Every show picked up its game this week, which doesn’t say much for some shows, but Fate and Nisekoi in particular have surprised me. For these two shows, I haven’t seen episodes as good as these since their prior season, so I am optimistic for the future. Oregairu and Hibike also had superb episodes this week. Even with my high standard, I was surprised by the animation quality and the emotions they invoked from me. The only show that disappointed me was the Vanishing of Yuki Nagato. Though it was an improvement from last week, it just never got to the point of being entertaining.
Oregairu Zoku 8
Whenever Hachiman was truly lost on how to move forward, Shizuka has always checked up on him to give him advice. I have always disliked how she was portrayed as a potential love interest in the first season, and enjoy how she was portrayed here instead, as primarily a teacher advising a student. There was a little cutesy comedy, but at least the romantic ends have been cut off. While convincing Hachiman to think with his heart rather than his mind, Shizuka mentioned a lot of things that reminded me of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and the hedgehog’s dillema. Intimacy with other people cannot be achieved without being prepared to harm not only yourself but the intimate other as well. Hachiman distancing himself from others because he didn’t want to hurt him has always been a core issue of the second season. He has been pondering how to go about fixing it lately, and this was the final push for him to finally ask for help and become vulnerable in front of Yui and Yukino.
A lot of Oregairu is tough to watch. It brings up bad memories, makes me feel uncomfortable and often reminds me how aloof I am. But, for these very same reasons, I feel a deep connection with the characters, allowing for an immense emotional payoff for when they grow. And after over 20 episodes of build up, the payoff is finally here. Hachiman finally closes the table sized gap between them and approaches the girls for help. It doesn’t go well with Yukino at first, as she is facing the same dilemma that Hachiman just had. She isn’t ready for this honesty, but Yui doesn’t let this moment slip away. Yui has always been more in tune with her emotions than the other two, and that aspect of her saves their friendship. Talking it out together on the roof, they band together in search of a genuine relationship. They may not understand what exactly that is now, but what matters is that they are trying.
Arslan Senki 8
Though the animation is still lacking, Arslan Senki actually had some moments this episode. I always enjoy fights when they are more centered around tactics than the raw power of the characters. That way, the audience isn’t only watching the spectacle of the two characters fighting. Wit is often hard to make believable in battles, but I could easily see Narsus’ strategy working out in a medieval setting.
So far, Arslan Senki has hinted quite a bit to magic being a force within this world, like when Farangis mentioned the wind spirits or djinns (reminds me of Golden Sun!). They haven’t utilized it much yet, but I can only assume it will be a large factor in the future. I find it odd that the full group from the opening has gathered, yet none of them have magical abilities. Magic is also difficult to pull off in stories as there has to be a limit to its power, otherwise everything can be made trivial. Then the question arises, why didn’t they solve that with magic? I can only hope that Arslan Senki handles it well in the future.
Nisekoi is fun on occasion, and this was definitely one of those times. The show may have a weak story line and rely on its abundant fan service, but its direction and art carry Nisekoi to be more than a typical Harem. With a plethora of misunderstandings and comical faces, I laughed at most of the reactions this week. The long scene where Raku realizes he lost his pendant was well handled and hilarious. The scenery was also extremely impressive this week, with beautiful shots of Raku’s house and a cherry blossom tree on top of hill. Nisekoi’s second season hasn’t been holding up to the fun it had in the first season, but this episode reminds me of earlier triumphs. Here is an album of all of the images I got from this week!
Sound! Euphonium 8
Sound! Euphonium’s characters are all so charming. Midori’s romantic optimism, Hazuki drive, and Kumiko’s passivity are highlights, but even the side characters have a certain characteristics that make them lovable. Asuka’s obsession with all things band, Gotou and Riko’s adorable relationship, the list goes on and on. The best part is that these personalities are shown, and not told to us. Barely any of the dialogue explains these character traits to us, instead the audience gets to watch the character actions that are indicative of these traits. We see Reina constantly practicing, and Hazuki giving 100% in everything she does, so that they don’t have to tell us. They showed Kumiko’s passivity this week when she avoided Shuichi’s attempts to go to the festival with her, which ended up getting her a date with Reina.
The Reina x Kousaka ship is sailing, and I am never getting off of it. The two just mesh together well, and have some of the most naturally amusing dialogue I have seen in anime. Their journey up the mountain was rife with eye-catching scenery and beautiful close-ups of both of them. Kumiko following Reina up the mountain and getting swept away by the atmosphere created, mirrors her following Kumiko’s sister and Reina in band. Again she is inspired by Reina, but this time in love.
I will be sorely disappointed if Reina and Kumiko don’t end up together, as I think it will tie up Kumiko’s character arc nicely. Kumiko is plagued by indecision that causes her to go with the flow and hide her true personality. Making a relationship with Reina in her current state is impossible. Forging a relationship with Reina would be forcing her to make a decision between her and Shuichi while also allowing her to act like herself. Reina does love her “terrible personality” after all.
The Vanishing of Nagato Yuki-chan 8
The generic hot springs episode has come to pass, and nothing seems to have come out of it. Bath scenes are almost always created to titillate the audience with fan service but at least most of them have some sort of meaningful dialogue to back it up. Often nakedness is meant to represent vulnerability or intimacy as they open up to a friend residing with them in the bath, but none of that was even remotely attempted. Instead we just get the standard affair of Mikuru groping and move on. Even the weak romantic drama between Kyon and Yuki has been put to a standstill, with no significant developments in sight. The only saving grace of the show is in its comedy. Kyon singing by himself and getting words of encouragement from the cleaning lady was funny, but its just not enough. I am done letting The Vanishing of Nagato Yuki-chan abuse my nostalgia of Haruhi to keep getting me to waste 20 minutes of my life each week. Dropped.
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 20
Fate actually had some compelling action sequences this week. It didn’t quite reach the peaks of the first seasons, with Assasin’s noble phantasm and the Berserker vs Saber fight, but definitely an improvement from the second season. And the dialogue was way more bearable than the previous week, though still a bit of rambling from Shirou.