Undead Unluck – 11 [Rio de Janeiro]
First up we once again have Undead Unluck. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, the series has been running on high ever since Spoil, maybe even Gina depending on how you look at it. And while this week is a bit of a slower one compared to previous, the rest of the season has slowed down a long with it. As for what actually happened, it’s a lot of setup for the next arc with a nice sprinkling of romantic progression. A lot of small moments with Andy and Fuko, from time on the beach to picking out nice outfits. It was really nice watching Andy help Fuko feel more confident in herself, pushing her to spread her wings a bit but not forcing her to far out of her comfort zone. Yeah some of the ecchi jokes still haven’t fully gone away, but they’re tinged with something a lot more… wholesome now I feel. That plus their conversation about what it means to be a negator, the options available to those like them and the desire to fight against the shit hand they’ve been dealt, made for an emotionally gripping episode. They’re finding their own reasons for what they do, which is going to be important if they want to fight God. Beyond that we also met some of our villains for this new arc, Unrepair as well as three others. We don’t know to much about them yet, but that’s fine, they will be more important. Later for now what’s important is that at least one seems like a dangerous match up even for Andy, meaning we have something to look forward to!
The Apothecary Diaries – 10 [Honey]
This was a cute, politics laden episode of Apothecary Diaries. Lots of spying, espionage and sexual harassment. I say that last bit lovingly, because I really do enjoy Jinshi and Mao Mao’s dynamic. His constant teasing, her doing her best to ignore it, that in turn intriguing him even more. Mix in some amusing situations like trying to get her to eat honey off his hand, the other handmaidens knowing exactly what is up and throwing Mao Mao out to make her talk to him, Gaoshun doing his best to rein them both in. It’s cute! Easily my favorite part of the show. As for the actual story, like I said, it’s a lot of court intrigue. Lishu, the young consort, hasn’t been visited because the emperor prefers “ripened” fruit, which is… less creepy than the alternative I suppose? At the same time Lishu’s handmaidens are actively bullying and abusing her, making her distrust outsiders so Lishu depends on them while at the same time belittling her and making life harder. Contrast this with how professionally Ah-Duo, the Pure Consort’s, handmaidens act and it paints a really rough picture for the state of the Rear Palace. On top of that, there’s also some weird stuff going on with Mao Mao’s father having delivered a child, the Emperor’s brother apparently. Makes sense, he did seem wildly overqualified for living in the slums. What’s interesting though is I have a suspicion as to who exactly that younger brother is. That’s right, I think it’s Jinshi. He looks exactly like Ah-Duo, with her androgynous beauty, and it would explain his high position in the palace, as well as the support given to him, despite his young age. Why they are hiding it I don’t know, but I figure that will come up later. That or I’m terribly off base and Ah-Duo isn’t his mother at all. Still, it feels obvious, I swear to god they have the same face.
Frieren – 15 [Smells Like Trouble]
Next up we come to Frieren. This episode was… Fine? The meat of the episode was pushing Fern and Stark closer together by creating a contrived circumstance where they have to attend a noble soiree in fancy clothes and dance together, shoving some lessons on etiquette into both of their heads while there. It’s cute enough I suppose. I do like their relationship, the dance looked absolutely gorgeous. Some stellar rotoscoping there. That’s no surprise though, Frieren is pretty consistently the best animated thing of the season. And I haven’t heard anything bad about it’s production schedule like we had with Jujutsu Kaisen, so I see no reason for that to change. There was also some attempts at tying it all back to Stark’s relationship with his father back in his village, about how they parted contrasted with how this noble, Orden, parted with his own son. It’s nice enough as a one-off sort of story about properly valuing the time you have with those you care about, but as far as connecting or progressing Stark’s own story goes I don’t think it was very successful. Frieren was to concerned with the dance to really make that work. Aside from that we also got some cool action, Sein learning to trust Frieren’s word with fighting a plant monster, as well as her continuing to be over powered. Made for some nice action, and got me to like Sein a little more I suppose, but nothing to engaging. Frieren has settled into this spot of steady enjoyment for me. It’s solid every week, but very rarely does it “wow” me anymore. That’s fine, it’s a 28 episode two-cour monster, we’re in this for the long haul. Just means it’s not going for spectacle every week. I’ll just have to have faith this all goes somewhere impactful by the end. Oh also, Frieren continues to have fantastic faces. I just wanna pinch her cheeks, god damn.
