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.

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.


2-3’s: Sora Yori, Yuru Camp, Slow Start

Somebody suggested that Sora yori mo Tooi Basho was going to be a K-ON for Antarctica, and there were times during episodes 3 and 4 where I began to see their point. Focused, disciplined Shirase turns out to be possibly the biggest idiot of the group with her plan to seduce a male explorer and get him to stow them away, and it led to a scene in Shinjuku where the viewer had no idea what the girls were trying to do. They were trying to act sexy, then two women showed up and everyone starts running around, while we scratch our heads. It’s good that the show grounded itself after that, however, with some reality: yes, there’s a civilian expedition going, but it’s in financial trouble and our girls couldn’t get in anyway.

This didn’t really happen.

The other thing both 2 and 3 do is, of course, gather more characters. Episode 2 brought us Hinata, who quit school for reasons and, like Shirase, feels like she has to prove something to the doubters. She’s also the most practical of the three and thanks to her the show has someone to rein Shirase in when she gets too obsessed (honestly, the whole “My mother is waiting for me” business, is her name Riko?). The second episode presents us with Yuzuki, the girls’ reluctant golden ticket, an idol who’s going on the expedition but doesn’t want to go, so could Shirase take her place? No, says the manager/mother, but there is room for negotiation, since Yuzuki is friendless and lonely. The show does a smart thing by stressing that the girls are not best friends, they’re friendly acquaintances with a shared goal, and since they welcome Yuzuki, it’s more than good enough.

Yuru Camp is shaping up to be a nice slice-of-life, even if Nadeshiko also reminds me of someone from K-ON. The thing is, right now it feels like two different shows. We have Aoi and Chiaki’s club and narrow clubroom, with their little adventures, witn some interaction with Rin, who does not want to join. And then we have the other half, which is Rin camping and reading, and lots of scenery. True, we have Yui, I mean Nadeshiko crashing her private party, but at least she seems to be respecting Rin’s desire for peace. In terms of episode 2’s story, it seems like halfway through the writers said, “the hell with it, let’s go camping,” so we did, and anything resembling plot just stopped. We even get the full text of a nonsense chatmail that has nothing to do with anything.

I guess the show does have a plot: getting all the girls together to camp together. The show is going to take their time about it, too. Three episodes in and we Rin and Nadeshiko have teamed up. I wonder how much longer it will take for Chiaki and Aoi to join them? Not that it matters. Sooner or later they’ll be looking at Fuji-san together, and in the meantime … well, who cares? In episode 4 the most interesting thing that happened is that Rin explained why she likes Winter camping, and they’re good reasons. I also wonder that she doesn’t mind so much about Nadeshiko hanging around. I guess her transition from private camper to social one is going to be as nonchalant and low-key as the rest of the series so far.

I didn’t get this part either, but that’s all right.

Slow Start doesn’t have much a plot, either, and again, it’s all right. Episode 2 is all about the sports testing, and Hana, who hasn’t exercised since middle school, doesn’t do terribly well. In episode 3 all the girls to Hana’s place for some golden week studying, cute things happen, and Hana gets the warm fuzzies from everyone being there. In the meantime, we get a little more of each girls’ personality. I still can’t get over Tama’s constant talking, but it’s nice to know she has some skills. Kamuri is still simply small, cute, shy, and devoted to Eiko. It’s Eiko who’s turning out to be the most interesting. She would say otherwise, and constantly wonders at the harem game references Tama-chan makes, but we see EIko flirting with other girls, and it’s hard to tell if she’s serious about it or unaware of the effect she has on the other girls, and she DOES have an effect.

There IS some plot of course, but it’s kind of ridiculous. Hana still hasn’t let on that she had to miss a year because she was down with the mumps the day of the entrance exam. It’s a credit to the show that while it’s all rather cute, the negative effect this has on Hana’s life comes through enough for me to get angry that there was no other route for her but to miss a year. And in episode 4 she a reference to her birthday makes her suddenly shed tears in front of her worried new friends. A nice little moment that I thought would lead to her confession, but it didn’t. I don’t want to have to wonder, episode by episode, whether she’s going to spill the beans on this innocent issue when we all her friends will not care. Just tell them already.

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.


The Reflection 1, Aho Girl and Tsurezure Children 2-3

The Reflection starts with candle boats in a river, though you can’t really tell from this.

