I should begin by saying that I may not be able to get a double meaning out of the Kanji characters every week. Last episode made it easy and fit with the imagery presented to us, but the “Encounter” seen at the end of this week was pretty straight forward and I couldn’t find any other reasonable interpretation for the title. If anyone else can dig up some hidden meaning that fits with this week’s themes, then feel free to share below and educate the masses about the intricacies of the Japanese language.
Now, onto the episode. And what an episode. I said it last week, but Fune wo Amu sure does hit that 2009 Noitamina sweet spot. It’s like a breath of fresh air, bringing in a mature, adult drama that goes against the wave of many seasonal anime. Who would have thought a show about a making a dictionary would be so enthralling. I’m a lucky blogger, getting to cover three anime this season that excel at pacing; at making the audience feel just what they intend, and setting a mood and atmosphere with the way dialogue is delivered and how scenes transition. Fune wo Amu is much more like Hibike! Euphonium in its confident yet slow pace that delivers the drama bit-by-bit. In comparison, Yuri!!! on Ice is going at a mile-a-minute, but I’m glad to have that variety in what I can discuss. All three shows are well-directed and among the best animated of the season as well.
Other than Majime’s occasional epiphany, there are few occasions where the animation and art design is anything out of the ordinary; most of the scenes are set in a real-world environment with little room for exaggeration. Instead, we get lovely character animation that is smooth and detailed, making it feel like care has been put into each frame. It’s easy on the eyes, paired with a directing style that mimics a live-action film, we’ve got something very atypical compared to a lot that’s on offer. As for those moments of bliss and euphoria, they are pretty spectacular. They tend to be fast – almost too fast – and happen so suddenly, and stick out from the regular pace of the show, which works in its favour. When things seem out of the ordinary, we feel that due to the shift in tone, colour palette, and the speed at which the frame linger on-screen. It’s those subtle details that elevate this to a higher level.
As for plot, not too much happened this episode. We mainly watched on as Majime took part in long conversations with his new workmates and the old woman who lives in the same building as him. Not every word is essential, but the dialogue is conversational and believable, leading on to more moments of dictionary knowledge which frankly goes over my head. I understand the gist of what is expected of Majime and the tasks he has to undertake, but it appears the method to his madness is not going to be the key to success here; it’s the manner in which this seemingly mundane premise comes to life on-screen that will be worth talking about. And if that’s how I’ll measure the success of this episode, I’d say it was a winner. Not only that, but the final scene with Majime encountering a mysterious woman under the moonlit night was gorgeous. This meeting is sure to be integral to Fune wo Amu’s existence given how striking this woman’s introduction was. She’s said so little and done nothing but stand under the Tokyo night, yet I’m already as captivated by her presence as Majime himself.