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Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 5

Bucchigiri – 4 [Stop the War! Sometimes You Gotta Eat the Goya Chanpuru]

Bucchigiri is, once again, great. The over the top gang drama is just fun, I enjoy their ridiculousness and Arajin being just this regular guy trying to navigate the absurdity is fun. At the same time though, I really like how Bucchigiri is slowly working in these more serious plot points. Behind the gang drama we have Matakara trying to salvage his friendship and hold together the one thing his brother left for him before he was sent to Juvie. Behind Arajin’s obsession with Mahoro and Senya’s joy of fighting, we have Shindo’s gang causing trouble and a mysterious second Honki spirit influencing it all with a chosen champion, just like Senya. Bucchigiri started off as an extremely well produced joke and is slowly escalating into a, still extremely well produced, character drama. And I’m all for it! Once again, I’m looking forward to the next episode.

Dungeon Meshi- 6 [Court Cuisine/Boiled in Salt Water]

Dungeon Meshi once again absolutely floored me with it’s world building this week. The sheer amount of thought and detail that goes into these creatures, not just how they can be used in food and what they are made of but their environments and how they interact with other creatures, is absolutely brilliant. The paintings being their own little world at different points in time, all connected in chronology with the characters remembering visitors across them? And how any food eaten can’t be taken out, regardless of whether or not it’s in your stomach? Or what about Chilchuck’s distaste for mimics and the fact they are basically just giant hermit crabs living in whatever container they can find? Combine that with how they interact with treasure bugs, the creative dish cooked with them, and the absolutely stellar animation, and you have another really good episode of Dungeon Meshi. I’ll admit, when this show first started I didn’t think much of it. It  was too focused on the cooking as opposed to the cast for my taste. But the further we get in, the better it hones that balance. And now? I find myself enjoy it a lot. This is great.

The Apothecary Diaries – 17 [A Jaunt Around Town]

This was a fun episode, I’m glad to see Apothecary Diaries coming back into form after last weeks disappointment. The whole thing was basically Mao Mao and Jinshi hanging out and interreacting, and it was great because of it. From the disguise and all the jokes around that, like making him look fat or putting feminine makeup on, to walking around town with Mao Mao all prettied up and Jinshi acting like her servant, it was fun! Apothecary Diaries even pulled out some “serious” conversations at the end as Jinshi asks about devaluing prostitutes, not fully understanding what he’s asking. Understandably Mao Mao takes offense to this, probably thinking he’s asking for all the wrong reasons, and we get the obvious response that losing their “purity” or having kids can absolute tank their sale price. Kind of fucked up, but hey, welcome to brothels and ancient china. The only downside to all of this is that it’s pretty clear that Lakan is Mao Mao’s father at this point, and that he got her mother pregnant to decrease her value so he could purchase he, or at least deny her to someone else. Again, that’s kind of fucked up. I can only hope that Apothecary Diaries is able to handle it well when we inevitably get to that reveal.

Shangri-La Frontier – 17 [Putting Feelings Into a Moment, Part 3]

Let’s gooooooo! Wezaemon hype! Shangri-La was a lot of fun this week. The show truly is at its best when Sunraku and co are facing unreasonable odds and gaming the system to the best of their abilities. Sure, at some point it stops being a game with all the bullshit they and everyone is pulling out. From helmet parries and stat boosting skills that only activate under specific conditions they are micro-managing in the heat of battle, it gets ridiculous. But what makes it work is how Shangri-La takes it completely seriously. To these characters, this means something. I remember the first time I cleared Sunwell in World of Warcraft back in Burning Crusade, not because it was the hardest raid ever made, they’ve made harder, but because it was a new plateau for the time. Same when I beat my first Ultimate in Final Fantasy 14. And that’s sort of what this Wezaemon fight feels like. They are finding a new plateau, and enjoying conquering it. It also helps that Shangri-La really upped the production this week, for the first time in a while. Visually it looked great, really selling Wezaemon as a badass boss seriously that final sword slash was incredible, and the OST was popping off. And that kind of presentation goes a long way towards selling it for me. So yeah, fun episode.

The Witch and the Beast – 5 [Beauty and Death: Final Act]

Witch and the Beast really pulled it back this week with pretty damn good episode. Everything from the reveal of Phanora being a Witch to the inner workings of Necromancy, how to be resurrected is to be removed from the cycle of death and rebirth as the price paid, was great. It both justified Phanora’s attitude and respect towards the dead, how this is their last life, as well as her distaste for, and the sheer heinousness of, the villains actions. Sure, the action still isn’t great, Witch and the Beast is mediocre at that. But the framing around it all was a joy. Johan being undead, the idea that Phanora resurrected her lover and that’s why she cares so deeply for him, the Death Knights, oh god the Death Knights were fucking metal. The episode was hype all the way through, fulfilling almost everything I wanted from the show. Even the ending, where Phanora brings the necromancer back and is forcibly maintaining him so that he can maintain those that he resurrected before as his eternal punishment, was great and properly set up back when Witch and the Beast was explaining the rules of Necromancy. Plus we can’t forget the doors this opens down the line, such as Guideau’s hatred for witches and how we now apparently have one on our side. That will inevitably lead to conflict, and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully the previous arc was just a blip and Witch and the Beast is able to keep this up moving forward, because this? This was great.

