The Best of "This Week in Anime"

Hello everyone! Our "This Week in Anime" feature will return next Tuesday to cover the newest avalanche of Netflix premieres, but in the meantime, we thought we'd put together a Best Of TWIA to reflect on our favorite moments and introduce the column to anyone not familiar with the format. Twice a week, our four contributors get together to discuss the hottest new anime happenings in a completely unscripted chatroom exchange that somehow always congeals into something readable and fun by the end.

When @Lossthief's not trapped in the gacha hell of Fire Emblem Heroes, he's a Macross enthusiast who religiously follows all the Shonen Jump manga he loves (and some he hates).

@Liuwdere's first anime was Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan, and it was all downhill into the garbage from there. Unrepentant Heybot! apologist, surprisingly potent in smol doses.

@itsbonedaddy is This Week in Anime's creator and mercurial overlord, who keeps watching twice the amount of anime that his brain can remember. Routinely uses twenty words where five will do.

@vestenet is your friendly neighborhood landfill landlord. People have yet to stop favoriting that one tweet he made that one time. Has been issued an official permit to be horny on main.


With no further ado, here are some of our favorite moments from the column's past year or so, with links to the full column so you can read more for yourself!


My Hero Academia's Lovable League of Villains



Nick D
Well Micchy, I just got a letter from my son about his summer camp! Looks like he's having a great time. At least, he's making new friends?

Micchy
Can confirm, summer camp is the absolute worst. You gotta deal with bigger kids beating you up, kids the same size beating you up, and sometimes tiny balls of rage beating you(r crotch) up.

Nonsense, he's having a great time!

In fact, I had to read between the lines, but I think he might have a special lady friend~

Oh good, I was just about to introduce my daughter! My blessedly pure daughter...

No introduction needed. This has basically been my entire social media feed for the last two weeks.

The people have spoken and the people apparently like to be stabbed.


What the Hell Just Happened in Vatican Miracle Examiner?



Nick D
But this is all small potatoes before we get to the real twist in episode 3. That's when they uncover the priesthood's undercover drug ring!

Jacob
Also do I hear WAGNER in the background oh no

Yuuuuuuup, because then it turns out that drug ring is all part of a NAZI CONSPIRACY TO CONTROL THE VATICAN


Because South America you see. South America is at all times overflowing with hidden Nazis. It's like Where's Waldo but for swastikas (according to anime).

So you might be thinking this is all a scheme to get like, a nazi sympathizer installed as Pope. But no no no, that's way too small time. Turns out the guy who founded the church, Mikhail Brown, was in fact Actual Real Life Gestapo Official Heinrich Müller, who used a German airship to fly his daycare of Hitler Youth to South America.

and everyone there just thought it was a UFO...

Well of course

because NOBODY knows what a ZEPPELIN is south of the border, why it might as well be aliens!

I'm surprised they didn't try to tie it into Roswell somehow

ohshit yeah, missed opportunity! too far north maybe, New Mexico and all

I'm pretty sure this show thinks both Mexicos old and new are part of South America so

But anyway, even THAT turns out to only be half of the insanity because, and I swear I'm not making this up: This whole church was founded so that Müller could impregnate his own daughter with *the sperm of Adolf Hitler's cryogenically frozen corpse*


Let me say that again in case anyone's brain understandably refused to process that sentence. They stuck a syringe into the frozen nuts of Hitler and tried to give birth to a new hitler.

Also this isn't the first time they've tried this. Hence the aforementioned two-headed baby.

Who they call Lord Janus because on top of being Nazis I guess they're also really into the Roman Pantheon. But their second attempt also failed, with the kid growing up to just be a nice christian boy, UNTIL they decided to try again with the aforementioned nun.

Right, then that nice christian boy becomes the de facto leader of the cult, because instead of being born with two heads, he gets two personalities. They keep creating a Splitler if you will. So they're third-times-the-charm-ing it for a not-bifurcated Hitler

Oh, and in all this I forgot to mention the school's also used drugs and virtual reality headsets to brainwash all the schoolboys into mindless zombies. So this all culminates with our two priests who have barely even factored into this story getting to stave off a horde of school kids and fight Antichrist Hitler Jr

To stop them from controlling the fate of baby hitler number three, who for all we know might be a perfectly nice baby who just grows up to have a truly unfortunate mustache.

Conveniently, this show with a cast of exclusively Catholic clergy sidesteps any mention of abortion. Don't want to get political, after all.

