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Fall 2023 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 12

Heads up, with some shows coming to an end I’m going to slip some tentative final scores underneath their section. These are very loose, not exact at all, and really more of a general “How I feel” sort of thing. Don’t take them to seriously, most of them, and this post, is off the cuff.

The Apothecary Diaries – 11 [Reducing Two to One]

I KNEW IT! I CALLED IT LAST WEEK! I knew Jinshi was Ah-Duo’s kid. Sure, Apothecary Diaries doesn’t say it outright, but the implication is clear and it’s doing everything short of telling us what happened. That Ah-Duo knew her child would always be playing second-fiddle to the Empress’s kid and so had them swapped. That’s how Jinshi grew up in such an important position despite his young age, why they look so similar. And you know what else? I think Jinshi knows, because he was clearly crying at his mother having to leave the palace, why else would they be having a late-night drink. FURTHERMORE, and this is where I get really conspiratory, I think Ah-Duo killed the Empress’s child, the one now being raised as her own, on purpose. She did it to ensure Jinshi’s place even if they were found out, which they were and that’s why Mao Mao’s father was expelled for not noticing. She didn’t cry for the loss of her son, but because she murdered an innocent child to secure her own child’s future. Do I think Fengming was in on that last bit? No, not really. She probably legitimately thinks she killed Ah-Duo’s son, and has regretted it ever since, that’s why she was so willing to take the deal Mao Mao offered where she kept quiet about the honey in exchange for Fengming coming forward on her own.

Suffice to say, this was all great. I absolutely loved all of this. I’m not normally that interested in politics in anime. But Apothecary Diaries managed to make it really interesting and it presented it just subtly enough that the viewer got the core of what was going on, the important stuff required for the story to continue, while hiding even more just underneath the surface for those paying attention. I really like that, it makes all of these characters so much more compelling. Same with getting the see Jinshi’s vulnerable side, like him and Mao Mao in the shadow of the wall, or just how tired Ah-Duo’s face was in those flashbacks. Some really good characterization from Apothecary Diaries this week. Finally it even sets us up for future plots, such as the implication at the end that Mao Mao’s kidnapping wasn’t quite as “random” as we may have thought. Was it perhaps done on purpose to get her into the rear palace? I suppose we will have to wait and see. Whatever the case though, the conclusion to this political plot has made me a lot more comfortable trusting Apothecary Diaries moving forward.

Frieren – 16 [Long-Lived Friends]

This was a solid enough episode of Frieren. The first half looked at what it means to remember someone, how their memory can change and affect you, while the second was more about what it means to be remembered. I think the first half was stronger, mostly because it’s hard to not be sympathetic for Voll. This is guy is ancient, defending the village his wife lived in for hundreds of years, all because he knows it meant a lot to her. It doesn’t matter that he can’t remember her face, eyes, hair or even the sound of her voice. He’s still going to do it. There’s also a bit of tragedy to it as he waits for that era of peace after the Demon Lord is defeated, never realizing that he is defeated and that the peace will never come. Nothing has changed for him, or for this village, after the Demon Lords defeat. And that’s kind of sad, but I think it really ties this half of the episode together. Good stuff, this is what I love about Frieren. Meanwhile the second half was a tad weaker for me. It goes in on heroes and how, over time, they are always forgotten. Maybe their influence isn’t, they can inspire others. But their names are lost to time. I would say the most impactful part of this half was realizing Kraft, the elf we met before, was a hero of old just like Frieren. And while Frieren’s journey is “fresh”, relatively, his has become forgotten. But you know something? I wager Kraft hasn’t forgotten. Not the journey nor the man he traveled with. I like the implication of that, how Frieren doesn’t outright state it like it was trying to drive a point home or anything. Beyond that Sein gets a new conflict, to go to Tur or travel with the party to the magical city. I can’t say I care too much for this, but Frieren at least does a good job of showing how difficult it is for Sein so it works. All in all, a solid episode.

Undead Unluck – 12 [Activate]

