This week, we will head to a niche market: anime TV movies from 2019. These films are all sequels of popular anime series in the past few years, which all in turns are based on popular Light Novels and while the original series are far from my Top 10 Anime material (although Tanya was close), I’m still interested in the franchises enough to follow them through. In the last couple of years, the anime medium have emphasized on following a successful season with a sequel film (or in some cases, multiple films). I suppose the main reason for that is that they can gain actual profits from releasing it in cinema and while the upside is that movie format has far better production values, we as the audiences have to wait much longer and they are not exactly newcomer-friendly. You can still watch these three films below without knowing any context, but the fact remains that there is a certain level from the films that you can only fully appreciate if you know the full context.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Dreaming Girl (2019)
Arguably the most buzzed titles out of these three, Rascal adapts on a brand new volume about one of the show’s core cast, Shouko – Sakuta’s first flame. I admit that LN-based highschool romance anime with snarky main male lead has always been within my strike zone, but I found the original show Bunny Girl Senpai just good and not great. The show can be overdramatic at times and it still embraces many tired tropes of its genre. I do like the supernatural twist and in their best moments, the characters’ emotions feel genuine and well-earned. The film Dreaming Girl has all these mentioned-above qualities. It gives much-needed character development for the main trio of the story: Sakuta, Mai, and Shouko and their chemistry towards each other is solid. Other girls all appear and have their own roles in this story, which is a plus. The conflict does tuck your heartstring and I can say that Dreaming Girl gives a satisfying conclusion to its drama. As for the story, it was overall satisfying but felt a little bit emotionally manipulative at times. We’re dealing with Korean-drama level of melodrama here. To that, I’d say the drama will either sweep you away or make you shrug. The psychological twist adds a nice flavor to its adolescent drama, and compared to other arcs in the series, this arc is above the average line. All in all, Dreaming Girl is a solid entry to the franchise, it offers some neat character moments, and its emotional core is strong, but naysayers may get annoyed by its genre convention (especially its dialogues) and its melodramatic climax.
(2 / 4)
KonoSuba: Legend of Crimson (2019)
KonoSuba is an odd duck for me. It’s normally the type of show that I normally don’t care for. It’s a satire of the isekai genre, serves a farce by having the main characters as incompetent and awful as possible. The humor ranges from downright stupid to overtly sexually charged fanservice, but somehow, it’s the perfect show I tend to watch whenever I want to shut off my brain. That says something about its appeal. This movie version is an extension to its episodic quest, with more focus on Megumin’s background, so that means Yunyun (the only good-hearted character in this show) also involves. Legend of Crimson understands that the cast is its strongest asset, so the film spends an adequate time to amp up their antics and strengthen their interactions, and most of the time it’s fun to watch. Secondly, it always plays for laughs so the jokes keep coming at you, not all of them land but overall I’d say it succeeds in terms of comedy. The third arc is a total farce that highlights the absurdity it aims for, but it also comes out of left field so I can understand that some don’t find it as appealing. The animation is nothing stellar, and in the true spirit of our Megumin, they seem to put more effort into only explosions instead of the overall production, which is funny on and of itself.
(2 / 4)
Saga of Tanya the Evil Movie (2019)
In the boom of the isekai movement, Saga of Tanya the Evil stands amongst the best offering, at least in this humble opinion. It’s about a greedy salaryman who is transported to an alternative WWII world as a loli girl by a God-being named “Being-X” and she kicks ass and somehow the show shines even with that admittedly laughable premise. The one thing that makes this franchise is the titular Tanya as she’s cunning, calculated, amoral… all the qualities of a true evil villain, but we see her struggling to be on top of the world where her nation (modelled after Nazis) starts to loose their advantage, and she has a very personal fight against Being X. In addition, the fact that this world parallels the WWII events (and Tanya herself knows it), make it much more engaging. Out of the three TV films, Saga of Tanya the Evil Movie feels the most tie-in to its original series, with the events happening right after the end of the show. Thus if we judge this film through a standalone product, Saga of Tanya the Evil movie is amongst the weakest out of these three, but as a sequel to the series it does an excellent job. Not only Tanya in this chapter has to deal with the Soviet which 1) we all know they would beat the German and 2) Tanya doesn’t have a high opinion of (as a guy who grew up in a Communist country it fascinates me how others’ first impression of Communism is free will violation. It has so much more), this film introduces Mary Sue – a tragic hero in another story – and how she’s on a brink of insanity for her quest of revenge against Tanya. It’s appropriate then that the film’s biggest moment is their battle and I am really impressed on how the film decides to omit the scores of that fighting and let the on-screen sounds of hitting and punching dominate the scene. It’s a chilling climax, in fact I still think about it after many days, and it speaks perfectly to the pointlessness of war and cycle of revenge that I think are more effective than outright declaring “war is bad”. I’m pretty much on board for the next story in this franchise.