Second Third Thoughts – Spring 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 6.22.22 PMYeah, so we’re a little late, but we’re back nonetheless! L-K’s been busy with stuff and Yata had limited time this week, so this will be a less extensive and less diverse post than our previous mid-season write-ups. You’d think we would get it out before now, but hey, such is life. No write-ups for Ore Monogatari or Punchline this week, though Yata is still watching them (and they’re both 5/10s for him). Again, sorry for the delay.

ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM 

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Hard to assassinate, easy to humiliate.

Harubro:
Yep, AssClass is still cruising along just fine. After their victory in the glorious baseball game episode, Koro-sensei and the End Class take on the main campus once again, this time with the End Class aiming to unseat the top class in the test rankings for a big exam. A couple of wagers are made with the son of school principal and with Koro-sensei, Class 3-E studies their collective asses off (with the exception of resident lil’ shit Karma), and the End Class ends up triumphant once again, and the Assassination Classroom uses their wager against the top class to take a class trip to an island. The Class proceeds to use their wager with Koro-sensei against him as they attempt their most elaborate assassination against him yet. Things happen, and a new big bad shows up after incapacitating most of the Class.

So yeah, that was quite a bit to go on the last few episodes. AssClass is as good as it’s been thus far, and it looks like we’ve got a whole lot more of it to come after this season wraps up. The OP got a little flashier with the introduction of the island arc, but otherwise, not much else other to report. As has been the case since the start, Assassination Classroom has been good, solid entertainment throughout its run. Oh, and the Koro-sensei humiliation train never gets old. Jun Fukuyama sells that role so well.

So yeah, I reiterate again — need a good popcorn show to watch? Give this a try.
Current score: 6.5/10
Still watching after 18 episodes.

BLOOD BLOCKADE BATTLEFRONT (KEKKAI SENSEN)

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Bones’ Based Bash continues on.

Yatahaze:
Episode 8 proved I love BBB more when it’s small and character-focused like episode 6 (which in my opinion is an easy Episode of the Year contender). When it gets action-sequencey, it’s still great fun and arguably better than or on par with almost everything else airing this season, though I personally don’t care for it as much. “As much” being the key phrase, because I still love it. The style vs. substance debate will likely carry on, but I can’t find a way to hate on this series. The direction is still strong, the storytelling is still unique, the characters are still lovable, and the world is so well put together it’s impossible for me to not be instantly drawn in. My only concern is that maybe the show won’t hold together as well in the closing stretch with the Blood Breed plotline, but Blood Blockade Battlefront has done so much so well it’s seriously hard to doubt it now. My mind has already been made up, bar an uncharacteristically shitty resolution. This is a downright beautiful show. A little odd, yes, but downright beautiful just the same, and well worth your time.
Current score: 9/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

Harubro:
Man, how fantastic has Blood Blockade Battlefront been? It’s easily been the best show this season by a very wide margin, and it’s done that by staying true to the formula that’s worked for it since the start: A non-linear narrative for each episode, with all the episodes’ narratives leading towards a major overarching plot, along with actual character interaction that isn’t used for cheap infodumps, peppered with some pretty clever comedy, usually at Zapp’s expense. It’s also consistently the prettiest show this season, with excellent shot-framing and use of light in scenes all throughout.

What I find interesting is how solid the narrative has stayed, despite the amount of focus given to the apparently anime-only siblings Black and White. While I haven’t had a chance to check out the manga, a problem I intend to remedy very soon, everything feels very natural with this show, and that natural feel can sometimes be lost when adaptations deviate from their source material. That said, this show has been outstanding. Another one of my favorite aspects of BBB has been the various nuggets of daily life in Hellsalem’s Lot that pop up as we follow Leo and the Libra Crew. This show and its characters are just so damn endearing that you’re bound to get sucked into it somehow.

It’s taken me until just now to realize that the OP and ED are chock full of references to the story and also contain a nod or two to the manga’s author. Everything about this show works, and works well, and it owes a lot to the deft direction of Rie Matsumoto. She definitely knows how to put together a masterpiece, and BBB looks poised to ascend to the list of anime masterpieces very soon here.
Current score: 9/10
Obviously still watching after 8 episodes.

FOOD WARS (SHOKUGEKI NO SOUMA)

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Don’t even ask.

