Sakura Quest 7, Saekano Flat 6, Hinako Note 7

May 20, 2017 Leave a comment


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.

Categories: Uncategorized

Re:Creators 6, LWA 18-19, Uchouten Kazoku 6

May 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Meet Magane.

Re:Creators 6 introduces a new character, I didn’t get the name but Wikipedia calls her Magane. A nasty free-killing sort who will happily turn a lie into a lie and then a nasty thing shows up and slaughters whoever her opponent is. Aliceteria and Mamika, after a conversation between themselves over the type of people they want to fight with, meet her, Selestia and Meteora show up, along with beard-guy, Blitz, and soon everyone’s squaring off against each other.All of them apart from Mamika wanting to fight but for different reasons. By now we’ve got just about everyone’s motivations clear, and we see why Aliceteria is siding with Military Arms Princess–her world is a terrible place and she wants to put a stop to it. Meteora brings up the point that the “gods” of this world are just as mortal as anyone on their own worlds. Magane, alas, uses the stale “You’re the same as me” argument. Maybe the best moment apart from Rui chatting up girls on the street is Mamika coming to a decision about when she should fight, and that is to stop the fighting. Stopping Blitz’s bullet with a heart-thingy and a cute “pop!” noise jarred me with its stylistic clash, but was very effective. However, I hope they’re more or less finished with the talky character-establishment they’ve been doing. Oh, Souta cops out and doesn’t tell anyone about what he learned last episode. Idiot.

I fell behind with Little Witch Academia, so I didn’t watch the wonderful magical mecha battle until now. On the other hand, apart from that and another Croix experiment, there wasn’t anything in the episode that moved the story along. I suppose you could argue that Akko befriending Constanze does, but as a perso who likes being alone a lot myself, I kind of felt Akko’s refusal to not interfere annoying. Well, it was still fun to watch.

#19 might be getting closer to the main story. Diana has decided to leave Luna Nova and become the head of Cavendish, because if she doesn’t her Aunt Caryl will continue to sell off the family’s (and perhaps the story’s) important artifacts, including the Beatrix Tapestry left by either Beatrix or Sybilladura Lelladybura, I got confused there, one of the original Nine Olde Witches. That is to say, the Cavendish family is yet another victim of magic’s decline, and the sooner Akko can mix the traditional magic with modern … whatever, the better for Diana. Unfortunately it took the entire episode to spell this out and we’ll have to wait for more next week. It’s good to notice, however, that Diana has completely accepted Akko’s role of gem-getter and magic saver.

That’s the sugar bowl talking.

The thing about Uchouten Kazoku is that you’re never quite sure where the story is going. This episode looked to be about Yodogawa being forced out of the university, and while the episode follows that for a bit, Yasaburo is soon off to Arima Onsen for reasons I forget, and discovers, by following Benten, that the nasty Soun is back and to be inducted into the Friday Club, meaning a tanuki will eat tanuki, though he considers that he has been cast out of tanuki-dom, so it’s okay. There’s more than one person this season who is trying to deny their origins, Nidaime acting like a gentleman and the idiot twins imitating him, and the twice-made comment made this week that Souichiro didn’t smell like himself after an onsen, or when Soun tried to impersonate him.

Yasaburo hangs out in Hell for a while.

Anyway, Soun shows up and casts Yasaburo into a picture of hell, Tenmaya might have something to do with that, and suddenly he’s impersonating an oni and getting hit on by a female oni and being told about Hell’s industrial revolution. While we’re absorbing this he goes to a sumo match and finds a person there taking on all comers. Maybe you can guess who it is. In other words, once again the show has taken a couple things out of its bag and tied them together in ways you would not expect. Oh, the artwork for hell is as amazing as the show’s artwork for Kyoto, not that I’m making a connection there.

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.

Categories: Saekano, Sakura Quest Tags:

Saekano2 4, Hinako, Re:Creators and Kazoku 5

May 9, 2017 Leave a comment

I think Tomoya got promoted.

Saekano Flat 4 has Utaha’s expected rage over Tomoya’s rejection of both her endings, and then tears. What I liked about it is that Tomoya doesn’t back down. He has solid, clear reasons why her stories won’t work–they’re too wordy, novelistic, and because he’s so obsessed about the game, he’s not about to let the scripts slide. Once Utaha settles down she accepts this and they work together to improve both her scripts, now routes, and even add a happy route because Tomoya doesn’t want the characters to suffer.

This scene was very strange.

In doing so, Tomoya, at least in Utaha’s eyes, becomes a full creative partner and not simply the gopher with a dream. Naturally these scenes are sexy and the final talk when it’s done, post-coital, Utaha’s lack of clothing (which only freaks Tomoya out once) helping to that effect. Some odd business at the end, where Utaha seems to be giving Megumi the green light to move on Tomoya, then Megumi actually playing her game character, which, in spite of the dreamy school festival bonfire atmosphere, felt out of place. Megumi’s never seemed to consider Tomoya a love interest. Next week we’ll probably move on to Eriri and the writer’s block they’ve been trying too hard to set up.

