Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 4

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 3) 

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    The episode for me passed incredibly fast.  I guess such stories with many characters meddling in the same mess when you can’t be sure of anything are really entertaining. Jean seems to have come to like Mauve quite a bit, and the prince (baka oji can’t not remind me of Gintama) showed some interest in Jean’s sister, so these things could complicate the already intricate story. I wonder if Jean really has no concerns that Nino manages to get appointments to the same important places Jean gets to visit, but with such a story and such characters you can never know for sure. So far the only big concern (apart from yet another “as you well know…”) could be only the ability of the story to end in a satisfying way so all the loose ends would be tied, all the motivations of the characters would be explained and the final conclusion would bring no wish that things had gone differently. Speaking about the animation, the characters that appear further away still look pretty bad but if that’s the price to pay for an enjoyable story – so be it.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 3)

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     Not that impressive episode after all. Well, by all means not bad, but just not feeling as fresh and as interesting as some of other stuff KonoSuba has already offered. As flawed as they are (seriously, some of their actions make them look more scum than characters of Kuzu no Honkai, and that’s something), the members of the gang could seriously show some compassion towards Darkness and be a bit concerned how she’s doing. Again, all we get is a little scene that’s almost reused material from the last episode with absolutely nothing new. An exploration of a dungeon was meant to happen as we already know what kind of world this is and it’s almost weird how long such aspect had been put off to the future. Quite unexpectedly Aqua really behaved rather well, and Kazuma rightly noticed that, but still her ego is sky high so moments of her being actually useful and likable were pretty brief. Apart from that the exploration wasn’t that interesting. The very end of the episode didn’t shy away from reused jokes that for me weren’t that funny even for the first time. The best thing about them was their novelty and without that they feel quite dull, just like the whole episode compared to more enjoyable stuff that the show is capable of.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 3)

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     Well well well, the show continues to deliver so I yet again have nothing to complain about. The pacing looks very good – the episode covered lots of material without feeling either rushed or stretched out. The soundtrack continues to be very strong, providing overall very airy atmosphere and just the right amount of playfulness when Hanabi with Mugi encountered Akane late at night. Mugi is given some backstory elements and also his character trait of trying to think best of people is showed. Well, what else can you do when your heart against a better judgement follows not that a savory woman whose true colors are finally revealed? Hanabi faces more and more problems – wishing for Narumi to be happy (even if not with her after all) but also seeing what kind of person Akane really is, trying to sort out her own feelings as well as being dumbfounded that her only friend doesn’t think the same way that Hanabi looks at her. In this case it’s even more complicated since Hanabi is content with going against her own ideology that pursuing people out of selfish reasons is despicable but to see  Ecchan as scum as Hanabi calls herself is far harder. Also it’s very hard not being able to comfort her while being with Mugi doesn’t pose much problems. Maybe that’s because Hanabi thinks she could (and ultimately will) ditch Mugi anyway, but Ecchan isn’t someone you could easily scrap so risking their friendship to become even more complicated doesn’t seem (so far) an option for her.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 4) 

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     Amazing. I’m immeasurably happy that this season has offered two really brilliant shows – just when I’m stunned by a really enjoyable episode of Kuzu no Honkai, there comes Rakugo and manages to top it. A little time skip actually made sense – the little kid learned to appreciate rakugo just in the same way Konatsu did when she was young. It was very heartwarming to see Yotaro and Konatsu acting like a real family despite not having married out of love. That care for each other, even if usually masked by bluntness or just tsundere-ish behavior, runs deep and, as the boy looks happy enough, helps to form an actually decent family. Yotaro behaves as rashly as ever lead by good intentions (also as ever) to give Konatsu an opportunity to perform rakugo. Her smile after that was probably the highlight of the whole anime season. Konatsu’s stance towards rakugo for me feels very relatable- you pursue a thing for a long time and, seeing it as unachievable after a time just make peace with it and when unexpectedly an opportunity arises to actually achieve it, you back off. Well, at least Konatsu did try performing and managed to get a job that’s as close to rakugo as it can be without angering Yakumo. With Konatsu’s performance, Yakumo must feel being attacked from all the sides for his wish to leave rakugo as he found it – sterile, perfect, but dead. It’s going to be a very interesting struggle to see if anyone has enough determination to overcome Yakumos’s stubbornness. Bonus fact – the episode taught me where did the long name used in that funny FMA sketch with Scar and Bradley attempting to fight come from.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 15) 

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    Nothing impressive, just pretty much the usual stuff this time. The only idea worth noticing was that you need to have someone better than you to be able to work and get even better without looking down on your weaker opponents. After all, there will always be at least 10 Asian people who will do better at something you’re best at. Anyway, as Kyouko for me is the most interesting character, I was glad to see her, and also even more glad once she more or less got what she deserved. Sure, she’s as troubled a person as Rei but that’s a very poor excuse to cling to Rei in order to have someone easily manipulated, ensure that he’s as pressured as possible and cry when he tries to leave. I guess Rei understands what he means to Kyouko but that’s also a poor excuse not to break all his ties with her. That’s just as toxic relationship as some examples in Kuzu no Honkai. The whole “very important match” vibe didn’t really affect me – yes, Gotou is unlikable enough, but Shimada hasn’t been here for enough time for me to start cheering on him. Also it probably doesn’t even matter since in the finals the white-haired dude could probably roast either of them. On an unrelated note, I just realized that Gotou looks (and to some extent behaves) exactly like an older version of Ladd from Baccano.

