The Spring season of anime seem to be settling into a groove, with each show consistently performing as expected. The top-tier shows, Oregairu and Sound! Euphonium, consistently impress me with compelling character drama and overall production. While the rest are just lacking in one department or another. Unlimited Blade Works heavily relies on its action sequences and character banter to entertain me. Luckily for me this week’s episode was packed with the latter. Nisekoi and The Vanishing of Nagato Yuki both still specialize in creating cliches, and subverting them in ways that are funny. Though neither provide much food for thought, they are decent popcorn shows that consistently stick to their strengths. I am also likely to pick up Ore Monogatari from the spring season after my finals are over. I have heard a lot of good things about it from close friends, but I am not sure if I am going to write about it here since its already a couple episodes in.
Oregairu Zoku 4
An episode highlighting Hayama, who happens to be more similar to Hachiman to I first thought. It feels as if every character in Oregairu is an individual while simultaneously there to be reflection of Hachiman. Both of them have a sense of pride that gets in the way of acting genuinely with other people, but they both go about it different ways. Hayama’s facade is to act like the perfect kid, while Hachiman purposefully acts sour, and foul mouthed. So when Hayama bowed down to Hachiman to get him to go on the double date, I was surprised he would beg Hachiman.
The date itself was painful in the same way the last episode was. Orimoto and her friend whose name I don’t care to remember whole conversation with Hayama was based on bashing Hachiman. Hachiman, being the guy that he is, attempts to ignore the insults and pretend that it doesn’t hurt him. It isn’t all bad for Hachiman though, Hayama tries to connect with Hachiman throughout the whole double date. Still locked in his own solitude, Hachiman refuses to relate with others, because he believes everyone has it out for him. The sense of distance between Hachiman and the others were accentuated by how the shots were framed, with the movie scene in particular standing out. As dinner comes around my suspicions surrounding Hayama were confirmed as he shames the two girls for vocally attacking Hachiman and claims he has found true friends at their own high school. Hayama acts like Hachiman by making himself out to be the bad guy so that he can point out the flaw in others.
With Yui, and Yukino tricked by Hayama (and perhaps Haruno as well?) witnessing it all, they are understandably angry. Haruno uses this opportunity to guilt Yukino into running for president instead of Hayama. Haruno says “Others always get their hands dirty for” Yukino, implying that her inability to fix the situation is what pushed Hachiman and Hayama to act this way. Yukino then takes it upon herself to be the candidate to run against the client and win, mirroring the actions of Hayama and Hachiman. She is doing something she hates for other people’s benefit with no concern for those around her.
Yui, the most earnest character in the show sees everyone’s pain and complains that they are being selfish. She has her own problems, but doesn’t make herself a martyr for other people. Expressing her love for the club, she declares her own running for president in a pseudo confession to Hachiman. Yui can’t quite confess to him directly yet, but the emotion she exudes stuns even Hachiman’s attempts to act stoic. This is the first time that Yui will be in direct opposition to Yukino, and I can’t wait to find out how that dynamic turns out.
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 16
Unlimited Blade Works had a lot to say to Shirou this episode with the show finally addressing his problem. None of his actions have shown this new realization yet, but I am optimistic for the future. Until then there has been lots of fun banter between Rin and Shirou to fill the awkward pacing. Scenes full of adorable Rin faces and blushes can be found for the tsundere lovers.
Arslan Senki 4
Arslan Senki introduced a new personality this week with Narsus the painter. He also happens to be excellent with war strategies and swordsmanship as well. He kind of reminds me of Rurouni Kenshin in that he wishes to let go of his past and just continue his life as an artist, but people keep dragging him back to war. He seems interesting enough, but the main inner conflict in he brings up in Arslan is a simple one. The idea of slavery is too black in white in most developed societies and expanding upon that through Arslan Senki’s story seems too juvenile. There is no depth to the idea, and I find it hard to think about it in my free time. Maybe they will expound upon the idea in future episode or give me new perspectives.
