Musings and Reflections – end of Winter 2018

     Winter happened to be a pretty good season for me – two great shows dominated over others, and that doesn’t happen very often – since the beginning of my episodic blogging in Spring 2016 it happened only once when the second season of Rakugo and Kuzu no Honkai aired back to back. Apart for my two favorites, other Winter shows ended up being either expected (Ito Junji: Collection) or unexpected disappointments but you can’t win every pre-seasonal guessing game, can you? Actually, this season could’ve been even better for me since only a few days ago I started YoriMoi and so far I’m thoroughly enjoying it so that makes Winter a truly great season. And Yuru Camp is still awaiting. And people say that anime is getting worse and worse… Anyway, lets wrap this up.


Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 12

One phrase impressions:

Fate/Extra Last EncoreOnce again more questions than answers.
Violet Evergarden
Why are osananajimis always so unlucky?
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  Tension before the finale.
Ito Junji: Collection – It’s over. Thank goodness.
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Good shows deserve good endings, but that’s not given.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 11

One phrase impressions:

Fate/Extra Last EncoreStill Madoka.
Violet Evergarden
 Anime is obsessed with dead moms, isn’t it?
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  And finally that’s a healthy relationship starting to grow.
Ito Junji: Collection – It’s an Angel! It’s an Angel! It’s a Gundam! It’s an Angel! It’s an Angeru! OMG, it’s Gojiraaa!
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Is it possible to wrap everything up next time?

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 10

One phrase impressions:

Violet Evergarden Very very poor girl…
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  Chihiro, finally.
Ito Junji: Collection – I’m glad I didn’t eat before this.
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Flashbacks, flashbacks…

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 9

One phrase impressions:

Violet Evergarden Poor girl…
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  Rashomon and stuff.
Ito Junji: Collection – Tomie!
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Well, Elias deserved that.
Fate/Extra Last EncoreFate is suffering.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 8

One phrase impressions:

Violet Evergarden I’m sold.
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  A typhoon of emotions.
Ito Junji: Collection – Here we go again with n FPS (n approaches 0).
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Is that a Monogatari reference?
Fate/Extra Last Encore – Once again nothing really new.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 7

One phrase impressions:

Violet Evergarden Comets and stuff.
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  Rebuilding the friendship.
Ito Junji: Collection – Whut?
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Do you really need so many new characters?
Fate/Extra Last Encore – New floor, same stuff.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 6

One phrase impressions:

Violet Evergarden Disney!
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni –  Hamsters are awesome!
Ito Junji: Collection – It’s supposed to be animated, right?
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Run from the beast!
Fate/Extra Last Encore – And I thought Fate was interesting…

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 5

Violet Evergarden (Ep. 4)

     I’m afraid this episode felt the weakest so far. As far as I remember, both Iris and Erica are anime original characters so that would make this episode yet another anime original in a quite long row. As Erica had only little screen time previously, it isn’t unlikely that she will also get a solo episode, so there’s even a possibility that the content from the original light novels might become a minority overall, and that’s quite funny. I don’t know pretty much anything about the novels, but I’d say episodes for Claudia, Cattleya and Benedict (and the Major) are also a possibility. I’m not complaining, just this episode about Iris felt like it didn’t live up to the expectations. It wasn’t bad, just too normal. Unrequited love and parents still wanting to control their children when they shouldn’t are good themes to explore, but for me it didn’t feel as touching as Luculia’s story. Ok, we did get some insights into Iris’s past and her relationship with her family, but these are just specific details that will hardly matter once Iris returns to her workplace and starts dealing with people that have no connections to her. Also I don’t think Violet grew that much this episode. Sure, she makes small steps forward and starts understanding that PEOPLE HAVE EMOTIONS, and that FEELINGS ARE COMPLICATED. She still needs a good kick in her kokoro to become a normal person, and by the tempo we are going now, it’s unlikely she’ll make much progress until the end of the series. I guess it was sort of an achievement that Violet wrote a good letter (and longer than three sentences) to Iris’s parents, but Iris simply dictated every word of it, so does this really count as a development? I might have already adapted to the beauty of the visuals because I didn’t found them as amazing as before. Certainly there are some good parts, like Violet bowing like a true lady or occasional Iris’s character animation. The scene in the train once again repeated how much Violet is different from ordinary people – Iris was sitting comfortably just as she wanted while Violet retained her straight military pose no matter what. By the way, please gave the person who designed Iris’s birthday dress (and generally clothes for the show) a medal. Or two. Other than that, it’s mostly normal or at least not outstanding – both visuals and the story.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Ep. 4)

