The Bear Minimum – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Six)
So, Itadori isn’t dead. Spoilers. Surprise. Fooled you. Well, maybe; chances are you thought he was coming back. Regardless, he’s alive and now secretly contracted to allow Sukuna one minute of freedom at the utterance of a specific word; however, Itadori has no memory of said deal—as per Sukuna’s additional condition. Still, as frightening as this sounds, Sukuna promised not to use his minute of freedom to harm or kill another being—the obvious lack of trust being mitigated by the apparent punishments that arise from breaking an agreed-upon pact. What a nice guy. Still, potentially dangerous or not, this development is largely pushed aside for Itadori’s real-world mission: learning how to used cursed energy. Though played mostly for goofs—and as an opportunity to throw in a few Shonen references—the intricacies of utilising cursed energy are actually pretty interesting. With cursed energy relying on negative emotions, jujutsu sorcerers must learn to utilise the faintest traces of these feelings to power their techniques, whilst also maintaining emotional stability in the face of peril—to prevent burning through their energy too quickly. It’s a relatively simple concept to understand, but one that is also immediately recognisable as difficult to master. Also, mastering this concept involves watching movies and trying not to get punched by a stuffed bear. Yeah: it’s legit. Gojo, the one whom organised Itadori’s training, also mumbles how Sukuna’s energy will slowly empower Itadori and grant him access to more techniques. Way to seed power progression, teach.
The episode also delves briefly into Fushiguro’s thought process and where he plans to focus his training. With a sequence that shows he grabbed the name tag off the victim of the special-grade—the one he and Itadori butted heads over, in regards of how to handle his remains—we see that Itadori’s convictions have really left a mark on Fushiguro. Combined with Sukuna’s taunting that he is wasting his talent, Fushiguro resolves to improve and ponders that he may be able to defeat a special-grade one day—if Sukuna’s words can be trusted. In fact, Fushiguro’s potential is seemingly a driving factor in Sukuna even attempting to revive Itadori: whatever technique Fushiguro almost used in his battle with Sukuna has the guy’s curiosity piqued. Mine too, if I’m being honest. So, as much as this episode was a set up for training—and therefore a set up to future events—it was still an intriguing one. Oh, and also a curse immolated an entire restaurant of people. It was…it was truly horrifying to watch. This series is nuts.
The Eyes Have It – Iwakakeru -Sport Climbing Girls- (Episode Six)
Okay, I relent: Iwakakeru is a series about rock climbing. I know that sounds obvious, but hear me out. I spent the first few episodes of this series mulling over how characters seem flat and their personalities are entirely dependent on their love of climbing…and I was right. In this episode, however, we get to see that mentality actually used somewhat well. When pitted against each other in rapid succession, the singular aspects of the characters help make them stand out; help make them memorable…kind of. I couldn’t tell you their names, but I could explain how Ballerina got psyched out by Konomi and how Panther needs to beat Spider to keep her team in the competition. It’s a very rough approximation of character connections, but it’s what this series gives us. And I’ll admit, seeing Konomi one-shot every wall was pretty cool—especially when it bugged Ballerina. Why? Because Ballerina begins this episode by reminding us of this series’ weakness: exposition. Did you know Konomi was a prima ballerina? Well, Ballerina just out and says it. We know so little about the surrounding cast, and they spend their time just explaining things instead of introducing themselves through their actions. It’s frustrating. Also, how is Konomi the best at everything? Not only was she a pro gamer and prima ballerina, she also aces challenges that make seasoned climbers balk. I understand giving her a natural gift for climbing, it’s what this series is about, but why the backstory of perfection? For all we know, Konomi could ditch climbing a be an amazing swimmer. How long until she dives wholeheartedly into some other passion?
So, yeah…that’s about it. This episode is basically just Konomi rocking up and styling all over the more experienced climbers. Which is cool…and kind of sad. This is mostly because every climber who isn’t a part of the main team is a jerk. Everyone is just so antagonistic, spending whatever time they’re not climbing to rag on their opponents. The closest we get to seeing a positive side of any competitor is when Panther reminisces about a loss in hurdling that caused her grief. So yeah, the only time a character isn’t a jerk is when a flashback shows that they’ve dealt with even bigger jerks. So…let’s all keep cheering for the least mean person, I guess?
