Evergarden, FranXX, and Hakumei/Mikochi up to 6

Hey, look! She’s kind of smiling!

Well I THOUGHT Violet Evergarden was going to expand the story now, have some unpleasant wartime experiences rise and and bite her, but episode 6 gives us just another stand-alone featuring an emotionally messed-up young man that is shown the way forward from an AI. It’s not all that good a story, either. We’re told why Leon is like this, but I for one had no emotional connection with him at all. At least Violet got to figure out what loneliness is. And so Leon the boy moves on, while Violet, emotionally, cannot. I was more interested in the comet, and the legends they were transcribing of all the doom and horror might be some kind of foreshadowing, but I’ve said that before in this series and nothing seems to change …

Darling in the FranXX 6, on the other hand, gives us what could potentially have been a disastrous mission for our Squad 13, and for Squad 26 as well, since everyone in the show has an issue of some kind or another. And stuff indeed goes wrong, but it only does so because there were more Klaxosaurs than expected, including a gigantic “Gutenberg-class” variety that can morph into all sorts of shapes and do it on a huge scale. Well, also our heroes are still new at this. That everyone succeeds, mostly, might have come partly because Squad 13 now has a chip in their shoulders about being considered dead weight, and they can also see the other squad’s excellent teamwork and don’t want to be left behind. The only personal issues that interfere comes from Ichigo, who not only thinks Hiro is dead and also that she failed somehow. Really, she has to get her act together if she’s going to continue to lead this team.

Before the realization

But the good guys win with no casualties, but that’s not even close to the main story. It hits me with hindsight that Hiro’s reasons for fighting, at least the ones he spouts this episode, have to do with defending his people, and how he’s raised to do nothing else. It’s only when he supposedly dies that he says the right lines, the ones he’d been repeating before now: he wants to ride Strelizia with 02, and nothing else matters. This realization comes after an amazing, intense series of events where it looks like he and 02 ought to be crushed by now, followed by a dream sequence where he’s preparing to say goodbye to the world, until he wakes up, sees 02 still desperately fighting, … and the turnaround when they reconnect is huge fun to watch.

After the realization.

But why did he get to this point in the first place? Why did he keep himself from the truth like he did? It’s interesting that when he got inspired again, his physical ailments faded away and he became completely healthy again, as if lying about his true motives was the thing making him sick. It makes you wonder about the other pilots, the ones whom 02 supposedly “killed.” Is fighting out of duty or obligation what actually killed them? I guess we’ll get more answers soon, maybe even next week. Anyway, a supposedly disastrous situation is managed triumphantly for everybody.

Hakumei with her new haircut, Iwashi with his cool jacket, and Mikochi just smiling.

Finally, Hakumei to Mikochi, where for two episodes there are no brushes with death. Instead we watch the eager assistant Hakumei do anything she can to help his weasel (in a good, furry way) boss Iwashi and his trade organization rebuild a stone wall … and she helps. With other shows this would be turned into a major point of a person’s life, but here they just build the wall and drink. Next episode Hakumei (Mikochi is pretty much a bystander these days) gets her hair cut and they take Iwashi out for a day in town … and that’s about it. You know, I like shows where nothing much happens but everything’s good anyway, but I can’t help but feel the show is in a rut. Maybe the wonder of their world is wearing a bit thin. I’m not asking for crises or those brushes with death … maybe we’ve been spending too much time with Hakumei on her job.

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Evergarden, FranXX, Dagashi, and Takunomi up to 5

The Princess’s letters get more interesting when she writes them herself.

Violet Evergarden, with episode 5, looks ready to break out of its recent standalone stories where she writes letters and heals hearts. At the end of the episode we meet someone that she met in battle once, and he is NOT happy. In fact, he wonders, aloud and spitefully, how a murderous war machine can be capable of writing letters to bring people together like she does now. It looks like the show is finally confronting this issue, and we’ll be seeing more of Violet’s violent past in future episodes. As for this heartwarming standalone, it looked all right until we learn that the 14 year-old princess set to marry an older man for political reasons actually LIKES the man. It feels like a lost opportunity to examine a person who might not ever get the love she wants. While the actual replies the two start sending was a nice touch (not to mention the citizens of both kingdoms reading them), I had kind of hoped someone would botch everything up, leading to political fallout. Well, I believe we’ll have more fun in the future. Meanwhile KyoAni sidestepped an issue by having Violet become good at her job when we weren’t looking. Maybe they figured machine learning isn’t the most interesting of subjects, but I would have liked to see them try.

