Musings and Reflections – end of Winter 2017

     Probably a bit late because I was completely immersed into that huge triple post about Inio Asano, but anyway. Somehow I ended up watching way more series this season than usually mainly because there was so many second seasons. And more times than not everything went as expected – dull series remained dull, great ones continued to impress. Out of unwatched stuff Maidragon found a way into my watchlist rather quickly, Demi-chan also might be a mild slice of life fun. And I still can’t fathom how it’s possible that more people watched Hand Shakers than Rakugo

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017)

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     It’s not even over yet, but I guess I can at least partially wrap everything up since huge changes are very unlikely . I can call Zestiria one word – mediocre. The first season at least introduced the world and began the journey, but here the story at first didn’t even move and ultimately reached the final battle in a more or less bland way. Rose and Alisha kinda got their developments but in the grand scale of things it hasn’t been important. Who liked them from the start will still like them and vice versa. Sorey remains a protag-kun with an idea that you absolutely mustn’t kill regardless of the circumstances. I guess he’s just been lucky enough not to become burned because of his ideals. Yet. The world sometimes looks interesting and there are hints of mythology and other stuff but that just either is constructed not that firmly or (which is more likely) the show just doesn’t have the will and time to dig deeper and explore the themes that would certainly have enriched the story. Visuals are the part where I can ramble the least, but in the end I don’t think the super clean and almost sterile artstyle with lots and lots of CG (that actually improved over time) is my favorite. The “X” in the title didn’t have any meaning this season, but knowing what was done in the first one, it’s for the better. So yeah, pretty disappointing, though not unexpected.

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) receive the award of most impressive scenery of the season because 3-gatsu got it last time and LWA doesn’t have Studio Pablo on board.

Little Witch Academia

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     Well, for starters the charm of the original LWA, although still present in the very first episodes, didn’t need much time to pretty much dissipate. It’s not a bad show, but having such strong predecessor isn’t working well for the TV series. You can do only so much with limited resources, pressing timetables and other projects in mind. LWA delved too often for my liking into rather unimportant fairy tale material. Character development (of sorts) is there, there are countless shows with way worse animation, the story now also seems to be starting off, but sadly it’s just incomparable with the original OVA. After the first cour it still feels like we have got hardly anywhere from the very start. I don’t know, it’s a good thing we have something like this, but maybe creating something similar and not trying to recapture the same success would have been a better idea after all.

LWA receives the random award of The Best Thing That Happened Though Probably Shouldn’t Have.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

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     Ultimately I’m glad that I decided to stick around. Just as expected Acca provided an interesting character drama and even if in the end all those rumors, speeches and whisperings about the coup lead to nothing spectacular, the interactions between the characters and opportunities for the story to go one way or another proved to be enjoyable enough. Pretty much every character had his/hers own motives and ways of achieving something as well as interplay between so different personalities that weren’t the most predictable was fun to watch.  Only Jean, the titular character in the end still looked emotionless and too stoic to be likable enough. Yes, he’s not a bad dude, but you could as well have a cupboard as a main character. I guess the story not always went in the most logical and expected ways but that created opportunities to more entertaining character interactions and wonderings what will happen next, so in the end I can say I wasn’t astounded by Acca but left satisfied enough.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka receives the random award of But It Was Me, The Show About Bread!!

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2

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     Nothing new compared to the first season. Well, nothing new that’s worth much. As a positive point character animation may have been even more of the rails than last year, but apart from that nothing really stood out. As I wasn’t particularly impressed by the first season, and this one also leaves the same impression. The incompetence of the characters feels more annoying than funny, there’s no story to speak about, fanservice again is overstretched too long. Basically the show tried to repeat itself, and it doesn’t even feel novel (maybe except the first few episodes). Even the ending song is almost exactly the same as the last time. Yes, it’s nice, but not as nice as its predecessor.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 receives the random award of Being Both The Best And The Worst Comedy Of The Season Because It’s The Only Comedy I Watched.

Kuzu no Honkai

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    I knew from the start what I was getting into because of the manga, so I can’t say there were many unexpected turns. During the later episodes the story might have gone a bit differently, as it felt a bit exhausted because compared to its unconventional start. Moca after all wasn’t as important as she could’ve been, so maybe a little less convoluted emotional dodecahedrons would’ve been a little more elegant. On the other hand, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending, so the overall experience was definitely satisfying. Not to mention that the tackled themes are rather scarce among other shows, so bringing some food for thought to the mainstream audience is an admirable thing. The choice of VA’s and the artstyle was also a big plus – despite lacking heavily animated scenes the show managed to have it’s own identity, and a pleasant one.

Kuzu no Honkai receives the award of the favorite OST of the season. LWA and 3-gatsu also had their moments but both of these didn’t do anything new that they haven’t done before, and Kuzu no Honkai managed to offer a decent score to accompany the misdeeds of its characters. Also the show gets the award of the most memorable character, that being Akane. She’s probably the worst person not only in the show but also in the season but despite of that her manipulations and general character were somehow very enjoyable to watch.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

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    Oh, Rakugo, dramatical life at its best. Just watch it and there’ll be no need for any words to describe the greatness of it. The first season had its ending revealed right from the start, but now there was no way to guess what will happen. The characters that already last year were very dear and exceptionally humane, upon the reappearance could develop further, and they certainly did. Seeing relationship grow between Konatsu and Yotaro (among other ones) provided an endless supply of joy, Yakumo looked like he was really loosing his way of living, and, well, pretty much everything was outstanding. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the after-death episode, but even with that I guess Rakugo rightfully deserves a place among the best of anime. And not only of this season.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen without a doubt receives the award of the favorite show of the season.

3-gatsu no Lion

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     It ended, but not quite. The second season will probably bring joy to many people, but I feel mainly indifferent. Yes, Rei’s journey was well portrayed, but it wouldn’t be worse without countless meanderings aside and mood-breaking jokes. I can agree that the second cour handles everything way better than the first one (for example the hideous lips), but the show remains the same. I can value the experience of having watched it, but I can’t say I particularly well connected with the characters or enjoyed every last bit of that weird shogi-cat dance. Many things were left hanging, and even if it’s understandable with another season announced, but the closure wasn’t that satisfying, especially given so much stuff that could’ve been removed. I guess I’m just on a different wavelength compared to the show. On a side note, what does the title exactly mean?

3-gatsu no Lion receives the random award of The Most Improved Continuing Show Of The Season.

     …And there’s Hand Shakers. Yes, I endured it and was awarded with some good laughs, but apart from that I can only name the show as having won the award of Being Worst At Pretty Much Everything.

