Yuru Camp and Evergarden 10, Gagashi2 9-10

yurucamp10-1In Yuru Camp 10, Rin faces her GREATEST CRISIS! But it is OVERCOME with the assistance of Nadeshiko and Chiaki, who sends her a Line message suggesting that the closed road really wasn’t closed, but they forgot to take down the barrier. Then she battled GREAT WINDS to set up her tent. But she TRIUMPHS and drinks tea and grills a steam bun with a lovely view after all. Truthfully, I was a little worried for Rin, but not because of any danger, but because she might not have as much relaxing fun as normal. As for the goofier girls, they sit around being goofy as usual, though as usual it’s refreshing for goofy characters to actually successfully accomplish things like go on camping trips. Oh, Toba the drunk camper/teacher’s secret it out, but I doubt it’s going to make a difference unless she brings a lot of alcohol to the Christmas trip. Next week, the epic final story arc, i.e., the girls’ last trip of the series, begins.

evergarden10-1Just when you think Violet Evergarden is going to further explore its still unsettled world in a broader scope, maybe get the war going again in some fashion, episode 10 gives us instead another personal, emotional story involving individuals undergoing the types of grief and loss that everyone undergoes, and has been told countless times to boot. This time it’s Ann, a little girl whose mom is dying. Violet arrives to help Ann’s mother write a big letter or something (I guessed a will, and I was wrong) that takes a week, during which Ann can’t spend time with her. To ramp up the bathos, the mom keeps collapsing. Now, while I’m annoyed by this sort of emotional manipulation the show puts us through, I’ll say again that the production is so well-done that it’s next to impossible NOT to be affected. On the other hand, I’m not sure of the trade off. All those future letters written to Ann was time spent not playing with this obviously lonely and confused girl.

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Kokonotsu and Hajime’s first stab at a store website.

Dagashi Kashi 9-10 spins its wheels and doesn’t do much. We’ve seen plenty of Hajime in the past few weeks and while she has her moments, I’m getting tired of watching her all the time, especially with solo work; luckily Kokonotsu is around for the first half of episode 9 as they develop a website for their store, and the second half had her making her own super balls, though I wish they had gotten more specific with the recipe. It was the closest thing to explaining dagashi the episode ever got. #10 is better. We see the dad again, though I’m more worried about disappointing the actual customer who made the order. And we learn about Monjiro Squid, which I wish I had some of now. And, thank heavens, we actually get some trivia about the product as well. The show has finally remembered that it’s supposed to be educational. But no Hotaru until next week. Well, at least we know she’s coming back.

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Hakumei/Mikochi 7-8, FranXX 8, Yuru Camp 9, Dagashi2 8

hakumeimikochi7-1I suppose it’s time to catch up with Hakumei to Mikochi, though I hardly suspect there will be any great story arc unfolding. We almost have a death in episode 7, however, when Koharu the beetle nearly starved. I keep wondering how I’ll react if someone indeed dies in this show. Also, the girls spend a lot of time in tree branches this week, and it gets windy, and they’re only three inches tall or so … But this time it’s all about all the suspicious neighbors who have moved into the girls’ tree and perhaps ruining the quiet neighborhood. But of course it makes perfect sense. Why can’t other creatures live in that tree? It doesn’t belong to anybody. The girls, meanwhile, act like old residents, scratching their heads over all these strange newcomers. And who cut the ladder? The second story, with the rabbit and the pictures, well, I almost forgot to mention it here.

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The bad guys.

Episode 8 has a story to it, but I couldn’t figure it out. In a lawless section of the city a gang of sorts trashes someone else’s belongings, and Mikochi has to recreate a mint julip recipe in order to calm everyone down. Oh, and Konju is kidnapped but overall seems to enjoy the experience. The fighting is mostly throwing mushrooms at each other, and in the end the gang leader Tsumujimaru seems to have known the recipe all along, I think. We also have Hakumei doing stealth missions on a paper airplane, and the guy whose house got trashed doesn’t get any revenge, though it’s an “anything goes” building. I don’t really get it. I think the show is so used to being leisurely that it didn’t exactly know how to tell an exciting story.

