HALFWAY THOUGHTS – FALL 2014

Hey folks, it’s us again. I think we’ve decided to do these write-ups every three to four weeks or so, for what it’s worth. Now that the fall season has settled into its groove , Yata and Haru are here to run down how a handful of shows are faring. LK will show up eventually. Maybe. Who knows at this point? Oh, and we wish you a happy Thanksgiving and all that. Try not to overeat. Spend your time watching the great stuff you’ve been putting off for so long, and if your opinions happen to align with ours, fantastic.

It’s dangerous to go alone though. Take this:

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AKAME GA KILL!:

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Lubba, crouching badass until the end. May he rest in peace.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 20)
When was the last time we killed off a Night Raid character? Like, three episodes ago? TOO LONG.

See, the problem I have with Akame ga Kill is that people die too soon after being introduced. A lot of the deaths that have occurred to the major characters in this show thus far have come right on the heels of a last-minute “oh we should try and develop this character so people will feel sad now” moment but it’s backfired every time. I don’t really care about their lives. It’s not sad. Well, the poor writing quality is, but the show itself isn’t. Akame ga Kill’s biggest problem also becomes its greatest strength at times like this though; everything happens too quickly to manage any impact, but it also keeps the show from bogging itself down into a sluggish mess. Still not much to say otherwise. You should know by now if you’re sticking with this anyway. If you’re not, you probably dropped it a long time ago. Only four more to go, guys. I can do this.

For what it’s worth, I hope they kill off Mine next. She irritates me to no end.
Score as of now: 4/10
Still watching?: I told myself I’d be here until it concludes, so yeah.

AKATSUKI NO YONA:

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Yona gets advice about how to make her life’s story less boring.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 7)
I still can’t tell whether or not this show is truly embracing its “historical” qualities or if its tame but nonetheless quirky sense of humor reigns superior. They’re not balanced particularly well, but it’s still fun to watch. Thankfully the “romance” tag has been played conservatively and it doesn’t show any signs of becoming a harem, so for the time being, I’m still in for this adventure, wherever it ends up. Not much else to say about the past couple of weeks. It’s otherwise been business as usual.
Score as of now: 6/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 7)
At long last, Yona looks to be taking off after a sort of lackluster start. While it’s not even close to the best show this season, this show is finally taking steps towards the main entertainable plot. That said, it’s painfully obvious that this show is gonna be at least a 2-cour show now, which explains the painfully slow pacing. Joy. This show still isn’t terribly ambitious, the comedy’s timing is questionable, and it’s not the prettiest show by far, but that’s okay for the time being. Anyways, I’m really happy that the princess is about to set out training for her grand adventure after the near-disaster that they narrowly avoided. Looks like I am here to stay.
Score as of now:
6/10
Still watching:
Yeah.

AMAGI BRILLIANT PARK:

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Yeezus Park: for those who like to chill while they stack their millions.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 7)
Mixed thoughts. Still.

My opinion of Amaburi seems to rely on what each episode does. Overall, the pattern is clear now; Do park stuff, let trouble arrive, try to fix the problem, ridiculous stuff happens anyway, and then somehow the problem resolves itself. It’s what specifically happens during this sequence of events that can make or break the 20 minutes I spend on this show each week. This latest episode for instance, episode 7? Probably one of my least favorite yet. Jaw got a nice introduction, but otherwise, the animation was dominated by still frames, the pirates were dull antagonists, and it was an unenjoyable time all around (for me). Episode 6 on the other hand is an indicator of all of Amaburi’s best qualities; characterization that escapes stereotypes just enough to be original but not so much that it detracts from the comedy, well-timed gags and responses, perfectly paced writing that let the episodes breeze by, etc. When it wants to, it can be a hilarious show. Episode 4 contained a lot of the same strengths and episode 5 was acceptable.

For such a great premise and the proof that every member of the cast can plays off the others well, a certain spark still seems to be absent between me and this show. I can’t quite put my finger down on it (reviewer cred ruined), but hopefully the second half of it will present more of the good and less of the meh. The show’s central conflict will have to be challenged in due time, and when it is, I have a feeling it will be pulled off well. The journey to that moment? A little more hit or miss.
Score as of now: 7/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 7)
Kyoani’s just gonna do their thing, and by “do their thing,” that seems to just be to do what they want but still have it come out strangely amusing. While Amaburi has fallen off just a tad from the strong start, it’s still managing to easily get genuine laughs out of me. Moffle’s (and the other mascots’) violent streaks entertain me almost without fail. This show isn’t perfect, but it’s soooooo good to see Kyoani back in a good stride again. While this show is starting to get a bit fanservice-y (more Kyoani trope stuff there), I still feel like this show is advancing very nicely. Unlike a few other shows this season, watching this one doesn’t feel like a chore. This show certainly isn’t Hyouka quality, but I still look forward to watching Kanye and friends every week. And that is how it should be.