Darling in the FranXX 5, plot-wise, is a big buildup for a battle that will break out when two of the domed things “kiss” (refuel) and attract a ton of klaxosaurs. Everyone is unhappy for one reason or another. Mitsuru, unable to cope with his fun time with 02, is popping pills he miraculously got from somewhere. Ichigo is messed up because she’s worried her role as leader and about Hiro. Gorou, her partner, is beginning to show signs of jealousy, and worse, he sees the physical changes that Hiro is undergoing, like a fever, chills, elevated “yellow cell” blood count, and a blue-green growth on his chest, caused by riding with 02. Plus, a veteran parasite team is brought in to help, and they’re all surprised at our groups’ nicknames, how the franxx’s are all different from each other, and they’re shocked that 02 is going to be there. She’s too wild in battle. It all adds up to a possibly disastrous battle next week. We, meanwhile, wonder if Hiro’s going to survive, and like Ichigo, I’m appalled at 02’s cavalier attitude toward it all. Hiro, when not doubled over with whatever he’s got, is confident and reassuring to everyone, like he’s ready to die if it means dying with 02. I think he’ll live but get transformed farther, however, I wouldn’t put it past the show to kill off a main character soon. Finally, the sexual metaphors are kept to a minimum this week, replaced with romantic-emotional ones.

I absolutely love Saya’s expression in this picture.

Now that I’ve taken care of the season’s minor shows it’s time to catch up with Dagashi Kashi, the only show that matters! I can’t believe I let three episodes slip by! Let’s see, episode 3 is a cheery, routine one about beigoma, where Saya again demonstrates why Hotaru calls her “Master.” We also get a flashback to the elementary school Hotaru bugging a dagashi vender, and then we learn that the shop has gone out of business. I didn’t realize at the time that this was foreshadowing …

Then in episode 4 we get … plot! I know there’s a setup to this entire series, Hotaru trying to get Kokonotsu to take over the shop so his dad can develop new dagashi at Hotaru’s company, but the show is just fine when it ignores it. But the show decides to get a little sad on us, as Hotaru has a nice time alone with Kokonotsu with fireworks going and all, then she says “Sayonara,” and we know something’s up … But even now they slip a little dagashi in, with Hotaru’s winning Home Run Bar stick for bewildered Kokonotsu to remember her by.

Which leads us back to where the season started, a cold, late fall and the dagashi shop falling to pieces, because Kokonotsu is still mooning over Hotaru. But with his idiot dad’s help, and Saya’s he gets the store back together, except for an unpleasant surprise at the end, and I suspect we’re going to soon meet the other people in the opening credits. It’s about time. Plus we learn about a snack called “Get a Move on, You Cod,” but alas, Hotaru does not give us the background that the snack deserves with a name like that. A rare slip-up for the show. Hotaru’s absence is still being felt.

Nyan.

Finally I catch up with Takunomi, and learn about Suiyoubi no Neko beer, Kyoketsu … beer, I suppose, and red wine with ginger ale. While this show is as educational as Dagashi Kashi, the characters and situations are generally not as interesting, though I do like Michiru’s enthusiasm for the sophisticated Tokyo lifestyle. On the other hand, sometimes one of the girls gets plastered and does something embarrassing …

Threes and fours: Slow Start, Yuru Camp, HakxMik

Quick thoughts while I continue my scramble to catch up …

Eiko is not to be crossed.

Slow Start is becoming quite a nice “cute girls doing cute things” (CGDCT) series. It’s taken care of the early hurdles of introducing characters and the situations they’re all in. Episode 4 bought us Hiroe, possibly the last regular character, another girl unlucky with exams who is behind and is so mortified that she’s in danger of becoming a shut-in, prompting Hana to relate her own story, the first time she’s ever done so. It sounds serious but the show’s light touch and little absurdities keep it light.

I’m not sure why Tama said this.

