Frieren – 10 [A Powerful Mage]
Ah here it is, here’s the Frieren going ham on some demons that I was looking for last week. Don’t get me wrong, last week was great, there’s just something cathartic about watching a villain get absolutely bodied. And when the entire episode is just buildup to that one moment? Walking us through Frieren’s relationship with her master, Flamme, and Flamme’s complete and utter hatred for demons? How they basically embarrass and belittle themselves as mages by hiding their Mana, typically a status symbol among mages and demons alike, just to shatter the pride of demons every chance they get? Frieren being so petty that she not only waits until the last moment to reveal her hand and crush Aura’s spirit, she also doesn’t even kill her herself? Instead telling her to end it LowTierGod style? It was all so very satisfying, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Sure it wasn’t the visual spectacle last week was, and if that’s what you were looking for I understand being a bit let down. But for me, last week satisfied all of my “Pretty lights go brr” desires and while week covered my “Compelling characters and narrative go brr” desires. Learning why there are so few elves, the Demon King systematically eliminated them, or the individualism of the demons and how much they prize it, or Lugner’s utter disgust at figuring out what they were doing. It was a good episode, I enjoyed it a lot, as much as I enjoy watching Frieren struggle with the passage of time seeing her clown on some demons is fun to.
Undead Unluck – 6 [Spoil]
This week Undead Unluck returns to its standard level of quality. Note that I didn’t say it was bad, it wasn’t. Shaft’s style still oozes from every pore with the random cuts to different angles, heavy contrast, and generally engaging direction. Visually I loved it, even if it wasn’t particularly action heavy. The fact that this is being made by a large number of former Shaft staff will never not amuse me. I just mean that, when compared to the Gina episodes, this is more subdued. And that’s fine! You can’t run a production schedule on 11 all the time, and the same goes for the narrative. Content wise a lot of this week is just learning how UMAs work, how they differ from Negators and how dangerous they are. Our actual opponent doesn’t even show up until the very end. This is fine, as most of Undead Unluck’s best moments have nothing to do with the fights themselves. Hell my favorite scene this week was Andy getting married to a zombie girl who, when alive, always wanted to wear a wedding dress. It’s amazing how quickly Undead Unluck can make you care for a one-arc side character. Still even with that, as well as Fuuko’s own bits with the kids and wanting to find a way for Andy to die, I find myself looking forward to next week and what I know is to come more than I do what I just watched right now in this moment. That said, this episode did have Spongebob that might make it an automatic 10 out of 10, no one beats Spongebob.
The Apothecary Diaries – 5 [Covert Operations]
This was a good episode. Mao Mao doing her thing and being invested in her job continues to be my favorite part of Apothecary Diaries. Interacting with the “quack” doctor, who has apparently become her friend once he realized she wasn’t out for his job, drinking tea and eating mushrooms together, really like those scenes, glad to see some petty rivalry bullshit isn’t happening. Beyond that, most of the episode was just Mao Mao getting ready for the upcoming party, doing clever things like sewing hot coals into clothes, making stamina food to make it through, etc etc. Nice to see how someone new who doesn’t care for stupid tradition can improve things, though I suspect that might cause problems down the line. Finally there’s the big revelation, and I’m split on this. On the one hand, I really liked Mao Mao not being this “traditional beauty” in a palace surrounded by them, it’s part of why I thought Jishin fell for her. So the reveal that she’s actually beautiful underneath her makeup was kind of disappointing for me, it felt like we were returning to more “normal” anime tropes. On the other hand though, the fact she feels it necessary to cover herself up, to hold herself back, just to avoid being taken and abused by others? That’s… Tragic. Plus Jishin’s reaction was great, as well as his whole “gifting the hairpin” thing. Both routes have merit, and while I personally prefer the one where she isn’t a traditional beauty, I think Apothecary Diaries can do a lot with the route it chosen. As long as it doesn’t abuse it, doesn’t fall into tropes, I think it should be fine. And on the plus side, Jishin gets to be put on the back foot for once, which was also great! So yeah, Apothecary Diaries was good with an interesting reveal at the end that I’m not yet sure where it will go.