Oh, and Jaws, the man of the sea, for President 2016.
Score as of now: 7/10
Still watching: Yep.

CHAIKA THE COFFIN PRINCESS: AVENGING BATTLE:

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[eyebrows intensifies]

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 7)
Avenging Battle is working with a disappointingly short 10-episode slot this season, but it’s making the most of every second of time it presents to us. The last couple of weeks in particular have catered to the show’s greatest strengths; an articulated world with realistic cause and effect and confident dialogue. The Chaika franchise as a whole has always found a neat balance between barely not giving the audience enough info to deduce what everyone’s plans are and giving them enough to make every faction involved seem invested in the events of the world in their own way. The show has always had an underlying theme of post-war boredom; an anti-survivor guilt, one might say, and while that was mostly used in the past to flesh out Toru’s character and emphasize the foil qualities between those who are enjoying peacetime and those who aren’t, it’s (in a wise move) actually being implemented as the central reason for our supposed antagonist’s actions. Throughout Chaika’s first season, I hailed the show for being a slightly above average fantasy adventure with hints of greater potential, and now Avenging Battle is capitalizing on that potential in ever-changing, plot-twisty ways as it’s done in the past.

It just struck me since we do these write-ups every three to four weeks, Avenging Battle will be over by the time we get to our next one. Damn. At least it’ll probably go out in style. A sloppy ending would be a terrible unlikely tarnish on a series that’s overachieved every step of the way and provided steady entertainment throughout the year.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 7)
Chaika continues doing the Chaika thing, and boy, things are looking real interesting. It took seven episodes, but with Hartgen’s combat tournament in full swing now, we’re finally getting some awesome quality fights reminiscent of the first season’s awesome battles. This show also keeps throwing twist after twist into the mix, but it’s worked thus far, so that’s good stuff. While the first season grabbed our attention with the crazy awesome fights, it looks to me as though this second season all along was more intent on building up the world of post-Great War-Verbist. Whether it was the quirks and mechanics of the Chaika-world magic, or the sense of frustration amongst the throngs of soldiers who have found themselves struggling to get by in a newfound time of peace, or even the back-door politics going on with the Alliance, I’ve loved how they’ve gone about portraying this world.

The way things have been going, I’m beginning to suspect we may be in for a third cour of Chaika sometime in the future. I can’t imagine everything Chaika has going for it just wrapping up totally with only three episodes out of a miserly ten episode season left. Chaika is sure to be jam-packed with even more plot twists and action fights from here on, I’m really curious how Avenging Battle will close out. Oh yeah.
Score as of now: 7.5/10
Still watching: Yes.

LAUGHING UNDER THE CLOUDS:

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Tenka’s face sort of describes it all for me.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 6)
Aaaaaaaaaand here was where I threw in the towel. I just can’t anymore, not with this one. The lackluster execution of everything in this one just ruined it. I mentioned before that Dogakobo can make decent shows when they try, and it just feels as though there was a collective lack of effort here. Something- no everything, about this adaptation just comes off as stale. I swear the manga wasn’t as bad as this, though this makes me not want to even revisit the manga to see if I was just wrong about this franchise the entire time. No more. I’m gonna drop this and pick up Rage of Bahamut soon.
Score as of now: 4/10
Still watching: Nope.

LOG HORIZON 2:

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Akatsuki sinking into a quarter-life crisis realizing Yona stole her name for her own show.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 7)
So these last few weeks have steered away from Shiroe’s raiding and instead focused primarily on the cast left in Akihabara, namely Akatsuki and Lenessia. It’s been a particularly important arc for Akatsuki, who coming into season two was still barely defined as anything more than Shiroe’s awkwardly doting bodyguard. Log Horizon is finally delving a bit more into her characterization, wisely not trying to come up with sudden hidden depths to her that had no indication of existing. It’s being rather blunt in forcing her to realize she’s extremely one-dimensional in a “you don’t know what you (don’t) have until it’s gone” sort of way. This motivates her to try and learn “The Teachings”, a concept unusually poorly-explained for Log Horizon’s standards, so while the effort is there to try and develop her, the sluggish pace of these last few episodes has been working against that. Using the same time to develop Lenessia helps matters a little since instead of separating the two characters into weekly development episodes, the scenes they’re in together allows them to bounce off each other in a way that benefits both characters and the show in general. Lenessia’s been characterized so far as an indecisive, internally insecure individual despite (or maybe rather because of) her position within Akihabara, and her slow effort to treat things less formally in order to make that role easier fits her character to a T.