     Favourite OP of the season after some thought should be that of KonoSuba. The song is not that memorable, but it matches the little story that the characters embark on well enough. It’s more cohesive and all out in terms of the animation, and that proved to be enough to best Kuzu no Honkai (despite its song) and Rakugo (despite its symbols). I guess LWA and Zestiria also deserve a sub-honorable mention, but they are just enjoyable, but apparently not enough.

     Favourite ED was more difficult to choose, but Acca came out on top. Izumi Murakami  (who also had some part in that beautiful skating scene in Death Parade) did an amazing job soloing the animation, and the song itself matched the collected mood of the show. Probably not the most memorable of EDs, but it somehow won over the psychedelic ornamentation of Kuzu no Honkai, and everything else was rather forgettable.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 11

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 10) 

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    So far knowing what happens in the game hasn’t been that important a thing in order to understand the show, but after this episode I feel like having missed a couple of episodes. What’s with that fox-like guy? Is he a seraph? What are his powers exactly? What’s his allegiance, what is he trying to accomplish randomly attacking malevolence ghosts and why? Also, why should I care about him? Pretty much the same applies to the loli whose not that respectable past doesn’t bother the party (though it really should have) so she is let go freely around. It’s not even surprising that she becomes a dragon. But what’s the point in having her as a character in the first place? She as well as the fox-guy doesn’t add anything special to the story. Not that the story itself is flawless. Bringing ingredients to make a dessert in a journey to save the world is a genial idea. Also, just recently Sorey had to focus his all might and get some help from Alisha and Shirayuki to fight one dragon, but now getting through a multitude of these beasts looks like a piece of cake. Not to mention that the armatization that looked impossible a few moments before by the power of the plot worked perfectly when the right moment came. It’s almost weird that most of the dragons don’t have the slightest interest in the group. And oddly enough such amounts  of malevolence should stink as hell, but somehow the plot again saves the day. The Big Bad Villain so far appears to be especially big and especially bad in order to be able to bring the end to the world, but does anybody doubt the power of friendship?

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 10) 

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    A pretty low-key episode and I can’t say I liked it very much. The references were amusing – Daicon and 1984 were added to the already huge pile of stuff that Trigger has embedded into LWA. The faces that the stung people saw somehow reminded me of “Yaranaika?” material. Otherwise I can’t say there was much worth noting. LWA just pumps side stories without much meaning and leaves every opportunity to move on behind. And it’s not that this side story was amazing. Yes, pretty magical, but knowing the premise you could have easily described the episode without many mistakes. And that’s a bit worrisome. The original LWA never ceased to give some unexpected action scene and to drive the plot forward by all means possible. Now it’s understandable that the resources are more limited, but that just makes LWA just another childish slice of life show with too much Disney motives. Probably 2 cours for such a show is too much. By the way, no one even after half a year break could play the piano as if nothing happened. Not to mention that in the first shot of the piano its black keys were painted quite terribly.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 10) 

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    Everything is still brewing. As more or less, expected, Lilium is shown to behave the way he does not because of some patriotic feelings but because of some profit for his family. And at least for now even Mauve has agreed not to oppose the coup. It’s actually interesting how people with at first sight unbreakable principles are able to shift their beliefs if they think it’s for the greater good. I wonder if the prince is that stubborn so nobody even considers talking to him and trying to ascertain Acca’s survival. Behind his apparent foolishness he actually seems like a person with at least a minimal amount of brain, but how that brain works so far is a mystery. Another mystery is Jean’s attitude to the whole coup. He just listens to all the people, but I doubt he showed some emotion even once. It occurred to me how it’s a bit weird that only when Mauve told Jean about his lineage the district chiefs began talking openly about the coup and Jean’s place in it. Does the news really spread so evenly in terms of time and space?

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 10)

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    That as pretty ok. During this season the most enjoyable part of KonoSuba for me was its animation, and this episode certainly didn’t lack highlights. I can’t say that the color scheme used for the fights was to my liking, but the sakuga parts stood out from the rest of the episodes. Speaking about the story, it was the usual treat – the group does something stupid, then amends that but ultimately ends up in the square one. And that means practically no development for anyone, just reiteration of previous material. Well, the characters interacting with each other might be fun sometimes, but as the final episode this one was almost no different from any other, and that’s not what I call a satisfying ending. Getting home from the resort felt nice enough, but that’s about it. Even the first season provided some kind of a climax (even if it itself came almost out of nowhere), but this time stakes awere particularly low. What’s the point in getting invested in the fighting if Aqua can revive anyone? As I’m not that fond of the comedy of the show it’s no surprise that it turned out to be pretty disappointing.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 10)

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    More insights into Akane and Mugi. It looks like out of all of the characters Akane is the one unable and not wanting to move on from her present situation though her belief that she’s alright with that is slowly breaking. Akane until now hasn’t found anyone who would try to reach beyond her mask and because of that Kanai’s attitude is seriously baffling her. I think that after all Akane is just a normal person like everyone striving to find that special someone, though she may not be aware of that herself as she wasn’t able to let Kanai go. If she really wants to escape from her present life Kanai is probably her only choice. Mugi may also be an answer, but he isn’t that different from anyone else – he enjoys being with the mask and not the actual person. On the other hand, Mugi also wants to form a long lasting relationship with Akane in that way saving her from her usual behavior, but actually he’s happy to be with Akane as she is right now, without encouraging her to become a better person. By the way, in the context of all of the characters, Moka, Ecchan and especially Hanabi look like they have already finished the race through the maze and should be more or less happy with the way they escaped their unhealthy relationships.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 11) 

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    The episode turned out to be a weird one and I feel rather conflicted about it. The spirit of usual Rakugo certainly was there and as all of the characters seem to have come into terms with their deaths and previous life choices, the interactions were very warm, genuine and full of wisdom. On the other hand, in earlier episodes showing all the Shinigami stuff and the spirit of Sukeroku was framed as a mind trick of Yakumo, and that worked really well. Now we’re told that it was real, and that for me isn’t completely satisfying. Rakugo always has been a show deeply grounded into reality, and during all this episode I was waiting for Yakumo to wake up but of course it didn’t happen. Yes, it could be thought that everything we saw were just some last hallucinations by Yakumo, but to show it as a real thing just didn’t feel very characteristic for the show. Rakugo’s strength lies in the fact that in the real life there are cases when there’s no longer a chance to apologize or just simply speak with a certain person who has died. Sure, the romanticized story may do that but it’s just not consistent with everything the show has been trying to do for both of the seasons.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 22) 