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 4) 

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     Just like the last week, if you choose to ignore some questionable things, you can have a decent time enjoying the episode. For starters, Shirayuki in her wedding dress is a type of fanservice that I can gladly enjoy, the fight scenes in the end were very well animated with 3D incorporated also rather well, the soundtrack certainly did its job. Edna’s feedback about being redeemable knowing her own history was a nice touch. Anyway, you have to overlook some things if you strive for realism – a girl knocking out full-armored guys isn’t something likely but anyway, it certainly does look cool. Of course there are other things – that one big castle tower just couldn’t exist above the water supported by those tiny pillars, a decent assassin shouldn’t miss her nemesis’ vital point. After all, why do you need people to assassinate someone? Wouldn’t it be better if Dezel alone came and silently killed anyone needed? He’s practically invisible and I’m not even mentioning his powers. Anyway, it was quite fun so I guess I can’t want anything more from the show.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 4) 

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     Compared to the last week’s bombastic episode this one logically looks very subdued, but the little side story still is able to carry the weight even with the absence of real highlights of animation. The story itself was pretty heartwarming and I got to say that the idea of a book continuously changing its authors is an interesting one. The writer didn’t leave an impression as a person, but using her as means to tell that no matter what you do, there always will be someone not happy about it, did manage to get the point through. As other family friendly ideas of LWA, this one about doing what you like and keeping it alive no matter what fits the show’s mood. I’m a bit surprised that Lotte proved to be such big a fan of a random book series, but I guess everyone is passionate about something. Akko looking for the writer in the most unlikely places and Sucy constantly getting distracted by mushrooms provided just the right little touch of comedy. Also one of the teachers being the clock tower was really funny. Returning to the story, it also works as a commentary about the light novel world – some series are really being printed in no time but the contents are not that great. As the fans in the show, real people get passionate about the silliest things that make no sense, but LWA in the end confirms that it’s nothing to be ashamed for – just enjoy what you do and move on.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 3

     Well, I’m certainly not early this time, but I guess better late than never, as the saying goes.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 2) 

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     Things are getting more complicated ergo more interesting. Nino being a spy wasn’t expected. Yet, he still seems friendly with Jean and I doubt that Nino has spied on him during all the time of their friendship. Then either there was a specific event (which is interesting) that lead Nino to betray Jean, or Nino is playing double (which is more interesting) and that I find to be more likely. Just because Jean doesn’t look like such an oblivious guy as Nino tells the superiors. Actually, it’d be rather fun if Jean is actually planning a coup d’état. The incident with the lighter I find weird – how Nino (for I guess it was him) knew who grabbed it and where exactly that person was? I don’t remember the rookie policemen showing the lighter to everyone he met. The rookie might not be a bad person, just a pretty dumb one, and it’s possible that he’ll eventually team up with Jean. Well, probably more with Jean’s sister, but anyway. Mauve is also a player that isn’t transparent at all but somehow I’d rather see her in a positive light. And I’d definitely rather see her (and others as well) being a bit more detailed and on model more than just in close ups. That’s some quite unexpected quality hiccups from Madhouse. Showing a school trip when children get some history lessons is not the worst way to do exposition. Certainly not as bad as it was last time, but still, it feels not that organically embedded into the story.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 2)

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     AAAAAAAAAHMegumin? Was pretty good. Some other early jokes about the toads as well, but especially the bath scene, prologue to it and all the implications later on were more of a miss for me. I just don’t find that stuff particularly funny. Didn’t find in the 1st season either. Nothing unexpected about that. The absence of Darkness was felt more than I would’ve imagined but as I never liked her M tendencies much (per se as well as because for the most part that was the only defining factor of her character) and Megumin’s efforts were enough to keep everything going on. The show proved that Darkness still isn’t a character without whose appearance KonoSuba would break. As for all the Yunyun stuff, it was breaking (of sorts) the continuity. Well, technically it’s ok that we now see Yunyun as for the first time and such introduction is all she needs, but she was already introduced in the OVA. Yes, there it was said that everyone has met her before, so the OVA still fits in the timeline, but it’s weird that part of the story was told in advance without reason at all (except all the OVA-ish material. You know what I’m talking about) and now Yunyun gets a second introduction. Probably the best part was the ED. Felt like it was mimicking the success of the first one, but by itself it was one of more memorable this season.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 2)

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     I guess I’m at that stage of liking an anime that it can do almost anything and I’ll still be head over heels for it. I’m not even sure what exactly makes Kuzu no Honai to me as exciting as Rakugo, and at certain times even more. Everything just clicks and I hardly can think of anything that I’m not happy about it. Finally seeing Ecchan animated was big joy since she’s my favorite character, probably for being the most relatable (not that I share her sexual preferences towards the same sex) and having the least characteristics of scum from the whole cast. Haruka Tomatsu sounds just as I imagined Ecchan would, so that’s another big plus. Moka also made an appearance and, as in the manga, while her pure side is still overshadowed by her possessiveness of Mugi and kina tsundere-ish character, Hanabi being able to show who’s the boss felt very satisfying. Well, in general I’m not very into loli characters, especially as annoying as Moka was in the beginning. Thinking about the structure, I guess it worked better in manga when a character had his/hers POV chapter. Now it’s still good, but cramming multiple different POV segments together isn’t as smooth. Also, the scene that ended the episode might not have been the best one to do so. In the very manga it was a bit confusing when everything that we saw happened and only then all the stuff leading to it was explained. Well, it’s not bad, but I doubt it was best way to leave everything at such a cliffhanger.  By the way, Ecchan’s cat sounds hilariously annoyed for some reason.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 3) 

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   Yotaro achieved something big this time. The fact that he actually went into prison for something he hadn’t done slightly undermined his turning from a (sort of a) gangster to a harmless rakugoka. But that doesn’t really matter since he was able to project his grudge for the imprisonment in a way that let him to ride the same wave and talk as bravely as he could about Konatsu to the Mr. Yakuza. He probably knows better than anyone what a wrong step and anger of a real gangster could do to him. As he said himself, to Yotaro this moment could prove to be crucial in finding his own way, understanding why he wants to do rakugo. It looks like at the moment he really likes what he’s doing – earnestly practicing, appreciating Yakumo’s skill, sheltering Konatsu from any connection with not the best public, learning to find wisdom and courage in rakugo itself. Konatsu saying to her kid that Yotaro is the dad was very beautiful – she finally looks to be appreciating Yotaro’s effort. The writer guy I still don’t completely trust. Sure, so far he’s been only helpful but digging into the past that may probably be left alone might not be the best idea. By the way, someone on reddit found out that Yakumo’s performance was made to emulate Sukeroku’s not just by it’s spirit.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 14) 

