Winter 2021 3

Since some shows are already into week 3 I better finish up the week 1’s …

Ex-arm is being coy about itself in the first scene.

We start this installment with Ex-arm, where a guy named Akira, who is afraid of technology, gets hit by a truck while running to rescue a girl. Jump to 2030 where two people, a girl and a sexy android, are trying to steal back a box from people with guns. They open the box and find Akira’s brain. With his help of jacking into the ship’s system, the three of them manage to escape, and we learn that he is Ex-arm 00, and an enemy of all mankind, though they’re going to keep him around to help crack cyberpunk crime cases.

Projected body of a brain-in-a-box, an android, and a human girl who looks fake.

I did like the story and the potential it has. Human girl, android, and a brain-in-a-box who can take over machinery, and they fight crime! However, as you probably already know, the CGI is utterly wretched. When the characters stand there talking the uncanny valley effect is so strong I winced a couple times. The fight scenes aren’t much better. Alma the android is a super-powered fighting machine, but she often seemed to be moving at half-speed. This disconnect killed any sense of excitement the battles were trying to generate. It’s all a shame because apart from the human figures moving like sticks, the show looks pretty good, a good cyberpunk feel to everything. I would have enjoyed watching it, probably, if it wasn’t so hard to watch.

Non Non Biyori has gone straight to the gutter.

Time to turn away from the new and awkward to the old and serene. I thought Non Non Biyori Nonstop had pretty much run its course after season two, but hell, you know, Renge. So, after a slow awakening scene and the walk to school, and the school day, the first actual story concerns killing time while Komari and Hotarun do cleaning duty, which means making dolls out of toothpicks and scotch tape. Leave it to Renge to add a dialogue balloon to hers. After that we meet Akane, a friend of Konomi’s, shy around people so it’s hard for her to perform with her flute. Konomi has her come over to practice and meet people, and the first one she meets is … “Nyanpasu!” In spite of the frog and the burr, she relaxes a little, and Renge learns how to play a difficult note.

Hi girls! Welcome back!

And that’s it for episode one. Were you expecting anything more? Do you want anything more? I swear, in that first half, from the lovely nature scenes (the show seems to look even better this season) through the classroom scenes, I felt a refreshing, cool summer breeze in my stuffy apartment. All of the main characters are reintroduced and begin their usual antics, and while it appears to be a Renge-heavy episode, it may be because she steals every scene she’s in. Everyone else gets their fair share of screen time. I wonder if Akane will be a regular character or just one who pops up every now and then, like Konomi, who I had to look up. No matter. Welcome back to the countryside!

A typical sky for Slime.

Another welcome return: Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken. We start with a refresher as to who is what in the happy monster kingdom of Tempest (though I still don’t remember everyone), then visit the school, and then everyone prepares for the exchange of representatives between Tempest and Eurazania. “No fighting!” Rimuru insists throughout, but when the Eurazanian delegates arrive …

So many characters to keep track of, so many races and countries, I was a bit overwhelmed. Blame it on the long layoff between seasons. However, the overall happy vibe persists, even through the fighting–it’s clear that the battlers aren’t fighting out of animosity (except at first) but because they are testing their opponent, and they like to fight. In other words, they’re having fun. Besides, Rimuru was the one who actually instigated it, as he cheerfully admits. Indeed, it’s hard to take anything in this show too seriously with Okasaki Hiho’s chipper voice providing commentary. Yes, there will be crises in the future, but I’m sure that the happy vibe will win out, and I will have another reason to smile every week.

The title at the start is about the only thing this show does straightforwardly.

Okay, back to the new, and Wonder Egg Priority debuts as the oddest show of the season. There’s a girl named Ai who won’t go to school because she’s bullied because of her two eye colors. While burying a firefly, another one starts chatting with her, and takes her to a place we don’t see at first, but she winds up with an egg (the first one is always free), and the next thing you know she’s in some school where bullying is rampant. Ordered to break the egg, she finds a girl named Kurumi who’s on the run from things from a bad hallucination. Some background story ensues, and Ai gets her courage up and rescues Kurumi, who goes poof! We also learn that Ai had a friend named Koito and she blames herself for Koito’s suicide, only maybe if she breaks enough eggs and rescues enough people she might get Koito back. And/or Kurumi.

Ai, running away from things.

