Musings and Reflections – end of Summer 2017

     Well, better late than never. I guess  if we choose to forget Made in Abyss, the season was quite bland. Yes, there were some ok shows but in the grand scheme of things very few series might stand a chance against the tide of time. From the shows that I missed only Princess Principal and Tsurezure Children seem to be worth noting but again, there still are vast numbers of older shows that deserve more attention by far. I guess summer seasons by default tend to be less memorable.

Ballroom e Youkoso

     Even if the show started the new arc before the end of the season, I guess it’s more appropriate to say some words only about the first arc. The biggest effect Ballroom has had on me is quite weird – I started to appreciate Yuri!!! on Ice more and more. The latter sure had its problems but it’s not even comparable with Ballroom – despite being tagged as a sports anime the series barely has any dancing. Sure, there are some incredible sakuga moments but if you can appreciate only 10 seconds through 2 or 3 whole episodes, there’s something not right about it. The story itself is very basic and filled with endless tropes. I probably don’t even need to mention the way Ballroom treats its female characters. I’ll somehow finish the second cour of the show but it still borders the category of “things that wasted my time”. Even after so many episodes I’m not sure I understand mechanics and technicalities of ballroom dancing better, and that should tell something about taking advantage of the setting. Or not.

     Ballroom e youkoso receives the random award of giving more attention to the necks of the characters than the actual dancing. Come on, show, it’s supposed to be called animation not without a reason.

Made in Abyss

     Well, I can only say that if you haven’t watched it go and do it right now. Even the mere idea of exploring a huge hole feels far more interesting than pretty much any story tied with high school but that’s the least I can say about it. Incredible backgrounds, more and more unforgiving nature the deeper we go, unsettling monster designs by Kou Yoshinari, very fitting soundtrack and many other things make this anime worth your time. There are some minor quips here and there – some out of place jokes, a bit uneven end after the culmination during the memorable episode 10, the the fact that the story extends far after the end of the show, but these things aren’t that important after all. Made in Abyss offered a truly amazing adventure story, one that I’ll remember for quite some time. And, taking advantage of the situation, I must thank a fellow blogger Kyra for recommending the show. Thanks a lot!

     My appreciation of the show makes it very unsurprising that without any comments I give Made in Abyss awards for having the favorite OST, the most memorable character (that being Riko), the most impressive scenery and , of course, the favorite show of the season.

Re:Creators

     The second cour was vastly different from the first one. Especially towards the end Meteora’s talking scenes were fewer (thank goodness), and more and more action was present. The recap episode and some scenes here and there implemented many meta elements so considering them and the story in general I can certainly praise the anime for its uniqueness. Nevertheless, being unique doesn’t necessarily mean being good. The show spent a lot of time building everything up but in the end there still was a need to pull an unlooked for twist because the expected strategy didn’t work. That’s ok but felt underwhelming nonetheless. I guess you can’t do anything when you have omnipotent characters that solve all your issues. Also, having such a handy character like Magane and just forgetting her for the most of time feels like a grievous sin. The main guy could’ve been cut completely and the show would’ve been so much better – in the end it was Magane’s power that saved the day and the main dude never did anything noteworthy. The show for the most part certainly was fun and ideas about celebrating creativity and emphasizing problems that creators face are commendable but pacing at times, magic without clear rules and still unexplained plot holes leaves me rather disappointed.

     Re:Creators receives the random award of losing itself in meta so much it forgot to wrap everything up. I still can’t forgive severely underusing Magane and not giving her storyline any conclusion.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 24)

     Nothing to write home in terms of animation, but the narrative of Sakura Quest in its second cour tried to make little stories more connected, implementing everything into the grand arc of reviving the festival. Still, as in its first season, Sakura Quest has been that kind of show that seems to unfold very slowly, taking time to observe the characters and even more slowly bit by bit change and mature them. In the end it turns out that the characters were truly lovable people, someone you’d love to have as friends, someone you’ve grown to like and appreciate, someone whose company each and every week seemed to be a usual and normal thing. And that only becomes clear once everything ends. I don’t know what kind of slice of life show I need to pick up to be able to fill up the hole that suddenly appeared after the show ended. It’s definitely that Sakura Quest ended while it still had something to say and it didn’t end up being dragged and over stretched. That story is ended. It’s sad but inevitable. Let’s move on.

