On to the finales!
Peach Boy Riverside, having no other arcs to jump to and with only the last episode left, says “What the hell” and gives us the conclusion to the current one, where Sally announces that humans, ogres, elves and lizardmen will all make peace. Things get annoying here as the tree ogre wraps Sally with a root and tells her that ogres are made from human hate, coexistence is impossible, and the old “You’re the same as me!” line. This makes partial sense as when Sally is consumed with that peach-eye, her reason should vanish. But Sally’s learned to balance the two, do it’s now “Make peace, or I’ll kill you!” And her eye starts to change. The show stumbles over the momentum it built up jumping to Sumeragi and Mikoto talking about things. This could be an interesting scene in itself, Mikoto being an ogre-killer and Sumeragi being a mystery, were it not for the big tree fighting distracting us, but they hop back and forth until finally Sally destroys the tree, rather easily, while all the supposedly opposing factions just stand around and watch. As for Mikoto and Sumeragi, they part ways without a fight, and we still don’t know what they talked about, and won’t unless there’s a season two. So it ends with the gang continuing on their ways. Well, a little peace was established as the elves and lizardmen manage to communicate without bad intent, only bickering. Little steps, I suppose.
I don’t know if there will be a season two. The first season wasn’t great, but not terrible. I’m a little peeved that we didn’t learn more about some of the characters, Frau in particular. Also, since some of the arcs happen after the finale’s story, there’s a question about Hatsuki/Millia and how she hooked up with Mikoto, and what he thinks about that. And Sumeragi, perhaps the most interesting character in the lot, has given away next to nothing. I can’t say that the individual story arcs were all that interesting, but I think the show was actually clever in jumping from one to another. If they had been done in sequence then I think the flaws in each would have been more apparent. The most interesting thing to me were the characters–I liked almost all of them. They were all good companions, or had mysterious backgrounds, or both. And I also liked Sally’s determination to expose and eliminate prejudice, or at least, try to improve things, all the while having that power that can make her a mindless killer. After all, we all have to work at rejecting hate, or even resentfulness, on our daily lives. So, in the end, not a great show, but one with interesting points, and a tendency to jump from one thing to another too abruptly.
Next, Hamefura ends with nothing much, since the last arc finished last episode. We get a bit about the mysterious brooch from the last arc, but hardly an explanation, only interested puzzlement that Catarina would have noticed it in the first place. But after that it’s all about graduation, and very little happens plot-wise that we haven’t seen. Instead, we get the ceremony where all the gang are beset with admirers. Then the party, with the boys all waiting to dance with Catarina (my favorite bit was Nicol asking her to dance and all the ladies in the ballroom fainting) and explain things that do not get through her dense brain, well, no, she seems aware that Geordo might make a move on her when Keith tells her, but later it’s Keith himself who makes the move. There’s a Cat overeating scene leading to an indirect kiss via fork with Alan, leading Mary and Sophia to insist on the same thing, to Cat’s bewilderment (of course). New stuff happens near the end where she “dreams” that her Japan-friend Acchan is set to play another otome game, which turns out to be the sequel to this one, but then we’re back to a happy gardening bit as the credits roll, and a coda showing her at the Magic Academy where she meets two of the boys from the sequel otome game. Are her death-flag struggles going to rise again?!
Of course not. First, Catarina is not the one in the game–she’ll be nice and soon both these boys will fall in line with the rest of them. If there is a third season and we watch Cat at the magic academy, it will be basically the same, maybe we’ll learn a little more about what our Catarina is doing in that body in the first place, and her affinity with dark magic. I also expect the weird dark-magic girl, Sarah, will show up. This I would all find mildly interesting. On the other hand, we’ll get endless scenes where our suitors all try to get closer to Cat, and have her not understand at all, with silly faux-classical music thrown in, and a few gags. On the other OTHER hand, I rather enjoyed most of these scenes. Even though they’re static in terms of story and we’ve seen them before, I kind of look forward to watching the verbal dueling while Cat looks on, bewildered. I can’t think of many shows where I can say that. So I guess I’m on board. Though I wonder if we’ll now see less of Sophia, who’s my choice for Catarina. After her, Alan or Sora, or Larna would be interesting as well. Anyway, in spite of the show’s laggy scenes, often clumsy storytelling, and adequate-at-best art, I’ll probably watch another season.
The only thing I didn’t like about Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon‘s finale is that it didn’t resolve. The show has been paying attention to the Kobayashi/Tohru relationship, and it looked like we’d get one to close out season 2. The first half, the festival, along with the usual festival scenes and a bit of bonding between certain characters such as Ilulu and Take, sets up a possible confession, with Tohru standing before the fireworks and everything. But Kobayashi deflects it with a joke. A shame, as before that Kobayashi had been admiring how Tohru had endured so much as a dragon and yet fitted so nicely into a human community, along with Kobayashi’s question to herself: “A I worthy of such a person?” Twice she says that she will simply “swallow” the emotion. Okay, she’s not ready. The second half has a strange hanami setting in the middle of nowhere, where we switch from obligatory festival bits to obligatory hanami bits. Besides those, much of the time is spent with an arm-wrestling competition, and how did Fafnir lose to Shouta unless he did it on purpose to get back to his Switch game? But here we get another chance for a confession, muffed by Tohru by declaring the event to be Kobayashi and her wedding ceremony. Too much, and soon Kobayashi is running away, chased by Tohru and the others close behind in a crazy and joyful final scene, with the OP music of season one. Outstanding, apart from the lack of a confession.
