Everything is pretty much as expected.
For an action show, the action sure isn’t very good. I’m not expecting amazing animation, but at least give me some interesting fight direction. Instead, it’s like I’m watching a turn-based RPG. One character attacks, then the opponent reacts. Rinse and repeat. It’s very stiff and boring.
On the few occasions it does break the mold and does something vaguely exciting, it still doesn’t have much impact because there are no stakes in these fights. If they’re not training, they’re fighting robots with unclear goals. In episode 6, these robots attack an auction house, but no one knows exactly what they’re after and what will happen if they fail. In episode 8, the bad guy sends out a fleet of drone planes with the intention to have them shot down in order to “gather data”. I’m on the edge of my seat here.
On paper, Tiana’s little arc here is not bad. She’s suffering from a sense of inferiority, and as a result pushes herself too hard and acts recklessly. She gets in trouble when that ends up endangering her allies, and ultimately Nanoha teaches her to focus on her strengths and respect her limits.
But man, the execution is so shoddy at every step. She has to explain her inferiority complex to the viewer because it was never actually shown up to this point. Her reckless attack that almost hits Subaru doesn’t make sense because Subaru was only there because they were going to do a combo attack -but then Tiana blasts all the enemies away by herself. Nanoha gets upset at her during a mock battle for not doing what they practiced, when it’s really not clear to the viewer what they practiced exactly. It’s only after this arc that I get what it was going for, and that required a lot of exposition.
Also, Nanoha blasted Tiana out of the air, which seems a bit unprofessional. It’s a good thing she fell onto Subaru’s sky road and didn’t just slam down into the concrete.
Seirei no Moribito
Things have calmed down, and with Balsa and the prince presumed dead, they start living a quiet life on the outskirts of town. I knew this part of the story took up a significant chunk of the middle, but I didn’t remember it starting this early. Anyway, even though it’s slower these last few episodes have still been enjoyable.
Low fantasy settings in shows like Moribito and Mushishi are a rare sight these days. Maybe they were never that popular, but anime is so saturated now with isekai shows set in carbon copy Dragon Quest worlds that just having no blatant video game mechanics is enough to make me feel relieved.
One of the things I remembered about Clannad was that I liked the Fuko arc the most. In fact, it was probably the reason I stuck with the series in the first place, even when subsequent arcs were less and less good. So upon rewatching it I was surprised that even this part of the story was pretty bleh. Everything it did that was good was offset by something else that was annoying.
But turns out that all the payoff was at the end, and episode 9 wrapped up Fuko’s story while avoiding everything that was bad about previous episodes. Yeah it was still a bit emotionally manipulative, but sometimes it works.
If I’m not mistaken, the next arc is about Kotomi. And if I’m not mistaken, the conclusion to her story is so over the top it ends up being unintentionally funny.