Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Anime-zing Race (Summer 2015 Edition): Week 4

Well, once more shows get eliminated, it'll be faster to catch up...
Last week, the remaining nine shows sought to outlast the three-episode rule. With GATE finally introducing its girls, it manages to stay ahead of elimination another week, and this time, the outside-of-season visitor Gatchaman Crowds was eliminated.

The ranking is:

  1. Charlotte
  2. Ushio & Tora
  3. Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
  4. Overlord
  5. Actually, I Am...
  6. Aoharu x Machinegun
  7. Classroom Crisis
  8. GATE
This week, no Detour or Roadblock either, just a race through episode 4. Which show will be eliminated... next?

Finally breaking Charlotte's streak of wins, Actually, I Am... takes 1st place. Episode 4 refrains from introducing any new characters formally (though one mysterious person does play a role), instead having some fun hijinks with the girls already introduced. It's cute, it's funny, it's perhaps starting to head more in a harem direction, but all in all, it's just a joy to watch.

In a complete turnaround from its past performances, Classroom Crisis surges forward to take 2nd place. If the first three episodes might have been just setup, episode 4 shows the first hint of a payoff, as the remaining students band together to make their stand for their department.

Oh, and the ones that left came back. That's cool, too.
Putting up yet another strong episode, Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers comes in 3rd place as it finally reaches its big reveal. How things go from here should be very interesting, not only in who the fake Brave is, but just why exactly there's that extra Brave and how the various characters react.

Overlord comes in 4th place, featuring a strangely satisfying beatdown of a comically overblown villain. We also now see a shift in narrative as Momonga, now known as Ains Ooan Gown, finally decides on a goal for his clan: spread his name all over the former MMORPG land. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how he goes about this.

Charlotte, after three straight wins, ends up in the middle of the pack in 5th place, as episode 4 feels like a "superpowered teenager of the week" episode. It was fun enough, but lacked any notable direction.

GATE manages a stronger performance as it enters 6th place. The problematic parts still exist as yet another Earth-side power (the Chinese government, if the name is any indicator) shows interest in the fantasy land, but the majority of this episode focuses on our new girls and how they react to their new environment among the JSDF. It's fun and charming stuff and makes for a nice break between what looks to be more intense storylines.

Another former frontrunner puts up a weaker performance as Ushio & Tora manages to be the one of the bottom two to just avoid being last. It's not a bad episode, per se, but it focuses solely on Ushio trying to save his lady friend Mayuko from the latest evil spirits, while Tora, wanting both Ushio and Mayuko to remain fresh meals, goes in and makes easy work of said spirits. Like Charlotte, it feels a bit too much like it's gotten into a rhythm, and that Mayuko (and her friend Asako) haven't really broken past "damsel in distress" roles, though some hints of a friendship between Mayuko and Tora at the end may change that. At any rate, it still manages to come in 7th place.

Aoharu x Machinegun has encountered a major problem in episode 4: namely, that the protagonist Hotaru has become quite unlikable. She gets overenthusiastic about participating in the survival games and rushes out without working things out with her teammates, leading her to get shot and eliminated early in matches. Rather than learning from her mistakes, she instead insists on continuing to try harder on her own, neglecting her teammates and gaining an overly independent streak...

Come to think of it, Yura of C3-bu also got unbearable like this before her downfall... do survival games breed this sort of selfishness naturally?
With that, Aoharu x Machinegun arrives in last place. However, this is a non-elimination leg, so it is still in the race. However, in the next leg, it will face a Speed Bump: if Hotaru's selfishness is not properly addressed, either by her growing out of it or by it leading to a significant fall, this show will drop three places in the final ranking.

Next week: will Aoharu x Machinegun recover from its character derailment, clear the speed bump, and stay in the race?

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