Yatahaze:
Has this show calmed down? I think this show has calmed down. I like this show a little calmed down. Makes it slightly less embarassing to talk about how I’m eight episodes into it and genuinely don’t mind it. Food Wars is at its worst when it gets overtly sexual, so it pleases me that the foodporn scenes have been toned down considerably and there aren’t really any harem elements. Sure, there are a handful of cringy moments each episode (Meat-chan being the primary creator and receiver of them lately), but Food Wars has such a firm hold over how ridiculous it is that I don’t even care now. That and/or maybe I just love cheesy cook-offs, animated or not. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Food Wars is actually kind of great at the moment, in that “yes, this is so bad, but only at the parts it’s trying to be” sort of way…which is almost more impressive than unintentionally being so.
Current score: 6.5/10
Still foodgasming after 8 episodes.

Harubro:
It’s completely illogical that I’ve stuck with this show up until now, but can I be blamed for sticking around with a show as thoroughly entertaining as Food Whores has been?

Between all the brash personalities and grand scale of Totsuki Academy (they have a full size stadium just for Shokugekis, for crying out loud) or the sheer ridiculousness of the reactions of the people tasting the food that gets cooked up in this show, you’re bound to laugh maniacally at some point while watching this show as I have. This show is absolutely comical in every single one of its aspects. There’s this one vocal bit in the show’s soundtrack that plays every time somebody tastes a good dish and has one of those foodgasms as only Shokugeki does them. I hear that bit start to play and I can’t help but laugh, and there you have the reason why I’m probably still here.

There’s been no shortage of comedy anime as of late, but Food Wars seems a step above most others, and it think it’s due to the personalities of the characters being as vibrant as the show itself is. The colors are sharp, the sound (especially when food is being prepared) is crisp, and the setup of some of these instructors are ridiculous. At this point, Gordon Ramsay seems a bit of a softie compared to some of these guys.

Food Whores is one of those rare ecchi anime that works in spite of its pervy moments. Apparently there’ll be 24 episodes of this, so I’m gonna love seeing how this show will try to keep itself fresh with two thirds of the series left to go. I’m not really worried, seeing as I’ve stuck around this far.
Current score: 6.5/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

GHOST IN THE SHELL: ARISE – ALTERNATIVE ARCHITECTURE

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ye bang bang

Yatahaze:
I’m not a diehard Ghost in the Shell fan. I’ve actually only seen the original 1995 film, but L-K was adamant that I catch up on Arise – Alternative Architecture.

It was definitely worth it.

And though he’s far more of a sci-fi geek than I am, it’s pretty hard to deny this is a spectacular production. The scene direction is pretty solid and episodes ease by despite the density of their content. The art style is nice (even if occasionally Kusanagi’s facial expression seems a bit off) and the animation is extremely fluid. The philosophical aspects of Ghost in the Shell can stand alone (hehe) without any criticism; the series’ reputation precedes it. Again, I’m not super familiar with this franchise, so I can’t compare Arise – Alternative Architecture to any other season of GITS material. That said, I feel safe saying this season is still pretty damn impressive.

Also what an OP. Holy cow. The ending themes aren’t too shabby either.
Current score: 9/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

THE HEROIC LEGEND OF ARSLAN

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“I promised your father I’d have you home by dinnertime, now let’s go, kiddo.”

Yatahaze:
The charm is starting to wear off. By the books, nothing Arslan’s plot is doing is inherently bad, but the direction feels limp and lackluster and everything’s moving extremely slow. Granted, this series is set for two cours, so I understand that they’re trying to spread things out, but that’s all the more reason to start asking myself if I want to watch all the way through this. Again, Arslan’s not a bad show, but it’s not a particularly impressive, heroic, or legendary one either. In some genres, I don’t mind that, but pseudo-historical fantasies aren’t my cup of tea in the first place, and I’m gonna need more than “s’okay” in order to feel compelled to continue this.
Current score: 5.5/10
Still watching after 8 episodes, but probably not for much longer.

Harubro:
The Heroic(?) Legend of Arslan keeps charging along, and we’ve had quite the series of unfortunate circumstances befall the Parsians. Their grand capital of Ecbatana falls to the Lusitanian army after the innumerable amount of slaves in the city revolt against their captors, and the traitorous Kharlan undertakes an expedition to capture Arslan, which goes horribly wrong for the former.

All around, Arslan has been an above-average watch this season. It feels like it’s moving at a decent pace, building up what should be some solid drama to come later on, and all the while it’s stayed visually appealing. I really like that the show doesn’t focus all too hard on one character, instead developing each character with little focused bits. Heck, I’d say we’ve had almost as much meaningful moments out of the playboy drifter Gieve than we have out of the timid Prince Arslan, though the last couple of episodes have been pretty telling of the young prince’s disposition.

