Hello everyone! So incase you didn’t notice, this is a pretty big post! Lots of small stuff I’m watching this season that I expect to probably drop but aren’t worth doing full regular weekly blog posts about. Instead I just shoved them in here! So… Look forward to that.
The Apothecary Diaries – 13 [Serving in the Outer Court]
Mao Mao is back! My favorite thing about this episode is that Apothecary Diaries decided to change up the location. I was a bit miffed when she decided to return to the Rear Palace so easily, it felt like a convenient reset after everything that had happened. So to see her wind up in the Outer Court instead, working as Jinshi’s assistant and studying to be a court lady? That was a nice change of pace, and sets the series up well for even more of my favorite dynamic: Jinshi and Mao Mao. Now they have even more opportunities to interact! And that’s just great. Watching Jinshi get so protective of her while she’s dolled up and arriving was awesome, loved that. As for the rest of the show, it also looks like Apothecary Diaries is setting up some sort of political power play with a member of the military, one who will try to use Mao Mao to his advantage? I’m curious where this will go, especially with how wary Jinshi appeared to be of the Military section. So yeah, good episode.
Frieren – 17/18 [Take Care/First-Class Mage Exam]
Frieren! This is a double header because we skipped last week due to new years. Episode 17, “Take Care”, was pretty slow. Mostly a goodbye to Sein. I can’t say this was all that emotional for me, as Sein always felt out of place to me. Like a temporary companion who didn’t really align with everyone else and didn’t have a terribly strong reason to travel with them. Still, it was a nice goodbye, and he did have a nice moment trying to resolve Stark and Fern’s little lovers spat, which was sweet. The episode also spent some time with Fern being sick and Frieren having to learn how to express herself better. For me though, the most meaningful part of the episode was how it furthered Frieren and Himmel’s relationship more than anything.
As for episode 18, “First-Class Mage Exam”, this was… I am very concerned for this arc of Frieren. I just don’t understand how this organization can look at Frieren, the Hero who helped defeat the Demon King, a 1,000 year old mage certified far before this organization ever existed, and not just give her the rank. It seems ludicrous to me, even from a bureaucracy standpoint, that she has to take this exam with a bunch of children. And this arc is going to possibly last until the end of the season, so says a friend of mine? That’s concerning. Maybe it will pull something new and unique, will evolve from a basic exam arc, I don’t know. For now though consider me concerned. Anyways zooming out, trying to be positive, some characters like Ubel might be interesting, and I think Fern at least could have a compelling story in here. The slow decline of mages was also interesting, though we didn’t stay on that for long. All in all it has potential. I guess.
Dungeon Meshi- 2 [Roast Basilisk/Omelet/Kakiage]
The first half of Dungeon Meshi this week had me worried. It was still focusing heavily on the cooking, going in on things like the antidote and wasting time cooking it versus just… giving it to the guy, stuff like that. But the second half really saved the episode for me, I liked this a lot. I loved Marcille’s insecurity and desperation to prove herself, Senshi actually learning from her methods and acknowledging that the Mandrake does in fact taste better, Chilchucks professionalism and how seriously he takes their safety. It felt like Dungeon Meshi did a good job of giving everyone a moment to shine, to develop as a character in some way, really progressing their relationships and the dynamic of the group as a whole. That was all great! I especially enjoyed Chilchuck and Senshi figuring out how to work together, respecting each others expertise, and then the sad acknowledgement that one day they will separate so Chilchuck teaches him how to check/use traps so he can cook with them/has something to remember them by when this is all over. That was all really solid and is a good sign for where Dungeon Meshi is heading in my opinion.
The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic – 2 [The Training from Hell Begins!]