Now that the main characters are more or less introduced, the show moves on in episode 5 to getting a little weird. I think I’ve said before that I believe a good CGDCT show should be weird in one way or another, whether through the characters or the production. Again, the episode’s main thrust is to expand on Kamu’s affection for Eiko, which is sweetly done, but it’s how they get there which matters. First, Kamu forgets to wear a skirt, and everyone riffs in their own way about that. There’s some stealth-peeking from that teacher. Later there’s talk of Eiko having a double which leads to a ridiculous conversation about doppelgangers, body doubles, and the like, and the even stranger appearance of the double, who apparently answers to “Eiko.” Oh, I guess we do meet a new character this week, Eiko’s sister Miki, who is not only a little weird herself, but has a running gag with her name going. She fits right in.

Yuru Camp is a demonstration of how useless categories like CGDCT can be. You could easily argue that Nadeshiko, Rin, and their buddies, are doing things cutely, and the show likes put in little extra cute bits, like that dog in the car, or Rin’s scooter saying “I’m tired!” but the thing they’re doing, camping, isn’t cute, so it fails in the cute things part. It makes me think that when I consider CGDCT shows, I expect them to be somewhat girly, cake shops and the like. On the other hand, the girls are cute and react to things like building fires in a cute way.

Who said there can be no overlap? We can argue (well, I argue with myself) about Yuru Camp’s CGDCT level, but there’s no denying the level of Stop And Smell The Roses (SASTR) the show has. It passes all the tests: beautiful scenery, quiet peaceful music, and most important, lack of dramatic action and the absence of true threat. In episodes 4 and 5, the club girls go off to Fuefuki Park or thereabouts, while Rin goes to (checks notes) Yatsugatake-Chushin Quasi National Park in Nagano. We watch the club girls prepare for their trip (cutely) while Rin just rides her scooter. It looked like it would be a moral lesson of sorts when the club girls continue to have fun while Rin, the slightly antisocial one, gets too cold and meets some setbacks, but at the end she and Nadeshiko are sending each other night view pictures and everyone has a good time doing non-cute things.

Actually this is artistic license, because the girls are over 100 kilometers apart.

And then, how to we categorize Hakumei to Mikochi? They’re cute little things, but I wouldn’t call them girls–did you get a look at their feet? They’re basically stumps–well, they’re female, but they’re clearly not for the CGDCT team. So, SASTR? Except that episode 3 begins with their home blowing up, and episode 4 has Mikochi badly hurt in a fall. And there are predators about, even if the huge scary owl wasn’t as bad as it first appeared. In addition, the show likes to lull us with peaceful moments and quiet music playing, only to break the mood with a cheap laugh, like that ponkan crashing through their tent. Yet both episodes had as much charm as any show in either category I’ve arbitrarily brought up here.

In episode 4 we see Mikochi, closer to nature than any Yuru Camp girl, nonetheless apprehensive about camping. Then we learn what Hakumei does for a living and there’s a brush with death, no, not the house blowing up. They weren’t inside when it happened. Episode 5 explains what MIKOCHI does for a living, and then the scary story with the owl. I pretty much know that nothing seriously bad will happen to either character, but the fall was told well enough that I was seriously worried about her. So what category should we put Hakumei to Mikochi? We could invent a new one, but I don’t know how to describe it nor establish any rules for it. In fact, I probably should not have even brought up SATSR and CGDCT at all. Sorry.

FranXX and Evergarden, up to #4

Now that we’ve been introduced to the basic, absurd world of Darling in the FranXX in episode 1, #2 starts to fill in the details, starting with the side characters, and they’re the usual lot. We’ve got the asshole, the nice guy, the fat kid, the girl with a thing for the main character, the genki girl, er, a couple of others without much personality yet. Once again, nothing you haven’t seen in other series. So we watch as they interact with Hiro and 02, and each other. The girls are shocked at 02’s behavior, while the boys are obviously put off but titillated at the same time. You expect this from a bunch of kids who don’t even know what a kiss is, and considering the show’s mecha piloting as sex, maybe that’s the point.

Which leads us to the episode’s other task, playing around with the sex metaphor. Again, not new, Aquarion and Simoun did it before (and really, the APE people ought to bring some Simoun girls in to demonstrate the kissing), but so far FranXX is doing a good job of using it to further establish the characters. Basically, Hiro, a boy hitting adolescence, falls for a wild, older, sexually experienced woman who takes a liking to him and is happy to teach him a few things, and the sex is great. The others are, as I said, shocked, especially Ichigo, who, out of jealousy, tries to do the same thing, though she’s already partnered with Gorou, the nice guy who has no problem with it–for now. The sex is, as Ichigo announces “terrible.” Okay, now that they’ve flogged us with the metaphor a little too much, let’s see where they can take it.

