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Re:Creators, Uchouten Kazoku 7, Sakura Quest 8, Saekano2 7

May 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Would you lie to this girl?

In Re:Creators 7 it looks like Souta was the one who created military arms girl, or should I say, Altair, but we can’t be sure. He says “Altair is my …” but stops himself. He might have gone on to say “My friend’s creation.” We still don’t know who the pigtailed girl is. On the other hand, there’s that earlier scene where Masaaki and Takashi ask to see his drawings, and he abruptly leaves. (And, sigh, I went onto Wikipedia to check on a name and accidentally learned the truth. Sigh. Well, I won’t say it here). Meanwhile I want to slap him around for not telling anyone anything about his connection. It also meant lying to Mamika, who, in her earnest search for answers, had begged him for the truth.

Mamika kicks a lot of butt in the battle scene.

And I don’t like the idea of lying to Mamika, not because she’s such a nice girl, well, she is, but her simplicity and earnest desire to do the best thing is one of her greatest assets, not to mention Yuuya’s thought that creations here, cut off from the things that drive them, might be looking for another purpose in life now, exactly what she is doing. Telling her a lie isn’t going to help her development, especially after she almost single-handedly stopped the various factions from fighting in the first scene, using both her powers and common sense.

Meanwhile, we get that fight, enjoyable because we get to see how each character squares up one-and-one against each other, at least until Mamika gets tired of it and kicks some ass. We also get to see Yuuya and Rui bond, which was also fun. And we get the usual speculation and discussion. Is Altair really controlling who gets across? What is Magane going to do with the info she overheard at the Ufotable Cafe? Did she figure out what the show is only teasing us poor people at home? And why Ufotable? Are they involved in the production?

As for Uchouten Kazoku 7, I don’t think anyone saw this coming.

I thought for sure Soun’s new maneuverings would be the focus of the show’s main story arc, but instead he’s shot and bleeds to death in the forest, while Yasaburou tries to comfort him and wonders where all his rage went. Interesting to note that Soun had suggested last episode that he was no longer a tanuki, and when he tried to kill Yasaburou this week he did so in a demon form, yet when he dies, he’s the furball that he had tried to deny he was. It changes everything for the story of course. Just where is the story going now? Will there be a single, main villain? Tenmaya? Jyurojin? There’s still plenty of jerks in the Ebisugawa family, I suppose, but I can’t see any of them stepping up.

Yasaburou’s reaction to Benten’s latest scheme.

These newest events also put a damper on what had been another, delightfully unpredictable episode just minutes before. Weird enough that Soun, a tanuki, would try to join the Friday Club, a group that eats a Tanuki every year, and I think Jyurojin was just toying with him. Yasaburou’s impassioned speech towards Yodogawa about hot pots was a strange moment. I suspect he was just talking to stall for time until a better idea came along than Yodogawa getting shot at by Jyurojin, but his subject matter had me scratching my head. But it worked. Then, heh, Benten decided to have some fun. And so while it was good to see Soun rejected, and intriguing to have Yasaburou(!) join the Friday club instead (the look on his face!), the final five minutes changed everything.

Sakura Quest 8 has the tourism board screwing up big time, holding a regional dish unveiling on the same day as the area’s annual festival, and worse, not telling the merchants board, especially baa-san about it. So Shiori, who baa-san actually seems to like, says she will take charge, after earlier saying she likes to work in the background. So there’s that, and a love-plot going on with Shiroi’s big sis Sayuri and a gourmet chef named Bear, er, Kumano. But really the episode is about eating. Most of the early scenes involve eating food, at home and in restaurants, munching on snacks, coming up with original, weird dishes, and even harvesting. It would have been nice to have more of that and less plot, but I’m hungry at the moment anyway.

Saekano Flat 7, after the publishing of the game, goes into a holding pattern. They make more copies, Utaha prepares to graduate, Eriri finds herself unable to create, and Megumi is still pretty much ignoring Tomoya. The questions on Tomoya’s mind, after chatting with Iori (loved the eavesdropping sale clerk in the background), was what the next project would be and how to get everyone involved in it again. I figured Utaha, who is graduating, would be the biggest problem, but she’s fine with it, and so, I assume, is Eriri, who overhears her. The biggest problem turns out to be Megumi’s hurt feelings, and that links to the next project question–I assume, because Tomoya starts working on it after a Megumi guilt-trip. In the biggest meta moment of the series yet, he calls it “How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend.” So is the new work going to be the story we’ve been watching for nearly two seasons? Well, this show handles its references well, so it would probably be interesting to watch.

