New shows Fall 2017 #4, the last for this season

BBB starts with Leo’s sis, far from the craziness.

Kekkai Sensen returns and this time it’s Beyond! The first season was so crazy I don’t know if there IS a “beyond” for it, but ep1 certain tries. We start, after a “Dear Sis” moment, with Leo calmly driving through the city’s usual explosions but then he’s free-falling with a bug thing on his head toward certain death. His allies show up and do their bits, and it’s fun and crazy, just like the original. After that a “calmer” story where a US envoy gets his head stolen and Leo has to return it, while going through several different armies, militias, and cults, and more things blow up. And he loses his Playstation or whatever they called it, the bastards.

Leo’s getting used to the big city.

I think the creators wanted to remind us just how wild a BBB episode could get, so they threw everything they could into the first part, and I for one did not mind at all. I was happy to see they are still capable of delivering the silly grins when they want to. What the big story will be this time I don’t know. This was a standalone to reintroduce everybody. And that’s about all I have to say about the show this time; there’s so much going on that I get worn down.

Animegataris begins with the heroine as a young girl.

In Animegataris, there’s a girl named Minoa, your typical clumsy high school girl heroine, who doesn’t know if she wants to join a club. While talking about an old anime series to someone at school, the class’s haughty rich girl, Arisu, overhears and calls her out. Turns out the rich girl is an anime fanatic who thought she had found a kindred spirit, only Minoa knows next to nothing about it. But she encourages Arisu to form a club. Arisu, delighted by the idea enlists Minoa to be the second member. Let’s go recruiting! … Oh, there’s a mysterious beret, Minoa going into a trance for no reason, and a talking cat. That all happens in the last three minutes.

I realize that the show was deliberately making the most generic comedy show it could (no Minoa running out the door with toast in her mouth, though) before starting up the more insidious part of the storyline, and the generic part, while a little familiar and dull, wasn’t bad. I enjoyed Arisu ratting off shows she liked, she reminds me of me when I get started on anime. But I’m confused on where the show will go next. Will it keep playing up the mundane parts, apart from the cat (who himself is kind of mundane, like a magical girl show mascot), or will it now jump into the mystery of the beret and forget the first 20 minutes of the episode didn’t matter much? If the former I’m not sure I want to watch. If the latter, maybe it will get interesting. Too soon to tell.

We begin with a very unpleasant little story (That’s the naked imouto talking).

Imouto sae Ireba Ii starts with a rather disgusting scene involving a little sister waking the hero up, gets weirder and more disgusting, until we learn it’s actually a manuscript by our real hero, Istuki, which is thankfully rejected with extreme prejudice by his editor. Then his little brother, I think, comes over, along with some friends and novelist colleagues, and they have a nice dinner and go home, except for Nayuta, who keeps coming on to him. Then she leaves too. Er, that’s really it.

I almost stopped watching this two minutes in, and I still have worries that they’re going to show more of Itsuki’s siscon fantasies, and since little sisters are all he thinks about, there’s potential for that. But I rather enjoyed the rest of it. No overriding story arc apart from deadlines, potentially interesting characters, just people joking around. Oh sure, there’s Nayu’s nearly pathological obsession for Itsuki, and his refusal, though he rather likes her work, and I’m sure the others have issues we’ll learn about, but overall the tone is light and playful. I’m running out of room for shows this season, but I might look at this one again.

Lovely blue sky to begin Kujira.

Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau brings us to a fantasy world where our hero, Chakuro, lives aboard a ship-thing everyone calls the Mud Whale, which sails on an endless ocean of sand. We follow him around for a bit, getting accustomed to the society and culture there (no crying!), the short-lived people with magic powers and the long-lived people who have no power but run things. They discover a drifting island and discover the first human they’ve ever scene beyond the Mud Whale. Things get mysterious as it becomes clear that the ship’s ruling class is hiding something. Anyway, Lykos the mystery girl gets abducted (again) by a Mud Whale rogue who things her world is probably more interesting than the Mud Whale, and Chakuro is dragged along.

And almost the last.

The rogue is probably right. Life aboard the Mud Whale, in spite of the open skies and great views, feels closed off and restrictive. There’s more adventure off of it, and that’s where Chakuro, Lykos, and that rogue are heading now. Overall, this was a solid first episode if you can get past the strangeness of sailing over sand. There are some infodumps but they’re usually slipped neatly into the action or handled with efficient Chakuro voice-overs. They do nice job of setting up the society and its beliefs in 24 minutes, as well as introduce a number of characters and make them interesting. It also looks very good, with much of it seemingly painted or drawn, giving it perhaps too much of a folk-tale quality. But let’s see if the story keeps it on an even keel.

Crude drawings, moving.

In Netojuu no Susume we meet a brand new NEET, Moriko, as she comes home with flowers obviously from her farewell party at work. She briefly casts about looking for a MMORPG, develops a stupid-looking male character named Hayashi, and quickly meets a cute girl named Lily, who of course is a man in real life, though Moriko doesn’t know that yet and probably wouldn’t care, and vice versa. They get very close online and give each other Christmas gifts, and in real life they go to the same conbini, though of course they don’t know that yet, either. So I guess it’s further adventures of a NEET next week.