This felt like a pretty standard episode of Undead Unluck. It wasn’t groundbreaking or anything, it didn’t “wow” me with the direction like many previous episodes, though maybe that’s because I’ve just gotten used to it I don’t know. Regardless, I enjoyed the episode it just didn’t capture my imagination like many of the previous. The best part I would say was the introduction and partial development of Chikara, or Unmove as we know him. Its always cool when a character has a power that is in conflict with their personality. Giving a coward the ability to stop anything only so long as they stop as well, meaning they can’t run away, is a prime example of this. If Chikara wants to use his ability effectively, he has to grow as a person. And that’s what he starts to do near the end of the episode as he resolves to repay Fuko for protecting him by protecting her in turn. Decent stuff! Aside from Chikara we also got a small fight with Unrepair, as well as an explanation as to his ability. Turns out it doesn’t just negate healing, it negates anything the afflicted considers healing. In this case, Andy considers killing himself to be a form of healing, so Unrepair prevents that. I think this is our first example of how “Open to interpretation” these abilities are, something that was originally hinted at with Victor. You’re only limited by how you interpret the rule. That should lead to some pretty interesting stuff in the future. Why am I acting like I haven’t read the manga, ok I know it leads to some interesting stuff in the future. After Unrepair we also see two more abilities, though they don’t yet have names, one allowing infinite bullets the other making all “attacks” miss. Once again, notice what is interpreted as an “Attack” vs what actually hits her. Important stuff! So yeah, most of this episode was playing around with powers and doubling down on our interpretation of them. Nothing to crazy just yet, but still good fun.

P.S. Oh and I also liked how all of the characters in Chikara’s flashback spoke English. Really sold the “Outcast” sort of feel.

Shangri-La Frontier – 12 [Regrets Always Lie in the Past]

I had a lot of fun with this episode of Shangri-La Frontier. Sunraku’s interactions with his fellow gamers, such as giving each other shit, trash talking their builds or explaining trans people to Emul, were great. And that’s not even mentioning revelations like just how many important systems Sunraku missed by skipping the tutorial town. I’m really happy this came back to bite him in the ass, because it was something I couldn’t help but think about during the first few episodes but eventually wrote off as Shangri-La trying to get us into the action ASAP. For that to come back up, to be plot relevant as he misses out on skill-links and ranks, was great. Really makes Shangri-La feel more like an actual MMO and not just a fantasy Isekai with MMO paint. Beyond that this episode also saw a lot of preparation for the Wethermon fight. We learn about his debuffs, how he de-levels people and forces gear to be unequipped if they no longer meet the requirements, explaining why player skill is more important than raw stats as well as conveniently being the level where Sunraku can equip his new Moonblades. It all felt really good. I’m happy we’re actively working towards something now, and that the many trappings of an MMO are starting to become relevant again. It’s reigniting why I enjoyed Shangri-La as much as I did in the first few episodes.

SpyXFamily S2 – 11 [Berlint in Love]

SpyXFamily? I thought I just watched Everybody Loves Loid? Jokes aside, basically the entire episode was just following Becky and Fiona’s obsession with Loid. While this was occasionally funny, Becky’s reaction to Yor as well as their faces as Yor absolutely crushes that hammer game got me, I found it more weird than comedic. Something about Becky, a 6 year old, thirsting over Loid was just… It was weird, ok?  From the hair flips and fluttering eyes to the poses. I get it, she’s trying to replicate what she saw on TV, there’s an innocence and naivete to it that is meant to keep it safe. But something about the way SpyXFamily presented it made it so all of that innocence got lost in translation. It simply wasn’t something I enjoyed. And to be clear, this is nowhere near as suspicious as most seasonal ecchi pieces of shit. This was still mostly wholesome, and I wouldn’t judge anyone for enjoying it. Just for me, personally, I wasn’t able to. As for the last bit with Fiona, much like with Yuri SpyXFamily just needs to tone it down like… two notches. Tone it down just a little bit, make it slightly more reasonable, and it will become much cuter and much more palatable. As it it comes of almost stalkerish? That aside though, Fiona was cute and I did enjoy her section. So… Decent stuff there.

Goblin Slayer S2 – 12 [O Prayers, Have You Reached Heaven?]

And with this we come not only to our final show of the week, but the finale of Goblin Slayer itself! To be frank… It was a little disappointing. The fight with the Demon Hand was cool, glad to see some tactics coming back into play, easily the most interesting fight in a while. Everything else though was sort of just… There? The Archbishop coming back, facing her fears to save them was nice, but I didn’t much care for the politics back in the capital. As far as finale’s go, the first seasons was better. In fact I’d go so far as to say that the first season was better in… almost every way. Better production, better fights, better overall plot. This season had promise, it had a lot of potential, what with the way it tried to explore Goblin Slayers personality and what exactly he wants out of the world. In fact those were some of its best moments, whether it be his quiet interactions in the elven forest or just going out drinking with the boys talking about childhood dreams. But it never went anywhere with it, leaving the whole season feeling like nothing really progressed. A shame, because I was really looking for some more Doom-esque dungeon crawling and Goblin Slayer opening up. Suffice to say, if we ever get a season three, I probably won’t be watching it.

Score: ~4/10

The post Fall 2023 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 12 appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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