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Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 4

Bucchigiri – 3 [Love at First fight! The One and Only Quail in the World]

Bucchigiri continues to be stupid fun mixed with an evolving and escalating gang-war plotline in the background that is slowly taking over the show, in the best way possible. I get it, not everyone will enjoy some of the jokes, and even I find some of them distasteful. I could do without the recurring “I need to use the restroom” thing, that isn’t funny. But everything else, Ara’s relationship with Matakara and Senya, the slowly budding gang war as a third one starts to cause problems, the puns like “Debauchery” becoming “De Punchery”, and the over the top gang action is just… It’s fun ok? There’s no other way to put it, Bucchigiri is expressive and looks great every week, the characters are funny, Senya is adorable, there’s just enough action in the fights to scratch that “Shounen” itch, and it feels like nothing I’ve watched in a long time. It also helps that the OP and ED are probably the best of the season. Everything about it screams passion project, which isn’t something I can say for the other original airing this season, Metallic Rouge. I don’t know how MAPPA of all studios is pulling this off, but I’ll take it.

Dungeon Meshi- 5 [Snacks/Sorbet]

Dungeon Meshi was rock solid this week. I thought we were about to be bamboozled by this new party of adventurers, that we were taking a break from our leads, and I was a little disappointed at first. But the transition back to our squad, using this new group to teach us about treasure bugs, was a brilliant little intro to the episode. Speaking of treasure bugs, holy shit does Dungeon Meshi’s world building continue to impress me. Identifying which are safe to eat, the beautiful color of the gem jelly, Senshi throwing away actual treasure because he doesn’t give a shit if it isn’t edible, it was all fantastic. And the editing! Dungeon Meshi hasn’t wow’ed with its animation since episode 3, barring the expressions those are still brilliant, but this week had some really clever edits like Marcille’s face zooming out at the treasure bugs that were top tier. And on top of it all? There was even some emotional bits remembering Falin, who they are making this journey to save, and giving us a look at some of their old party members. An all around great episode, enjoyed it a lot, really impressed with how Dungeon Meshi is keeping things fresh while still slowly delving deeper and deeper into the dungeon. Who the fuck comes up with the idea for “Exorcism Sorbet”. Brilliant.

Solo Leveling – 4 [I’ve Gotta Get Stronger]

Alright Solo Leveling you got me, that was a pretty great episode. I give you a lot of shit for the RPG mechanics, and I stand by that, I think they hurt the story. But I’ll be damned if that climax, from Jin-Woo self-actualizing and defeating the snake to one-shotting the Golem from the dungeon break, wasn’t some top tier power fantasy stuff. The adaptation really took some otherwise basic scenes and hyped them into the stratosphere. It’s actually gotten me thinking, have I been too harsh on Solo Leveling? Am I letting what happens down the line, how incredibly racist and hackneyed it gets, ruin my enjoyment of this first section before it all gets out of hand? I’m starting to believe that I have. This was a good time, I had fun watching this. So I think… I think I’m going to try and forget that I know where Solo Leveling goes, and just enjoy this early stuff for what it is. Because Solo Leveling absolutely nailed this episode, the slow progression up from wolves, to the snake boss, to the golem. It was good shit.

Frieren – 21 [The World of Magic]

Fine Denken, you can be a chad. There’s no other mage in this series who, after getting bodied by one of the last Great Mages in the world, one of the few supposedly on par with the founder of the Magic Association and master of the legendary Flamme, Serie, would just walk up to someone and start a fist-fight over a bird. You have my respect sir. Partly because of your attitude towards magic, how the act of discovery means more than the acquisition of power or how you just want to be a First Class mage to visit the grave of someone you care for, which is basically what Frieren is doing, but mostly it’s because you’re willing to throw down. What an absolute unit. Why is this show named Frieren and not “Denken”? Aside from Denken being a chad, this episode was mostly a power showcase for Frieren. Defeating everyone with basic combat spells then analyzing a barrier cast by Serie and breaking it to give her party members a fair shot in their own fight, it was decent stuff. I also liked the flashback to Frieren’s first meeting with Serie, and her refusal to ask for a spell. All around a solid way to end an otherwise uninteresting arc. I have converted to the church of Denken, praise be.

