For a Sidonia episode with this much comedy in it, this week’s effort was surprisingly good. In fact I’d wager to say it was about the best yet in terms of humor, though parts of it were still awkward as hell.
This was a funny (in the other sense) sort of episode in that it had some big-time set pieces and lots of dying interspersed with the slice of life stuff – in my experience Sidonia eps tends to run mostly one or the other. This graviton cannon escapade is only the latest ill-advised adventure the Sidonia bigwigs have gotten messed up in, but it seems to have the potential to be the worst. A weapon so disastrously unpredictable even the megalomaniacal nutjob genius Ochiai couldn’t perfect it? Yeah, I want one of those – especially in the hands of Kobayashi, who seems to have gone pretty far around the bend herself. The “test” was a success insofar as it blew a hole in the dwarf planet, but that almost destroying Sidonia thing was a nasty complication.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose – and if you were to sum up the plot of Sidonia no Kishi in one sentence, you could do a lot worse than that one. Meanwhile, there plenty of the situation comedy that’s normally good only for groans, but some of it actually kind of worked. All the scenes with Tsumugi in Nagate and Izana’s apartment are so utterly absurd that they’ve developed a kind of comic charm, and the scene with Samari trying to Mrs. Robinson Nagate in the izakaya (“Nagate-kun, I want to… photosynthesize.”) was almost as ridiculously amusing (and gave us the rare anime spectacle of a minor shown drinking alcohol). I barely remember Samari to be honest – highly distinct characters are hardly this author’s strong suit – but I sure didn’t remember her being that hot for Nagate.
The line forms behind Izana anyway, it seems to me. And now that her (yes, we can settle on “her” now) body has made her gender choice for her, there’s really nothing standing in this couple’s way now. Poor Izana – she illegally hacked her flight suit to try and hide her new rack, and got ejected for it (and poor Yuhata tweaked her own uniform to try and pull off the opposite illusion). And since everything that’s said in the bath of their new apartment can be heard everywhere in the apartment – what’s up with that? – Nagate now knows the truth. There’s the little matter of Lem, where things appear to have taken a turn for the apocalyptic, to keep them busy for now. But I’ll be disappointed if there isn’t some reckoning between Izana and Nagate pretty soon.
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 20
This was a problematic episode of Unlimited Blade Works for me, for a number of reasons. First off, it’s so dependent on in-depth knowledge of the source material that it’s unable to support its own weight. Second, it’s centered around what I consider a hollow and false premise – its interpretation of Emiya Kiritsugu’s life and death. And third, to be honest it’s self-important to the point of unintentional self-parody. Oh, and it has way too much Shinji.
All of that is why, despite the fact that the material is pretty decently executed and as usual the visuals are splendiferous, this ep is ultimately a miss for me. And I think it’s symbolic too, of the fact that for a viewer like me this is really as far as Fate can go. Without being someone who both adores and encyclopediacally knows the material, as well as someone why buys that the premise is both valid and as deep as the writing thinks it is, it’s hard to get the visceral thrill from the moment the events here are clearly designed to impart. It’s a shame, but I think this is one of those “it is what it is” situations.
Happily, it is still possible to enjoy UBW strictly on a superficial level. The battle choreography and animation are great, and the backgrounds some of the best around (an underrated component of ufotable productions). Lancer’s twice-over resurrections to save Rin were a bit silly, but fun – once again, a Lancer stands out as an unsung hero in a Fate cast. And it’s always fun to see bad stuff happen to Kirei, Fate’s ultimate bad penny. As for the main kerfuffle between Archer and Shirou, it admirably sells what UBW is offering as its main thematic product – it just so happens that I’m not all that keen to buy it. But I can’t fault the sales pitch – it’s about as good as one could do with the source materials.