It looks as though Arslan has quite the motley crew with him now, with the two generals Daryun and Narsus and the latter’s crafty page Elam, the aforementioned playboy Gieve, and the kick-ass priestess Farangis ready to back the prince up for whatever happens next.

You’ve heard me say it before, but I adore the soundtrack that Iwashiro composed for this show. That was a very fitting pick for this show….. unlike that OP. That’s really the only glaring thing that this show does wrong for me. It’s a total mismatch, but hopefully they’ll make a better pick when Arslan’s second cour starts… and that’s not all that far away. Here’s hoping for a change of OP.
Current score: 6/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

IS IT WRONG TO TRY TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON?

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Can you tell I have a thing for shots like this?

Harubro:
I must have taken complete leave of my senses at some point this season, because I’m still watching DanMachi. Unlike the other fringe watches airing this season, DanMachi is a largely forgettable show that I think I’m persisting with purely because this show has some pretty gorgeous visuals that have stayed good even up to now.

Though I say it’s a largely forgettable show, the most recent episode was probably the strongest offering the series has had thus far, probably because of Bell’s big showdown with the extra nasty minotaur (this time, it at least wasn’t a CG one). The fight featured good choreography and smooth animation, and the battle’s build up and climax were both alright, I suppose. This fight was very reminiscent of another battle featuring a sword-wielding Yoshitsugu Matsuoka-voiced asspull hero wielding two weapons in a dungeon setting against a animal-faced boss. Yes, I’m referring to the battle against the Gleam Eyes boss in the first SAO. Seriously, you can’t shake off the similarities between the two battles. It’s always fun watching generic protagonist go through generic angst over his generic weakness, then overcome his circumstances with a generic training rally.

Ultimately, as forgettable and generic as DanMachi is, it is a tolerable and mostly harmless time-killer if nothing else, and the action bits are actually pretty well done. It’s very generic, but because of that, it hasn’t taken any huge risks, nor really committed any real off-putting fouls, aside from the generic fan-service moments. Whatever, DanMachi. I’m still here, somehow.
Current score: A very generic 5/10
Still watching after a generic 8 episodes.

KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA: BATTLE FOR PLANET NINE

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Fantastic, looks like I’m just in time for The Real Housewives of Sidonia!

Yatahaze:
Sidonia is still entertaining with an established and consistent playing field. The battle scenes don’t do a whole lot for me, but then again I’ve never been much into mechs, and they’re still well-directed and smooth. The smaller character moments (particularly those between Nagate and Izana) are nice and balance the dense political plotline with tolerable if not wacky and derivative (somehow simultaneously) humor. I guess what I’m trying to get at is Sidonia’s doing well enough still, but it’s not a standout.
Current score: 7/10
Still watching after 7 episodes.

OREGAIRU 2

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is this really happening?

Yatahaze:
Holy fuck. It’s so strong. It’s finally happening. I’m short for time so I won’t get into how hilariously terrible Flappyhands McGee is or how awkward the scenes with Rumi and Orimoto were, or how Iroha somehow holds her own as a character, because I think all of those are fairly self-explanatory and lead up to the real meat of the last few weeks:

Hachiman finally broke down.

This is what Oregairu has built to. The loner who can never convince himself to do anything for himself has cracked. He’s noticed his actions haven’t solved anything. He’s forced to realize his connections to Yui and Yukino are being strained, not preserved. And most of all, he’s come face to face with a reality he didn’t want to admit: he’s been wrong. A lot.

It takes a lot of skill to gracefully articulate enough exchanges to get to this point and then nail the epiphany too. Studio Feel has somehow done that. I couldn’t be prouder of Oregairu than I am now. We are blessed to get this second season. Seriously. High school shows as resoundingly nuanced as this don’t come around often. Gotta savor this.
Current score: 9/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

Harubro:
With its eighth episode, Oregaitwo has definitely cemented itself as one of the top watches this season, though for me at least, it was already there. I don’t think there’s many shows out there than nail down the tenuous social reactions they try to depict better than this series. Yet again, that’s always been Oregairu’s strong suit, but I think the extra work Feel puts into this series on all fronts just sell it better than Brains Base’s comparative stiff offerings.