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     All is well and good as the second season has been announced but even after that I can’t be very happy as this one didn’t tie all the loose ends. I’ll probably watch the next season some time later but not as it airs, as I’m quite full of this show. Rei certainly has grown a lot, and the second part of the episode clearly confirmed that. Making him join the club also was a nice idea also pushing him onward. Actually this might as well be the end of the story if there wouldn’t be other subplots that were left just hanging. Soya was just introduced like a goal somewhere in the future, the sisters are just there and I could deal with that, but the really unsatisfying part is with Kyouko. Of course everything will be covered later on, but if you find time to adapt almost every manga chapter with all the things that doesn’t translate into anime that well and don’t shy away from all the unexpected mood changes that happened countless times you’d better find some time to make at least a partial closure for one of the more interesting characters of the show. Oh well. At least the soundtrack was as good as ever.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 10

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 9) 

     Is it even possible to have a JRPG without stakes being as high as the existence of the whole world being in danger? The episode felt stretched out a bit too much with all of the preparations for the final battle. Yes, these pseudo-developments are kinda necessary but it lead to a pretty boring and by no means satisfying result. There are also some nitpicks, as usual. If the whole population is so happy with Alisha, why did no one protest against the machinations of Baltrow? I’m not even talking about all the soldiers who didn’t even question his orders. Everyone seems ok when a just ascended queen with no heir goes on a journey to nobody-knows-where to do nobody-knows-what-exactly with apparently not the highest probability of survival. What the hell is that loli antagonist thinking and doing? At first she promoted the ending of the world but did she now finally understood that with the world ending she will also cease to be? Or does it work in a different kind of way? Also, it’s not that plausible for everyone (even from opposing factions) to unify against a common enemy that isn’t a direct and easily observable threat. The sad truth is that everybody minds their own business without much concern about the bigger picture if it doesn’t directly affect them. Probably the only really enjoyable moments were delivered by showing the context of the character interactions in the previous ED.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 9) 

    Probably the best LWA can offer – a sweet and quirky story, tying in some supporting characters and just overflowing with kindness and harmless fun. Of course there are some family friendly conveniences also balancing on the verge of being too childish – if reviving the dead would be that easy even in the world of witches, I doubt there would be so few cases of that. Still, the set up played out pretty nicely. Akko and Lotte displayed their wits covering for their misdeed, which gave some quite good comedic moments, Sucy as always contrasted with it using her deadpan attitude. Mr. Skeleton managed to be very lively and entertaining without becoming annoying, and his relation with the headmistress, while not unexpected after the first shot of the picture, was somehow satisfying. The appearance of the shopkeeper added a touch of world-building and confirmed that the show remembers its locations and past events. As spectacular as the last episode was, I prefer little stories like this one – not the most complicated, but having enough heart and wit to play with its elements and provide a more or less worthy addition to the show.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 9) 

    During several latest episodes I finally found myself really enjoying Acca. The first half and so prolonged wandering in the dark with apparently nothing happening and only little glimpses of more serious stuff was probably too much. Now, when the story started rolling and everything comes together it’s really entertaining to see what the outcome will be. The first princess is revealed also to be a player, and a powerful one. It feels a bit like cheating since she appeared only recently. The appearance of Jean’s boss at the right moment to save Lotta felt a bit forced, but apart from that everything went really smoothly. I’m not sure about my stance towards that guy infatuated by Lotta. Now he seems to be a decent dude, but at the very start he behaved like a jerk and I haven’t forgotten that. Another quite interesting development was the reveal about the relationship between Grossular and Lilium and the machinations about the coup. For some time Lilium has started looking a bit dangerous, but now, as he’s willing and capable of controlling his other 4 colleagues, we might expect something interesting of him. Mauve, even if absent this time also may throw some cards on the table, and let’s not forget Jean himself. So yeah, a very intriguing mess awaits.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 9)

     I’d lie if I said that the episode didn’t feel too long and unimportant. If the characters don’t like the place at all, why don’t they just leave? Anyway, let’s talk a bit about Aqua. For me it was surprising that she managed to offer some actually reasonable advice for once and the fact that she cares for her followers. On the other hand, she’s nothing but annoying so every time her designs turn into dust I find myself a bit satisfied. I don’t even know if everything useful she had done counterweights her misdeeds. Because of that I find it hard to understand why on earth does Kazuma keep Aqua in the party. Pretty much anyone could be more useful than Aqua, and her constant whining would bother someone else. Well, Kazuma himself isn’t that better and even if he occasionally remembers having some brain, his inability to be a decent person doesn’t make him very relatable. Of course, this mix of extremely flawed characters provides some nice scenes with priceless facial expressions, but overall enjoyability for me isn’t that high. Also, if I’m not mistaken, this time the appearance of the characters wasn’t the most consistent.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 9)

     As this was the ending of the relationship between Hanabi and Ecchan, I might have expected something more climactic, but on the other hand the unhealthy relationship ended in a healthy way, so that’s something. The unexpected appearance of Ecchan’s cousin in the summer house gave Ecchan a push to finally end things with Hanabi, but even then the cousin serves little purpose in the story and isn’t an absolutely necessary addition. Knowing Ecchan’s stubbornness it’s not very likely that she would’ve been able to stop only by herself, but I think eventually with some help from Hanabi the girls would’ve sorted things through. Anyway, as it was obvious from the start, where love interferes, friendship has little place, but it’s heartwarming to see the girls understand that they are needed by each other, and not necessarily as lovers. Especially Hanabi’s resolve to reach out for Ecchan and not close the door for ever, as painful as it might be, confirms that even after all of her probably not the best choices she’s just a human being who’s trying to be a good person. Now Hanabi is mostly free from anything that would threaten to drag her down and the idea that it’s possible to live without being in a close relationship for a time occurred and hopefully will let her heal her lingering pain. Mugi isn’t as lucky – Akane has a firm grasp around his neck and until anything changes that bodes no good for him.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 10) 

    And that was something. Rakugo now has a free pass to stand among my favorite and highest ranked anime such as Mononoke, Mushishi, Monster or Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki. Everything one could expect from a good episode was there – perfect slice of life, heartwarming character interactions, clear hints for drama in the future – you name it. From the very start the idea of rakugo’s undying spirit was carried out very nicely – Yakumo selfishly burned the theater but he probably doesn’t even know how much rakugo means to other people who have it as their support in life. Also, even without a theater Yotaro is able to perform on radio, others also don’t let themselves to be stopped by this misfortune. Konatsu and Yotaro are officially as near a perfect family as possible, embracing their differences and wholeheartedly caring about each other. Yakumo after all the stuff quite unexpectedly looks to have come into terms with his situation as a frail old man with difficult relationships. It’s very sad knowing all the truth to watch him tell Konatsu that probably the best thing he has done for her has been only cutting her hair. Still the empathy doesn’t keep them from reconciling and Yakumo’s even more unexpected agreement to make Konatsu his apprentice is a wonderful moment indeed, though the other world is coming for Yakumo as close as it has never been. By the way, in the last shot of the OP the candle that previously had been usually blown out now is relit.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 21) 