franxx8-1Darling in the FranXX has a ridiculous setup, but episode 8 is even sillier than most of them. A klaxosaur fires goo at them, and suddenly all the girls’ clothing begins to dissolve, putting the boys in various stages of embarrassment and/or lust. The girls are offended, and we have a tape-in-middle-of-the-house situation, which plays out in various, mostly uninteresting ways. Meanwhile the higher-ups comment that puberty has struck all the team at once, and I scratch my head. Until the reality of their mortality (from a visit to a former member’s room before she got killed) forces them to band together, there is only one scene worth watching, where 02 gets in on the fun and has Hiro, in nothing but a towel, chasing her around, and realizing he’s enjoying it. As for the final, more sober scenes, it seems fear of death will strike the libido right out of you (even though the guys all agree that they should apologize and support the girls at the end), but this strikes me as being an unhealthy attitude. Didn’t Hiro get all cured by realizing all he wanted out of life was to be with 02?

yurucamp9-1Yuru Camp is at a place where everything the show attempts to do works. Apart from Rin’s dog souvenir battle of temptation (because we knew she would buy the damn thing) episode 9 is a delight from beginning to end, as Rin more or less “wings it” on her latest solo adventure while Nadeshiko in her sickbed and Chiaki text her inane travel advice, though gathering mushrooms seems like a fun thing to do on a camping trip. Rin does visit a dog shrine (wan), meets a couple mountain climbers and gets tea from them, finds her route is closed and has to double back, finds an onsen that’s actually open, waves at some kids, does not meet any bears, and has a dilemma as she oversleeps after lunch. Will she make it to the park in time?!? Oh, and Chiaki makes Houtou. And it’s almost all pleasurable. In fact, I’m rather glad the girls aren’t all camping together yet because it gives us more locals for the girls to have fun in.

dagashi28-1Finally, Dagashi Kashi continues its work on getting Hajime fitted into the routine. In the first half it’s Saya, who finds about a dozen ways to seethe about this new hot girl living with her would-be boyfriend, but it never occurs to her to ask him. Which is fine, because Saya doing a slow burn, or a quick one for that matter, or frankly, just showing up makes the episode worthwhile for me. Tou’s scene with Hajime, based on misunderstanding and getting a little lewd, was less successful. Alas, the show still misses Hotaru. None of the other characters has the in-depth knowledge of sweets that she has, apart from Kokonotsu, and he doesn’t do much this episode. Hajime and Saya don’t even know how to eat the roll-candy.

Catching up and falling behind with Slow Start, Yuru Camp, Dagashi and Takunomi

Every now and then the show tosses out weird lines like this.

Slow Start 6 has little to write about. It’s the usual well-balanced dose of cheerful girly activities, friendship, kindness, innuendo, fanservice, and weird lines. I think the winning conversation this week had to do with the toughness of Eiko’s nipples, though I rather like the one in the photo above, too, though how Hana’s mind reached that concept I don’t really get. The plot of the episode was a study-sleepover that Hana holds for everyone, well, that and the fact that Tama might get annoying at times, but she is also a highly responsible person, entrusted with her family’s food budget, and now I’m hungry for chop suey.

And now that I’ve watched Yuru Camp 6, I’m hungry for just about everything, especially if you cook it on a grill. Hmm, pork jowl … Anyway, while Slow Start avoids story by emphasizing friendship and nipples, among other things, Yuru Camp avoids story with breathtaking scenery (Lake Shibire this week, and wherever place Chiaki is scouting out) and by having the girls drool over meat. Rin’s bought a cute little mini-grill that you can hold in one hand. Don’t know how sturdy it really is, but we’ll find out next week, because this week was all about prep, driving, and drooling over the food they’ll eat on the grill rather than actually cooking it. And that’s fine. It’s nice to have a show where the girls wait breathlessly for something, and when it comes it’s never a disappointment, well, maybe a minor one … No beef tongue at the supermarket!

One of the pleasant things about the show is how things that could be big events are treated matter-of-factly. That lake Shibire monster business played out as expected, even with Rin spotting it, but it was over practically before it began and we get a sense it was a minor event that existed only to get the girls in the same tent. Then there’s that old man from last episode who turned out to be Rin’s grandfather, told in almost an “oh, by the way …” manner. And finally the odd bits like the drunk girl next door and the chestnut that said hello … Oh, and we learn about charcoal.

Like kids in a candy store.

