One Hero Rises, The Other Falls Yet Further | Weekly Anime Redux (Anime TKO Edition)
But to which heroes am I referring? Well, the answer may surprise you! If you’ve not been paying attention, anyway…
Each show, this season, has held its place in the standings pretty consistently, up to this point. But what could there be a surprise, looming around the corner?
Oh. And now this show steps up a bit. I’ll be honest. That first skit got me. I don’t know why. I have no idea what, exactly, got me so bad. But I couldn’t stop laughing, after a certain point. The Banned-Words game also got me. Not as badly, mind you. The rapping Chika thing caught me off-guard. But that, on top of how absolutely dirty she played it, offset by her typical preciousness was great. Then we got a little more of Kaguya, who I keep having to remind myself is the technical protagonist, here. Seldom do we get as much of Shirogane’s personal life. At least to the same extent as hers. Also, her personal attendant is great and I love the interplay between them. That woman gives zero f–ks.
Then, of course, there are the welcome instances of Kaguya acting more human. Obviously, I take this to mean “human” in the context of a comedy anime wherein just about everything is exaggerated. But I mean I appreciate getting to see her outside of her god-tier intellect. Panicking over the call/text situation with Shirogane was a nice side of her to see, as well as the part of her that was genuinely worried about how he saw her after the thing with the French student. Though I would like to add that that entire skit had me in stitches. So there’s that. Overall a really Super Effective episode for this show, getting a bit more into at least one of the characters, even if not to any particularly deep extent.
Well, that was thankfully brief and didn’t get nearly as cringy as it could’ve. Due to the interference of DEM, the Day-Care A Live effect is very short-lived. After Natsumi is injured and bailed out by the heroes, the thing with making her feel better about herself was actually pretty nice, in a way. A sweet message about being comfortable in your own body and whatnot was very unexpected. Then came to the stuff regarding Origami, which has the potential to go in all kinds of horrible directions. As to the episode, overall, while sweet and having some amusing moments, the show still hasn’t quite reached peak, just yet. But with things set up the way they are, that may well be on the horizon. In the meanwhile, it was fine Junk Food.
This show is dangerously good at being unpleasant. As I’ve covered, I tend to take issue with pain for pain’s sake, and torturing any characters without respite or what-have-you. And this show toes that line narrowly and frequently. But I think some of the best shows tend to be the ones who can pull that off. Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru is an example I cite to the point of it growing tiresome, I’m sure. And this may well be another one, because I think it worked fantastically in this instance, wherein all of the torment Naofumi endures boils over to the point where he just falls into almost inescapable despair. But then comes Best Girl, arriving to pull him out of it.
But let’s also talk about the Spear Hero, because I think he’s in a bizarre polar flip of the same situation. He’s put up on this pedestal by the king and the princess (both of whom I hope get punched in the teeth at some point) to the point where he develops this sense that he can do no wrong. He’s being manipulated every bit as much as Naofumi is, just in the opposite direction. And while in Naofumi’s case it’s made him cynical, it’s led the Spear Hero to a level of self-righteousness that strips his thinking of those he saves beyond the mere appearance of being a hero. He’s not exactly bad (yet), he’s just woefully misguided and I think the duality there is actually really well handled. Especially when the Sword and Bow heroes get into the mix. Being so far removed from both situations, they possess the most clarity, overall, which helps emphasize that duality.
This episode just has one itty-bitty problem. And it honestly goes with… the last few episodes in general, actually. The fact that the Spear Hero is functionally ‘saving’ the girl from slavery is a bit of a problem. I’m going to state this once more, in case it was missed, the first time. Slavery. Is not. Okay. Even if the slave in question is in this position willingly. So Naofumi’s willingness to accept it does slightly hurt him from the narrative standpoint of being a sympathetic protagonist when any situation can even slightly make him think it’s fine, especially when he’s supposed to come from any iteration of modern-day Japan. I get what they were trying to do with the angle. It just wasn’t one that worked, frankly. There’s another, far less significant problem (and it’s likely entirely intentional, for the sake of illustrating a point, so not really a problem) of the logical hole in which Naofumi accused the Spear Hero of cheating when, in fact, he also cheated by bringing the balloon monsters into the fight. So yeah. That kinda hurts the sympathy points a little. But not much.
THAT BEING SAID, the slavery thing aside, the handling of the situation around Raphtalia in this episode was brilliant. The Spear Hero basically just seeing her as a damsel to be rescued without even asking what she wants or letting her be heard (though if he was really so heroic, wouldn’t he ask why they bound and gagged the person he was supposed to be saving?) was pretty much perfect for showcasing that duality I’d mentioned before. Naofumi did at least uplift Raphtalia. And after Naofumi wins/loses, she goes on to give a speech regarding all he’s done for her despite the imperfect nature of their relationship. And it’s what he’s done that’s allowed her to grow from the scared girl she was into a young woman, which Naofumi is finally able to see for the first time after she pulls him out of his own head and starts to crack that Spear Hero’s illusion. This may well be the first episode of this show I really thoroughly enjoyed, and I hope it keeps it up. But I still can’t exactly peg what I was missing from the first few. So we’ll see if it winds up trailing off, again. In the meanwhile, this was another really Super Effective one.
Hoo boy, this episode was somethin’ else. And yet I don’t actually have a terrible lot to say about it because a large portion of it was setup for something greater, next episode. The story of a powerful psychic from a previous generation was every bit the bizarre, off-the-wall type of thing one comes to expect out of this series. But, despite being so bizarre – things like being an assassin and such – it feels like it fits right in with everything else. Then there’s the matter of the plot to become a powerful belligerent spirit by absorbing other spirits. It’s really interesting. But the best things at play here were the action and character work. Reigen, in particular, got a great chance to shine. I love how easily he was able to tell that the “girl” was conning him, the implication being that it was because he, himself, is such a con artist. Priceless. I’m really looking forward to checking out the next episode to see how things go, but this episode was definitely Super Effective.
Overall Episode Medalists
Surprised? So am I. Not only did Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari steal the Gold away from Mob Pscyho 100, this week, leaving it with the Silver, but Kaguya-sama beat Date A Live out for the Bronze, purely by being a much more fun episode, overall and scoring some humanity points, along the way.
…I mean… duh? I will clarify that absolutely nothing about Raphtalia’s handling in this episode was revolutionary on its own. One could easily see the direction their relationship was going and how she’d ultimately react to this entire situation. But what makes it stand out so well is how the situation morphs around what she says and does. It’s how she affects the characters who she speaks to the most directly – Naofumi and the Spear Hero. Without her, this entire show would honestly fall to pieces with me, because she’s very much the heart of it and the only thing that really injects any respite into this otherwise very unpleasant show. And I appreciate that. On top of that, simple though her character may be (and my misgivings about the hopefully unintentional slavery apologism aside), she is a good character. One who pretty much takes this show for a leisurely hike, from week to week in her backpack.
Unique Achievement: Most Un-Adorable Meow Ever
As a cat person, I find it disturbing that this scene made me laugh as hard as it did. It’s probably just the factor of my having not expected it, but still. I was on the floor, so…
Unique Achievement: Gold Elims
I mean… damn.
Unique Achievement: Heartwarming Points Acquired
Warning. Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming Eminent. All Cynics Turn Back Now.
And that’s that. The first third of the season comes to a close and that means the first round of the Winter 2019 Anime TKO is right around the corner. Who rose to the occasion, and who’s getting left behind? Find out soon! But in the meantime, le’me know what you think of the season, so far! Thanks for reading, as always.
Keep up the Awesome!