Yeah, the synopsis is weird. Watching it is even weirder. Nothing is what they seem in the world Ai visits, and the show does an excellent job of surprising us. But when the show has to resolve a story line it takes all these jumping knife-welding thingies, the music we heard before from the speaker, the statue on the edge of the roof, the abandoned pen, and makes it come together coherently, and with some joy, because much of the show is depressing to watch and it was good to see Ai get her gumption and turn hero. In other words, it looks chaotic but everything has a reason. If it wasn’t for the violent moments and often gritty atmosphere I’d think this was a Ikuhara Kunihiko production, which is good and bad, good because the situations have depth and the show is brilliant to look at, bad because his shows usually collapse under the weight of their own weirdness. As for me, if each episode is going to be about adolescent issues with a lot of bullying, I’m not sure I want to watch it all. However, I’ll definitely look at ep2.

Welcome back, Shiroe! And cheer up!

And now back to an old show with an even more complex backdrop: Log Horizon 3. We start with foreshadowing of the Round Table’s fellowship, and then jump into the how we got there. Let’s see, Eins, the head of the guild Honesty, who has been recruiting new adventurers and wants to be able to help them out. Shiroe and the others are fine with that, but how? And it’s hard to make a decision while Krusty isn’t around, which brings up another problem for Shiroe, that adventurers are going missing, like Oshino (dare?), so maybe they’ve returned home or struck a deal with someone … Meanwhile, Princess Rayneshia learns that she’s to be engaged to someone in another noble family, which she obviously doesn’t want because she’s got a thing for Krusty, and where DID he go off to, anyhow? I forget … Anyway, Ein leaves the round table and gets promoted to duke, in Akiba, thanks to one noble family or another. Just what Akiba needs–royalty to screw things up. And a lot more stuff happens too.

Arranged marriage.

Meanwhile, like in Slime, I’m struggling to remember who’s who and what affair has to do with another. It seems every conversation referenced an event that I can’t remember happening. So I’ll do like I do with all shows like this (say, RailDex), and focus on what is happening straight ahead. I don’t expect the Krusty problem to go away for a while, unless he shows up to steal Rayneshia from the altar, which I wouldn’t put past this show but I doubt, meaning Rayneshia has to make her own decision. In spite of pep talks from maid Elissa and Akatsuki, she has no choice but to marry. If she doesn’t it could create havoc, and even worse, her mom would be angry with her. Well, she COULD marry and use her new influence for good … So there’s that. As for the dissolution of the round table, maybe it has served its purpose, but that doesn’t mean life in Akiba without it will get any better, just the opposite. I wonder if Ein is working under altruism or gone for power … Well, plenty to chew over in this first episode.

Back Arrow starts with … I’m not sure …

Finally there’s Back Arrow, where there’s a big wall and two neighboring kingdoms who seem to be at war. Every month or so “God,” i.e, the wall, sends down rakuho, which have these bracelet things which turns you into a big fighting robot, which the enemy kingdoms use to fight each other. One day a rakuho lands out in the boonies where villagers find it. Turns out it’s a naked man inside. He want to go back over the wall, which is heresy because the wall is god, after all. A bad guy, armed with his own bracelet thing comes to get the new bracelet and is beaten up by the naked guy, now nicknamed “Back Arrow,” because that kid calls him “baka ho.” Meanwhile, a diviner from one kingdom watches this all with interest.

Not sure where the show’s going with this, apart from the trip to the wall. The two kingdoms are devoted to intelligence and valor, but why are they fighting, and why does the show make the “intelligence” side the bad guys? I figure both countries are going to learn some hard facts about this wall they worship, and they won’t like it. Well, maybe Shu Bi the diviner will; he seems delighted when his predictions are wrong. Meanwhile, it’s an adventure story with lots of silly people and naked man jokes, high on the jokes and fights, in other words, a kids show. I’m interested in this wall idea and what it means to the kingdoms within it, but that’s not going to be the show’s focus most of the time. It will be more marauders and fights and bracelets falling out of the sky. So I’m going to pass on this one.

That’s the end of this batch of previews. Again, I don’t have the time to watch much these days so my posts will be occasional if at all. Nevertheless, enjoy the season!

2 thoughts on “Winter 2021 3

  1. The first episode of Non Non Byori had practically nothing in it… Which is exactly what I expected and why I watch it in the first place. 🙂 I’m very glad it’s back.

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