Friday’s Feature – Recap Episodes (Or Why I Came Close to Dropping 91 Days)

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.

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It came down to two main points.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Twin Star Exorcists Episodes 13 – 15

So, I dropped this. Really, I did. And then I was looking for a distraction to avoid doing work and thought I’d just check out one more episode and ended up watching all three of the episodes that I hadn’t seen. I don’t know if it got better or if taking a break was what I needed, or maybe it is just that this show works better in chunks than in single episodes, but I had a lot more fun with it than I remembered.

That said, there are still a lot things I don’t like about this show. So 3 episodes means 300 words, I’m sure that’s how it works.

Episode 13 finishes the fight that Benio started with that really strong guy (apparently a Basara, whatever). Rokuro and Benio combine their powers and summon a really big sword that doesn’t actually kill the thing but amuses him enough that he decided to walk away and pick up the fight once they’re stronger.

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Episode 14 you could probably pass on entirely as it is a flash back filled episode with limited new content. However, given I’d taken a few weeks away from this show I actually appreciated some of the reminders here.

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The episode 15 starts out fairly frivolously before deciding to remind us once again that exorcism is dangerous (oh, and that everyone in the higher chain of command is a complete and utter jerk).  I did however like the break from Benio and Rokuro’s love life as we instead got to watch Ryougo maybe get a life.

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The show also got a new opeing sequence and the images are definitely playing up the trauma for the characters and Benio’s companion thing is just as irritating as ever.

All things considered, not as bad as I remember it being when I decided to drop it, but still not rushing to pick this back up again. I may wait until there’s another group of episodes for me to binge watch as that definitely seems to work better for me.

Twin Star Exoricsts is available on Crunchyroll.

 

Twin Star Exorcists Episode 12

Review:

The start of this episode nearly made me finally throw the towel in on this series. Oh, Benio can’t cook. In fact her cooking looks more like some sort of witches brew. Hit us with yet another over used cliché on the road to forcing this relationship to develop. The second half of the episode though takes a far more serious turn and once again shows us one of those genuine moments between Rokuro and Benio, plus actually focusses on the exorcist part of the title and once again I’m left thinking there is a half-decent show here. Go on Twin Star, keep stringing me along.

Twin Star Exorcists is available on Crunchyroll.

Spring Overview Week 11

Week 11 kind of fizzled and has slunk away quietly. Super Lovers is finished and other shows are wrapping.

At this late stage in the season there hasn’t been much movement on the list.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the season below.

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I Must Keep Watching

Here we go again.

  1. My Hero Academia
  2. Assassination Classroom
  3. Sailor Moon Crystal

My Hero Academia really grabbed me this week and I’m glad I picked up this show. It is the highlight of my anime week at the moment. Admittedly, that doesn’t mean the show is without its flaws, but I’m just having a lot of fun watching it and that is enough.

Assassination Classroom was interesting in that it kind of broke from formula and hit us with a pretty standard boss fight, but the second half of the episode landed nicely and has kept this one amongst my favourite.

Lastly, Sailor Moon Crystal delivered a powerful and emotional episode that almost made up for the last two weeks of flatness. It is these moments that keep me in love with the series.

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Still On My Radar

Once again these get mixed but don’t go anywhere. There’s enough good stuff in these shows to keep me watching but they aren’t consistent enough or enjoyable enough to really promote.

  1. Kiznaiver
  2. Shonen Maid
  3. Bungo Stray Dogs

Last week I said I was most keen to see where Bungo Stray Dogs went. This week, I saw where it went and that was exactly no-where. Truly disappointing which probably meant I haven’t judged it fairly but really, did anyone like this week’s episode?

Kiznaiver seems to finally be wanting to draw us in for an emotional climax though whether it will be worth it or not remains to be seen.

Shonen Maid just keeps being kind of sweet with a little bit of warmth. Though there are some indications that things may take a more serious tone, I don’t know that I’ll commit to that prediction. Still, episode 10 was definitely among my favourites. This season has been a little hit and miss at following logic in a lot of series.

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Not Dropped But Close

  1. The Asterisk War
  2.  Twin Star Exorcists
  3. Super Lovers (Finished Airing)
  4. Joker Game
  5. The Lost Village (Finished Airing)
  6. Big Order (Finished Airing)

The whole review of Super Lovers is up and more will follow as series finish and I have a chance to consolidate my thoughts.

Mostly this week brought on a lot of ‘oh well’ kind of feelings as Lost Village meandered along , Big Order hobbled to the conclusion, Joker Game did it’s usual and Twin Star and Asterisk seemed determined to focus on the least interesting aspects of their own shows.