Sakura Quest 6, Saekano2 5, Hinako Note 6

May 14, 2017 2 comments

No, just suffering for his art.

Sakura Quest 6 has a film crew move in to use Manoyama as a local for a slice-of-life film that’s really a zombie picture, and two people aren’t happy. Maki wants absolutely nothing to do with the production, even with her acting background, and the fact that the movie heroine, Moe, knows her from the city and is delighted to see her again. Trouble is, we don’t have enough clues as to why she is overreacting. Sanae accuses her of running away (Sanae is the expert in that field), but that doesn’t feel quite right. There’s a question about eating a cicada and devotion (the episode has other characters talking about suffering for what you love, which Maki downright rejects), and her issues with her dad, but it doesn’t add up. Maybe we’ll get more next week, though we’ll also have to work in Shiori’s not wanting to burn down an abandoned house because … well, we don’t know yet. Meanwhile, it’s beginning to feel like the series is going to solve each girl’s problems one episode at a time, and I hope it stops.

Saekano Flat 5 wasn’t quite what I expected. Eriri didn’t really have artist’s block; instead she has do a third alternate ending, and artistically it ought to be in a different style than she has using before. Funny that I wasn’t terribly worried about her progress. I seem to have the same trust tempered with worry that Tomoya has, one that annoys both Utaha and Megumi. Utaha thinks Eriri’s running off to a place in the woods to work is following a classic pattern that lead to her unraveling. Also she talks about how Tomoya’s attitude toward her work will prevent her from growing, but I frankly don’t understand her logic. Megumi’s concern is more benign–she gets irritated because Tomoya considers ditching the new route, which would be a slap in the face to Eriri. Anyway she gets it done, because Tomoya believed in her. They’ve set up a sort of cliffhanger at the end, but I don’t think she’s in any real danger. I’m more curious about what the others will think about her work. Oh, and early on Megumi gets confessed to and afterwards throws some classic Megumi verbal darts at Tomo, and Utaha mocks Tomoya about his protagonist status as they eavesdrop. Best part of the episode.

Something to distract us before the big show.

I had Hinako Note on my chopping block. If they spent too much time showing Hinako nervous or doing her scarecrow, I would drop it. But episode 6 … wasn’t bad. They kept the early parts lively, and demonstrated that when she’s in her zone, Hinako was more than capable of performing her part. Since the potential was there I got less worried– Then, believe it or not, the show becomes genuinely funny, with Mayuki doing a maid cafe (all those maid-clones in the background, waving their arms), and then Kuina’s ode to festival food, with “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” on kazoos as accompaniment.

I’ve spent enough time doing theatre that I know how wrong things can get, and I’ve seen enough pre-show jitter scenes in anime and don’t want to see any more, but you have to have a crisis or two. The first, Hinako forgetting her lines before the performance (her brain is so tiny …), was dealt with and quickly forgotten. Then there’s a crisis during the the performance itself, but it has nothing to do with Hinako, but instead Yua, forgetting a key prop. In fact, Hinako manages to defuse the problem with a bit of fourth-wall breaking, and the only scarecrow reference this week was actually a good gag. So all in all, it was a better episode than I thought it would be. I’m not completely sold on the show yet, but if we’ve lost the scarecrow nonsense, and the predictability. the show might now be worth watching.

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Re:Creators and Hinako 4, Sakura Q 5

May 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Re:Creators 4 is a series of infodumps. The first one, another long Meteora speech, is the more interesting. She’s concerned that this world can’t take too many fictional characters running around in it, screwing around with our physical laws, and that if it continues, our world and theirs may have to be “reset,” which doesn’t sound pleasant, though he says nothing about who or what would do the resetting. There’s also the concept that our world “has to make things make sense,” an interesting idea that he doesn’t expound on. Still, apart from that last bit it’s all stuff we could easily speculate ourselves. There’s also speculation from military uniform girl, that she might simply want to have the world crash down on itself out of spite. We later turn the mystery girl, who is conning the valkyrie-figure Alicetaria into causing trouble for her sake, though Makina seems to have her doubts. But the best part of the episode goes back to Meteora, who , in a touching speech, announces that she had not taken a side until she played her game and was satisfied that her (deceased) creator obviously cared for her and her world, even if she smilingly refers to her game character as a cariacature of herself. I sort of wished she had used the word “2D.”

