As you might know, I couldn’t do last week in anime as I attended some film festival. So this week is a combination of week 10 & 11 and I’m a bit sad, as always, to see this Spring Season has come to an end (well, funny that it’s Winter going on here in Aussie). Two shows in particular ended this week: Hinamatsuri (I will write a full review on this) and Wotakoi, both finished in a relatively sweet note. Falling out of tune is Piano no Mori, which at this point I don’t even consider watching its second cour. Anyways, another good weeks in anime (I’m optimistic) and let’s just run them down:
13) Piano no Mori (ep11)
Taking one week break and an episode that came later than usual, the break gap doesn’t help Piano no Mori to regain my interest. It’s still a bit of an improvement from the last episode, which I considered one of its worst. This week, we get to the main competition and get introduced to whole range of new young pianists. I enjoyed those new faces as they add some new air to the show, however the situations the show creates for these characters are awkward as best. Let’s see, one of the performer had her strip from a dress torn off while performing, it’s up there with Kai’s broken piano string in term of ridiculousness. Then we have a popular making a stupid remark to Shuhei before revealing himself as everyone’s nice guy. Mostly the performances aren’t perceived through the playing, but through other players’ commentary and through the audience’s reaction. Piano no Mori remains a traditional anime show with traditional storytelling and traditional visual cues, and it doesn’t help that the production gets a short straw.
12) Hisone to Masotan (ep10-11)
I find this closing arc a missed opportunity. HisoMaso isn’t a show with detailed world-building from a very start, but with these final episodes I’ve come to question the credibility of many of its plot, which isn’t a good sign. The drama the show creates, namely how the show resolves the issues of these dragon pilots being in love, is hammy. One has to destroy the relationship in order to ride the dragon again, the other one quits. And guess what? She’s back, stronger than ever 15 minutes later. Worst, grandma pilot also has an issue and they resolve it too quickly by having Hisone single-handed jumps straight into Masotan. Have you ever heard of the expression “Jumping the shark”? Well, it’s the same here (Jumping the dragon!). I constantly have a feeling that the creators creating conflict for the sake of conflicts, and worse, they haven’t thought enough about this world-building. Bleh
11) Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai (ep11-12)
Tada-kun goes full romance-mode and so far they deal with it realistically, now that Tada realizes he has a feeling for Teresa and decides to go to her country. He goes all the way there (which already feels like a huge development from a stoic Tada) just to find her true identity and her engagement to Charles. The new settings of Larsenburg is a new change of pace, which totally feel like an European country, but what this episode achieves is it marks the new development for Tada-Teresa relationship. A hard truth for both so to speak. They come from 2 very different worlds and like the stars they were looking up before, the stars are too close yet so far. The question remains, which road this show will take regarding their central relationship? Not all fairy tale has a happy ending and if we look at all these characters’ relationships, they all have an unrequited love that could never come true: Tada’s sister, Tada’s grandpa, Alec, the President and Hina… I’m preparing myself for a bittersweet ending here.
10) Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan 2 (ep21-22)
Well, we do have some kind of closure here with the final showdown between Saiki and that talkative guy, who will try his hardest to reveal Saiki’s true identity. Otherwise, it’s business as usual in this Saiki-land. These two episodes focus on wide range of characters and I’m glad to see many of them taking the main stage again. My most favorite skit is the one where Saiki produces 37 Saiki doubles. It sounds fresh for the show that always intent to go nut. Keep on doing weird things Saiki K.
9) Darling in the FranXX (ep21-22)
After the grand battle between the aliens and the Klaxx clan in which Zero 2 and Hiro survive, WHY DOESN’T THE SHOW END? I don’t know. Now we just find out that it isn’t finished yet and that Hiro and the gang will find aliens in the outer space, quite literally. It’s feel like a quickie after a climax (sorry about metaphor), which feel pretty underwhelming. I never buy much the battle between these two giants to begin with, and the characters by now are just serviceable at best. On the plus side, fighting the aliens can prove to be an awesome sakuga action scenes so at least I can just shut my brain off and enjoy the ride. For me, it should’ve ended already.
8) Golden Kamuy (ep10-11)
As the story getting deeper, so is Golden Kamuy getting goofier .Ienaga, the hostess who runs a murder hotel, is lust with immortality and youth, both themes in which Golden Kamuy has consistently explored. Her design is decidedly goddess-like which contrast very well with the plain-looking of other characters, especially the soldiers. In Golden Kamuy, the weapons these characters using could tell you whole lot about their characters: Nihei with his one-bullet rifle; Henmi with his sickle, and now this new villain and… syringes. Golden Kamuy always has this fascinating perspective to death and immortal. At one point, Sugimoto said that he is immortal because he misses his chance to die. But like the tale of mermaid illustrates, to obtain that treasure can become a curse, as they can do nothing but watch the people they love pass away eventually.
7) My Hero Academia 3 (ep49-50)
Gosh, that battle between One-For-All and All-For-One sure is awesome, but what’s better is the aftermath. Now that All Might has using all his power, the stance of the Justice side is crumbling significantly. Judging the way Midoriya always throws himself into dangerous though, it’s a matter of time before he’d become someone like All Might. These two episodes also explore the teacher-pupil relationship, as we see the glimpse of All Might’s sensei and how she influenced him to become the number 1 hero he is (or was) today. And finally, Midoriya steals the scene with the most emotional and totally on-point scene about her worrying regarding her son’s well-being. Even with slow time like episode 50, MHA can still find a lot of neat things to explore.