Possibly because I’m not a NEET, I don’t know why anyone would want to become one. Those flowers suggest she was appreciated a little at work, so Moriko’s decision to chuck that life in the trash, like the flowers, confuses me. But she jumps wholeheartedly into the MMORG, so she’s at least happy, though first thing that happens is that she gets into a relationship with another character in the game suggest she still needs other people. Maybe that will be one of the show’s themes. And in spite of what I said, I like Moriko a lot. I like watching her play the game more than I do the game characters or any of the quests, well, partly because those scenes are kind of lame. Too soon to tell on this one. If they concentrate more on Moriko and the real world rather than the game, I might enjoy this show.

Some leaves to the left, in a deceptively romantic looking opening.

Finally, for the Fall previews (because I’m going to take the season off from writing about shows and may only watch a couple, so I’m worn out doing this) we have (takes a breath) Boku no Kanojo ga Majime Sugiru Shobitch na Ken, let’s just call it Shobitch. It stars a bland high school boy named Haruka who has a crush on the lovely and perfect Akiho, and so confesses. She says yes, then in the scenes following, tries to get as much info out of him about his sexual proclivities, not to mention what sort of positions she ought to learn, etc. Hayashi just wanted a girlfriend, so he winds up doing a lot of straight-man work, and then there is his old friend Shizuku, who nearly wrecks the whole relationship by interfering.

Not crazy about this one at all. It’s like a lesser Seitokai Yakuindomo, and THAT show wasn’t exactly great, either. I will say that this one has an actual romance in it, but I don’t care for either kid, even if Yuuki Aoi is playing Akiho. The character’s trying too hard got on my nerves after awhile, and Haruka is a boring lead male. Shizuku annoyed the hell out of me. I’m afraid I don’t have the patience to see what the other girls in the harem are going to be like. It also doesn’t look very good. I don’t like Akiho’s character design at all. The others aren’t much better.

So that wraps up the previews. As I’ve said a couple of times, I will write very little this season, if at all. Real life is sneaking up on me again. A shame because there are a handful of series here with potential and I only watched a fraction. I hope you enjoyed this and if one of my recommendations here leads you astray, well, tough.

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New shows Fall 2017 #3

 

The Yuuki Yuuna prequel starts with a “Boy, if I only knew before!” monologue.

You may remember the original Yuuki Yuuna series from a few years back. Young girls appointed by Shinjyu-sama turn into magical girls to fight off threats to the great tree, but at a slow and eventually nasty cost to them. Not a great series, but a surprisingly good one. This new series, Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru -Washio Sumi no Shou-, is a prequel, where three girls–Washio, Nogi, and Mino are the appointed girls and in this episode go off on their first battle, with no training whatsoever. They fight the weird thing, get roughed up a lot, figure out some teamwork, win the battle, and finally do some preadolescent bonding at an ice cream place. Meanwhile, we watching at home are waiting for the inevitable.

Which will come soon. This series is only six episodes, with a sequel to the original following. I don’t remember the details of the original series, but I don’t think any of the girls comes to a good end. I forget which one was wasting away in bed. But there’s no sign of damage at the end of ep1, unless that bandage is foreshadowing. Some things I remember vividly. The world they battle is a colorful and vivid place, and the battles are beautiful to watch. That hasn’t changed. There is also, alas, transformation scenes intended to titillate, that hasn’t changed either. Still, the original series worked up some good themes about duty and sacrifice, and I don’t doubt the prequel will have them, too.

Some steampunky London interior.

Code:Realize ~Sousei no Himegimi~ starts with an evil guy singing “London Bridge” amid giant steampunk gears, then switches to a British Army contingent trying to catch a “monster” in an old manor house, only it’s a beautiful girl named Cardia (appropriate name, as you will see). Two robbers, Lupin (not that one) and Impey, steal the girl from the army and whisk her away to another manor house, where she meets Frankenstein and we get some details. The girl has corrosive skin that burns what it touches, and a weird “heart,” or “Horologium,” implanted by her father, Isaac Beckford. And people are after the heart (which Lupin wants to steal, get it?), and the girl’s real heart begins to stir, surrounded as she is by charming rogue bishies. Oh, there’s a dog too.

It didn’t do much for me. Dark pasts are hinted at. There’s the mystery of that heart and the poison skin to deal with, and what’s going on with Beckford, but it didn’t add up to much. Might be a nice romance going on, and since none of the bishie boys are terribly annoying, yet, I’m happy for the girl, who, unfortunately, is pretty dull. Losing your memories will do that to a person. But I didn’t find anything that particularily interested me. Some of the backdrops are pretty, but the animation and character designs are just average.

I wonder if the moon’s color is trying to tell us something.

