Welcome to the first new content of this blog, with this weekly summary, where I give my episodic impressions in chunks for all those anime shows I’ve been following so far. So far, this season has offered a solid number of good shows, at least the top 6 shows can be a heavyweight in any other season, although it’s one rare instance where I don’t have a real favorite pick. Let’s get down to it, in preferential order:
13) Caligula (ep06)
Caligula remains a show that splits me neatly in half. The theme it’s trying to explore: about a bunch of characters who have painful memories in real life so they take solace in this fake Mobius world created by μ still keep me intrigued, and there are some neat ideas being explored (I like the story of a girl who erased her mother) and some nice visual presentation (like those people with their faced digitally blurred), but on the other hand, the one noted cast who often speaks meaningless dialogues also mean that we have a hard time to identify with them, let alone care for them. It says something that after halfway through I still don’t care and don’t know most of the characters, main guy included. This last episode signals the climax when with an all-out battle, that makes me wonder how the hell Caligula handles the rest of its run. At this point I don’t consider dropping it but if the characters don’t improve soon, it won’t have much to leave a lasting impact.
12) Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai (ep07)
So, a slice-of-life plus romance plus anything goes from photography club activities to dancing in the ballroom? The writing is pretty inconsistent, the titular Tada-kun is still very plain and the cast’s quirks can go a bit overboard at times, but there’s a weird charm to all of this. The latest developments, however, make me quite concerned. First, the introduction of Tada’s rival, Teresa’s fiancee Charles doesn’t bode well for me. Charles feels too perfect to be a real character and he adds an unnecessary love-triangle conflict to our main leads. Second, Teresa being a royal princess of some small European country is something that we suspected from day 1, but God why it wants to go in that direction? The show wants to be in the same vein with Roman Holiday (there’s a reference in the OP), but as cute as Teresa is, she can’t compare to the Goddess Audrey Hepburn and certainly Tada-kun doesn’t one-fifth the charms of Gregory Peck. So yeah in terms of actual romances from this show, they’re suck.
11) Piano no Mori (ep06)
The story gets into a nice grounding now that the piano competition’s over, but this last episode further shows many of Piano‘s issues. The production simply can’t keep up with the weekly schedule, resulting one of the most uninspired and just downright distracting CG animation I’ve watched this season. It feels like a product of 15 years ago. In this episode, Kai lost his piano forest in the dumbest way – thunder strike. Really? One thing that I like, however, is the way previous episodes suggested us that Kai would go overseas to study piano, while Shuhei remains in Japan to become the best piano player in the country. Turns out in this episode they’d do the opposite, Kai decides to stay in his little world not because of all these things that tied him down (the piano, his Mother), but because he realizes all that he needs is right there. The pacing, however, goes so fast to depict Kai’s struggles that we just don’t feel relate in any of his development. The lackluster production is something we need to live with at this point, so I hope the story can improve so that at least we can have something to look forward to.
10) Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan 2 (ep17)
Saiki stays true with its quirky self this week, which also means that I don’t have a lot to talk about. Look, this show is a simple test, If you already like the first season then this second season offers more of the same, with even more expanded cast. This episode places Saiki into trouble with 5 entirely different set of characters, which works for the show’s benefit. The last few episodes have wear me down a bit, but for my money this show’s at its best when it plays around with new characters (in which next episode we will have one), or having Teruhashi constantly failed to approach Saiki. That girl, I swear…
9) Wotakoi (ep06)
To my surprise, despite its sitcom-like format and it doesn’t offer much in terms of the big picture, I still enjoy Wotakoi and the quartet week to week. The show’s main issue for me lies in its squarely focus on just those 4 characters and kinda ignore the rest of the world, which for me feel very limited and unrealistic. But apart from that those 4 have an interesting and natural chemistry together that it feels great just to watch them bouncing off each other. It helps that the dialogue feels real and they never play up their otaku nature. But the inclusion of Hirotaka’s brother: this show’s version of non-otaku character, doesn’t add up much (he’s a boring character). Still, I’m interested to see the development between Hirotaka and Narumi’s “romance”, which step by step has progressed more like a real couple. They’re getting there.
8) Darling in the FranXX (ep17)
Darling goes for a darker route now, which I’m glad. There still no subtle bone in their body, but at least in the last episode they manage to ask many intriguing questions about the nature of the world those kids live in and the nature of being human – which are the show’s core theme. I still don’t like the quick interference of The 9s or the whole Papa thing, and the ambush right where Mitsuru and Kokoro exchange rings further underlines Darling‘s shaky execution. Consider we have a quick glimpse of the leaders of APE, I have my theory that the Klaxosaur was indeed once human race, but they advanced their technology in order to modify their human body. The APE, on the other hand, still retains human form but starts do regress any human’s basic characteristics: no reproduction, no emotion, no dying process. I’m interested to see how they go from there, but embrace yourself since this one won’t go down happily.