      It feels like anything but a penultimate episode when you need to seriously consider tying all the loose ends that are still tangling after both of the seasons. There surely are some nice moments, but unless there’s another season upcoming the way everything’s going doesn’t make much sense. At least Shimada’s arc was completed, and quite well. Actually, Shimada just might be the most lovable guy in the whole show, with his insecurities but also a strong drive to improve and help his friends and supporters in any way possible. Human shogi idea also is a nice one. Of course I know about huge chess tournaments, but going as far as playing in full costumes definitely makes an impression and a pretty sight. Still, the show doesn’t let any opportunity to insert some unimportant stuff get away. I understand that slice of life might work as a good characteristic but during both cours the sisters have experienced surprisingly little developments, generally just staying behind and supporting Rei when he need that. In this light a segment of discussing a new sweet formula doesn’t stray away from the usual fare but does it really have to happen so close to the ending? There’re so many stories to provide at least decent conclusions, so I don’t find the leisure with which the show chose to go on at this point very acceptable.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 9

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 8) 

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     Finally the main story has started progressing. The purification was pretty amazing visually, even if the dragon (ufotable really did an outstanding job animating it) just stood here while Sorey did things to it and as usual finished everything rather easily. Nevertheless, the first part was almost laughable. Why did Alisha decide to talk to her father only when she had no other option? The fact that at most two dozens of guys were able to cross a huge city filled with 1000 soldiers (beside regular citizens who appear to be absent for some reason) and not become cornered speaks for itself. Nobody in the country had enough brains to think that their king might need a guard, or at least some attendant, even knowing the king’s health condition. Baltrow also didn’t show much common sense, going alone against a seasoned fighter with physical ability far better than his own. And what’s with his idea to kill Alisha on the spot? Everything just doesn’t make sense. Not to mention that the death of the king evoked literally 2 seconds of emotions from the characters. It’s probably just the anime itself showing once again that too condensed source material isn’t the best thing in the world. I think Darkness from KonoSuba would be a great asset for the team-Sorey if there will (and I guess it will) ever be another opportunity to channel some pain to someone.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 8) 

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     I never was the biggest Hiroyuki Imaishi fan and this episode just confirmed my stance. It’s just that I personally prefer some less chaotic animation and more down to earth style, though there’s no denial of Imaishi’s talent and achievements. That may not be of any concern here, but I don’t feel that this episode was really consistent with the general atmosphere of LWA. Yes, the animators have the right to do what they want, to provide dream (or not) sequences as much as they like and to get stuck in not that important side stories, but the main idea behind LWA is the wish to learn and to get better at something you love to do, which was nearly absent this time. Yes, there were moments of sakuga excellence, Sucy’s inner world was explored quite well, but with random car races, monsters morphing to dragons and other stuff it’s just not the gentle LWA of Yoh Yoshinari anymore. LWA’s world for me is more interesting than some dream where there are no rules, also, an opportunity to expand that world was missed. Well, dream (or not) sequences in general tend to be very unpredictable and that may make the suspension of disbelief harder than usual. Maybe that’s why I appreciated the episode but didn’t love it that much.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 8) 

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    Very un-Acca-like episode. As it‘s a flashback, some changes are inevitable, but it’s weird that as so much time has been spent entangled in various coup-related plots and stuff, but now we get a pretty straightforward mini-story. I think the composition of the series was done well, as after a more or less shocking news about Jean’s ancestry we can take a breather and possibly next time return to complicated ways of the present. Nino’s motivations are finally made very clear, so it’s quite relieving to know for sure that he as well as Jean himself are definitely not involved in any shady businesses and can be regarded as good guys without a doubt. Before the episode I thought that Jean’s father was Abend, but I’m glad that I misinterpreted the data – a cliché such as a princess eloping with her bodyguard wouldn’t be the strongest part of the story. Overall the episode proved to be more satisfactory than usually, and with many points settled I’m eager to know where all this political stuff will lead Jean and other characters.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 8)

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     Once more a pretty much forgettable episode. The stuff with the running ostriches (or whatever these things were) ended in a usual way with our company causing some trouble but in the end managing to set everything right. Some of the jokes (such as the treatment of Darkness in the inn) did manage to make me crack a smile, but after the reveal what kind of people actually live in the resort, everything was very predictable. The idea about some over-religious citizens is quite interesting, but as usual with KonoSuba, it is dragged too long. I’m already quite tired of the one-dimensionality of Darkness and seriously there’s no need to replay the same situations over and over again, and the same goes for the religious guys. Actually, I’m quite surprised that since it’s a hot springs episode, there weren’t any usual fanservice associated with it. Well, we still inevitably have the next episode in the same location. I’m really missing that feeling of novelty that disappeared after the start of the series.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 8)
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     Pretty straightforward episode, not attempting anything special in terms of the usual parallels between the characters, though the plot point of our main couple finally realizing their wishes to move on was very important. Mugi finally loses his restraints towards the other sex and that illustrates how differently nuanced situations of Hanabi and Mugi really are, though the essence is still the same. The idea of introducing the cousin of Ecchan at this point actually might not be the best one. Since he hardly does anything (and that won’t change in the future), his existence may be questioned. Sure, he does expand the character of Ecchan, but is it wise to do it so late also knowing that there just isn’t enough time to start developing Ecchan so much so that she would require another person to help her? It’s just a bit too late for new characters and meanderings far beyond the main couple. By the way, Ecchan’s cap was a bit ridiculous. On a side note, I think Hanabi’s eyes can easily enter a contest of some of the most beautiful anime eyes (but I still prefer Shiki Ryougi).

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 9) 

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    Strong as always. In the OP Sukeroku again appears with red eyes and even if it doesn’t have as strong effect as during the first time, it doesn’t really matter, since the episode itself definitely delivered. Rakugo again might be praised for its realism – even if the mafia boss received a just sentence for what he has done, he’s still just another normal person who is important to his friends and family regardless of his profession. The inmates who were extremely lucky to hear Yakumo also aren’t just all tough guys without emotions and nothing else – the art can move each and everyone. Moved by his talk with Yotaro, the performance in the prison and the notion that Yotaro’s rakugo is taking a completely different direction than his own, Yakumo once again decides to attempt a suicide. It’s very pitiful to watch him going out of his way and thanking the writer for his devotedness, acknowledging that Yotaro still is the best rakugo can get when Yakumo is no more, performing Shinigami very spectacularly but in the end still not being brave enough to execute his plan to the very end. It’s still a big question whether Yakumo will manage to gather his will and attempt a suicide once again, whether he will make peace with his ghosts and find some joy in his life or just continue to stumble here and there until there’s no time to make any choices anymore.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 20) 