However, the real meat of the show has only been hinted at. The Christmas killer’s arc revolving around possessive flavor text is another wonderful addition to Log Horizon’s world that succeeds at bringing natural conflict with an unforced tone. I think it’s great that while the raid party is busy trying to manipulate the game’s mechanics at its core, the game in turn is also accomplishing the same against the adventurers. Crusty’s mysterious disappearance and Shiroe and Akatsuki’s beautiful quiet meeting in Elder Tale’s mid-wordly respawn realm were both moments of genuine suspense. Log Horizon rarely astonishes, but it’s incredibly consistent, and you can’t go too wrong with incredible consistency in this genre. The simple fact that Akatsuki’s arc is less intriguing doesn’t make it any less important, and Log Horizon is never a chore to watch. Even though this season hasn’t reached any crowning moment of awesome yet, it’s surely coming up shortly.
Score as of now: 7.5/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 7)
Well, this one certainly slowed down to a crawl, at least for me. I haven’t been digging this Akatsuki self pity-party arc much. I know Akatsuki needed development as one of the main characters, but this arc has been sort of “bleh” for me. Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t dig how it seems she’s almost pouting that she wasn’t able to take part in Shiroe’s fantastic raid of despair. Even though I’m totally willing to bet that Shiroe had her stay in Akihabara just in case something went down. Speculation aside, perhaps the reason I’m not enjoying this arc as much is because of how vague this whole “Teachings” concept is. I still don’t even understand what these Teachings are. Are they a skill anyone can acquire if they complete a difficult training regimen, or are the Teachings just some magic deus-ex-machina luck of the draw thing like Kirito’s stupid dual-sword ability in SAO?

That said, it looks like some awesome battle stuff is about to go down soon. Also worth mentioning is the strange turn they decided to take with the world as far as the whole “item flavor text coming true” thing is concerned. Between that cursed sword driving the Christmas killer berserk or whatever mysterious effect led to Crusty vanishing, I’m interested to see just how crazy the flavor text thing gets. I was really hoping they’d oblige on some more development for the Elder Tale world and this was a surprising turn. I still hope they manage to resolve the “how the hell are we all getting home” problem, or at the very least, touch upon it soon.

Despite my grumbling, I’d never drop this show. It’s still too fun when it’s in its stride.
Score as of now: 7/10
Still watching: Kind of obvious with that last bit there.

PARASYTE -THE MAXIM-:

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The sun never sets on the squeamish empire.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 7)
Parasyte continues to be unsettlingly blunt and lung-bursting laugh out loud hilarious almost simultaneously, but at the cost of containing a few hiccups too.

Simple fact of the matter is Parasyte got the ball rolling very quickly. Now that it has a bit of time to slow down, it seems to bumble around when it doesn’t need to address any overarching plot concerns. The overarching plot and thematic concerns themselves (fighting A, the parasite in Ryoko costing itself a job due to its oversight, Shinichi almost dying and in turn becoming borderline superhuman, his family trauma, meeting Uda and his uncharacteristically chill parasite, etc.) were all addressed very well. Parasyte knows how to tackle intensity, whether it be genuinely bone-chilling or resulting in chuckles. It’s what happens during its downtime – the pointless encounters with Maki, the occasionally awkward transitions between place to place, the notably less detailed framework during scenes of low priority – that’s starting to drag the show down a little. If Parasyte can get back on track a little more consistently, we’ll have nothing to worry about, but as many strengths as it has, it’s starting to show a couple weak spots too. Something we’ll just have to keep an eye on throughout the next couple of months, I guess. The pros outweigh the cons and it’s certainly not worth dropping.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 7)
What a wonderful episode the seventh was!