Next it’s Houseki no Kuni, where some girls in a grassy land notice sunspot activity and go off to fight what turns out to be things out of an Eastern religion. The girls tell one lazy, clumsy girl, the green-haired Phos, to go back to their big palace. She does, and after an infodump by Kongo, their leader, they discover the fighting girls broken into pieces and being harvested by the aliens. Because every character is actually a humanoid manifestation of a gem, and the aliens, like us humans, like precious minerals. More stuff happens leading to the first steps of friendship between useless Phos and dangerous, lonely Cinnabar. All with the worst computer graphic animation since Kemono Friends, though it’s not THAT bad.

A shame, too, because this show has some things going for it. The idea of living gems, that get broken and chipped and have to be repaired and polished, who cannot die but can be broken up and harvested, is one of the better concepts I’ve heard for a while. Cinnabar, patrolling at night though there’s no enemy threat then, poisonous to everyone around her, WANTS to be harvested–maybe she’ll be useful for a change. Her and Phos, who seems to be good for nothing, would make a good frienship if only they’d get over their issues, well, Cinnabar’s at least. The CGI is tolerable during the battle scenes, and there are actually some well-directed moments there and elsewhere. The question is will you be able to overcome something that looks so unnatural? Up to you. For me, no.

Two Car is one of those shows that boldly begins its season with the opening credits!

Two Car is set on the island of Miyakejima, a place that is the motorcycle/sidecar racing capital of the world, unless it’s really the Isle of Man. I looked it up. Sadly this is not true. Anyway, a pre-preseason race of the seven top high school girls racing teams is set to start, including the hometown or home-island heroes Yuri and Megumi. The episode then jumps from the race (the competition includes a couple goth-lolis and a masochist/sadist couple, but the rest seem pretty normal) to flashbacks of our girls growing up, learning to race, falling for their instructor, discovering the other one fell for their instructor, so now they don’t know whether they like or hate one another. A little of both. So they’re a bickering team that will come to blows, as we find out.

That’s one way to describe it.

The girls’ relationship is an interesting one, but all the observers talk about them being their normal selves so much I got tired of it. On the other hand, they’re a team that is incomplete with the other and they both know it and try to work around their differences, which, apart from that instructor thing, and he left for the Isle of Man long ago, aren’t many. If you like racing you might enjoy the races and the commentary about strategies (though frankly there were a few too many butt-shots for me), or you might want to learn about the different rival teams, and needless to say they’re all cute. Overall the tone feels light-hearted. No blood-feuds here, not yet, anyway.

Blend S starts with the gate where Maika lives.

Blend S starts with our girl Maika getting turned down for part-time jobs because she has scary eyes, which she doesn’t really have except in certain circumstances. After another bad interview she is sort of accosted by the manager of a maid cafe that needs a sadistic waitress to go with their tsundere and imouto ones. So we watch the not-sadistic-at-all Maika learning how to be nasty. The other girls we meet have their own struggles, but they manage to get through and it’s all done for laughs.

The sadist, the imouto, and the tsundere psych up for the day.

Don’t know if I’ll keep watching, but the first episode was pleasant. It was fun watching Maika try hard to be sadistic, especially when they already have a genuinely sadistic girl who does the imouto duties. Not sure how that worked out. The episode had the usual introductions and scene-setting to do, but it was done with a minimum of fuss. However, the show began to drag when the shifts were over and the girls went to the arcade, so I’m not sure it can hold up when not in the cafe environment. Also, Dino, the manager, constantly got on my nerves for hitting on Maika, though to be sure he’s usually brutally punished by the Mafuyu and Koyo when he does. But overall it’s a happy, light show.

That doesn’t look like Hell to me …

Houzuki no Reitetsu returns! We go back to hell to watch more hellish punishments with bureaucratic jokes thrown in. To start with we learn how Houzuki died and became a demon, though they don’t explain how he became such a cooly efficient one. We also learn a lot about Hell’s early years, and the woman who preceded Houzuki as bureau chief–she was quite good at her job but kept inventing hells for such obscure sins that they eased her out of the position. Then we turn toward one of Houzuki’s only grudges–against the people who offered him up on a sacrifice, and the old bureaucrat’s request to refurbish her mansion. The boys Kaoauri and Nasubi are back, and I’m happy to say so is Shiro the dog.

Houzuki designed it himself!

I don’t notice any difference between this one and the old season. Houzuki is his usual deadpan self, the show still mixes traditional art with modern cartoonish drawing. It has the same easygoing, meandering pace. But there are two problems: first, it tries too hard to throw stuff at you that it become dull. It’s usually right before they cut to another angle, and it’s meant to be sort of a punchline or a topper, but it gets repetitive. Also, to get some of the jokes you need to understand the references, which I don’t. The resolution of what to do with those burning people at the palace bewildered me. No idea of what happened there. But that’s okay, I’ll probably watch this season. Hard to believe a show about Hell can be such a cheerful one.

Chise, before her sale.

Finally, Mahoutsukai no Yome, the new show with perhaps the most buzz this season. We start with Chise selling herself into slavery for reasons not clear except she doesn’t have much else going on, and is quickly bought up by a tall guy with a dinosaur skull face named Elias, and whisked to his country house in England to be his apprentice. It isn’t until the end of the episode that he announces his other motive. Chise is too surprised by the fact that she’s not going to be kept in chains or made to do anything disgusting to worry too much. She also encounters some fairies, and you know what fairies are like. Elias rescues her, then mentions the “bride” bit.