Not in the show with three Hitlers and counting, of course not. There's a time and place, Nicholas.

now let's get back to the part where one of the Nazi Priests turns out to be a secret agent for a Jewish society dedicated to eliminating secret Nazi organizations across the world

who was not foreshadowed in any way at all and does nothing up to this point, while our main two priests are fleeing for their lives and (my favorite part) throwing "holy water" on Splitler to freak out the cult as he melts before them.

Because it wasn't holy water, it's uh, actually sulfuric acid.

What the fuck, guys.

I'm no chem major but how does sulfuric acid set you on fire?

I must have missed that part, but I thought he started melting and then they threw a match on him or something? Maybe it was holy acid.

No, a second viewing does not clear anything up.

That's somehow the weirdest thing to me.

IT'S NOT VERY CHRISTLIKE EITHER WAY

"we're just here to observe and report back to the vatican about this so-called ~miracle birth~"

(melts a man and burns a church to the ground)


DARLING in the FRANXX Has Only One Thing on its Mind



Nick D
Micchy! Good news! We have another excuse to talk about Aquarion Evol!

Micchy
You had me enthusiastically tearing off my clothing there for a minute, but this is going to be a DARLING in the FRANXX discussion instead, isn't it?

Either way, it's not often you get to
talk about buttcheek sakuga.

They're slightly more clothed than an Aquarion character, anyway. Just never mind the choice camera angles.

But yes, it's finally time to talk about the new co-production from A-1 Pictures and Studio Trigger, the latest in a long and storied line of anime that beg the question: "What if Robots, but Sex?"

Or in this case, "What if Robot Butt Sex?"

nick...

If anything, I'm more restrained than the show.


Did FLCL Progressive Live Up to its Predecessor?



Steve
Nick, it's time to give a proper TWIA send-off to this season's high profile sci-fi anime about love and adolescence, told through the language of birds, plants, and robots. It was a divisive show, but I'm sure it will continue to be discussed and dissected in conversation with the classic anime that inspired it.

I am, of course, talking about DARLING in the FRANXX.

Nick D

you just know that someone's fetish out there was pregnant Haruko, and Progressive was kind enough to provide for them


i mean it would be fitting for a new FLCL to inspire a messy sexual awakening in some unsuspecting teen watching Toonami but still

Every generation deserves a chance to be warped forever by anime.


What the Hell is Happening in A Centaur's Life?



Micchy
This feels like the kind of series where people can read whatever they want from it, because yeah, it's so flat in execution. Am I supposed to be put off by some girl's dismissal of snake-people's representation in a magazine? I really don't know what to make of it. They do point out that there is an audience for snakegirl models, so representation isn't just there ~because the government said so~, at least.

Jacob
Well she's clearly wrong about one thing

They don't teach Rule 34 in Monster Girl World apparently

somebody hasn't seen Monster Musume's 22-foot dakimakuras


The mighty hunters returning from their excursion, fatigued yet fulfilled

Monster Musume at least had the sense to give Miia underwear pasties under her skirt. Centaur's Life has mermaid thigh gaps.


How Do They Put On Their Swimsuit Bottoms

Do they button underneath like a onesie or something?

They've got laces at the sides, so I guess they strap them on like diapers.

oh good that's like at least three fetishes in one

frankly I'm just disturbed by how their legs merge together like those cheap headphone cords that pull apart

How Far Does The Skin Go



Was Little Witch Academia Worth the Wait?



Steve
I've enjoyed Trigger's shows more than I've disliked them, but each one has had its share of issues that either distract or detract from its strengths. LWA is the first one that, to me, plays only to its strengths and comes out being something truly special. Comedy, action, lovable characters, giant robots, it's all there.

Nick D
It's the kind of family show I love to see getting made - brimming with creative energy and passion, light and straightforward enough for younger viewers but not formulaic enough to alienate an older audience

Yeah! kids are gonna love the magic and spectacle, but it's also very much a show about making art and entertainment, and the passion and problems that go along with that.

And that plays out through the presentation too! Nearly every episode has at least one or two cuts of really neat animation that you can tell were done by passionate, talented folks.


The Trigger crew love making anime, and that shines through all their shows, but LWA in particular is such a joy to watch. It's basically an anime about making anime. Anime is magic~

That's definitely an interesting angle - the show makes more than a few rather pointed references to the modern anime industry throughout its run


You could write an entire essay on that thematic thread. Akko's struggle is the struggle between talent and effort, tradition and innovation, entertainment vs. "high art," and whether those are even true dichotomies in the first place.

