Frieren – 8/9 [Frieren the Slayer/Aura the Guillotine]
Doubling up this week to try and get current with Frieren for these posts. Don’t want y’all waiting a week and not getting anything until the day the next episode comes out. Last weeks episode 8 was solid. The demons got outed and the conflict started in earnest, forcing Stark and Fern to face them on their own. Meanwhile Frieren fled the town to avoid being labeled a guard-killer, but it was pretty obvious she was heading out to deal with this Aura person. I’d say the best parts of this episode were two fold. The first was Lugners aggravation at geniuses and this idea that demons, despite accumulating experience and focusing on this one thing to the exclusion of all else, can still be outdone by beings they consider “lesser”. The other was the reveal of just how much Frieren hates demons, to the point of specifically teaching Fern a demon-killing version of offensive magic and being regarded as the person to kill the most demons in history. It makes her rematch with Qual earlier feel all the more personal. All in all, solid, had a good time.
Next up we have episode 9, which saw Frieren confront Aura in person while Stark and Fern confronted the other two. This was little more than an action-y battle episode, but god was it a good one. Unsurprisingly, Frieren looked great in almost every way. Fern’s confident swaying catwalk as she parried and blasted everything Lugner threw at her, the movement of Stark’s arms anytime he got to really swing his axe. Even Frieren’s short scene with Aura, dodging the knights and floating through the air, was well animated. Narratively I’d say the only interesting thing was the conversation around Aura’s ability, how it judges based on magic but is guaranteed to judge fairly. There were some subtle implications there about how those with a strong will can resist it for a time, and how a knight bearing Graf’s family crest did just that. Most likely it was his son, killed by Aura rather than risk keeping him around. As for issues, the only one I can think of is Stark’s way of winning his fight being a little disappointing, narratively not visually, and the villains not being especially interesting. Aside from those, it a visual showcase and an all around fun time!
The Apothecary Diaries – 4 [The Threat]
This was the best episode of Apothecary Diaries yet. On the production end, it looked beautiful. Good direction, stunning facial expressions, nice full body movement. Apothecary Diaries came to play this week and it was great. Narratively it was much the same. This is the first episode where I really felt invested in the imperial palace drama, mostly because it was the first time Mao Mao felt invested in it. Sure, she saved the concubine because the Emperor ordered her to, but I feel she’d have done the same even if he hadn’t, that she was personally invested in her health. At the very least that’s how it felt when she slapped the shit out of that attendant. God she was so pissed. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a well deserved, well animated, well acted chewing out. It was so cathartic, I loved it. Plus her interactions with Jishin, their whole dynamic built around a playboy not used to being turned down and her being disgusted by him, are great. The only issue I have, if it could even be called such, would be the boob jokes. Not huge on those. They are such a small part of the episode though, and everything else was so good, it hardly even mattered.
Undead Unluck – 5 [United We Negate]
As usual, Undead Unluck looked pretty good this week. David Productions really is making full use of the staff it acquired from the Shaft exodus, because this episode was leaking their influence all over the place, and I’m down for it. Narratively though this week was pretty chill. We got some exposition, learned about the quests, got our setup for our next arc against the UMA Spoil, but most of it was just meeting our new cast members. Not the most exciting of things, but much like Goblin Slayer further down, I’m fine with chill setup episodes so long as they lead to something else down the line, and that’s exactly what seems to be happening here. Plus we got to see some of our villains-turned-allies powers, hinting at things to come.
Shangri-La Frontier – 5 [Lo, Thou Art Assailed on All Sides]
Shangri-La was simultaneously better and worse this week. On the good side, Sunraku figuring out the importance of party members, and the way Shangri-la used the community nature of MMOs, was cool! I love it when an anime remembers the “Massively Multiplayer” part of these games and uses that as part of its narrative. Posting that picture, attracting attention for a secret “pet”, higher level players becoming interested because of his curse and such, that all works really well I feel. As much as I don’t like the “unique” MC stuff, I do enjoy the world reacting in a believable way to it. On the bad side, the whole meteor fall/way he defeated the boss was meh? Had it been on purpose, a clever abuse of game mechanics showing his ability to think outside the box gained from all of his trash game experience, then it could have been cool. Instead it comes across as luck, like he cleared a hard encounter not because of his skill but because the game said so. For a show generally so good at that MC power fantasy, that was kind of disappointing. Still despite that I did enjoy the episode. Shangri-la continues to be this popcorn show that I’m not emotionally invested in, but I enjoy watching each week. Also it getting the furries involved was hilarious.