6) Wotakoi (ep10-11) – END
Even more than Hinamatsuri, I’m actually missed Wotakoi and their characters. These breezing time with Wotakoi has become my weekly comfort, even more surprise that I never considered myself within the show’s target audience (welp, maybe I am). Within the first few episodes I’d expect the show explore more into romance territory between Narumi and Hirokata, but nope, while they’re clearly closer to each other now, romance takes a back seat for more exploration and interaction between otaku who loves different things. We can see the love for their characters, and their hobbies throughout the show. These last two episodes we get a new addition, Nao’s friend, an otaku himself, and he’s alright. He might act a little bit otaku-like (AKA social awkward), but the point is that if you open up to them, then they will to. I especially love the final skit, where it sums up perfectly the playful tone of the show, all the character’s lovable quirks, and the natural chemistry between them. Such a exceptional way to close the series in high note.
5) Hinamatsuri (ep11-12) – END
And so it ends, but it feels much more like a beginning chapter for the next arc. feel studio opens up for the possibility of next season here, by bookending Mao’s 3-year-later arc. Although I love little Mao with her kungfu storyline, I still feel it’s devoid from the content of Hinamatsuri has established so far. She appears in only 2 segments, and they can easily fill it up with more content from the present day. The biggest reason to include her, I suppose, is because she will become an important figure in later arc, and despite all my “qualms” earlier, I love her presence and her talking to handmade dolls struck a sweet chord for me. With enough screen time she can become one of the favorite character, but is there a good chance of Hinamatsuri getting second season? Well, from what I gathered, the chance doesn’t look promising despite the critical reaction it has. I guess it’s more because Hinamatsuri doesn’t subject itself within one set-demographic, and it’s frankness regarding homeless people and preteen kids attending bars might hurt its chance a little. A total shame since Hinamatsuri deserves another season.
4) Steins;Gate 0 (ep10-11)
These two episodes point out many of the show’s weaknesses, chief among them the terrible fan-service of three girls in cute outfits and boob-grabbing and the ridiculous gun-blazing. Seriously whenever those guns shooting maniacally, it strains credulity. Then we have a clear break for this beginning arc, which it might seem they avert the WWIII, but I don’t think so. The thing is, it might not be Kurisu’s laptop that is the seed of all the time-travelling stuff, but the Amadeus Kurisu meeting Okabe is. I think that’s the main objective Dr Leskinen and Reyes approached Okabe in the first place. These two episodes, on the other hand, do an admirable job to flesh out Maho and develop a chemistry between her and Okabe. The allusion of her as Salieri always in deep jealousy of Mozart talent is nicely placed, although I must not that the tale itself is a heavily-fictionalize period piece from popular play Amadeus. With this last episode, it handily ties up many plot threads and show us where are the main characters at that precise time. 11 episodes in, it still feels like the show still setting up all the pieces before crushing them all down.
3) Megalo Box (ep11-12)
As we only have final episode left, I can safely say that Megalo Box’s road to victory has been… predictable, but those “feel”. We never have any doubt in our mind that Joe is going to the final against Yuri, right? Even with Nanbu betraying him we’re still pretty sure that Team Nowhere will bounce back somehow. Speaking of Nanbu, yeah. he isn’t dead (damnit), but in someway his action of sacrifice his only eye to protect him and Joe just get right through. Still dark, gritty and still awesome. The man of the moment, however, is Yuri. We have been following Joe for 10 plus episodes to see how Yuri inspired him to throw his life on the line to play against him in the final, so it’s more than rewarding to learn that Yuri feels the exact same way. Dismantle all his gears in order to fight him squarely, it just speaks to the spirit of sports that Yukiko would never get it. The show has hiccups along the way, though. Sacchio’s development feel half-baked in general, making him the weakest character out of the main cast. While I say this show’s predictable, I have no idea how the final gonna play out. It sets itself up into one hell of a final so let’s hope it can deliver on that front.
2) Legend of Galactic Heroes – Die Neue These (ep10-11)
Two very solid episodes from an all-out attack from the Free Planet Alliances to the Empire that is serious flawed by concept and in execution. The show highlights how it was a wrong move right in its inception. The attack is a result of securing the position in the next election from the leaders. One of the main themes this show tries to convey – beside making it as a epic record of the long-winded battles between two geniuses – is how its criticizes the incapability of the leaders can actually lead the war to the wrong side, and kill their soldiers aimlessly in the process. Yang Wen Li sees through all that and he persuades others to regress. While LoGH is a show suitable for grand, big approach, the flaws I found in this show so far is how it tries to put their own opinions about these decisions and about certain characters down to us viewers. Falk, for example, is a character we love to hate and he behaves in such a clearly bizarre way by design that I actually feel bad for him. Tone down those bias opinions and let us form our own impression would do you much better, LoGH.
1) FLCL Progressive (ep03-04)
At top, this new version of FLCL is all I could ask for a ‘spiritual’ sequel. It brings the right spirits of the original, and furthermore it’s just a showcase for some pure joy visual I’ve had this year. And yes, the story doesn’t make a lick sense but the emotional progression make a whole lotta sense. As much as everyone in the cast points out this new Hidomi isn’t herself, we still know that this personality is still Hitomi’s. Here we have a girl who too afraid of expressing herself, she holes herself up using the kitty headphones to ignore all these external words and seal up the emotions inside. Midway through, when the headphone gets off, she overflows with anger, confusion and all kinds of emotions within her. Growing up is a pain and FLCL has always been a pinnacle show to express that frustration in a messy way and I’m glad this one nails that frustration well. At least so far. With this one, I’m done attempting to figure out the plot or who those characters are and just enjoy the wild visual showcase and let the raw emotions creep into you. I believe that’s the best way to approach this series.