With the qualifiers of this season’s Anime TKO fast-approaching, let’s take an overdue look at the second week of the latest offerings.
I’ve been seeing a lot of people getting annoyed with this show. And I’ll be honest. I don’t get it. I can completely understand if the humor doesn’t register with people. It’s got this absurdist quality to it that really isn’t for everyone. But most of the apprehension seems a bit silly to me since a lot of it seems to immediately start with the narration that opens each episode (so far). The thing is… it’s obviously not being serious. At all. It’s a joke. A parody in the form of gross exaggeration to openly mock an obviously obsolete mindset regarding relationships and power dynamics.
It’s only further accented with exactly how petty and immeasurably over-the-top the two leads are. They’re clearly not going to get anywhere with one another as long as they keep this up… and that’s entirely the point. And I think a lot of the apprehension thereafter just comes from expecting this show (and every show, for that matter) to have a plot or character development. This is really just a series of absurdist skits, parodying an already absurd situation. The only thing that’s really left to judge, at that point, is if you find it funny. And on that note, the mini-rant’s over and I can say that… yes. Yes, I do. It’s not the funniest thing ever, but it has a knack for sharp wit, punchy comedic timing, and visual style, as well as a tendency to throw in unexpected curveballs, every now and then. Will the joke get old? Possibly. But other shows have proven that it doesn’t have to, at all. So why be so negative about it, from jump?
I’ve also seen people bugged by the narrator. But I don’t get that either. Especially in a series with next to no aspirations of actual character development, I don’t see the issue with seeing the narrator as basically just another character in the series, almost. I’ve seen comments of the narrator being intrusive, and I can maybe see that to a point. But defying the expectation set up by the narrator is pretty much the show’s sense of humor, in a nutshell. He’s a part of the overall experience. If he didn’t do it, then it’d be exactly the same with just the other characters thinking whatever he’s saying. Which they also do, at times, when the internal monologue would better serve the comedy, like Kaguya’s in the third skit of this latest episode. An episode I’d rather happily call Junk Food. It’s good fun. All there is to it, really.
Oh, hi animation team. Where were you, last episode. Actually, that brings me to another mini-rant that probably has nothing to do with this. I’ve seen a lot of people going back and forth over the supposed lack of sense in those who say something has “good art, but bad animation.” This seems like it should be a fairly apparent thing, but for those who fell asleep in class, that day, art = the style of the show. Typically it’s used to talk about the keyframes. Animation = the fluidity of the transition between those keyframes, aka the in-betweens. So when something has “good art, but bad animation,” they mean that something may look pretty at a glance, but be animated in either a bland or sloppy manner. They just lack the ability to use the appropriate terminology. Quit needle-picking for things to disagree about, thanks.
And with that mini-rant over, on to the actual content of this episode because hoo boy, that bump was needed. Both of the aspects I just talked about got a significant quality bump over the very bland keys and choppy animation from the previous episode. I still need some time before I can really figure which of the three studios I think represented the visual style of this series best, but I’m liking this. So far it’s got me sold on one thing for certain – the girls are adorable. All of ’em. Something about the way J.C.Staff is handling it… I dunno, it seems “warm,” somehow. It’s a lot smoother and softer than the very sharp styles of both previous seasons. I have to look again, but it might have something to do with the outlining of the characters.
As for the other aspects of the episode, Shido’s date with Tohka was expectedly sweet, of course. The girl’s just so darn cute. And speaking of cute, I’d be remiss not to say anything about Yoshino(n). She may be the least consequential member of the cast, but she’s still precious. But the real spotlight goes out to the Yamai twins for actually providing some unexpected drama. The moment between Shido and Yuzuru actually very heartfelt and still very much in character for her. The moment was handled rather well, even if she and her sister were one of the weaker aspects of the previous season, overall. And her disappearance being treated seriously (it’s a harem comedy. We know how it’ll end, but still) was much appreciated. Especially where Kaguya’s reaction was concerned. In general, I’d honestly call it surprisingly healthy Junk Food.
