“Kami Kai Theater”? Nobody Asked MY Opinion…

BFG

Probably TOO recent to have any episodes considered.  Not that any of them deserve it mind you.

Wow, I haven’t done one of these in a while!  I apologize to both of my readers and the other BtNRV staff members who have been carrying this place while I’ve been slacking.  I do not have an excuse, so I wont make one.  I just have not been inspired to write anything.  It’s not a simple matter of writers block as my own cynical view of the world making just about everything uninteresting to me.  So, what immensely important event brought me back to make this update?  Well, it was this article on Crunchyroll about the Anime Contents Expo’s “Kami Kai Theater” feature, wherein fans and industry people voted on which truly great episodes of anime deserved the title of “kami kai”; a divinely good episode.

I actually intended to do an article like this last year, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it justice.  Everybody has their preferences for what they think makes a truly great episode of a show.  Thankfully, the “kami kai” requirements are fairly obvious when looking at the 24 choices.  Thus, I can use some already established basis and add on.  Personally, I think a “kami kai” should not only be an episode that moves you, but must also be technically sound in direction, animation quality or art style, sound, and music.  For story contents, the episode should logically fit into the continuity and be memorable for what happens.  The episode does not necessarily have to define the series, because a singular episode can remove itself from the usual story flow and still be epic, but it shouldn’t be jarring either.  Finally, the episode has to entertain.  Lots of potentially meaningful episodes have been forgotten because they’re just too fucking boring.

With these points in mind, I would like to offer my unasked for opinion on what I believe are ten “kami kai” episodes that have been overlooked by the ACE selection process… but I’ll save that for a different post.  First, I would like to offer my unasked for opinion on the list that we already have.  At first glance, this is a really good list, but I have a few beefs.

Beware of temper tantrums.

Probably also just a bit too recent to have any episodes considered.  Again, not that any have deserved it, mind you.

The ones I agree with

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya:  Episode 12 “Live Alive”.  I don’t think any of us can argue with this one.  Considering the original air order of Haurhi’s first TV series, I think this is the episode where we all realized not only was TMoHS awesome, but that Kyoto Animation was ready to seize top rank as the premier anime production company.  Also, Aya Hirano wasn’t a slut yet and the songs were catchy.

Toradora Episode 16: “One Step Forward”.  Much like the title, this was the episode that changed the gears of the show from generic rom-com to unconventional dramedy.  From here on out, all the build up would come to a head, and things would never be the same.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Episode 10:  “I Won’t Rely On Anyone Anymore”.  The important Homura-centric episode that allowed us to piece the mystery together.  Also made us realize that the story was never about Madoka at all, but about Homura struggling to save her friends time and time again.

Bakemonogatari Episode 12: “TSUBASA Cat, Part 2”.  I don’t think we were ready for an episode like this.  Not because of the Part A contents, but because of the Part B contents.  We were expecting Nekomonogatari and instead we got one of the most memorable and awkward confessions in anime history.  It gave us a small peak at what a vulnerable and “-dere” Senjogahara would look like, something we haven’t arguably had since.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Episode 8:  “Later, Buddy”.  We all remember this episode.  In many classical heroic epics, the “mentor” character has to move out of the way for the young disciple to become the hero.  Thus, we probably should have seen this coming, but it didn’t stop the manly tears from being shed.

Clannad After Story Episode 18:  “The Ends of the Earth”.  If you didn’t cry, you have no soul and I hate you.

Spoiler alert!

Definitely too recent, but oh so deserving.

The Ones I Don’t Agree With

Fruits Basket Episode 1:  “The Strangest Day”.  I don’t have a problem with Furuba, I just don’t think this is the best episode of it.  Director Akitaro Daichi is criminally under-appreciated and he does an excellent job wrapping the series up with an original story that has more emotion and style than the previous 25 episodes combined.

IDOLM@STER Episode 20:  “Promise”.  I didn’t think there was a single episode of IDOLM@STER that truly deserves a “kami kai” title.  This particular one was exceedingly melodramatic and invoked a really obnoxious and convenient story trope.

