A thoughtful response to current anime.

Fall 2012 Episode 4 Rankings

7: Busou Shinki

You guys are gonna make Ann sad. 😦

The Shinki sneak off to compete in a race. The charm of this show flows to some exent from its corniness, but this episode was too corny even for me.  There’s no tension when the Shinki start squabbling amongst one another.  There can be no doubt in our minds that they will have made up by the end of the episode in some suitably sappy way.  And the framing device for the resolution of this squabble, the Great Shinki Race, was not very interesting to watch either.  The way the rules were constantly changed in the middle of the race was supposed to be funny, but in practice it just made it impossible to care about the outcome.  The winner was determined less by the passionate struggles of the competing Shinki, and more by the whims of the referees.  That’s no fun! Somebody help me out and make a joke about scab NFL refs, I don’t really follow sports.  (DOWN 3)

6: Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai Yo Ne

Brutally friendzoned.

It was really hard to find a screencap from the second half of the episode meeting this blog’s standards of feigned indifference to titillation.

The girls of the dormitory share a bath and deepen their friendships. Anastasia was more interesting in this episode than the last, probably because they were done trying to convince me she was cute and went back to having her heap verbal abuse on the protagonist, which is what’s actually cute about her. I was less thrilled with Gin’s bit.  Ok, she’s friendzoned.  Oh well.  It’s rough, but at least she gets free cakes out of it.  Then the last half, with the girls in the bath… what can I say?  I appreciate at least that they didn’t put a bunch of obnoxious DVD-incentive censorship steam in the mix.  If you’re going to engage in shameless pandering fanservice, you should at least show something worth being ashamed of, and this episode succeeded in that.  And at least they stuck to their no-incest guns; all the bathtime fun was just normal, healthy lesbianism. (UP 1)

5: Hayate no Gotoku 3

As a connoisseur of hypocrisy, I found this scene quite piquant.

Ruri tries to get closer to Nagi by bonding with her over anime, manga, and JRPGs. This was a pretty weak episode.  Most of the gags were obscure inside baseball jokes about old-ass anime that I probably wouldn’t have even cared about if I had been alive when it aired.  It felt like a return to the reference-based humor of the first season, which would be unwelcome.  There were still a few good gags, though.  Especially the final punchline about how, haha, otaku are the scum of the earth, haha. (DOWN 3)

4: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

This is what losing feels like. This is why most of us don’t try.

KOSH: “Never ask that question.”

Mashiro is rejected by the manga newcomer’s competition. This episode started out appropriately sad, with people failing at things they really desperately wanted to succeed at and being unable to admit the feelings that burned brightly within their hearts.  I was moved!  But by the end, they had thrown it all away and resolved things basically by cheating. Mashiro wins after all thanks to her high-placed connections, and Sorata gets to pretend he has a plan for the future, even though that plan is to go to school, and even worse, to go to school to learn how to make video games. It’s a copout.  But then, I guess Mashiro’s manga (the revised version) also had a copout happy ending, so maybe there’s some sort of art imitates life thing going on there?  I don’t want to give them too much credit. (DOWN 1)

3: Psycho-Pass

The team investigates the disappearance of the man behind a popular online persona. Depictions of futuristic internet culture can be really good or really bad, and the one in this episode was sort of both.  On the one hand, they had cool avatars – our wideface protagonist especially.  And the idea of a party where everyone cosplays as their avatar is cool, and more feasible given cheap consumer hologram projectors. On the other hand I guess there is some sort of cult or conspiracy that is secretly murdering people who don’t live up to the “ideals of the internet”? Which just strikes me as not what the internet’s about.  The fundamental nature of the internet is decentralized – you don’t have a central conspiracy to police it.  This episode wanted so badly to be Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex.  And it fell short of that goal.  But hey, partial credit for a lofty goal like that is still pretty good.  (UP 3)

2: Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai

I hear Ray Kurzweil had the same problem.

Nibutani pays a visit to Yuuta, with a hidden agenda. Things are finally starting to pick up in this show, now that Nibutani’s turned into an interesting character too.  That leaves only Kumin still boring.  Well, and the protagonist, but harem protagonists are allowed to be boring.  It’s expected of them.  I am sort of dubious about how common Chuunibyou seems to be in the context of this show.  Maybe the uplifting moral of the show is “everybody does it, so what are you ashamed of”, but man, not everybody does it.  I believe myself always to have been acting within the bounds of rationality.  Even in my second year of middle school, I properly observed the distinction between fiction and reality.  Don’t I deserve credit for that?  (UP 3)

1: Shin Sekai Yori

AKA “Obama’s America”.

Full post. The children learn about the origins of their society. This episode had lots of future history and political philosophy, and it didn’t even sacrifice its compelling atmosphere to do it.  If you’re going to do ten minutes worth of exposition, do it through a rainbow-colored tentacle demon, I guess is the lesson.  Unfortunately, now the kids have left their safe home and have set off on a journey through the demon infested wilderness.  We could start to see some of the more typical adventure-type events taking place.  (Ambushed by angry ratpeople! Deadly demons lurking in the underbrush waiting to explode at you for no reason!) I worry that in the future these things are going to crowd out everything I like about the show.  So this may be the last episode that’s this good. (NO CHANGE)

Big Winners: Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai, Psycho-Pass

Big Losers: Hayate no Gotoku 3, Busou Shinki


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