One more new show: The Reflection, which starts with a solemn and lovely ceremony of floating candles down a river, which goes on a bit long, then we turn to four schoolgirls watching the boats from a bridge, and then one of them shows the other a live clip of some carnage going on in New York City, so on we go to watch a robot-guy, sorry, “I-Guy,” battling a turtle guy and a bat guy in the sky, while on the ground a ninja guy battles some other weirdos while a girl takes photographs. Both battles go one a bit long. The bad guys are defeated but escape thanks to some more super-powered people. Meanwhile we’ve been learning that a weird event three years ago effected a lot of people, now known as “reflections,” and now it looks like they’re rising up, at least some of them.


The art style is interesting, reminding me sometimes of American superhero comics, well, when they start adding “wham!” and “zap!” to the screen the influence is obvious. I’m not sure whether they’re poking some fun or tipping their hat, perhaps a little of both, and I should point out that Stan Lee (Excelsior!) is involved in this production. But the schoolgirls at the beginning suggest that this is going to be more of an American comic style story. All that aside, I’m not sure I’m interested in this one. While it’s colorful and has full of action, I mentioned that some scenes took too long. There are more moments like that littered throughout, whether it’s a character staring at something (there are a lot of those), or the camera doing a 360 around Times Square, twice, it felt like the episode didn’t have enough material so they decided to go arty with the pauses. I’ll look at episode 2 if I have the time, which I almost certainly don’t.

Moving on to less arty shows, I then watched #2-3 of Aho girl, and discovered that my theory about the show being the perfect length is correct. By the time the second short had finished, I was sick and tired of Yoshiko, and Sayaka for putting up with her, and this is despite of Yuuki Aoi doing her best. In fact, the entire voice cast is excellent, but since half the lines are screams, especially from Yoshiko, it wears you down. It may then come as no surprise that my favorite bits came in the first episode I watched, with the kids, and later with the disciplinary committee girl, when I was still relatively fresh.

Two episodes of Tsurezure Children is a bit much, too, but here it’s because there are a ton of couples to keep up with, each of them with their own ability to screw things up, like go out for a year without realizing you’re a couple. We meet four or five new couples in #2-3, plus some from the first episode. My favorites of the first episode, Furuya and Minagawa, start things off in great fashion by introducing Horaru, Furuya’s devoted and jealous little sister, performed with gusto by Haruka Tomatsu. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, clingy imouto, etc, but everything after that is a slight step downhill. But I’m also getting to like Takano and Sugawara. The misunderstandings about their subject might get tiresome after a while, but Takano’s disinterest in love and her belief that no one could possibly like her anyway is sweet when you notice she’s beginning to respond to Sugawara without her even realizing it, baking him cookies and the like.


Sakura Quest 7, Saekano Flat 6, Hinako Note 7

Sakura Quest 7 finishes it’s two-episode arc in a predictable manner. The reason Shiori didn’t want to house to burn down was because she used to hang out with a nice old lady there in the past. The way that Yoshi learns about this and her overreaction was more unexpected, but since these are two adults it’s handled in an adult manner, with the movie plot adding an odd metaphor to the whole thing: the house was a portal between our world and some other world, and in a way, that’s what it meant to Shiori. At least the old lady is given a thank-you in the credits. The other big issue has Maki trying to come to terms with her current life and her desire to act, and not really succeeding this time, though she does participate in the movie and “burns” one of her past demons. Of course, complex emotions or anxieties aren’t dealt with that easily, and this show is smart enough to know it; it allows her to take a few steps toward reconciliation, both with her past with her father.

Saekano Flat 6 has Tomoya facing a choice: take care of a sick Eriri or rush to get the game completed by the printer’s deadline. Assuming Eriri’s work couldn’t be transferred easily, I think he made the right choice, meaning he made the sacrifice for Eriri that Megumi admonished him for last episode. At any rate, it made for come cute recovery scenes, Tomoya and Eriri playing video games and talking like they used to. I can’t think of a better way for her to recuperate. The big story now is Megumi’s anger (delivered, of course, calmly) toward Tomoya about keeping her out of the loop over the Eriri crisis after her repeated offers to help, and why DIDN’T Tomoya answer his phone in the car? Iori makes a comment that Tomoya is trying to keep Eriri to himself; that might be part of it. Or it could be the idea that Tomoya tries to do too many things himself, ironic for a team effort like their game. Anyway, I assume next that the show will deal with Megumi’s hurt. With the game finished, the show doesn’t have any other goals now.