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     Now I partially understand how Rei feels since I completely misjudged the show myself. And that’s really for the best. As dumb comedy which I still can’t stand remains pretty sparse, this season so far looks a bit better than the first one. Sure, Rei overreacts, but what can you expect from such a damaged human being? He’ll probably eventually decide to join the workshop and learn from this mistake, but the realization of the mistake itself was portrayed very well. I guess I’m happy after all that the show decided not to pursue the shounen-esque “revenge on Gotou” path, but on the other hand this all Gotou stuff remains unresolved. The guy probably got a good laugh out of Rei’s misery but some conflict in the future is still bound to happen, and the situation working as a build up to it might not be as convenient as this time. So yeah, that was quite an episode. But I still can’t believe how Rei managed to misjudge such a good player. He even was higher ranked than Rei, so do they give ranks for nothing? Yes, Rei was all emotional, but still.

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 3) 

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     Is it me, or the backgrounds this time were particularly vibrant and well-made? Overall the show remains a harmless mix of many things. A fight that was quite beautiful, but without much emotional stakes? Check. Overstepping any possible conflict between Sorey and Shirayuki, even though the ending of the last time was quite handy for a clash between them? Check. Reassuring the loyalties and getting some philosophical input? Also check. The episode felt like a closing of a mini arc, with Sorey having to travel somewhere while at the same time dealing with everyone’s intentions to profit from him, Alisha (though I’m not even sure whose side on are those guys fighting her. Is an official coup d’état?) finally showed up and also got her plans straight. Well, some soothing atmosphere that stayed during the majority of the episode wasn’t a bad thing, as well as the action bits, and I guess I’ve eventually learned to appreciate what the show has to offer, without expecting any great storytelling deeds or just everything making complete sense.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 3) 

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    LWA once again does what it does best – family friendly entertainment with no too high stakes or philosophies, but with enough pure fun and enjoyment. The main girls stay true to their characters: Akko, as Diana confirmed, has passion if nothing else, Lotte tries her best without standing out and Sucy proves to be even scary when there’s something she craves. As expected, the other 3 girls finally make their appearances and also don’t stray anywhere form how their characters were defined in the second LWA film. I find myself completely enjoying the sense of humor paired with a good balance of slice of life and very Trigger-like action that the show manages to offer. You can’t at least grin when it turns out how Akko at first was supposed to complete her part of the course without being able to fly. Her relationship building part with her broom also looked funny. Well, the episode crammed much into its time and achieved probably the closest level of enjoyment since the first film (even if there Akko’s first flight was even more impactful).

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 2

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 1) 

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      It’s an interesting feeling I got from this episode – everything is portrayed cheerful enough – lots of bright colors, people eating cakes and stuff at 10 o’clock, but there is also a feel of suspense, of something not being quite right. I would’ve expected something more spectacular out of a Madhouse production in terms of animation and backgrounds, but everything is kept to the minimum, and quite a stylish minimum at that. Jean’s never more open than half-closed eyelids make him rather emotionless, but as the first case showed, he’s quite efficient at his work. I wonder if he’ll be as efficient finding out that the white-haired guy is a villain and there’s something shady brewing on. I don’t know if it was a good idea to flood the viewers with a ton of characters who might not be that important from the very start, but only time will tell what was right. It looks like it won’t be a visually very exceptional show and its enjoyment will more or less depend on the characters and the fulfillment of the police-mystery-drama kind of story. Well, you have me intrigued a bit. Props for that. The only rather absurd thing was the exposition introduced by the ridiculous “as you know,…”.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 1)

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      Contrary to my initial thoughts, I quite liked the episode. Starting from the good things, the animation (when it happens) remains one of the stronger aspects, giving enough unexpected sakuga moments or inventive cuts. Megumin’s explosions with that impact frame were as beautiful as ever. The idea to have all of Kazuma’s sins accounted during a trial works as a genius way to remind everyone about the events of the first season without giving a straight and boring recap. Actually, it needn’t be viewed as a recap – KonoSuba always knew how to tie various elements of the story together so that any event might be influenced by something that happened before, and that’s some strong world-building. Yet, I don’t quite appreciate the story. It again feels that everything happens because the author tinkered it this way and not because the story was so tightly knit so that it couldn’t have gone any other way by itself. The idea of using a polygraph certainly made moments for jokes (that were amusing), but I don’t think everything should have gone to the court as I doubt the authorities would have done anything once Kazuma started shouting “I didn’t do the right thing and I’m worthy of an execution” and the polygraph started dinging like mad. But of course he didn’t think of that. The OP looks as good as the first one, with the same mindset of telling a random story of endless failing and an ultimate success by the unlikely heroes.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 1)

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Certainly the episode didn’t attempt to save the anime, but it was good enough to keep me intrigued, even if I know the source material fairly well. Probably the biggest difference between Kuzu no Honkai and any other anime with romance in mind is getting things develop further than your generic romcom usually does. Holding hands and a kiss at best is not the line Lerche shies away to cross and go far over it, and I think that generally it’s a very healthy thing for the industry. How the story will get developed remains to be seen, but so far it’s got potential. There’s little sakuga, but the backgrounds paired with the appropriate colors give very airy and romantic atmosphere with hints that it’s not going to keep normal. Character designs are to my liking, especially the eyes, and the voice of Chika Anzai as Hanabi is nothing more I could’ve asked. The OST also started very strong. To think about it, there isn’t much that makes this show exceptional. The major point being the story, rather an attempt to look at things from a more mature angle gives hope but still it’s very easy to break this story with lack of subtlety. But for now the future is bright. Not for Hanabi and friends – for us viewers.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 2) 