He’s known her for about an hour.

The first episode is paced with calm dignity and everything in it feels a little restrained, as if they don’t want to give anything away so early, like what the hell a “sleigh beggy” is. The dynamic between Eiias and Chise is of course just getting started, but I’m relieved so far that Elias doesn’t seem like a total creep, though the fact that he bought her in the first place and hugs her a lot bothers me a little. As I mentioned, Chise is too surprised that everyone she meets is actually nice to her to actually care about this … actually, it’s too soon to make a decision about Chise, either. Is she going to obey orders all the time and get put in danger, or is she going to get personal decisions to make? There’s potential in this show.

New shows Fall 2017 #2

Urehara begins with a flash-forward.

Urahara stars three girls who hang out in a shop in Harajuku that is “the physical manifestation of their dreams,” i.e, it’s all very cute. They’re in high school but seem to work there, I’m not sure. Anyway, a strange customer comes in and praises the creativity of the place and exits. Next thing you know, there are aliens invading and sucking up Earth’s cultural landmarks, and now they’re headed for Harajuku! An escape pod lands in front of the girls and out comes a cute little girl and a talking fried shrimp who gives us the backstory: the aliens cannot create culture so steal it from other planets. The girls each take an “amatsumara,” which the little girl stole from the aliens before escaping and the girls transform into super-heroines and drive off the aliens.

In other words it’s perfectly normal people confronted by evil aliens, befriended by a mascot character, gain powers, win the day. Except it’s all cute and full of bright fashion and lots of sweets, especially donuts for some reason. That would be fine, but it’s incredibly boring. At the beginning they try to feature each girl at length, especially Rito, but fail to make them interesting. They talk endlessly, with endless little agreement lines that drag the episode down. Really, the script needs a serious trim, though it was clear they had nothing to replace it with. It looks very pretty and they try to be stylish with a lot of multiple camera at once, but it can’t hide the fact that the show has next to nothing going with its animation. It’s also confusing. What was that at the end with the defense missile which was turned into a parfait by the girls’ defense system, or whatever? The show tries very hard to be stylish but there’s nothing there.

A girl, studying, to begin Just because!.

In Just Because! we watch as a boy named Eita moves with his father into a new place near where he used to live four years ago, meaning he might meet some of his old middle school buddies in high school, except it’s midway through their third year and most of them have other things on their minds, entrance exams, job interviews, etc. While he and his dad visit the school we meet a lot of the regular students who go about with their usual stuff, including old buddy Haruto, and a couple of girls who recognize him. There’s a girl named Natsume who is obviously going to be significant. Oh, everybody uses Line a lot.

It takes a while to figure out exactly what’s going on because it hops about to new characters a lot, and it didn’t help that there was a flashback with Haruto that I didn’t realize was a flashback at first (“Wait, why are they in middle school?” I thought). But it does a decent enough job of clarifying through normal, infodump-free dialogue that I got the gist of it in time, and I appreciate a show that doesn’t overexplain. As for what’s going to come later, I have no idea. A romance maybe, some bittersweet slice of life about lives and friendships changing … Maybe a little of both, and more. It’s maybe a little too sedate, but we’ll see what ep2 brings.

Shuumatsu’s first moments aren’t interesting, but you can also hear water dripping.

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou has two girls, Chi and Yuu, in a little tractor, puttering about a huge, ruined building looking for a way out, which they eventually find, and we discover the world here doesn’t have much life in it except for them. Only more ruins, mostly war-related. We get a flashback of them being evacuated by an adult man but that’s the only reference we get. They wander around some more, discover some guns but while Yuu can shoot, there’s little point to it. They find a plane, find rations (the most important thing) and later fight over them. They wonder why people fought wars and where they can get more food. That’s about it.

The first episode was impressive, but I wonder how much they can keep it up unless something or someone new enters the story. Chi and Yuu are interesting friends but they can’t carry a series on their own. I would also like some backstory, I mean, it’s not just that everyone died; there aren’t even any bodies around. What the hell happened? I wonder how much we’ll get because the girls obviously know very little about what happened themselves. In the meantime, I suppose I can always look at the lovely if slightly depressing art. All the ruins look good, and while there’s a minimum of music, the pieces they used were elegant. Interesting to see how this one pans out.

It took me a while to realize that’s the remains of a campfire.

We move on to another show about two people traveling with guns: Kino no Tabi, a remake or spinoff or something from the original Kino’s Journey, which along with Haibane Renmei, is one of those great anime that I have not yet watched. Well, this new version will do for now. After a fireside scene where Kino speculates on why he keeps traveling, he and his bike Hermes (that confused me for a while) come to a country where there is no prohibition on killing, and they are confused to find it a rather happy, orderly place with huge crepes. Eventually we find out the reason, and Kino cheerfully moves on.