SpyXFamily S2 – 4 [The Pastry of Knowledge/The Informant’s Great Romance Plan Ⅱ]
SpyXFamily went 50/50 this week. The first half, about the pastry, was cute. Anya, Damian, the kids just hanging out. I love that stuff, these kids are cute and fun and did I mention cute? Plus Damian and Anya’s “romance” is always great, I think those two have really good chemistry and Damian getting flustered anytime Anya tries to interact with him is heartwarming. There’s an innocence to that that I enjoy. As for the second half, I wasn’t all that engaged by it. Franky isn’t my favorite character, and while Yor appeared she didn’t really do that much. I’ve been assured that she does have an arc all about her this season, and SpyXFamily seems to set that up at the end which I’m really looking forward to. This one though sort of just felt like filler, as much as a weekly comedic series like SpyXFamily can have filler. At least the episode still looked great, SpyXFamily still has excellent production.
Overtake – 5 [Chariots of Fire]
I’m not gonna lie, this episode felt like filler. A foot race? A community event? 10k run where the winner gets wagyu beef? That’s… cute I guess. But it doesn’t feel like anything happened, not in a good way at least. Sure there were plenty of metaphors, the broken shoes standing in for tires and running barefoot to the finish line, their conversations about luck as they run together, how it impacts a racers career. Those were all fine I suppose. Nothing to engaging, but nothing that bothersome either. But then, and you have no idea how much this pisses me off, Overtake had the gal to have Kouya, the photographer, take a photo of a group of people at the end. One episode after vowing to take Haruka’s picture on the podium, here he is burning that emotional catharsis on a god damn foot race. Are you serious? This is supposed to be a big moment for him! The culmination of the entire show almost! Yet Overtake just uses it up right away on something meaningless. That’s… Really annoying to be frank. I feel like I’ve been cheated. Maybe Overtake has a plan, will do something with it by the end. But right now, week 5, in the moment? I’m upset. >:(
Goblin Slayer S2 – 5 [Beard-cutter, to the Southern River]
Not much to say here. This was a pretty chill setup episode meant to get Goblin Slayer and the team to a different location for some unique goblin hunting opportunities. To get us out of the same old town with the same old people and over to the Elves, with all their mystical elven bullshit. Assuming what’s to come is fun? That’s fine. I’m ok with some downtime. Just don’t expect me to enjoy it when rather than further diving into and exploring Goblin Slayer’s inner turmoil questioning whether or not what he’s doing is actually affecting things, you instead take us on a road trip because High Elf Archer’s older sister is getting married to her cousin in some kind of Alabama shotgun wedding. Seriously, don’t tell me you can’t do both, Frieren covers more ground in a single episode than Goblin Slayer has in 5, I know it can do it and Goblin Slayer keeps hinting at it. Just give me the Goblin Slayer lore damnit!
MF Ghost – 5 [Teamwork]
Again, not a lot to say here. MF Ghost continues to be that show I watch for screeching tires and Eurobeat, nothing else. When Kanata is behind the wheel, talking about the technicalities behind driving, drifting through a mountain as random people react going “woah” MF Ghost is fun. No question about it. The problem is that the drama off the road is just… bad. No one cares about the “Secret behind MFG” or the angel girls fanservice bullshit. I can’t seem to drop MF Ghost, the racing is to fun. But I imagine if anything ever falls below it on my rankings, I’ll probably drop those. Unless the racing goes to shit to, then MF Ghost is gone.