If you’ve been following my reviews this season, you will know that I have now had not one, but two recap episodes thrown at me. The first came from Cheer Boys (episode 5.5) and the second came from 91 Days (episode 7.5). In both reviews I made it pretty clear that I don’t like recap episodes in general and that these ones were particularly hideous. But then, I realised just recently I watched the recap episode of Twin Star Exorcists and it didn’t really bother me so I began thinking about why these two recap episodes annoyed me so much.
It came down to two main points.
- These series haven’t even had 12 episodes so why are we recapping? I know 91 Days kind of threw me with some of the family relations and characters but the recap did nothing to alleviate that, instead focussing on Avilio’s interactions which were already pretty prominent.
- Linked to the first issue – no new material or insight given. Now Cheer Boys attempted some narration over the top of their wonderful reconfiguration of seen footage to let us know that next episode the whole squad would show up so at least they kind of got us interested in what was about to happen next episode. They also tagged the recap on after they achieved their first goal or performing at the festival so at least they found a natural spot in the story to pause. 91 Days didn’t do either of those things. Avilio did orchestrate Nero killing his brother quite well but this has never been stated as a primary goal so there hasn’t been any real break through on the revenge he seems to be craving and there was really nothing new revealed.
Recaps make sense when you have a long series (or you’ve taken a break and are coming back). They make sense when the recap is given a purpose (other than to fill air time). Personally, I prefer it when whole episodes aren’t dedicated to recap and the story finds a better way to remind you of key plot points but if you have to do a recap episode at least do it in an entertaining fashion.
Which brings me to Twin Star Exorcists episode 14. Notice it isn’t a X.5 episode title. Episode 14 Yukatas, Stars and Wishes is an episode in its own right, admittedly a fairly weak one. If you remove all the flash backs, it’s an episode about out main group of exorcists sitting in the back yard and contemplating their wish for Tanabata. There is little new revealed but the interactions are on occasion fun. What it really becomes is a framing device for each character to reflect on the journey to where they are. The contrasts between the characters in episode 14, and who they were in each of the flashbacks, gives the audience something to reflect upon as well, while it reminds us about key plot points. So Twin Star Exoricists managed to do a recap in a way that didn’t make it feel like they just gave up for the week.
Recapping: It had already had more than 12 episodes which means the story had been running for over 3 months which is a long time to remember some of the finer details and it provided us with new material while it made us reconsider the characters.
Was it a brilliant episode? Not really. But it was watchable and enjoyable enough.
Another example of a recap episode that was done well comes from Kimi ni Todoke. Season 1 goes for 25 episodes without a recap (which given how slow the story is moving is probably a good thing). Then there is a gap before season 2. Enter season 2’s episode 00 which is a recap of season 1. At this point, a recap is warranted to remind us where we are in the story and how things have progressed. But Kimi ni Todoke does one better than just timing their recap appropriately. They have the recap from the view of Kurumi (Sawako’s rival during season 1 for Kazehaya). With this we get insight into a character who before was really played up as an antagonist but is moving into a new role during season 2. It’s a great way to recap and make things feel purposeful.
So back to the title of my blog. 91 Days started slowly but interesting. It was a really well done opening episode and in honesty, every episode after has been well put together. The story however has been stagnating. Despite lots of things happening, none of it has really been explained in context to the stated goal of our protagonist and while we can see connections, it hasn’t started bringing anything together. That would be fine (save the reveal for the end) except that we haven’t been given anything else to care about. I don’t care about the in-fighting of the family’s because I haven’t been asked to by the story, and yet that is all we’ve seen for several episodes. Then we are recapping. Reminding us that yes, Avilio’s family were killed and it was horrible. Reminding us that since then, he made some progress on his revenge (taking out one of his 3 targets) before realising there was another target and since then he has stalled. All recapping at this time did was remind me how little progress has seemingly been made.
I get that some people are going to disagree with me, but 91 Days has not been holding my interest well for awhile and the recap episode nearly did it in. Episode 8 is going to need to be amazing for me to re-engage.
What are your thoughts about recaps? Or 91 Days?