Weekly Digest 1/24/23 – Mononogatari, High Card

Mononogatari – 03

Now here’s a show that’s as squarely on the bubble as you can get.  I can absolutely go either way at this point.  I liked the second ep much better than the first, and the third was right in-between.  Everything about Mononogatari, even the production itself, strikes me as very much middle of the road.  But I also feel like there are depths here that are only being hinted at, even if that’s no more than an instinct at this point.

Nominally, this episode focuses on Yuu, the last holdout for Hyouma’s approval list (which is binding only if he chooses to make it so himself).  But that’s really kind of a feint, with the last few minutes of the episode providing the real spark.  Yuu’s fight with Hyouma isn’t much of a fight, given that he refuses to fight back.  He even makes a little speech about how he’s starting to see tsukumogami differently after getting to know the ones in the Nagatsuki household.  But that too is a feint, as the rest of the episode will bear out.

The interesting question, really, is how to take Hyouma’s fight with the killer tsukumogami at the end.  Superficially he seems to be rejecting the moderation he presented to Yuu earlier in the episode.  But in point of fact it strikes me that he’s going a little too hard here – trying to convince himself of what he’s saying, because he feels threatened that his black and white view of tsukumogami might be breaking down.  It’s an interesting moment, and this series is not without those – I don’t know if I’ll continue with it (I suspect it will be in the imminent patron poll at least) but I’ll be watching for one more week at least.


High Card – 03

Same boat here, really, although High Card has been more consistent though its first three episodes.  I kind of like it, it embraces the absurdity in an appealing way, but there’s nothing really exceptional about it.  I think Mononogatari has a better chance to level up – what we see with High Card is probably what we get  – but it’s a classic lower ceiling/higher floor situation.

There was, however, one element of this episode I really liked, and it came as Finn was “saving” young Leo Pinochle (Horie Shun warming up for BokuYaba) from carjacking kidnappers.  He steals a Vespa (OK, fair enough) and then proceeds to shoot out the tire on the limo.  Okay, it ended all right but all I was thinking was “Jeez, did you think about the victim in the car – or innocent bystanders?  What if it wipes out?”  And lo and behold, that’s exactly what Leo told Finn in the aftermath of the incident.  I do like it when a show is smart enough to point out the dumb (even well-intentioned) acts of its characters.  I guess in Finn’s defense he is a total noob to all this.

As for Leo as an addition to the cast, while he’s more or less a classic poor little rich boy, he’s entertaining enough.  His personality is quite unlike any of the dudes who work for him so there’s some potential for manzai-style comedy there.  The cast in general is pretty likable, so there’s nothing insurmountable stopping High Card from making the cut.  Just a matter of whether it can amp up the engagement level with the plot by a few notches.  Another one for the bubble and the patron poll.