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     It’ very nice to finally see that Yotaro is more than just a guy with unlimited optimism and not enough thought not to undertake as desperate measures as he did. Developing the fact that he has been in a prison, and apparently was worthy of it, is a very good way to start adding more layers to so far not that multidimensional character. I’m quite surprised that Konatsu actually agreed to marry Yotaro. Well, she, and especially her son will need stability and that’s probably the best choice regardless of her own feelings. As Yotaro is bothered by his past, Konatsu also has some skeletons in her closet, and more information about her child’s father may strongly affect all the family. Yakumo, whose problems so far concerned primarily the future of rakugo, will have to somehow deal with the writer. Every character has some things in their past that they wish to escape but as Yakumo said, they need to face their sins. These words are said also by Yakumo to himself, as Sukeruku’s ghost isn’t likely to have left. So yeah, many interesting conflicting situations are being set up and the next episode (and all the others) can’t come soon enough. Concerning the OP, Yakumo’s really determined to reject all the help everyone tries to offer and that segment with Sukeroku opening his robes was truly great. Because of that as well as that candle I think the show will end with Yakumo’s death.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 13) 

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      Recap in a letterbox format is still a recap, albeit kinda sweet, but the fact will not change. It probably was Shaft’s way of distributing resources so that Smith-san would receive some character animation (that actually wasn’t the best I’ve seen) and to console everyone because of struggling production. Sure, it was quite amusing to see how Smith eats. His movements did add some details to his character, but was it worth the time? I don’t think so. If you want me to feel something for him when he battles Gotou, I need something more than a little breakfast scene straight before the big event. And up until now Smith being a guy used only for some comedy doesn’t help either. Just please – if you want to make a likable supporting character, start from the very start and don’t throw all the characteristics at the last moment with the intention that I’ll suddenly start caring about him. But again, the breakfast scene wasn’t bad, especially with the music accompanying it. Also the track during Smith’s match built the suspense in a right way. Again, not that it was really necessary since everyone knew that Rei will have undoubtedly face Gotou himself. Rei’s match featured some nice effects and during the latter half our protagonist looked unsettled about his chances which isn’t that frequent thing to see, which is nice. Once again, not that it matters. He’s the protagonist. He has to face the villain.

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 2) 

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      Looks like some alcohol shared can make quite hostile people friends, and maybe even more. I guess the transformation of Sergei from a self-righteous guy into a subdued follower was rather quick, but in terms of storytelling inevitable since now those “good” knights opposing “bad” knights make the conflict far more massive than a random guy with some merchants (even though they are something more than that) versus everyone else. Seeing Shirayuki almost lose her composure wasn’t the most expected sight to see, and as her friend seems to have turned into a demon of sorts, it will be far harder for her to deal with it. Another conflict is about to happen between Shirayuki and Sorey because of that tornado made by her personal Mr. Wind Seraph. All these things were a nice preparation for the future events, and as the assassination of the bishop from the previous episode remains fairly relevant, the story looks to have enough material to keep things interesting. On a slightly unrelated note – do you expect me to believe that a random pit opened in a random place after a random explosion just exactly in an empty confined platform covered with only grass that stands there for no reason at all (well, not the grass, the platform)? By the way, where’s Alisha?

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 2) 

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    With the conversation between Akko and Diana in the diner it’s become very obvious that the TV series attempts to be a remake of the original film, only greatly expanding things. Similarities with Harry Potter are even more obvious when you think that an antagonist (for now) is a white-haired person from a wealthy and established family with some attitude. I was quite surprised that in the very episode she appeared Diana understood that there are things she better not play with and that some people may do better than her, but everything was left quite open. Still, I doubt that the way everything is unfolding Diana will manage to oppose Akko for more than say 2 episodes before some real antagonist arrives, for example that dude from the OP. But for now the show seems very comfortable telling little side stories and becoming more familiar with the surroundings while introducing the characters. It shouldn’t be long until the other 3 supporting girls will make an appearance. In the ED Ursula is very friendly with the main trio, but I think her involvement will be postponed until a villain, that Akko has no way of dealing with alone, will appear. Ursula may probe Akko a bit for now but even now she would really profit from some of the outgoing energy Akko has, which, quite comically, may have come at least partly form Shiny Chariot herself. The scene where Akko tried to do magic so hard that a little tree on her head shed a leaf was hilarious.

Scattered Thoughts – Character similarities in Nichijou and Little Witch Academia

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     Quite an unusual topic, isn’t it? Everything began when a few days ago I was travelling a bus and just randomly thought about the two original Little Witch Academia films (that I will finish writing about sooner rather than later hopefully) and at the same time my thoughts were meandering around a certain 3×3 that I made, which (of course) contained Nichijou. As I’m not the best person to think about two separate things at the same time, everything got a bit mixed up and I ended up with some striking comparisons. It’s probably not a big deal, but I still wanted to share it.

     As far as I know, both of the original creators of their respective shows – Keiichi Arawi of Nichijou manga and Yoh Yoshinari of LWA – have no more or less noticeable ties so unless Yoshinari has come across Nichijou at some point (which in itself would be interesting), there’s some intriguing character archetypes thing going on. I probably needn’t say that the context in which the characters appear is also vastly different – Nichijou primarily concerns various unordinary things happening among very down to earth stuff for the sake of a good laugh, while LWA, which could be far easier compared to a hybrid of Harry Potter and Disney films, just tells a story of an ordinary girl among magical stuff.

Round 1 – Yuuko Aioi and Atsuko Kagari

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     As Akko undoubtedly is the single protagonist in LWA, Yukko shares a lot of screen time with other characters, but she still remains the central piece of the show, through whose eyes we see many of the unordinary situations. Is there some better unifying aspect? Yes, there is. Both of the heroines share the same slightly tomboyish attitude and unending enthusiasm in situations like organizing a festival or trying to make a certain poker-faced friend (and not only her) laugh. Akko as well as Yukko (man, now I notice that even their nicknames sound surprisingly similar) will do anything to achieve what they want, even if neither of them may possess the skills needed for their goals and often end up messing something up – be it broom-riding or remembering your homework. Both of the girls depend very much on their friends and in dire situations expect to be helped as conversely they would undoubtedly help others in need, yet the endless enthusiasm sometimes gets in a way and prevents them from seeing the right choices in their relationships. Yukko differs from Akko by having more thoughtful moments which for example include making some poetry, albeit it might not be in a very self-aware way. Still, Akko has yet a vast story to be told about her, so some more pronounced artistic abilities may yet breech the surface.