Episode 3, at least, offers a new wrinkle on the relationships. Taking the pairs piloting the FranXX we of course assume them to be couples, which means they have their own personal issues that come out in the show as piloting teamwork. So Ichigo can’t get Hiro, and their bad sex, out of her head, and even though her partner shows support it’s not helping much. Zorome, the asshole, redeems himself somewhat by showing great concern and compassion when his partner Miku is hurt, even if they don’t always get along. But this time the focus is on Mitsuru and Ikuno. Ikuno can’t perform, so Mitsuru immediately turns to 02 and offers his, er, services. After all, if that flaccid loser Hiro can ride her, then surely he can do better. This was so well set up, I was so worried about the monster crisis and the thought of Hiro losing face (not to mention poor Ikuno, rejected by her partner), that I completely forgot about 02’s tendency to injure and kill her partners. … still working on the metaphor for that one.

An actual action shot, for a change.

And look, while I was dallying, another new episode came out. So episode 4 plays less with the sexual metaphors, though they’re certainly still around, and gets to the story part, in this case, getting Hiro and 02 to prove they’re a viable team. This is done with 02 being led off by guards to go back to the front while the novice team is getting slaughtered. Hiro shouts to her that he doesn’t give a shit about Franxxes but wants to ride with her. It’s pretty much a declaration of love, or lust, and it’s passionate enough that 02 decides not to leave. That only leaves the thrilling rescue, and it IS thrilling. With so many Trigger folks involved it’s hard not to be. On the metaphor front, Papa doesn’t want his precious girl to see that boy she likes, but she does anyway. But now that it seems to be settled that Hiro is going to ride with 02, where will the metaphors go from here? Will they start watching the other couples?

I’m so far behind now that I will have to cut out writing about a few episodes of some shows, but I’ll keep up with Violet Evergarden for a while, even though my interest in it, at least after episode 3, is beginning to wane a little. Oh, it looks fantastic, but it’s KyoAni, “fantastic” is a given. I’m just not in love with the source material. Episode 3 is partly told by Luculia, a doll school classmate with a brother who is drinking and getting beaten up a lot because he blames himself for their parents’ deaths during the war. And the episode’s theme, if there is one, is that it’s hard to communicate how you feel sometimes, oh, and short letters are good, too, which is how Violet finally graduated from doll school, thanks to the harsh headmaster who, frankly, acts out of character here. And now Violet gets to be a doll, even though she has learned absolutely nothing about human behavior, and it’s all on top of a maudlin stand-alone story. Well, the show LOOKS great …

Here’s Iris, being upset.

Episode 4, another standalone, isn’t much better. We get to learn about Iris through a visit to her remote village, the people wearing a hodgepodge of colorful holiday garb and peasant clothes, all looking generically ethnic. Violet learns more about how subtle language and emotions can be while she amuses the locals with her blunt replies. And now I don’t know what to think. The bad news is that it’s the second standalone in a row, the second that has Violet save the day by writing a heartwarming letter to someone. But what I find interesting is that both episodes are framed as someone else’s memory of violet, in other words, something more interesting might happen in the future. I can only hope that we don’t have to wait until the last couple episodes …

Takagi-san, Evergarden, Dagashi and Takunomi … various eps

I know that new episodes for some of these shows are coming out already, but I’m off on a business trip for the next several days and wanted to put up what I have before I left.

She’s going to make fun of you anyway.

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san … Since this is a story I was a little familiar with before I want to like it, but what little I read had very little teasing and much more of Takagi and Nishikata interacting with people other than each other, and not the two girls. But right now it’s just the two of them and it’s getting tiresome. We’re basically wondering when Takagi is going pull the rug out, maybe sometimes wondering where she gets this almost clairvoyant ability to do so. And Nishikata really ought to hang it up already, or at least try to handle the hormones better. As for the three girls, they were a little better in episode 4. I like the blond one’s determined and idiotic attempts to drink things she doesn’t like and react to them, and I also liked the cat dubbing. But again, they’re funnier when they react to things in Takagi/Nishikata’s story.