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Dropped

  1. Rinne
  2. Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless
  3. Flying Witch
  4. Hundred
  5. Cerberus
  6. Re:Zero
  7. Endride

Left these alone but have conclusively dropped the shows on this list. No desire to pick them up at this point.

Where are you with the Spring season and what are your thoughts?

Twin Star Exorcists Episode 11

Review:

More ‘training’ for marriage or whatever it is they think they’ve been doing. Rokuro and Benio play a  game of hide-and-seek with whats-her-name this week as they still pursue some actual training on how to be stronger exorcists. Of course this leads to some emotional break through and a couple of cute smiles. What this episode lacks however is any sense of purpose or tension as it is still just focussed on the articifical relationship we’ve shoved the characters into and does little to make this relationship feel anything but forced. That said, it is certainly watchable.

Twin Star Exorcists are available on Crunchyroll.

Spring Overview Week 10

Week 10 has actually been quite entertaining as all the shows are starting to charging toward the finish line (or are busily in the process of self-destruction which is also kind of entertaining). I added my first list this week and was really happy with the discussion that generated, so thanks to everyone who read Tuesday’s Top 5 and commented or responded on twitter or did a follow up post. Hopefully you join me next Tuesday to look at the next list.

Also, as we’ve closed in on the end of the season, I’ve turned my reviews into word clouds and am wondering how well each of the shows has been described over the course of the last few weeks. If you’re interested in having a guess and a bit of fun, check it out.

Without further rambling, let’s have a look at where the anime are my list.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the season below.

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I Must Keep Watching

No change on the titles again.

  1. My Hero Academia
  2. Assassination Classroom
  3. Sailor Moon Crystal

My Hero Academia has been really great the last few episodes. My review of episode 10 should be up soon and I’m totally hooked on this show at this point. It is a little kiddy and it definitely doesn’t seem like it wants to break free of any stereotypes but it is really fun and engaging and I’ve kind of developed a soft spot for the protagonist at this point.

Assassination Classroom is one of the shows that is rapidly building to the long awaited climax. Possibly it is because of the number of episodes but it feels like it has been a long time coming and yet every step of the journey has been in its own way necessary. Now I want to see how it resolves and really as long as it does resolve I will be happy regardless of how it accomplishes that. If it nails the final I’ll definitely be adding Assassination Classroom to my list of anime that I would rewatch again and again.

And Sailor Moon Crystal put in another adequate but not exceptional effort. If I were to honestly judge this show on its merits alone it would have dropped to the Still On My Radar category in the last couple of weeks. However, Sailor Moon, even its reboot, has nostalgia power working in its favour so its going to take more than just a couple of slightly predictable weeks for me to move it anywhere.

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Still On My Radar

So, these got reordered again this week with Kiznaiver hitting a new emotional high and Bungo Stray Dogs pulling out a fairly cohesive and engaging episode. Shonen Maid didn’t get any worse, but it couldn’t hold its weight against the others this week either.

  1. Bungo Stray Dogs
  2. Kiznaiver
  3. Shonen Maid

Of these three I think I am most keen to see where Bungo Stray Dogs goes and if it can keep the balance of action, drama and comedy in check then it may even become a must watch for me. I really did like the set up for Bungo and really kept wanting it to pick up and feel that the last couple of episodes are getting there.

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Not Dropped But Close

  1. The Asterisk War
  2.  Twin Star Exorcists
  3. Super Lovers (Finished Airing)
  4. Joker Game
  5. The Lost Village
  6. Big Order

No movement here this week with the exception of my returning Big Order to the list. Twin Star Exorcists actually had a good episode and then with the last one went right back to kids playing house. If that’s what they want to focus on, fine, but it isn’t the anime I want to watch. My opinion hasn’t changed on any of the others so I’ll just leave them alone.

Big Order has moved back up because, as I noted last week, even though I’d added it to the dropped pile I kept watching it. I still don’t know why I kept watching it but I watch it without fail every week so there has to be something going on.

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Dropped

  1. Rinne
  2. Tanaka-Kun is Always Listless
  3. Flying Witch
  4. Hundred
  5. Cerberus
  6. Re:Zero
  7. Endride

So Big Order rose up (or I finally admitted I liked it more than I’ve let on despite the lack of a coherent plot) and the rest of these have not moved. In honesty, other than reading a few reviews, I haven’t really felt the need to watch or look into any of these and how they’ve progressed since I dropped them.

Which show are you most looking forward to the end of?