Round 2 – Mio Naganohara and Lotte Yanson

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     It wouldn’t be unfair to say that both Mio and Lotte are the most normal ones out of their respective groups. As LWA isn’t that generous in giving enough time to the supporting characters, there isn’t much information about Lotte, but again it’s enough to find some similarities. Both of the girls usually end up helping their energetic friends – Akko and Yukko – while on their own performing quite well on the academic level. Apart from being sincere, Mio with Lotte shares a passion for some art – in Mio’s case that’s drawing some yaoi manga, in Lotte’s – far more sociably acceptable singing. Both girls appear to be optimistic, but sometimes their tender sides show up and make them the most sensitive among their friends. Mio’s own specialty is her crush on Sasahara, but Lotte wasn’t given time for that. Yet I’d bet that if some suitable guy shows up any time soon, she’d be the first to fall for him.

Round 3 – Mai Minakami and Sucy Manbav…Manvab… Manbab…whatever…

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     If I had to describe these two in one word, it would be “brains”. Mai and Sucy share their quietness and huge academic potential, but their friends probably would feel a bit safer if these two wouldn’t be so advanced compared to the base level. Because of that Mai and Sucy never lose a chance to have some fun (as they understand it) at expense of their energetic friends – Mai is a perfect embodiment and definition of the concept of a troll, getting Yukko in all kinds of weird situations, while Sucy does endless magical experiments that usually end up affecting none other than Akko. Nevertheless, both Mai and Sucy, as the rest of their groups, deeply care about their friends and when in great need, throw away their almost jerk-like attitudes and come to help, and not only because without their friends there would be no one to make fun of. Also, Sucy seems very interested in various poisons, as much as Mai likes carving Maitreya statues.

Round 4 – what else? 

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     There the most striking similarities end, and mainly due to LWA being rather short and content with using primarily the three main characters through both of the films while others receive (if they do at all) the spotlight rather rarely. Yet, one particular quirk or another shows up, so some comparisons, even if very approximate, still can be done. Thus Diana from LWA, having a role of an antagonist, may represent Nakamura the science teacher in Nichijou, though the latter is far less arrogant, but as well as Diana actually is a good person in heart. In terms of a more delinquent-like person who likes to keep everything in control, we have Amanda and Sakamoto(-san). Constanze and Hakase, both being not that tall, share a love for various technology related things and construct lots of gadgets (be it a random robot or Nano), Hakase also could represent Jasminka because of their love for some good meal. Nichijou, telling more ordinary stories (well, on the surface level), doesn’t have such an inspirational person as Shiny Chariot in LWA, but Takasaki-sensei partly occupies the niche as someone who was good at something (that being Igo Soccer) earlier but now everybody has forgotten it, though at times he reuses his old knowledge.

As you see, the farther we go, the more obscure the comparisons become. As I said, it’s partly due to the fact that LWA has given very little time to the supporting cast, and, after all, Nichijou and LWA are two completely different shows, so total match between them would be more than ridiculous. Yet, the great similarities at least between the main three girls of the show are more than apparent. To think about a wider perspective, even in such a classic as Azumanga Daioh you could combine the traits of the main characters to get almost the same result as with Nichijou and LWA. Thus Yukari-sensei, Kagura and Tomo take the place of the energetic character, Sakaki and Nyamo combine to make up a rather normal with a secret passion, Chiyo becomes the smart one whose usage of some poker-face comes from Yomi. But it’s not only possible with Azumanga Daioh. Another possible candidate – Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is also not proof to character tropes – Nozaki gets the role of the smart deadpan character, Chiyo is a normal one and Mikoshiba occupies the vacant enthusiastic type.

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     I think it’s just a matter of randomness that I started noticing common things between Nichijou and LWA because character tropes are a very widely spread phenomenon. Still, these two shows appear to have a very deep running character similarity that transcends all the huge differences between the worlds both of the stories take place in. I’d even say that if both shows exchanged their main three girls, their respective stories still might develop fairly fine, almost as if nothing had happened. I guess the conclusion could be that no matter the circumstances, to have a believable and pretty much self-sustained source of character interactions, particularly in the slice of life genre, you only need three main characters – one too enthusiastic, one normal, but not really, and the third – an intelligent person with a knack for making fun of people.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 1

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 1) 

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     Well, that was exactly the Rakugo I remember and am fond of. The introduction breaking the fourth wall using rakugo itself was inventive, useful and smart. Some new characters were introduced, so it would now be Sukeroku Jr.’s story while Yakumo sits in the background, grumbling that Yotaro, despite being his disciple, actually chose a path of Sukeroku. The characters we are familiar with are still the same and though it’s a bit odd to them older after so much time has passed but anyway it’s a joy to hear once again Akira Ishida and Tomokazu Seki. It’s just a well-made first episode – everything is reintroduced, some directions of the story are provided, such as the relationship between Yotaro and Konatsu, Konantsu’s child’s father’s absence as well as the question how Yotaro will be able to carry Yakumo’s weight, restating the importance of rakugo while not straying from all the traditions that Yakumo is so fond of. Some comedic moments were also to my taste, so I just can rejoice and eagerly await the following events, as well as the new OP and ED. Man, it’s so good that Rakugo is back!

