Ansatsu Kyoushitsu S2
We wanted to get lots of reaction shots out of them. But those cooking anime have a monopoly on that.
– Fuwa Yuzuki on her favorite genre of anime
If it’s one thing that Ansatsu Kyoushitsu consistently does well, it’s their ability to make the most well-worn, high school anime tropes feel new and fresh. This was essentially a recap episode, disguised as a high school cultural festival episode with a sprinkling of the ongoing competition between the A and E classes. None of the episode’s individual elements were remotely original, but Ansatsu Kyoushitsu ddid just enough tweaking and splicing to make this another fun addition to the season. Nothing here advanced the story at all, but with its latest attempts to veer into more serious subject matter turning out rather disastrously, a return to its bread-and-butter of off-beat humor might be just what it needed.
Other random thoughts:
- If we can forget Nagisa’s mother’s psychotic break from last week when she nearly burned down her son’s school, her turn around here comes across as quite endearing.
- Rio apologizing for her teasing to Nagisa was a nice touch, though it was still funny seeing her rescind so quickly from her apology to push Nagisa into coaxing rich kid Yuji into overspending at their café.
- Yuji was one of the many past characters who made random reappearances in this episode, but the only non-regular character who made an actual substantive addition to the episode’s storyline.
- Of course Asano can riff on an electric guitar like a legit rock star.
- I’m still not sure how Koro-sensei managed to incorporate an ecology lesson into a high school festival episode.
- Ansatsu Kyoushitsu made the right move by focusing more on class E’s café exploits instead of their ongoing competition with class A. Asano and his minions remain painfully one-dimensional, and it was nice seeing the E class show off their resourcefulness within the comforts of their environment.
Musaigen no Phantom World
Weary of such a life, I was convinced that I’d have to die on the streets.
– Ruru-chan’s being watching too much anime
For a few weeks now, Phantom World has been leaving me with the same weary questions: what is this show about? What is it trying to do? Where is it taking its characters? Is there an actual cohesive story here or is it just trying to get the LOLs even though its comedy isn’t even that great? This week wasn’t any different — we got an episode centered on Ruru-chan, but like other character-focused episodes that Phantom World has put out, it born no development Ruru-chan’s character or Phantom World’s non-existent overarching story. We did learn that everyone, even Haruhiro, is quite fond of Ruru-chan, even though that affection was already apparent from earlier episodes. Everything else was well-trodden fare too: the obligatory summer festival with Ruru-chan getting huffy with Haruhiro before saving his life, all topped off with a bucket full of moë. The one bright spot was her dramatic sob story, which was a lot funnier than I thought it would be because it played out like a parody of every sob story that’s ever been told in anime.
Other random thoughts:
- Seriously, doesn’t Kurumi-chan have her own school to go to?
- Ruru-chan was as annoying as a human as she was a fairy. She should just stick to trolling Haruhiko, one of the few truly funny things about this show.
- As clichéd as the storyline was, the Phantom witch character was quite intriguing. She appeared to be fairly benevolent, but it was interesting that there are Phantoms that exist mainly to serve other Phantoms.
- Will this show ever delve more deeply into the concept of Phantoms? Maybe it still will if it indeed goes two cours, but given its track record of dealing with more heavy-handed concepts, I’m not sure if it’ll be an improvement over what been served up so far.
He’ll live together with me! It’s possible I might have to live my entire life alone! So I thought I would have him take financial care of me!
– Haruta keeping it real with his dating prospects
HaruChika finally makes it to its first band competition, but Haruta and Chika first need to solve their obligatory mystery of the week. For the most part, HaruChika has been good at making their mysteries character-driven affairs, but this week’s Judgment-of-Solomon-inspired mystery was complete filler just to fulfill its weekly mystery quota. As always, Chika’s comedic timing and Haruta’s smarts were on point, and seeing Haruta lose all integrity over that very huggable Tibetan Mastiff was a pretty amusing bonus. But there really wasn’t much here at all, and I’d rather not waste time over bland appetizers when we’re so close to the main course of the season.
Other random thoughts:
- We continue to hear more about Kusakabe’s reputation as a former up-and-coming conductor.
- For a regional band competition, there sure is a lot of press, even if most of them are there because of Kusakabe-sensei’s reputation.
- Naoko should officially join the band already, because we all know it’s a foregone conclusion.
- Poor Chika — everyone continued to take shots at her even when she was down.
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime S2
What kind of farce is this?