I don’t know if Hinako Note is going to start another major story arc or just dither around (which this type of show has every right to do), but it’s appropriate to have a dithering episode after an arc, so we get a beach episode. Sorry to say that it doesn’t add much to the tradition. The swimsuit buying scenes went on for way too long, and the getting lost business was a bore. Besides, how the hell do you get lost on a beach? There’s ocean on one side or another, you just walk back. But somehow Mayu and Hinako both pull it off. About the only entertaining stuff in the episode was Kuina’s constant trying to scare Hinako with sharks.


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

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.


ACCA-13, Maid Dragon, Youjo Senki 11, Seiren 12 (finale)

Good point.

ACCA-13 11 gives us the promised intrigue in Furawau in two ways. First there’s the promised attempt on Jean’s life, in the midst of doing the same thing he’s been doing all around: accepting cigarettes. … Rather a nice touch, to signify “we’re with you on the coup” by offering Jean a single cigarette. I should have noticed it earlier. Wonder how long it took Jean to figure it out. Naturally, it’s Nino who takes the bullet, glad to find out he’s not dead. The second intrigue from Furawau is Lilium finally spilling the beans to Grossular (for no reason) about how his district will run the entire country, due, i suppose, to their oil. Grossular is mad enough about it that I’m sure he’ll do something in the final episode. As will Jean; that line about needing a final push is oblique enough to be intriguing. We also get a much-needed, sober speech by Warbler, in Badon for centennial party, who thinks everyone in on the coup is making a terrible mistake, and when you hear the higher-ups talk about it, all the the talk about protecting the citizenry sounds like empty promises a dictatorship uses to justify itself. I’m glad someone said it. As for me, and probably everyone else reading this, I’m looking forward to next week’s Anniversary celebration!

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 11 felt like a finale episode for a while. I guess holiday episodes often feel that way. It’s because there’s a lot of reflection here around the New Year. Everyone thanks each other (Kobayashi thanks Tohru a lot). Also, all the side characters show up at the shrine and at K’s place afterward, like it’s a big farewell. Turns out there’s at least one more episode to go. As for the episode, I’ve rarely seen one concerning New Years where so little happens (winning a kotatsu nonwithstanding) but remains interesting up to the end.

From one viewpoint, Youjo Senki 11 was a major disappointment. The enemy, with that crazy guy, has Tanya and her crew in dire straits, and we’ve actually seen a few of them shot down, the first time I’ve seen them take causalities apart from that potato. But they regroup, Tanya survives a ton explosions at point blank range and kills the crazy guy. What’s more, all the soldiers shot down are alive. And the Empire wins the war. Yay, I guess. I was rooting for the other side. And naturally, we get a lot of shots of Imperial people being smug and marching down the arc de triomphe, or whatever they call it in this show. What a letdown.

Well, since the show has moved into WWII territory, we can hope that the Republic’s Dunkirk maneuver means there will be more resistance. Perhaps the United States of Arkansas will join the fray. Meanwhile, we can enjoy Tanya being upset because she couldn’t go and bomb that port and REALLY end the war, and wonder if a bit of genuine patriotism hasn’t infected her. And we can laugh at Being X for his latest failure at the god-job.

Seiren 12 polishes off the third romance in not terribly inspiring fashion. The best moment is before the opening credits, where Shouichi appears with dramatic western music, to display his determination. Later, he and Kyouko meet up on the roof and have a perfectly normal and sane conversation with a few oddities thrown in, such as the fact that he’s carrying around the underwear she made him (later she wears them, making you wonder what went on between). And then they kiss. The rest of the episode is filler, the Miss Santa competition, the Swim Club’s oden, venison, etc. Amusing, but underwhelming.

That’s what she’s into.

Seiren had its moments, but it never really came up to the level of Amagami SS. I liked some of the recurring themes and the innuendo, the venison and the rabbit hutch to name two, but Amagami felt much more playful; it had more fun with the characters and the situation and would get inventive when it turns out one of the girls is a bore. Seiren had no such tricks up its sleeve, and none of the girls really stood out in terms of interest, well, maybe Tsuneki. Also, and I’ve said it before, Souichi is no Junichi. The latter was more active, daring to assert his desires, and was more kinky (remember when he complimented the breasts of the entire girls swim team?). Shouichi was just a boy, and an overly passive one to boot. Overall, while it had potential, Seiren rarely took advantage.