     I don’t like where the story is going but I like how it’s going. This cook became an important character too quickly for me. It almost seems strange that a show that visually is very strong didn’t think of any way to foreshadow this turn of events. There might have been something, but my head in that case was too thick to pick it up. I simply would’ve liked one or too simple shots of the cook looking at Akira before this episode, because now it felt really uncalled for. Akira reading the same book with doodles during her lunchtime suggested a very predictable turn of events, so that’s another negative. Now onto some positives, as the show again delivers. When Akira gets some news from Kondou, she behaves just like characters from Tsuki ga Kirei. It’s nice to see her more childish side compared to her always dignified exterior. Akira’s thoughts about both of  the men were especially clear because of her clothing. As the show likes to emphasize feet, the differences were also extremely visible through the footwear of Akira’s choice – casual slippers worth a couple of dollars versus impressive high heels, and, of course, nail polish. It was definitely funny to see that both dates technically were identical (during the film scene there was one dude who also saw the film by himself for a second time. Apparently he loves horror movies), but in the second one it was Akira who took the reins. The ending made clear that Akira is still full of insecurities and, as pushy as she is, not really able to go all the way, like the cook did. Who knows if it was for the best? There was that scene when Akira angrily brushed her cheek with a paper tissue, and then threw it away, but missed the bin. Pretty much the same happened a few episode earlier when she was also unable to throw away trash from a distance. It seems that she still isn’t sure about what she is doing and what to do next. As much as I didn’t enjoy this abrupt complication of things, there’s still an incredible amount of things to love.

Ito Junji: Collection (Ep. 5)

     I remembered those lovely times when I watched all those terrible horror shorts just for a good laugh. Sadly, the first story also fits into that category. Random melting people, one of whom seems to be the Michelin dude, mad scientist whose main goal is to create a mythical potion to increase height, and a magical moment when the said potion indeed turns out to be able to increase height quite literally – isn’t it some top notch comedy material? There’re also some “what?” moments – girls randomly showing interest in boys only because of narrative purposes and boys not leaving their haunted houses for no reason. Come on dude, you advised the girl yourself not to come by all means. Why should you stay then if it’s so dangerous? Although I must give some credit for the idea of overlapping parallel worlds and especially the last seconds when yet another Oshikiri appeared. The second part? Oh no. It’s Souichi again. Oh no. The teacher is weird. Oh no. Butt humor. Oh. No. Butt humor overload. OH NO! I’m sorry but that’s terrible. There might be people who found everything funny and I’m happy for them. It’s absolutely not for me though. That was just the kind of cringy humor I despise.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 17)

     Did I miss something or did Elias actually open all the presents meant for Chise before she did? The episode tried to delve into some scenarios of classic mythology and also reiterate the idea of the importance of family, only taken from another angle. Yet there were lots of stuff that just didn’t work for me. As far as I remember, the magic of words may transfer the right to a person only then if another person who denounces the right, had that right in the first place. Usually it’s mothers and their children or something like that. In the case of the show, I find it hard to believe that Stella’s words could’ve been that powerful because what about their parents? Does that mean that it’s Stella alone who can decide her brother’s fate and parents have no say in that? Another questionable moment came when Elias chose to reveal his true form to Stella, because I have no idea why did he do that. We already saw in the beginning of the show that he can make look himself like a normal person so why would he risk scaring Stella by showing his skull? And what was the point in revealing himself in the first place? It’s not that he couldn’t help by staying unseen, and I’d think that the less people know about a random guy with a skull for a head walking here and there, the better. And isn’t Elias supposed to be kind of powerful? Can he just be randomly caged without even considering to resist? Later on it was very hard for me to believe that the fox fur we already saw before could also transform Chise into a bear. Isn’t it supposed to work only for one species? The end of search came too soon and without any climax. Chise just went home, took the fur and instantly found what she was looking for – end of story. I can’t say I really cared for Stella and her brother, either. Overall I’m happy that this episode featured some great concepts like the power of words, Chise found out that she really does give something back and not always just takes away everything. Fraternal love was also a good theme but it didn’t tie that well with what we know about Chise, because everything we know is that she did have a brother, and that’s all, so it’s hard to know how this encounter made her feel. I think splitting this story into two episodes could’ve been a better choice. Or just going deeper while exploring the themes because now it felt kind of superficial.