7) My Hero Academia 3 (ep45)
I’m never much a fan of My Hero Academia, too much explosions and screaming for my taste. But this arc has kicked into gears and I like what I see so far, with all the Bakugo-kidnapping business. Bakugo’s character has always acted like a villain: thrust for power, never cares for anyone else and full of hatred. So this arc can serve as a good basic to challenge him and makes him see why he chooses to be hero in the first place. The more pain the better. At the same time, the kids from Class A and even some from Class B has developed in such a way that it always feels like they’re part of one big family – they feel like our dear friends now, and with their quest to bring back Bakugo, it could serve for some great characters moment here. And that blood-sucking girl, what’s her deal? What’s her Quirk? Man, I’m all in now.
6) Golden Kamuy (ep06)
Golden Kamuy has a very solid premise, but the pacing remains this show’s biggest issues. Whenever it comes to the gold hunt part it rushes way too fast, and then in quiet moments they spend to much time on food-porn cuisine and Ainu culture, without much related to the main storyline. The episode 6 starts out that way with Sugimoto and Asirpa… hunting deer. It feels like Golden Kamuy loses its focus until everything comes together neatly (a bit too neatly) in the last moment. Now the super bear hunter is also a tattooed escape prisoner, so by killing him they will be able to save Rectar, AND have another human map too boost. The story still has some potential but I sure hope they tone down on those wilderness cuisine.
5) Hisone to Masotan (ep06)
HisoMaso has the most gorgeous visual of this season, and expressive characters’ movement, but the story is so far too light. Now that it tries to tie up some thematic relevance with more serious tone, I’m a bit worried how they’re going to handle it. So far, HisoMaso gets away with lost of stupid details because they have a godsend ability to flirt around with their concepts, and I’m much prefer it that way. I don’t buy what Administrative Vice-Minister Iiboshi is trying to sell at all. What’s all this about White Lovers? Torii gate and shrine? The show’s other focus – about the relationship between dragons and their pilots – fare much better. Hosino nearly pisses me off for her stubbornness, but it ends well so I’m done complaining. This show has the look, so hopefully Mari Okada can give this story a fair treatment.
4) Hinamatsuri (ep07)
Hinamatsuri ceases to be a comedy show for me. There’s still absurdity sense of humor, sure, but it done drama way better than it has any right to be. Anzu and Hitomi slowly take over this show, for good reasons, and they have come to develop a lot since we first met them. I also like this version of Hina this week, her stoned face and mono-tone need to contrast with something as bombastic and out of left field as nominating herself for School Council President just so she can have more sleep and more food. Hina and Nitta’s chemistry also takes a nice step this week, with her helping Nitta to talk Usako into having a date with him. I don’t really like the montage-like from their date since we have a pretty good idea that Nitta’s getting rejected, so the pun doesn’t work for me.
3) Steins;Gate 0 (ep06)
Ohh, finally. The drama kicks in, in first season fashion to boost. Before that last-second event however, I actually consider this episode a weak one, with too much light-heart moments that don’t go well with the serious tone of this show, and the entire cast appears that make me feel like the show fan-services us blatantly. Turns out this is a part of the plan, showing the last moment of happiness before shit hits the fan. I supposed our new loli girl will be the one who died this time, and Okabe will begin his cycle of suffering real soon. The amnesia elements I can live without, but I believe all the main ingredients are in place, so from now on the story will run in full speed. And time-travel and drama are those things that this show does best, so bring it on guys!!
2) Megalo Box (ep07)
Megalo Box is still goddamn good. But first allow me to address the tiny elephant in the room: the boxing fights lack weight. There’s a nice amount of animation by all means, but every time one of the character hits the opponent, it doesn’t feel much impact. After Joe’s fight with Nanbu ex-pupil with I regarded as this show’s best episode (well, the episode before the fight anyway), I also find myself enjoying his new opponent, in a narrative sense. Here, we have Joe, a gearless boxer versus a man who uses gear so advanced that it does all the work for him. It’s the true battle to Megalonia, my friend, except that… the fight will never come (or so we’re led to believe). It’s anti-climatic for sure, but I have no doubt that Joe will be back on the ring, maybe with the assistance of someone’s certain sister. We’ll see.
1) Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Die Neue These (ep07)
And to top the list this week, it’s Yang Wen Li who takes all the spotlight here. This show balances extremely well between the epic part (all those space battles that run more like an open history book) with the more personal moments of our two leaders. It’s that we have to know where all these characters come from, what their philosophy is like in order to invest in this galactic battles, and so far it succeeds on doing just that. Watching Yang Wen Li’s plan carrying on in real mission is thrilling, and they also place a small doubt seed into the possibility that Rozenlitter might betray, and thus bringing the whole plan down. Other moment I enjoyed is when Yang orders his ship to minimize the unnecessary casualty. It further highlights Yang’s desire to end this long-winded war, but as fate would have it, the persona s talented as Yang will always be pulled back into the endless war no matter what.