What a great week of anime. Enjoyed almost all of the episodes this week that I watched. I probably was most impressed with Sound! Euphonium overall but had the most to say about Oregairu. I just want to mention real quick, K-On and Sound! Euphonium are nothing alike. They have some similar themes at times, but the they feel nothing like each other. Which makes sense since K-On was adapted from a 4-koma (think comic strips in the newspaper), while Sound! Euphonium has a big focus on character drama. Things are looking good for this season so far.
Oregairu Zoku 3
Wow, this show is just consistently pumping out amazing episodes one after another. What a heavy hitting episode from Oregairu this week, it was almost painful to watch. Not in the bad sense, I empathized with Hachiman so much throughout this episode that every time he lashes out or is emotionally hurt I felt the turmoil with him. So many scenes that I want to talk about so I am just going to start from the beginning with the conversation with the sister.
Hachiman’s sister sees through Hachiman’s facade of acting as his usual cynical self. As a good family member she tries to listen to his problems, but Hachiman refuses to let himself be vulnerable in front of other people. Again Hachiman’s inability to open up to others hurts the ones he cares about, while at the same time highlighting that not everything is the same as before. He has shown that he cares for others and is obviously bothered by the fact that he hurt Yui and Yukino. Studio Feels did a decent job animating this scene with some visual tells using Hachiman’s gestures. They proceed to frame him alone in the large empty kitchen in a wide shot to represent his loneliness.
After heading off to school we see the Hayama and his group while Hachiman is still isolated at his desk. Everyone is acting as if nothing changed, and Totsuka points it out through his conversation with Hachiman. Totsuka was surprised that he was greeted typically by Hachiman, indicating that he thought things would be different after Hachiman’s actions in the previous episode. Hachiman remarks that today is just another run of the mill day, but once he reaches the club room, the audience gets to know how the dynamic has changed. They continue to frame Hachiman in wide, empty shots at the stairs which lead to the club room. I love the moments where Hachiman hesitates, deciding whether or not he should meet with Yui and Yukinon. Once he he gets there, everyone goes silent and tensions are high. This contrasts with many moments in the earlier two episodes, such as when they first defended Hachiman from Tobe, and when they ate together on the school trip. The strain on the relationship between Yukinon and Hachiman rises as they have to deal with a new client where again their ideals are clashing. Yukinon emotions erupt when Hachiman makes another attempt at going around the problem by using himself as a scapegoat. This scene really shows how much Yukinon and Hachiman’s relationship has changed. Yukinon genuinely cares for Hachiman and refuses to see him put through this again.
Arguing and leaving the club behind, Hachiman avoids going home due to his arguments with his sister. Unfortunately for him he runs into Yukinon’s older sister Haruno, and his ex-crush Orimoto while trying to waste time. This scene was so painful to watch and brought up some old memories of when I thought the same way. Though I can empathize with Hachiman going through this type of thing, I also can’t condone the way Hachiman thinks. He is condemning Orimoto for not noticing his feelings and making him feel insignificant, but it isn’t her fault. She is only living her own life. On the other hand, Haruno is a malicious, sadistic woman that enjoys watching people writhe in uncomfortable situations. Not only does she notice how much Hachiman is bothered by Orimoto, but prolongs her stay by inviting Hayama.
The consequences of Hachiman’s behavior is manifesting and he still refuses to change. But it was shown in the last episode he has recognized the problem and is trying to confront it. It’s not always easy to recondition one’s attitude, but at least it looks like Hachiman has a good group of friends that’s willing to kick his ass into motion.
