One of the traps Shirobako had set episodes ago was that Third Aerial Girls Squad’s author’s agent saying “It’s all good, see you later” every time Seiichi or someone else had a question. I KNEW that sooner or later the unseen manga author would step in and say “Do it again.” Good thing it came fairly early in the production process, but not early enough. This begins what will probably become a number of crises, the first involving Yumi, the character designer, and later will involve many more since they’ve lost a month of production time.
What I like the most about it is that the answer to the character design issues doesn’t come in a big flash of enlightenment, though I kept waiting for one. Instead, it’s trial-and-error, the result of many meetings and discussions, and some backstory fleshing out from Rinko. And Yumi’s abilities, of course. As usual, to lighten the mood, they mix in weird fantasy scenes, the mascot duo’s greek-chorus commenting, planes getting shot down by the “retake missile,” and a hilarious goth-loli baseball anime concept, which I would watch, well, at least episode one. It’s a typical busy episode, with a big problem to solve, but they juggled the pieces so well that there was never time to feel totally down about it.
Speaking of meetings, episode 15, before the crisis, had a lot of them. It’s basically an infodump episode, showing us what goes on in this meeting and that, and, with help of the two mascots and Aoi training two newbie girls, giving us some fascinating detail not only about the production process (the show has been doing that from the start), but the tradeoffs you have to make between realism and fantasy, verisimilitude and emotion, and it gives us a look into Seiichi’s creative mind and the ways he motivates the staff, guileless and unintentional though it be. Though he’s often shown as a fool, the man is passionate about what he does, knows what he wants, yet is flexible enough to compromise. Nothing much happens story-wise until the ending cliffhanger, but the show, as usual uses the time well.
Your Lie in April also has a couple plot traps set up to drop when the show wants them to. First we get Tsubaki’s inevitable heartbreak, rather cruelly doubled-down by that guy she tried to tell herself she liked decides to break up with her. But we’ll start with her relationship with Kousei. She mulls about her feelings for him for most of episode 13, and when she isn’t mulling, her friend Kashiwagi mulls for her. Advice is also petitioned from Ryouta, and everyone who is asked all say the same thing: “There’s gonna be a heartache tonight, heartache tonight I know.” It happens a little sooner than expected, in this same episode, thoroughly ruining the “Claire de Lune” BGM (to my partial delight–it’s overused) beach-walk mood they sent, when Kousei announces he’s going to go to high school somewhere else. As usual for this type of show, there is a ton of unhappy reaction after this revelation, with more to come, but, like this particular show, it overdoes it just a little.
The other shoe to drop is Kaori’s illness. When we weren’t watching Tsubaki set herself up for a fall in episode 14, we were watching Kousei wonder just how sick Kaori is, and we later learn that she’s been lying to him about it. Frankly, all this teasing makes me a little grumpy. There was that first shot when he goes to the hospital and we see his mother waving in Kaori’s place, hint hint. Then episode wants to rub a little more salt in Tsubaki’s wounds, first (though the classroom at night scene was lovely–more Claire de Lune, but it’s interrupted by childish shouting), and introduce a new character that I don’t like for now, AND an Emi performance, before getting to Kaori’s collapse in the hospital. Well, I did enjoy that last scene because I suspect if my legs suddenly refused to work on me I would do the same things Kaori did, pound them with fists, scream, drag myself, etc. And the most chilling thing: there’s not a note of music. Now maybe they’ll stop hinting and give us some facts.
Just when Kantai Collection 4 is about to dive too deep in one direction, it pulls itself out and dives too far in another. First they have to deal with Kisaragi’s death, er, sunkenness, which they do by showing her sister Mutsuki not dealing with it at all, while the others look on worryingly, and I get a little irritated. Weird concepts like this show don’t lend themselves well to pathos, and after awhile I was hoping something silly would happen, which does when Fubuki and Mochizuki are assigned with the Kongou sisters, who liven things up plenty. But then, when they’re supposed to be getting ready for the mission, they go to far in the silly direction by having Mochizuki absent, leading to stupid ways to lure her back, including a idol competition and something concerning two lovey-dovey girls that I didn’t get. When they DO get to the battle, it’s straightforward, Fubuki being saved this time rather than saving, and finally they have a minute to give Mutsuki the closure she needs. Well, at least it was quick.