Somehow I still have yet to catch up on Little Witch Academia despite it being one of my favorite shows of the season but there was plenty of other stuff to recap. All of the seasonal front-runners continued to put up strong performances and some even climbed to new highs with their most recent developments. For the most part, I think many of the Winter shows have maintained a similar quality as to when they first started up however, as we head into each of their midsections, I wonder how their relationship will change within the context of each other.
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen
In every way that last week’s episode was uplifting and sincere, episode 5 was dramatic and foreboding. Though it feels almost superfluous to comment on Rakugo Shinjuu’s aesthetic qualities at this point, this episode was yet another gorgeous display, accompanied by some stunning character animation and heart-stopping visuals. Yakumo’s rakugo performance was one of the best we’ve seen this season and every time we dive into his past, the show taps into the vast wealth of characterization and drama that spans his entire life. The conclusion of this week’s episode was absolutely mesmerizing.
There’s such a profound sense of meaning attached to every aspect of the show and this narrative relationship is one of the biggest contributing factors to its outstanding emotion and drama. If it wasn’t clear by episode 3, this season of Rakugo Shinjuu is yet again shaping up to outperform the rest of the season if not the year and each increasingly powerful episode only further cements its claim. I’ll be waiting for a week’s time with bated breath for the resolution of that cliffhanger.
3-gatsu no Lion (March comes in like a lion)
With episode 16, we return our focus to Rei after a brief aside last week centering around Shimada, Gotou, and Rei’s more trivial, curricular concerns. With each passing episode, we see Rei steadily being drawn out of his depression but not in such a way that we forget about it. It feels like he’s currently able to focus on other things though interacting with new people and hearing Hayashia’s heartfelt wisdom have certainly done a lot of positive work for his mentality. Hopefully we’ll see Rei return to the sister’s household sometime next episode which should serve in some ways as an emotional capstone to his recovery.
It was fun seeing Rei display a larger range of emotion this episode. He smiled and enjoyed himself when visiting the burner club, was very opinionated and passionate in how he interacted with the other shougi players, and ended up inadvertently throwing himself in to the task of rescuing a duck along with Nikaidou. It wasn’t the most eventful episode but it put in a lot of legwork in terms of characterizing other members of the cast as well as Rei himself. His interactions this episode were very indicative of him coming out of his shell and the more often he’s pushed to act in this way, the happier he’ll ultimately become. Things are looking up and the upcoming match with Souya promises to be interesting if the show decides to cover it.
ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (ACCA: 13th Territory Inspection Department)
The food is back! Though last episode still felt entirely within the tonal range of ACCA’s presentation, episode 5 was certainly a strict return to form, full of all of the bread and politics you might expect out of the show. Our visit to Birra was short-lived but featured one of the more suspenseful scenes in the series thus far in the form of Jean’s meeting with Nino. I think their exchange was both very enjoyable and rather quintessential of ACCA’s charm. The two men spoke to each other with full knowledge of the consequences of their meeting. Though they carried on amicably afterwards, Jean’s request for Nino to treat Lotta to dinner each night and Nino’s own relaxed agreement were about as explicit of a punishment as the two could wordlessly acknowledge.
We even got a bit of insight into a second district this week though, judging by the conclusion of the episode, we haven’t nearly finished our stay in Rokkusu district. The more we hear about Glossular and the more frequently we interact with Lillium, the more intricate the political allegiances seem to grow. Who knows what and what each character aims to gain from their political ties is largely up in the air which makes for a pretty compelling narrative of character relationships. What happened in Suitsu district is one of the only concrete bits of information that we can trace between each of the characters and who is ultimately knowledgeable of it will perhaps begin to hint at their individual duplicity.
Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil)
Given the events of this episode, I do wonder whether or not we’ve at last arrived at what the bulk of Youjo Senki will actually be about. It’s been entertaining to watch Tanya attempt to maintain a low profile and manipulate those around her in order to skirt danger however I feel that the show’s inevitable focus is the battlefield itself. With her battalion now assembled and proven to be effective, it seems the pieces are at last in place to deliver on this point however I’m somewhat hopeful of a more diverse future for the show given its disposition thus far.
As a whole, the episode was pretty entertaining and it was fun to watch Tanya ruthlessly whip her soldiers into form over the first half of the episode. My only qualm was the way in which the show handled the Dakian forces. With Tanya’s battalion now somewhat battle-ready, it comes time to narratively prove their effectiveness and I my impression was that the Dakian invasion didn’t exist for any other reason other than that. Warfare in Youjo Senki has so far proven to be quite tactical and logic-driven and so to hear about a newly arrived, ill-equipped, invading foreign force felt strange. It makes sense that certain countries would be left behind technologically but for them to actively threaten a clearly more formidably empire without the means to fight back was odd. The Dakians seemingly only existed for the sake of providing literal fireworks for the viewers and recognizing the prowess of Tanya and her troops. I suppose it would have sat far better with me had they the empire been the ones to aggress first and maybe there will be future contextualization that will make this make more sense. It’s a very minor qualm but it stuck out to me nonetheless.