suntzuanime

A thoughtful response to current anime.

Fall 2012 Episode 11 Rankings

7: Hayate 3

Please don't put the jokes aside.

Please don’t put the jokes aside.

Space butlers!

Space butlers!

Nagi lures Dolly and the spirit inhabiting Hayate’s body into a final confrontation. I’m not sure why I’m still watching this. Their big reveal of what’s been going on for the last several episodes depends not only on the existence of magical items with convenient properties, but also requires coincidence after coincidence to be layered on top of that. It seems like if the black camellia were going to be lost it would be lost with some random peasant idiot’s soul inside it, since the King shouldn’t have been left in there for longer than it would take to stab some random peasant idiot. And then Nagi’s father randomly activating its sword form at the exact moment he got in a car accident so he would get stabbed by it? Come on. For a big reveal to be enjoyable, it has to explain many confusing facts in the narrative with only a few new pieces of information. It should be clever and elegant, like a scientific theory that explains a lot of data with a single equation. This episode’s revelations were too full of a thousand different parameters that had to turn out just right in order to result in the events we saw: more string theory than Maxwell’s equations. (NO CHANGE)

6: Busou Shinki

bss

The moral of the story is, you are actually just an ugly duckling, so give up on your dreams.

The moral of the story is, you are actually just an ugly duckling, so give up on your dreams.

Hina finds evidence that seems to suggest that her supposed Master may actually not properly own her. So they decided to shoehorn some plot in in the last couple episodes. Bad choice. Busou Shinki is at its best when it’s low-key and silly – I’m not going to be able to take the trials and tribulations of tiny maid robots seriously.  Especially given that, when all is said and done, Shinki are consumer electronics, and you can just buy another one if one gets stolen.  (Well, ok, Hina is a super-rare model that you can’t buy in stores, but it’s not like her Master properly appreciates her rarity. Maybe she really is better off in the hands of a collector.) At least the sudden intrusion of plot meant that we didn’t have to spend much time at the Shinki tournament.  I was worried that it was going to be another Great Shinki Race situation where the entire episode is full of boring action sequences, but then Kurara lost in the very first round and we got on with our lives. Hina moping about whether or not her Master truly has legal ownership of her and whether she is who she thinks she is might not be very entertaining, but it’s better than watching Shinki battles. (DOWN 1)

5: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

sorry

sorry

We live in a technological utopia!

We live in a technological utopia!

The culture festival begins! This show tends to suffer from having too many narrative threads going at once and not resolving them in any rational order.  Like, in this episode we had everybody striving passionately to complete the Nyaboron show before the deadline, but simultaneously Misaki was dealing with her crippling insecurity, Mashiro was being sad and lonely about having to go back to England, and Jin and Misaki’s relationship issues were being resolved. It was just too much to keep track of. I know, that’s realistic, in real life you can’t just pick one interpersonal relationship to grind up to level 10 before you move on to the next one, but in a narrative if you have all these plots going on at once they should really feed into each other so that they feel like a single story. The closest this episode came to tying everything together was that all the True Love and Passion nonsense flying every which way inspired Sorata to come up with a satisfying ending for the Nyaboron story, but it was pretty weak.  At least the random culture festival gags were fun, and we got to see Akasaka dressed up in a frilly maid outfit, so the episode wasn’t a total loss. (DOWN 1)

4: Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankei Nai Yo Ne

Much like my posting.

Much like my posting.

Has there ever been a show where the harem ending was actually canon?

Has there ever been a show where the harem ending was actually canon?

Arisa sees something weird in the woods around the dormitory and everyone goes out to investigate. We got an Anastasia focused episode this time, and it was pretty good. The most interesting facet of her character is her overly-sensitive pride that makes her unable to be honest about her feelings and drives her to be super competitive, and it was on display this episode. Having her run outside without panties on after hearing Arisa scream was a brilliant move – it fed lots of cheap-but-funny gags throughout the episode as she tried to reconcile her lofty dignity with her unorthodox underwear situation. I’m not sure what the point of the editor’s fantasy at the end of the episode was, though.  Just to remind us that she still exists?  She’s cool, and the polygamy end what-if was cool,  but I’d rather have her included organically in the action than thrown in as an afterthought. (UP 2)

3: Shin Sekai Yori

Honestly, I'm not sure why they didn't do so a long time ago.