As for Hinako Note 4, I’m beginning to lose my patience. I’m a little concerned because this show has developed a plot–putting together a show for the cultural festival, and getting Hinako confident to perform in it. To this end they bring back the absent advisor, who turns out to be a nine year-old prodigy with big boobs. She sees Hinako fail to dance, but also sees her sing brilliantly, Hinako’s moment of triumph for the episode, and promply chooses her to play the lead in her own script. At the end of the scene she gives a hidden, evil grin, which is enough extra plot-fodder for me to keep watching … if I WANTED a plot. My favorite Cute Girls Doing Cute Things shows don’t have one, or there is a minor story each week which is dispatched around cute moments. While the show does aim for cheerfully aimless from time to time, these scenes aren’t as good as in, say “Is the Order a Rabbit?”. Maybe because none of it is weird enough, well, apart from Kuina.

My opinion about the show these days.

Sakura Quest 5 gives us a low-key end to this story arc, but then again, Sanae’s troubles, running away and now maybe running away again, isn’t a problem you solve with big dramatic scenes. Instead she picks up what she needs to go on from Tatsuo and his shoe, an incidental funny anecdote that gets the wheels in his turning, and a not-so-great speech from Yoshi about how all work is made personal, even if some people don’t realize it or give the worker the acknowledgement he or she needs. So Sanae’s taken care of. It’s on to Yoshi’s great plan, to decorate the town hall with hand-carved wood, a ludricrous concept that is happily fiddled with and embelleshed into a 100-year project to decorate the train station with Ranma. Much more sensible, though I wonder if their descendents will follow through, and It’s not a bad idea to think of town revival as a long term thing.

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Sakura Quest 4, and catching up with Uchouten Kazoku and LWA

May 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Don’t let this shot mislead you. Doku’s a lot of fun.

Sakura Quest 4 has Yoshi discovering the wood art tradition her area has and trying schemes to re-popularize it. Two woodworkers get the focus: Tatsuo, who is sympathetic, and the gifted Kazushi, who is definitely not. I think he, and Ba-san, have a point that trying to make traditional art modern by sticking the on gadgets (which are legitimately cool and made by a guy named Doku) just makes something like that turnip soda Doku invented, but his narrow, insulting attitude turned me off completely. It came to a head when he accused Sanae of “fleeing” Tokyo. Thought there was a sad backstory there, but instead we learn that she was simply getting out of the rat race. Escaping is not fleeing. But what most interested me was the fact that Manoyama is a place where people devote their time and energy into making things, even if they turn out to taste funny or not work as planned. In that respect, Kazushi and Doku are cousins. I suppose you shouldn’t try to combine them, well, it can be fun if you do, but it’s a value that’s good for the community. Don’t know how Yoshi and the gang would promote it, though.

Meanwhile, in Uchouten Kazoku 2, we’ve had a lot of little bits of plot hopping into focus and hopping away just when they were getting interesting. First it was Hell-refugee Tenmaya, who tricks and frustrates he comes across, until Benten makes her long-awaited appearance on his head. So we follow Benton around awhile, until she has an unpleasant run-in with Nidaime, which is set on the back burner so we can have a shogi tournament and a whole new story, the slow, shy courting of Yaichirou and Gyokuran, one of those deals where everyone knows they’ll wind up married. The shogi tournament devolves into backstory about this and goes on a bit long, and also demonstrates why the annual tournament was shut down years ago. And, to my surprise, it looked as though, a few bits notwithstanding, that this would be a stand-alone episode, well, until Gyokuran gets sucked into that square on the board. However, my favorite bit, besides the nice little scene where Yasaburo coaxes Gyokuran out of hiding, again showing the strengths of his carefree character, sort of hearkens back to Polar Bear’s Cafe–the zoo tanuki duties are usually fulfilled by Gyokuran’s family, but Yasaburo sometimes fills in; the pay is good.

Finally I caught up with Little Witch Academia. Too bad I have very little to say about it except speculate about Croix’s motives. She started out three episodes ago as a flamboyant but shady character, and that was borne out, apparently, when she knocked Akko out and tried to clobber Ursula (who has never looked cooler than her battle up the stairs. She looks so frumpy now that it was great to see she hasn’t lost her talent and energy). But it looks like Croix wasn’t about to dissect Akko or anything. When Ursula arrived she basically gave her back. What she wants, apparently, are the seven words, or at least the restoration of magic, just like the other witches do. She just has her own way of going about it. Well, she’s not a saint, either. Speaking of non-saints, Amanda got more screen time in episode 17, and the show as usual is better for it. However, we’ve seen little of Lotte and Sucy. True, they visit Lotte’s house, but both spend most of their time green and useless.