Angel Beats!  Episode 10:  “Goodbye Days”.  Yeah, no.  I get the reason for fan reaction to this episode, but both episode 9 and episode 13 were better at unleashing the drama with both surprising twists and memorable moments.  Also, I applauded when Yui was finally gone from the show.  Maybe this does make this “kami kai” worthy after all…

Fate/Zero Episode 23: “The Ocean at the End of the World”.  This episode didn’t do it for me like other folks.  Probably because, knowing the future events of Fate / Stay Night (etc), I just couldn’t give two rips about Rider dying.  There were numerous memorable episodes in Fate/ Zero, though, so it is hard to pick just one.

Anohana Episode 11:  “The Flower That Bloomed That Summer”.  No.  Firstly, the entire show was not one of Mari Okada’s better compilations, especially with the obnoxious “is she a ghost or not” mystery dragged out far too long.  Secondly, way too much revelation and crying thrown together in the span of fifteen minutes.  Jesus Christ, Poppo alone deserved his own episode with his disturbing confession.

Code Geass:  Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 TURN 25:  “Re;”.  Yeah, I get why people like this one, but it isn’t the best Code Geass episode at all.  Frankly, nothing from R2 should be lauded, even if they finally got their heads out of their asses in the final arc.  Nope, season one’s final four episodes were easily superior in all shapes and forms, with 22 and 25 being particularly amazing.

The rest I either have no strong opinion on or have not seen.  I could gripe about Railgun episode 25 being picked, but whatever.  I SHOULD gripe about a Strike Witches episode being chosen at all, but, I haven’t seen it, so I really can’t bitch.  Just on principle, though, it bugs the crap out of me.

As always, I want to know what you think.  There’s a comments section below and you can always reach me via Twitter to tell me what a dumbass I am.  Sometime later this week I’ll post the 10 episodes I feel were overlooked by the fans and industry peeps.  Here’s a hint:  the current list is far too influenced by recency bias.

10 Responses to ““Kami Kai Theater”? Nobody Asked MY Opinion…”

  1. I probably should take notes on my own kami kai episodes too… There’s actually a bunch of “them” and a lot of otaku-centric stuff these days have one really good episode that can be candidate for this.
    Kannagi 7
    Asatte no Houkou 8
    Kamichu 11
    Simoun 18
    im@s tv 25
    gdgd s2 8

  2. This reminds me of the favourite episode thread we had some long time ago. Anyway, onto the episodes listed:
    . In terms of Haruhi episodes, I loved The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya part 4 where Kyon gets angry with Haruhi and almost punches her. As I said in the thread, it wasn’t the fact that Kyon was trying to punch her, it was Haruhi’s face, it just showed their relationship really well. The episode listed was good of course though.

    .I don’t remember Toradora

    .Madoka episode 10 was the great “OMG WHAT?” episode, I preferred the episode surrounding Sayaka’s demise more because it made me more depressed.

    .Bakemonogatari – I agree I think, I don’t think it really had a stand out episode, I just really liked the series as a whole.

    .TTGL – Well yeh, episode 8 was great, no doubt.

    .Clannad AS – Of course yes. The episode with Ushio should have got a mention too.

    .Angel Beats…. episode 10.. just rewatched the notable bit. It was good, but I think episode 13 was much better. It’s a really good example of the clumsy yet earnest efforts of the show to tell you a heartwarming story.

    .Fate/Zero – You didn’t feel bad about Rider dying? You heartless bastard. Unless of course something in Fate/Night really does make that void.

    .AnoHana just wasn’t very good.

    .Code Geass R2 episode 25 was really good. R2 is so much worse than R1 except for the final 4 episodes. Personally I think I may have preferred other episodes, but it was a fantastic finale.

    .Railgun episode 25? I am rewatching it now, and can’t remember the finale, however I prefer the episode about Saten during the level upper arc.

    Look forward to your list of what should have been there though.

  3. I would agree the last episode of R1 in particular is the most memorable for me. Funny enough they used an image on crunchyroll from episode 25 of R1. The one caveat I have is that I love the way they used Continued Story in the episode. Even if I wasn’t that emotionally invested in the scene the music alone gives some closure.