SpyXFamily S2 – 5 [The Fearsome Luxury Cruise Ship]
This is it, this is what I’ve been waiting for. SpyXFamily has finally delivered unto me a Yor arc! You can’t understand how happy I am. Sure, not too much has happened yet. Yor has gotten a protection mission for a mother and her son, though that’s already interesting since she’s usually tasked with killing, and must go on a cruise with them until they reach extraction. But SpyXFamily is pretty clearly pushing Yor to start really thinking about her place with the family, on how she feels about them as a wife and mother. Here she is, confronted with a woman who will most likely do anything to protect her child. Meanwhile those around Yor all consider her family nothing more than “cover”, “dispensable”. It’s nice and I’m really looking forward to what SpyXFamily does with her. As for how Loid and Anya fit into this? Well they have also won tickets on the cruise due to Anya reading someone’s mind and abusing their own plot to rig a raffle. They aren’t of much consequence yet, but we know that’s inevitably going to change. All in all while SpyXFamily took it slow, it did so with a subject/character I want as much of as possible, meaning I really don’t mind the leisurely pace as it gives Yor as much screen time as possible. I’m really looking forward to where this arc goes and I hope SpyXFamily can deliver on it.
Shangri-La Frontier – 6 [The Writing Tool Knight Queen]
This was a fun, if light, episode of Shangri-La. It was basically all combat, but the combat was fun and its nice to see other players finally getting involved. The furry leader in particular is amusing. I’m not a huge fan of how little stats/equipment seems to matter in the MMO, but it seems like Pencil Knight was going easy on Sunraku and she did have that doll to counter the furry so I’ll chalk it up to her not wanting a cheap win. That’s really all there is to say here. They fought, Sunraku survived, they got saved by the girl who loves him and is apparently an endgame hard-core raider. Oh! And Sunraku and Pencil shoot the shit, that was pretty funny. Both are absolutely toxic gamers taking the piss out of each other and they love it, I actually really enjoy their banter/relationship. Instead of some kind of dark rivalry or whatever they both assholes who finally found someone who can take their bullshit and throw it back in their face. But uh… Yeah. Otherwise that’s about it. Was alright.
Overtake – 6 [Suzuka, Rain]
I’m incredibly mixed on Overtake. On one hand, I still hate what it did with Madoka last week, I still think it undercut his entire character arc and the footrace sucked. On the other hand, Overtake is making the best of a bad situation this week. He can take photos of people now, but he’s still at risk of relapsing on his trauma if he happens to photograph another tragedy. And lo and behold, that’s exactly what he finds himself in today. I was a little annoyed at his attitude towards Haruka, how demanding he was while understanding so very little about the sport. It felt like he hadn’t learnt anything in his time with him, his attitude was still terrible. Haruka disregarding that because he’s the experienced racer, only to eventually slow down and drop out of the race not because Madoka was right but because he cared more for his feelings, was a decent way to handle it. It was progression on both sides. And Overtake ending on a crash to show that Madoka’s fears were justified even if his attitude wasn’t, as well has the rest of his teams concern, was nice to. Overall it felt like Overtake made the best of a bad decision, and while its not how I would have preferred it be handled it still wasn’t anywhere as bad as it could have been and, in some ways, actually worked out.
MF Ghost – 6 [The Tragic Rallyist]
MF Ghost is maintaining course as a fun racing show with a mediocre narrative. Once again, anything on-track is good. From caring about his fellow racers and not wanting to frighten/endanger them on the track with his driving to the European racer being willing to make contact and bump other cars out of the way. That’s all good! MF Ghost hits all the right spots when its racing, the Eurobeat continues to be one of the best jam-session OSTs of the entire season. And this conflict its setting up between the “Perfect Cyborg” style from Beckenbaur and the “Natural Human Mutation” of Kanata? Again, good shit, love it even. But god damn do I hate these angel outfits and anytime the commentator booth gets involved. Just let Kanata race damnit! No more Butt Bongo Mami! Or else I’m going to kill someone!
Oh and P.S. It felt like I learned more about racing from Overtake this week than I did MF Ghost, all that talk of slick vs rain tires and traction and following the line while it dries on the track. Overtake is quickly catching up on that front.
Goblin Slayer S2 – 6 [The Elven King’s Forest]
This was a rather dull episode of Goblin Slayer. Basically nothing that I usually like about the show was present. The goblin fight was slow with mediocre, almost non-existent, animation while most of the character bits were on the level of putting the girls in bikinis for a mini-beach episode. Bits and pieces were fine, they got kind of heartfelt in places when talking about their homeland. But by and large this was probably the dullest episode yet. It’s not like I don’t appreciate the world building or new location, that’s nice. But it’s hard to get invested/excited from one of the most basic interpretations of Tolkienien Elves out there. There’s just nothing unique or engaging about the in Goblin Slayer’s world. Maybe when we get into the inevitable goblin hunt that’s coming, or if it goes back to letting Goblin Slayer express himself, it will be fun again. Until then though… I’m on the verge of putting it on hold until it finishes.