You know, I’m surprise how much I’m enjoying Wrong Way. I really thought it would fall off, becoming a standard OP MC Isekai. And maybe it still will one day! But for now it’s actually sticking true to its premise. Usato is, supposedly, not training to fight but rather to carry the injured and run away from combat, ensuring his own life as a medic. That probably won’t last, but it’s still appreciated for now. On top of that, I like how the other heroes are legitimately his friends. They come over, check in, eat lunch with him, and even consider his feelings and talk earnestly with him. After the spate of Shield Hero knockoffs where everyone hates the MC for some random reason, it’s nice to have an Isekai where the MC is singled out for bullshit and his friends stick by him. It’s even taking its time with fleshing out the “romance” with the hero girl or the MC’s slow shift in personality as he gains some confidence. It’s honestly weird just how effectively Wrong Way is executing otherwise standard tropes. It shouldn’t be good, but… it kind of is. Is that allowed? What the hell?
Undead Unluck – 14 [Crimson Bullet]
Honestly, this was a pretty slow and lackluster episode of Undead Unluck. The pacing has slowed to a crawl and the copius amounts of recap, even explaining what happened in a fight immediately after it just happened. The ideas are cool, as are the way powers are used. I love how Undead Unluck focuses on the interpretation of a power being what makes it strong, such as with RIP and how any attempt to kill him technically constitutes an act of repair for them and thus they cannot do it. That’s all great! It’s just everything around that, and how it was presented, that made this arc feel like a distinct step down compared to the preview few.
Unwanted Undead Adventurer – 2 [The Beginner and The Veteran]
You know what, I’m kinda down for this. Undead Adventurer really slowed down this week, cutting back on the OP MC leveling stuff and going more into his relationships and getting back into the city. Watching him try to communicate, get clothes, break down over being treated as a human, it all felt good. I still wish more time had passed between his death and being resurrected, let us have some “It’s been 50 years” sort of reunions, but I’ll take what we can get. If *Undead Adventurer” can stick with this sort of relationship focus, not get too bogged down in the power fantasy, I might stick with it for the entire season.
Shangri-La Frontier – 14 [Squish]
This episode was pretty slow all things considered, nothing much to really talk about. I’m not a huge fan of how the new rabbit talks. The skill garden stuff was mostly house keeping. And the whole BERP game existed basically just to fill time. There anything else to talk about? Uh… Oh the new OP sucks. Yeah that’s about it.
Ishura – 2 [Alus the Star Runner]
My expectations weren’t high and Ishura has already managed to disappoint. CGI aside, though that was definitely a step down for the most part, Ishura made the brilliant decision this week to just… not have our leads appear at all! Instead it decided to try and setup a dozen new characters and an entire political conflict, all to push the story towards a tournament arc where 29 different competitors will fight to be crowned “The Hero”. Why? Why do we need this? Is there a reason it couldn’t have stayed Soujirou wandering around, running into various legendary figures, picking a fight with them in some way, then moving on? At the very least that seems more interesting than another Budokai style round robin to the death elimination tournament. I also don’t see why we spent the episode setting up a bunch of different combatants while completely ignoring our leads. Would it not have been more natural to have our leads arrive at the city and then slowly introduce this stuff, using them as our point of view to justify the exposition? I guess not, because that isn’t what Ishura did. Whatever the case, the end of the episode was sort of cool but for the most part I’m disappointed our leads were nowhere to be seen and it seems like the show is regressing to a more stereotypical structure. Hopefully that changes.
Pon no Michi – 2 [Four Players Gathered]
This episode was a real step down for me. I don’t know if that’s because the novelty of Pon no Michi is wearing off, because of the decrease in references and increase in drama, or the new girl just being incredibly annoying. Could be any! Could be all three. The fact remains though, this episode was a bit tough to get through. It improved in the second half, the game was fine, though I wish I was learning a bit more of how it worked. The first half though was an absolute slog. This new girl, at least in her introduction, was rather annoying with all of the crying and yelling and bitching to play Mahjong with them. Maybe now that she’s in the group she will improve? I hope so, because otherwise I probably won’t continue Pon no Michi.