And once again a new episode appears before I’m ready for it, meaning I have to add it here. Though there’s not much to say about it, it’s an in-between camping episode, but again the girls’ enthusiasm is infectious. It makes me want to take up a new hobby. Not only do I look up the campsites on the net, but I look up the stations and towns they visit. I will probably never go to any of them … This time we learn about seasoning cast iron and wood, Caribou outdoor shops, mats, and a little bit about the sleepy town of Minobu. And in the “by the way” department, the drunk girl truly does enter their school.

Dagashi Kashi 6 introduces us to the manager of the sweets shop’s new rival konbini. Yutaka is, like Hotaru, passionate and a little insane about his passion, which is convenience stores. To an extent, I can understand his enthusiasm. konbinis in Japan truly do have everything–aside from the usual juice, beer, and bentos I get regularly, I have bought an 8gb thumb drive in one and a tie in another. One of the Lawsons nearby has very good desserts, while everyone agrees that the 7/11 makes the best coffee, and I hope when it gets warmer the FamilyMart will bring back their chicken wraps. But back to the story. Kokonotsu is worried, but he notices that a lot of the sweets at the place are too expensive, sending a shock to Yutaka, who then tries to entice Kokonotsu to join his staff. And the twelve minutes is up. I hope this, dare I say it, story arc won’t hurt the show’s old, plotless charm, but I’m worried. There was only one reference to candy this week, and it was never actually discussed. And Hotaru is still missing. Yutaka may be passionate and insane, but he is no replacement.

Hajime, who we finally meet in episode 7, is closer to a replacement than any of the others. She’s that girl who didn’t fit in at the convenience store, but the manager called her four-eyes, but she’s a fuckup, never managing to say the appropriate thing, meaning there are all sorts of reasons why she desperately asks Kokonotsu for a job. The fact that Kokonotsu is only fifteen but the more mature one of the interview will tell you how it went, but we have our new character anyway. She’s crazy, but not the same kind of crazy as Hotaru, who is more of a rich-girl crazy. Hajime is more generic, but she wins points for pointing out the cubist elements on the box for Chocoballs.

If Dagashi Kashi is going to abandon its title of the season’s most educational anime, Takunomi will easily take its place, edging out Yuru camp (don’t get me wrong, you learn a lot from YC as well). Episode 6 was about sake and fish pairing, with a lot of detail about the various types of sake and how much of the grain is used. The more discarded, the higher the quality. I didn’t know that, but I rarely drink sake even though I live here. For me it’s like wine, endless varieties and you don’t know which one to get. But now I know a little more than I did before. Oh, the fish in that episode made me even MORE hungry.

Evergarden, FranXX, Dagashi, and Takunomi up to 5

The Princess’s letters get more interesting when she writes them herself.

Violet Evergarden, with episode 5, looks ready to break out of its recent standalone stories where she writes letters and heals hearts. At the end of the episode we meet someone that she met in battle once, and he is NOT happy. In fact, he wonders, aloud and spitefully, how a murderous war machine can be capable of writing letters to bring people together like she does now. It looks like the show is finally confronting this issue, and we’ll be seeing more of Violet’s violent past in future episodes. As for this heartwarming standalone, it looked all right until we learn that the 14 year-old princess set to marry an older man for political reasons actually LIKES the man. It feels like a lost opportunity to examine a person who might not ever get the love she wants. While the actual replies the two start sending was a nice touch (not to mention the citizens of both kingdoms reading them), I had kind of hoped someone would botch everything up, leading to political fallout. Well, I believe we’ll have more fun in the future. Meanwhile KyoAni sidestepped an issue by having Violet become good at her job when we weren’t looking. Maybe they figured machine learning isn’t the most interesting of subjects, but I would have liked to see them try.

Darling in the FranXX 5, plot-wise, is a big buildup for a battle that will break out when two of the domed things “kiss” (refuel) and attract a ton of klaxosaurs. Everyone is unhappy for one reason or another. Mitsuru, unable to cope with his fun time with 02, is popping pills he miraculously got from somewhere. Ichigo is messed up because she’s worried her role as leader and about Hiro. Gorou, her partner, is beginning to show signs of jealousy, and worse, he sees the physical changes that Hiro is undergoing, like a fever, chills, elevated “yellow cell” blood count, and a blue-green growth on his chest, caused by riding with 02. Plus, a veteran parasite team is brought in to help, and they’re all surprised at our groups’ nicknames, how the franxx’s are all different from each other, and they’re shocked that 02 is going to be there. She’s too wild in battle. It all adds up to a possibly disastrous battle next week. We, meanwhile, wonder if Hiro’s going to survive, and like Ichigo, I’m appalled at 02’s cavalier attitude toward it all. Hiro, when not doubled over with whatever he’s got, is confident and reassuring to everyone, like he’s ready to die if it means dying with 02. I think he’ll live but get transformed farther, however, I wouldn’t put it past the show to kill off a main character soon. Finally, the sexual metaphors are kept to a minimum this week, replaced with romantic-emotional ones.