After the sheer intensity of those two scenes in the previous episodes, the way this arc came to an end was glorious. The new guy with the parasite mouth was a sorely needed injection of freshness for Parasyte, as the sort-of-love-interest side character girls were not really adding much value to the show, at least to me. I do love seeing just how much Shinichi has matured and grown into his role, though, and there’s still more room for him to grow. I’m just left wondering what this show has up its sleeve next after that gut-wrenching arc. This show has consistently been the most difficult one for me to write about this season, just because I care so little for the horror genre. However, the exceptional psychological aspect of Parasyte leaves me asking for more and more. Good stuff.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching: Yep.

PSYCHO-PASS 2:

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I think the introduction of a character named Kirito obligatorily makes a show worse.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 7)
I think it’s pretty fitting that a work centered around the conflict of authenticity vs. phoniness seems to be struggling with staying “true” to its predecessor.

I, like many people, have been growing increasingly dissatisfied with Psycho-Pass 2, and almost all of my discontent seems to stem from its writing. Expanding on an Urobuchi universe without making a flop here or there is a nearly impossible task; that’s not what I have beef with. I’m upset because season two feels like it’s just keeping the visual aesthetic of Psycho-Pass to present a story that lacks regard for the meticulous sequencing of events that the first season had. Several instances display elements of (or strange lines that hint at) “do it for the plot” convenience, despite either having little to no reason to act in that manner or no reason to have not acted on it sooner. Key factors that, given these characters personalities should’ve been tackled a certain way make the show feel like a shoddy imitation when they fail to do so.

Psycho-Pass 2’s real problem is that it’s trying way too hard to be intense. The first season and its crew understood how suspense worked. Two/Tow (wow, great how that works out, isn’t it?) seems to be mistaken that shock value equals suspense, and while the bare bones of the plot are still intact enough to keep me invested, so many of the incidents that occur throughout this season make the total disregard it has for proper (and previously established) character dynamics too evident for its own good. The story feels constantly conflicted between whether it wants to intrigue or forcefeed, usually ending up somewhere in a gray zone that barely accomplishes either. This last week at least seemed to reside more on the intrigue side, as we’ve finally established a connection between the suspicious Togane (groan with me about the Kogami replacement charade, I know you want to) and an outside authority. In addition, the mostly neglected Sho finally got a bit of time in the spotlight again, and Kamui’s motives and means are growing clearer by the episode. He’s really not a poor villain. Definitely up Psycho-Pass’ alley and competent at creating the situations they want to present – it’s just everyone reacts to him in a bloated awkward manner. Get it together, guys. You can write better than this.
Score as of now: 6.5/10
Still watching?: Yes.

RAGE OF BAHAMUT: GENESIS:

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This screencap was taken accidentally, but I probably couldn’t find a better one if I tried.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 6.5)
In MAPPA’s defense, Bahamut’s “whoops, we’re not finished with episode 7 yet” recap episode was still more tastefully done than half of this season’s pilots. Maybe that’s just the new-found appreciation I have after watching Shirobako for us getting anything at all, but even so, it seemed like a decent job. Anyways, in just three episodes since the last write-up, Bahamut has successfully incorporated hilariously tasteful elements reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean and Skyrim to its already Indiana Jones-y fantasy adventure clusterfuck of a plot.

That is to say, it’s still really really fun. I struggle with trying to find something analytical or critical to say about this show because there’s so little to complain about. Any shortcomings it has are done for the sake of capitalizing on its mission of being one of the silliest, most badass shows airing this season. It moves at a breakneck pace through different settings and scenarios and still manages to feel like a cohesive story due to its understated fantasy writing and bombastic spot-on voice acting. How it still isn’t on more people’s radars is beyond me, though I know a guy who refuses to watch this solely because he doesn’t like Favaro’s hair. That itself should be an offense all on its own, but hey, you can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink, right?

Bahamut is one of the most underrated shows not just from this season but of this entire year. As long as it ends well (and it sure looks like it can), it will probably remain so. Don’t be the horse.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Yes.

SHIROBAKO:

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Don’t jump, Ema. The donuts need you.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 7)
This show continues to be gold.

