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Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 12

Dungeon Meshi – 13 [Red Dragon III/Good Medicine]

What is this, 3 weeks in a row? Dungeon Meshi has been killing it lately, and this episode is no exception. The first half was unexpectedly terrifying, “introducing” our new big bad and final goal, the Mad Magician who created the dungeon. This was a really cool twist, and something I think Dungeon Meshi setup well. Everything from the ghosts to the painting to the structure of the dungeon/castle itself feels obvious looking back, but it’s only with the Mad Mage’s arrival that I finally put together that this is the same castle. That some tragedy occurred and, in attempting to divert or undo it, the Mad Mage created this dungeon. Every ghost is a citizen of the kingdom, every monster or trap something created to keep out looters and ne’er-do-well’s. And should one of his bigger pets, like the dragon, get slain? Well he shows up to deal with the problem himself and set things back until he figures out how to save his king. Great stuff, really horrifying imagery, absolutely love all of that. As for the second half, it’s all about our team recovering and realizing they are in way over their head. Chilchuck’s inner conflict of not wanting to see his friends die, but expressing it as his own cowardice, and subsequent conversation with the white orc was really good. Also the white orcs design is great for a one-off, really hope we see more of her in the future. Anyways, it’s a nice way to reset, get them out of the dungeon, gather more allies, and dive back in for another run. All good shit. My only complaint is that Falin’s “kidnapping” feels like a “Your princess is in another castle” situation. Yeah, her getting resurrected alongside the dragon in the same body or whatever is cool, good use of resources/magic. But we literally just got/saved her, can we not spend some time with her before she disappears as a character again? Aside from that disappointment, I thought it was a fantastic episode. Really excited for the second cour.

A Sign of Affection – 12 [Our World]

There’s no other way to say it, Yubisaki was really cute this week. An entire episode all about cementing Yuki and Itsuomi’s relationship? Their first real date where they talk, take pictures, and just enjoy each others company? All of that culminating in Itsuomi sharing his dream for the future with her and saying he loves her? It’s all just really, really cute. In fact, I think Yubisaki pulled everything together so well that it doesn’t actually need another season. That would be nice, the designs are cute, the show is well animated, and the relationship is wholesome. But I feel like the show reached a solid “end” for the story it was trying to tell. Everyone has grown a bit, is moving in the right direction. From Shin, Emma and Oushi to Yuki and Itsuomi. Would I like more time with them? Seeing them grow more, their relationship escalate, travel to other countries together? Sure. But I don’t need it, the show doesn’t require it in the same way a lot of other shows do where they end on a “Go read the manga” style cliff. Suffice to say, I’m really happy with how Yubisaki turned out. When it first started I never expected to like it as much as I do.

Series Score: 8/10

Bucchigiri – 10 [Fallen Friend! This Love, This Pain, This Almond Tofu!]

Ah Bucchigiri, you’ve finally returned to what made you fun: Over the top action, highschool delinquents and thinly veiled character drama. Matakara slowly becoming more and more of a monster, actively picking fights, brutalizing his opponents, pushing himself to the edge just to feel strong, was great. It’s a really good depiction of the kind of toxic masculinity, one rooted in this fear of not being good enough and having to assert yourself over others through violence to feel secure, and shows just how weak people who think like this actually are. Of course in this case Matakara is a victim, he’s being pushed towards it by Ichiya, but it’s still not a great thing to do. That said, it does lead to Matakara fighting Marito, and that was pretty rad. Ichiya was about to give up on Matakara but then, much like Arajin’s wish, Matakara states his own and they get a fusion! And damn what a kick it is. Really looking forward to the upcoming Ken and eventual Arajin fight, should be a good time.

The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic – 13 [The Journey Begins!]

Wrong Way ends the same way it began, with just enough promise to make it worth watching while still retaining that classic Isekai flavor. This episode is, almost entirely, just setting up a 2nd season. Will it get a 2nd season? I have no idea, I’d like it too! But there’s nothing announced yet, which makes this sort of cliffhanger “We’re about to go into the wider world” ending feel a bit lacking in a lot of ways. Luckily however, all of the characters, their motivations, their relationships, those are all still good. Usato traveling to heal Amako’s comatose mother, asking the King to reroute his entire diplomatic mission to get him in the area, Felm “running away” to try and join him after he bought her a diary and generally cared for her, it’s all solid. Considering what I expected this series to be when it first started, and where it’s ended up, I think it’s safe to say that it has surpassed my expectations. Good job Wrong Way, you surprised me.