     Sakura Quest receives the random award of actually having an ending. Too often these days shows only work as an add for some manga or light novel series that extend far beyond the reach of an anime.

     As in the previous season, favorite OP  was that of Re:Creators. It took some time to get familiar with it but again, it’s Hiroyuki Sawano, so what else did you expect?

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     How surprising, Made in Abyss triumphs in another category, grabbing the award of the favorite ED of the season. Not particularly memorable, but cutsy characters reminding of the whole journey and thus providing even more contrast between the layers of Abyss is a decent mix.

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Musings and Reflections – Summer 2017 Week 12

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 11)

    Well, where do I start? The fact that Tatara’s stamina was the main issue isn’t surprising. Rather it’s strange that the audience might be transformed from complaining about pain in the eyes watching couple No. 23 and in a matter of seconds almost giving a standing ovation for the same guys. The award ceremony again demonstrated the sexual inequality – couple’s prize there clearly represents the ability of a man (and there’re 7 awards) and only one woman gets an award for her prowess. It’s another story that the judges are either incompetent idiots or just trolls because for No. 23 to win Mako should’ve dressed in darker purple or in red. Also the random appearance of the award for the best girl (yep, that’s what it was) comes out of nowhere. Previously I thought that in order to keep status quo neither the Jerk nor Tatara would win, but it turns out that both of them winning is also an option. And then it means that it’s a tie and neither of them has the upper hand. So why then it’s implied that Mako will get back to being the partner for the Jerk? Come on, countless times it has been said that their builds are incompatible, not to mention the kind treatment that the imouto gets. Asspulls aren’t the right way to advance the story, sorry. The school scene after the credits also came out of nowhere. The animation again could easily represent the whole show – there’s a 7 second cut of incredible quality followed by countless still images. The music didn’t help either – there’s just a jarring disconnect between the good and the bad. True, this episode provided more movement than usual but please, can you make at least one episode that could be even remotely close to Yuri on Ice?

Made in Abyss (Ep. 11)

     Is it really implied that that blob thing might be Lyza? Just as Nanachi explained, everyone is told that she’s dead but her body wasn’t there, and now there’s this thing, showing some interest towards Riko. And Riko must be surprisingly lucky to get into the hands of someone that knows how to deal with injuries better than a shocked robot. Nanachi has something in common with Ozen – both feel very confident and look like they have perfectly adapted to their living conditions and to some extent look down on others that have far less experience. I think that if Ozen needed some supplies she could’ve easily sent Reg on a similar quest, also adding some not that absolutely necessary items to fetch. At least Nanachi seems to be far more approachable. Other than the story, the music once more gave the so needed mood of uncomfortable hastiness when Reg was gathering stuff. The theme played in Nanachi’s house also sounded distinctive enough. And the backgrounds again. It took me only a second but I think I fell in love with the spectacular (albeit filled with graves) Nanachi’s backyard. It feels even more like a safe haven than Ozen’s camp. What I didn’t appreciate was the butt-medicine as well as other jokes of the same level. At least it was clear it’s to be expected since there have been instances of such things earlier. Once the show finishes I’m definitely picking up the manga and it’s extremely likely I’ll catch up in one go no matter how much reading it will take.

Re:Creators (Ep. 22)

     Exactly like the whole show, the last episode is a mixed bag. Well, there weren’t many things this time that were done wrong, there simply were things that were left unfinished. Altair is barely mentioned and her abilities left unexplained and I certainly am not content with getting just “she’s omnipotent”. The episode also lacked Magane quit a lot. And now I’m not even sure if I’m totally dumb or there really was not even a mention about her once the main dude summoned Altair’s creator. Ok, Magane may have just infiltrated the society and nobody saw her ever after but come on, at least address that and don’t stand there happy saying that everyone has left while one of the most entertaining characters haven’t even showed up. The whole departure business also seems weird. It’s told that this mega-doujinshi everyone created is seen as a canon so if Selesia will be alive in Matsubara’s future writings, then isn’t it also true for all of the other creations? Looking this way, the characters that were transported to the normal world were just copies from the ones in the stories and the originals are still safe and sound in their own worlds, fully capable of continuing their own quests. So then what’s the point of returning? And how would you return? What will these new copied characters do if their places are already occupied? Also because the doujinshi was canon the original characters also should know everything that happened. Among these questions I still must find a place to praise the decision to leave Meteora at this world. But again, her game already has its own Meteora so she isn’t at all needed there, as aren’t any others. I guess going through the gate simply means committing a suicide then. By the way, knowing Meteora’s character I doubt her story would be very interesting – too many info-dumping and overlong talking scenes. If it’s implied that it was actually her who wrote Re:Creators, I can understand it because sometimes it’s inconceivable how uneven and full of holes the show has been. It’s certainly easier to believe to have been written by a newbie than an acclaimed mangaka like Rei Hiroe.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 25)

