Rozen Maiden – Zurückspulen came and went. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. I don’t know if all this getting the glowy things set among the dolls was the actual Alice game, or a prelude, or maybe this was a rest between games. And the show figured we either already knew or that it wasn’t important. Instead the series concentrated on the adult Jun and his second chance. I’m happy to say that he makes the most of it. He’s a fan with the theatre club, the higher-ups have noticed his work at the bookstore, and he might actually have a girlfriend if he’d only take some initiative, which he won’t. Good for him. However, it’s not very exciting for us. So we patiently waited for him to build a new body for Shinku, then a second body for whoever that was, and finally weird stuff happened. But as I said, the show didn’t bother to explain everything, and everything they did show, normal or weird, was given to us in a perfunctory, low-key fashion, like Shinku was actually narrating the whole thing in that quiet voice of hers. The visuals, which I held high hopes for, never really panned out. There were some nice images along the way but so much of it was done in that dull grey bookshop and Jun’s dull grey flat, that dull and grey are the overriding colors I can remember. Finally, they create a new conflict right at the end. Are they planning a new season, or will we wait years like last time?
Free! got bogged down in the middle of the season, but they made up for it with a superb finale.
It was clear throughout that Rin was not the villain the show was making him out to be. There were too many shared memories for everyone. It wasn’t until late in the series before Rin (and we) learned just what Rin was missing, what he needed, and here the show presented us with a dilemma. The heroes had their relay team. Rei had proven himself and was accepted. But that leaves Rin out, and besides, he swims for a different school. I frankly did not see the answer coming. Rei steps aside and allows Rin to takes his place, knowing they would be disqualified, but that wasn’t the point. There was something more important to the boys than winning the regionals. Kudos to Rei for his sacrifice. He was happy to watch from the stands because he knew the story wasn’t about him, but maybe if he did the right thing, he would get his chance next year. All Rin needed was to swim with his friends one more time. And so everyone is happy. It was a delight to watch the final bits during the credits, Rin joking with Rei and the others at a joint practice, no malice, no baggage.
And the race itself was a marvel. KyoAni pulled out all the stops and showed each lad swimming their different strokes, water hypnotically flowing all around them, as they each indulged in their own visions of what swimming meant for them. Well done! I just wish the rest of the series had been as strong as this episode. No haunted building episodes or spying on Rin during a festival. But perhaps they were necessary. It takes time for people to realize certain things, to come to terms with them. Looking back I think they timed everything important just right. What did during that time was questionable, but when a show finishes strong you forget those things.
Finally (I think) there’s Servant X Service, where we had a big mystery hanging over everyone’s head (who approved Lucy’s name) that those of us watching knew the answer to from episode one. Like Love Lab, these sort of things get annoying the longer you watch. Also like Love Lab, they found enough other stuff to do that it didn’t matter much. It works the same formula as Working! (same creator), take some oddball characters and stick then in a uninteresting work scenario, where the characters bounce off each other, with a few complications by outsiders. But they’re not as oddball as Poplar, et al., (not even the bunny) and civil service work is even duller than waiting and bussing tables. So there are fewer highs in this show. But Working! didn’t really get the formula perfected until the second season, so this show is at a disadvantage. I found Hasebe annoying, and I wanted to throttle Ichimiya for his spineless a few times. On the other hand, Lucy was adorable, if a little dull, and I generally liked what Megumi and Saya had to say. I’d happily watch another season, especially with that annoying secret finally out in the open.
And with that I think I’m finally done with the old season. The new one has already started. Argh.