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Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 11

Hey all! Apologies for the delay on this. Can’t lie, I’ve been caught up playing Dragon’s Dogma 2 plus some grad school work. Hopefully things will relax around May, cause dear god am I busy haha. Anyways, here’s this weeks episodes!

Dungeon Meshi – 12 [Red Dragon II]

First up this week is, once again, Dungeon Meshi. While not as bombastic and action packed as last week, this was still a very emotional and well paced episode. The early tension around resurrecting Falin and Marcille’s “dark” magic, all the preparation putting together bones to make a skeleton, and then the climax of the ritual itself. It was all really good, a nice and satisfying way to wrap up the arc. Dungeon Meshi was even considerate enough to use the second half too cool us down. It spent a lot of time on their reunion and individual relationships with Falin. We got to see once again how protective Laios is of her, how similar the two are in their adventurous spirit and test for food and, most important, the one true OTP of Dungeon Meshi: Farcille! Their scenes were really cute, especially them cuddling in the bed and just talking. The bath stuff could have been a bit much, but Dungeon Meshi didn’t go overboard or do anything to fetishize it, they took a bath together nothing more, so I think it worked. As for what’s next? Well we’ve gotten some setup for Falin being empowered because she was resurrected using dragon flesh, as well as the crazy dark skinned elf from the paintings apparently following, and finally finding, them. Don’t know where those will go, but Dungeon Meshi has earned my trust by this point, I’m excited and looking forward to it. Just give me more Farcille and I’ll be happy, seriously.

Undead Unluck – 24 [To You, From Me]

Undead Unluck’s finale is sort of emblematic of the series as a whole. When firing on all cylinders, it’s fantastic. Everything around Anno Un, the “death” of his persona, the one thing allowing him to interact with the wider world, as well as his intense desire for human connection and Andy’s fist bump, was great. It’s up there with Gina’s death in episode 4, or the Sunflower scene in episode 6 or 7 I believe it was. When Undead Unluck hits, when the direction and production and pacing are all on point, it hits hard. Some of the best scenes/episodes of the past two seasons. But other times… Other times the direction wavers, the production falls apart, and the pacing slows to a crawl. Even this very episode, the season finale, was laden with recap and flashbacks. Some of the flashbacks were fine, like laying the groundwork of Rip’s past showing how he doesn’t want to be a villain but does it because he thinks it’s the only way to get what he wants, those were good enough. But we really didn’t need the whole “Anno Un Pictionary” cutaways. All in all, this was simultaneously a better adaptation than I expected Undead Unluck to get, but worse than I was hoping for after an incredible first cour. Hopefully we get more seasons and they restrict themselves to one cour at a time, giving each the attention they deserve. Because I really want more from this team, at least when they are at their best.

Series Score: 7/10 – Good, dragged down by poor pacing and production problems at times.

Bucchigiri – 9 [Temptation! Soup-Related Etceteras!]

Bucchigiri continues to slowly shift from “Fun schoolyard romp” to “Dark character drama” and I’m here for it. On the fun side we still have the classic gags of Mahoro shutting down Arajin, Marito messing around with his sister, and the teacher going to what, at this point, has to be a cat café. All fun! But those mostly exist to break up the more serious scenes of Matakara succumbing to Ichiya, being corrupted as he tries to dispel the fear in his heart. I like how this is pushing him into conflict with Arajin, as well as how the rest of the cast are reacting it all, like Mahoro empathizing with Mataraka losing his brother and such. We even got some Senya and Ichiya backstory, which was pretty cool! I’m curious what their relationship was like and why it fell apart/how they got turned into ghosts and shit, as well as why they need/are trying to possess someone else’s body. All around a solid episode of escalation and I’m looking forward to what Bucchigiri has in store for us with 3 episodes left. That’s plenty of time for things to go down!

A Sign of Affection – 11 [Promise]

No much to say here, Yubisaki continues to be really freaking cute, definitely my surprise romance of the season. From Kyouya and Rin going on dates to the zoo to Itsuomi teaching Yuki some German to reassure her before her interview, it’s all just really wholesome. As far as “progression”, I’d say the meat of this episode was with Oushi. We see him start to change and adjust himself, realizing that he was being over protective, over bearing, and generally just rather rude. It’s cute to see Yuki pick up on his change, as well as him voice how he actively wants to be better, clearly for Yuki to try and win her over from Itsuomi. We also got a bit of Emma and Shin, though that wasn’t as cute. Shin finally bucked up and told Emma about Yuki, even going so far as to ask her to pick him instead. It comes across as a tad desperate, like he’s trying to be her rebound, but with what we know of him I think it’s more just trying to say everything he can before he loses the nerve he finally plucked up to talk to her. Hopefully Yubisaki does/resolves something here before the end of the season, because it definitely feels like the most untapped/unresolved story the show still has going on. Other than that though, just a cute, wholesome episode, continues to be really expressive animation wise, the signing still looks great. An all around good time if you ask me.

