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Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 10

Thanks for the well wishes after last weeks post everyone. Can’t say things are great, in fact I’d say they are falling apart, but this is a nice bit of consistency in the storm.

Dungeon Meshi – 11 [Red Dragon I]

If you’ve seen the episode then it should come as no surprise that Dungeon Meshi is #1 this week. It took everything I love about the show, the detailed world building and ecology, the animation and expressiveness of the characters, even the uncommon bouts of serious drama, and dialed them up to 11. The detail? We got to watch the party skin and butcher a dragon piece of piece, walking us through its digestive cycle and how it breathes fire. The animation and expressiveness? This is the best Dungeon Meshi has looked since Episode 3, everything just moves beautifully. From their expressions even to how it was shot. Just look at any of Senshi or Laios’s scenes across the entire episode and you’ll know what I mean, an absolute powerhouse of dynamic movement and camera work. And the drama? God the second half it… It got me. The building desperation to find even a shred of Falin’s corpse, the flashback to when they were children, and especially the reveal with the skull. Something about it just… It worked, and was simultaneously incredibly dark and yet hopeful, because now they can maybe pay to resurrect her. So as far as climaxes go? This is going to be hard to top, because that was an absolutely stunning episode.

Undead Unluck – 23 [A Story I Won’t See Coming]

Once again Undead Unluck shows us just how good it can be when not bogged down by poor pacing and production. Anno Un’s backstory, this whole sequence really, has long been one of my favorite parts of Undead Unluck. Every Negator has a sad story, that’s just their nature. But few I think are crueler than what God did to Akira Kuno. Blessed with knowledge of the future, knowing exactly what will happen and how to help, only to also be cursed with “Unknown”. Forced to watch his mother deteriorate worrying about him, walking through the world like a ghost, the only way he can communicate being to create a whole new identity, erasing Akira Kuno from existence entirely, only ever to be known as Anno Un. Even his design, so starkly different from his youth so that no one could ever connect the two. It’s all just… so god damn sad. And that ending with Unseen? Listening on reaction to use Deadline, cutting him and the building in half, saving Fuko’s life? God, I absolutely adored this episode. And knowing what is to come, if Undead Unluck can give the finale the same care and effort they’ve given the last 2-3, the series should go out on a high note. I really hope that’s the case, cause I’m pumped for the climax now.

A Sign of Affection – 10 [Oushi’s World]

I remember back when Yubisaki first aired. When I thought Itsuomi was a creep, the romance was forced, and the whole thing felt rather manipulative and predatory. Yet here I am, 10 episodes in, and it’s managed to hang in the top 3 for the past month. Has the series changed? Or have I? Cause something about the way Itsuomi just wants to watch a movie with Yuki, subtitles on and sound off so he can experience it as she does, the way they cuddle and think about each other, the way Itsuomi is able to talk through Oushi’s hangups and connect with him rather than the standard “Love-triangle conflict we have to hate each other bull, just works. I’ve come to like these characters a lot. Yeah, they aren’t perfect. Oushi is still kind of a dick, Itsuomi still doesn’t quite understand personal space, and Yuki is kind of an airhead. But Yubisaki goes through a lot of effort to justify, or at least explain, each of these. Oushi felt like he hadn’t had any competition since they were children, that sign language was their secret language, of course he would feel entitled, wouldn’t feel like he had to change. Itsuomi has spent most of his life traveling and interacting with other cultures, where physicality is the main way for him to communicate when he doesn’t speak their language. And Yuki? She can’t hear, she’s alone with her thoughts and simply can’t react to the same stimuli we do. I’ll say it again, it all works, and I find this show really cute. *Yubisaki has been a big surprise for me this season.

Bucchigiri – 8 [Sad News! Seriously Falling in Love with Gomoku Soba!]

