ANIME (FIRST PLACE VOTES)
Kill la Kill (14)
Samurai Flamenco (3)
Monogatari Series: Second Season (1)
White Album 2 (6)
On the cusp: Kyoukai no Kanata, Little Busters! Refrain, Kakumeiki Valvrave, Log Horizon, Nagi no Asukara
Off the table: Galilei Donna ( 7)
Anyone who does not vote for Kill la Kill in this week's APR supports Honnouji Academy and its dictatorship views. And that's terrible.
Mr. Flawfinder ()
Kill la Kill takes the top spot in this week's Anime Power Rankings behind 14 first place votes, the most this season in weeks where all shows were airing. With four first place finishes in as many weeks, Kill la Kill is now halfway to the all time record of nine in a row held by Nisemonogatari. This week's episode was a hilariously entertaining, campy treat. I really love how funny Kill la Kill is, despite establishing a very clear storyline. The format of one small force looking up and defeating a much larger force gives of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann vibes, and the interlaced humor is also reminiscent of the great Gainax anime.
White Album really kicked it up this week, firmly establishing the romantic conflict to come. This show has a bunch of strengths, but one thing I really appreciate is how believable the tension between the main three is. Not only are each of them very different and well-articulated people, but each of them also shares a specific and understandable dynamic with each of the other two, and it's easy to see how drama will naturally build out of their existing feelings and personalities. White Album isn't a perfect show, but it's refreshing to see a romantic drama with characters and conflicts this solidly written.
While Album 2 finally breaks into the top 5 this week behind a key episode that frames the main conflict of the show.
White Album 2 continues to breathe life into its generic love triangle shctick and forming it into something truly beautiful with impeccable execution. Rather than force-feeding its drama, it takes a very subtle approach by letting the moments speak for themselves, resulting in a far more emotionally satisfying experience.
Samurai Flamenco is another great show where the moments speak for themselves and I love how the humor naturally dervies from the realistic situations at hand. I also really dig how naive, but passionate our male lead is when it comes to ensuring his own definition of justice.
So yeah, with a couple of other great series that I didn't mention, it's been a pretty solid season so far.
Now let's go to the mailbag.
White album continues to impress with its ability to draw me into the building character drama despite the actual events of the show being relatively mundane on the surface. Even as nothing particularly special happens on screen I find myself more and more invested in the love triangle developing between Haruki, Setsuna and Kazusa. There's an understated quality to White Album that I really appreciate. It isn't very in your face and the characters don't have particularly over the top personalities like the characters in some anime this season, but it all works in a way I haven't seen a romance anime work in a very long time. I'm glad White Album 2 exists to show what a romance anime should be like.
By Contrast, Nagi no Asukara's characters all seem to be in possession of very strongly defined personalities. It's not necessarily a bad thing as these personalities help to elegantly demonstrate the point that nothing is ever as simple as one would like. People have a habit of trying to attribute every action taken by somebody else that they don't like to malice without putting any effort into understanding why that person would think that way. People may take actions we don't agree with but things are always more complicated than they seem and those people actually have a reason for doing what they do. I appreciate the message and I'm glad to see that Nagi is delivering it so well thus far.
We're on to the main event in refrain and I'm finding myself getting as caught up in it as I had once hoped I would be back over a year ago when the Little Busters anime first began. This episode did an excellent job of recreated the first high school romance experience. The nervous excitement, the uncertainty about how to act around each other and around your close friends, and just the general confusion one feels when going through something like this for the first time. It doesn't help Riki that Rin is somebody he's known for so long. JC Staff is also clearly wasting no time in showing us that not everything is as it seems in a way that was much more blatant than what the VN offered its readers. It's different but it works for a TV adaptation and I am glad to see JC Staff getting the little adaptation decisions they have to make correct.
Speaking of JC staff getting romance right Golden Time really stepped things up this week. The web of relationships is starting to take shape and I really like what I see. People will reach for the obvious Toradora comp with Golden Time given who the author of the original LN is. However, I am starting to see a bit of Honey and Clover in Golden Time. The relationship map in Golden Time is far more complex than the same in Toradora much like the one in Honey and Clover. Add in the fact that Honey and Clover also took place in college and it's clearly the better point of reference in my mind. As Honey and Clover is one of my all-time favorites I'm finding myself more and more excited about Golden Time. The overall style will be different since Honey and Clover is a josei manga whereas Golden Time is a LN but the resemblance is unmistakable and I hope the end product will prove to be of similar quality.
It isn't in Junichi Satou territory but Non Non Biyori is shaping up to be a nice little iyashikei offering. This week's story about the sisters was quite sweet. You can tell that the original manga wasn't a 4koma as each story has much better flow to it than the typical 4koma cute girls doing cute things anime. Non Non is never going to be any kind of transcendent anime that people will remember for years but what it does it does well and I'm quite enjoying it.
Kyoukai no Kanata - This is the first episode in this show thus far, I think. While the fast-talking doesn't hide the characters don't mesh that well, and the very, very beautiful fight animation doesn't hide that something is missing underneath, this episode had done a lot to pave the way to the characters getting along in future episodes and finally forming real relationships, without Mirai being such a sore stick, "heart"-wise.
Also, they already foreshadowed part of the potential reason to the characters not gelling and future personal conflict - Akihito thinks he has no friends and his friends are only there to look out for him breaking loose - but if they didn't care, they wouldn't go to all that trouble, would they? The show's beats are expected, but hopefully they'll work out even better from here on out. In the meanwhile, witty banter and fluid animations are the order of the day.
Samurai Flamenco - This show is justice. The characters continue to display an unending amount of chemistry. The hilarity in this episode was great - it didn't come from gags or routine jokes which could be found in an endless array of other shows, but grew organically from the characters' personalities and interaction - and of course, Japanese talk-shows. The gang is growing, but for every naive or head-in-the-clouds person we get, we also get a hardcore cynic to balance the crew.
Kill la Kill - On one hand, I've said since week 1 that the art-style in this show is reminiscent in multiple parts of the style used in the infamous epiosde 4 of TTGL - well, we got to week 4 and I'm sure some people are even angrier than they had been then This episode truly drove home how far you can push still moments, along with clever direction. The music had been even more top notch than usual - how can you say no to luminaries such as Johan Strauss (Blue Danube Waltz) or Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor? :O
Gingitsune - This show is doing what it set out to do perfectly. We have small moments of slice of life, and we have the magical realism where we finally find more rules of how this unique setting works. We got to meet new (old) gods in shrines. The show also handles well the "virtual flashback" moments in a manner more similar to books, which more anime should employ - I teared up multiple times as something made me recall a related or similar incident from past episodes, but without actually showing me a flashback - the show trusts me to make the connections and remember what shaped our characters. I find myself smiling each week after watching this show, and what more could we truly ask for?