Fate/Extra Last Encore (Ep. 2)

     I’m less confused about the plot now but instead a bit baffled because the episode made me remember all sorts of things. For example Shaft head tilts and other camera angles that only Shaft uses made me question if I’m really not in the middle of rewatching Bakemonogatari. At the same time my ears told me that the exposition dialogue couldn’t be more Fate, as if it was copied and pasted from Stay Night. Later on this first level (is this Sword Art Online?) looked precisely like an excerpt from Ghost in the Shell Innocence. In the end only the last scene with Shinji mattered, so the efficiency of the episode was pretty low. Well, I guess we finally got some action, and that’s a positive. Not that it was very memorable. Maybe next episode will improve that because  the fight isn’t ended yet so far nothing felt like anything outstanding Shaft could pull off. Meanwhile Saber seems to be a weird mix of Senjougahara’s pushiness and cuteness of a generic dojikko. She might prove to be interesting but so far I can’t say I have any attachment to the characters. Well, apart from my already existing knowledge of returning cast such as Shinji or Rin. Hakuno again barely said a word, though he might have an excuse because he should be pondering quite hard how on earth he didn’t die second episode in a row. I understand that he’s a visual novel protagonist, but it’s not a visual novel anymore, it’s an anime. Do something about it! I guess the most prominent thing is that so far I don’t feel any chemistry between Hakuno and Saber. How can you have a dynamic duo if one of them talks to herself a lot and the other’s responsiveness perfectly imitates a wall?


Musings and Reflections – Winter 2018 Week 4

Violet Evergarden (Ep. 3)

     I can’t remember the last time I saw an anime where a protagonist in class wouldn’t sit in the last seat near the window. Anyway, the story as a whole was quite likable. For the most part Violet still was a she has been – amazing in technical aspects of Doll-business but absolutely clueless about the emotional part. About this Luculia girl… Well, I have to say I’d watch another episode about her. And another. As much as there would be, though it seems like her story already ended, far too early. It would be amazing to catch a glimpse later on of how she and her brother are handling things though i doubt that will happen. I’d be happy if the show also addressed the post-war depression again in some later episode. It’s clear that some broken bridges seen in the first episode aren’t the only relics of war, but we have seen very little of anything else. Violet so far has no interest in the outside world, so naturally we don’t see much either, but it would be so fascinating to delve deeper into lives of ordinary people in this world. The biggest problem I got with this episode is that Violet was granted the graduation brooch. It is supposed to be a very strict school so I wouldn’t expect the teacher to give compliments for such tiny achievements. It was definitely an enormous step forwards for Violet, but do you really want to let someone like her loose because she was able to write three words after so many tries? And the school is said to have dignity because they produce the very best dolls. I think it would have been a better idea for Violet to gather her thoughts about how is she different from normal graduates and what does she need to do in order to improve. Well, in the first place I find it rather unlikely that Luculia stuck to Violet despite her robot-ness. Also I think a great opportunity was missed when Luculia wrote a letter as Violet dictated. Violet absolutely needed to read how her robotic thoughts were written by a girl who can actually feel. On the brighter side, the art remains gorgeous and there are countless tiny cinematographic tidbits that add quite a lot. Take for example the scene where Luculia’s hat flow away, just as her and her brother’s happy days were to end.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Ep. 3)

     Well, I just like the show. Say what you will about the age gap, but I can’t help loving the dynamic between Akira and Kondou, and that is only one great point among others. For example, the soundtrack is everything you should and could expect from a character drama based anime. I’m again impressed by the way the show emphasizes Akira’s wish to run, inability to do so and her emotions because of that. Even if she must stay away from her friends, it’s even harder for Akira to be near them, see them enjoying themselves and improving while all she can do is sit and do nothing. It’s nothing strange then that Akira chooses to pursue the one other great thing in her life (as she views it) – a relationship with Kondou. That is all well and good, but what really makes Akira a special lead is her determination to push her point as much as she needs. A usual romcom probably would’ve played an incident of confession for laughs and everything would go on as if nothing had happened, but Koi wa Ameagari no You ni goes beyond that and does it without hesitation. I also appreciate Kondou’s position – he clearly is interested, but he also has all this knowledge of a middle-aged boy – he knows that a serious relationship would be awkward and most likely socially disapproved, his kid also comes into the equation. At this point Kondou is just confused without a clear answer to his questions, and, even worse, left with essentially no space to make other decision apart from accepting or refusing Akira’s intentions, and at this point he’s unwilling to do either. There are also great scenes like Kondou staring to his windshield and understanding that he can’t avoid Akira’s emotions just as wipers can’t wipe all the rain. Later on it just feels genuine when Kondou tries to come up with ways that would absolve him from having to deal with Akira’s feelings, and at the same time he looks disappointed thinking that it might have been just a prank. Right before the show started, I said that I’m not really into the character designs. Once the girls of the track and field team got into one place, I noticed that the designs come as almost CLAMP-esque, with especially long and thin limbs. Well, necks are also not unlike ones in Ballroom e youkoso or Haikyuu. Bet when the story is so strong, do I really need to complain about anything?