Normally I’d say Bucchigiri was good fun this week, because it almost always is. Hell, for most of the episode, this one still was. Characters joked, they fought, most of it was spent preparing for Matakaras older brothers return party, it was all very expressive. But the meat of the episode, the important bits? Those were all pretty damn dark actually. It always impresses me how Bucchigir can switch between crazy jokes and fights to more serious, dramatic scenes. How it goes from everyone preparing for the party to Matakara spiraling into darkness after learning his brother got stabbed and wasn’t going to make it. The way it slowly grows darker and darker as he learns Arajin left him behind all those years ago, how his strength was a lie and he had given up on being a Honki person, that terror as he sees Senya’s opposite for the first time after being hit with the same bullet Arajin was. It’s all very well done, Bucchigiri is pulling off this shift to the real threat quite well. I’m a tad disappointed it isn’t going with the Aladdin theory I talked about a few weeks ago, I think that would have been very promising, but I’m down for a more standard “corruption” arc where Arajin has to grow into a real Honki person by the end as well. So long as it can stay this expressive, fun series, I’ll enjoy it until the end. Oh also, great job with the NG Boys leader, Shindo. It was clear, but not obvious that his plan was to so discord by leaking just enough to get Matakara to question things. Some nice semi-subtle narrative work there.

Frieren – 27 [An Era of Humans]

This episode was… Fine? There’s a degree of quality to every episode of Frieren that’s simply undeniable. The production, the voice work, the little details in the characters like Fern’s argument with Frieren and Frieren subsequently taking it to Richter to get repaired because it meant so much to her. That’s all solid, great even! It’s the overarching narrative for this arc that I don’t care for. This whole thing with Serie taking over the 3rd exam and passing/failing people on a vibe check? The way she fails Frieren purely on reverse nepotism, not for her abilities or anything else, just entirely because she doesn’t like her and her approach to magic. Even Serie’s argument for taking over the 3rd exam was stupid. Sure, Frieren warped it a bit, but the only reason it was that hard to begin with was because she was there. Take Frieren away and there’s not a single opponent the other examinees couldn’t have defeated. Denken would have bodied basically anyone in that final room short of Sense, who Ubel could have defeated instead. And once the monster is defeated, all the clones disappear, so everyone would have passed anyways. Frieren actively made the test harder with her presence, not easier. I didn’t like any of that, Frieren’s justification for this arc continues to be silly because there’s absolutely nothing stopping them from going north, Frieren is literally the strongest person in this room, or at least the most combat capable of them. When this arc is giving us flashbacks to Frieren’s time with Himmel, like that bit about how important the flower spell was and how it allowed her to meet Himmel for the first time, it’s great. Frieren does that shit incredibly well. But this standard Shounen arc crap? Well in comparison, it falls short in almost every way. A damn shame for how strong the series is otherwise.

The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic – 11 [Wham! Ultimate Healing Punch!]

Enjoyed this episode of Wrong Way quite a bit. Yeah, some of it was silly, like the title drop from Suzune. And yeah, other bits didn’t make a whole lot of sense, like how punching the Black Knight with healing magic still hurt them but also… healed… them? Are we incapacitating them with just quick flashes of pain? I would have preferred if they had fought 3v1 with Usato tanking via his healing magic and then wearing them down, I think that would have better fit the narrative and allowed Suzume and Kazuki to show off more, but I’ll take this instead I suppose. The main thing I enjoyed in all of this though was without a doubt the conversations, namely between Usato and Rose and Usato and Suzume. Once again, if nothing else, Wrong Way does a good job with the character relationships. You can feel Roses relief, how proud she is of Usato, as well as just how desperately Usato needed that affirmation from her that he did a good job. Absolutely love that shit. Wish the fight was a bit better, a bit more animated, but if I have to sacrifice the action for shit like this, I’ll do it every time.

The Apothecary Diaries – 22 [Blue Roses]

For the most part, Apothecary Diaries was solid. I maintain that Lakan is the worst thing to happen to this show, his presence has actively brought it down every chance he’s had, and his whole “I see people as Shogi/Go pieces” bit is beyond stupid, who cares, stop trying to get me to empathize with a man who supposedly raped a woman and left her with child out of spite. Still, the absolute vitriol and pettiness he brings out of Mao Mao is pretty good. Watching her do the impossible, grow roses out of season, make them all manner of colors with dye and water, all to spite the man, was pretty good. Maybe this is because we’re back in the Rear Palace, and this is just an objectively better setting for the show, I don’t know. But I enjoyed Mao Mao’s experiment this week, as well as the small tidbits like letting the Emperor in on the secret so they weren’t “tricking” him, and him enjoying knowing things before everyone else. Stuff like that is cute. I just with Lakan wasn’t part of this god damn show.

Solo Leveling – 9 [You’ve Been Hiding Your Skills]

Solo Leveling heads back to its roots this week with a solid action set piece. The narrative around it is a bit week, B-Rank Organization hunter takes payment to kill some convicts who raped a guys daughter causing her to commit suicide, fair enough, they looked like terrible people. But where it starts to fall off is when that B-Rank hunter decides to go postal on everyone else in the dungeon. Are you telling me he couldn’t have tried to at least talk it out with them first? Explain the situation and how terrible the criminals were? Instead he instantly goes for the kill, even bleeding them out and torturing them rather than making it fast. Basically Solo Leveling really dials up the sadism with him. And while that’s fine for Jin Woo and the fight, seriously it was a good fight I enjoyed the growing desperation from the B-Rank as well as Jin Woo flexing on the guy and Chi-Yul going full bad-ass grandpa that was all solid, it doesn’t make for the most compelling of stories. Really the emotional meat of the episode was Mr. Kim, unable to return to his daughter he previously sacrificed Jin Woo for, dying before he was able to apologize properly like he meant to, Jin Woo wanting to hate him for it but finding it difficult in his final moments. That was a good, solid emotional core for the episode. It’s just how we got to it that was iffy.

Shangri-La Frontier – 22 [The Walking Air Purifier]

Not much to say about Shangri-La this week. The show continues to feel like it’s in limbo, unable to move on to something more interesting due to the season ending but still having plenty of episodes left to go. This week, Sunraku ventures into a new area, fights off some more unique monsters, we get some cute gags with Bilac becoming a “cape” to hide while in town as well as some witty banter, and a decent-ish fight scene to boot. But that’s really it. After Wezaemon every unique monster out here feels like a push over, one not really worth caring about, and with 2 high-level NPCs tagging along what little mechanics they do have quickly get overpowered by raw stats and numbers. Would it be nice if Shangri-La committed to something a bit more meaningful before it ended in 3 weeks? Sure. But I’m not expecting it too.

Ishura – 11 [When the Sun Sets]

Ishura was good this week for about 5 minutes, that being the Magpie vs Soujirou fight. Their whole thing, figuring each other out, a battle of technique and planning instead of raw power like most of the rest have been, it was solid. A bit odd, sure. Some of the shots, like the reversing of the blade, or how Dakai apparently wasn’t able to see the sword was dull, felt off. Also if the sword is dull how is Soujirou able to cut what everyone else cannot? Pure technique? Anyways, aside from that stuff it was fine. But the rest of the episode? This was just… We were done with Regnejee, with Alus, with Hargent, we didn’t need to go back to these people. No one cares about them, their stuff was resolved, stop wasting what little time we have left on this stuff and let the fights continue. Anyways, not the best Ishura episode, but not the worst either. At the very least we got a cool swordfight out of it. Hopefully next week we can get one more.

The Witch and the Beast – 9 [The Witch and the Demon Sword, Final Act]

Another disappointing, weak week for Majo to Yajuu. Again, the ideas are solid. Guideau being this absolute monster, what with this being the second time we get to see the main body, is pretty cool. I enjoyed how everyone, from Ashgan to Cugat’s elemental, were freaked the fuck out by him. But at the same time… Why is he so strong? What is he? who is he? How did he get cursed like this to begin with if he’s so strong? Majo to Yajuu has all of these interesting questions available to it, things it can explore, and it actively chooses not too. Instead it spends all this time on pointless side stories that are just interesting enough to pull you in but never good enough to hold your attention. Take me back to the Necromancer girl please, her and her relationship with Johan was far more interesting. Even the producers seem to know this, since the promo image contains them and not Ashaf and Guideau. Anyways, hopefully this final arc does something interesting, because Majo to Yajuu has been letting me down for a while.

Unwanted Undead Adventurer – 11 [The Garden Labyrinth]

This is honestly the worst Unwanted Undead has ever been. Not only did it waste an inordinate amount of time on a maze, it didn’t even show us the solution to said maze. It just skipped to the end the moment the “gimmick” was figured out. And then, once we got out of the maze? The other half was just a shopping trip showing us a bunch of random magic gimmick items. Yes, show, AND THEN PICK AS YOUR PRIZE, a god damn novelty sized blimp. What is this? Did we need to spend an entire episode on this shit when the only stuff worth caring about was in the last 4 minutes when he got a vial of vampire blood? A vial he doesn’t even drink? You could cut 80% of this episode and lose nothing. My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined. Good job Unwanted Undead.

The post Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 10 appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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