Unwanted Undead Adventurer – 6 [Bronze-class Exam]

This is it, this is the good shit, this is what I want from Unwanted Undead. Now I’m sure this will confuse some, why do I have it above Frieren when both are doing the same exam arc bullshit. Well you see it’s simple: One exam arc is focused on flashy fights and a large cast of new characters. The other is showing both us, and a pair of newbies, what it means to be an adventurer, how much work goes into it, how experienced our lead is, and just how impactful his presence even as a “lowly bronze-rank” was while he was alive. Sure, it looks like shit. Unwanted Undead is terribly animated and directed, there’s no contesting that. But it still hits the emotional core of why I started watching this show in the first place, that being our lead losing touch with his old life while still pursuing his dream. Plus the detail it puts in, all the stuff about the Guild purposefully giving them false information or planting bandits to make the test more difficult and show them was real adventuring is like, was cool. I won’t pretend that Unwanted Undead is better than Frieren as a whole, it isn’t. Frieren’s collective package, all the episodes and production and everything put together, is so far above Unwanted Undead it’s ridiculous. But for this week, for these episodes and nothing else? I was more invested in Rentt taking these little fledgling adventurers under his wing, showing them the ropes and seeing them grow, than I was watching Frieren try to humanize a sociopath like Ubel. Sorry not sorry.

Frieren – 22 [Future Enemies]

Frieren was… Fine this week? There’s a degree of quality to Frieren that cannot be denied, it’s just that well produced, that well put together. Every scene, every conversation, it looks and flows great. The issue though is that this week was sort of just… nothing? Ostensibly it was about humanizing all of the other contestants, our fellow mages who passed the first test. And to a degree it accomplished that. I would argue that Denken is the only meaningful one, especially with his motivation of eating at the same restaurant his wife loved paralleling Frieren’s own memories with Himmel beautifully. But the other contestants were there too, and we got small moments with them, which was fine. Aside from Denken however, the only part of the episode I really engaged with was Frieren’s meal. This idea of being so long lived that you need to savor something not because you will die, but because you will outlive it. That it will change while you stay the same. It’s an interesting change in perspective for a classic problem, and one I thought Frieren did quite well. I especially loved Himmel asking for the Chef to keep the flavor unchanged as his reward for the quest, something he clearly did not for himself but for Frieren, as what I dare say was a gesture of genuine love and care for her. These  small moments of a developing romance, one we tragically know for a fact never goes anywhere, are always so seldom yet so beautiful. The rest of the episode though? I’m not interested in Ubel or Lawine or Laufen or whoever. Ok I’m a little interested in Wirbel cause he just seems fun with Stark, but really only him and Denken. The rest? Get me out of this city so we can get back to our journey please. Or make the next test something that forces introspection, so we get more about Denken’s wife and Frieren’s Himmel. One of the two would be perfect.

A Sign of Affection – 5 [The Answer]

I mentioned last week that I was finally starting to see some of the creepiness inherent in Yubisaki’s narrative. How Itsuomi’s lack of concern for personal space, or pushing to get Yuki into his apartment, was weird. And I stand by it! However I’m happy to report that Yubisaki managed to reign things in a bit and shift us away from “Creepy” and back to “Cute”. Their interactions in the apartment were nothing but wholesome. Trying to sign, talking about their families, writing on paper, her vocalization and laugh, him calling it cute. He can still get possessive, and his tickling thing could be seen as weird since they aren’t that close yet. But for the most part I think it worked, it really fleshed out Itsuomi’s side of the relationship, showing us a bit of why he’s interested in her. It also had a clever moment where Emma is trying to make Yuki jealous, talking loudly about returning Itsuomi’s key, only for it to backfire completely because Itsuomi isn’t stupid and Yuki can’t hear. That was really funny, and while I’m not looking forward to the inevitable jealousy arc, the standard tropes like overhearing shit not working was great.