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 12) 

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    Pretty much everything went just as expected – Rei’s existentialism plus dumb comedy here and there. Rei finally realizes his need for a family and his disgust with his own meager flat with no such warmth that the sisters share. By the way, why did he took off his glasses before starting eating noodles? As last week there was no episode, Shaft stuffed this one with their usual quick cuts that try to instill some movement into a still scene but especially this time all these cuts as well as other artistic stuff just didn’t seem to have any real purpose. Well yes, they are Shaft and they do what they want regardless if it makes sense or not. Speaking about that Gotou, did I misunderstand something or it was really told that he’s married, but at the same time he’s sort of a boyfriend for Kyouko? The new OP seems a lot more cheerful than the old one and it exchanges Rei’s deep loneliness with the smiles of the sisters. Not sure if I liked it – Bump of Chicken had done a decent job after all. The ED visually is more appealing than the last one but again I’m not yet sure about the song. Bonus fact – every time I hear “benkyou” in anime I can do nothing but remember Golden Boy.

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 1) 

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    Another show with no big surprises. I can’t say that my memory is very fresh from the last cour, but this episode cleared it quite well. Also, seeing more Shirayuki is always a treat. To think about it, she even felt more of a protagonist than Sorey, doing all sorts of stuff here and there, from trading to assassinating. While the prospects of the story remain very vague, the ultimate goal of fighting the dragon is still here, and for now we’ll have to be content with dealing with those soldiers, more trading, some stuff about those statuettes, possible outcomes of the assassination and, more interestingly, with the story of the Shepherd before Sorey. Looks like a normal outline for a season. The blend of 2D and 3D was achieved quite well apart from just one or two short scenes, and that is encouraging. The new OP, while not as electrifying as the first one, for me looks visually superior – without throwing everything at you randomly with the mindset of “look at me, I’m so cool”. There was Velvet Crow in the OP, so sadly some Berseria promotion is within the range of possibilities. Well, as a first episode of a season, it was rather uninteresting, but as episode 13 it wasn’t the worst – probably saving resources for some fights. Ok. By the way, where’s Alisha?

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 1) 

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     Once again pretty much expected fair. Basically the first episode showed that the creators are willing to throw away the stories that both of the previous films used in order to construct something hopefully more cohesive, but it remains to be seen if it will be effective enough. So far the story hasn’t got that extra-tight pacing that the first film got, but as for a series, it was a decent start. Characters remain the same – over expressive Akko, sincere but clumsy Lotte and jerk-as-always-but-only-on-the-surface Sucy. Animation didn’t get me absolutely excited, but it definitely surpasses your standard anime. The only thing that could go wrong at this point is the story. Yes, introductions are fine, the newcomers to the anime will get the point, but as very close to the world of Harry Potter as it is, the show doesn’t avoid getting the main characters lose their way because of malfunction of magical traveling and ending up in a mysterious forest that is forbidden to enter because of various genetically modified objects, in this case, one that saved its life running from KFC. Overall, not that climactic episode, but the show is definitely worth savoring, even if only for the animation.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 0

     After a bit of a breather from weekly anime again comes a new season with renewed hopes, expectations and worries. It’s a really difficult task to choose which shows deserve your time, especially for such completionists like me. At least for me it’s not the easiest task to guess from bare premises (that often doesn’t say anything useful), staff members and one or two PVs if an anime will prove to be good. If not for the wish to keep up with the community I doubt if I would at all watch anime as it airs – too much gamble and sadly too little chances of success. Nevertheless, here I am, thinking about the new season. For some time I thought that it may be better to restrict myself to 2 or 3 shows at most, after finding the good ones according to the impressions of other people. Yet, it turns out that Winter 2017 will provide way more second seasons of stuff that I may not be head over heals for but nevertheless am willing to try. So yeah, what does the next season have in store?

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

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    Definitely the anime I’m the most excited about. The first part of Rakugo was my favorite of the last year so it’s a no-brainer that I stick to it till the very end. The path to this second season was paved from the very first episode of the first season, and while it ended wrapping everything it attempted well, it’ll be even more interesting to watch how the story unfolds when there’s no doubt about the premise and the characters that should be central to the story. I hope it again proves to be a masterfully woven character drama it has been. Well, just watch the first season, if you haven’t already and I think you won’t be disappointed with that one as well as with what we are about to get.

3-gatsu no Lion

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     Probably no need to elaborate. It’s even not a second season but a direct continuation from a previous one. I don’t think we’ll see anything exceptional – there have been anime that are far more interesting and occasional glimpses of quality for me feel rather sparse compared to the whole package of everything that 3-gatsu offers. I’m just curious how everything will end, but everything else isn’t that fascinating anymore.  Well, unless getting some nice wallpapers is also a reason to stick around. Thanks for that, Shaft.

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017)

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     Again a show that I found I’m not the most qualified person to watch – having played the game seems to be sort of compulsory to get the most rewarding experience. As a person who still hasn’t past his stage of adoration of ufotable even when the era of adapting Type-Moon stuff almost ended I’m looking forward to see what Unlimited Budget Works will produce this time. ufotable’s later works don’t look that inspired but even the sheer curiosity of the capabilities of CG makes the show interesting enough – at the very start of the first season the disconnection between 3D and 2D was very jarring and towards the end it was greatly improved, but the possibilities are still here. I don’t care very much for the story (apart from the wish to see more Shirayuki) but you never know what’s going to happen. I just hope if there will be no random Berseria promotion arcs.