I especially found Luna Nove as an institution fascinating. It's a storied, centuries-old school that's allowed itself to fall into irrelevance through dedication to tradition, losing public interest and students as a result. And then in walks Akko who's all reckless new energy.

hmmmmm, wonder which anime studio she represents

In a lesser show, that'd probably be where it ends, but I like what the series eventually says through Akko's rival Diana.

It's so wonderful to see how their relationship develops in the final episodes.

She represents the ideal of Luna Nova's traditionalsim - classically talented with a stalwart respect for their ways - but it comes from a place of affection for her family's past and a desire to continue their legacy into the future. In the end, the solution isn't "Akko's right about everything, change it all!" but finding a mutually beneficial partnership and balance of trust between her new blood and Diana's traditional ways.

Yes! it's such a smart and nuanced conclusion that i'm surprised it came out of Trigger. But I think in many ways LWA seems to mark a maturation of the studio, and at the very least cements Yoh Yoshinari as one of the most talented directors working there.


Cells at Work! Makes Learning Fun (and Disgusting)



Jacob
Steve, are you ready to take an enriching and educational journey inside the Wonderful World of the Human Body? :D

Steve
Golly, am I ever!


Ah, the beauty that lies beneath the skin~

Turns out, deep down, we're all anime. And an extremely violent anime at that!

Cells at Work! is just like the Magic School Bus, if Ms. Frizzle's students were constantly on the edge of a gruesome and psychologically scarring demise.

(So what I'm saying is it's just like the Magic School Bus.)

And I love it! Now this is my idea of a healing anime. It's literally about your body healing itself!

I remember being appropriately traumatized by that episode when they Innerspace themselves inside Ralphie, and I'm so glad a new generation gets that same experience! Cells at Work! is a damn fine piece of edutainment that makes me nostalgic for those days of watching Magic School Bus or Schoolhouse Rock in class.

Except I'm pretty sure Magic School Bus never featured monster girl bacteria. Or pathogen girl, I guess? Pathogirl? We still gotta iron that out.

Right. It turns out that your red gooey insides are actually a metropolis, filled with hard-working cells from neutrophils to basophils to Steve's Wife:

You can call me out all you want, but I'll call myself out more. I'm brimming with anticipation for the episode where they explain that one of the macrophage's jobs is to, uh, eat other cells.

What level of vore is it when the vore-er is already inside you?
...You know what, don't answer that.

Incidentally, this is why I got a degree in the life sciences. I just didn't know it at the time. I did it for her.


How Has Love Live! Sunshine!! Changed The Idol Anime Game?



Nick D
We should probably get off the topic of Love Live! shipping before we burn the comments section to the ground, actually.

Steve
We could go on for hours. However, since you already brought it up, and because I know we're in agreement on this, we should both officially decree the best School Idol™, just to get it out of the way.

on three:
one.
two.
three.

NICO NICO NII

Nico Ya--okay good, that's settled.


my perfect garbage daughter

Sidenote: if Sunshine takes place five years after the Love Live! movie, that means Nico Yazawa is canonically old enough to drink.

I need the scene where Nico shows up as the grizzled old school idol veteran who sits down with Aqours to give them some gruff, tough love. DON'T DISAPPOINT ME, SUNSHINE.


What the Hell is Happening in King's Game?



Nick D
Hey there Jake, how's your weekend treating you?

Jacob
It's great! Nothing could possibly ruin my relaxing afternoon with a big delicious bowl of chocolate pudding.

So uh, what are we discussing today?

Well...

the sound of one spoon lowering

This Week In Anime is brought to you by Kraft Foods in cooperation with Jell-O.

I have no idea who in their right mind would sponsor King's Game, much less produce it in the first place. And yet, here we are.

Well somebody keeps making these things. It seems like every year we get at least one schlocky murderfest with piss-poor production values and boy are we scraping the bottom of the porta-potty with this one.

Yeah I'm usually down for a good old fashioned anime deathbowl, but King's Game just plays out like the first draft of a self-insert exercise somebody wrote on their cellphone—
OH WAIT, that's exactly what it is. Complete with the main character having the writer's actual full name.

You're kidding me. Dude, at least change around your initials or something.

