For the first Wednesday in a while, I’m actually current with everything I’m watching! With the midpoint of the season effectively upon us, I think I can safely say that the Winter season has been more entertaining than I had initially thought it would be. Though I have to imagine at least some of that is owed to the strength of Rakugo Shinjuu in particular. At the very least, though I’m not as fond of every show as I am with my top ~6 or so, I don’t think much of what I’ve been watching has nearly deteriorated to the degree that some of the shows from last season had by this same point.
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen
Though Rakugo Shinjuu’s 6th episode didn’t pack nearly as much of a punch as the one that came before it, it still faithfully upheld the new season’s outstanding quality and had a lot to say. It started off with a wonderful, full-length performance of Yotaro’s Inokori which not only spoke to his skill and development but the incredible resolve and passion he has for rakugo. The scene shortly afterwards were he discusses the rebuilding of the old theater was a touching allegory to rakugo itself. In order to pass earthquake regulations and survive in the modern day, the theater must be torn down and rebuilt yet in doing so, something irreplaceable is lost. The old tatami mats and worn-out cushions are indicative of its age but also of its profound history and sentimental meaning. It wonderfully mirrors the same dilemma that rakugo and all traditions must inexorably confront. Will the theater endure at the cost of its identity or will it preserve itself only to be eventually destroyed and forgotten?
3-gatsu no Lion (March comes in like a lion)
Ever since his introduction in the ‘Child of God’ chapters of the show, I’ve loved how 3-gatsu has characterized Souya. We know so little about him but his presence is both inconspicuous and overwhelming at the same time. His aura is mesmerizing. The show falls into silence in his wake, the weather changes, and all the while he stands in unassuming solitude. The show has done a great job of attaching some impressive, larger-than-life qualities to him that really emphasize his eminence through atmosphere. I can’t wait to learn more about him.
In classic 3-gatsu fashion, the match unfolds entirely off-screen so hopefully we’ll gain some more visual insight in the coming episodes. Rei continues to exhibit some uplifting development but this episode also did a good job of further fleshing out Nikaido and Kyouko – addressing the former’s maturity and ability to move forward and the latter’s pronounced misery as characterized by the beautiful and familiar, submerged imagery.
ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (ACCA: 13th Territory Inspection Department)
ACCA upholds its penchant for straightforward and well-written dialogue this week between Jean’s brief meeting with Grossular about his observer and Grossular’s later confrontation with Lilium. It’s a truly intriguing balance how the characters are all able to speak to each other in such matter-of-fact ways yet all feel like they are hiding something beneath the surface. It’s what makes many of them so distinct yet allows for ACCA to retain its inscrutable nature. There weren’t too many events of note in this episode though Jean resorting to getting the Hare representatives drunk before being offered a drink himself was good for a laugh. Mauve seems to be on the verge of making a move though I can’t imagine the style of ACCA’s episodes differing too much even when it comes for some of its setup to payoff. Some likely foreshadowing this episode in respect to the portrait near the conclusion of the episode.
Little Witch Academia
While the style of the show seems to be largely episodic, its done a great job at steadily bringing Akko to realize that passion alone won’t make her dreams come true. Seeing the past images of Chariot really doubles down on what she’s beginning to realize which is that it’s going to take genuine effort and hard work in order to achieve the kind of magic prowess she desires. It’s hard to say what development will actually stick to Akko as her mischievous nature and idiotic passion are so core to her character however I feel like the show may surprise us. While she herself will never truly change, I wouldn’t be surprised if she were more genuine and self-aware in some scenarios in the future. I think Akko’s growth will be integral to the series as a whole.
Speaking of this episode’s potential to break the show’s rather episodic conventions, our introduction to Andrew seems to hint at further developments in the future. Both this episode and the last have begun stressing the idea that magic has become antiquated which is a theme in direct opposition of Akko’s all-consuming passion. I have to imagine that some of the show will prove as a rebuttal to this notion and I can imagine this topic returning in the future. How Andrew and his father can believe that magic has no use in the modern era after driving to Luna Nova through a teleportation gateway confounds me.
Youjo Senki (Saga of Tanya the Evil)
Up until now, I’ve been of the opinion that Being X was more obstinate than anything else in how they set about trying to prove a petty point. However, between the dialogue and the visual expression of the soldier this episode, they actually came off as rather malicious. I’m unsure if this speaks to a more distinct nature or not but I’d be interested if Youjo Senki ever did more to further characterize this entity. At the very least, forcing her to pray each time she tapped into magic is kind of a silly and stubborn thing to do so Being X may ultimately be more human than their divine status might initially imply.
I wouldn’t call this episode bad but its the kind of episode that makes me glaze over a bit with all of its routine war-imagery. For the most part, episode 6 seems to have been a setup episode, informing us that both Tanya and the empire will soon have their hands full once they are beset upon by the rest of the world. It’s the kind of episode that makes me interested in what is to come but doesn’t do much to entertain me in the meantime.
Given my generally lackluster attitude towards the show, I don’t often have much to say in regards to Onihei but I’ll admit that episode 6 was relatively entertaining. In the same way that Heizou goes off the grid this episode, so to does the show. It puts Heizou at the front and center of the proceeding events and doesn’t conclude with the quintessential barging in of the Arson Theft Control but rather with some of the more justifiable humor in the show. Instead of learning about our new episodic character through contextual dialogue and flashbacks, this episode places us right there alongside them which felt like a far more engaging approach. It was fun to see Heizou let loose a bit and explore the length of the episode with ever-present dramatic irony of knowing who he actually is. It doesn’t change my opinion of the show much but at the very least, this week’s episode was one of the better ones.