In this week’s installment…
Our two remaining combatants have picked a good time to peak. Both Takagi-san and A Place Further Than the Universe deliver great episodes this week, leaving us with a tough choice. Decisions have been made, but the results may be a bit surprising.
The Rules: We will watch and review every episode that is still in the contest. We will choose one show to eliminate every week based on the quality of that week’s episode and the series overall. We will also choose a “Nice Moment of the Week” and the series that wins will be immune from elimination next week.
ROUND 9, FIGHT!
Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san
Jel: This was arguably the best episode of Takagi-san if only because they managed to blend the multiple segment format in a more seamless way than we’ve seen before. Rather than presenting three one-off stories, each part of the episode built up to the next. This made the tension in the final scene so thick that it was almost uncomfortable, which seemed to be the point. They even managed to work in the three “other” girls at different points of the episode instead of one annoying block, putting them to work as they helped drive the overall plot.
Most importantly though, this episode confronted the elephant in the room head on. Everyone knows Takagi and Nishikata are dating except Nishikata. Even though we already knew that, it was nice to see it brought up so openly. Takagi is not just teasing Nishikata because it’s fun, she’s doing it because she wants him to be honest about his feelings and about their relationship. I feel like we have now pushed that as far as it can possibly go. Now they just need to finish the job and get these two crazy kids together by the final episode. That is the only payoff I will accept at this point, anything less will be a huge disappointment.
Marlin: Finally, finally we found a use for those friggin girls and it turns into the best episode we’ve seen yet! I absolutely love where this show has taken its premise, and if we’re gonna be honest, this was the cutest episode of any show we’ve watched this season. South Pole Girls has had the consistent quality, but Takagi is so nostalgic and warm that it’s impossible not to crack a smile even at its weakest episodes. From here on out I can only see it getting better as we get to the heart of the matter and Nishikata finally owns up to his crush.
A Place Further Than the Universe
Jel: After letting the emotional high from this episode die down a bit, I realized my previous criticism about this show being a bit too melodramatic probably still applies here. I don’t care though. They earned this emotional gut punch by making Hinata and Shirase such great characters. They’ve been allowed to have a wide range of emotions, moods, and feelings over the course of the series without being crammed into a predictable stereotype, and yet still have distinct enough personalities and motivations for their actions to make sense. They both handled the situation with Hinata’s past exactly the way you think they would, not because they fit in a typical anime character mold but because we’ve had time to get to know them. And so rather than being a cheap demand to CRY NOW, the end of the episode was good payoff from good character development.
I also found the end result interesting. In most shows of this type, where conflict is a bad word, I feel like Hinata’s past would have been handled by having her forgive her teammates and they would eventually become friends. Like it was all some kind of mistake or misunderstanding, which maybe it really was. But asking whether or not Hinata “should” have forgiven them is asking the wrong question. As we learned recently in the stellar March Comes In Like a Lion arc that was coincidentally also about a girl named Hinata being bullied, it is really up to the victim to decide what they need to do to move on. This made Shirase nudging Hinata until she realized what she wanted an ultimate act of friendship (nice connection with Shiraishi and last week’s episode on that) and just a really nice moment overall. Also, I think they were implying those girls were only contacting Hinata to get on TV so… Shirase did the right thing.
Final note: HINATA BEST GIRL 2018 #animeawards ok I’m out.
Euri: A superb return to form, and a genuinely touching display from Shirase at the end (even though she shouldn’t have read that email, worried or not).
Marlin: This was a solid episode, even if I don’t think this show really sends the best messages about how to deal with people who wronged you. From Kimari’s quick forgiveness to Shirase shouting screw you to the moon, it also hasn’t been incredibly consistent. Still, since they are teenagers, I’ll give them some slack for not knowing how to let a grudge go.
No Nice Moment™ this week since there are only two contestants remaining
This Week’s Victim Is…
Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san
This has become an increasingly close race but at this point I’d still have to give an edge to A Place Further Than the Universe as this season’s best cute show. That said, Takagi-san did earn immunity from elimination by winning the Nice Moment™ last week and can’t be dropped. After much deliberation, the judges (me) have decided that while Takagi-san should be safe, it would also not be fair to decide the entire competition based on one week of immunity. So that means…
WE’RE GOING TO OVERTIME!
We will extend the Battle Royale for one more bonus round: no immunity, winner takes all. See you next week!