After Hikki and Yukinoshita’s impasse finally came to a head, we saw Hikki have a talk with the school counselor, (who somehow drives an Aston Martin, do teachers get paid that well over there?) where he vents a bit of his frustration over the planning for the joint Christmas party, and the two end up discussing how Hikki’s attempts to protect Yui and Yukinon backfired and are the source of the tension in the Service Club. The next day, Hikki goes to Yui and Yukinon for help after admitting that his actions got him in the mess he’s in.(!!!) Yukinon declines, and there ends up being a very feelsy little standoff that climaxes with Hikki tearfully admitting he genuinely wants to understand the feelings of his friends and those around him instead of “reading between the lines” as he’s done up until now. Yukinoshita takes off for the roof, and Hikki and Yui give chase, where they eventually clear things up a bit and the service club accepts Hikki’s request for assistance.

It’s been fun seeing the comments of “Hikigaya betrayed himself yadayadayada” all over the internet, because that’s the farthest thing from the truth that the whole 8th episode spent hammering into your skull. Hikki’s realized his irrational, usually self-sacrificing actions are causing more trouble rather than being a solution, and are isolating him from the only real friends he has. Hikki didn’t betray himself; instead, he did the best service he could’ve done for himself.

Current score: 9/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

PLASTIC MEMORIES

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Error: The Show

Yatahaze: Why must you be so polarizing, Plastic Memories? On one hand, I’m naturally inclined to be interested you, your art style is beautiful, and your reaction faces are the best yet this year. What a shame it is that they’re paired with groan-worthy comedy, predictable plot progressions, and a pathetically underdeveloped setting. I’m still waiting for an explanation on how these androids eat and drink and shower and piss without short-circuiting. That may seem like nitpicking and attacking the show for what it’s not doing as opposed to what it is, but it’s hard to take the gap between androids and humans seriously when there’s no distinction between them other than what the show lazily informs us. On top of it all, the anime cliches just keep piling on, and for every potentially touching moment, there’s a lackluster moment that levels my opinion on the show to a strictly disappointed “meh”. If the third episode and Eru and all the antics Plastic Memories has used on autopilot never existed, this could have been a much more convincing story, but that’s besides the point. They do exist. I feel like this should be the time where I give up, but I’m still eager to see how it specifically ends. I don’t think it would ultimately redeem the consistently inconsistent middle, but I’m not completely out of hope yet, and that has to count for something.

Or maybe I’m just retarded.
Current score: 5/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

Harubro:
Congrats to Plastic Memories, because I was a slight bit worried that this show was going to drop the ball and result in two Doga Kobo stinkers on the season. Fortunately, its settled into a groove, perhaps not the best groove it could’ve taken, but I’ll take it.

What do I mean by “not the best?” Well, this show, despite being a decent and sometimes fun watch, has some glaring problems with how it goes about its exposition. Instead of building suspense through indirect methods, it sort of just throws whatever the main plot point will be for the episode out there, thinking that it’s clever, and then when the “hook” is supposed to happen, you totally saw it coming and this show just looks at you like, “Wasn’t that a great twist?”

Cases in point being Isla’s limited lifespan, the illicit Giftia recovery teams, and most recently, the thing with Giftias having new OS’s installed in old bodies and having their old memories gone forever. As soon as they introduce this new topic, Eru had that *ahem* “run-in” with Andie, who was Eru’s friend in her former personality. No time to build that up, just boom, there it is, making that moment of realization a bit underwhelming.

That’s really the big issue with Plastic Memories. It’s trying to cover all the bases, but not doing a good job of it. It wants to be funny, then it wants to be dramatic, now it wants to be a bit romantic, all the while trying to cover some sort of ground concerning the ethics of the Giftias’ role in society. It would’ve been much better served if it had decided to focus on a topic or two, rather than trying to do it all.

Despite all that, this show has been a decent watch. The dynamic of most of the cast is nothing new, but continually entertaining, and the Doga Kobo reaction faces just keep coming. Also, Tsukasa needs to learn some proper urinal etiquette after this triple foul. I’ll continue on with this show, but as of now, I don’t have any particularly high expectations for how this’ll wrap up.
Current score: 5/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

SOUND! EUPHONIUM

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I’m not even gonna make a GY!BE pun this time.

Yatahaze:
Holy shit.
What. An. Episode.