I’ve about lost my patience with Hinako Note–did I say that last week? This week it was Hinako screwing up at dance rehearsal and crashing into Yua every time, and she practices more and maybe gets better. This damn festival is only a week away but she doesn’t even know her lines yet. Then there are dithering scenes where she and other characters all imitate animals, with fanservice included. I’m a little curious about how the play will turn out, but if the show doesn’t show signs of life in the story, or get less dull in the cute scenes, it’ll be time to drop it.

Re:Creators 5 only gets interesting in the final minute. I had wondered during the cabinet meeting “Why is Souta even there? How is he involved?” Turns out he was thinking the same thing, and then we get a minute of realization, with scans and flashbacks thrown in, to military-arms girl’s probable origin, and a pig-tailed girl he apparently knew. But the show leaves it at that for now. Now I wonder if he’ll rush to his fictional buddies, or maybe calm-voiced investigator Kikuchihara, with the news, or if he’ll go off on his own to find out. Right now, with us knowing so little about him, it could go either way. Elsewhere, the government finally noticed all these strange people flying around (the giant mecha was a giveaway) and rather clumsily brings everyone in for yet another infodump scene. Good to have the government’s backing, I suppose. Meteora makes another probably telling comment about how humanity will solve this problem in the end, not the fictional characters. Oh, and we meet a boy-pilot, an impetuous kid named Kanoya, who acts up but is forgiven because that’s the way he was written, to the author’s regret.

I really must visit Kyoto for the bonfire this year.

Uchouten Kazoku2 5 has assembled plenty of story bits as it moves along, tossing them into a bag, and now they can create an episode just by pulling one or two out, hanging them on an event, and putting them back in again. Last week the event was a shogi tournament, this week the bonfire festival, and we remember what happened last time … But first the show has to get cheerfully strange by having Gyokuran sucked into that hole on the shogi board, followed by Yasoburo and Yaichiro, whereupon we discover the whereabouts of fathers shogi shack … I’m sure there’s some meaning to it all, but I just giggled. The whole Yaichiro/Gyoburan romance gets officially started in a sweet scene on board the flying tram Yajiro, and while I smiled at it, I knew the serenity wouldn’t last since it was only halfway through, and it was, remember, the bonfire festival episode. The last bit pulled from the bag was the Benten/Nidaime business. As usual, plenty of events, and they still have plenty of things in the bag.

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.

Categories: Re:Creators, Sakura Quest Tags:

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.

Catching up with Re:Creators and Saekano2

April 29, 2017 Leave a comment

It was necessary for the story, dammit.

Three episodes in, Re:Creators hasn’t has bobbled the ball a little, but hasn’t dropped it. If there’s a problem right now it’s that everyone is too busy speculating on why these fictional characters are arriving on our world, or they’re reacting to the “real” experience here, like coffee. Meteora is doing most of the speculating, because of his nature, the way he’s been created, a fact that itself leads to more speculation, and it could go on and on. Most of the talk is okay; it’s honest discussion about important things, and it’s done intelligently. But there is an awful lot of it, and near the end of episode 3 I was coming to hope that Meteora would get tired and fall asleep for a bit.

Or that we’d get another weirdo battle. I’m not really sure why Selesia and magical girl Mamika started battling in episode 2, and I’m even more confused by the outcome–not that Yuya and that horse girl showed up, that was fun. Mamika discovers that her cute heart-shaped weaponry act like bombs here, and draw blood. And then Selesia starts talking about the danger of achieving ideals by force, while it was obvious that Mamika was shocked by the extent and violence of her powers here (and why are only her powers changed?) and probably won’t use them again … well, she did just that, but you might take that as lashing out in a panic. That scene could have been clearer. And while the show has started to bring the creators in, a logical thing to do, the even more logical thing, characters reading ahead to find out what happens next in their own world, is teased in a brief scene, then forgotten: Selesia doesn’t want to know her future. But the threat is there with anyone who’s read the books and blurts out a future event by mistake, and surely other characters will be tempted by it. Still, overall the show is doing a good job with a tricky scenario.

Looks threatening, but …

… Megumi shows up.

When I wrote about Saekano2‘s first episode I thought it strange that they would begin the season that way. Turns out I missed an episode 0 that turned out to be EXACTLY what I expected. Fanservice, commentary on the game their making that was also meta-commentary on the series itself, and more fanservice. Anyway, that out of the way, the show has settled in on its big arc, as Lori and Izumi have a confrontation and veiled-threat scene where Lori’s bigger, more famous team will almost certainly beat out Tomoya’s scrappy bunch, and would have been very serious except for Megumi disarming dramatic moments, not to mention everyone’s awareness that this was all kind of cliche. Now Tomoya has to choose which Utaha ending to use, and that too has profound importance because Tomoya’s decision might affect her future and their relationship. Episode 3 is more or less ridiculous in its setup, but brings us Tomoya’s interesting conclusion: neither ending works. So I think back on what Utaha said she’d do if someone told her that, and hope Tomoya has a helmet on.

Categories: Re:Creators, Saekano Tags: