I thought Oregairu would easily take the cake with a compassionate episode focusing on Hachiman as he opens up to others, but Sound! Euphonium came with a bang this week, returning from last week’s episode in even better form. Both have great character writing, but Sound! Euphonium’s animation and build up to climaxes has me putting it on top this week. Every other show is still chugging a long trying to keep up with these two amazing shows, but nothing has come close to shortening the gap.
Oregairu Zoku 5
After some uncomfortable episodes of Oregairu, I finally get something to warm my heart. Inspired by Yui’s own passion and earnest emotions, Hachiman becomes more vulnerable and finally opens up to his sister Komachi. The intimacy of the banter between them was a joy to watch, and showcases how Oregairu is well written. The author understand sibling relations well and I feel I could have easily had a heart to heart similar to this with my own sister. Constantly teasing each other while being understanding of the situation and giving support. Komachi even knows her brother so well that she panders the way she speaks so that Hachiman feels inclined to do what he wants. Hachiman doesn’t seem to have reached the point where he can open up to people outside of his family, but this is the step in the right direction. He no longer has to suffer alone, and can have others shoulder the burden with him. Though I disliked Zaimokuza in the first season, because of his overly chuunibyou jokes, I found his extension of help to Hachiman a great follow up to Komachi. Hachiman can’t initiate intimate relations with others yet, but some of the other characters are already willing to help him.
I still have no idea what to expect from Isshiki, but I hear from those who have read the light novels touting her as best girl. Considering how much everyone seems to like Yui and Yukinon, I find it crazy that she has so much support. I look forward to what direction she is taken in, so far she has been used as a foil to Hachiman’s signature phrase “I hate nice girls”. Isshiki acts like a nice girl but she is so much more than that, and is way more aware of her surroundings than others give her credit for. Her interactions with Hachiman are quite entertaining, though I hope they do not continue with that “stop hitting on me” gag. In this particular episode Hachiman used her affection for Hayama to manipulate her into running for president seriously. Hachiman still isn’t quite done with his underhanded tactics, and just like all of his actions before, it has certain consequences tied to it. His actions have further divided himself from Yukinon, and Yui was slightly somber after hearing that he supported someone else for president. It’s especially painful for Yukinon that Hachiman went by himself to solve this situation due to Haruno’s words last episode, “You don’t have to do anything, right? Even if you don’t do it someone will do it for you”. But Yui understands this is a big step for Hachiman as he finally starts reaching for his desires.
The previous student council president, Meguri, mentions a dream of hers where Yukinon, Yui, and Hachiman all work together on the student council. Hachiman finally realized that the ties between himself and the girls is not the club itself, but their friendship and affection. Nothing would have changed if he had let Yukinon run for president as long as he wanted to keep his connection to her. Sadly, as Hachiman keenly pointed out, there are no “save states” to go back to, and he can never reverse how he went behind their backs to push Isshiki for president. The only thing left for him is to learn from his mistakes, find a way to repay them, and gain Yukinon’s respect back.
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 17
I didn’t have much to say in this episode’s weekly time stamped post. Some great action choreography and special effects escorted by some ridiculous “heroic” dialogue. The standard affair for Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works.
Arslan Senki 5
This week’s episode of Arslan Senki picked up the pace a bit, but is still being held back by its poor visual style in half of the scenes. The attacks on the capital have commenced and the audience was treated to an intense scene where a Pars general was being tortured. It was a powerful moment when Shapur was shot by an arrow, but it the impact was undercut, as I didn’t really know anything about him. We had one small scene with him where he was speaking with another general, but that was it. It also doesn’t help that all of the Lusitanians, other than the child who kidnapped Arslan, are portrayed as pure, blind, evil. Especially the priest who was torturing Shapur. The faces he was making was on par with the, “I am just an evil character” faces of Shinji from Fate. It still hasn’t developed the depth that I want from this show, and really lacks the charisma of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Perhaps after Arslan develops a little more, he will feel more dignified than he does now.
