Ok, so I probably should have saved that title for next season, when there’s actually going to be an Oreimo sequel. It’s been more than half a season since the last one of these, so many shows have finished/been dropped/started up in the mean time. Let’s get to it.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure 19
For a show where batshit insane things happen on an episodic basis, there really isn’t much to say about Jojo’s. I could talk about how shirking common narrative wisdom is being used in the show’s favour, but it would be just as applicable 18 episodes ago as it is now. It’s camp and crazy, and there are Nazi cyborgs. That’s enough to keep me entertained. Your mileage may vary.
Zetsuen no Tempest 18
I’m disappointed in you, Tempest. After so much faffing about you finally built up some real tension and, silly direction aside, I was genuinely engaged. How do you decide to follow this up? A quasi-recap episode then MOAR WALKING, but now with obnoxious rom-com antics. I could blame the writer of the manga this is adapted from, but I may as well jump on the bandwagon and blame Mari Okada. Yeah, screw you Okada! Stop ruining anime!
In all seriousness though, it does appear to be trying to build some tension again. Here’s hoping it goes somewhere before the finale.
Archenemy and Hero/Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 1-5
Ok, I’m a little behind on this one, but can you really blame me if I don’t find Spice & Wolf‘s shit cousin, produced by a studio involved in a striking amount of porn, all that enthralling to watch. Basing your show around medieval fantasy economics isn’t the greatest first step to making your show entertaining, and throwing in an incredibly half-assed romance subplot isn’t going to help that any.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all the cynicism in the first ep, but it feels like just as they start to approach the subject material in any real depth, they quickly pull back into dumb (all together now) rom-com antics. When will anime get over its crippling self-confidence issues?
Let’s walk this through.
So you want to make a show subverting the usual hero-nemesis fight-to-save-the-world fantasy plot.
You want your series to show the power of clever politics and economic manipulation to change a geopolitical climate, and the power of technology and ingenuity to lift people out of poverty.
Now, you’re afraid that you’re show is going to be too impersonal.
How do you think to fix this? Make the series centre around a budding romance between, ironically, the hero and demon lord themselves.
Ok, let’s clarify something right here. I do not think this is necessarily a bad idea. The logic we just walked through makes sense to me. The basic premise is kind of cool. The problem here is less the concept and more the execution. The economics is decent, but presented in an incredibly dull manner. Lots of people standing round tables talking our ears off. The romance is implemented even worse, to the point of it feeling completely token. For all its flaws at least Lawrence and Holo in Spice & Wolf had some actual Chemistry. They were both interesting, complex characters, and this came through in their interactions with each other and the people then encountered. This alone did enormous amounts to make the comparably poorly presented economics engaging. We were viewing it through the lenses of characters we actually cared about.
On top of all this, as the above pictures show, the female characters are increasingly being reduced to their charms as potential love interests, which is as much disgusting as it is boring.
Ok, enough about this one.
Psycho Pass 18
Yes, I did finally catch up with this one.
While Psycho-Pass is undoubtedly the most interesting show currently airing, I have some serious issues with its current direction, which I’d trace back to around episode 15. The Sybil System was clearly problematic to anyone who was paying attention, but now it’s just downright evil. I can’t even take Makishima seriously as a villain anymore, because the Sybil system just completely overshadows him. Why is the MWPSB not concerned about how blatantly evil the chief is acting? If I were them I’d be trying to find Makishima to find out what the hell is going on, not to try to defeat him.
There’s a lesson here, scale often comes at the cost of subtlety and nuance. The issues with Sybil were so much more interesting for me as a background element, while Makishima’s sociopathy took centre-villain-stage. They were something to be observed through the world and implications of side details and characters, to the point that a lot of people on the aniblogosphere didn’t seem to think Sybil was particularly problematic at all. Motherfucking brain-powered super computers and other ridiculous villainy is turning this into a battle between good and evil rather than between anarchic free will and safe, if somewhat soul-sucking determinism.
All that said I’m completely open to Psycho-Pass wrapping this all up extremely well. In fact I really hope it does, and truly think it might. Urobuchi is extremely deliberate, if nothing else.
Little Busters 20… and in general I guess.
Little Busters is undoubtedly a bad show which I watch mostly out of some sick fascination in the bastard love-child which is the product of teaming Key up with J.C. STAFF. In all honesty though, I don’t dread it week-to-week. Yeah, the drama is god-awful, but I find the largely story-irrelevant antics of the group pretty entertaining at points. It’s hardly comedy gold, but there’s something deeply charming about some of the retarded antics our group of lovable, if unbalanced and mentally-deficient high schoolers get themselves into. They’re all pretty two dimensional, but at points there’s some really fun chemistry between them that escalate into these over the top, farcical scenarios.
Of course, as much as I loved Clannad, it lived or died by its drama. Everything else was secondary, if not actively a hindrance to its enjoyability, and ultimately Little Busters will be judged the same way. As it stands I enjoyed parts of Mio’s arc. That’s literally it for the drama segments I liked. Haruka’s arc was tolerable, mostly due to good music direction. Ultimately the main drama in Clannad After Story renders most of the smaller arcs effectively invisible, and it’s going to be really hard to make a final judgment on Little Busters until we reach a comparable central drama point focusing on Riki himself. I’m perfectly open to this arc actually being really good, though to be honest at this point I’m not sure there’s even going to be one. Clannad had a very steady, clear direction in a lot of ways. Pretty much from the start it was clear the sort of person Okazaki is and what his core struggles would be. His characterisation was weaved throughout the arcs quite evenly and steadily. I just haven’t seen anything comparable with Riki yet, so there’s only so hopeful I can be.
Welp, that’s pretty much it. I’m also watching Inferno Cop, but anything I say about it will essentially boil down to “man this show is off-the-wall and funny”, so I’mma leave it out of weekly round-ups.
In all probability, Little Busters would have 24 more episodes. I doubt they’d be doing the Kurugaya or Rin (who has two routes, not just one, to begin with). And Refrain, the “post-route” story and what gave the VN it’s repute in the first place is an entire cour on it’s own, easily.
Maou Yuusha’s entire problem, I feel, is that it has absolutely no time. As a result, we get a truncated wreck of a plot, with occasional flashes of watch-ability, but because everything is flying past so fast, and so much is omitted, the result is a mess with as much holes as Swiss Cheese.
Oh wow, so we can expect another 2 cours of Little Busters? I guess that’s no longer than Clannad, but that just feels mercilessly padded to me.
That’s an interesting point about Maoyuu’s problem. It’s certainly true that a lot of seemingly important details have happened off-screeen, and a lot of time has passed in-world, but paradoxically it still feels bloody slow to me. Maybe because I can’t see any overarching point that the show is moving towards, so wherever it goes it feels like aimless meandering.