One of Shirobako’s greatest selling points is its wide range of diverse personalities at work. Even though everyone at the Musashino office is an adult, a large part of their soul is still enveloped by a childish personality. Whether it’s on the surface (like director Kinoshita) or buried deeper in (Ochiai, Endou, etc.), the common factor of being inspired by nostalgia and youthful joy despite working in an industry of statistical pandering is something everyone in the show has to put up with, and it’s presented in a very sympathetic way that no one handles their job alike. The show’s demographic isn’t necessarily anime fans, but rather animators, though that’s not to say you won’t enjoy it if you aren’t one. Seeing the hectic process that goes into making disposable entertainment almost makes you feel guilty for not appreciating it more. A mini-arc in the last couple of weeks has also featured the argument of 2D vs. 3D animation, and it was a pleasure to see the two sides converge with each other over mutual inspiration after a long stubborn hissyfit thrown because a certain someone was almost neglected a chance to show off.

If you like the busy work environment and loads of dialogue Shirobako started with, chances are you’ll still like it now. If you were less positive on it, chances are that hasn’t changed. I’m confidently in the former group.
Score as of now: 8.5/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 7)
Man, I had no idea before the season began that Shirobako would be one of the front-runners for show of the season from the start and still hold on to that momentum seven episodes in. There are some issues here and there, but they really aren’t that significant enough to detract from the series as a whole. Shirobako, though it has that sweet P.A. Works animation, kind of lacks the visual pop that they usually throw into their shows. Even Glasslip, for how terrible the lack of plot was, was prettier overall and had better shot compostion. The fact that Shirobako comes up lacking in that aspect has consistently made it the most difficult to screencap. I have to struggle to find good shots for this show, the lack thereof just doesn’t do this story justice. Yes, just the one or two caps we use were difficult to come by. But I guess that’s fine, as eye-popping visuals are not the point of Shirobako.

I really loved that bit in episode six where the feuding animators were able to patch things up through going to that mecha exhibit. This show really gives you the sense that the animators that churn out these shows really can, and most times do put a lot of passion into their work.  That part was great, but it left me wondering one thing. I love Taro to death, but how the heck does this guy still have such an important job, if even a job at all there? I get it, he’s the big comic relief guy ahead of that procrastinating director Kinoshita, but if I screwed up as often and as bad at my job as Taro has so far, well – I wouldn’t have a job. I really hope he gets a chance to be clutch later on. Despite all this nitpicky complaining of mine, the positives of this show still vastly outweigh the negatives. With the events of the seventh episode, we’re sure to see a lot happening in the near future. You can rest assured that I’m still on board with Shirobako, as should you.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Yes.

SWORD ART ONLINE II:

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Wait… Asuna’s still around? Could’ve fooled us.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 19)
Let me start off by saying I’m really digging this new OP.

Anyway, when we last left you, the filler Excaliber arc had just started and I really don’t have anything to say about it other than I’m glad it was really short. It was a couple of episodes dedicated to grouping up with the gang again, and if you like SAO’s characters and overblown show-offy displays of fighting, you’ll be at home here. I for one do not care for either of those things, at least not the way SAO does them, so we’ll just leave it at that. But this new arc, hot damn, Mother’s Rosario, please save us all. Its start in episode 18 was extremely exposition-heavy, much like the start to the Excaliber arc, but SAO always has problems with exposition. These guys just aren’t very good at keeping you entertained through explanatory dialogue, though I can forgive the infodump due to how absolutely spectacular the episode that followed it was.

The spotlight was purely on Asuna this week, as the vaguely hinted at “home life” issues were cast in greater detail. The atmosphere of the scene where she and her mother sit distantly at dinner, alone, discussing her future was pulled off perfectly; it really escalated the tension in a way that felt natural, which is something SAO tends to struggle with. Asuna’s mom may be a little overbearing and the marriage bits seem a little far out there for the average viewer, but this makes sense in context and her reasons for wanting to push Asuna into a real university and out of the SAO-player monitoring-school consist of genuine worry for her; she’s just doing her job as a parent. I especially loved the final question at the end of their conversation as Asuna was leaving the room. Bluntly asking if you hold contempt for your ancestors for not being as succeesful as you is a really crude immature thing to ask, and her mother’s pained facial expression and avoidance of a proper answer really capped the moment between the two off well.

And then the fight with Zekken (or Yuuki, as she’s revealed). Oh man, that was superb battle choreography right there. SAO’s fights tend to have no weight; they’re just dashes back and forth and speedy-lines and shouting and in general poorly thought out under the guise of trying to look cool, but this fight was fluid, visible, smoothly-paced, and accurately contained a mix of intellectual parries and instinctual motion without any overdramatized dialogue over the top. It was easily one of the best fights in the entire SAO franchise.