Again Arslan Senki fails in the visual department. The CG doesn’t grate on me as much as some other people but what really gets to me is the direction of the action. There wasn’t much of it in this episode but the fights I did see were plain boring. Liden Films’ animators don’t have a knack for action and use way too many close up shots during fights. This makes it difficult for the viewers to watch what exactly is going on during a fight and therefore less interesting. The plot needs to start picking up the slack as I don’t see this animation getting any better.
The Vanishing of Nagato Yuki-chan 4
Another feel good episode with some romantic drama added in! I hope it returns to its roots with how it subverts every romantic comedy trope like in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. If not, I still get to see some adorable Yuki faces. I was surprised to find that Haruhi could turn into a love interest during this show due to it focusing on Yuki. After thinking about it a bit though, Haruhi holds all the traits that Yuki wants to gain. Haruhi has the confidence and the initiative that Yuki is trying to establish for herself. Posing her as a love rival for Yuki would lead to some good development as she has to improve in those aspects in creating a relationship with Kyon.
There were some other small scenes that I enjoyed in particular. The river scene between Haruhi and Kyon was very reminiscent of the older show, Haruhi ends up in a cliche but makes sure to point out how cliche the scene was itself. Satelight uses lots of pink and red hues to show all the love in the air for valentines day as well. They have always used warm colors to bring a feel good atmosphere to the show, but it was really prevalent here.
The start of one of my favorite arcs from the manga! The show always was entertaining, but it lacked any emotional appeal due to how comical the harem is. Most arcs fall into this category but Chitoge’s feelings of neglect are grounded emotions that are easy to relate to. It also helps that they are allotting more episodes for this arc as it lets the audience have more time to identify with Chitoge before the climax. Shaft’s bizarre backgrounds also bolster Hana’s image of being extremely busy. I found the animation for Raku’s frantic appeasing of Hana’s request as an interesting take. They didn’t have a lot of animation for the scene, but it really showed what he was going through well. As for Hana herself, she isn’t particularly compelling and is the typical neglectful parent that cares for their children but just doesn’t have time to spend with them.
Sound! Euphonium 4
Another stellar episode from Hibike! this week. For me, the episode didn’t reach the heights of Kumiko being inspired by Kousaka’s trumpet playing, but it did leave a potent climax that was satisfying and pushes the plot forward in a suitable direction. Taki, was the main driving force in this episode as he demanded more from his students than they expect for themselves. Teenagers don’t like being pushed, but they love getting their way. With SunFes threatened to be taken away, the band practices with a new found vigor to get their right to play in SunFes, and to prove Taki wrong. Sound! Euphonium uses this opportunity to expound on their already large cast. The “training montage” provides more insight into the main characters while also showcasing the personalities of many of the side characters. Kyoto Animation did a great job in conveying loads of information in minimal screen time by using detailed body language and short lines that embody each character. One scene that highlighted this well is where the girl actually prepared to throw the mouthpiece at the conductor. Now that’s some spunk.
Kumiko also got robust development this episode, as she confronted her upperclassmen, Nakagawa, and even spoke a few words to Kousaka. Kumiko hasn’t yet talked with Kousaka about her qualms in middle school, but at least she apologized for talking rudely of Taki. No one encouraged her to confront them, but inspired by Kousaka’s resolve, Kumiko has found her own initiative. Now if only she could do something about that cynical nature of hers. Who thinks that they are going to be killed when another student asks to talk? Teenage melodrama at its finest.
I feel like I am parroting my older posts, but I have to mention it again. Kyoto Animation has the best comedic timing of any studio. Jokes come and go before I finish laughing, and they are never are expected or cliche. They come naturally to the conversation as casual banter between new friends. This episode in particular had a few great faces by Kumiko and Hazuki to support them as well. Lastly, the animation for the ensemble’s performance was spot on. The characters actually look like they are playing instruments and match up to the tempo of the song. Kyoto Animation is still the only studio I know of that does this, and I have been entranced by their animation for musical performances since God Only Knows in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.