Kicking Things into Gear — Summer 2020 Week 4 Check-In

I always love week 4 in a seasonal rotation. We’re really starting to get into the meat of the shows, I’ve dropped what I’m going to drop by this point, and things are generally going at a pretty solid pace. Well, that’s true for many shows, but given the slew of series that we have here, most of them just kicked pretty hard into overdrive this week. That, and we see the return of two favorites from last season that got delayed, so I really don’t know how any week could possibly be better than this one. Let’s do it!

What’s new (er, “new”)?

The Millionaire Detective Balance: Unlimited

While the return of Balance: Unlimited didn’t result in a second wave of The Simpening, where Kambe Daisuke himself (not Balance: Unlimited as a show) was trending everywhere on Twitter, I could not possibly be more thrilled to see this show make a glorious return. This episode has it all – hostage negotiations on a train; the backstory of a disgraced police officer; old women willing to…die for their favorite boy band? It’s as absurd as I’ve come to expect the show to be, and it’s just the shot of dumb fun adrenaline I needed this week. If you haven’t watched any of Balance: Unlimited, I can’t recommend enough that you check this thing out. 

Appare-Ranman!

Speaking of returning shows that you need to check out, hot damn, Appare-Ranman! Is back and as solid as ever. Getting to watch Appare and his racing rivals do their thing again felt like coming home, and I hadn’t truly realized how much I missed this show until I got to watching this episode. The basic premise of the show – a Japanese inventive savant and the man charged with watching him find themselves in 19th-century LA and plan to participate in a race from LA to NYC a la Wacky Races – is beyond delightful, but the colorful cast of characters and the show’s overall look at the treatment of minorities in the USA is a hell of a winning combination in my book. I said this last season when it was still airing, but if you aren’t watching Appare-Ranman!, then you’re missing out on one of the best shows currently airing.

What’s great this week?

Re:Zero

I cried like a small baby, despite the fact that this episode did not hurt as much as I thought it was going to. It was such a sweet overall episode – seeing just how much Subaru’s family truly loved him; the lengths to which they went in order to help him feel normal, loved, and capable of personal agency; the true care they held for their son. This is, hands-down, one of the best episodes of the series to date. It’s an absolute must-watch.

Rent-a-Girlfriend

Speaking of must-watch episodes of the week, holy sweet god, Rent-a-Girlfriend only continues to get worse, and I continue to be astonished on a weekly basis by how unbelievably solid this show is in pretty much every aspect. One of the things that makes the show so good, in my eyes, is the show’s pendulum swing back and forth with regards to our characters and their own development. Kazuya and Chizuru both want out of this “relationship,” and have been trying to take steps to get out of it entirely. One of the core issues, though, is how much of a wimp Kazuya is, and how he can’t ever pull through and do what needs to be done when it matters most. So I was of course shocked when Kazuya announced to his friends in this episode that he and Chizuru were looking to break up. He finally grew a semblance of a spine and acted on it.

But the pendulum is obviously going to swing back – and through a force beyond either of their control at the end of the episode, it’s pretty clear that Kazuya and Chizuru are going to have to keep their charade going for a while longer. It’s so, so good, and you’re seriously missing out if you aren’t watching it.

Oregairu

This episode is a turning point in the show. And I know I say every week that this show hurts, but holy shit, does this week hurt. It hurts not just by way of seeing a character you care about be broken, but it hurts in seeing our core gang have to re-assess their own group dynamics, look at the truth, and try to struggle their way through it.

I am not exaggerating here – if you have yet to watch any of Oregairu, forget everything else this season has to offer for a bit and work your way through the first two seasons.

Deca-Dence

The twist that Deca-Dence is both a home for the last remaining humans on earth and the stage for a massively popular game for an order of higher-level beings is really starting to come to a head in this episode. Natsume finally gets the recognition that she’s always wanted as Kurenai invite her to join the Power as a soldier. It’s a genuinely heartwarming moment. And it’s immediately cut down when Kaburagi learns that the upcoming Deca-Dence event is supposed to be impossible to clear – thus ensuring that a large swathe of the players and humans participating in the fight are sure to die. It’s been a lot of good plot progression in this episode, and it makes me genuinely worried for our cast. I’m chomping at the bit for the next episode.

The God of High School

Heartbreaking episodes this week? Yes sir! Most of this episode was dedicated to exploring Mira’s backstory, and to a proposal thrust upon her by a famous martial artist. If she would drop out of the tournament and marry him, he would make her family’s sword style relevant all around the world. She agrees, but ultimately rejects it when Mori and Daewi fight for her and for the future she actually wants – which is to fight in the tournament and spread her sword style with her own hands. It’s a really poignant scene, and it feels like we’re going to go into Mira and Daewi’s fight in a bittersweet rivals kind of way. Instead, we flash to Daewi at the hospital watching his friend flatline, flash to Daewi brutalizing guys making fun of his dead/dying friend at his work, and then to Mori coming into the stadium late the following day to witness Daewi beating the ever-loving shit out of Mira. All of that buildup, and we aren’t even privy to see the fight in its entirety. It’s heart-wrenching, and I can’t possibly imagine how this will go from here.

What was pretty good?

The Misfit of Demon King Academy

Misfit was fun and resolved the conflict between Sasha and Misha, which was really just a ploy so that Sasha could allow Misha to live on in her place. Of course, Anos is our protagonist, and he can’t have anyone he cares for die, so he literally kills the god of time, rewrites the past, and ends up keeping both Misha and Sasha alive. All in all, it was certainly another episode of Misfit.

Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out

Cute and fun as usual! It’s nice to see Sakurai and Uzaki just be gaming nerds over a holiday weekend, and it warms my heart to see them growing closer. It’s still not a must-watch or anything, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a nice little comedy.

5 thoughts on “Kicking Things into Gear — Summer 2020 Week 4 Check-In

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