So while SAO II seems to be looking up now, we have to keep in mind that one of SAO’s biggest issues is consistency within episodes, as one half is usually fantastic only to be let down by its latter half or vice versa. Episode 19 was just really solid all around, but we’ll have to wait and see if that trend continues. I’ve learned to never get my hopes up in regard to this franchise and if the past is any indication, this was a rare exception to a disappointing rule, but hey, keep your hopes up, guys.
Score as of this now: 5/10 (whole show), 7/10 (this arc)
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 19)
Is this real life?

Are we actually entering an arc where Kirito isn’t the center of attention? Asuna finally gets a chance at the spotlight with some development on her background? This seems way too good to be true. Not after the damn fairies again. Can we take some time to appreciate that Kirito literally almost threw away the entire point of that whole filler arc, because of course he would? Back to the new arc, that conversation between Asuna and her mother was pretty intense. But man, Asuna has some really terrible parents! Between her father agreeing to marry her to that scumbag in the last series and her mother trying to force major life decisions such as school transfers and ANOTHER marriage to a completely unknown guy without any input at all from Asuna… I mean, wow. Did she not learn a thing after that first arrangement?

Anyways, for some reason, I oddly enjoyed that whole scene where our favorite little couple was able to get that lakeside cabin of theirs back. Asuna’s reaction to the whole, especially now that we have a sour taste of her life at home, it was a nice thing, I suppose. This new girl (of course it’s a new girl) Zekken and her fight challenge is a neat little segue into what I suppose will be the meat of this new arc. That fight between Zekken and Asuna was just awesome, probably the best battle this whole franchise has cranked out thus far. Intense and visceral, yet with each attack well choreographed AND well-animated! What a treat that was to watch!

But seriously, this new arc might actually be in at a shot as being the best arc of the series if they don’t screw this up. Please don’t screw this up, SAO. You’ve put us all through enough as it stands.
Score as of now: 4/10 (actually lol’d at Yata’s separate arc rating)
Still watching?: Begrudgingly, yes.

TERRA FORMARS:

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I love how exasperated and confused everyone looks. The faces of Terra Formars’ fans.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 6)
I have a general rule when it comes to seasonal simulcast anime. If I can go more than a week without feeling eager to watch it, chances are it isn’t worth continuing. If I can go more than a week without remembering it exists and then when I do I still don’t feel like watching it, it’s time to consider dropping it. Somewhere along the way, Terra Formars stopped being fun to snicker at. It was bad entertainment to begin with, and when the “entertainment” part disappeared, I had no reservations about dropping it.
Score: 3/10
Still watching?: No.

 WHEN SUPERNATURAL BATTLES BECAME COMMONPLACE:

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To be honest, I’m more impressed with how neatly all those books are stacked.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 7)
The name of the game in Inou-Battle is inconsistency. These last couple of weeks the show has used what it could in the “establish more backstory for one of the girls each week” format and some of these episodes fared better than others. Chifuyu’s was dragged down by stupid loli jokes and a generally cliché atmosphere. Sayumi’s was a little better, but not particularly interesting. Hatoko proved she was best girl by suffering a total breakdown and screaming at Andou for over 2 minutes straight about how ridiculous his chuuni bullshit is. And Tomoyo…well, Tomoyo proved she’s kind of a tsundere chuuni herself, but looking to make something out of it by writing instead of just acting like a twat 24/7. This helps even out her otherwise trite personality a bit, but emphasis on a bit. She’s clearly the main female that Andou relates with the most, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she continues to get a little more screentime than the rest of the girls.

I’m still here despite the inconsistencies, so at its core, Inou-Battle is doing something right, even if it’s just being slightly above average for a pandering chuuni high-school-set drama. I would love to see the powers be used more since that’s the show’s silliest strength and hypothetically biggest selling point. They seem to balance the level of ham and drama well when there’s battles to be had, but lately the problem is they’re not commonplace, unlike what the title may have you believe. This week’s cliffhanger hinted towards more action and they’ve just about covered everyone worth covering in the main cast that could deserve a standalone episode. If Inou-Battle fails from this point on, it will be due to a lack of decent direction by Studio Trigger, not its core material. I’m still hopeful it can mend into a slightly more solid product by the time this season comes to a close.
Score as of now: 5.5/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 7)
That English title is totally misleading. This show is practically a slice-of-life anime, and not a particularly outstanding anime, either. For some reason, I still find myself enjoying how natural some of the literature club members interact with one another. I admittedly love the animation of this show. You can tell that Studio Trigger is really starting to flesh out their own style with this show, despite the show not being all that great. There are some real gems in the in-between animation with Chuunibattle, and for some reason, that appeals to the detail-freak in me.