Solo Leveling – 5 [A Pretty Good Deal]

This week Solo Leveling starts to fall back on the old OP MC wish fulfillment tropes, and it’s a bit sad to see. Sung suddenly becomes hot, gaining like 6 inches in height and 50lbs in muscle, and basically every female on screen suddenly starts to have the hots for him. It’s disappointing sure, I liked his original design more, but it doesn’t take up the whole episode so for the most part it’s fine. Instead we get to dive into another dungeon, with people who still think he’s the weakest. This was kinda fun! Was amusing watching everyone underestimate him while we know he could probably beat them all, and the rich kid D-Ranker is a good measure of how far he’s come. Solo Leveling also did a decent job slowly revealing how suspicious this whole thing was, dropping the hammer at the end and selling both Sung’s fearlessness in the face of a boss and how evil those C-rankers are. Decent stuff, even if it’s a step down from last week.

Undead Unluck – 18 [Cry for the Moon]

You know, Undead Unluck would have been a lot better this week if half of it hadn’t been filler. The reveals, the way everyone worked their way through it, everything about loops and Juiz and God, that was all great. Really sets the stakes for things to come, teaches us a lot about who Juiz is as a person. So it’s a shame that half of it was just recaps explicitly showing us things we have already watched to make sure we remembered them. And that’s sort of been Undead Unlucks problem for a while now: The pacing has gone in the bin. Early on, it moved at a good click, jogging through content to get the ball rolling. But ever since the start of the cruise ship arc, things have slowed down more and more. It’s as if the team has a specific end-point in mind and by god, they are going to reach it no matter what. It sucks. Hopefully things can kick back into gear now as we move into the next arc. But if it doesn’t? Well I’ll be very sad, that’s for sure.

The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic – 6 [Impending Danger…!]

Wrong Way is trying its best to set things up, I get that. The Demon Lords army is arriving, our heroes are in danger since they will be fighting on the frontlines, Usato needs some motivation and we need to sell the threat, that’s all dandy. I just wish a good half the episode wasn’t… well boring. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like Kazuki, Usato and Suzune’s relationship. It feels like a breath of fresh air to finally have an Isekai cast that doesn’t have an incel or some kind of jealousy-fueled love triangle. These kids seem to genuinely respect and enjoy each others company, which feels great. Usato also continues to be bland, but an inoffensive bland, one that’s slowly gaining confidence. But everything else? The healing in town, sitting around at home, etc etc? That wasn’t very great. Luckily this episode was saved by Rose being awesome for about 5 minutes. From explaining her backstory and how much she’s pinning on Usato, this idea of a subordinate that won’t die in her arms and being focused more on saving than fighting, as well as her interrupting the Demon Lord’s army, was cool. Now just make that the entire episode and we’ll have something a tad better. Hopefully that’s what next week does yeah?

Ishura – 6 [Gathering of Factions]

Is this it? Are we done introducing new characters? Can Ishura finally take off? That’s what it feels like this week as, for the first time, some of our combatants are starting to run into each other and interact. Sojirou, our episode 1 swordsman, is tasked to kill Taren and make a splash to earn his spot in the Hero competition. Dakai, the Magpie, is implicated in the awakening of the golem that Sojirou defeated in episode 1, and also antagonizes Regnejee, all while figuring out that Lana is a spy. The World Word arrives in Taren’s city, kept as a hidden trump card that they can’t let information leak on. It feels like Ishura is finally done setting up the board and is ready for the conflict to kick off. And you know what? It feels good. I’m not sure 5 episodes of introductions was necessary, but now that things are happening I’m happy. Hopefully Ishura takes this and runs with it, because there’s still time to salvage the season.

‘Tis Time for “Torture”, Princess! – 5

Torture Princess was… fine this week? Much like last week, the novelty of the show is starting to wear off. Torture Princess does its best to keep things fresh, tossing in twists like requiring two secrets in a single session and acting like it’s to much for her poor body, or the princess helping Tortura and coming to view her as a friend, that’s all nice and solid. But it’s not enough to carry a full 24 minute weekly episode for me anymore. I watch about half an episode and feel content with what I got that week, leaving the other half to just… sit there, with me looking at the timer. It’s a shame, because it’s still very well produced, it’s still really sweet and cute, I just… have less and less interest in it each week. Hopefully something happens to reignite that for me.

Metallic Rouge – 5 [Carnival Dances with Lost Memories] – Dropped

Alright well, that’s that. I’m done with Metallic Rouge. I gave it a shot, kept with it until the shoe dropped, until it tried to do its own thing. And when that finally happened… It was just as mediocre as the rest of the show. From the start, Metallic Rouge has had no idea what it wants to be, who its characters are, what its setting is. It saw Lycoris Recoil and Gundam Mercury and decided, lets make a sci-fi show with two female leads our viewers can ship together, and never put any thought into it beyond that. It’s a damn shame, I expected more from BONES.

The post Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 5 appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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