91 Days – Episode 8: “Behind the Curtain”

Corteo makes it rain in more ways than one this week.

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It’s another episode of dense scheming and counter-scheming here on 91 Days, but as with recent weeks, the plot is a means to an end, less about what happens and more about how our main characters (re)act and what that tells us about them. Which isn’t to say that what happens isn’t well-paced, tightly narrated, sharply directed, and ridiculously tense–because h’oh man, is it ever. The sheer number of times I shouted at my monitor during “Behind the Curtain” is ample evidence of that.

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orange – Episode 8

Five heads are better than one.

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Even though a good portion of orange focuses on realism and day-to-day high school events, I don’t tend to think of it as a “slice-of-life” because it has such a clear end game and driving story line (save Kakeru/change the future). The constant sense that we’re moving towards a tangible goal helps orange maintain tension even during its most mundane arcs and conflicts, but it can also serve to make episodes like this one feel frustratingly slow-paced, as if we’re just marking time before the next major “Kakeru event flag.”

That isn’t to say the quieter stories don’t serve a purpose, or that the cast aren’t likable or interesting enough to carry us through everyday events (I love hanging out with these kids, personally). orange‘s narrative arc is a kind of rise-and-fall, a sequence of highs and lows for Kakeru and, by extension, the rest of the cast. Which, while it can lead to some lulls in the story, is also a pretty excellent depiction of grief and depression. Healing isn’t a constant rising line; it’s a series of crests and troughs, some created by obvious triggers, some by far more obscure ones.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 8

The light at the end of this tunnel is looking more like a speeding train with each passing week.

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Due to a series of unexpected and slightly ridiculous events, I wound up handwriting this in the back of a car between bouts of motion sickness (#XtremeBlogging!), then quickly typing it up and posting it via shaky hot-spot WiFi. As such, it’s a bit scattershot, but I’ll do my best to keep it organized as we chat backgrounds, priorities, and shifting relationships.

After spending a whole lotta time firmly rooted in Kikuhiko’s perspective and developing opinions about others based on the way he sees them, we at last get some direct back story from our two supporting players that offers us our first real glimpse into the histories, hopes, and fears that have influenced and continue to drive them—and they’re not as different from our dour protagonist as you might think.

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Noragami Aragoto – Episode 8: “God of Calamity”

Out of one Lucky Gods’ frying pan and into another one’s fire.

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Our idyllic interlude is predictably short-lived, as Noragami chucks us in to its next major conflict(s) and promises (or at least heavily teases) some major movement in terms of revealing more of Yato’s backstory and his long, messy relationship with Nora. This is largely a table-setting episode, introducing new antagonists and complications and prepping us for the potential calamities to come. And rest assured, it’s looking to be one packed table indeed.

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Snow White with the Red Hair – Episode 8: “Memories Draw Spirals”

It’s hard out here for a prince.

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Snow White continues its recent trend of following two chronologies, keeping us up to speed on current palace events as well as fleshing out Zen’s history, giving us more insight into not just our resident prince, but the people around him. At its core, though, both stories are about the same thing: How a person finds a balance between being a public, political figure, and a plain ol’ human being.

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GANGSTA. – Episode 8: “Evening Dress”

Well, even the best teams have off nights, I suppose…

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As I mentioned before, I’m reading the corresponding GANGSTA manga chapter after watching the anime episodes to help solidify all the names, factions, and plot nuggets, and while the two are identical (so far) in terms of basic story, there are small cuts and line changes that dramatically affect the overall tone. The manga’s more graphic with its violence, more direct in its world-building, less tasteful in the way characters (especially Worick) treat women and marginalized groups, and sillier in its content, utilizing comically deformed faces and asides.

In other words, the manga looks a lot more like the anime episode we got this week.

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My Love Story!! – Episode 8: “My Friend”

Are we sure this series isn’t listed as a bromantic comedy?

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This episode began with me squealing about Suna earning a spot on the cake, and it just went downhill (uphill?) from there. I can chat all calm and measured-like about what happened this week in terms of plot points and character growth and thematic development—and, I mean, I will—but at its heart, OreMono is a sitcom, which means it isn’t about movement as much as it is about getting you to like its characters and want to spend more time with them and root your heart out for their happiness. And if there was any doubt that OreMono had succeeded at that, boy howdy, this episode sealed it.

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