Nisekoi tried to be emotional this week, but I watched it immediately after Oregairu Zoku so the show left a less than stellar impact. All of the problems in Nisekoi come from misunderstandings and the inability to communicate, similar to Oregairu, but it just handles it all with less grace. I think it’s quite unfair to compare the two as they aim to achieve totally different things, but that’s what ended up happening this week. Perhaps I will watch this episode again at another time to gain a fresh perspective that isn’t polluted by another show. At least we still have head tilts!
The Vanishing of Nagato Yuki-chan 5
This show doesn’t really handle drama well. The source of the melodrama was all due to Yuki accidentally dropping her chocolate, and everyone misunderstanding her intentions. It’s difficult to get emotionally invested to such a boring dilemma that can be so easily solved. At least I enjoyed that they put part of the blame on Yuki instead of Haruhi. Its not Haruhi’s fault for trying to express her own feelings, its up to Yuki to stand up for herself and get the “heroine” as Asakura would say. That was the whole point of the first two episodes, and Yuki’s growth was shown. I just wish they had a more interesting development to present it. Maybe if they portrayed Yuki as less of a ditz, I could enjoy this show more. As of now, I am still cheering for Haruhi to sweep Kyon off his feet, because I think their personalities just match well together, and provide more entertaining dialogue. The only thing Yuki has over Haruhi are her adorable character reactions, and facial expressions.
The confession teasing continues on, and I expect it to for the rest of the show. I doubt the audience will ever be given a romantic conclusion for the show, which would be fine, if it didn’t seem to put so much focus on it. This show is at its best whenever it has jokes that throwback to the original series, or is centered around Kyon and his sarcastic attitude. Hopefully we will return to more of this in the next episode.
Sound! Euphonium 5
What a stand out episode this week from Sound! Euphonium, just phenomenal. Kyoto Animation really found something special here. Kumiko feels so real. She is a human with many dimensions with emotions ranging from mean spirited, flustered, kind, and worried. The way she interacts with her childhood friend, to how she is bothered by how others view her, Kumiko is grounded in a typical teenager’s journey. Other than some flat exposition to describe marching band to any newcomers, Kumiko’s interactions with the other characters were some of the most charming scenes I have ever witnessed.
Watching as Kumiko awkwardly tiptoes around Kousaka, and repeats the same line that gave her so much stress in middle school, was hilarious. Not only were the faces silly, but it allows for Kumiko to realize that Kousaka has moved on from that moment, and for them to start a new relationship. If character writing was the only factor, I wouldn’t be praising this episode so much, but for this scene in particular, the animation and direction was kicked up a notch. The backgrounds were beautiful, while not detracting from the lime light of the scene by making it slightly out of focus. It allows the characters to be the center of attention without them feeling like they are speaking in empty rooms. Then there was Kousaka’s reaction. I don’t think I have HNNGED that hard since The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, which had a girl with a similar style to Kousaka. Kousaka’s genuine expression, combined with the lights of the cars passing by dazzled me just like Kumiko, allowing me to share in Kumiko’s fascination for Kousaka.
Kumiko’s other big dialogue this week was with another former middle school classmate, Azusa. It doesn’t contain the flashy animation like the previous part I mentioned, but it shows us a bit more character growth from Kumiko, while still maintaining great cinematography. Kumiko has been a little withdrawn and cynical, but as she conveys her motivations to Azusa, the audience gets to see another side of Kumiko. A committed outlook that shows her optimism for the band’s and her own future. This was amplified by the camera’s view of the band, showing Kumiko’s growing passion for her new found life, full of music, and friends.
The last thing I want to mention is how well Sound! Euphonium understands the elation of success, and the frustrations of failure. In the first episode it was clearly shown that one’s efforts don’t always pay off. Kumiko’s middle school band wasn’t able to compete in nationals, and Kousaka’s vexation was clear as day, but on the other side of the coin is a bliss worth working for. Forgoing leisure time and practicing everyday is not an exciting experience, but there comes a time where everything one has worked for is put to the test. It all culminates in a single moment where when success is seized, the painful ordeals transform into gratifying experiences. Sound! Euphonium just makes me want to work harder in life, and any shows that has enough impact to effect my mentality outside of watching anime is exceptional in my books.