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   Shimada has become a really likable character. His dream sequence posed some interesting food for thought – when is it alright to stop doing something? Shimada thinks that if he had stopped playing shogi, he might have had a happier life, but in the match his stoppage before considering all his options lead to a loss when just one move could’ve turned everything upside down. I wonder if the positions of shogi pieces in this game (and others) are realistic, and if there really was a situation like this where that particular move could’ve turned the tide. Anyway, this episode should’ve strengthened Rei no to give up no matter how hopeless a situation might seem, and that’s again a huge step towards him becoming a decent human being. Still I think it will be difficult for the show to wrap everything up nicely only in the 2 remaining episodes – Rei needs a conclusion, the sisters are just hanging somewhere, Kyouko and Gotou have still many things unsorted and finally it would be nice to explore Soya’s character and his similarity to Rei – now the master is just a voiceless doll with a label “invincible” attached. The soundtrack remains one of the better aspects of the anime.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 8

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 7) 

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     Not the most entertaining stuff Zestiria has to offer. Well, Alisha is a way more interesting character than Sorey himself (as Rose is). During the whole episode I couldn’t stop wondering what has happened between Alisha and her father, because it seems that Alisha hasn’t even thought of telling him her own ideas and worries. I understand that the family situation might be a bit complicated, but as Alisha seems to have had much power in the country, wouldn’t that mean that she at least could try talking to the king and getting her notions across? The appearance of the weird mud-mist, coming of Zaveid as well as that other fox-like guy looked very random and had barely any effect on the story. The magic telephone line stopped working as suddenly as it appeared last time. Anyway, I have no idea how everything could be solved without proposing yet another season. The characters most of times are just fooling around and with every episode the potential viewer-count isn’t increasing at all. The preview mentioning Zaveid’s lack of clothing addressed my own thoughts about ridiculous appearances of the characters compared to the stuff of our world.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 7) 

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    As usual, that was mildly fun. For once Akko had to really start to focus on her learning activities and that provided some contrast to her usual “doing anything but studying” behavior. Not that Akko actually learned much. It’s no surprise that a girl with no magical background has difficulties, and many of them. Still it’s a wonderful trait Akko possesses – not to give in no matter what. If there are any underlying messages in the show one of the strongest is never to cease trying, as hopefully your efforts someday will definitely have an effect. Having a fish as a teacher was quite an inventive and amusing joke, as were many others. Apart from that and satisfying contrast between Ursula and the other brown-haired teacher lecturing one another everything went the usual route – some quirks of the magical world with all the problems passing away in not very expected ways. I wonder how far this episodic format could go because it looks hardly possible not to attempt anything of a bigger scale through both of the seasons and retain the interest of the viewers.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 7) 

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    And that was a particular piece of information that made things way more interesting. Many people have suspected that secret and there certainly were some clues about it, not the most unsuspicious of whom was the portrait of the younger princess among other paintings during this very episode. I think the timing for the reveal was quite well chosen, as probably others beside me also have started wondering where everything is leading. Now with some things made a bit clearer the story has proved its capabilities and earned more brownie points to spend in the future if the pacing will decide to return to its initial slowness. Another positive aspect is that some of the characters’ allegiances were elaborated. I guess now no one could deny that Nino, even if working under hell knows whom, is on the Jean’s side, as well as Mauve, brave enough to reveal everything and move everything forward. In the end, the most suspicious ones remain the prince and Lilium. The mangaka surely knows how to portray characters in a way that it’s almost impossible to perceive correctly what anyone wants at a first glance, and because of that Acca remains one of the more enjoyable series this season.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 7)

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     Even a week without any anime didn’t make me enjoy this stuff. I’m finally on the verge of dropping it due to total disinterest. Well, as I’m quite a completionist, the show is still on my radar but nothing more than that. Character interactions that are the meat of KonoSuba seem to have been already used to the fullest extent and now we get only boring repetition and some personality traits of the characters are becoming more annoying with every minute. Is it really funny to see Darkness do nothing but get into her type of situations? How can anyone (both other characters as well as the viewers) endure Aqua’s selfishness, arrogance and stupidity? Will any of the main guys show some competence eventually? How about some story with the freshness of the first episodes? Shaft-like head tilts and other moments of quality animation remain the sole point of interest as pretty much everything else seems to be just reused old material with not much hope to be had for the future. And is this the way to end an episode? Certainly not the end of the story, but do you even know how to make a partial stop?

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 7)

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     It’s no doubt that the show still retains its ability to provide very entertaining character drama, definitely one of the more enjoyable ones in recent times. You don’t usually get the cast that consists of very different characters whose actions and ideologies intertwine and parallel one another so well. It’s also an achievement that an episode about Moka, who isn’t the most important or beloved piece in this love game, was as successful as previous ones. Even such a spoiled girl full of fantasies can be determined that substitutes in love bring nothing good, just before succumbing before her own desires that don’t let her to retain her pure dream. The idea that an unachievable dream is a far better thing to have instead of trying to realize it (and getting burned for that) is yet another point of similarity between Moka and Hanabi. In the present situation (and essentially in the whole show) Mugi looks like a guy with the coolest head, somehow managing to stop his physical wishes. In this respect Mugi as someone who doesn’t really brake his ideology, stands right next to Akane, as weird as it sounds. At least our main couple after all the stuff decided to try to move on, but it’s still a very far road from their present positions.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 8) 

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     If there is an anime this season that can be counted on every single time to move me deeply, it’s definitely Rakugo. There wasn’t much action this time, but little moments here and there remind me again and again how much appreciation Rakugo deserves. Yotaro is getting new (and not very new) people join the art and attempt to at least retain rakugo as a valuable phenomenon, and that yet again shows how much maturity Yotaro has developed. Every scene showing him and Konatsu together have been one of the most heartwarming moments of the whole season. Of course it’s really sad that Yakumo wasn’t given a chance to perform, but I think that when he has defeated his inner voice telling him to stop, the love for the only thing Yakumo’s truly able to do and enjoy will not be quelled. Yet, Yakumo must feel especially bitter – he finally decided to perform but even that special occasion didn’t prevent the world from interfering. Yakumo also voiced his frustration because of his inabilities due to his age, and especially since he’s not the first person to whine, it is a big deal – younger people are able to do rakugo probably as well as he can with his diminished abilities and even if he’s crucial to rakugo and its audience, even without him the world manages to go on.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 19) 

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    Quite surprisingly the wavelengths of the episode and my own ones were pretty similar this time. In terms of the story 3-gatsu hasn’t been providing rapid developments, but the character arcs certainly do happen. When you think about Rei in the beginning and Rei now, there probably couldn’t be more differences. The sisters managed to get Rei out of his self-loathing shell, but even after that I think getting to know Shimada was the best possible scenario Rei could’ve ever dreamed of. At first, there haven’t been anyone in his recent life who could help him with his stagnancy in shogi. Also, if in Akari Rei sees a mother, Shimada definitely takes up a father position, genuinely caring about Rei and having some things to teach him. In other words, just a person whom Rei’s adoptive father should’ve been. Yet, I think the most important thing about Shimada is that he also requires some care, and Rei is the one to help him. I guess it was the teacher who said that in the society you need to be given help but also to give help to others, and as Rei has received much from the sisters, finally having someone to worry about and to take care of is a crucial step for Rei to become a functional human being, and that step is finally taken.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 7