I can’t compare this to the original, but I liked much of it. It’s great to look at, lovely background art, and it moves at a patient, sedate speed, yet the events in ep1 show that this isn’t simply going to be a “stop and smell the roses” show. The scenery might be beautiful but the people can be terribly violent and ugly. I’m worried that the show might wind up giving little moral lessons for each country Kino visits, but at least in this first country it’s not really a moral but a sort of paradox. Well, if nothing else, Kino only spends three days in each place, so the settings will change.

Forbidding clouds open Dies Irae.

Finally for this post, Dies Irae, where some evil blond guy takes a long walk through a nasty palace until he’s floating above modern-day Tokyo doing a staredown with an average anime boy. We jump back in time and … not sure, really. 1939 Berlin, and the blond guy, called Heydrich is a star minister of the Reich, advised by a clairvoyant named Krafft, who knows more than he’s letting on. Oh, there are two crazy people with powers fighting in the streets, and a building burns down, three women Valkyries join up with Heydrich but have difficulty with the two crazies until Krafft manages to persuade Heydrich to use his full potential …

Please try.

I hear the visual novel is really good. I can’t say the same for this episode. It’s another example of having a character show up and not explain anything about him or her because, hey, the true fans know him already, right? The hell with those of us who haven’t read it. It’s not that they don’t explain who everyone is, but they don’t do enough to show us why such-and-such a character is meaningful. What resonates for the fanboy doesn’t reach us at all, and we stare at the screen, a little bewildered, wondering what the fuss is all about. Not only that, but while much of the art is okay, the animation sometimes takes considerable time off and characters freeze. That aside, it’s nice and gothy if you like that sort of thing.

New shows Fall 2017 #1

While I might not write any more regular posts until December, it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t at least look at the new anime season. As usual, I will follow the Random Curiosity preview page unless something else comes up. I will probably not watch any sequels or spinoffs unless I watched the first series. I tend not to watch sports shows, though I know I’m probably missing out. I also will not watch anything I don’t want to watch. So there. I will start each review with the first intelligible image I can screencapture. So here we go!

I start the season with a big tree.

Ignoring Gintama (a sequel) we come to UQ HOLDER! ~Mahou Sensei Negima! 2, which, as I quickly realized, is also a sequel. But it switches from Negima sneezing girls’ clothes off quickly enough to Evangeline A. K. McDowell, apparently a former student and current middle school teacher, and she also helps to raise a boy named Tota, who, along with his buddies, keep trying to defeat her to no avail. Another teacher steps in and gives them some rudimentary magic to use, and it turns out he’s actually a nasty bounty hunter, and soon most of the characters are chopped into little pieces until .., well, now Tota and Evangeline are off to the capital to climb a space tower and meet what might be an adult Negima.

That’s nice, but maybe you should concentrate on your rally?

Well, the characters are new, mostly, but there still enough background lore here for me to lose interest. I don’t know much about the original Negima and don’t want to have to study up on it. What’s more, it was a fairly uninteresting first episode–young boy with a goal gains a big power and passes his first big test, and not terribly well done. The infodump Evangeline gives Tota while they’re both chopped up and bleeding to death went on far too long. I’m all for the willing suspension of disbelief but Tachibana would have polished off all those kids while she was still talking. There are limits. Negima fans might like the show, sneezing and all, but I’m going to pass.

Black Clover begins with a statue on an enormous skull.

Next on my list is Black Clover, where we see a country village and a priest who adopts two infants, Yuno and Asta. Fifteen years later we meet the two again. We learn that everyone can use magic, but it also has nuns and that priest–I don’t know how magic works with biblical teachings, but whatever. Yuno is excellent at magic and Asta, strangely, has no magic whatsoever, which is unheard of, but both want to join the Magic Knights and become the Wizard King. There’s a grimoire presentation, Asta doesn’t get one but Yuno gets a four-leaf clover one, which later is almost stolen by a former knight turned rogue. Remember what I said about Asta having no magical powers? Guess what happens next?

Asta, left, and Yuno, in characteristic poses.

Not bad overall. Nothing really interesting to it apart from the magical light shows and the brothers’ rivalry. Some scenes go on way too long, like Asta’s proposing to a nun, and the rogue trying to rub it in Asta’s face before the latter gets demonic. Mainly what bothered me is Asta himself. Not only is he a fool (which I can forgive) who shouts most of his lines, but the inflection of the shouting bugged the hell out of me. I don’t want to watch an entire season of that shouting.

Sengoku Night Blood opens with a rather garish moon.

In Sengoku Night Blood we get a bunch of old armies fighting, then switch to modern times and a girl whose name I’ve completely forgotten takes out her cell phone, time stops, then it starts but she’s now in a variant of the warring states period watching bishie men fight with super powers. After the battle, one of them (Hideyoshi) spots her and drags her along with his army. There follows a bewildering and poorly-animated series of scenes with the various army’s bishies laugh, fight, and generally act jolly before the next day’s battle. The girl talks to a rodent who gives her some background, then there’s the battle, and, oh, Hideyoshi’s army are all vampires.

What’s causing those shadows?