Arslan Senki 3
I am officially bored! Arslan Senki’s story has progressed exactly as I have thought, and the execution of the cinematography, animation and sound design do not make up for it like a lot of shows do (AKA Fate/Stay Night). Most of the fights are just littered with one sided slashes, and even the big action scenes don’t have much tension to them. Its as if the audience knows what will happen even before the fight starts and the visuals are not impressive enough to warrant my entertainment. Each fight barely has any movement and when they do its all of these white slashes going across the screen. The fight with Vahriz is the worst offender of this, and really made his sacrifice seem so unimportant. Also the sound direction during this scene was horrible. I feel like they were trying to mirror the sound impact that Assassin had in Unlimited Blade Works with the distorted blade sound, but it was just obnoxiously loud and overused. Animation from the 1990s easily tops this, and just by looking at other recent shows such as Fate/Stay Night and Ghost in the Shell Arise, I hold animation to a new standard that Arslan Senki just isn’t meeting. The only thing that keeps me watching this show is that I didn’t really get into the epic, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, until the tenth episode. Arslan Senki being written by the same writer, I will stick through until the end.
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 15
Finally have a decent episode of Unlimited Blade Works this week! Excited to see more framing and action of this caliber through the rest of the episodes. If I remember correctly the rest of Unlimited Blade Works is very fast paced which is different than Nasu’s generally exposition heavy writing style. I wish the quality felt more consistent throughout all the episodes, but I guess its mainly the fault of the source materials awkward pacing. The story is more fit for reading rather than a weekly episode format.
The Vanishing of Nagato Yuki-chan 3
This show has always been rife with references to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumimya, but now with Haruhi actually back in the picture they cranked it up another notch. Unlike many of the other character, Haruhi and Izumi kept their original personalities. With their unique traits, I was treated to waves of nostalgia as they constantly brought up previous episodes of Haruhi, such as the baseball episode. Still, I can’t help but feel that all it is some fun jokes and reactions followed by references to the older show. Yuki Nagato’s building confidence arc of the last 2 episodes were okay, but I have no idea where they are going with her now. Her ditzy personality grates on me a little bit but she makes up for it in her facial expressions and jokes. I feel as if the show is only successful because I have a previous attachment to the characters, and I guess I am okay with that.
Sound! Euphonium 3
Discovering one’s own passion can be difficult, but it can often times be more difficult to find people with same vision. Kitauji high school, like any other high school, has many lazy kids that just want to have some fun. For Kumiko and the gang, its frustrating to have these people be part of the band. A single person’s talent and skill can only carry other people so far in group settings. Luckily for me I never had to go through this since I was in a primarily individual sport, swimming, but I could totally see how frustrating it would be. Not only are the lazy kids actively messing up the band’s practice, they are “wasting everyone’s time” just as the conductor so perfectly put it. Not only does Kumiko have these negative influences at school, but also at home as well. Through good shot framing and body language, Kyoto Animation exquisitely displayed the relationship between Kumiko and her elder sister. With the Euphonium representing what used to bring them together now dividing them. Kumiko frustration is easily visible as she stomps her feet after her sister leaves. There are many negative influences that can come between one and their passion, some unavoidable. But that shouldn’t stop one from doing what they love, and I think its clear now, Kumiko loves concert band.
On the other side of the coin there is Reina and Sapphire-chan. Totally dedicated, and know exactly what they want from life. Sapphire romanticizes her goals, while Reina takes a more serious approach, but the devotion to band and their instruments are the same. For every person that holds people back there is another that leads and inspires others to join them. Reina’s trumpet performance of “From the New World” embodies this notion perfectly. As she looks to the sky and plays her beloved instrument, others students “follow” her gaze and look upward toward the future. Inspired by her commitment to music and her anguish of being unable to play, Kumiko and the other students become energized with a new found drive. Sometimes all one needs is a little support from friends to make their dreams come true. Just need to get out there and do it.
Tsumugi’s episode this week, where the action sequences look significantly better than Arslan Senki. Why does a romantic comedy have more impressive fights than a fantasy coming of age story with wars? Other than that its the typical Nisekoi affair. New girls are added, though Paula doesn’t seem to have any romantic interest in Raku and kisses and confessions are teased. I actually enjoy Tsumugi as a character as she has this thing going where her femininity and character archetype clash. Too bad they don’t really do much with it, though Shaft used it as an idea for her ending. Some notable soundtracks that used electric piano and violin were played that fit the moment as well. Not much else to say about this one, had some laughs at Paula teasing Tsumugi at least.