Tilting at Blockers – Haikyu!! To the Top (Episode Nineteen)
With our brief jaunt over to Nekoma behind us, it’s time to see how our regularly scheduled main characters are doing. The answer? Okay. With Inarizaki landing two service aces off Nishinoya, things aren’t looking so hot. At least until Nishinoya powers through his doubts—by doing finger push ups—and then…things stay about the same. Really, this is a fairly give-and-take sort of episode. When one team makes a smart play, the other counters, and so on and so forth. In fact, most of the episode revolves around both teams trying to tire out or emotionally shake key players on the other side of the court; the score is surprisingly out of focus. Sure, the points matter, but events are mostly focused on how the players are reacting; some plays even occur in almost real time, with less slow-motion focus than the more dramatic moments this series prides itself on. Honestly, the whole affair just seems…messy, and I think that’s the point. This is a tough match, one neither team wants to drag on for longer than it has to. Both sides are tired, desperate to win, and dejected by every mistake. Well-executed plays are shut down, serves land out, and receives are sloppy: this is a real match. Still, it is a little weird. Haikyu!! loves to show the finer details of volleyball, to focus on specific moments to the point that time slows to better express them. Now, this episode isn’t devoid of those moments, but points of understandable focus are left a little vague. For example, the Inarizaki player who can spike at weird angles: some random old guy in the crowd explains what’s going on. Combined with the odd visual of the spiker tilting ninety degrees, this whole development plays out in an almost unsettling way. Perhaps obfuscation was the goal here, but something just didn’t sit right with me.
I’m really not sure what it was, but nothing in this episode really stood out to me. Plenty of things happened, but nothing that seemed ultimately consequential. Seeing Calm Kageyama—as Hinata has dubbed the phenomenon—obliterate Inarizaki with his serves was cool. Being reminded that Nishinoya is one of Karasuno’s emotional bedrocks was nice. Things were fine…just oddly underwhelming. Still, this episode was nice enough to remind us that Inarizaki’s cheering section is the absolute worst: it’s understood that they’ll boo their own side if they think a play was weak. Why is that a thing people let slide? Booing is bad enough when directed at an opposing side, trust Inarizaki to somehow make that seem tame. Jerks.
Croco-Dai-le Rock – Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai (Episode Six)
Finally, Dai’s titular adventure has begun and, just like any goofy Shonen hero, he immediately finds himself getting lost.
With both Dai and Popp lost in the Dark Forest on their way to the Romos Kingdom, they encounter a mysterious girl named Maam from a nearby village. Popp doesn’t exactly hit it off with her, so he and Dai don’t take her offer for help passing through the Dark Forest. Soon enough, Dark Lord Hadlar has discovered Dai’s location and ordered one of his six dark generals to eliminate him: that general being the fearsome Beast King Crocodine.
Crocodine is your typical villain who simply loves to fight. We first meet him having a sleep instead of taking over the kingdom, as the Dark Lord had ordered him, because he is bored as there are no warriors strong enough to give him a challenge—that is until he encounters Dai.
The majority of this episode revolves around the battle between Dai and Crocodine from here, as Dai surprises Crocodine with his strength and skill. The battle is awesomely animated, and we get to see a bit more of the spoils of Dai’s training with Avan—as he goes all out against Crocodine here.
The only criticism I have is that the character of Popp is really quite annoying so far. He comes across as a coward somewhat along the lines of Usopp from One Piece; however, he doesn’t yet seem to have the redeeming qualities and character depth that Usopp has. Instead, he simply runs—leaving Dai to die—screaming and crying like a little bitch for the majority of the episode. Maam, on the other hand, seems to be quite an interesting character, and we learn that she also has an insignia of Avan—hinting that she may also have been a student of his. We will probably find out more on that in the next episode.
This episode, however, ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Dai against the ropes in his fight with Crocodine and Maam seemingly shooting him with a spell. What are Maam’s true intentions? We will find out next week on Dragon Quest Z.
Cat-Scratch Fever – Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon (Episode Six)
This episode was about ghost demon cats. It wasn’t very good, just like the five episodes that came before it. I am quite tired of this anime. I don’t know what else to say. I just feel sad.
So, It’s War Then? – Ikebukuro West Gate Park (Episode Six)
Ikebukuro West Gate Park has just entered into its first major story arc: the G-Boys Winter War has begun.
After spending its first five episodes establishing the underworld of Ikebukuro and its many factions that Makoto must keep the balance of peace between, episode six sees that balance completely disrupted, as a mysterious figure named Shadow begins calculated assaults on members of the G-Boys—inciting a war between “King” Takashi and one of his roundtable faction leaders “Knight” Hiroto.
Hiroto has long had aspirations to take Takashi’s place as King and believes Takashi to be behind the mysterious Shadow attacks which have left many of his men hospitalised. Makoto tries to maintain the peace between Hiroto and Takashi; but, as things continue to escalate and more of Hiroto’s men get taken out, things come to a fiery climax with Hiroto declaring his faction’s defection from the G-Boys and issuing a declaration of war against Takashi and his gang.
However, there are quite a few pieces to this puzzle that remain in question. The Red Angels claim to have no involvement; however, they have arguably the most to gain from the self-destruction of the G-Boys. In fact, the Red Angels become even more suspect after the twist ending sees the Donglong Chinese faction, that we explored in the previous episode, also falling victim to one of Shadow’s attacks.
The mystery is left hanging, as it seems that Ikebukuro is about to erupt into all out warfare in the G-Boys Winter War. IWGP is really taking things to another gear here, and I am fully on board with where things go from here with the Winter War story arc. If I was to hazard a guess as to who is behind the Shadow attacks, I think that the Red Angels do seem the most suspicious; however, I feel that may be a red herring. Either way, I am keen to see what happens next week.