander a bit, whereas Index just held its foot down on the gas and ended on the promise of one awesome fight.
I genuinely cannot decide. Both characters showed leaps and bounds worth of character growth in this week’s episodes. Both characters had some great moments. And I’m looking forward to exactly what both characters bring to the final week of the Fall Season. But, without question, it was the performance of both characters that pretty much single-handedly carried their respective episodes. Do you think one edged out the other?
Unique Achievement: Hearts Broken
No, but really. Who else just shattered to pieces when Sakuta woke “Kaede” up?
Unique Achievement: Hearts Mended
If you’re just coming down from the final scene of the most recent episode of Bunny Girl Senpai, the fireworks scene from Irozuku is probably enough to repair your broken heart… before next week breaks it again, anyway.
And that’s that. As I’ve already noted on Twitter, we are not ready for next week. The three drama shows are about to wrap and launch a full-fledged artillery strike on our emotions. Bring all the Kleenex and comfort food you can. I have a feeling you’ll be needing it. But what did you think of this week’s episodes? Let me know, down below. Thanks for reading, as always. Keep up the Awesome and Take Care.