Leading things off today is the match between One Week Friends (#4) and Kyousougiga (#29). Despite the gap in their starting positions, Kyousougiga has a lot of underdog potential, while One Week Friends could stumble if it doesn’t deliver on the promise of its first episode. Let’s see who advances and who gets dropped to the losers bracket!
One Week Friends – Episode 2
Well done, Brains Base. This is how you adapt an ongoing manga: keep the story moving, rather than pad it out. One of the concerns I had about One Week Friends’ amnesia plot was whether it would grind the relationship between Fujimiya and Hase to a screeching halt. Instead of angsting about his misfortune, though, Hase was proactive in this episode and suggested that Fujimiya keep a diary, which is the most logical solution to her problem. Why she wasn’t doing this already, I don’t know – maybe because her memory loss had always stopped her from making friends, so she had no reason to remember anyone outside her family.
That’s a little sad to think about, especially when we see how friendly Fujimiya is after she’s warmed up to Hase after meeting him for the second and third time. The diary doesn’t stop her from losing her memories, but it lets her know that she has a friend who likes to eat lunch with her and hang out after school, which is a happy milestone for a girl whose brain gets wiped every Monday. What the show needs now is to broaden its cast of characters, so we can get a different perspective on what’s going on between the two leads. I’m sure One Week Friends could survive ten more episodes of just Fujimiya and Hase being cute, but if it’s going to excel rather than be another above-average high school romance, it has to build a believable world for itself.
Kyousougiga – Episode 1
This is exactly what I wanted to see from this show. After a prequel episode that created far more questions than answers, “Episode 1” of Kyousougiga starts from the very beginning, telling the story of a Buddhist priest named Myoue whose drawings come to life. One such drawing of a black rabbit falls in love with him, and a Bodhisattva at the priest’s shrine gives the rabbit human form so it can express that love. She takes the name Koto and raises three children with Myoue (all of whom appear to be alternate versions of characters we saw in the prequel) in another dimension called Mirror Kyoto. When Myoue and Koto flee that world to escape her fate of becoming a rabbit again, their children are left behind, and grow up into still more characters from the prequel. Youngest son Yakushimaru notably becomes a priest and takes his father’s name as his own. And as if that wasn’t confusing enough, the girl with the hammer from the prequel arrives from another dimension, going by the name Koto, just like the elder Myoue’s wife and the younger Myoue’s mother.
There’s a lot of backstory to absorb here, and a family tree to memorize that defies memorization. But Kyousougiga handles its characters more deftly in this format than it did in last week’s jumble of action scenes and art styles. Koto’s guilt over having borrowed the Bodhisattva’s body for so long was convincing, and the banter between the second Myoue and his lover achieved a level of authenticity you don’t normally get from anime, especially when it comes to romance. Like The Eccentric Family, this series has gained the ability to generate interest in its story and characters via dialogue. Hopefully that trend continues even as we leave the flashbacks behind and join the new Myoue and Koto in present day Mirror Kyoto.
The Verdict: Both series took big steps in the right direction this week, but if these matches are like races, then One Week Friends had a head start. I know I said it above, but it’s a shame Kyousougiga started at such a disadvantage, because now it needs to run the gauntlet if it wants to stay afloat in this tournament.
This was a solid but unremarkable entry in what I hope will be a better season for Silver Spoon going forward. “Finding your ambition” is a popular theme in fiction, but it’s hard to write about without going the same route as this episode: too much introspection, not enough plot, and the word “dream” getting beaten to death by the script. It would help to know why Hachiken is at an agricultural school, to provide some context for how out-of-place he feels. Ordinarily I’d be fine with saving that revelation for a conversation with a best friend or a love interest, but with all the wheel-spinning the show did this week, I was itching for something new.
Hachiken is afraid to eat food grown on the farm. Hachiken doesn’t get along with animals. Hachiken is reluctant to join a club. Hachiken doesn’t like waking up early. Of course none of those fears and feelings were going to disappear overnight, but apart from the Equestrian Club plot this week, none of them got a different coat of paint for the show’s second outing. Hachiken’s assignment to clean out the stables with Mikage during Golden Week is promising, though, especially since his crush has been kept at believable levels thus far. It’s an odd association, but I always loved the chapters in Harry Potter books where most of the students went home for Christmas vacation, giving Harry and his friends the freedom to explore a mostly empty Hogwarts at their leisure. Hopefully Silver Spoon brings a similar feeling when Golden Week arrives for its agricultural school.
Gatchaman Crowds – Episode 2
The thing that struck me most about this episode was how much more tolerable Hajime had become by the end of it. She came off as an idealist rather than the giddy enthusiast from the premiere. Gatchaman Crowds managed that transformation by making Sugane the kind of “suicide is selfish” hard-liner next to which anyone would seem sympathetic, but also by showing us that Hajime is capable in her own way. She’s a good cook, she’s popular on social media and uses her influence to help people, she adapts quickly to her Gatchaman transformation, and she intuitively understands how to communicate with the aliens that Sugane had insisted they destroy. She’s still an airhead, to be sure, but she’s the kind of airhead who can carry a show like this one.
Bringing Hajime back to Earth took most of the time and effort of the creative team here, as there wasn’t much action to speak of. The closing scene didn’t intrigue me like it should have, either. The powers of the wild-haired villain we saw last week were revealed, and a new character – a cross-dressing programmer who created the social media app GALAX – was introduced, but neither of them captured my interest with their brief screen time. This episode’s focus on character and lack of plot essentially makes it the opposite of last week’s impersonal info dump. Hopefully we’ll get the complete package next time.
The Verdict: I almost gave this to Gatchaman Crowds for its work in making Hajime a relatable character. But even though I was harder on Silver Spoon in my review, it has a better structure in place after two episodes, and I’m more hopeful for its future than for Gatchaman’s vague one.
NEXT UP: Ping Pong vs. Gingitsune, Witch Craft Works vs. Yowamushi Pedal