Violet Evergarden 2 is working on its story and taking its time about it. Violet becomes an apprentice doll and screws up a lot in a way typical for artificial people in fiction: she takes what the customers say too literally, doesn’t read between the lines, and so some customers get upset at her. What I’d get upset with is the company. They didn’t even bother to proofread the letter that ruined the woman’s romance with the auto manufacturer. They really ought to work on their new employee training a little more. It’s not that she ccan’t learn; she’s already shown enough emotion of her own, such as when the emerald brooch is discovered.

The problems Violet is causing at work is the catalyst for character development. One girl, Iris is overly critical, but she has a point. We spend a lot of time looking at Erica, a quiet thing who finds herself defending Erica, partly because she has her own struggles as a doll, but I wonder if there isn’t more there. Hodgins tries to be patient with her, partly, I suspect, because of his memories of Gilbert. Speaking of which, they’re still afraid to tell Violet about him, but since much of the work of a doll is creative lying, will her training enable her to see through the facade?

Dagashi Kashi 2 is a typhoon episode, and these usually mean killing time indoors and possibly staying the night. Of course in this case it also means dagashi, and so we’re introduced to Baseball Board Game Gum, which tricks kids out of their pocket money by offering them a button to push. I get the concept, but why baseball? After that there’s what they call a Pop Pop Boat, even though it doesn’t pop pop at all. Otherwise it’s in incredibly cool little bathtime gadget I wish I had had as a child. The stories aren’t up to much in episode 2, in fact, it seemed a little flat. I hope the new studio and director aren’t going to have an adverse effect.

Takunomi continues its dual personality this week, with Michiru’s fitting into Tokyo and trying to figure out what to wear, and on the other side we get sochu highballs, the preparing and origin of them, which leads a digression about old-fashioned diners where the shochu originated, ham-egg-potato salad, returning to one’s roots, which inspires Nao to get through the next day, and Michiru too, I think. The show sort of lost track of itself at the end. The whole thing felt a little forced, like the creators felt obliged to make the drink reflect the week’s story.

2-3’s: Sora Yori, Yuru Camp, Slow Start

Somebody suggested that Sora yori mo Tooi Basho was going to be a K-ON for Antarctica, and there were times during episodes 3 and 4 where I began to see their point. Focused, disciplined Shirase turns out to be possibly the biggest idiot of the group with her plan to seduce a male explorer and get him to stow them away, and it led to a scene in Shinjuku where the viewer had no idea what the girls were trying to do. They were trying to act sexy, then two women showed up and everyone starts running around, while we scratch our heads. It’s good that the show grounded itself after that, however, with some reality: yes, there’s a civilian expedition going, but it’s in financial trouble and our girls couldn’t get in anyway.

This didn’t really happen.

The other thing both 2 and 3 do is, of course, gather more characters. Episode 2 brought us Hinata, who quit school for reasons and, like Shirase, feels like she has to prove something to the doubters. She’s also the most practical of the three and thanks to her the show has someone to rein Shirase in when she gets too obsessed (honestly, the whole “My mother is waiting for me” business, is her name Riko?). The second episode presents us with Yuzuki, the girls’ reluctant golden ticket, an idol who’s going on the expedition but doesn’t want to go, so could Shirase take her place? No, says the manager/mother, but there is room for negotiation, since Yuzuki is friendless and lonely. The show does a smart thing by stressing that the girls are not best friends, they’re friendly acquaintances with a shared goal, and since they welcome Yuzuki, it’s more than good enough.

Yuru Camp is shaping up to be a nice slice-of-life, even if Nadeshiko also reminds me of someone from K-ON. The thing is, right now it feels like two different shows. We have Aoi and Chiaki’s club and narrow clubroom, with their little adventures, witn some interaction with Rin, who does not want to join. And then we have the other half, which is Rin camping and reading, and lots of scenery. True, we have Yui, I mean Nadeshiko crashing her private party, but at least she seems to be respecting Rin’s desire for peace. In terms of episode 2’s story, it seems like halfway through the writers said, “the hell with it, let’s go camping,” so we did, and anything resembling plot just stopped. We even get the full text of a nonsense chatmail that has nothing to do with anything.

I guess the show does have a plot: getting all the girls together to camp together. The show is going to take their time about it, too. Three episodes in and we Rin and Nadeshiko have teamed up. I wonder how much longer it will take for Chiaki and Aoi to join them? Not that it matters. Sooner or later they’ll be looking at Fuji-san together, and in the meantime … well, who cares? In episode 4 the most interesting thing that happened is that Rin explained why she likes Winter camping, and they’re good reasons. I also wonder that she doesn’t mind so much about Nadeshiko hanging around. I guess her transition from private camper to social one is going to be as nonchalant and low-key as the rest of the series so far.