     “I wanna wasshoi!” Seems like the gene pool of Sandal’s hometown has some interesting talking patterns to offer. That as well as other tiny little touches made the goodbyes quite emotional. I don’t think I appreciated enough all the minute details that added up through this half a year to make me attached to the characters and feel rather sad knowing that the girls inevitably were going their separate ways and the project had fully run its course. It can be argued that the very last segment concerning the future of Yoshino didn’t need to be shown and some ambiguity probably would’ve been alright, or that the episode itself somehow felt a bit uneven and bumpy. Still, the conclusion is very fitting – it’s far better to end things on a high note when everything’s going well and there’re some hopeful future prospects than try to elaborate the story further and risk getting repetitive and boring. These lines that applied to the show itself also work well in Yoshino’s perspective. Manoyama has clearly learned much and even if some changes are more on a mental level and the number of immigrants may be as low as ever, the journey still ended right when it needed to. It’s very fitting to see so many people enthusiastically bidding Yoshino goodbye, especially as it contrasts with a shy and quite uncomfortable welcome ceremony way back. I’ll miss you, show.

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2017 Week 11

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 10)

     The Akagi siblings’ history was revealed but I still see the Jerk as the Jerk. Only Mako’s wish to be paired with him now may be viewed in the light of knowing that she wants to perform so well that her skills would help her brother to win, and in that way she may repay her debt of having him agree to dance with her at the very beginning. Anyway, the episode felt extremely long and boring. This tournament arc is almost endless – I have no recollection about its start and no idea how stretched it’s going to be. And why is that? I guess one of the reasons is that the stakes are extremely low. Any shounen fight needs some struggling against the odds and it applies to a tournament arc even more. And what would happen if Tatara lost? Nothing, really. Sure, he’d be a bit upset for a day or two and the pairs would remain as they are. And what of it? Tatara should be happy that he managed to get an experienced partner at all in the first place, the Jerk has already shown what he thinks about Mako’s gratefulness and Mako-Tatara pairing is better because of their physicality. I don’t care what the Jerk wants or needs and the less I see him the happier I am. Finally Shizuku only now starts to develop a personality so I can’t say I care about her in the first place. Also I doubt she’ll remain with the Jerk once Hyoudo will get his leg healed. So yeah, it even looks that Tatara would gain more if he didn’t won this competition. So what’s the point in elaborating every single second of dancing? It’s getting anything but interesting. There was nothing really bad about the episode, it just didn’t have any highlights, animation (as always) included.

Made in Abyss (Ep. 10)

     Well. The episode. Right. I can’t remember when was the last time I watched anything like this. Anything as immersive, anything as dark or anything as well-made. Going out of the state of being absolutely astounded I can gloat a bit because I totally called that Riko will have to suffer physically. Still, I had no idea that the magnitude of the suffering would be as high. As if for every last bit of luck the pair already had Riko now needs to pay with her own blood, interest included, and that makes Reg as stressed as ever. Never has he looked as human as now. Don’t mention Reg’s arms and you’ll have no way of proving that he’s a robot. The visuals also definitely need mentioning. At first the surroundings were quite impressive (I wonder how the creators manage to think of so many different locations that change very organically) but it was the painful segments that stood out incredibly. Going extra miles in showing, say, Reg’s trembling hands, unstoppable bleeding and claustrophobic close-ups make the episode stand out by far compared to pretty much anything you can think of this season, and even longer than that. It’s just becomes excessively painful to watch. Still, Nanachi wasn’t impressed. It was actually a perfect time to introduce a new character – Ozen was already left, the pair received some time alone and now the things may liven up a bit once more. Nanachi as a being fully deserves an episode named after her – her origins, abilities and story are very intriguing, and Shiori Izawa found the right voice for the character. I also have to praise the scene were Reg applied first aid to Riko. Probably any other anime would’ve made Reg blush and shy away from a kiss but Made in Abyss once again treated the matter maturely – a life is far more important than aggravating and out of place anime-isms. Overall, it was just an excellent episode. I guess even after five or so years if I remember the show, it’ll be these very scenes that will be the most vivid. May we talk about saving anime again?