It's all well and good for some Joe (or Nobuaki in this case) getting writing practice on the internet almost ten years ago, but I have no idea why anyone bothered to turn it into even this low-rent of an anime series. Apparently it was made into a horror movie in 2011 that did surprisingly well, but it hardly seems worth reviving now.

Okay, so it came out before Another then. Because all I could think was that somebody somewhere had seen Another and thought "okay but what if this was worse".

I think the best public service we can provide on this one is to just explain what the fuck has happened so far, in case people want to jump from the beginning straight to the crazy finale and just get the highlights on what is mostly an ugly and boring show. Just a reminder that this edition of TWIA is Very Not Safe For Work.

Nonsense, we'll just be posting pictures from the annual Pudding Dive contest.

WHOLESOME, STICKY FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY


Will Bakugo Become a Hero or a Villain?



Micchy
Yeah, for all the less-than-great decisions they make, neither Bakugo nor Deku is all-out wrong in their approach to the exam. Just, y'know, in need of a little compromise.

Nick D
They're never gonna be friends - and probably SHOULDN'T anyway - but they can learn from each other all the same, and that's hopefully something Bakugo can start doing now that he's at least sort of over his complex with Deku. Though if he doesn't, he wouldn't be the first shounen rival character to turn to The Dark Side.

Don't Do It Bakugo

Which I guess begs the question - do you think Bakugo has it in him to be a hero? a villain?

Hard to say! I can't see him willingly joining any villains for ideological reasons, but he also doesn't seem to give a damn about the "saving people" part of heroism. Whichever side he winds up on, he's gonna be the loose cannon.

I mean, we do have precedent for somebody who's determined, never willing to lose, and was inspired by All Might to follow his path...

The kiddo's gonna run that risk for sure. On the other hand, he could turn out to be a hero like Endeavor. It's important to remember that Stain wasn't really allied with the League of Villains, per se. Though that begs the whole question of what heroes/villains even are in MHA's world.

Yeah, I don't think Bakugo would necessarily become a Villain of his own volition - but if his view of strength doesn't line up with society at large, well...he is determined.

But ultimately, I think Bakugo has more potential for good than is apparent, if only because of how he contrasts with Mr. Smiles here.

Poor Deku thought he'd be going on a pseudo-date with Uraraka only to be asked out by this charmer.

No getting handsy, Shigaraki

Just trying to have a nice day out with his friends and suddenly this visual metaphor for clinical depression shows up

Deku: gonna hang out with my friends today!
Deku @ Deku: do u really wanna go out in a T-shirt that says "T-shirt"

trust me that's not even the tip of MHA's Weird Shirt iceberg


Is Violet Evergarden Worth Watching?



Nick D
The show is undeniably gorgeous, but before we get too into the nitty gritty, I think we need to address the elephant in the room. Namely: this is a show called Violet Evergarden, based on a book called Violet Evergarden, and it stars a character literally named Violet Evergarden, and somehow this was allowed.

Steve
Anime finds a way.

I'm sorry but Violet Evergarden is the name of your Harry Potter fanfic OC who's Snape's long-lost daughter and in a love triangle
with Harry and Draco.

In this case, it's literally because the dude who named her looked around, saw a violet, and said, "good enough."



We're lucky they were outside for this conversation or this would be the adventures of Desklamp Evergarden.


What the Hey is Wrong With Heybot?



Micchy
The plot of Heybot! becomes "What The Hell Is The Plot Of Heybot!"

Steve
or Why The Hell Is The Plot Of Heybot!

There's the part where Instrumentality Heybot! stops its destruction because the final boss doesn't talk menacingly enough.

There's an episode about the cheaper version of the Heybot! toy plotting to take the place of the Deluxe Heybot! toy.

The information security episode where the episode's structure hints at the identity of one character's secret internet crush, only to throw our expectations back in our faces when it turns out the B-plot was a digression all along.

Not to mention the revelation that Micchy personally invented Heybot!

I deny ever licking a soulless white Heybot! toy.

I'm just saying the facts add up and most people will agree with the evidence.

hell, one time the show even read our tweets out loud

For a show that was always meta, the finale of Heybot! is meta to the extreme, and I genuinely love it. It's an impassioned defense of Heybot! the show, and I'm very sympathetic to it.

Absolutely, I loved it. In the last episode of Heybot!, the show's crimes catch up to it, and it's forced to (briefly) become the most sanitized, boring edutainment cartoon on the air. And everyone's miserable!

For as much as we both riffed on the show while watching it, the finale asks us to imagine a universe without Heybot!, and it sucks.