So ends the best series of the season of the ones I watched, which weren’t a lot. I think KyoAni tried extra hard to make this one extra good, which means up to the standards of Yusuhiro Takemoto, the season 1 director who died in the fire. My reaction to season 1 was “Well, another excellent KyoAni show, to be expected, ho-hum.” But after the tragedy it’s impossible to take KyoAni’s return to television in such a blase manner. The greatest thing I took from season 2 is that the studio’s capabilities have not been taken away. They can still take a light and silly premise and infuse it with their masterful direction and animation to create joy.
Welcome back Kyoto Animation, and as always, I look forward to what you decide to gift us with next.
After that it’s hard watching Tantei wa Mou Shindeiru‘s finale, lackluster as the show has been. It’s mostly talk, first at the scene where Siesta died and her heart stuck into Hel’s. Having taken her over she says some apologies and goodbyes to the unconscious Kimihiko, and so that’s wrapped up. We cut to “now,” and the monster on the cruise ship, and Siesta’s taken over Nagisa’s body (with Nagisa’s permission, we discover later), so we get a lot of gymnastics and verbal jousts while taking the monster down. Having no more battles to fight, and the episode only about half over, we switch entirely to talk. A last bit or two with Yui and Char, a brief scene with Fuubi that tells us nothing but allows us to touch base with her one more time, and then bits with Nagisa, where Siesta currently resides. Oh, right, we get an scene between Siesta and Nagisa in the whereafter, but it’s really connected to the Nagisa/Kimi bar scene (what are they drinking?). It’s basically summing up Nagisa’s lack of confidence and the heart that gives her a direction. Through all this Kimi simply deflects the jabs and gives acknowledgments and reassurances. And in a way, he does get to say goodbye to Siesta.
Well, that’s that. I’ll say what I liked first: Siesta and Kimi most of all. I liked their teasing and arguing. … I think that’s about it. I think I would have liked the story a little more if it had been better produced. There was a good emotional core and an interesting bunch of villains, but the story was told haphazardly and lagged a lot. The animation, apart from a couple of brilliant battle moments, was only average, as were the character designs, especially Kimihiko, who looked generic. Char was hardly developed as a character at all and they just dumped her in when the plot required it. Same with Fuubi. They did all right by Nagisa in that at least she has issues to overcome and seemed to be doing it in a realistic way. BTW, what was the journey of Siesta’s heart to Nagisa’s body, anyway, or is that a later plot bit that I may not watch? To sum up, some nice bits in an underwhelming production. If it gets a season 2 I’ll decide then if I want to watch it.
Finally, so to speak, 100-man no Inochi no Ue ni Roe wa Tatteiru 2. Where Jezby has been exposed as a dragon bishop by Glen or Glenda, and all the events occur from there. She unleashes monsters and the heroes have to fight them while piecing together what’s going on. Turns out the marks are on the golems, but Jezby seems invincible at this moment, that is to say she’s confident of victory. It takes Yuusuke’s cunning to stick one of those magic seeds on a scratch in her hand to undo her plans, and she turns into a plant, or is enveloped by one. There are lots of moments of realizations of betrayal by the young ones, who had been mind controlled all this time, but I found myself unmoved by this apart from thinking “Poor kids.” Jezby gives, er, forget his name, some closure by saying all she loves are dragons. Rather a harsh closure, but better than none. We also get another moral dilemma as Kisue tries to stop Yuusuke from killing Jezby. Her logic is that if he kills a second time he’s a goner. Not sure I buy that, but Jezby takes the question our their hands by offing herself. And so the remaining villagers are reunited with their buddies in the hidden land, renamed Zagroth. So the quest is fulfilled, we get an infodump by half-head, and normal life returns.
I found myself actually caring, I think mainly for that hidden city full of peaceful people who never bothered anyone. This ties in with Yuusuke’s talk with the Girl in White at the end. I had always thought the title meant a million corpses, which he had killed because he doesn’t care. But it seems that it means Yuusuke and the other heroes are actually protecting millions of living people. Yuusuke doesn’t like it, he still doesn’t like people that much, but he’s now willing to go through with it. I don’t know whether he’s lying to himself about his hatred of people, but it sounds like he’s coming out of his misanthropy a little. This is not a great show, but I admit that the stories, awkwardly-told as they often are (this episode being an exception) have a strength to them. Maybe it’s because the stakes are higher, end of the world and all that. But I also found myself caring about the people in New Zagroth, or that Island, where I actually found myself caring for an ogre. People often have to fight to be alive, and sometimes they fight the wrong things. Sometimes they have no choice but to do something “bad.” Sometimes they choose the bad thing when they don’t have to. People are fucked-up, but that’s what we are. So, with Yuusuke’s personal journey couple with the end of the world, I found this show more compelling than maybe I should.