Ito Junji: Collection (Ep. 4)

     Finally something that can really be called creepy. It think the first story came the closest so far to being Ito-ish. Body horror is something Ito can do really effectively (remember Uzumaki for example), and mysterious holes in human body are a perfect example of that. To be frank, such holes aren’t uncommon in manga – Shintaro Kago (you can check him out, though his ero-guro stuff is usually NSFW) used them, as did some other mangakas. Add some insects that may crawl in the holes and you have a perfectly disgusting horror story. As much as liked it, I can’t help thinking that much more could’ve been done. Everything still looks like moving manga panels and there’s barely any animation. The staff just didn’t go beyond of what’s serviceable and didn’t bother to accentuate the horror elements. For example why an eye may be seen through the wholes but not the brain? Why can’t any light be transmitted through a hand covered with holes? The insect part also felt like an afterthought and not a necessary element. And a random friend randomly decided to check out a random bookshelf and randomly found a random diary that contained the exact specific information he needed.  Really? Turning now to the second part, once again we returned to stories that are more laughable than scary. I appreciate the idea of puppets controlling humans but that’s pretty much the only positive thing I can say about the segment. Speaking about the character designs, I like these thick lines, though sometimes they make the whole picture seem a bit amateurish. And Ito, although easily accusable of his drawings suffering from  the same face syndrome, certainly can create attractive characters. I guess if they would look like everything else is in this show, I’d have dropped this anime already.

Mahoutsukai no Yome (Ep. 16)

     When the title of the episode is “God’s mill runs slow but sure”, you know that you can expect the most basic stuff, only more of it. I get that the general purpose of the episode was to confirm that Chise really has friends now. A side goal was to set things up for the future – these two kids already seem important according to the preview, and I bet this not-that-friendly-looking centaur with a pregnant lady on him also weren’t put there without any reason. Ultimately it felt like a pretty much discardable holiday OVA, only aired at a very curious time. Sure, there’re shows that have their Christmas episodes in the middle of summer, but it still doesn’t look right. That pseudo-kissing scene also was weird. I guess the point of it was to be awkward (kissing with one of the partners having no lips?), with Elias being just curious and playful, but funny as it is, I find his relationship with Chise far more uncomfortable than the one in Koi wa Ameagari no You ni. Or maybe the age gap really means something – Kondou being almost 30 years older than Akira actually sounds more natural compared to Elias’s head start of probably several hundred years. This shopping trip with Alice seemed more meaningful – both apprentices getting on well may force some uncomfortable moments for their masters in the future. I’d really like for some scenario to play out in a way that Alice should side with Chise and go against both Renfred and Elias. Alice’s backstory was pretty standard tear-jerker so that also was less enjoyable than it could’ve been. I guess the important moments that could have consequences at least in the following episode could be compressed into 5 minutes or so. In the end despite this fairly cozy atmosphere, overall I’m afraid I expected something more.

Fate/Extra Last Encore (Ep. 1)

     I’ve no idea what happened. I was quite confident going in because despite having absolutely no knowledge about the original game, I do know something about Nasuverse, but that proved to be useless. An alternative setting is nothing new for the franchise, though I’m nothing but confused about this class about servants, casual burials, Shinji’s girlfriend, some stuff concerning the moon and that girl who seemingly was Red Saber’s Master before Hakuno. Kirei’s comment at the end about miracles happening certainly didn’t help as Fate’s lore is already far more complicated than necessary. Sure, I still have much faith in the series (Kinoko Nasu is on the writing team, so that’s a huge plus), but if I didn’t know anything about the franchise, I would’ve dismissed the show as yet another edgy battle royale that rarely achieves anything good. Now I guess I just need to wait and hope for the best. Speaking about the art, there’s lots of elements clearly of Shaft origin – fixation on the eyes, fairly empty 3D rooms seen from various angles, minimalistic architecture – you name it.  Though I’m not sure this all psychedelic ornamentation was necessary. And, finally, character designs are weird. Well, not per se, just very different from the canon as well as from Shaft’s standards. For example Rin may sound like her usual self but my brain still needs time to process the information that a girl that looks like Rin’s cosplayer is actually her and the real one isn’t hiding somewhere in the shadows. I guess the moral of this episode is that chess is a dangerous game. Don’t play it, kids.