I absolutely love Saya’s expression in this picture.

Now that I’ve taken care of the season’s minor shows it’s time to catch up with Dagashi Kashi, the only show that matters! I can’t believe I let three episodes slip by! Let’s see, episode 3 is a cheery, routine one about beigoma, where Saya again demonstrates why Hotaru calls her “Master.” We also get a flashback to the elementary school Hotaru bugging a dagashi vender, and then we learn that the shop has gone out of business. I didn’t realize at the time that this was foreshadowing …

Then in episode 4 we get … plot! I know there’s a setup to this entire series, Hotaru trying to get Kokonotsu to take over the shop so his dad can develop new dagashi at Hotaru’s company, but the show is just fine when it ignores it. But the show decides to get a little sad on us, as Hotaru has a nice time alone with Kokonotsu with fireworks going and all, then she says “Sayonara,” and we know something’s up … But even now they slip a little dagashi in, with Hotaru’s winning Home Run Bar stick for bewildered Kokonotsu to remember her by.

Which leads us back to where the season started, a cold, late fall and the dagashi shop falling to pieces, because Kokonotsu is still mooning over Hotaru. But with his idiot dad’s help, and Saya’s he gets the store back together, except for an unpleasant surprise at the end, and I suspect we’re going to soon meet the other people in the opening credits. It’s about time. Plus we learn about a snack called “Get a Move on, You Cod,” but alas, Hotaru does not give us the background that the snack deserves with a name like that. A rare slip-up for the show. Hotaru’s absence is still being felt.

Nyan.

Finally I catch up with Takunomi, and learn about Suiyoubi no Neko beer, Kyoketsu … beer, I suppose, and red wine with ginger ale. While this show is as educational as Dagashi Kashi, the characters and situations are generally not as interesting, though I do like Michiru’s enthusiasm for the sophisticated Tokyo lifestyle. On the other hand, sometimes one of the girls gets plastered and does something embarrassing …

Takagi-san, Evergarden, Dagashi and Takunomi … various eps

I know that new episodes for some of these shows are coming out already, but I’m off on a business trip for the next several days and wanted to put up what I have before I left.

She’s going to make fun of you anyway.

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san … Since this is a story I was a little familiar with before I want to like it, but what little I read had very little teasing and much more of Takagi and Nishikata interacting with people other than each other, and not the two girls. But right now it’s just the two of them and it’s getting tiresome. We’re basically wondering when Takagi is going pull the rug out, maybe sometimes wondering where she gets this almost clairvoyant ability to do so. And Nishikata really ought to hang it up already, or at least try to handle the hormones better. As for the three girls, they were a little better in episode 4. I like the blond one’s determined and idiotic attempts to drink things she doesn’t like and react to them, and I also liked the cat dubbing. But again, they’re funnier when they react to things in Takagi/Nishikata’s story.

Violet Evergarden 2 is working on its story and taking its time about it. Violet becomes an apprentice doll and screws up a lot in a way typical for artificial people in fiction: she takes what the customers say too literally, doesn’t read between the lines, and so some customers get upset at her. What I’d get upset with is the company. They didn’t even bother to proofread the letter that ruined the woman’s romance with the auto manufacturer. They really ought to work on their new employee training a little more. It’s not that she ccan’t learn; she’s already shown enough emotion of her own, such as when the emerald brooch is discovered.

The problems Violet is causing at work is the catalyst for character development. One girl, Iris is overly critical, but she has a point. We spend a lot of time looking at Erica, a quiet thing who finds herself defending Erica, partly because she has her own struggles as a doll, but I wonder if there isn’t more there. Hodgins tries to be patient with her, partly, I suspect, because of his memories of Gilbert. Speaking of which, they’re still afraid to tell Violet about him, but since much of the work of a doll is creative lying, will her training enable her to see through the facade?