Frieren – 28 [It Would Be Embarrassing When We Met Again]

And so Frieren comes to a close. My opinion on this final arc remains unchanged, I think this tournament was without question the weakest part of the series so far. As cool as it was to watch Denken pass and Serie take an interest in him, to see Ubel sociopath her way through and learn that puppet boy completed the whole exam without ever one leaving his house, it just wasn’t particularly interesting. There was a bit at the end with Lernen wanting to defeat Frieren to ensure Serie/the world remembered him, and I liked the reveal that Serie remembers all of her students, as well as their favorite spells, despite how she has decried sentimentality previously. Those are the kinds of scenes/reveals I watch Frieren for, and they are great every time they happen. But for most of this arc? That sort of stuff fell by the wayside. The whole arc just felt unnecessary to me. Still, between the first cour and Frieren’s raw quality in things like animation and sound design, it’s impossible to say the show isn’t worth watching. Hopefully if it gets a second season, Frieren will go back to the more wandering/reminiscing style it had earlier on. Whatever it decides to do though, I’m sure it will at least look, and sound, great. Also Denken is still a chad and I still want Ubel to step on me. That is all.

Series Score: 8/10 – First cour was fantastic, Second cour exam arc felt unnecessary, still one of the best things in the season though.

The Apothecary Diaries – 23 [Balsam and Woodsorrel]

Ah Apothecary Diaries, how you have fallen. I’m really sad about this one. Mao Mao and Jinshi are still great, their back and forth’s and relationship is the backbone of the show. But for the past couple of episodes they have had to play second fiddle to the man who has single handedly dragged Apothecary Diaries down, Lakan. And to make matters worse? The show can’t even commit on what kind of man he is. I get it, this episode is supposed to show there was “more going on”, that he really did love Mao Mao’s mother and that it was a twist of fate that kept him away for so long. He could have, and probably would have, bought her out and cared for her himself this entire time if he had known. He’s such a misunderstood man who truly cares for his daughter and lover! The issue though is that Apothecary Diaries spent 10 episodes showing us just how much of an asshole he is, as well as leading us on and making us think he had sexually assaulted Mao Mao’s mother and left her to rot in the brothel. You don’t get to suddenly try and reverse that without laying the proper groundwork, which I don’t believe Apothecary Diaries did. Now to be fair, the whole bit with the game and the “poison” and the liquor was kind of clever, though I feel like that’s something Lakan should have figured out with what we’ve been told/shown of him. Still, it was a plausible way to beat him in game. And, ignoring my biases against Lakan for a moment, the backstory bit with Fengxian, Mao Mao’s mother, was done well too. I also liked the tidbit/hint that Mao Mao’s doctor “father” is actually Lakan’s Uncle, who was dismissed from the palace after the whole child birth thing. Feels like a lot of threads are coming together, and that’s good. I just wish I liked the Lakan thread more than I did.

The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic – 12 [The True Face of the Black Knight!]

A nice, if slow, wind down for Wrong Way this week. Not surprising, we only have one episode left after this, it’s time for the season to end and to start seeding information for seasons to come, assuming they get any. Most of the episode is spent introduce a “new” character, that being the Black Knight, and getting to properly know them. We see her take off the armor, called a “Hardcore M” by Suzume, drafted into the Healer Corps as a runner, and basically fall in love with Usato. Not huge on that last one, means Wrong Way is setting up some kind of harem between her, Suzume, and maybe the fox girl. But as far as harems go Wrong Way doesn’t revel in it, and if the romance side of things ever progress I could see the series being good enough to have Usato turn her down and commit to Suzume. That would be cool! Anyways I’m getting ahead of myself, Wrong Way was slow and wholesome this week, taking a victory lap after a generally successful season. I wouldn’t expect any big reveals or moments in the final episode, but I’ll hold off on my score until then just in case. Suffice to say, I’m surprisingly satisfied with it.

Solo Leveling – 10 [What Is This, a Picnic?]

