91 Days – Episodes 10-11: “Proof of Good Faith” & “All For Nothing”

All aboard the pain train!

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We’re looking down the barrel of our final episode, and as expected of a show that keeps using lines from Shakespearen tragedies as its episode titles, everything is collapsing right on schedule. Since the vacation put me a week behind, you’re getting a double whammy of commentary this week, and fresh off an Episode 10 rewatch, too! Everything is terrible! Let’s talk about it.

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orange – Episode 10

Take a load off.

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After spinning its wheels and rushing its art last week, I’m relieved to say that orange‘s production schedule and story both seem to be back on track (pun very much intended). The relay race is here at last, and with it the kids find time to directly address their own feelings and one another.

orange isn’t what I’d call a subtle series and, as I’m experiencing it a second time, I’m realizing exactly how laser-focused it is on the importance of community and “sharing the weight” of our troubles with others. There are times when that kind of straightforwardness might irk me, but when it comes to addressing difficult, often-avoided topics like grief and depression–and especially when directing that discussion at a younger audience–a little thematic bludgeoning might be just what the doctor ordered.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 10

One big, happy family…

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In an episode that begins and ends with apprentices, it’s no wonder this week’s Showa Genroku is all about inheritance—the legacy we leave, what we try to pass on, and what ends up getting left behind. This is true of genetics, yes, but also of traditions, from religious ceremonies to social norms to scientific knowledge to storytelling and other art forms. Just as the human race depends on progeny for survival, human cultures depend on good teachers and willing students.

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Noragami Aragoto – Episode 10: “A Certain Desire”

A little wishing goes a long way.

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Aaaand we’re back! Last week was fraught with emotional turmoil for our heroes and filled with pineapple beers and basketball games for yours truly, but now it’s time to put all that behind us and focus on getting everyone’s favorite trio back together again. Massive thanks to Setsuken for covering for me last week! I was with you all in spirit (and Feels) if not in blog posts, and am now rested, rejuvenated, and ready to take us all through the final stretch of Noragami, however tense, amusing, or painful it may be.

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GANGSTA. – Episode 10: “Land of Confusion”

I’d say it was the calm before the storm, but I sure don’t feel relaxed.

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We’re back to political world-building and character study this week, a decision that’s worked in the show’s favor in the past and mostly does now. I suspect GANGSTA‘s pendulum swings from thoughtful drama to bloody action is going to continue to be a bit of a sore point for me, as the wider world of Ergastulum fills with increasingly archetypal and over-the-top characters (hello, Eyepatch Girl) who feel absurdly out of place in a series that seemed interested in maintaining a kind of gritty pseudo-realism for its first seven episodes. But that’s where we are, so I’ll try to get used to it.

And even if I can’t, our central trio remains a wonderfully sympathetic and complex ball of uncertain desires and contradictions. Their personalities and relationships with each other ground GANGSTA in a kind of emotional reality even when people are jumping off rooftops and cleaving their opponents in two, so here’s hoping the series can maintain its focus on Alex, Nic, and Worick in the coming war and make me care about the outcome as much as they do.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 10: “Inexperienced Heart”

I’m not sure what we did to deserve so many great shoujo series in a single year, but whatever it was, let’s keep doing it.

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This would have been a marvelous episode regardless of anything else that happened, but coming less than seven days off My Love Story‘s fantastic “The Letter to Me,” it really struck me how lucky we are to have two great shoujo series running simultaneously for arguably the second time in a single year (a relative rarity in the anime schedule these days).

Shoujo (and its more mature counterpart, josei) series have their share of harmful cliches and archetypes, to be sure. But at its best, the genre features an emotionally honest, character-driven storytelling style and a focus on the complexities and nuances of individuals and interpersonal relationships that’s unmatched just about anywhere else in anime. Shows like Snow White remind me why I fell in love with this genre over 10 years ago, and why I keep coming back despite the rough patches along the way. Here’s hoping 2015 is the beginning of a trend and not an anomaly, and we see plenty more series like this one in the years to come.

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My Love Story!! – Episode 11: “My Ocean”

Beach Episode! Everyone mark your anime bingo cards!

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It’s a week full of equal-opportunity fanservice, as the gang heads to the beach and both Takeo and Yamato get to ogle one another SO HARD they’re lusty teenage hearts nearly explode from the experience. Fun (and funny) times are had by all, Takeo’s more popular than he’s ever been (even with some of the ladies!), and our young couple very nearly level up their relationship under another trademark Madhouse sunset.

Yet for all the silly rom-com shenanigans, this week is once again filled with crossed signals and miscommunication, and the series itself at last acknowledges (via our beautiful, ever-observant Suna-min Roll) that trouble may be brewing in paradise.

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