Week 7 impressions

I’m a week late, but why talk about such distasteful things when we can talk about anime instead?

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu S2

A flower’s beauty negates human caution and opens the heart.

– The Reaper is a poet

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu has lulled me into a false sense of expectation. With its latest episodes focusing on feel-good stories and comedy, I didn’t expect much when this episode opened with another tribute to Karasuma and Irina’s floundering romance orchestrated by the matchmakers of class E. So I didn’t see the Reaper coming at all until he casually strolled into the E classroom, and many episodes of Irina being the butt of jokes made me forget that she’s still a top-tier assassin. It’s just as Karma realized:

I was actually most afraid of not being afraid.

– Karma getting bad karma

So it looks like Ansatsu Kyoushitsu is finally moving past its fluffiness into more serious territory, and unlike the threats faced by class E in episodes past, the Reaper seems on a whole other level. His pleasant, unassuming façade coupled with his decisive wipeout of the E class was effectively unnerving, but I found it hard to believe that Irina would choose to betray her kids within the space of single episode. I’m pretty certain that she’s playing some kind of ploy (her specialty is, of course, espionage) because her sudden change of heart without any real prior development feels a disservice to a character whom we’ve known since early in the first season.

Other random thoughts:

  • I genuinely believed that Nagisa was going to take out the Reaper when he went to badass mode. But he got soundly beaten, and kudos to Ansatsu Kyoushitsu for again playing with expectations so effectively.
  • Ansatsu Kyoushitsu doesn’t offen get praised for its attention to detail, but they’ve shown that they’re pretty adept at following up on brief hints of characters and elements that they’d dropped in previous episodes
  • Thank goodness Karasuma isn’t as dense as the students make him out to be.
  • This episode also highlighted something that wasn’t very obvious before: the dichotomy between the adults and the kids in class E. They may be assassins in training, but they’re still very sheltered, and the maturity gap showed when they were duly admonished for underestimating the skills and aptitudes of their elder assassins.

Musaigen no Phantom World

Come on Haruhiko, take a picture!

– Ruru-chan says something useful for once

I don’t know how to feel about Phantom World anymore. This episode was a mess from start to finish, but it was also entertaining, like the kind of entertainment you get from watching videos of people fall off boats on YouTube. The animation was like Alice in Wonderland on meth, while the feline-related hijinks managed to be amusing just by its sheer ridiculousness, and I’m not even going to tackle its attempt to juxtapose a philosophical analogy for quantum mechanics against an entire school transforming into a crazy cat lady’s fantasy. Either way, there really wasn’t much to garner from this episode other than what already know: Phantom World’s main attractions are its doped-up animation and slapstick humor; everything else, from its weekly themes to character dynamics, are pretty much an aside.

Other random thoughts:

  • It took students sprouting cat ears and cat tails for Haruhiko and gang to realize that something weird was going down. Because students falling asleep in feline positions all over campus wasn’t a big enough sign?
  • The Phantom of the week looked like a cross between the castle in Howl’s Moving Castle and the lion turtle from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

HaruChika

Apologize to the fathers of this country!

– Chika the social justice warrior

Seven episodes in, Haruchika finally seems to be hitting its stride. This week’s mystery was easily HaruChika’s best so far, with the way it used the radio talk show as a common point between the disparate characters and plot elements. None of the plot devices felt contrived, and even with new characters with potential sob stories, HaruChika opted not to indulge in pitiful histrionics and focused more on the ways Kaiyu and Aso worked to overcome their depression, although it was a little too neat Kaiyu turning out to be the final prominent member of the brass band club. Meanwhile, Chika continues to be equal parts irrepressible and charismatic, and her scenes remain funny and endearing even when she’s studying alone in her room. The dynamics between her and Haruta are still entertainingly organic, and kudos to HaruChika has finding its recipe to making Haruta much more palatable, even if it took them a few episodes to get there.

Other random thoughts:

  • I’m glad that HaruChika also spends time other kooks in Haruta and Chika’s high school. The student council president and his student blacklist definitely add to HaruChika’s deliciously offbeat humor.
  • Chika in studying mode is the living embodiment of every study-related post on Tumblr.
  • Perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to the histrionic antics seen in many a high school drama, but I fully expected Chika to go into full-on sympathy mode after hearing Haruta spill his secrets on the radio. But Chika can’t be moë no matter how hard she tries, and her reaction was unexpectedly hilarious while still completely in line with her character.
  • Maren and Miyoko might be the most talented members of the band, but the fact that their playing overshadows everyone else’s doesn’t do the band any favors.
  • The animation has never been HaruChika’s strong suit (and this is coming from P.A. Works, which made Nagi no Asukara and Shirobako), but man, there were some seriously off-model character shots in this episode.

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime S2

The red-headed girl you’ve meddled with is the only one in Tanbarun to have been given the title ‘Friend of the Crown’!