Stumbling to catch up: Sakura Quest and HInako note 2-3

April 23, 2017 2 comments


Sakura Quest has settled into it’s cute slice-of-life routine without a misstep and with much efficiency. All four of the side girls had been introduced by episode two, and at the end of episode 3 they became members of Yoshi’s court. Meanwhile, Yoshi herself has accepted her role of queen, in spite of the daily verbal abuse she gets from Ushimatsu. Nothing we didn’t see coming. What I personally didn’t expect was for Yoshi to come to the conclusion that the town really didn’t need economic stimulus or any sort of change. For a moment I wondered then what the show would do next? If there’s no overall goal to the series, apart from getting Yoshi to love the countryside again, what’s she going to do apart from showing up for events? But it struck me that while the townspeople are fine with things as they are, the town still has a problem with its dwindling population. I don’t know what Yoshi and her team can do about that, but should be fun to see her try.

Note Yua’s look of joy.

I caught up with Renai Boukon, but I have nothing to say about it, apart that the crazy, nearly random atmosphere I liked in episode one might be a bug, not a feature … So it’s on to Hinako Note. Eps 2-3 with this show aren’t filling me with hope, either. I know shows like this need to stop everything for the sake of cuteness from time to time, but episode 2 stretched things too far. They decide to form a theatre club, which we already knew from ep1, and there’s a very long and dull flashback to Hinako’s childhood scarecrow days. I’m already sick of that joke, I hope they retire it soon. Things get a little better in episode 3, where they finally start school, and Kuu (my favorite character right now) manages to cover Hinako’s scarecrow reflex as a joke. Meanwhile, all the girls join another theatre group at the school. How many do they need? But a new character, jealous (over Chiaki) tsundere Yua, tries to outshine Hinako, who stupidly takes it as a kindness. Still, we need a tsundere to liven things up in this show.

New shows Spring 2017 2

April 7, 2017 Leave a comment

I waited a few seconds but the screen remained dark, so I decided to use this image.

Next, in my traditional season falling-behind, we have Roku de Nashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records, your average magic school story, medieval cathedral town style, where we meet two nice magic girls going to school, and a jerk who runs into them, teases them though it’s his fault, fondles one of them, and of course he’s their new teacher! Substitute, of course, though that means nothing to Sistine and her gentler “sister” Rumia and their classmates, who watch appalled as he botches up every class he teaches when he bothers to try at all. He got hired by Professor Celica, the coolest character in the show so far, and she’s so formidable you know she has a reason. Sistine finally challenges him to a duel and clobbers him, end of episode.

A lot not to like here. Glenn, the substitute teacher, is a jerk, perhaps more than usual because he wants to get fired. We have to put up with his behavior through most of the episode, waiting for something to happen that will change our minds about him, but the show doesn’t get around to it, mainly because it dilly-dallies. Each scene is too long, with the buildup to the duel, where all the students gave their opinions beforehand being the worst. The jokes were entirely predictable (Glenn loses the duel, so it becomes two out of three, then three out of five …), we know they’re coming, and we have to wait for them to finish before the plot can move on. Maybe next week we’ll get something more interesting, but I’m almost beyond caring. Oh, one of the two sisters gropes the other, so if you’re into that …

The slim silhouette of Heine, the new tutor.

Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine is set in some Germanic place in the past and stars Heine, a very young-looking new tutor for the second through fifth princes of whatever Germanic name they give the place. All the previous tutors ran off, so Heine (who early on says he took the job for personal reasons, wonder what those are …) expects the worse. Instead they’re all mixes of goofy male anime cliches, the tsundere, the cold bespectacled one, the scary laconic one, and the goofy one. After meeting them, Heine interviews Leonhard (tsundere) and begins his work of softening the lad up. The other princes get their turn next episode.