    For me some of my “Kami kai” would be:

    -Welcome to the N.H.K. 13 “Welcome to Heaven” – the climax of the “offline meeting” mini-arc
    -Natsume Yuujin-cho s1 ep 8 “Fleeting Light”
    -The best of the best: Dennou Coil ep 12 “Daichi’s Hair Begins to Grow” (if you’ve seen Dennou Coil you know the one) Quite possibly my favorite episode of an anime ever.
    -Kaiba episode 3 “Chroniko’s Boots”
    -Casshern Sins episode 4 (though its hard to pick one) “Angel of Ruin”
    -Kure-nai 6 “Light Shines over your head, Doesn’t it?” (you know the one)
    -Nodame Cantabile ep 12 “Lesson 11: Piano” A tough pick as some might consider the time given to Chiaki’s performance boring.

    I think that’s all for now. I find it difficult to pick an episode that clearly advances the plot of the story, generally gravitating toward self-contained “episodics”.

  4. Ditto on the point about recency bias: around half of the list aired during or after 2010, and about two-thirds if you push the cutoff back to 2009. It was probably inevitable given that it was a popularity contest to a degree (and I don’t mean to complain – for the most part there were still some good choices within that span; TTG’s final episode getting a mention by Newtype was a nice surprise), but as someone expecting episodes “that have left a mark in anime history,” I’m a tad bummed to see that the selections could have been a bit more well-rounded.

  5. -Kure-nai 6 “Light Shines over your head, Doesn’t it?” (you know the one)

    That’s one of my ten, for sure. I should probably forgo the list and see if people can guess my ten.

  6. Kind of sad how biased this list is. Still, let’s be honest– as a business, the anime and manga industries have seen rises recently because of the proliferation of moe (the following may be contentious to some) as an aesthetic, a cultural phenomenon born of globalization and popular culture.

    Thus, it’s really not surprising to see that the episodes have a major recency effect (and all of them are post-Haruhi). When was the last time we even talked about anything pre-Haruhi?

    I agree with a lot of the alternatives listed already:
    Simoun ep. 18 “The Funeral”
    Kure-nai ep. 6 “Light shines over your head, doesn’t it?”
    Kannagi ep. 7 (This is the “It’s a Somy!” episode, right?)

    Others to consider:
    Banner of the Stars ep. 24
    Gundam 08th MS Team ep. 12

  7. I’m shocked there isn’t any love for Watanabe Shinchiro on that list.

    For me there would have to be
    -Cowboy Bebop ep. 1 “Asteroid Blues”- Just watching the transition from a beautiful fight scene decorated by the rhythmic stylings of bebop to a slow jazz tune that was the backdrop for two melancholic deaths was super memorable for me. After I watched the first episode, I kinda knew Bebop had something about it.
    -Bebop’s Jupiter Jazz arc (12-13) was really well done as well. The fight, the androgynous saxophone player, and the ending were all terrific. You could probably argue a bunch of other Bebop episodes as well like 24 (Hard Luck Woman) and the finale were great too.

    -Samurai Champloo ep. 11 “Gamblers and Gallantry”- I just really liked this episode, something about it being bittersweet and moody. Rodriguez too.

    I’m sure there a bunch more, but I can’t quite think of anymore off the top of my head. I can think of plenty of memorable moments though. Also, I was expecting Penguindrum to be on that list somewhere.

  8. One of my episodes will be from Cowboy Bebop, but it’s none of the ones you mentioned.

  9. Most of the ones I would say have been said but here’s a couple more:

    Chihayafuru ep. 14
    This episode to me proves why Chihayafuru won soundtrack of the year in 2011 (although this ep aired in 2012). Maybe not necessarily one of the greatest episodes of all time, but certainly my favorite episode of 2012.

    Aria the Origination ep. 9
    Because no one’s said it yet. An argument could also be made for ep 13 as well.

  10. I just now realized that the criteria required episodes to be from 2000-2012. Have to change my article a bit.

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