I didn’t get this part either, but that’s all right.

Slow Start doesn’t have much a plot, either, and again, it’s all right. Episode 2 is all about the sports testing, and Hana, who hasn’t exercised since middle school, doesn’t do terribly well. In episode 3 all the girls to Hana’s place for some golden week studying, cute things happen, and Hana gets the warm fuzzies from everyone being there. In the meantime, we get a little more of each girls’ personality. I still can’t get over Tama’s constant talking, but it’s nice to know she has some skills. Kamuri is still simply small, cute, shy, and devoted to Eiko. It’s Eiko who’s turning out to be the most interesting. She would say otherwise, and constantly wonders at the harem game references Tama-chan makes, but we see EIko flirting with other girls, and it’s hard to tell if she’s serious about it or unaware of the effect she has on the other girls, and she DOES have an effect.

There IS some plot of course, but it’s kind of ridiculous. Hana still hasn’t let on that she had to miss a year because she was down with the mumps the day of the entrance exam. It’s a credit to the show that while it’s all rather cute, the negative effect this has on Hana’s life comes through enough for me to get angry that there was no other route for her but to miss a year. And in episode 4 she a reference to her birthday makes her suddenly shed tears in front of her worried new friends. A nice little moment that I thought would lead to her confession, but it didn’t. I don’t want to have to wonder, episode by episode, whether she’s going to spill the beans on this innocent issue when we all her friends will not care. Just tell them already.

Winter 2018 #5

Takunomi opens with Tokyo Station, which is a place for transferring, so many people don’t know it looks like this outside.

Sharing the half hour with Dagashi Kashi is Takunomi, where a young woman named Michiru comes to Tokyo for the first time, runs into trouble, gets freaked out, falls asleep on the train, freaks out some more, but is finally taken to her new home by Kae, the motherly one of the all-woman hostel. The then meets Nao, drunk already, and we learn how to pour Yebisu beer, and a secret about its label. Also, good food is prepared, but they didn’t have brand names. Looked delicious, though. And that’s about it.

I suppose as Dagashi Kashi is for snack food, Takunomi is supposed to be for drinks. Not sure we need it, but why not?  Did we need Dagashi?  Only with hindsight do we say “hell, yes!”  It’s too early to tell how good this show will get yet, but I noticed that I really didn’t get interested until drunken Kae talked about how she got her lost hopes and dreams back thanks to a special Yebisu beer label, and all I can figure is that her life wasn’t turning out the way she wanted so she turned to drink, but presented in a more surreal way.  So maybe it’s a show about adult failures, and why not?  At least the other women at the hostel think Kae drinks too much, though they can all put it away. Not sure about this one.

Fairy-tale opening placard for Hakume to Mikochi.  Yes, they are tiny.

Hakumei to Mikochi is about the titular, diminutive women, as they live and work in a forest somewhere. It’s a good life. Mikochi cooks minestrone, they both ride beetles when they get tired, and they make friends with enormous (for them) birds who you think would just eat them. In the second half they visit a busy market and Mikochi (the sensible one) loses her wallet, but since she’s good friends with all the shop people it just means she and Hakumei get lots of freebies. They find the wallet, anyway, and they eat and drink a lot.

Mikochi and Hakume, in the enormous grass.

Hadn’t seen this one coming. A quite nice episode where nothing really bad happens to anyone, and I don’t think anything will in the future. So it’s a stop and smell the roses show, perhaps, with bright and colorful artwork that looks like it comes out of a children’s picture book. The main characters have the same dynamic we’ve seen elsewhere, Mikochi is sensible, Hakumei less so, but practical and caring. You wonder just how the two met up and how they became so close. You’ll also wonder about the world they’re in, but I think the show will be more than happy to show us more in future episodes.