Undead Unluck – 17 [Outsmart]

Once again, aside from the recaps taking up 6 minutes of the episode and some poor CGI on Burn, Undead Unluck is pretty good. While the CGI was a miss, Billy had some great shots, and the overall direction is still really appealing. I think the biggest issue with the show at the moment is just the pacing. It’s slowed to a crawl recently. No matter how good the material, and I think Undead Unluck is pretty solid between the mysterious visions, Billy’s odd betrayal and power, as well as Andy and Fuko’s relationship, if not paced properly it’s going to fall apart. Hopefully it starts to speed up in the coming episodes, I remember this following  content being pretty good, but that’s only going to work if it’s adapted well.

Shangri-La Frontier – 16 [Putting Feelings Into a Moment, Part 2]

Shangri-La continues to have fun with the Wethermon raid. I’ll admit, I’m probably enjoying this more than most due to my MMO/Hardcore Raiding background. The repeating mechanics, cheesing the bosses with resurrection items, spending millions of gold on world buffs and shit, it’s fun! It also helps that all of the players seem really into it, taking what is otherwise a game completely seriously. Raid nights do get pretty focused. Plus figuring stuff out from the story, engaging with the actual game part of Shangri-la, it’s cool. Production wise there’s nothing impressive about it, which is a shame with how Shangri-La started. But for the most part, it’s a decently fun time.

The Witch and the Beast – 4 [Beauty and Death: Opening Act]

After last weeks… Faux pas lets call it, I wasn’t sure what Majo to Yajuu could really do to pull me back in. What sort of mystery could it drop on us, what challenge for our leads, since neither action or twists seemed to be working. Well some how some way, it figured something out. Because instead of following our leads, we get a whole new dynamic duo. While I’ll certainly miss Ashaf and Guideau, I think this break will be good for both us and the show. Let it try something new, introduce some aspects of the world. And that’s exactly what it does with necromancy! I was really surprised just how indepth it was going with the magic, laws and rules of it in this world. The idea of maintenance, of legalized necromancy, is really cool. Plus this idea of bringing necromancy specialists, an odd man with one eye and a woman who seems as cold as death? That’s a pretty easy way to hook me, at least for this arc. Hopefully the answer to the final mystery, who is resurrecting people illegally and why they are doing so, is better than the weird incest thing of the last arc, because right now I’m in, I want to know more. I think this kind of story lends itself way better to Majo and Yajuu’s strengths as well, as combat continues to just… not be it for this series.

A Sign of Affection – 4 [What Kind of Voice]

I’ll admit, I didn’t really see the creepiness some people had mentioned in previous episodes. Yubisaki seemed like a pretty standard Shoujo romance. But this week, between Itsuomi insisting on taking Yuki to his apartment, the mentions that he might only be interested in her for the novelty of sign language, and how possessive he was of her at the train station around Oushi? That was all… kinda weird. Speaking Oushi, he was also a manipulative dick this week and I don’t like Yubisaki setting him up as some kind of romance rival in all of this. It’s as if all the guys are slowly being revealed to be assholes. Which is a shame, because Yuki is still cute and I love her! How expressive she is, the detail put into her hands when signing, how earnest about everything she is. Yuki is easily the best part of Yubisaki, I enjoy watching her fall in love a lot. I just need Itsuomi to tone down the creepiness and ignorance of personal space a bit.

The Apothecary Diaries – 16 [Lead]

Well this was a miss. This episode is easily one of Apothecary Diaries worst yet. Absolutely nothing of interest happens, the status quo remains completely unchanged, and about the only interesting/fun bit of the episode came at the very end before it cut to credits. I’ll be frank, I don’t care about these metalworkers, I’m not interested in watching Mao Mao solve a convoluted puzzle centered on magically melting locks into keys to open bolted down chests in rooms built specifically for this one trick. Apothecary Diaries thinks it’s cleverer than it is, that this “mystery” was somehow difficult and worth investing an entire episode on, when in reality I could skip this entire week and lose nothing. It’s a damn shame, especially with Lakan sitting there testing my patience with whatever weird relationship he has with Mao Mao. Hopefully next week is better.