Little Witch Academia

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     One of a few original shows that still managed to get the green light and also being made by studio Trigger automatically qualifies as something worth noticing, yet knowing what this project began from makes me really enthusiastic, almost as much as I’m hyped for Rakugo. I’ve only recently discovered the appeal of Trigger and after everything that was done in the films of LWA, I can do nothing but eagerly wait for the TV series. Of course there’s a huge question if the writers will be able to capture the same spirit and, more importantly, to retain it for the whole season, as the second film suffered from being not as condensed as the first one, and it was only not even an hour long itself. There’s also a risk to stray too much in the territory of uninteresting characters, lots of tropes and just plain unoriginality. But for now let’s keep excited and remember that at least the art should definitely remain top tier no matter what.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

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     The show I know the least about and I’m not even sure if I should watch it. Probably going to wait for some impressions on the first episode. Despite the premise which says very little indeed about what the anime will be about, some names of the people attached to the project make the show quite compelling. The original manga author Natsume Ono has also drawn Saraiya Goyou about which I have heard only good things, though sadly it still remains in my watchlist for an indefinite amount of time. Madhouse by itself suggests not the worst things to be expected, and the director Shingo Natsume only by his direction (and huge book of friends, haha) of One Punch Man deserves attention. Yes, basing the expectations only on people involved might not be the best way of judging yet unaired anime but unless it proves to be otherwise, this show might be quite good.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2

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     I remember when at first last year everyone just didn’t pay any attention to “another RPG world” anime, yet after a time started praising KonoSuba sometimes even as the best of the year. Well, I tried watching it and yes, some parts were funny, but especially towards the end it started to lose its charm, as much as it actually got. Anyway, as with other sequels, I’m a bit interested to see if anything unexpected will happen, though I don’t have any high hopes. And, well, some jokes were truly good. As well as the amazing ED.

Kuzu no Honkai

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     And, last but not least, the third anime I’m mostly interested in. I’ve read the manga as far as it goes and quite liked it. It may not be the world masterpiece but to some degree it tries to delve into that fascinating territory that Oyasumi Punpun magnificently explored. And right here lies the biggest problem – the show is advertised as a normal one, but it’s just not possible to keep true to the source material and don’t get dangerously near the borderland to abundant ecchi. Sure, the creators may try to avoid that but the sexuality of the characters and its complications are one of the key elements that drive the story so unless Lerche goes all out, it may become a very undermining disappointment. The complete censorship wouldn’t work and on the other hand it’s really easy to lose all the subtlety. Anyway, the character designs are just gorgeous. And, as the manga approaches its end, we may receive a complete and fulfilling story. So yeah, that’s a gamble but I’m willing to take it.

      And that’s all I’m mildly or more interested in for the already started season, that may be called the season of second seasons. It just looks that if you aren’t already familiar with many shows to be aired, you don’t have much space to construct your watchlist – the amount of possibly decent shows isn’t astronomical at all. But let’s hope for a good season!

Musings and Reflections – end of 2016

      Well, everyone’s doing their yearly roundups and I also thought – why not? Probably a bit late (I was waiting for the 12th episode of 3-gatsu that never came on Saturday so that slightly messed up with my schedule), but as the saying goes – better late than never, even if it looks that in the end I got a bit carried away more than once.

     It seems like the overall consensus opinion was that the last year in general wasn’t something good – not everyone is happy with political situations and just lack of stability in many countries, many famous (and not) people died… Well, to think about the latter one, even if I’m too cynical, there are many famous (and elderly) people so such news isn’t that unnatural. At least I hope that many famous people have been born on 2016. Only confirming or denying that is a bit problematic right now. Thinking more positively, even with all the tensions rising in many of the corners of the world, we still somehow managed not to destroy humanity (even if such a scenario as in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita is quite compelling). So yeah, everything’s just going on, as it has been, with some bad things happening and some good.

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     For me the year also was kind of normal, but looking with an optimistic outlook, the biggest change was probably starting this blog (*some applause from behind the scene*) and also getting to read more solid opinions of fellow bloggers than you could ever find in any forum. That also comes with a bit of a cost since frankly becoming exposed to such a variety of ideas not once did I feel jealous of other people’s achievements in mature thinking, analyzing, grabbing attention, managing and growing their blogs, productivity  and many other things. Well, someone has said that for anything you think you do well there are at least a hundred Asian people (with all due respect) that are doing it incomparably better.  I don’t think I’m very distinguishable from many other anime bloggers, but oh well, I’m having fun writing stuff, so I’ll keep doing it and I guess at least the near future is more to the brighter side than not.

     Getting to the anime world in this year, I found some interesting things. I don’t think many people would say that 2016 was the best year in anime history, but looking formally guess which year has the most entries in the MAL’s Top 100? Yep, you aren’t mistaken. And 2016 wins by a large margin, having 16 entries and a cherry on the top of all the list – Kimi no Na wa, while the 2nd place goes to 2011 with 11. Hell, even every year up to 2006 combined has less entries than 2016 alone. I guess looking formally to such a thing won’t always produce very logical results. More people than ever are watching anime and they tend to choose newer shows. As many of the new people are rather inexperienced, there’s a high chance of a particular show to get a good evaluation if a person rating it hasn’t got a very wide context of previous years. Well, I guess no one would rate their first several anime with less  than, say, 8/10 no matter what shows they’d be. I think such shows like Boku dake ga Inai Machi in the list confirm that. Also, second (and later) seasons tend to be evaluated better since anyone who didn’t like the first season won’t watch a sequel and automatically won’t rate it. I don’t say second seasons are bad, they just have a higher probability to be rated more favorably. A huge pile of Gintama on the top of the list, plenty of Haikyuu, Natsume or Jojo affirm that.

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     Apart from getting quite high consensus ratings, many popular shows in 2016 were rather polarizing – Boku dake ga Inai Machi or Re:Zero ignited many debates about their quality. KonoSuba and Yuri!!! on Ice probably were the most original popular anime that offered something rather new and unseen to some degree. For me the most memorable experience came from Rakugo, Fune wo Amu, Flying Witch (and to a lesser degree the 2nd season of Shirayuki) all of whom in my opinion are definitely worth checking. Of course, more and more new shows being produced also means more forgettable anime, but let’s just leave it at that. Apart from new shows, I can say I didn’t waste my year, getting some taste of Jin-Rou, Baccano and Spice and Wolf among others, which I highly recommend to anyone who’s yet managed to escape such great things.  I guess one of my goals for 2017 will be to engage more some older anime and keep seasonal watching to a minimum (though that’s not happening during Winter 2017), as I’m relatively new to anime community and haven’t yet seen such classics as Clannad, Madoka Magica, Monogatari series or Death Note. Well, at least I feel a bit smarter in many aspects concerning anime, getting a bit interested in sakuga, various connections between shows and how they are made, as well as getting into shows that I’d have never myself imagined watching (Yuri!!! on Ice or Little Witch Academia for example). Also I’m very happy to have started gathering a little anime (and stuff) collection that still looks notably meager, but nevertheless gives joy  every time I look at it. Even only some volumes of newly published Nichijou manga are a priceless source of optimism.

