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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
We now have Tsuki ga Kirei, where we meet a boy (Kotarou) and a girl (Akane) as they start their third year of middle school and start noticing each other. He writes stories (lots of literary references to look up), she’s on the track team, and wind up in the same class. We watch as they glance furtively at each other and get nervous a lot, barely comprehending their own why. They both wind up in the same management team for the sports festival and have several nervous interactions, leading up to a moment where Akane, out of decency, has to get a little proactive when he misses a meeting and gets barked at, because she didn’t have his Line number and couldn’t enter him into the group. And so it begins …
This is about the purist adolescent love story I’ve seen. There are no gimmicks. The mood is quiet and filled with cherry blossoms. The lovebirds say very little but sigh and gasp a lot when the object of their uncomprehended desires appears, and there is a LOT of sighing in this episode. The classmates, more typically, are teasing but will probably be supportive once things develop. Kotarou has a buddy at a local bookstore who spots what he’s beginning to think of, while Akane’s friends haven’t figured it out yet. It’s well done, looks great, paced well considering the snails pace of the subject matter–getting these two passive kids together is going to take a lot of time. Love story fans will enjoy this a lot. Not sure I’ll keep watching, but had no problems with this episode.
Clockwork Planet has as its prehistory the world dying, then being rebuilt using gears and clockwork, and everyone is pretty happy with it. Marie, a girl genius on a floating craft, has a super-powered clockwork doll fall out of it (got to get the plot moving somehow). It lands in the home of Naoto, a young boy who wants to fix things and manages to get the doll RyuZU to wake up, insult him, and carry him away before his home is wrecked by something. They have various adventures while Marie and her team forget about her, because the government is going to purge Kyoto, which isn’t fully explained but is very very bad. Meanwhile, Naoto activates RyuZU in an odd way so she’s now his insulting servant.
Well, if you like clockworks this is the show for you. I love the premise, rather like those Jay Lake novels, except no one is thinking to rewind the world, at least not yet. On the other hand, the characters and story are awfully cartoonish, which would be all right except for the fanservice and innuendo they toss in, like the finger sucking and getting Marie to put on some clothes. An odd and often disturbing mix. A shame, because the idea of a clockwork planet is very intriguing and I would like to see more.
Kabukibu! stars Kurogo, high school first-year who loves kabuki and wants to make a kabuki club. Can’t do, but he can form a group if he wants. His taciturn friend Tonbo finds some people to recruit: Shin, a tone-deaf rock singer, Kaoru, a girl, and Niwa, who has some emotional scars the show will work out, and finally Jin, a guy who already does Kabuki. Basically Kurogo goes from one recruit to the next and keeps getting shot down, but he’s optimistic, and he has an ability to grow back lost teeth.
I would like very much to learn more about Kabuki, but I don’t think I want to do so with this show, considering this straightforward and rather dull first episode. Kurogo has no personality except for a bright optimism and a tendency to lapse into famous kabuki phrases. Tonbo is even worse. As for the kabuki, they do introduce some concepts and history, so you might enjoy that. But the actual kabuki they present wasn’t animated terribly well. You’d think they would devote more time to that. So probably a no-go for me.
Now for Renai Boukon. Average high school boy Seiji gets a visit from a demon and is told if he doesn’t kiss someone by the end of the day, he will die, though it’s not quite like that, and so he finds his crush, Akane, at school, and she turns out to be a yandere and tries to kill him a few times because he’s hanging out with Guri, the demon, who’s actually a cupid angel. So Guri adds her own name to the book and now it’s a love triangle. Then another girl, Yuzu, shows up and, well, Guri isn’t the most responsible of angels. There’s a cat with a human face, too.
The show is loaded with gags which are sometimes related to the story, and sometimes just silly. There’s a cumulative effect going on, so that I got worn down with all the twists and surprises from the plot and all the extra names being added to the book. But I also laughed a lot. I just wonder if the show can keep up this pace for an entire season. Judging by the OP they introduced just about everyone this episode. What are they going to do for the rest of the time? Well, there’s some ways this boy, angel, yandere, and incest-yuri girl can bounce off each other, I’m sure.
Hinako Note, an entry in the “Cute girls doing cute things” faction, has Hinako coming to Tokyo to attend a high school and do drama. She cutely gets lost but comes across the address, a used bookstore where another girl, Kuina, is cutely eating paper. In Hinako’s room there’s a girl in a maid costume named Mayu who works in the coffee shop attached to the store (alas, no rabbits) and is cute. Later, to cheer Hinako up they go to a park and act cute, eventually meeting their landlord Hinako, who’s also in their school, and there’s more cute stuff.
I mock, but I quite like the CGDCT category, so all this cuteness is not a turn-off for me. However, I’ve seen enough of them to know what I like, and weirdness is near the top. The girls must not just be cute, but eccentric (Is the Order a Rabbit?), or the show’s style should be (HidaSketch). There’s a bit of both those shows in this one, the coffee shop and maid costume, and the bathtub speech at the end, though that might have just been a one-off. It’s not really at the level of either of those shows yet, but some of these shows take a while to ripen. “… Rabbit didn’t really take off until midway through the first season.” Meanwhile, it’s certainly cute enough, so I’ll try to keep watching.
Twin Angel BREAK could be confused with Renai Boukon in that its main character, Meguri, travels to Tokyo to start high school and meets a lot of cute friends at school who do cute things like eating lunch together and falling down. But there’s also that hedgehog who was running from guards at a top-secret facility, and that slot machine token (the show refers to it as a “medal”) that sinks into her hand. Also the unfriendly quiet girl who doesn’t talk to anyone. These things wind up changing the show into a very basic magical girl series where they have to defeat their first enemy, except that Meguri is actually the second girl of the team. The first one has been fighting for a while and is sick of it.
I didn’t quite see the magical girl stuff happening, but after that performer started sucking the energy out of the audience it became so predictable that I could check off the main points. Bad guy appearance, check. Cute talking animal appears, check. Token to transform, check. Embarrassing transformation sequence, check. Because of this I really have no desire to watch any more of it. Maybe if they had tossed in a variation or two it would have gotten me more interested, but I doubt it.