The story took a nice little swing, too. Hatoko’s 2-minute plus meltdown after snapping at Andou was probably the most stand-out event this series has had so far. That and what looks to be an actual confrontation brewing after Tomoyo’s ultra-chuuni brother and a squad of cohorts shows up. Looks like we’ll have an actual supernatural battle soon enough here, but I bet you that this battle will be much more comedic than serious.

I think the biggest reason I am going to stick with Chuunibattle is that this is an average show lovingly done by a quality studio, rather than a mediocre show shoddily done by a hit-or-miss studio. I’m looking right at you, Dogakobo. That, and the protagonist is named after my favorite month of the year.
Score as of now: 5/10
Still watching: Yeah.

YOUR LIE IN APRIL:

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I swear, no porcupines were harmed in the making of this kid’s haircut.

Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 7)
I absolutely adore how April keeps juxtaposing its idyllic visuals with the harsh realities of life. It’s a very melodramatic show when you step back from it, but the conversations and monologues that occur within it are so well acted, so well portrayed that it’s hard to avoid being swept up in what it has to offer. Kousei is still really scared, maybe more so now then ever since he’s been pushed back onto the stage. The frantic tension between audience and contender felt so real during the duet in episode four, like the music was sprawling out of the screen, jumping at you. The performance scenes in April are as beautiful as I’ve seen in any show involving music. They’re such a treat to tune in to.

Unfortunately, the side-character drama has been a little more inconsistent lately. Tsubaki and Watari have had some scarce characterization, but we aren’t given any reason to care about their own interests since almost any time they’re on screen, it’s to contribute to the love triangle April hasn’t actually formally established. Both Kaori and Tsubaki say they view Kousei as more of a “helpless kid brother”, but let’s be real, we both know that’s not the case. Like Kids on the Slope, April’s saving grace in this regard is that its characters express their emotion most clearly through the activities they love, but unlike that work in Slope, the sports Tsubaki and Watari participate in aren’t shown in enough detail for us to connect with them. Kousei’s new rivals introduced in the latest episode already feel like a greater contribution to the cast and it’ll be interesting to seem him really have to compete, not just with challengers to his method and history, but with the life he’s dreadfully but willingly getting himself back into.

And the “willingly” is really of his own will now. He keeps getting pushed forwards by people who don’t understand the guilt and worry he deals with, but the Kousei of episode one would’ve tried backing out long ago. A lot of people seem to dislike the show now because his “friends” aren’t acting like his allies. If anything, I find that just adds to the realism. Kousei is so inside himself, such an overthinker, that these people that have always just shot for the stars don’t understand his nervousness. The fact that they’re trying to help him by doing what would help themselves reflects a lot of the misguided pretense young teenagers naturally feel. Complain all you want, but in my opinion the show is still better with this dynamic. April is most on track when it ties its events back to Kousei’s anxiety, and in that regard it looks like it will continue to be a bumpy but enjoyable ride.
Score as of now: 8.5/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 7)
This show is still absolutely gorgeous. It’s pointless to list anything specific, because everything in sight just vividly jumps out at you. Despite the sweet visuals, this show has started to turn just a tad sour for me. As quality as Arima is as the main character, with friends like his, he doesn’t really need any enemies. I mean, his “friends” coerce him into a competition he justifiably wanted no part of, and then dog on him when he inevitably tanks in that competition and he gets stuck with all the blame for it? Seriously? I hope for his sake that Arima is able to overcome his yips, just so his friends will stop being so pushy about whether or not he plays. As long as they’ve been friends with him, how are they not aware of how traumatized he was by his previous experiences?

Coincidental timing though, as it looks like he’s got some semi-antagonistic rivals to compete with him after entering his first solo competition in years. Arima just can’t catch a break, can he? I get the feeling their slight bit of antagonism will either escalate unnecessarily or go by the wayside. Despite the lackluster writing, which is not A-1 Pictures’ fault, this show is too damn pretty to just drop, and I’m warming up to this show’s OP. I really do hope this show will make things right. Here’s hoping.
Score as of now: 6.5/10
Still watching?: Yes.

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