First-rank or Death

Frieren, episode 20

They’re trying really hard to make us care about these new mages. It’s not working for me, and they didn’t even compensate with intimate close-up shots of Little Miss Fan-Service. Sure, it was nice to see Fern casually taking down two experienced combat mages, but then we had to sit through the exposition on why they’re pursuing this certification in the first place. Which sounds a tad suspicious.

Verdict: please burn down the forest in the first minute of the next episode.

The Apothecary Diaries, episode 16

Sherlock Maomao returns to solve a locked room drawer mystery, and gently hints that maybe you don’t want to sniff lead solder in rooms without ventilation. While she’s got her Great Detective hat on, she also figures out a small piece of the larger puzzle. Pity she’s not in the room when Creepy Monocle Guy drops a hint the size of a small boulder, which somehow zooms right past Jinshi.

Verdict: this is pulling ahead of Frieren by the simple virtue of not getting bogged down in a tournament arc, despite the extremely contrived nature of the mystery metal mystery.

(next week, slumming with the common folk!)

Solo Leveling, episode 4

This week, it’s Baby’s First Dungeon Grind, as Our Hero explores his menus and spends skill points to Grow Stronger, expositing all the while. The payoff is that an evening of leveling up gives him the power to save his not-girlfriend while remaining safely anonymous.

Verdict: 1/3 of the way through the season, and he’s finished the starter area. Will they get a second season that rewards the viewers for their investment? I hope so, because I want to see Esil animated.

(not this not-girlfriend; this one’s a self-rescuing princess, for the most part)

Online Pon, episode 4

In which the online game that’s sponsoring this show is prominently featured, with Our Bounceless Pon Girls playing online mahjong while sitting at a mahjong table together. On the bright side, they spend most of the episode actually playing mahjong, which is theoretically the theme of the show. Not that I know anything about the game, which makes the exaggerated dramatic moments zoom right past me. Speaking of drama, the episode ends with Girl#5 successfully stalking Our Poor Little Riiche Girl to the parlor. Fortunately she’s qualified to join the group, and by that I mean stacked. Also apparently homeless.

Note that the online game is getting its own anime in April, which is apparently its second season.

Verdict: if only the girls were, y’know, animated; and they stopped doing the man-face jokes; and they cut the volume on the This Is Comedy music.

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