It's like the writers are telling us "we might be terrible, but at least we're not boring."

It's a punk rock screed against sanitized children's television and the push for conformity in media and culture.

THEY EVEN GOT RID OF MUSCLE MOM

There should always be muscle mom!

There should be outlets for weirdness, absurdity, and pointlessness, especially for children!

I'm not sure I would recommend that any responsible parents let their kids watch Heybot!, but I'm truly glad the show exists.


How Does Fate/Apocrypha Compare to Other Grail Wars?



Jacob
STEVE, STEVE, DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS?

it just arrived by skelegram

Steve
oh i love that new service, no bones about it

Fate/Apocrypha is finally on Netflix! I FEEL LIKE WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR SIXTY YEARS.

At least this guy has anyway

And his extremely stupid name should tell you most of what you need to know about this new Grail War.

Now I know the Fate series has many ardent fans, and I want to do this conversation justice, so in the interest of journalistic transparency and integrity, I whipped up this simple chart to show how I approach any given Type Moon show.


As such, I enjoyed Apocrypha quite a bit!

The userbase for Fate/Grand Order would seem to agree with your assessment there.

Oh yeah, on that subject, my Fate GO AP will max out in about an hour and a half so we're on the clock.

While it is only half over, Apocrypha would seem to fall more on the We Must Let Them Fight side than the Stroking My Chin About What Makes A True Hero side of the Fate equation. But that's bound to happen when you replace King Arthur with uh

this little murderbeast

Can't say murder without it sounding sorta like Mordred!

The difference between Arthur and Mordred (king torn apart by her complex ideals vs. pissy usurper who enjoys tearing other people apart) is a pretty nice summation of the difference between Nasu/Urobuchi-flavored Fate and this spinoff novel, which is more concerned with taking Fate's premise—

(which need we remind anyone at this point is this)

—and blowing it up to its grandest possible extent, starting with a Jewish mage fucking over the Nazis, stealing the Grail, and forcing the Clock Tower to crowdsource mages and double their usual master/servant ratio for a big fat fourteen-fighter free-for-all.

And I love that. The nitty gritty of Fate lore, of which I've only scratched the surface, can get so impenetrable that I respect Apocrypha for basically going "fuck that" and doing everything in the interest of creating the grandest, stupidest, most entertaining battle royale possible.


"Oh you thought seven Servants was too many? Well now there's 14 Servants, how about that? jk, there's 15, because there's a new Ruler class now. jk, there's 15 and half, because this homunculus is now sort of a Servant? jk, now's there's 16 because w h o c a r e s i t ' s
a w e s o m e."

Also, after a certain Twitter post, I couldn't unsee this, and it made the show 100 times better.

OH MY GOD

FATE APOCRYPHA IS ABOUT DRIL AND HIS DISRESPECTUL TEEN SON

IF THE CLOCK TOWER BANS ME FOR HOLLERING AT SABER I WILL FACE GOD AND WALK BACKWARDS INTO HELL


How Meta Does Re:Creators Get?



Steve
If Meteora is all about stories as an art form that can accomplish anything, Magane is all about stories as pure entertainment. The audience must be engaged and surprised, and anything that gets in the way of that is anathema. Fun is her number one priority. And yeah, I love that Sota needs both her and Meteora's help in order to save the day in the end.

Micchy
Both Meteora's and Magane's approaches are important! Pop culture combines them in ways that make people rally around stories that are both fun and moving.

Neither perspective on art is more correct than the other. Stories can be both staggering works of genius and page-turning fluff. Both are equally valid and important!

Ultimately, I think that's Re:CREATORS thesis: art can be both ambitious and entertaining, and the fun comes from striking that balance. It's no accident that all the Creations introduced are characters from the nerdiest, most lowbrow fiction. But they speak to people, and that's why they're popular.

Anime Will Save The World (or destroy it)

Tired: when is somebody going to save anime
Wired: actually, anime has definitely saved people

I think we all have works of art, high and low, that have spoken to us and helped us in times of need, and the grand finale of Re:CREATORS is a celebration of that.

So really what I'm saying, as always, is that Trash is Good Actually.

Is it a little self serving for an anime to celebrate anime? Sure, but like you said, Trash is Good. Now for a twelve-page discussion of Heybot! You see, it all begins with a screw--

[The remainder of this discussion has been jettisoned to protect the readers of Anime News Network. Please have a nice day.]


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