Dagashi Kashi 2 is a typhoon episode, and these usually mean killing time indoors and possibly staying the night. Of course in this case it also means dagashi, and so we’re introduced to Baseball Board Game Gum, which tricks kids out of their pocket money by offering them a button to push. I get the concept, but why baseball? After that there’s what they call a Pop Pop Boat, even though it doesn’t pop pop at all. Otherwise it’s in incredibly cool little bathtime gadget I wish I had had as a child. The stories aren’t up to much in episode 2, in fact, it seemed a little flat. I hope the new studio and director aren’t going to have an adverse effect.

Takunomi continues its dual personality this week, with Michiru’s fitting into Tokyo and trying to figure out what to wear, and on the other side we get sochu highballs, the preparing and origin of them, which leads a digression about old-fashioned diners where the shochu originated, ham-egg-potato salad, returning to one’s roots, which inspires Nao to get through the next day, and Michiru too, I think. The show sort of lost track of itself at the end. The whole thing felt a little forced, like the creators felt obliged to make the drink reflect the week’s story.

Winter 2018 #4

Basilisk -Ouka Ninpouchou- … don’t follow the franchise, so next is Gdgd Men’s Party, but I can’t find it, Yowamushi Pedal Glory Line … not following that, either, so it’s Overlord 2, and while I hear Overlord 1 was pretty good, I didn’t watch it, and I have no intention of watching DamexPrince … Ah!

Not sure, but I think it’s someone’s back.

Kyoto Animation has been pushing Violet Evergarden for a while now. It starts with Violet, who we quickly learn is a robot used for combat in a bloody war which is now over, is recuperating and having her letters fly out the window and travel great distances, when former Lieutenant Hodgins comes to pick her up. She keeps asking about Gilbert, her former commander, and Hodgins keeps distracting her. He takes her to a household where she doesn’t fit, and so goes to work at Hodgin’s letter-writing and delivery service. In the meantime she tries to figure out what she ought to do now that her main purpose is fulfilled and her commander gone. and in the end tries to focus on what the hell “love” is. Good luck with that.

The episode is more coherent than my description. It’s just that it’s a long story we’re embarking on, and KyoAni is too sophisticated to settle for a simple narrative. Also, they fill the episode with detail, both visually (yes, this show is amazing to look at. Did you expect anything less?) and in the narrative. There’s too much to simply retell here; I’m amazed it all fit into 25 minutes. Which is not to say this is a perfect episode. For one thing, why on earth don’t they just TELL Violet that Gilbert is dead? Of if he really isn’t and there’s a dark secret here, at least give us a hint of it, because I spent much of the time muttering “Just TELL her!” and getting distracted from the dazzling visuals and lovely character designs KyoAni was so obviously desperate to show off to us. Well, she and we will figure out what’s going on eventually. In the meantime, I have no idea what episode 2 has in store for us. That’s neither a good or bad thing, but how many times can you say that about a show after episode one?

You can just make out a book about to open.

Next it’s Marchen Madchen, where a shy girl named Hazuki suffers from what she calls “story syndrome,” which we would call escaping into a book whenever her stressful real life (mother died, father remarried) gets to be too much for her. She’s reading one when a girl in a robe bumps into her and runs off, leaving her bag behind her. Hazuki, for reasons I can’t figure out, follows her and sees the stranger do actual magic stuff! She follows some more, finds she has a book in her own bag she didn’t know about, gets transported to a new, magical land, and, because this is an anime fantasy story, is soon naked and running for her life. And it turns out she’s a marchen, or maybe it’s madchen, which impresses some of the girls there. Apparently there are no men.

Judging from what I saw, this show is going to have a lot more fanservice. Yumelia, the girl chasing Hazuki around, switches to a string bikini for no reason at all, and the OP and ED are full of cute girls in various … attractive outfits. Which may not be a deal-breaker for you, so I’ll talk about the story. Basic fantasy stuff about books, and how wonderful reading is, which is fine, we need more reading in the world, but I have a feeling the stories are going to be precious fairy stories that young girls are supposed to like, and I don’t know if I can handle too much of that. Too soon to tell, though. I’ll think about it next week … oh hell, it IS next week.

Modern-day Tokyo, but the series won’t be there long.

Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku stars Suzuki, I think, game debugger guy working on the third day or so of his latest “death march” at work, who finally gets a little shut-eye and wakes up in a fantasy world that looks like two of the games he’s working on slammed together. Okay, he thinks. Dream. I’ll play along. Some lizardmen shoot arrows at him so he brings down a meteor storm which not only wipes them out but raises all his levels (Log Horizon style, he gets all the windows and notices a player would get) life points, and cash to extreme levels. He plays around with all this for awhile, sometimes wondering why he hasn’t woken up yet, when he sees a dragon attack a group of soldiers and rescues a warrior maiden of sorts, who will probably be pissed off and slap him next episode.

Another “modern-day guy stuck in a video game or generic fantasy world” story, which isn’t necessarily bad, just that it will be harder for it to find variations on the theme. Well, for starters, he’s the only modern-day person there, and I doubt there will be more. Yes, he has a cell phone, but he can’t call god, though he’s so powerful he probably wouldn’t have to. But judging from the ED we’ve potentially got a harem series in the making. Almost all girls except for Satou, Suzuki’s player-name. There’s a lot of cgi-heavy action that doesn’t quite look realistic, but it’s not nearly as bad as some other shows, and in fact the art looks very good. I might watch next week, if only to see if the girls slaps him.

Yet another blue anime sky …

In Koi wa Ameagari no You ni we have a high school girl named Tachibana who, apparently was a member of the track team, but sustained an injury bad enough that she had to be operated on. Now she seems to mope about (maybe she always did) and work her part time job, where she’s got a serious crush on the manager, a hapless fellow named Kondou, constantly apologizing to customers, writing little notes to himself, who was nice to her just after the injury, and has become vaguely aware that this lovely young girl has a thing for him. The EP suggests that it’s going to be more than a thing, but watching these two not stupid people go through the day I’m not so sure. Also there’s an idiot boy chasing Tachibana who I want to kill.

Believe me, that’s the last thing she wants to do to you.

The age difference might be worrisome, but the show shows no indication that it’s going to get tawdry on us. Though shown as largely a fool, Kondou obviously knows the situation and while he’s lonely and plays with the thought, he’s not getting his hopes up, and maybe hopes rather that Tachibana will find a boy closer to her age. Tachibana, meanwhile, is an extremely serious girl, and is absolutely certain but unsure how to go about it, which makes her unsmiling demeanor and bullheaded actions kind of adorable, and her gaze can pierce steel (“Is she glaring at me?” Kondou asks himself more than once). Not sure how this one is going to work out, or if it SHOULD work out, but I think we’ll get a sincere, believable story either way.

A mummy show that starts in the desert.

Next it’s Miira no Kaikata, where a high school boy living at home, named Sora, gets a strange package from his traveling father. Other packages have contained dangerous, cursed things, so Sora is a little surprised to find it’s a tiny little mummy that was sent in a coffin with a cross on it, go figure. The little critter is eager to please but isn’t much use except for swelling up in disgusting ways when it gets wet, barking like a dog when it has to, and making squick sounds when it walks. Sora calls it Mii-kun; there’s also Pochi the dog (the critters in this show have unimaginative names), and presumably Sora’s sister, Kaede, who sadly spends the episode locked in her room on a deadline. Oh, and Sora’s friend Tazuki, who wants to “try things out” on Mii-kun; I approve.

That was about the lamest, most uninspired first episodes I’ve seen in a while, and I say that while acknowledging that it had to set up the premise and we (and Sora) have to learn what it eats, how to wash it, etc. But I spent most of the episode wondering when the episode would end. Mii-kun didn’t strike me as being cute. Sora was in the position of voicing his inner monologue because there was nothing else to do, and that gets dull very fast. Maybe if we had seen more of Kaede, or Tazuki had gotten his with it would have been a better episode. Also, I was somewhat reminded of the baby from Eraserhead …

Dagashi returns with Saya’s mouth.

Happily, next comes a perfect palate cleanser, the return of Dagashi Kashi! First we get …

Hotaru is in fine form.

Later it’s …

So is Saya.