Series Score: 7/10, An Isekai with heart but still an Isekai in a lot of ways

Solo Leveling – 11 [A Knight Who Defends an Empty Throne]

This was fun, Solo Leveling was fun this week. No bullshit drama with parents, no politics, none of that. Just Jin Woo fighting his way through a dungeon and kicking some ass. Easily the worst part of the episode were the weird cutaways to Jinsung eating dinner with his father, randomly breaking up the action of the dungeon. Ignoring that? It was just an all around good time. Was fun watching him fight each type of monster in a different way, how he got his ass kicked by Igris, only to catch him off guard at the end abusing his “honor”. All around good shit. The video game stuff is starting to get dull though, I’ll admit. The item system, the stat system, none of it really feels… necessary? Or like the show engages with it that much? It mostly only exists for weapons and storing shit in an invisible inventory, there’s no sense that these item upgrades actually do anything. Still, the fights were great, good fun. Hopefully the finale next week is able to give us one last action packed hurrah and we can end the series on a high note before it gets… weird.

Shangri-La Frontier – 24 [Rare Items, Worth More Than Life Itself]

Shangri-La continues in the same holding pattern it’s been in for weeks now. One where it’s not over, but it doesn’t have the space to do anything particularly interesting. What makes this episode different however, what makes this one fun despite that, is that it goes back to the series roots of just being a gamer doing ridiculous and stupid gamer things. See an area filled with mobs far outside your level that’s clearly designed to be hard-core group content? Time waste hours on hours beating your head into a wall finding some way to cheese it so you can get the loot. See you’ve gotten all the loot but the hardest, rarest drop? Time to be an absolute gremlin and do something incredibly risky and stupid, just for a shot at it. And when RNG fails you, when the game says “No”, start cursing at it like a sailor. That right there? That’s the way a gamer has fun. Hell, it’s how I killed a Drake in Dragon’s Dogma 2, just lead it into a river and watch it die from drowning, because I can. Good shit.

The Apothecary Diaries – 24 [Jinshi and Mao Mao]

Apothecary Diaries doubles down this week on Lakan’s big reveal. And you know what? If I step back, ignore my dislike for the character, and just enjoy it for what it is, it’s pretty good. The whole thing about playing Go with Fengxian, the way he sees her not as scarred and destroyed but as the same beautiful woman he knew all those years ago, is really heartwarming. Had this been properly built up for him, had I any reason to believe Lakan wasn’t an asshole prior to this, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. Same for when Mao Mao said she doesn’t actually hate him, which is completely bullshit based on how she reacted to him in the show prior. As it is though, most of this finale fell flat for me. Lakan’s bit because I just don’t like him, Mao Mao’s because she herself is so totally disconnected from Lakan and Fengxian that she didn’t have any emotional connection to what was happening, and Jinshi because he was just sort of… there? All in all it was a disappointing ending for a show that started as one of, if not the, best things in its season. Hopefully if it ever gets a season 2, it will be able to get back to the good shit.

Series Score: 7/10, First half was fantastic, one of the best of the season, second half was mediocre and lost focus.

The Witch and the Beast – 11 [Eloquence and Silence, Opening Act]

Majo to Yajuu seems to have one last idea in it as we dive into a backstory arc. Is it a good idea? Eeeh, not really? It’s billed as Ashaf and Guideau’s first meeting, and we do get that. They are both looking for the same witch, run into each other, butt heads for about a minute… And then they are right back to the same buddy cop routine we’ve had for the entire series. Majo to Yajuu seems afraid to truly pit them against each other, instead forcing them onto the same side almost right away as another pair of Executioners become our antagonists for the arc. This is a missed opportunity I think, as we’ve already seen them fight external arc-specific antagonists twice now. We know how this goes, and since it’s a flashback we know they make it out unscathed. At least if they had fought each other we could have played the fun “How does Ashaf win this” game. But now we don’t get that. And that kinda sucks.

The post Winter 2024 What-I’m-Watching Summary – Week 12 appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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