First Reactions: Free! Episode 9

The more the series draws to its conclusion, the closer it resembles a cross between an 80s sports movie and a less-minimalistic Touch. It’s got the works; last-second comeback plays, a little bit of environment for the small town, plenty of memorable quotes. Not to mention the chat Haru and Makoto had while looking out at the coastline which finally made things click for the former. Nor that recollection scene Rin had at the old pool, choking down tears for something he could’ve kept but threw away. Nor the still-excellent background music that played during it.

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First Reactions: WataMote Episode 9

After 2 phoned-in performances in 3 weeks I’m a lot less high on the show than I was at the end of episode 5. Were 6 and 8 ultimately hiccups in the larger scheme of production, or do the writer/source material have some skill flaws that weren’t as evident early on? If they do, will Oonuma Shin be able to keep covering for them? The next couple of weeks should be telling.

To its credit, this episode opened strong, with Tomoko showing a fairly innocent combination of looking forward to her plans with Yuu and doing prep on the sly to make sure things went well, all before Yuu’s call took her expectations out like a sniper. You could see that twist coming, but it was enjoyable in the way the first half of the show was; more of a rodeo clown tumbling than a puppy taking a horrific 10-story fall.

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First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episode 9

Togami’s been an unremarkable character for most of the series. I say that because this episode he really stood out, pulling a Barry Marshall and drinking what was ostensibly poison to prove his point. Even before I knew what that point was, I was hooked on his presentation there. There’s levels of differences in the body language between a sip and a chug, and this was the latter.

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First Reactions: WataMote Episode 8

WataMote is fun to watch when it’s primarily about Tomoko self-destructing on her own. It gets less fun when she gets others wrapped up in her pathetic bluffs, especially when they believe in her. The style of humor this week wasn’t that different from normal, and the episode in general was way stronger than 6, but the subject matter straddled the barrier between funny sad and sad sad.

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Though the vacuum scene was still appreciably fun

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First Reactions: Free! Episode 7

In general, this was a pretty solid buildup episode, highlighting Haru and Rin’s quietly intensifying rivalry, the comradeship of the four main characters, and a bit of Rin’s external motivation. Oh yeah, and it wasn’t actually a buildup episode. They literally powered through the race, something I was sure would take at least another episode getting to, with ruthless efficiency and great effect.

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First Reactions: WataMote Episode 7

The montage segment at the beginning was a great way of demonstrating just how hard Tomoko was wasting her summer vacation. Each individual action she took was a different kind of low-brainpower activity, and her internal feelings about the day afterwards provided rock solid confirmation that that moment six minutes in where she looked like a Cleveland fan circa January 17, 1988 was coming. My favorite part of that segment was her commenting on the video, a little piece of satire directed at people no doubt commenting on the episode the same way. Mashing w is definitely a thing that happens, and he facial expression was a great example of someone showing exaggerating their sarcastic response to ridiculous internet crap.

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It’s debatable whether or not its subjects got the joke

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First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episode 7

Without a doubt, the most impressive thing about this show is the sheer number of ways they’ve managed to work in a Monokuma enjoying himself in the background. This time might have been my favorite, because you can just barely tell he’s now using the Oowada butter on his pancakes.

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Hot-blooded, so it melts in your mouth

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First Reactions: Free! Episode 6

Showing is superior to telling, but not all showings are created equal. One of the ways to tell a high-class pro director from a replacement-tier one is the way they make a situation clear with the first snap of the camera. Case in point: those first 3 seconds of that shot after Haru saved Makoto. The way one set of feet was dragging and the other was limp immediately spelled out what was going down. Mix in effective not-use of music (just rain and heavy breathing), and you get an immediate impression of the state Makoto was in. It was a bit of imagery that felt like something adapted from an award-winning manga, except Free is a novel adaption that had to make its own storyboards.

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One look and it’s pretty obvious someone’s not alright

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First Reactions: WataMote Episode 6

This week’s episode didn’t start out up to the show’s usual standards of quality. The sex jokes at the beginning felt like they were there more for the sake of bringing the topic up than in the effort poured into making scenes independently funny. It was still fun, but it was succeeding less on creativity and more on audacity. That problem could really have just been a one-skit thing. With the way the punchlines started rolling in, though, the whole operation seemed to get back on the rails; the second half of that skit was full of decidedly basic slapstick material that worked really well. Odds are it succeeded because of its simplicity in contrast with the earlier grand delusions and cheap usage of the word “sex”.  Maybe the writers knew from the start what they were doing.

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