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 6) 

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    If ACCA’s ultimate goal is to confuse the viewers, it’s already achieved. The story clearly isn’t very hard to grasp, but I have no idea what each of the characters thinks and what can be expected further on. Grossular has been portrayed as a guy who seriously could be the main antagonist, but now he’s been made a good guy? Sorta? But he kinda denies that? Well, ACCA is a game and even if we are halfway (possibly) through, the cards in each of the players hand are not shown, unless it’s only a quick glimpse that may or may not provide worthy information. Mauve also gets into that imperceptible category, organizing her own intelligence unit and moving behind the shadows no one knows what for. It’s just as everyone is expecting a huge firework and they know that the fire is already ignited but it’s unclear from which side the explosions will start. And that big thing will probably determine the overall reception of the show, and that’s a good and also a bad thing. We have a fair amount of buildup, but the outcome is likely to be binary – either everything will surpass the expectations or will die slowly and inconclusively like a forgettable firework.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 6)

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    Once again a pretty unremarkable episode. Sure, it had its moments of usual goofy animation that were exceptionally well made, but the story is not going anywhere. I understand (as Kazuma finally does) that the original goal of defeating the Big Bad Demon has lost its importance, and Kazuma more or less enjoys his current life. It’s still weird that even Aqua, who explicitly states that (although she also doesn’t really hate her new life) she wants to regain her status as a goddess, doesn’t push the group to go on, at least to move somewhere from the town where level 1 adventurers start off. The little (mis)adventures of the group certainly have charm but for me it’s starting to feel rather pointless. Characters also miss every opportunity possible to move on, and that’s to some extent understandable since the whole appeal of the show is based on the twisted characters and their inter-play. Still, I’m starting to lose interest in the same joke being played over and over again. The last part with Kazuma dying again felt a bit rushed and not very characteristic of our main dude – Kazuma usually shows that he has at least some capability to think, but this time he just somehow lost that ability just because someone began doing something to his body, which shouldn’t concern Kazuma in any way since he’s already dead and had apparently decided to move on. Such moments feel like a rather crude attempt to maintain status quo by all means, denying any possibility of character or plot development.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 6)

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    It’s nothing short of amazing that Kuzu no Honkai continuously manages to move forward and avoid any apparent hiccups. The pace is also well-maintained, and as this episode marks half-seasonal point, the show also has already covered approximately half the manga. Getting into the episode itself, Hanabi realizes what she has done when Ecchan was unleashed. Still feeling lonely, Hanabi understands that now even Ecchan is beyond her grasp as just a friend without any ulterior desires. Ecchan sees no stopping points, and even pushes Hanabi further down, so that she would remain the only person that cares for Hanabi. Hanabi tries to get some satisfaction from going the Akane route, even if she’s able to understand that she differs from Akane by still caring about others. Hanabi wants to enjoy what’s she’s doing but ultimately there’s no joy to be had, only internal denial. Sure, Hanabi has some talents at seducing, but without satisfaction there’s no point in them. Also, she should be aware that in any kind of relationship (even a day-long) you have to give something in return, be it your body, emotions, or anything else, and Hanabi clearly isn’t ready for that. What’s even more frustrating, Hanabi doesn’t even know that the guy she’s hitting on doesn’t even interest Akane anymore because he stopped being exploitable.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 7) 

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    So, we get some clarifications about the death of Sukeroku and Miyokichi. The story Yakumo told certainly didn’t involve any stabbing, and his decision to take all the blame and thus save Konatsu from her memories of her involvement is an honorable one. Still, all those stabbing circumstances would benefit from more light shed on them. But when I think about it, I feel that now we have moved too far away in time from the death scene, and revealing everything now may be a bit late – every character has already moved on, as well as the viewers. Every now and then having Yakumo see some ghost of Sukeroku is fine and encouraged, but getting the truth so late diminishes its impact on the principal characters. Anyway, at present Yakumo starts to feel exceptionally old, since the ability of one thing that he could do properly is leaving him. It will be interesting to see if Yotaro’s knowledge about Yakumo’s real past will have any effect on the old rakugoka. At least Yotaro is smart enough not to tell a secret that doesn’t belong to him to Konatsu, but the moment between the couple was very nice.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 18) 

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   I could probably best describe my feelings towards the show and this episode in particular by one word only – indifference. Apparently many people enjoy 3-gatsu a lot, but I fail to find enough relatable material. It might be expected after all, since I’m lucky to have never experienced depression, o just anything as hard as Rei had and still has to overcome. When relatability isn’t the main virtue, what is left isn’t that much. Of course visuals maintain the quality that is expected of Shaft, the usual motivating messages are also here, but everything else just doesn’t resonate that much with me. The argument by Nikaidou and the other dude was the same like the last time, and as a person who doesn’t understand shogi I got the point already, so I don’t think there’s a need to reiterate the same thing. As far as Shimada is concerned, I’d very much like to see some his internal thoughts, as so far he’s just portrayed as a good sensei character. It was heartwarming to see Hina worrying about Rei’s well-being, but did Rei really need to overreact so much when someone just asked who his sister was?

     Anyway, this time I must leave Zestiria and LWA for the next week, since I’m going on a trip and so far I’ve no idea how much anime (if any at all) I’ll be able to watch during it. Still, the season certainly provides some entertaining material, so it’s only a mater of time when I’ll be back on track.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 6

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 5) 

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     I hope ACCA still knows that there’s a story to be told. Everything moves just so very slowly. Well, I don’t really mind that. Sure, everything that happened could be summarized in just a few words, but it was enjoyable enough. It looks like Jean actually had no idea that Nino was spying on him. Well, that got cleared out with Jean ending his friend’s (?) job with some unintentional help of his sister. Quite characteristically, Jean really doesn’t give a damn about anything. I wonder if there actually is anything that would make him emotional. All the stuff with the coup remains incredibly shadowy and practically any character could stand behind it.  I don’t even try to count how many factions that try to get some benefit for Jean there really are. Watching the episode another thought came to me (and apparently everyone also notices that) – the show spends weirdly much time for talking about bread, eating bread, admiring bread, spying for bread and so on (edit: please repeat the sentence with other kinds of food). It’s not just for fun, it also to a certain extent works as characterizations of the districts. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to have so many of them, but world building certainly was there and so far seen districts are more or less easily recognizable. Still, some action wouldn’t hurt. Especially when there’s Shingo Natsume on board.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 5)

