Mushishi season 2 ends rather abruptly, thanks to production issues, after only ten episodes, but we’ll get more in the fall, so that’s okay. I decided rather quickly that I wouldn’t write episode commentary on this one. I wanted to sit back and savor it. Also, there’s very little to say that hasn’t already been said. Production gaffes aside, the show was beautiful to look at, almost hypnotic with its views of nature and the subtle music inserted only when necessary. The mushi, invisible to almost all of us apart from Ginko and the odd sneaky turtle, remain beyond our understanding, and so Ginko’s struggles to find a place for both them and us continues, with little stories told along the way. It can border too much on the “patient of the week,” format, with no overall arc, but the beautiful imagery (like my favorite this season, the birds in the shells) made up for it. My only other quibble is that in the scenes where Ginko is alone, he often thinks out loud too much, which felt a little jarring at times, but if that’s the only problem I can think of, you know this season–what we got of it–has lived up to the standards of the first.
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou is more enjoyable if you ignore the so-called love story and simply enjoy the dynamics of the people living in that house. It took a little while, but they managed to form into a solid backup unit for the two kids and that love story I told you to ignore. I mean, you knew they wouldn’t get much closer, so why were you watching if you were rooting for them? I’ll take the group any day. Usa got creepy-stalkery a few times, nearly let his hormones get the better of him, but hell, he’s an adolescent boy, and he was kept in line by the others, especially Mayumi and Sayaka. Alas, apart from being a cute bookworm, Kawai didn’t have much going for her. Mayumi’s snark was always fun to watch, Sayaka less so, but she did a good job pushing Mayumi’s buttons. Shirosaki was, well, Shirosaki, sort of an overgrown sheepdog who wasn’t trained very well. It all moved along nicely, didn’t get too boring, apart from Usa mooning about Kawai. I could stand another season.
Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san turned out to be one of the most enjoyable short shows I’ve seen. I don’t know if I want longer episodes, but I definitely want more of these characters. Throughout, the show reminded me of Teekyuu (THE GREATEST ANIME EVER!) in its juggling of quick gags, but here they weren’t trying to cram as many as they could into 2 minutes, but worked with the characters’ little quirks. Nekoyama, the cat-girl, was maybe too low-key, often winding up as a straight man for Inugami, and the show already had a splendid straight man in Aki, who could not only react with splendid timing, but wasn’t afraid to use force when one of the others acted up. Most of the comedy came from Inugami, capable of going off on high-spirited tangents that often made little or no sense at all, all the while her ponytail wagging back and forth like a, er, dog’s. The side characters, each representing other animals, all did good work. As is typical in good shows, the voice actresses sounded like they were having a blast playing these roles. I’m going to miss this series.
Is the Order a Rabbit?, the official “cute girls doing cute things” series this season, turned out better than average. With shows like this it’s not just the cuteness that matters, cuteness is easy, it’s the characters and, hopefully, the looniness that separates the Azumangas from the A-Channels. This series inserted the strangeness slowly but steadily. Cocoa was your basic silly protagonist. Chino got her points for her earnest and mature behavior. Rize had her guns and special ops training, etc. It was all woven together by the coffee, and sometimes the tea. Oh, and rabbits. Coffee made them stay awake, it made Syaro drunk, Rise made little weapons in the foam, it was the point of much discussion. As for the rabbits, Tippy was cute when perched on Chino’s head, but the silent, mysterious one at the rival cafe, that chased Syano down the street for no real reason, often made me laugh for no reason I can figure out. Then they stuck the two things together and you had the concept of rabbit barista novels and movies to attend (one of the series’ highlights). So it was plenty cute and plenty odd, just the way I like it.