Honestly, I’m not sure why they didn’t do so a long time ago.

The trick is figuring out what they are without accidentally knowing them.

The trick is figuring out what they are without accidentally knowing them.

A new kid, Ryou, is brought in to replace Shun after he is wiped from the kids’ memories. So I guess the adults have been using hypnosis to cover up for all the children that are disappearing.  It seems like they shouldn’t rely so heavily on hypnosis if it’s as ineffective as this – it wasn’t able to keep Satoru’s Cantus sealed when they were fighting with the ratpeople, either. Or maybe Saki is just unusually good at fighting hypnosis? Unfortunately, she’s also unusually rebellious, at least for a member of the Society of Love.  She doesn’t trust that the Ethics Committee has good and just reasons for making her forget about her dead friends, and so she’s going to keep prying into stuff, and probably end up destroying the world. It reminds me of Watchmen, kinda: you can try to build a good progressive society, but there’ll always be a jackass Objectivist who wrecks everything by insisting that Truth is more important than Good. Remember, kids, nothing is more important than Good, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re Evil.  This was a solid, engaging, dramatic episode, and I feel bad ranking it at number 3, but it’s hard for Shin Sekai Yori in the middle of its run to compete with the thrilling conclusions of shows that are ending this season. (DOWN 2)

2: Psycho-Pass

No wonder Crime Coefficients are contagious.

No wonder Crime Coefficients are contagious.

Shoot the hostage!

Shoot the hostage!

Akane catches up with Makishima, only to find that the Sybil System won’t let her shoot him. Pretty brutal episode.  I honestly didn’t expect them to go that far – I expected Akane to be crushed because of something Kougami did, but it was her own cowardice/poor aim that did her in instead.  Or you could blame Makishima, I guess, but with a Crime Coefficient like that you’re gonna have a hard time making the case that he did anything wrong. So what’s the deal with his perfect Psycho-Pass anyway? Makishima seems to think it’s because he’s freely choosing to do evil deeds rather than doing evil deeds because his brain tells him to. This is, of course, bullshit, but you can’t rule out the possibility that it’s bullshit the author believes. Lots of people out there have yet to hear the good news of naturalistic determinism.  I think a more interesting possibility, though, is that Makishima is actually a good person, at least by the Sybil System’s standards.  After all, our AI overlords are above petty moralizing about deontological nonsense like “torturing people to death is always wrong”. A “good” person, to the Sybil System, is a person who’s good for society. And society has a major problem with people dropping dead due to eustress deficiency syndrome! The crimes Makishima is committing are all part of his search for a reason to live, which if he found it, would be really useful. He could be viewed as a researcher, experimenting to find a cure for the most deadly epidemic of the age, tranquility. Such a person could be a great benefit to society, so it would be a waste to splatter him all over the walls just because his experiments involve human subjects. After all, who needs ethical review boards when you have the Sybil System? (NO CHANGE)

1: Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai

Never ask that question.

Never ask that question.

;_; ;_;

;_; ;_;

Rikka gives up her chuunibyou delusions. This episode was utterly crushing.  I cried. The worst, most wrenching tragedies are the self-inflicted ones, and it was really hard to watch Rikka destroying herself as the guy who should have been supporting her and protecting her instead urged her on. She sacrificed everything that made her her on the altar of the all-consuming eldrich horror known as Mainstream Society. When she was cleaning her room and she didn’t know what she could keep? What she was *allowed* to keep? She didn’t know which aspects of her self were forgivable, so best to just throw it all out and start fresh. She can populate her new identity by buying a girls’ magazine and extrapolating a personality from its contents. Ugh. People have to be allowed to change, it’s true, but some changes are hard to distinguish from death. And Dekomori was the only one trying to save Rikka’s life, the only real friend she had. The loyal servant to the end, good for her. Essayist Paul Graham suggests that you should keep your identity as small as possible: I think this episode was a good demonstration of how horrifying it can be to actually try to put that into practice. (UP 2)

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