Pretty good. I might not watch it, but I did chuckle at it a few times. While the princes are, as I pointed out, regrettable types, Heine the tutor is not. He looks like a young boy but displays an unflappability and calm, and he has a witty internal monologue going for him. He quickly (with the help of a diary Leonhard keeps hidden) sees through Leonhard’s facade of scorn and finds a vulnerability beneath, which, as Leonhard notices, he does not exploit. In other words, he has weapons to win over these boys. Also, the show is often funny. Heine has some good lines, and the show has good timing in the dialogues and knowing just when to drop the characters to chibi form. Again, I don’t know if I want to watch a whole season of this, not really my thing, but I enjoyed this first episode.

One of those shows that tells you what it is.

Sagrada Reset starts wistfully with a high school boy, Kei, getting a in his locker. After a slightly odd talk with his good bro Tomoki about a girl unrelated to the discussion, he goes up to meet the girl at the appointed time and it’s the unrelated girl, Misora, there and not the letter girl (Sumire), while we’re waiting for more information and the two talk about nothing much, the girl says “reset” and it’s suddenly two days earlier. A lot of people in their town have abilities. Kei’s ability is to remember everything, even if Misora resets, so Sumire thought they would be a good team to do, well no one really seems to know. And Misora meets a little girl, Mari, who claims to be fake, and Misora wants to get to the bottom of it.

They WERE talking about something more important, but the conversations meander at times.

Episode one is exhausting. All of the events are very low-key, and all of the characters are capable of producing great abstract thoughts. Recurring words and ideas, in this story arc at least, include fakes (Mari is probably fake, there’s talk of androids, and there was a fable Sumire trots out at one point) righteousness (Sumire claims Kei is, but Kei thinks Misora is, with logic I can’t follow), and the question of how to make choices when all the results lead to sadness. No wonder all three characters are so calm, they’re too busy thinking up metaphors and logical proofs, or simply being sad, for them to waste their time on anything else besides standing some distance away from the others and moving as little as possible. That aside, the show looks interesting. Superpowers but no action, just cautious planning so far. I suspect all of the story arcs will involve little things that hurt individuals. The mood might be a little too serious, but we’ll see if they can lighten it up a little.

A curtain about to go up on Sakura Quest’s charming opening credits.

Sakura Quest, PA Works’ latest, stars Yoshino, a girl about to graduate university but is having a terrible time finding a job in Tokyo. She’s from the sticks and doesn’t want to return there, but accepts a quick job out in Manoyama, or Chupakabura, some fictional name, where she plays the queen of the town. What she didn’t realize is that this job lasts an entire year, so the last ten minutes or so show her running around trying to get a train out of Manoyama, and naturally failing, instead clubbing a chupakabura with her bag. Funny story.

Would-be Tokyoite Yoshino stuck in a tiny village filled with geezers.

Looks to be another slice-0f-life show, and it feels a lot like Hanasaku Iroha, not a bad thing. Not sure about some of the characters, that grumpy geezer Ushimatsu is clearly losing his marbles, yet he’s the boss, or king. The other males are typical for PA Works slice-of-life shows, not outgoing and a little foolish. Yoshino’s going to get some girls to form a posse with, and we meet a couple, all nice, weird, or both, again, PA Works standard issue. Their view of the rural life is a bit condescending at the moment, or maybe we’re supposed to be viewing it through Yoshino’s eyes, but if she grew up in a place like that she ought to know how life goes, and how there aren’t any trains after 9:40. But it’s told well, and I want to see how spunky Yoshino gets along.

Rin’s back.

Busou Shoujo Machiavellanism is all about a school where the girls dominate things and carry weapons, and the boys, in order to prove their subservience, have to put on makeup and act like girls. Then a new student, Fudo, arrives, looking to put his violent past behind him, but he’s confronted by Rin, one of the five blades of the school (yet there is another one seemingly above even them), and they have a prolonged fight where we have time to have every hidden technique they’re using explained to us. I expect he’ll fight the other four girls next time.

And now, Rin’s front.

The hero, Nomura, is annoying in the same way that Glenn above is, but we cut Nomura slack because he didn’t start any fights. It was Rin who challenged him. Otherwise there isn’t much to him apart from some quick, disturbing flashbacks to unpleasant times the show will get to later. The Five Blades might be fun, we don’t really get to know them apart from Rin. The boys at the school acting like flaming transvestites was kind of insulting to both genders. The animation isn’t very good at all. The fight scene got dull with all the explanations, and there was a big infodump in the middle which derailed everything, though I liked how the minion saying it got out of breath when she was finished. But I don’t see anything here worth watching further.