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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.