Solo Leveling was fun this week. Got some power leveling, some new abilities, watching him carve his way through multiple dungeons all on his own, culminating in receiving a Job Change quest that will, most likely, be our grand finale for the season. There honestly wasn’t a lot of meat to the episode, since it was mostly fighting and grinding. There were some jokes about a D and E rank being morons to try to solo these dungeons and then the talker getting put in their place, as well as people getting so blasé about it that they start bringing cards and setting up picnics. Also got a bit about Jin Woo getting noticed and scouted for a guild, which he of course turns down. Not a whole lot there, Solo Leveling just letting us know that he can’t remain hidden forever, but I doubt that’s going to come up/be relevant before this cour finishes up. The only part of the episode that caught my eye was the ant nightmare bit, that was pretty rad and I believe exclusive to the anime, so good job there. I really like those small touches they add to expand on/set things up that previously sort of just came out of nowhere in the Web Toon. Hopefully, heading into this finale, Solo Leveling will end on a high note for the season.

Shangri-La Frontier – 23 [Bird with Rabbits vs. Skeletal Choir]

Shangri-La continues to chug along in it’s little purgatory where it can’t do anything meaningful because the season is ending, but it still has 2 episodes left to go. This week Sunraku clears another area boss on his way to complete a quest for Bilac! Sounds fun right? The problem: No boss he fights is going to be able to live up too Wezaemon. And I get it, not every fight has to live up to him, he’s a Colossus, a unique monster, an ultimate big bad boss. If every fight was like that, we would get tired out. The answer though is to provide different sorts of challenges, things like PvP or exploration or even just different games entirely, while we wind down. Not to throw a bunch of piddly monsters that we all know are no real threat. Anyways, it’s the same thing I’ve been disappointed with for a while from Shangri-La. It just doesn’t seem to have any idea what it wants to do now that Wezaemon is defeated, and I have better things to watch each week. At least it gave me something fantastic before this. Maybe the next season, if it gets one, will be able to ramp back up, because it does big fights and climaxes really well.

The Witch and the Beast – 10 [Origin Witch]

Majo to Yajuu really annoys me. One week it will be absolute garbage, from animation to narrative, it will be a complete waste of your time. Then the next you’ll get something like this that’s actually interesting, and doesn’t look too bad either. The whole thing with Guideau and Angela, the witch who cursed her? The implication that she’s a body swapper living long past when she should have died by switching bodies and messing with peoples souls, explaining how Guideau got into her current predicament and why Angela is so damn frightening? That’s all cool, I like that we finally have a witch antagonist who feels threatening again, that was the entire premise of the god damn show after all. It’s a shame Majo to Yajuu took this long to set this up though, as we only have 2 more episodes before the end of the season. I just don’t see how it can turn this into a satisfying arc in the time, especially since there’s no way they kill Angela in that time frame.  Still, if it can give me a fun finale to leave off on, that will go a long way towards recovery in my eyes. Anything to cleanse the pallet after that Executioner arc really.

Ishura – 12 [Shura]

Just when Ishura was starting to ramp up, it ends. At its best, Ishura is a rad fantasy “Who would win in a fight” fun time. Every single fight of the series was fun and inventive. While they didn’t always look the best, due to Ishura’s limited production, they were always the highlight of the episode, I enjoyed them a lot. The issue is  everything in between, which this final episode is a prime example of. All the politics, the world, this stuff about a “Demon King” and a nation trying to fine the “True Hero” and shit, none of that was developed very well at all and always played second fiddle to the fights. The only exception to this I can think of is Soujirou and how Yuno is, slowly but surely, giving him something more to fight for than his own amusement. Still, with a good half of the show dedicated to this stuff, as well as introducing all the combatants before any of the actual fighting, you have to wade through a bunch of nothing to get to anything remotely entertaining. It just goes to show how fun the actual fights, and the characters taking parts in those fights, are that I made it through the series at all. Hopefully with the second season announced already Ishura will be a bit more consistent, what with half the fighters carrying over and not needing to be reintroduced. That’s the hope anyways, because I really want to enjoy more Soujirou fighting ridiculous opponents. That stuff was rad.

Series Score: 5/10 – Decent Highs, Mediocre Lows

Unwanted Undead Adventurer – 12 [Rentt Faina]

Bringing up the tail of the week is Unwanted Undead. Oh Unwanted Undead, you started so strong and then fell off so hard. From an interesting “A nobody adventurer dies and comes back as an undead” to giving that “nobody” a classic tragic MC backstory to fit his new edgy look, from struggling to defeat slimes and skeletons to being handed vampire blood and evolving into an immortal undead. Oh some of that’s fine, we knew where he was going to end up eventually. But it was supposed to be something he earned, not got given to him for figuring out a maze. All in all it feels like Unwanted Undead had a good idea that severely hamstrung it’s MC and made life harder in interesting ways, but then couldn’t figure out how to progress that and so fell back on the tried and true Fantasy adventure tropes. A shame for a series that started so well, closer to a 6/10 than what it ended up as.

Series Score: 4.5/10 – A slightly above average fantasy adventure that eventually slides into mediocrity. Fun for a little bit at least.

The post Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 11 appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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