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     If it‘s a comedy show then it‘s too bad because I didn’t even grin for the entirety of the episode. The fact that everyone is incompetent in some way has been stated countless times and you can do so much variations of the same theme. Sure, the play between Kazuma and Darkness and later on Darkness and that demon guy was fine, but not really anything memorable. At least Darkness resembled her previous form when she was still something more than a fanservice object. But why is she suddenly able to hit objects? The demon guy was rather uninteresting with his mad scientist attitude and not much power of thought. Apart from other cliches it’s almost unremarkable that Darkness remained alive even after bombing that previously had managed to destroy a castle or that robot spider. What was that talisman really for? With or without it the demon guy still remained in Darkness and it provided nothing to the story that also was pretty pointless. At least the animation throughout the episode was rather good.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 5)

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    Falling further down. Both Hanabi and Mugi try to fight loneliness in their ways, not being satisfied by their fake relationship, but in the end neither Ecchan nor the senpai provide any salvation. For Ecchan Hanabi is unable to feel more than pity and friendliness, and Mugi’s senpai sees in him nothing more than a physical body. The main pair wants to experience pleasure but it doesn’t feel satisfying emotionally without a special person. Eventually Hanabi and Mugi reconcile as neither of them has any other person with whom it would be possible to speak about everything, including their frustrations for love, even if it means having to consciously maintain some distance between them. It’s revealed that Akane’s “hobby” may have come from her too determined life as she strives to do something interesting, and playing with Hanabi (and generally with anyone who may be easily affected) seems to be one of such things.  I guess if Akane hadn’t experienced that emotion of not wanting to be exploited early on, she easily could have gone a very different way and found something else that she would truly like. Well, it looks like the ways upward are still not available for anyone.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 6) 

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    I can do nothing but be deeply moved by Rakugo once again. When the market is overflowing with generic high-school stuff and bland self-insert characters such a show like Rakugo that manages to portray more complex feelings than a struggle to get a girlfriend are a goldmine. As expected, the episode finished incredibly fast. The health problems of Yakumo have really shocked the world of the show. Even if now Yakumo appears as an old man full of regrets and sometimes pretty annoying, it’s plain to see how important he is to the others as well as to the whole show. Yakumo’s problems are also nicely paralleled with the plans of renewing the rakugo hall. Yotaro’s Inokori was painful to watch since his mind was definitely not with the audience, but it shows how much Yotaro has grown – prom a former arrogant inmate to a performer who can do his job despite of his own problems and his wish to be heard and praised by Yakumo.  I don’t think Yotaro has yet found such a refined form of rakugo as his master, but he can (and eventually will) be a worthy successor. By the way, does anyone know how many hundreds of years is Matsuda old? He was already an adult when Yakumo was a kid.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 17) 

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     I’m a bit surprised how much I enjoyed the episode. Everything just flowed really nicely and, apart from usual comedy that I would like to go away and other little things, it was really enjoyable. Souya’s soundless appearance was very effective (but they needn’t voice that out later). He probably has faced the same problems as Rei, and because of his status has no one to seriously compete with, to strive for something, or just doesn’t have normal understanding friends beside him. If Rei stats to focus only on shogi and rejects his close relationships it’s very possible that he might become just like Souya. But I think Rei’s admiration of him isn’t strong enough, and he has experienced tender care of his friends, so I’d say he’s bound to become a more normal person than Souya. When the part concerning Kyouko began, I started thinking that for a very long time she has maintained the same attitude and just remained a pawn to be thrown at Rei so that he could lose his balance. Now eventually we get a bit deeper. It’s very interesting that both of the (sort of) siblings still care about one another and Kyouko at times manages to revert to a normal girl, even after all the mess she makes in Rei’s life. At the moment I’d guess that Rei, as damaged as he is, is far more stable and happy than Kyouko. It looks like the girl doesn’t even have anyone (apart from Rei) to rely on.

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 6) 

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     As expected from ufotable, the purification scene was amazing – the special effect for once felt perfectly aligned with 2D characters and, well, if you saw the scene, you know, and if you didn’t, definitely do. Alas, everything else was far less enjoyable. The tie in-with Berseria was done far better than in the first season (though I doubt that’s all of Velvet Crowe we’ll see, judging from her appearance in the OP), but without any more elaboration it doesn’t feel like a solid world building. And, as far as I remember, during the Berseria episodes everyone had their emotions, so I don’t really know what to think about it. Anyway, the whole business with Pendrago was only the purification scene, and, as good as it was, I don’t think it deserved the buildup it got previously. I seemed like a pivotal point in the story, but it turns out to be just a trip to do a five minute ritual and come back. Shirayuki recovered surprisingly fast and completely ditched her previous beliefs rather easily. And what’s with that power that a squire of a Shepherd gets? Why then Alisha is free to roam where she wills when Sorey definitely needs some help? Even if he needn’t that, shouldn’t Alisha be doing something about the malevolence instead of focusing on her political career (which no doubt is also important, but still…). Speaking about Alisha, how does that spirit-phone work? Apparently you can get the number wrong, if Sorey needs to confirm that it’s him on the other end of the line. Anyway, why such a way of conversing isn’t used more often? If a mere squire can call Sorey in that way, why not the Seraphs? Or is it another case of “because it’s magic”? I’m not even surprised that Sorey adopts the usual trope of a Protag-kun to deny the need of help in every way possible. And doesn’t it bother anyone that there was a huge-ass dead dragon in the church?

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 6) 

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     If Trigger is the studio that is going to save anime, I doubt that LWA  (as of yet) is something that will be the saving show. As last time, LWA tells an episodic story (that may yet start a whole arc) without doing anything truly spectacular. Of course there are positives – Akko’s ears and nose definitely works for the rabbit-girl (and other types of animal-girl) lovers, some flashbacks were interesting (though I have no idea how and why Akko saw what she did, though it was pretty charming), and Akko finally showed more emotions than being enthusiastic or angry. On the other hand, the sakuga moments weren’t as plentiful as there could’ve been and the fact that Akko would somehow make a metamorphosis of the famous guest was obvious right from the start. The new guy behaved just like a male version of Diana with no love for magic. Well, the show isn’t bad, but I guess it’s still running on the dividends from the OVAs. It just doesn’t feel as free and energetic, which of course is to be expected from a TV production, but still…

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 5

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 4) 