Euphonium had already started to settle into a sweet spot by our last write-ups. I still feel my skepticism was justified then, but at this point, it’s hard to remember why I had it in the first place. I guess I knew KyoAni could do more than the stories they pick up first let on. That was the case here as well, but the body language, slight changes in facial expression, and control over the dialogue in Eupho are just plain masterful now. What was holding me back were the characters, who I still felt differed between acceptable and unremarkable. In what seems like one single strong episode (8), both categories upgraded to fantastic and generally above average, though of course that’s not the work of one strong episode, but of a steady build in characterization since the very beginning. The yuri vibes I sensed between Kumiko and Reina weren’t a fluke after all – and beyond that, they were actually the most gracefully executed instance of such a thing in recent memory, if not of anything I’ve watched. The side characters like Hazuki and Midori, as well as the band senpais all got mini moments to shine as well the last few weeks, and the powerful and subtly emotional prowess of the show is at its peak now. Eupho is also clearly moving at this point; the auditions are close and while I’m nervous the show won’t reach a plot conclusion fitting enough to cap off the immersive high school fine arts experience, if it instead focuses on a characterization milestone or an emotional high for its cast, I can’t say I’d be disappointed with that. Whatever route you decide to go, just finish strong, Euph. You got dis.
Current score: 8/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

Harubro:
First things first — and this is coming from a pretty devoted KyoAni fan: How the hell did they manage to crank out a whole season of this show that is Makoto Shinkai movie levels of pretty? Another thing, how did they manage to go down this romantic route I was hoping the show wouldn’t go down and still leave me just blown away?

I had my doubts about Eupho when I first heard about it, I really did. I ain’t doubting no more.

The characterization of this show gets stronger and stronger with each episode, and Eupho has managed to juggle its sometimes ensemble cast almost perfectly, with a great example being the little nibbles we got of the band sempais Goto and Nagase, who take the cake for the most adorable side-character couple that I can immediately think of right now. Anyways, with the most recent episode, it looks as though Kousaka and Oumae seem to have cleared up the misunderstanding that happened between them in middle school band, albeit with some unmistakably yuri vibes thrown in there. Regardless, their trumpet/eupho duet at the end of the episode with the montage of the band members at the festival was one of the best scenes this season has had to offer.

About what I mentioned before, how freaking gorgeous has this show been? The colors pop, the water shimmers, the brass of the instruments has a luster to it, special attention gets paid to the characters’ body language, and a lot of effort is put into depicting the correct fingering for the instruments as they’re being played. KyoAni’s known for making a pretty show, but this even seems like a step above and beyond their usual eye-cand level.

All in all, Eupho is shaping up to be KyoAni’s best offering since Hyouka, or Chuunibyou’s first season, and that’s saying a hell of a lot. I’m rooting for this show to finish strong.
Current score: 8/10
Still watching after 8 episodes.

YAMADA AND THE SEVEN WITCHES

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Tsubaki should go on Food Wars.

Yatahaze:
This series continues to be more fun than I feel like it deserves to be. I repeat from my last write-up; some of the humor is pretty tasteless and it’s hard to buy into these characters as people, but solely as characters, the show just works. It knows what it’s trying to do and it’s performing surprisingly well in that regard. The episodic witch-of-the-week format is a little sad, and besides Odagiri, I don’t think the witches will get too much returning screentime, but the fact that I want them to just goes to show that they aren’t terrible characters in the first place. Yamada is not a graceful show, but it’s a confident and silly one, and in this case, that luckily translates to more fun than boredom.
Current score: 6.5/10
Still watching after 7 episodes.

Harubro:
So what is new with Yamada and crew? The Supernatural Studies Club discovers that there are other students at their school with strange powers, and they set out to find the other “witches.” They all go for a trip to the coast, and more supernatural mayhem ensues.

Seemingly quietly, Yamada and the Seven Witches has been altogether one of the more solid watches this season, and there are some very good reasons behind that.

First off, the voice acting in this show is arguably second to none this season, with the way each actor mimics the other characters speech patterns being a big part of how well the dialogue and the whole body-swapping schtick hits. Second, this show has been consistent with its quality, whether its the art or the animation. Third are the fantastic OP and ED, which in my opinion are second only to BBB’s combo, go figure. Last of all, despite its harem-y setup, it remains very entertaining all throughout with its timely use of gags and slapstick. It does seem as though it’s progressing faster than it should, but it hasn’t taken any obvious missteps thus far.

As it stands, Yamada is a solid, though sometimes raunchy watch. It keeps me laughing week in and week out, so I don’t think there’s any harm in giving this show the shot it deserved.
Current score: 7/10
Still watching after 7 episodes.

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