The shows I don’t write about are usually the shows I don’t think about or study too closely, so if they have a complicated storyline or backstory, like in Witch Craft Works, I’ll lose the plot, and if I keep watching it’s for other reasons. WCW kept me watching until the end because I liked how it juggled whimsical witch cliches with genuinely deadly intent, I wanted to see if Takamiya would man up, and because I liked how it looked when they used magic, especially when Kagari got, er, fired up. No worries on the second one; Takamiya may not have been powerful in his current state, but he put himself on the line when he had to. He TRIED, and that’s the thing, even though more times than not he’d just wind up unconscious on some strange bed.
They did a good enough job with the first point that I was genuinely worried about just about everyone up to the end, though it led to one of the most convoluted story arcs I can remember by the end. So … there was no actual agreement between Kagamiya and that white witch because she had agreed with Kagari to switch powers around if he made a suicidal promise, which negated this and that … I still don’t know what happened. I don’t really care. As I said, I liked the witch battles and other visual tricks they flew in. Finally, it was often a funny series. I think my favorite bit was Kagamiya having to think of something powerful, and there appears a fifty-foot statue of Kagari in a nurse’s uniform. The look that Kagari gave him was priceless.
I followed Tokyo Ravens for some of the same reasons I watched WCW: I liked the look of the battling. Also like WCW, this was in spite of a convoluted backstory involving any number of magical factions, some in authority, some not, all very interested in Harutora and Natsume. The way to make this work is to make the two lovebirds interesting to US, but, frankly, they weren’t. They weren’t bad, just sort of dull. The sidekicks were a little better, but not much. But again, it looked great. Natsume’s familiar-dragon looked a little too CGI-ey for me, but otherwise the magical battles were dazzling, and it was aided by a smart and grandiose score that pushed the right dramatic buttons. That’s what kept me going when I lost of track of who was on who’s side and what this spell vs that spell would do. I mean, who cares? Just keep up the light show!
Engaged to the Identified didn’t have a convoluted backstory, or maybe they just gave us what little we needed to follow the story about Kobeni and Hakuya, who I guess find love in the end, or Kobeni finds someone to catch her when she falls, which is romantic enough.
The trouble is, while they were both very nice people, they were both a little dull. Hakuya had no choice; he had to play the silent stoic as his schtick, and I guess giving Kobeni housewifey abilities isn’t terribly interesting either. It was left to the side characters to pick up the slack. I found Mashiro more annoying than cute (though I always liked watching the flippy ED sequence). On the other hand, Benio had some splendid moments. But the biggest problem I had was with the writing and direction. Compare it to Love Lab, which had clever, snappy dialogue in just about every scene, and EI just couldn’t keep up. And the direction, with awkward pauses and scene breaks, felt like a rehearsal for a series than the actual one. Well, I watched it to the end, and you can credit the show’s overall cute factor for that, and Benio.
Finally, there’s Houzuki no Reitetsu, a series I haven’t actually finished watching yet, hell, maybe it’s not finishing up yet. Not that it matters. It’s all standalones with no big story arc. Some of the episodes, or semi-episodes, aren’t terribly thrilling, and most of the cultural references whooshed over my head …
… but I enjoyed watching this cheerful view of the worst place on earth. Hell is like a big corporation or government agency, with all the bureaucracy, communication issues, and worker problems you’d expect in such a place, with Houzuki being one of the ones who knows what needs to be done and does it with his droll, grumpy efficiency. As he does so me interacts with a multitude of minions, sinners, and demons from other hells. My favorite being Shiro the dog, who, with his(?) young-boy voice and curiosity of a puppy, often serves as our stand in, yet he’s still a dog. The show strikes a nice balance between his intelligent questions and his incomprehensible “Hehhhhh?” when Houzuki informs him that the white thing he’s been chasing for an hour is his own tail. Shiro and the others were entertaining enough to watch. Add Houzuki and you have a bunch of characters I enjoyed watching every week. Well, every two weeks. I’m behind.