We’re only getting half episodes this time, but in the first episode at least they squeezed in three or four dagashi, though only the two above are featured. We start with a strange Winter(!) scene where Saya asks Kokonotsu why his shop is so run down these days, and we learn the dad has run off, but after that it’s back to hot summer days, and the great Hotaru being summoned to satisfy Kononotsu’s and later Saya’s hankerings. Hotaru is at full force, posing, gesturing, bravely shouting inane things (“Your father is a Youtuber!”–I mean, yeah, there was a Youtube thing first season, but why shout it now?). Saya has less to do, but she gets her share of crazy faces and adorable blushing, so it’s okay. The question is, will this once again be the most educational show of the season? This time it’s going against a ramen show plus one about camping and another about exploring. Well, I already know those two won’t be as funny.

Shoujo-tachi 11-finale, Dagashi 10-11, Phantom 12

shoujotachi11-1
Shoujo-tachi wo kouya o Mezasu 11 begins by having Kuroda’s brother thanking the gang for making the game to help him pay off his debts, to which everyone, including Bunta, goes “Hahh?!” and walks out. Everyone mopes for a quarter of the episode, then, predictably, dully, they all come back because finishing the game has become important to them. Yuuki scolds Kuroda, and Andou slaps her–that’s all the punishment she got for lying to them. Anyway, it’s the usual crunch-time montage after that, though the nice use of background music enhanced the race to the train station and almost made burning a CD seem exciting. Next week they’ll have to defeat Typhoon, unless it’s a longer series.

Yay,
Yay,

Nope, it finished in twelve episodes, in uninspiring fashion. They win, because the competition was set for day one, for units sold, and it was cheaper. But a win’s a win. We learn this early in the episode so there’s plenty of time to waste with celebratory eating, and discussing what to do next. We even have two scenes with Kuroda’s brother when one would have sufficed. The only interesting bit was Kuroda believing that Taiga, the rival game, might have a longer shelf-life because it has more depth, perhaps believing the idiocy that dark works of art are more profound than lighter ones. Anyway, I’m glad it’s wrapped up neatly; now I can forget about it. Apart from a couple of good moments here and there, and attempts at making THIS dull work more profound with its “wasteland” metaphor (used to death this episode), there wasn’t much to watch. I’d rather play their game.

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Dagashi Kashi 10 must be an important episode because it doesn’t break into two or three stories but tells only one–actually, I suppose you could argue that this is an actual story arc now: Hotaru’s mouth ulcer from last week is worse! In fact, it looks terrible and I wonder why she hasn’t seen a doctor, apart from being out of her mind. I wonder if the show wants to send a message that too much dagashi can make you sick. If so, it’s a pretty good way to do it. Sadly, being sick isn’t very dramatic, and the ways they tried to add drama didn’t work until the end, when Hotaru REALLY goes crazy. She won’t tell why she refuses dagashi, and Kokonotsu doesn’t do his reputation any favors by trying to coax her with some.

Saya retells Hotaru's heroic backstory from ep1.
Saya retells Hotaru’s heroic backstory from ep1.

But it’s all over by episode 11. No sign of a mouth ulcer. Instead we learn more about why Hotaru’s headhunting You, though I ought to say that the way he eats into the profits I wonder if it’s a good idea. How DOES that shop stay open, anyway, or Candy Store’s in that other show? No one ever buys anything. But we do learn about cola gum and it has a lot of Saya. The second half is all about waiting for the train in the heat and sucking kombu. Oh, and a fascinating history lesson about how Perry managed to open Japan. But there’s no Saya so it gets docked a point. On the other hand, it was such a relief watching this episode after the Shoujo-tachi finale. It’s just fun all the way through, the way many shows don’t know how to be.

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Musaigen no Phantom World 12 starts by showing the team at work taking down a dual-phantom affair, showing their splendid teamwork (meaning they all take their turns and help), and thus setting us up for some downfall. Sure enough, there’s a new phantom in town who takes on a sexy vampiress look (though its victims don’t seem to remember this very important fact) and steals powers away with a kiss. Haruhiko et al almost capture it but it escapes, maybe, so everyone’s on edge. Then the show does a left turn.

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We figure early on that it’s not really Haruhiko’s mom, well, the moment Ruru gets suspicious. So we wait for the unraveling while Haruhiko gets used to having a parent around who likes to ask him which of the girls he likes–in front of the girls. When it comes it’s a bit of a letdown. Mai gets a phone call and that’s it. While we do have some issues for the finale, like will Haruhiko get his powers back, will he reconcile with his unpossessed mom, what the deal is with Enigma, and will Ruru wake up, once again if it wasn’t for KyoAni’s usual brilliant animation and direction this would be a pretty lifeless episode–again.