Eh. I dunno. Something about me isn’t overly enjoying this, but it doesn’t have anything to do, really, with it being technically bad. Actually, quite the opposite. I can easily open this up by telling you this episode was basically Super Effective across the board. The building of the relationship between Raphtalia and Naofumi was all good and well. Raphtalia’s adorable and everything. I just have a few misgivings, is all. None really worth getting into to any large degree. Some logistic things like “Uh… why didn’t just one of you sacrifice your life for the girl and the other one go with her? For all you know, she could’ve bumped her head on a rock at the bottom of that cliff and drowned. Or, you know… she could’ve wound up becoming a slave. Oh… whoops.” It just felt a little weak. But the overall character arc for her was a strong point of the episode.
Also still not big on the “slave” angle. Treating a slave as an individual, rather than property doesn’t make it okay that they’re property. Even if they want to stay with you. How Not To Summon A Demon Lord at least has the plotline of trying to undo the slavery spell (though, to my understanding, they drop it later). But whatever. My overall enjoyment of the series is perhaps mostly colored by my outlook. I’m just not into the cynical stuff and this is a story being told through a very cynical lens. I’m sure Raphtalia and other side characters are there to de-jade the audience field of view, but it’s not quite having the desired effect yet. So we’ll see.
God this show is enjoyable. The focus moving from Mob’s semi-existant love life to the more supernatural point of urban legends led to a real treat and a fairly amusing side character in Shinra. The spotlight was much more on Reigen, this time around, with a significant spotlight placed on Dimple for a bit, toward the climax and I really liked seeing how Mob reacted to these different scenarios. From his personal isolation resulting in one apparition having no power over him to how mortified he was over another anomaly, later in the episode, it just really brings him together as a character. Also, without saying much on specifics (especially since, having already seen the next episode, it’s really brought into a spotlight there), I love the focus on Mob’s weird association with both the corporeal and metaphysical worlds. It’s something very much ripe for exploration and I’ll leave it at that because there’s a lot more to say about it in the next episode. For now, this episode was easily Super Effective.
All right, time to determine who the winners were, this week.
Overall Episode Medalists
So it should probably surprise absolutely no one that Mob Psycho 100 is walking away with the Gold Medal, this week. Probably just as unsurprising is that Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari takes the Silver. The harder one to decide was the Bronze category. But as entertaining as Kaguya-sama is, it’s still just a series of skits. Sharp and funny ones, but no actual story. Meanwhile, Date A Live brought not only some genuinely amusing humor (albeit less of it), but also some mild feels and a genuinely interesting twist on a fairly common narrative. It was destined to grab this spot.
Not gonna lie. This was hard. I’d wanted to give it to Mob. But if I’m honest, Mob Psycho 100 lives or dies by its side characters. Their filling out Mob’s world and breathing life into it helps to enhance Mob’s character by allowing him to grow, based on them and how he interacts with them. As great as the Yuzuru moment is in the latest episode of Date A Live, it was only the last third of the episode. If that. So there was really no character I could give it to but Raphtalia. Like I said already, she’s adorable, her character arc in the episode was solid. And she helps bring a little light into Naofumi’s world, which I do appreciate. So congrats to her. Now maybe people will shut up about the first episode.
Unique Achievement: Best Fight Scene
You thought it’d be Dimple vs. The Dragger. But it was this! A Street Fighter parody!
Unique Achievement: Most Expressions
I’m once again reminded of one of the reasons I adore Tohka. She’s just so expressive and the new animation style may actually be an improvement over the already great expressions from previous seasons. It makes her a treat to watch.
And that’s it for week two of the 2019 Winter Anime Season for me. Better late than never, right? What’d you guys think of last week? Let me know, down below. Thanks for reading, as always. Keep up the Awesome and Take Care.