You will not be surprised to learn that this is based on a game. The creators of such shows usually feel that all they need to do is bring along the characters and their voices and the other parts of the series, you know, story, etc, can go to hell. Thus, fans of the game can have fun name-checking the characters, I suppose, but everything else in this episode was terrible. Confusing, poorly written, ugly purplish colors all over the place. Let’s move on.

A train station in deserted Tokyo. Lots of murdering going on, you see.

Juuni Taisen, at least this episode, follows, er, I’ll call her “Boar” because I didn’t catch her real name. What is it with me and names today? Anyway, she shows up, with weapons, at a deserted tall building where she and eleven others, representing other members of the Chinese Zodiac, will try to kill each other. It’s a fun event held every twelve years. We also flash back to her family, her abusive father picking her younger sister to be the Boar next time, and older sis getting her revenge by driving her little sister homicidally insane. Anyway, back in the present day, the battle begins, and we soon learn that the Boar isn’t really our protagonist after all. Heh. Should have seen that coming.

This is one of those gore-fests where everyone is twisted and trying to double-cross each other. And they will probably die, one by one, each episode, unless they’re resurrected by that one guy. The animation is inconsistent. Most of the talk scenes have only mouths moving, while some of the battle bits, especially Boar’s training scenes, look natural and fluid, and are genuinely fun to watch. So there’s potential here. As for me, watching nasty, murderous people covered in blood and laughing insanely isn’t what I like to do, but if you like these sort of gore-fests, you might get a kick out of it.

A pinkish city scene to start Osake.

Next is Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara, where we see Chisato, office lady, help out a coworker who gratefully invites her out drinking, but instead she goes home where her husband Sora makes her a new drink (we get the recipe) and she gets drunk. She “gets weird” when she drinks, she says, but it looks to me like she just gets drunk like everybody else. But apparently Sora thinks she’s cute when she’s drunk. And there you have it, in three minutes.

Trying to figure out the point of this show. Is it the drink recipes? Not enough time for them to expand on the taste like the characters in Isekai Shokudou can go on about food. Is it the cuteness? Again, Chisato didn’t look very much cuter when she got drunk. Maybe it’s the domestic life the two have, though if the whole thing is about the husband getting the wife drunk I’m not that interested. However, it’s a short, we learn about new drinks, and after all the fighting show’s I’ve watched before this, it comes as a relief.

A Japanese city hundreds of years ago, complete with foxes, tanuka, and bird people, of course.

Finally, Konohana Kitan, where in a fantasy old Japan, Yuzu, a cute little fox girl, comes to the big city and starts working at a big inn. We meet the other workers, supervisor Kiri, but especially the tsundere Satsuki and the weird little Sakura. She gets dragged around, is shown the ropes, and gets yelled at a lot by Satsuki, usually with reason. In contrast to Satsuki’s general grouchiness, Sakura likes to slack off to look at frogs and jump on pave-stones. We don’t really get to know the others but this is only episode one. And every now and then the show stops to show us a nice image. I don’t think anything more than that will happen for the entire season.

Satsuki stares down Yuzu while Kiri gets out of their way.

But that’s all right. This is a stop and smell the roses show with a bit of business about running a hotel and treating guests thrown in. I just hope Yuzu learns her job quickly because I don’t like episodes where the newbie screws up and gets scolded a lot. That’s all right, I don’t think it will last. The series obviously wants to soften Satsuki up as much as it does train Yuzu. As for the episode itself, there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with it. Typical first episode with lots of character introductions and pretty scenes, not on the soothing level of Aria or Tamayura because the characters are more comical and there’s magic about. They hit us on the head with the “One staffer represents the entire staff” a few too many times, but these are minor complaints. While nothing stood out on the good side, I might keep this one.

Made in Abyss finale

One more show to go this summer, and for me was by far the best. That said, I had to get psyched up to watch the long finale of Made in Abyss; what were they going to put the kids through this time?

Nanachi and Mitty, before the ascent.

The arduous parts pretty much come in the first half, as we watch the still human Nanachi, a smelly street urchin who joins up with white whistle Bondrewd’s young volunteers to go down to the 5th level, and then the sixth. And she meets an adorable, excited redhead girl named Mitty, and I had to close my eyes for a minute. The scenes after that, preparations and more bonding, are weighed down with dread until we get the inevitable experiment scene, and yes, we see the transformation, and it is as grotesque as I feared.

That heaviness over with, we switch to another one. Mitty can’t die, and it’s not for want of trying by both Bondrewd and Nanachi, the former for science, I suppose, and the latter out of compassion, but Reg’s death-ray can do it. But Reg is not sure he wants to, not only because Mitty is a living creature, if you call that living, and also because Nanachi is devoted to her. We see them discuss it (Mitty’s soul is trapped in that body, they just can’t abandon her–she is immortal but feels pain), think about it, but finally, they are ready. For all the soul-searching the two have to do, these scenes don’t feel wither rushed or slow, just enough time to for both of them to demonstrate the doubt and grief they’re feeling.

Hi Riko! Sleep well?

