There are episodes of Fune wo Amu that resonate with me on a personal level, and then there are others (like this one) that feel distant and foreign, particularly when it comes to the dictionary details. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this episode – in fact I thought it was an improvement on last week’s, with a nice presentation of the passage of time, and some nice call backs to earlier character moments that link the current dictionary department with the one that existed when Majime for joined – but there is a sense of wonderment that’s lost when the focus shifts from the characters to The Great Passage.
What this all comes down to is what Fune wo Amu does for you; what gets you the most enjoyment. For me it’s the characters (although the diverse animation styles are a touch that I’m a big fan of as well) and how their journeys and personal lives are conveyed to us. It’s so rare to have genuine adults leading an anime, especially ones that feel like actual humans. I crave those scenes that show the humanity of the cast, as we explore their day-to-day living and get an insight into their head space as they tackle this dictionary-making business. To me, the actual dictionary duties are secondary. They serve to drive the plot and give a foundation for these stories to be told. As soon as we get caught up in the minutia of what it takes to make a successful dictionary… it frankly gets a little boring. I know I thought of it as surprising entertaining several weeks back, but that’s because it’s such an oddball concept for an anime that the uniqueness of it was appealing. But after so many episodes of the baby steps, I’ve grown less loving of those scenes.
This episode gave plenty of both personal and dictionary oriented scenes. All I know is if I’m to get the most out of this series, I need more scenes like Kishibe discovering Nishioka’s notes scattered across different books, or Majime proving that he has newfound confidence after being put into a leadership role. Those moments were the best of the episode for me, but I’m also left craving some Kaguya content and getting to know Nishioka’s current love life situation. That’s the problem with this time skip for me: It’s jumped past all the interesting character moments that needed exploring in favour of focusing on the completion of The Great Passage. The result provides great imagery once we’re inside in the mind of a stressful Majime, but this dictionary isn’t a character in its own right. I care less about seeing it getting to print than I do knowing about the lives and loves of the men and women who’ve dedicated so many years for this cause.
I don’t want this coverage to come off as harsh, because Fune wo Amu as it is right now is still one of the better shows of this season (and possible of the year as a whole), but when I know the peaks it can reach, I get slightly disappointed that it’s not going to end up being a representation of true greatness. There are still many details and moments that I enjoy, but after experiencing the best anime episode in a long time (perhaps ever), I just want to get that rush of emotions once again. But the direction the anime has taken in skipping those vital opportunities leads me to believe that it’s not going to end on the high I want it to. I hope to be proven wrong – honestly, I do – but with two weeks left to go, the clock is ticking, and I’m waiting for the return of true greatness once more.