Think I’ll skip Hakyuu Houshin Engi because I seriously doubt I’ll watch more than one episode even if I like it, and I’m behind again …

I’m so sorry, apparently I didn’t take screenshots of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens!  Anyway, takes place in Hakata, Fukuoka, where we are told that maybe up to three percent of the population are professional hitmen. With all the dead bodies we see in episode one, the place lives up to its reputation, We follow a few of the killers around, a crossdresser who keeps getting sent off to kill more people and is really tired of it, also some shady people hanging around the mayor, his son, I believe, who just kills for the fun of it, and some other guy who’s never killed anyone before and really isn’t up to the job. We got detectives, too, namely Banba, who is looking into the death of another detective until the crossdresser shows up to kill him, or not.

It’s all very confusing; it’s one of those shows where the creators just toss you right in without telling you much of anything. When the show loops back to the opening scene of the crossdresser watching TV in Banba’s office I gave a sigh of relief–something I recognized. I suspect it will stay hard to follow because they introduce a lot of characters and give us very little information about them, and the intrigue will probably get more convoluted by the minute. These aren’t bad things, and I don’t mean to suggest that the show is handing the material badly, but viewers will probably have to do a little guessing and remembering to figure things out, at least early on.

Beatless starts with words slowly forming about loving souless beings.

Beatless takes place in a future world where there are a lot of servant androids about, known as hIEs, and it stars a high school boy named Arato who knows they’re not real and are trying to mimic human emotions for usually business reasons. Also, there’s been some sort of event at a nearby facility and several highly-modded hIEs are going about causing destruction and smirking as they do it. Who taught them that? It’s boring.  Anyway Arato meets a nice hIE he knows in a parking lot but she goes crazy and tries to kill him, until he’s rescued by another hIE, of the, er, Lacia class. They do a formal contract thing, mostly because of the crazy cars that are now trying to kill him, and now he owns her, and must accept all responsibility for whatever mayhem he tells her to do. I think that last bit is going to be very important later on.

Having a super android girl who can stop insane cars is useful.

No reason to like it especially, it boils down to sexy android girl who obey whatever command you give her, but I did anyway. I wonder why the hell Lacia showed up to save him all of a sudden, and if she was one of the renegade hIEs, and if so why Arato? Except there was this brief flashback where Arato as a boy watches a surgery/tuneup of another android explode. We also don’t know what the evil grinning hIEs want, except the one who produces nanobots like flower petals from her dress suggests that Arato is implicated somehow. He’s a nice chap, overly kind, perhaps, but he has a goofy sister and some nice friends to ground him. Right now, just the right balance between domesticity and weird violence.

Killing Bites, ha ha, no … Gin no Guardian, another season 2 of an unwatched season 1 …

Not sure if those are petals or bits of bird feathers …

So the last show I’m going to watch this season is Darling in the FranXX, with its hero actually named Hiro, except he’s actually called 016 because he’s a subject in a facility that raises pistils (pilots) to command giant mecha in female form (at least the one we see this week) and fight monsters of various kinds. The twist of this very generic setup is that you need a male and female pilot to bond, become the two wings of the franXX. Hiro has bombed out of the program, unfortunately taking a nice girl named Naomi down with him, and while he has special permission to stay (for unknown reasons, heh) he elects to leave the facility, but before he does he catches sight of a naked, strange, feral pistil named, er, 002, who takes a liking to him as she catches a fish in her mouth and he stares at her body. The inevitable happens: monsters attack the facility, 002’s darling (partner) is killed, and Hiro’s powers are awakened as he takes his place, well, that and a sexy kiss.

Now gimmie a kiss.

So we got a mish-mosh of many different mecha shows, going back a decade or two, and I’m not a big mecha fan anyway … Yet I’m going to keep watching this for a while. I don’t know why. I watched it this morning then went to work, and from time to time I tried to figure out what about it appealed to me. Maybe it’s the unspoken situation of the students there, that if they fail there’s no going back home, though no one knows where they go. I figure in a place like that there is a strict limit on resources, and if they can’t pull their weight, so government/society issues … Or maybe it was 002 and 016’s self-perceived status as lonely people who can’t get along who find someone that just might accept them for what they are. That’s hardly new either, but it seems to resonate here, and again, I don’t know why it does. Maybe it’s Trigger’s contribution to the animation, making everything seem more like a drawing exploding out of reality at times. … I don’t know what it is, but the episode appealed to me and I will watch the next episode at least.

Speaking of which, now’s the time I have to decide which shows to keep and which to drop. But THIS season I’ll hang around and write about a few!  Thank you for reading.  Agreements, disagreements, let me know!