After that it lightens up a bit. Riko finally waking up feels like a fresh chapter in the story, and her instant affection for the embarrassed but obviously pleased Nanachi gives the story the happy lift we all needed at this point. At this point, along with cute domestic scenes, we get mystery, namely Riko’s “bad dream,” a connection with Mitty that was hinted at last week. Both Riko and Mitty were suffering but somehow reassured each other in that closed space. I can’t help but probably wrongly speculate that Mitty had to vanish from that peephole before Riko could wake up, or Mitty somehow helped Riko mentally recover from her ordeal. Probably we’ll never get the whole story, and maybe we shouldn’t.

But overall the tone remains light for the rest of the episode. In the closing credits we watch the three make preparations to go farther down, while a message balloon they sent up retraces each level we’ve seen, and allows us meet all the characters again. A beautiful way to top off the season. Actually, the final episode as a whole couldn’t have gone any better. It gave us everything that the show is famous for, the cute characters, strange concepts of life and death, cruel behavior and horrible suffering, beautiful and grotesque things, more glimpses of an amazing fictional world, and gorgeous art and animation. Even if we couldn’t have predicted the events this time (and it pretty much went the way I expected, plot-wise), it was told so well, each part taking as long as it needed and nothing more, that it was never dull the way hour-long episodes can be. This is the best anime series I have seen in years. Now all we can do is wait for a second season. Don’t tell me there won’t be one.

One more of, well, you know …

Finales: Tsurezure and PP, plus Abyss 12

Some of the couples are right back where they started.

The finale of Tsurezure Children has basically two scenes, the first being a comedy-ridden sports festival soccer tournament where we see most of the couples we’ve been following interacting on the pitch and on the sidelines. Sort of touching base with them one more time. Most of the relationships don’t change, but we get a good deal of Chiaki/Kana’s complicated situation as the latter insults the former until he saves her from an errant ball, more “hmphs”, then she cheers him in a strange way and he gets inspired. After that we turn to the sweet, heartwarming part, the last class before summer break and everyone wants to go to the beach, except Takano doesn’t want to go if Sugawara isn’t, and vice-versa. Who’s going to break through this? Let me just say I was pumping my fists over the outcome. Happy about Chiaka/Kana, too, but really those two ought to take better care of their phones.

So not every couple got to the finish line, and there’s no indication we’ll be getting a season two, which is a damn shame. This was a consistently funny and sweet show throughout, and, with Made in Abyss, a highlight of my weekly viewing. It juggled countless relationships and made them all interesting and fresh to watch, partly because, while every couple’s issues were different (an amazing feat right there), they were always recognizable. And while this show was a comedy, it wasn’t cruel to any character. The kids are new at this, they are awkward, they make mistakes, and I rooted for them to push through that and to get what they want, and I’ll say it again, it’s a damn shame we won’t get to watch them succeed. I want a second season!

One more of Takano, who finally took a step forward.
And one more of Kana, nicely summing up.
Reg’s revenge.

Which leads me to Made in Abyss 12, and while this one has another episode to go, a long one, I hear, it too will end and have me sobbing in frustration. Back up on the surface there’s a strange curse that kills off children on their birthday, except Kiyui recovers, to the shock of Jiruo. So this is the “True nature of the curse” that the episode title is named after, not the nature of the abyss curse, well, they’re probably related. The episode jumped from this scene to others. until a shocking request from Nanachi at the very end, which I won’t spoil. Every one its own was effective, but didn’t work with the other scenes as well as they could have.

The creepiest scene of the episode for me.

Anyway, we jump to Nanachi explaining the latter curse to Reg in ways I really didn’t understand, except a cloth covers you. Then more confusion as Nanachi has Reg take on that orb piercer by thinking something weird and jumping sideways. … Wait, if he used his blaster, why didn’t he fall asleep? And a very odd vision (flashback) at something distorted looking through an eye-hole. With hindsight it was the scariest moment of the episode. All of these things, topped by Nanachi’s request at the end, didn’t mix well, but at the very least there’s more weird things about the abyss for us to ponder, and there’s what Nanachi asked at the end.

Princess Principal finishes with a stumbling episode where we learn that the revolutionaries’ plot is to drop the cathedral ceiling on the queen, and then Princess will, I guess, assume power and start the big changes, or the plot fails but causes enough unrest that the Republic invades. Not sure of the logic of either, really. Meanwhile, the other girls regroup and even Ange makes it back, only to have Dorothy trick her in some way that matters to no one. Anyway, the girls provide just enough trouble that the ceiling dropping (done with a key in a lock) doesn’t happen, everyone escapes, Ange and Princess reconcile, L returns for unexplained reasons and kicks the general out of his chair, and the girls hang out in Casablanca. But what about the revolution now? The rebels Princess talks to seem unsure whether to rebel or to obey her orders. In other words, it’s a half-baked episode full of missed opportunities for fun (the ceiling, for example) and unexplained details.

No, just episodes.

I bet they’re angling for a second season, but I’m not sure the show deserves one. Most of the episodes were stand-alones that didn’t do much for the big story arc, such as it was. And when they finally came up with one, it was a mess. It’s too bad because this was a potentially rich world full of possible story ideas and an excellent steampunk aesthetic, and I rather liked all the characters in it. If they had worked on a bigger overall arc, and they had two unfriendly nations to work with, it could have been much more interesting. Instead, they chose to focus on the girls themselves. As I said, I liked them, but they weren’t enough to carry the series. This show was a regrettable miss.