SpyXFamily S2 – 10 [Enjoy the Resort to the Fullest/Bragging About Vacation]
This was the nice relaxing epilogue I was looking for. The first half with Yor, Loid and Anya hanging out on the island? Doing things as a family from surfing to diving to petting zoos? I really liked that, it was wholesome. And ending it with Loid giving Yor and Anya a bridal carry back to the boat? The cute cherry on top. This felt earned, in a way a lot of SpyXFamiliy’s other family moments hadn’t. As for the other half of the episode, getting back to school or work for our various cast members, this was fine. I wasn’t terribly happy to see Yuri and his siscon bullshit again, but what can you do. Sylvia is still smokin hot and the Damian/Anya interactions continue to be the best parts of the school setting. There were some solid jokes in here, like the three different internal views on lying convincing Anya it’s to much work while they actually say otherwise. That was funny! Overall, cute and wholesome, nice and relaxing after a great Yor arc, kinda fell off in the second half.
Shangri-La Frontier – 11 [The Glimmer of Truth]
Shangri-La has this thing going on where it tries to mix serious fantasy world building with normal MMO-RPG fun. In some ways it works, you need a story in your game to get invested, and I’m certainly not above getting immersed in a game. Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers is one of my favorite fantasy narratives in a long time, and that’s exactly the same kind of MMO narrative Shangri-La has going on here. But sometimes it feels like the pacing of scenes, how the two work together, isn’t quite there. Like jumping between the serious RP of Vash lamenting an old friend being cursed with an undying body, looking forward to the day someone gives him his “well-earned slumber”, only for Sunraku to pop in with a gamer moment about progressing the even. Individually these are fine, Shangri-La legitimately got me with the stat-requirement stuff that was hilarious, as was him showing up late to the meeting. It’s just that sometimes the fun MMO humor interrupts the otherwise legitimately serious fantasy world-building. Not a huge deal, but I hope Shangri-La can find a better balance of the two as the series and author matures and get deeper into the story. Outside that, some fun cool stuff. His weapons seem awesome, I already mentioned how the stat-requirements were hilarious. I enjoy Pencil and Katso showing up more and really joining the cast, it’s nice for Sunraku to have more hard-core gamer friend to bounce off of. Also we stan Pencil’s hip-windows. Best character design.
Goblin Slayer S2 – 11 [The Princess’s Ordeal]
This wasn’t a terribly interesting episode I’m afraid. Our party mowing through a dungeon, facing 20+ goblins and a goblin priest head on with little difficulty, really takes away from the implied danger they are in. Compare this to the fights in season one, where Goblin Slayer only pulled out the big tricks like the portal scroll to win tough fights, or he gathered the entire adventurers guild to fight off a warband of around 100. That danger isn’t really there anymore, making the goblins feel like the fodder everyone else in this world thinks they are, which in turn takes away from Goblin Slayer’s core premise that no, get enough of these things, let them sit around plotting long enough, and they will fuck you up. Well what is this? Where is the “Fucking them up”? Hell, Goblin Slayer even accidentally helps out the Hero’s party by dropping goblins into their fight, causing the blob monster to absorb something weak and stupid, lowering its own power against them. It feels like Goblin Slayer is becoming more and more of a traditional power-fantasy like adventuring story, and less of the AD&D 1.0 “You can die in character creation” fun that made season one so enjoyable, in spite of it’s edgier tendencies. That’s a shame in my book.