There are a growing number of single-cour TV anime (usually the late-night variety, but not limited to) where there’s one really outstanding episode. Often these episodes are also peak in production value and in terms of story–some kind of emotional climax or turning point. Normally, you would find the climatic moment of some dramatic story to be the most memorable, or the ending to be memorable (especially when controversial). But often times these “peak” episodes are becoming slowly just off beat on those key moments in the story.
Following The Nihon Review staff blog post here, see a list of ACE 2013’s top episodes that they’re singling out for being special, after a vote among fans and pros. (You can see the list from ACE directly.) For the sake of simplicity I will just list them here and make some notes:
- Haruhi S1 E12 – The Linda Linda Linda episode
- Toradora E16 – The catfight
- Strike Witches 2 E6 – Yuri in space
- Fruits Basket E1 – Selected by Hayami Saori. I guess I am not surprised. A lot of people like Fruits Basket even in Japan lol.
- The iDOLM@STER E20 – Chihaya sings
- Angel Beats! E10 – They get married
- Fate/Zero E23 – The showdown
- MajiLOVE 1000% E13 – /shrug did not watch
- Anohana E11 – They cry a river
- Steins;Gate E23 – The climatic moment
- Madoka E10 – Homu’s Revenge
- Gode Geass S2 E25 – The shark jumping reaches climax
- Bakemonogatari E12 – Under a cold, starry sky
- GITS SAC E26 – Laughing man is dead, long live the laughing man
- K-ON S2 E24 – Angel descends
- Narutio E133 – Sakugafest
- Railgun E24 – Mechafest
- Azanel-san E9 – Selected by… Sakura Ayane. Somehow this is not a surprise either.
- Gintama E150 – This series is full of crap like this.
- Tatami Galaxy E11 – It ends well.
- Scryed E26 – Before Gurren Lagann, there was this.
- Gurren Lagann E8 – In the programming guide it screens right after Scryed, and probably for good reasons.
- Clannad After Story E18 – SHINY GET in the field of childhood dreams
The episodes listed are part of the anime screening at ACE, so across 3 days they will be showing these. I believe they have one screening unannounced at this time.
Looking over that list it seems that most of those are just normal climatic bursts of emotions and the accumulation of a season’s worth of built-ups. K-ON and Anohana seem most poignant. The Clannad After Story bit, too, although at episode 18 it feels a little off. Toradora’s selection is a much more subtle choice in comparison, even when compared to the likes of iM@S and Gurren Lagann (that series is punctuated with such things).
But Gintama? Naruto? Madoka episode 10? Angel Beats 10? Actually maybe not that one. Certainly not before Haruhi 12.
Fruits Basket episode 1? Actually that one makes sense on the “pilot” theory–that the first 3 episodes of any given anime tend to have better production value (given time/resources and other constraints). From what I remember, Furuba episode 1 was pretty good, definitely above average for the series.
Bakemonogatari’s charming date seems awfully quaint in light of all of these older fan favorites, I suppose.
It all circles back to Strike Witches. Oddly enough I dropped SW right after episode 6 (but picked up the movie anyway). I think in more than one ways it is fit for the true weight of being 神–it’s not only emotionally engaging, it is well-produced and directed, and it’s precise. It’s like at any point in season two they could’ve pulled it off. And for me there was no way the rest of the show could top it.
So that’s about half a dozen of these mid-series peak episodes where the story doesn’t quite jump the shark but something drastic has taken place on the screen. And I don’t mean it in a Gurren Lagann kind of way. That count must’ve been higher now, right?
How else can we take into account of things like Kannagi 7? Kamichu 11? Simoun 16-17? (okay maybe not that one). Or my pet favorite, Asatte no Houkou 8? Or how about things like Manabi Straight 1-2 and 5? Girls und Panzer 8-9? (and soon 11-12?). Kaminomi 4? Or S2 E12? How about Black Lagoon 9-10? Kurenai 6? (Perhaps only rivaled by the Red Garden Dead Girls OAV.) I guess I’m digging deeper back than the ACE list.
I probably should keep a list on these.