– Kiki has had it up to here with Zen’s bullshit
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime continues its vintage run of form, but still manages to throw in a few pleasant surprises. The first surprise is, of course, Kiki’s backstory, which was revealed in the most unexpected way of possible: through a phony marriage with the second prince of Clarines. We learn that Kiki is a daughter of a noble and on the list of possible suitors for Zen, thereby enabling Zen to request his attendant’s assistance in getting marriage propositions off his back. Ironically, the only reason the twist worked was because Kiki’s background had been a complete mystery up to this point, and she still remains somewhat of an enigma: how did the daughter of a count wind up as an attendant to the prince? Fortunately for everyone involved, the farce worked, and perhaps too well: Shirayuki had heard of the marriage interview way before Zen had a chance to clear the air with her. But Shirayuki, being the smart, capable woman that she is, continued gamely about her daily routine despite clearly looking troubled. It summed up everything I admire about Shirayuki’s character — cool-headed without being coy, straightforward without being brusque, and vulnerable without being needy. And finally there’s Izana, whom I didn’t at all expect to throw his hat on to the Shirayuki x Zen ship. Like Kiki, Izana’s been very much of a closed book. We know that he’s a prince extremely conscientious of his responsibilities and the expectations that come with it; this week we learned that his opposition toward Zen and Shirayuki’s burgeoning relationship was more of a test of Zen’s mettle than anything else. I don’t feel that this will automatically remove all the hurdles that potentially lie in Zen and Shirayuki’s way; Shirayuki-hime might only have two episodes left to its season, but I have no idea it plans to wrap up their relationship. Shirayuki-hime‘s simple, straightforward storylines are what makes each episode of feel fresh and coherent and surprisingly unpredictable, a combination of qualities that don’t come together very often.
Other random thoughts:
- I loved that Kiki and Obi were completely remorseless at being caught listening at Zen’s door.
- Anyone would have quailed under the amount of side-eye Kiki was giving Zen.
- I also loved the subtle changes in character design for the younger versions of Zen, Mitsuhide, and Kiki.
- Poor Mitsuhide. He’s never been able to catch a break with Kiki, and that’s been going on since the day they met.
- Lest we forget that Shirayuki is still an apprentice herbalist, it seems her final exams are coming up soon.
- Since we seem to be staying put at the castle for the remainder of the season, hopefully that means we’ll get more scenes of Obi and Ryu being adorable together.
Durarara!! X2 Ketsu
Honestly, how much more complicated is this going to get?
– even mad scientist Kishitani Shingen can’t take it anymore
This week, the Orihara twins closed the chapter on Durarara!!’s infamous chatroom, which means that we’re drawing closer to an epic conclusion to Durarara!!’s potpourri of storylines. At least, that’s what Durarara!!’s trying to make us think. For some reason, Takashi continues to be the show’s biggest plot mover, even though he’s by far the least interesting character in Ikebukuro and biggest all-around douchebag. Meanwhile, Anri finally realizes what everyone watching already knew: her fears of being rejected for her lack of humanness were unfounded. It took way too long for Anri to get to that point in her character, and it would have been worth the wait if her development hadn’t been so bumpily handled. Masaomi and Mikado also meet for the first time since the first season, with Mikado looking unnervingly unperturbed and Masaomi dissolving into an emotional mess. It was an interesting contrast to their personalities harkening back to Durarara!!’s early days, when Mikado was the more nervous and compliant one while Masaomi was always cool and collected. Consider we’re extremely to the show’s end, this was a slower episode than I’d anticipated, and my biggest worry for Durarara!! is no longer whether it can stick the landing (which, let’s be honest, was something I’d pretty much given up on since the middle of its second cour); it’s whether the big climax will be as exciting as its season-long buildup has been promising that it would be.
Other random thoughts:
- Izaya might believe Shizuo is the biggest monster in Ikebukuro, but Izaya himself might not be fully human: not many people would have survived being batted by giant metal girder into a skyscraper halfway across the city.
- Anri continues to mourn her friendship with Masaomi and Mikado, which might be the biggest cautionary tale for honest, open communication among friends. Especially friends who each happen have either gangster connections or demonic possessions.
- In line with the episode’s theme of honesty, Mikado finally tells Masaomi that he’s the founder of the Dollars.
- As an interesting counterpoint, if Mikado, Masaomi, and Anri had been completely open with each other, they might have ended up like Shizuo, Izaya, and Shinra, none of whom remotely prescribe to the utility of white lies for the sake of friendship.
- Erika continues to be the breakout character of the season: who else would happen to carry around red contact lenses and be able pull off the best impression ever of the Saika zombies?