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     So yeah, I guess the last year just more or less normally passed by. Future perspectives are also rather ordinary and we just have to move on to the 2017. Thanks everyone for sticking around last year and I hope the New Year will prove to be exceptionally good in each and every aspect – keep writing, keep reading and have fun!

Musings and Reflections – end of Autumn 2016

     It wasn’t a very outstanding season, was it? It had its fair share of quite original shows (talking about you, Keijo (I don’t even know how many exclamation marks I should add there), among others) but apart from them and some second seasons of already established franchises there wasn’t much that could possibly be remembered for a long time. I picked my shows this season quite randomly but it looks that probably apart from Flip Flappers there isn’t any more prominent show that I should catch upon some time later. Oh well, a pretty peaceful autumn.

3-gatsu no Lion

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     There isn’t much to say since the story is only halfway through. Well, the backgrounds are amazing, as expected from Shaft – you can make countless wallpapers during a single episode. The story could have been more condensed as sometimes a segment or two doesn’t really contribute to the development of the story or the characters. Anyway, I don’t think that anything we’ve seen so far will be that different from what is yet to come. Rei will still struggle, Kiyoko will weave her plots, Nikaidou will occasionally bump in with his unending optimism and unrequested care, the sisters will also continue their daily life without too much worries. The story will probably still use flashbacks from Rei’s childhood and the sisters’ family situation could be explored in more detail. More shogi training with cats. More incredibly unappealing lips. More terrible transitions between heart-clenching moments and comedy. But the show, when it’s being dark, is enjoyable, I can give it that.

      3-gatsu no Lion receives the award of most impressive scenery of the season. It’s usual Shaft – what did you expect?

Natsume Yuujinchou Go

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     If anyone reading this has already seen at least a couple of episodes of Natsume (no matter from which season), I can just confirm that you know perfectly well what generally happens in this season. Sure, there are some slight developments, Natsume gets to know more people and more youkai, but the general feeling of the series is retained, and thank you very much for that, Shuka. After this studio took over the show from Brains Base the visuals have had a little step back (and there was that special created almost ages ago that had none of the usual Natsume spirit), but everything else thankfully remains the same. I’m not even bothered that there barely is much going on but even stops taken to dig deeper into some of the characters’ pasts deliver just as well as Natsume usually does. Rarely these days shows earn even a third season, so receiving a 5th one with an announcement of the upcoming 6th is a very joyous news. Natsume may not always present anything that hasn’t been seen in it before but even for purely nostalgic reasons this show is very dear to me and I can do nothing but be grateful for what we got.

     Natsume Yuujinchou Go receives the award of the most memorable character of the season – somehow even if there were some quite appealing guys and gals otherwhere I don’t think anyone was relatable enough or provided enough fun to rival Natsume. I guess nostalgic reasons again prove to be stronger than everything else.

Yuri!!! on Ice

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    Yep, the show that will probably define this season for the future anime viewers – an incredible first episode, not that common relationship (in anime that isn’t specifically targeting a certain audience and no one else) growing, and sadly a usual conclusion that didn’t actually resolve anything but got our hopes high for a second season. I truly appreciate what the show was trying to do, but as original as it was, some things weren’t to my liking. Concentrating on figure skating, while outstandingly beautiful, later on gave the animators a bit too much work to do in order to repeat the greatness of the first episode. Also it turned out to get a bit boring – come on, to make guys skating the same programs in six or so episodes consecutively without much else going on in a way that manages to avoid dullness is a devilish stunt to demonstrate. Indecisive ending, comedy not always on point, and ambitious stubbornness to put as much figure skating in as possible no matter the result make Yaoi!!! on Ice slightly less than it could have been. Still, it was something really different from usual light novel adaptations and stuff so despite anything that wasn’t quite as good I must applaud the staff and hope for fruitful future projects.

Fune wo Amu

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     Last but certainly not least there’s a show that almost no one watched (thanks, Amazon) and oh boy how much they missed. Sure, guys making a dictionary may be one of the most bizarre and unfit premises to make an anime about. Well, the novel which the show was based on has already received a live-action adaptation, so it’s not that obscure a story. The animation for a studio, whose creation among others was that infamous Aku no Hana adaptation, was unexpectedly well made. Getting a truly capable cast of voice actors and getting Yoshihiro Ike to create a soundtrack just couldn’t backfire and certainly didn’t. As an adaptation of a novel the show could have used one or two extra episodes to compensate for that rather unexpected time jump, but providing a very satisfying conclusion that also for me might have been one of the most emotional episodes of the whole year was more than I could have wanted from not that popular anime. I just hope that Fune wo Amu will eventually receive the praise it deserves, just as Rakugo managed to do to a certain extent.

     It’s yet another season when my favorite anime and favorite OST awards were taken by the same show. Fune wo Amu was the only show this season that managed to wrap everything it started perfectly and even if it didn’t try to be as ambitious as say, Yuri!!! on Ice, it completed its initial goals and out of all shows gave me probably the least things to be concerned about. And go listen to the OST.

     Favorite OP didn’t require much thought to select. Probably the majority of anime viewers will not object that among all the shows this season and not only among these four I watched Yuri!!! on Ice provided something memorable. To get a song in English without a slightest trace of Engrish in itself is an achievement, but the impressive animation of characters with enough weight and expression was just jaw-dropping.

      Favorite ED also was a pretty easy choice. As original or catchy other EDs were, I can do nothing but to give the award to Aimer who once again proves to be the queen of EDs. Natsume EDs always are a thing but just listen to this. Just do. And I don’t have to mention that the ED was solo-animated by Norio Matsumoto. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.