Unwanted Undead Adventurer – 5 [Undead Adventurer]

Unwanted Undead is once again diving into the most interesting aspect of its premise: The life Rentt left behind. Starting over as a new adventurer, finally able to work his way up and maybe get mithril, Rentt is finally able to see his affect on the guild from the outside. How the veterans of today remember his help when they were still new, how dependable everyone believed he was, even almost asking him to work for the Guild. It was nice, and it’s something I hope Unwanted Undead keeps doing. Yeah the adventuring is fun and all, but we all know he’s going to become OP at some point, the guy is already obtaining legendary artifacts from chance encounters for goodness sake! It’s these brushes with his past that are the meat of the show, that make the adventuring interesting. Aside from that we got some amusing undead interactions, what with being immune to poison, and we also met an elven wizard who appears to only dress in negligee, so classic fantasy anime bullshit there I suppose. Nothing too interesting I would say.

The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic – 5 [Usato, Back in the Forst!]

Wrong Way was… fine this week I suppose? It didn’t do anything terribly wrong this episode, I just wasn’t able to enjoy it like the previous episodes. If I had to guess, it’s because the whole thing was focused more on a budding romance with Suzune rather than Usato’s place in this world. And in some ways that’s fine. It was nice that she wasn’t a damsel in distress, generally being more useful than Usato was with her lightning magic and ability to fight. Her banter is also pretty good, and her being the one to open up first about enjoying this world more than the real one, of losing the shackles of societal and parental expectation, was decent. It’s just… I feel like the 80% of the episode Wrong Way took to get there was unnecessary, and this conversation didn’t need near as much random adventuring. Hell a Banquet of Kings style scene of her, Usato and Kazuki could have done the same thing in half the time and probably made it hit harder. Still, for what it is, Wrong Way is fun enough.

‘Tis Time for “Torture”, Princess! – 4

This was the first episode of Torture Princess where I felt the premise start to wane. Not because Torture Princess isn’t still innovating on the idea, it is. This week it changes things up by targeting two new characters for torture, the Demon Lord and Ex the Sword specifically. Sadly though, only one of these worked for me. The Demon Lord’s thing with beer, it felt too much like what we had seen done with the princess, a rather straight forward temptation torture. Meanwhile with Ex, that worked because of the novelty of a sentient sword being sharpened and polished not being so dissimilar to say… a massage for a human. The absurdity of the situation, how it’s analogous to something else, is what makes it work. The rest though? We’ve seen it before, and despite how well produced it is, it wasn’t particularly interesting. Hopefully this is just a down week for Torture Princess because I would hate to see it fall off.

Ishura – 5 [Higuare the Pelagic and Nastique the Quiet Singer]

Ishura makes a slight improvement this week not by altering the formula, it’s still introducing two characters every week without fail, but rather with the content. Namely, by having an actually interesting concept for a character. Higuare, the Mandrake, is a legitimately cool idea. A sentient plant that has no concept of fighting or slavery fighting in gladiatorial pits because that’s what it was told to do and it just kept winning? That bloody atmosphere informing its budding world view until it sees existence as nothing more than “Kill or Die”? The way it collects weapons from the fallen, eventually gaining 42 separate sword arms? That’s all cool! Plus we met them before, so it’s building on something else for once. Solid job Ishura! To bad the second half was back to being mediocre, with another new character introduction in a situation I honestly don’t understand or care about. But hey, one for two ain’t bad, especially with your batting record.

Metallic Rouge – 4 [Freedom and Phantoms]

Metallic Rouge gets one more week to convince me not to drop it. One more try to stop fucking around and figure out what the hell it wants to be. Because right now? It’s the single worst thing I’m still watching in this season, by a country mile. Even the production, the one thing holding it together this long, is starting to flag as weird cuts and poor action start to become common place. The fight at the end with the new Immortal Nine member? Everything leading up to it? It’s all just so… bad. Metallic Rouge is trying to be this “What does it mean to be human” story, like every robot anime we’ve gotten for years. But where those other anime took this concept and ran with it, Metallic Rouge is obsessed with trying to do something “new” and “unique” with its handling of Neans, aliens, and power structures. It’s just… It has an idea, and no understanding of how to achieve or present it, and it’s becoming a waste of my time to watch it week after week.

The post Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 4 appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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