Finales: Re:Creators and Isekai Shokudou, and PP 11

There wasn’t much for Re:Creators 22 to do once they got rid of the threat. Everybody says wise words to their creator or creation, the latter insisting that their god will give them the justice or boyfriend they want, and off they go, except for Meteora, partly because she can’t cast the portal spell and use it herself, and partly because she likes it here. Now powerless, she gets a new identity and proceeds to do what she admired about the creators, that is, create something. We see billboards and posters advertising their further adventures (Aliceteria and Mamika in a crossover full of flowers and stuff). I wonder if the stories will get deadly dull since the creators might not have the will to kill their darlings anymore. Suruga is the only one to tell her creation that his life will continue to be nasty. Apart from a couple nice bits (Selesia appearing in an ad on Souta’s phone) it was just as dull as I expected.

The show managed some good self-referential lines up to the end.

What about Magane? The finale completely ignores her. I partly don’t mind because I never liked the character, but to not have her show up, unless she sneaked in somewhere I didn’t notice, felt wrong. The creators in this show seemed to lose control or interest the farther the series went. The first few episodes weren’t like that. The idea of fictional characters entering or own isn’t new, but they managed to do interesting things with it. The different genres duking it out on more or less equal terms was good, and they asked solid questions about what the creators and the creations would do in the situation. I’ve always liked the father/daughter relationship between Matsubura and Selesia, and the bonding that boy pilot Rui and delinquent Yuya do. The setup was fascinating and the show strode confidently forward, tossing out ideas each episode.

But after that they seemed to find themselves in a hole. Meteora, the most eloquent of the creations, was stuck in that booth chanting cult-babble and casting spells. Altair, while full of murderous intent throughout, wound up doing little more than muttering evil things and snickering. The other creations all became more and more irrelevant (apart from the nice twist for Blitz). What was Hikayu supposed to be doing there, anyway, apart from comic relief? Why did Matsubura show so little shock at Selesia’s death, well, until it was all over? It’s a shame. The show had a lot of promise and often lived up to it, but by the end I was indifferent.

One more of Selesia, alive somewhere.
Wait, but YOU’RE Princess, well, not really anymore, but …

Princess Principal had spent most of its time dilly-dallying in little spy games, stealing plans here, offing people there, none of it of much consequence to the overall conflict between East and West, but I’ll admit that the two-parter that will close the season is a tasty one. We already know that the girls are to kill the princess, and suddenly Ange finds that all of her comrades have been transferred, or have just vanished (chilling reference to the spy school last episode), and Control is now run by the military. Ange makes plans to run off with Princess, but the latter refuses, accuses Ange of trying to run her life for her, and escapes, leaving Ange locked on that airship going to Casablanca, I assume. She reappears as Ange disguised as Princess, mission accomplished, and meets some colony soldiers who are going to revolt.

Except, you aren’t, but you are, but … oh, forget it. Like the glasses though.

It’s a fun twist. First, the plotters think they’re talking to a girl who is pretending to be Princess, when actually, this is the Princess everyone knows, except, Princess from the start is actually a girl pretending to be Princess! Good thing they didn’t have DNA tests in 1872 (though they DO have cars …). I’m also pleased that this bunch of soldiers will actually escalate the war the way I was hoping the series would from the start. But how are they going to polish this off in one episode? Well, the other girls might be gone, but I can’t believe they’re not going to appear again, especially Dorothy. Chise gets some info that might be useful, maybe, somehow, perhaps. And what is Princess going to do? The other problem is that her mother the Queen’s life is now in danger (okay, not her real mother …). Is she going to follow along with the revolt, become queen, and then act as a figurehead for those men and have THEM run her life? And of course, what about Ange and her relationship with Princess? No, too much to fit into one episode. They should have started sooner.

There’s a bit of mystery solved, in case anyone cares.

Isekai Shokudou finishes the season without fanfare, no special episode or plot twists that put the restaurant in danger or anything like that, and I’m relieved about that. We do learn that the chef is the great-grandson of a great warrior who was hurled onto this world after an epic battle, something Altorious alone knew. That bit’s a bit clumsy, especially with Alexander the elf’s family connections thrown in. Never mind, it’s just a little surprise that changes nothing. Far more important is the complementary pork soup (It’s Meat Day!) that just about every patron tries and loves, of course. The customers love everything the chef puts out for them, and rarely do they stray from the foods they eat when they first visit. Lack of imagination there, but I’ll let it slide because this show was about people eating food; everything else, including the equally unimaginative fantasy setting, was secondary. The only other quibble I have is that they could have brought the politics of that world into the restaurant more than they did. I would have liked to see some enemies or rivals share a meal of croquettes or whatever. Sadly, the various customers didn’t often chat up any of the other, strange people there. Well, as I said, it was a nice little show about the pleasures of eating, and it was a pleasant way to spend a half hour.

One more of Aletta, who’s actually happier than she looks.