– Turns out Raj is a troll

Operation Rescue Shirayuki finally comes to a head this week, but was the climax worth the climb? It was, even as most of the episode felt like a desperate dash to the finish. Raj continues to show his growth and acknowledge his past mistakes, and his ability to make in-the-moment, life-or-death decisions is a far cry from the one-note, frivolous prince we met in the first episode of the first season. But I like that he’s still a bit of a pampered brat, which makes him much more rounded and believable as a character. Meanwhile, Shirayuki continued to show why she’s the one of the best non-ass-kicking heroines to grace the anime screen. She’s smart and vigilant in high-pressure situations, and the fact that we only see her agitation after the battle is cooled speaks a lot fortitude and resilience. Her connection to Lions of the Mountains is finally revealed, which turned out to be a rather predictable and anticlimactic affair, but should at least lead to some interesting interactions in the next few weeks as Akagami no Shirayuki-hime finally returns to its more mellow roots.

Other random thoughts:

  • The biggest downside to Operation Rescue Shirayuki being resolved so quickly was Kiki failing to do anything of significance in the episode.
  • Was Umihebi’s motivation for kidnapping Shirayuki just for ransom? She made a pretty decent antagonist, but a little more insight to her actions would’ve been nice.
  • Zen has been completely overshadowed by Raj and Obi this season, so it’s good to finally see him get a well-deserved moment alone with Shirayuki.
  • Sakaki is the best right-hand man Raj could ever hope for.

Durarara!! X2 Ketsu

People might call you a stereotypical loser who should never, ever go online and write blogs. But don’t mind them. That right there is a bona fide human reaction.

– Izaya, troller of trolls

This final cour of Durarara!! has been an interesting one, even in comparison to its previous seasons. Things have been happening at a very rapid pace in a very short period of time, but I finally get the feeling that the pieces are moving toward some kind of conclusion. Mikado looked extremely unsettled for the first time in a while when an unhinged Namie let loose on him in his chatroom sanctuary, while Shizuo finally comes face-to-face with Kasane and Varona before going off to presumably incapacitate Izaya after he’d tried to crush Shizuo with a crane. Meanwhile, Celty’s fate as a sentient being seems to hang in the balance, and we finally get some answers regarding Kasane’s motivations. I’ve been enjoying the dynamics between Varona and Shizuo — they’ve shared a brother-sister, mentor-mentee, frenemy-type relationship thus far, which might be the healthiest and most normal relationship in Ikebukuro outside of Shinya and Celty. Yep, you know you’re watching Durarara!! when a demonic headless horsewoman and Yakuza-employed doctor are relationship goals.

Other random thoughts:

  • Poor Saburo. He finally realizes that he is one of the few sane people in the cast.
  • Not that long ago I would have bet that Aoba was firmly in control of Mikado’s actions. But after his meeting with Izumii, it seems pretty clear that Mikado is the one with his hand held tight around Aoba’s neck.
  • The Orihara twins reappear in the chatroom just to troll both Namie and Mikado.
  • Half the season’s gone by, and we finally get news that Dotachin is doing fine, since he apparently walked out of his hospital with no problem at all.
  • Kasane again talked about her envy for someone she deemed as inhuman, which certainly speaks to her lack of human empathy that she so seemingly craves.
  • Somehow Masaomi still thinks that keeping Anri in the dark would allow him, Mikado, and Anri to eventually return to the good old times. Thank goodness Chikage is around to talk some sense into his delusional head.
  • That final phone conversation between Shizuo and Izaya was a sure sign that shit’s gonna go down real soon in Ikebukuro.

 

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2 thoughts on “Week 7 impressions

  1. As far as Tanbarun goes, Sakaki is easily my favourite character, if only because he’s an epic troll. I love that he gets to be so straight-facedly sassy towards Raj. Like you though, I was thoroughly disappointed that despite putting Kiki in a key position where she might FINALLY have gotten some character development – or even just a decent bit of screentime – she was given incredibly short shrift. It felt like a massively wasted opportunity. To be honest, I actually didn’t like that episode at all. Umihebi struck me as an incredibly one-note protagonist with no particular motive other than being mwahahaha eeeevil (cue her licking her lips again just to demonstrate the point), and the whole storyline felt really oddly paced – a steady build-up since the very first episode of the season, and then a super hasty and anticlimactic resolution. The Shirayuki/Zen scenes helped make up for this a bit, but not enough to balance things out for me.

    • Yeah, you can tell Sakaki has had years of practice in dealing with Raj’s antics. Seeing him sound off to Raj in one scene and then seeing him carry Raj around on his shoulders the next was pretty great. In retrospect, Umihebi was just there to move the story forward, but given that she apparently had some history with Kazuki and the Lions of the Mountains, it would’ve been nice to see a little more insight to that.

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