2014 Summer Shows #5

Hanayamata begins by setting a twinkly mood
Hanayamata begins by setting a twinkly mood

Let’s turn to Hanayamata, the story of shy middle-schooler Naru, average at everything, envious at her best friend Yaya’s ability to play and write music, not necessarily because they are admirable qualities, though they are, but that Yaya actually gets up and tries to do it. Naru is too afraid to try anything and so sticks to reading fairy tales. Then while a spring festival is blasting away nearby, she encounters a fairy who asks her to dance. Naru dances a little, until her low threshold for excitement is reached and she runs off. The next day, that same fairy, really an American from New Jersey named Hannah Fountainstead or something, transfers into Naru’s school and begins to make a pest of herself to Naru or to anyone else who would like to learn yosakoi dancing.

How can she resist?
How can she resist?

I absolutely loved the first episode. For me it cast a spell from the point in the OP where the girls line up and dance up through the end, and I don’t know why. Probably it’s a combination of things. Maybe it’s the cute girls. Maybe it’s the odd supernatural touches it throws in. Hannah leaps from impossibly high places with grace; in the first scene there’s no reason to believe she’s not the fairy Naru thought she was, and her odd face with the huge eyes and smile also makes you wonder where she really comes from, I mean, come on, New Jersey?! It also looks lovely, though maybe they threw in TOO many fireworks and sakura blossoms in the first scene … well, it worked to cast a spell. Maybe the thought of Naru, who claims to be empty, discovering something she loves and breaking out of her shell appeals to me. Maybe not the best show of the season, but early on it’s my favorite.

Candles that will light up on their own.
Candles that will light up on their own.

Momo Kyun Sword, on the other hand … Well, I suppose I suppose I could get some history out of it. Our heroine, Momoko, born out of a peach and with a dog, monkey, and pheasant to pal around with, learn that the dreaded oni are literally popping up all over japan to get peach fragments, this show’s equivalent of moon crystals. Celestial maidens show up looking for the peach fragments themselves, for their protection, don’t you know, and plucky but brainless Momoko mistakes them for oni. Hey, she’s never actually seen one, right?

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Anyway, the real oni come and all the girls unite, and get stomped by the oni boss, so Momoko invokes a spell that … Oh, the hell with it. You get the idea. A girl adventurer with really big breasts and a tendency toward clothing malfunctions (twice this episode) has adventures with some other scantily-clad girls. It’s told rather lazily, like they figure they don’t have to try as hard since we already know the legend, right? Same for the animation and art. And while I did rather like Momoko’s stupid but brave demeanor, not enough to watch episode two.

Flying through a tunnel.
Flying through a tunnel.

Majimoji Rurumo, in spite of the cute witch, did very little for me. We have your average high school pervert Shibaki who accidentally conjures up a pair of panties and thus forms a contract with a witch named Rurumo, meaning he’ll die in two days. Ridiculous stuff happens after that and he only gets half killed. Jump to later and Ruruo returns with for Shibaki to use, but when he uses them all, he will die.

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Easy, just don’t use the tickets, right? But apparently Rurumo won’t get to be a full witch until he does so, another contract that makes as little sense as the first one, where it was nearly broken by Rurumo going to prison but Shibaki refusing, and simply returning the panties, which shouldn’t reduce his sentence but did, or something. I swear, if they’re going to mess around with the basic contracts in episode one, imagine what will happen when the plot gets serious (as you know it will when the tickets run low), and they have to find loopholes. It’s a silly, ecchi show, so I shouldn’t worry about this so much, but the comedy wasn’t much good either. Most of it was based on Shibaki’s perviness or Rurumo’s deadpan speaking, both of which we have plenty of elsewhere. I might watch more, but I probably won’t.

I'm not sure what's going on here.
I’m not sure what’s going on here.

I’m not the target audience for Love Stage!!, but it really didn’t matter. Izumi, a girlish boy born into a family of entertainers, wants nothing to do with the industry but instead wants to draw manga, though he has no talent for it. Then his family is asked to reprise an old commercial they all starred in, ten years later, and he wants nothing to do with it, even if it means he’ll costar with the super-hot actor and idol Ryouma.

Izumi wants no part of it, no matter what the manager says.
Izumi wants no part of it, no matter what the manager says.

That the two will wind up a couple is a given, taken the OP, so the question is when and how, and the show’s success will depend on that. Episode one is a good start. All the characters we meet have their own quirks, and they’re already getting good comic bits having them work off of Izumi and his seemingly endless insecurities and frustrations, most of which are understandable given his past and his otaku interests. In one respect it’s like Hanayamata: I suspect the show will be about Izumi breaking out of his shell as much as it is about the romance, well, maybe not THAT much. And his casting about, looking for something to love, is very appealing. Don’t know if it’s enough for me to keep watching, but don’t let me stop you.

The goal, or a flashback.  Not sure.
The goal, or a flashback. Not sure.

I dropped the first season of Yama no Susume after a couple of episodes, but the positive reaction to it made me decide to look at the new season. In it, Aoi and her friends are still planning to go up a mountain somewhere, maybe Mount Fuji, the way they’re talking. It made me wonder how far Aoi overcame her fears in the first season. All they do this time is do cute things and try out camping in Hinata’s backyard, using a new tent.

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I’m still not won over, though it was more fun than I remembered. I liked Aoi’s weird dreams which start and end the episode. I learned about making curry, camping-style (Plenty of other shows have shown this, but not in such detail), which is nice if I plan to go camping. It’s all cute and positive, but I didn’t really get into it, not as a show to blog every week, that is. I might include it in my list of shows not to blog about.

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