    Even when the main story doesn’t break any records on fast pacing, the show is confident to offer a side story that doesn’t really add much to the main picture. Sure, you could argue that now we better understand the problems of the country, its diversity and also get some insights into Jean’s personality, but that sounds much more significant than what we in fact got. I doubt that such a secluded district is possible in the first place. It’s hard to keep technical advancements from people especially if they don’t refuse them. That little coup felt like a game – the first guys’ coming to Jean who was standing too far away to understand the slightest thing of their speech, and obviously asking if he didn’t hear what they talked about their coup is ridiculous. At least Jean’s deadpan manner and collected actions once again proved how cool-minded he is and that he’s very suitable for his job. Nino showed up for a bit, some chairmen exchanged a few words but I guess I wasn’t that interested in this episode after all.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (Ep. 4)

    Well, I’m disappointed. People sure do have different tastes and this time KonoSuba provided exactly the opposite of what I might enjoy. Overall Darkness is the weakest character of them all. Only the end of the first season showed some possibilities of her becoming something more than an embodiment of M. It turns out that even her revealed descent adds nothing more and even in an episode whose center should be Darkness, the real center is only a part (technically two) of her body. And that’s quite sad. I understand that you can throw millions of words arguing that it’s a satire, and no one should by all means take things seriously but I find nothing funny there. Only the cheapest kind of ecchi and pointless fanservice. Aqua behaves as annoyingly as ever, Kazuma’s actions, while always very selfish, now doesn’t even attempt to make him the least bit likable or enjoyable to watch. After the last season’s episode about the succubi and the OVA I thought that there’s nowhere lower to fall but it seems that’s not true. I just don’t see any point in unfunny jokes, mindless fanservice and characters that actually would be better off executed. Well, that’s just me. Moving on.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 4)

    To sum up, everyone just delves deeper into their personal scum-ness. Akane reveals more of her true face and her intentions towards everyone. She’s the closest person to an antagonist the show’s going to get, and while I definitely don’t approve of her actions, I understand that someone like her could truly exist, striving to play with people and to prove to anyone that she’s the best at it. Later on Hanabi and Ecchan try to experiment a bit, and both of them think that they’re using their partner and while it’s not a good thing to do, they’re too weak to resist it. And technically they’re both correct. I guess if Hanabi has to end up with someone, developing feelings for Ecchan would be the best route, but as stubborn as she is, that’s not the most likely outcome. I have mentioned before, but the problem of changing the POV characters remains. I surely isn’t anything significant, but such a relic from manga when you can be definitely sure when one chapter ended and another began shouldn’t be so notorious. Well, as the manga loves to have monologues, there’s just no way around it. To end things more optimistic, the soundtrack once again provides a score with every note deserving to be praised.

Also, be sure to check amazing analysis of Hanabi’s and Akane’s names by Kyra.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 5) 

    Man, that was so powerful and masterfully done, I almost don’t have words to say. First of all, once again my habit of never skipping an OP payed off since Sukeroku’s (the old one’s) eyes being red did heighten the stakes. It looks like Yakumo bit by bit has come to cherish the fact that he’s not the only rakugoka in the world, albeit he’s still the best one who holds the reputation of rakugo at a somewhat exalted level. Yakumo is happy that Yotaro’s efforts don’t let rakugo to be forgotten altogether, but still feels that the old kind of rakugo is only alive as long as he lives himself. It was interesting to see the differences between the outlooks on rakugo by the two rakugokas – Yotaro finds it fun and just wants to tell the stories not worrying about his own image, while Yakumo, who was involved in rakugo stuff not by his own will, achieved everything by hard work and does everything perfectly, but without getting much for himself, apart from gaining recognition and praise. The performance of Yakumo was one of the stellar scenes from the whole season, wisps of smoke foreboding something not that cheerful. Again the story a Yakumo tells is very tightly tied to his own feelings and present situation, a parallel that the show constantly uses perfectly. Seeing Miyo as well as Sukeroku after a very long time was really effective, bringing the realization how long Yakumo lived alone without anyone whom he could’ve called a close friend. The episode and also all these clues from the OP confirm that things are really not looking well for Yakumo. The next episode just can’t come too soon.

3-gatsu no Lion (Ep. 16) 

    3-gatsu continues with its stable above average performance. I’m glad that the mood changes now are not as jarring as they were near the start. Now usual moral message is also present – this time it’s the idea that humans should rely on other humans and expect to be relied on. It looks like Rei has already learned not to stay hidden in his shell all the time and to seek people and their help. After all, there’re many people that care about him and are ready to offer some help. Even the chemists – people with whom Rei has virtually nothing in common – can be a source of human connection, profiting both sides. The soundtrack also played not the smallest part in making the episode fairly enjoyable. Apart from all the good things, the shogi-heavy part for me was a bit too technical. I guess the cat-lessons were not enough to make me understand what exactly all of the players were discussing about. I get that actually that’s some trivial stuff that everyone has his own opinion about but for someone with little interest in shogi tactics it’s rather boring.

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 5) 

      I think this I liked this episode best of all Zestiria this season so far. The continuing fight from the last time again showed ufotable’s capabilities in animation, although everything ended too quickly for all the buildup it got. That’s a bit undermining, but as anime villains that are told to be “maybe” dead rarely actually are, there might be another encounter with that possessed guy. And couldn’t someone at least checked if he was really dead? Moving on, Shirayuki sure received much food for thought. Usually when you accomplish something that you waited a long time for, there might come a sense of being goalless and directionless, but Rose isn’t even sure if she actually succeeded, and if she did, were her actions justified. Well, Sorey surely disapproves of Rose’s actions, as any evil will bring more malevolence so it’s just a feedback loop.  Yet, he fails to provide any alternative decisions to this very situation. Sure, as every anime protagonist is certain, killing is bad at any situation, but maybe what Rose did was a lesser evil? Sorey just can’t spread happiness in the whole world and solve every single conflict with no blood spilled. Still, Rose, also stunned by the malevolence ghosts in that very beautiful riding scene with the soundtrack precisely on point, feels shaken to the core. It will certainly be interesting  to see what conclusion she will come to.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 5) 

     I don’t know if knowing beforehand that this episode was fully outsourced had much to do with my opinion about it, but it certainly wasn’t the best episode of LWA. Giving more screen time to Amanda was a good decision, as she can rival Akko with her stubbornness and that offers some fairly enjoyable scenes. Still, the story wasn’t very impressive. Well, I don’t expect anything covering dark themes, existentialism and other similar stuff but this episode felt a bit too simple. The ending was particularly disappointing – the heroes get some unexpected help that saves at first hopeless looking situation. All is well and good but sadly the real world debts don’t get cancelled so easily. I’d very much preferred something involving hard work covering for the borrowed funds or just, well, anything but the conclusion we got. Returning to the outsourcing, even if there were some nice sakuga moments, overall it just didn’t feel like a Trigger show with its signature deformed character animation and over the top action scenes. Well, that’s the price to pay for getting a TV series. By the way, I didn’t know that that rich dragons work with Word, Excel, or, dear me, Internet Explorer…

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).