Four weeks into the season and I still wasn’t sure what to blog, so I figured I’d go with EVERYTHING! Well, in a much shorter format, but basically, I’ll be writing briefly about every show I’m watching this season as it goes, which currently stands at: Maoyuu, Kotoura-san, Tamako Market, Shin Sekai Yori, and Minami-ke: Tadaima. So here’s my thoughts on the shows thus far, and a weekly comment on each. Winter season has had a few shows I ended up surprised about.
NOTE: Currently I’m pretty far behind on Shin Sekai Yori since I like letting it accumulate to watch in batches. But for next week I’ll try to be caught up to comment upon it weekly.
Kotoura-san episode 04
The Show To This Point: Kotoura-san was one of those shows at preview time that didn’t have a lot of info that could really give you an idea of how it would turn out, and the first episode definitely had a big mood swing halfway through. The way it was so depressing and sad early on made me think that it was some sort of prequel to Shin Sekai Yori that explained why all the ESP-users decided to destroy civilization. When Kotoura was in the park in the rain in episode 01, I half expected people’s head to start exploding as she succumbed to an ability-powered murderous impulse. But then the halfway point it and BAM! it’s lighthearted and comedic. For the most part anyway. No amount of KOSHI DEMO YOSHI completely obscures the past trauma and continued social problems that are a part of Kotoura, but it’s hard not to see this as a feel-good show this season. Manabe alternates as much and as well as the tone can, between a kind, virtuous stand-up dude and a complete lecher. Reminds me a bit of Miroku from Inuyasha in that way, or Sugisaki Ken from Seitokai no Ichizon. I’ve also found Muroto to be pretty cool, and of course ship him and Yuriko. Especially the way his comic appearance is used as a foil to his seriousness and thoughtfulness.
This Week’s Episode: Muroto tracking down Kotoura via webcam hacking was both hilarious and easier than you might think. His devious side is pretty great, and it also highlighted how much more knowledgible in general he is. His comment near the end of episode 03 to Yuriko about how she’s not much of an actress, much less a villain, seemed to show a bit of disappointment with her, but also patience and an understanding of his childhood friend. At Kotoura’s grandfather’s mansion we get to see a pervert to rival Manabe, and then the group’s reunion. But the most significant part to me was Moritani showing up to apologize…and Manabe acting LIKE HE RIGHTLY SHOULD and not accepting that psycho’s apology. Serious. Fuck.that.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
The Show To This Point: I’ve been really back and forth on this one. Wanting to drop it one week, and wanting to continue the next. On the one hand, the characters are almost universally very fun and interesting. Demon King and Hero’s romance is sweet if immature (seriously, not even a kiss yet?) And Knight is kyyyyaaaaaa! Be still my heart! And the full cast hasn’t even been introduced yet. But on the other hand, the way it treats a lot of its key material is pretty simplistic. It displays a fetishism for economics that just seems ridiculous to me. As in, it’s of the school of thought that thinks that economics can explain and solve everything from wars to religion. It’s not the worst oversimplification or anything, I think it just bothers me because I know too much. It’s hard to buy into a lot of the simplified economics and politics when you have a master’s degree in international affairs, heh. That said, there’s enough to keep me watching, especially after things seem to have started moving this week.
This Week’s Episode: The recruitment of the southern merchants Alliance into Demon King and Hero’s plans seems to have finally given the scheme legs. On their own, the protagonist duo has almost no real power, but they are managing to exert their will via the Alliance’s actions. The failed first expedition to retake Aurora Island looks to be the first step in securing the South. My guess is that the Alliance and sympathetic southern kings such as the newly enthroned Winter King will secure any human lands taken by the demons, then have the momentum to break off their arrangement with the Central Lands. This may result in some civil wars in the South as any kingdoms still loyal to the Central Lands and/or the Church fight it out with the Maou-Alliance-Winter coalition. Or maybe it’ll just be a Central-South conflict. Either way, the military movements in this week’s episode are a welcome change from the less believable ‘economic can cure war’ stuff.
The Show To This Point: It’s another season of Minami-ke, what’s not to like? And thankfully, despite the studio change, this seems to be more in the spirit of seasons 1 and 3. Sure, there’s an added touch of fanservice to it that wasn’t there before, but it’s not too frequent or blatant, so I can live with it. However I do eagerly await the Hideyoshi-esque Mako Cakes fanservice.
This Week’s Episode: The glorious return of Hosaka! (and Sensei-Ninomiya-kun.) Most of the episode featured him in some capacity, from his sunny side up vs turn over debate, to the insane levels of self-delusion that it took to transform a plate into a tea kettle. And even a few Hosaka and Asami moments to satisfy my shipping urges.
The Show To This Point: I absolutely love the setting, and the characters have mostly been more interesting than the formulaic ‘cute girls doing cute things’ I expected/feared from Kyoto Animation. The shopping district setting itself is very pleasant and nostalgic. From what I gather, the post-WWII sort of shopping districts are something of a dying breed now that they face big box store competition, but they are a wonderful setting, replete with ‘traditional’ post-WWII Japanese charm and neighborly warmth. Everyone knows everyone and seems to get along, even with the rivalry between the Ooji and Kitashirakawa family mochi shops. So far it seems to serve as a backdrop for story-of-the-week stuff, though I expect we’ll see more connecting storylines or maybe arcs involving the strange origin and mission of Dera. There’s also the sometimes-featured love story angle, with Mochizou having fallen for Tamako and Midori seemingly interested in Mochizou.
This Week’s Episode: While I can’t say I really like Anko, this week’s episode that focused around her was still pretty decent. She seems to have a crush on a rather odd-looking classmate, and spends the episode trying to go to a museum with a group of friends that includes him, and then hiding from him when he shows up later. What I liked the most about the episode was the circular story of Anko and the Usagiyama festival. This year she actively wants to avoid it, wishing she weren’t the daughter of a mochi maker and thus forced to help out. Though she does manage to arrange her schedule so she can go to the museum with her friends, she ends up being sort-of dragged into helping out. But then she chooses to stay. The episode starts off with her hating the little kid’s costume she had to wear for the parade when she was younger, but now she tells a little girl that she “looks cute” and “like a princess”, the same words Tamako told Anko back then. And she decides to spend time making sure the little girl gets into and enjoys the parade, at the expense of going to the museum. Despite disliking the festival initially, she’s come to realize her fondness for it and its traditions. Which is kind of sweet, or kind of terrible in that she’s become a cog in the gear of the tradition machine she once despised. Depends on your point of view, I guess.
Sasami-san@Ganbarani: I always give SHAFT shows a shot, but after the second episode I dropped this one. The story just didn’t seem that interesting, and the whole thing just felt hollow somehow, even with some pretty fun characters. The animation also just doesn’t quite feel like SHAFT. I think all the soft textures in everything kind of ruin the stark, separated visual style that SHAFT usually goes for.
That’s it for this week. Join me next time when hopefully I’ll be caught up on Shin Sekai Yori too!