Episode 12 feels like a celebration of three months with the world’s most charming middle schooler. The real sailor uniform was the friends we made along the way. Sure, Akebi’s had its foibles and uncomfortable moments. I don’t think you can really divorce those from the show (or the source content) and really engage with it. Keeping that in mind, I think there’s a lot of meat on the bone here: Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is really, really good slice of life fare, and quickly became my favorite show of this season.
Tribe Nine is a series that I don’t regret spending time with, if only because of my insatiable desire to devour everything Kazutaka Kodaka lays his hands on. I just kind of can’t help myself: every since I played Danganronpa in grad school, I’ve been very into everything he makes. Tribe Nine is the fast food of anime. It is is the 7-11 pizza slice of the animation world. Will it do in a pinch? Yeah, of course, but is it exactly what I wanted?
No, not at all.
There’s a lot I haven’t talked about in this finale: there’s a pretty engaging one-fly competition in the middle of the episode that features prizes ranging from a waterproof backpack to an unreasonably cute merfish plush that Hiyori gets VERY fired up about. It’s cute, and is definitely the vehicle to the resolution of the episode, but really… that photo album had me in a grip! It’s the perfect way to close out our time with Slow Loop, and just feels so fitting for a series about care and community.
It’s subtle, almost mundane, yet is the cream of slice of life this season because of the emotionality of Komichi’s world, and how she affects others with her abundance of joy. It’s genuinely nice to see such a good, nice kid being embraced by the community and generally just getting to remain a good nice kid.
If episode 11 had a motto, it’d probably be “You deserve mercy” because at the core, this episode is about Koi being kinder to herself. True, the fishing and the trip are enjoyable too, but really, this an episode in Koi’s own grief, and how she comes to terms with the grief of feeling like a bad friend. It’s an episode in forgiveness, and an optimistic look at the finale next week.
That said, things did get good when I started to cheer for the bad guys, which I don’t think was the intent. Oh, and it got good when the Adachi Tribe crew showed up, thereby jossing my idea that they’d all absolutely died. (I think I posited that at some point: I am steadily losing touch with what ideas I’ve made up in my head and what ideas I’ve actually put into a review.)
Watching Tribe Nine is like paying Funimation to give you whiplash: they take $7.99 a month and in return, I get a plot that I fully expect to hurt me, but also, a plot that fully knows I’m on the hook just enough to like the pain. I thank Funimation for the food, even if this food has given me indigestion for weeks on end. At least it’s back to being this side of corny to be entertaining. That’s not to say that this episode is perfect, but hey: it’s leagues above what we’ve been served up for the past month.
Slow Loop casts the line and always reels in a big one: episode 10 is no exception, especially since it leans into Koharu’s serious side by indulging both her and the viewers with a fantastically fishy subplot that just slaps. With a combination of fly fishing lingo, a sweet series of scenes with Hiyori and Futaba, and just so much charm, it’s an easy episode to sink into, and a wonderful way to spend a half hour of your day, drifting away on the waves and thinking fond thoughts of all the delicious creatures drifting in the sea.
It feels bad to so strongly dislike both this episode and this series as a whole because it could just… lean into being an over-the-top story about SFF baseball and give us all the drama in the world. Instead, it’s a kind of tepid take on a game where the rules are there’s very few rules. As a result, Tribe Nine is… unfun: stale, mediocre, and mild. That said, I did laugh when a character died, which… feels indicative of where my head’s at.
So often, middle school relationships are heralded as the beginning of feminine cattiness, borne out of a brutal social minefield that punishes those who don’t wear the right things, behave according to socially acceptable norms, or perform your (assigned) gender in all the right ways. And while this is often the reality for a lot of teenagers, there’s something beautiful about friendship being upheld as such a powerful tool for good, which Akebi consistently does.