Re:Creators (Ep. 21)

     Knowing how dissatisfied I have been with some of the episodes and just ideas in general that the show chooses, I must say that everything is wrapping up pretty well. Last episode it seemed to me that it wasn’t possible to get a cohesive ending at all and now I stand corrected. Still, there’re things I’m not happy with. That Setsuna girl was created by the main dude, and he did that only basing everything on his memories. And let’s remember, he knew her for quite a short while, plus during the very last months he had absolutely no contact with her. So how authentic is this creation? It seems like the main guy was incredibly lucky theorizing how Setsuna must have felt, and that was a very far shot. Making a character that resembles an actual girl when you hardly spend any time with her and have no way of knowing what she thinks of sounds too good to be true. And Altair was surprisingly eager to swallow the bait, even knowing that everything was a sham. Maybe the real Setsuna died cursing the world and Altair and everything and everyone, spewing bitterness left and right. Who can tell? Well, on the other hand Altair wanted to know her creator in the first place so even a fake one might be better than no one. But still, Altair also had the right to react something like “you try to manipulate me? I’ll destroy you even more painfully!!”. The new Setsuna and the old one are completely different people – the former being just someone who the main guy wants her to be regardless of the actual person. Considering that, it was a gamble that ended surprisingly well. And why did the main guy loose his calmness? He already had broken down saying almost the same exact words. And getting emotional because he liked his creation and she forgave him is a bit too narcissistic, isn’t it? Also, why did Setsuna need to die once more? None of the other creations were affected by their story elements that were yet to happen. I hope the final episode answers the question about the mechanics of Altair’s entry into the world. If it turns out that she summoned other characters only because of her omnipotence, count me disappointed. And please let Magane do something. She’s severely underused.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 24)

     This episode and the final one probably should’ve aired as an hour special considering all the wrapping-up work that has already begun. In many cases the episode emphasizes how much everyone has grown and how better are the decisions that need to be made. Setting up such comparisons naturally adds some continuity and for a longer than one-cour show it’s always a welcome sight. Yoshino has already completed her arc of consciously deciding that a country isn’t that bad and this time she strengthened the notion by adding that the appeal of any job in any place also depends on the person himself and his outlook on everything. The crew as a whole used their knowledge not to trust TV producers who ultimately care only for their skins, and rejecting such an offer is even more important because the festival is being held for the locals as previous events proved that a transient surge of people doesn’t do any good in a long run. The scene also signifies a point when the old chief finally comes into terms with the notion that traditions aren’t necessarily a bad thing and in order to protect Manoyama as it is he needs to preserve what already makes Manoyama unique and any extra-weird initiatives (especially chupakabra related) might not always work. It’s also a bit odd but heartwarming to see the chief finally getting an idea that actually (and finally) might be a useful one. Other than that, exoskeletons and various returning people set a stage for a memorable last episode, reminding about all of the journey. I’ll be sad when the show ends. I guess the most thing I’ll miss will be the weirdness of Sandal. Just remember “watashi no roots”… As always he’s on a completely different level than anyone else.

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2017 Week 10

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 9)

      A shounen protagonist performs normally but then comes a special move with a name that nobody understands! The same problems remain. Tatara improvises on the spot and Mako who should be “the flower” is forced to run after every single random wish of his. It’s ok that she’s able to do that but how a fresh pair in their first competition is able to perform like that? Also, I don’t understand what was the point in changing the music during the waltz routine. Yep, the new track was far more suspenseful and fitting but it’s not even a waltz anymore, is it? How then the visuals are meant to synchronize with the sound? There are countless ways of shifting the tone of a simple waltz music to suit the needs (I’m talking about you, ED) but nope, the show chose the easiest way. Hyoudo’s mom and Sengoku explaining stuff during the dance feels very awkward. They know all this stuff – why would they need to rethink up to the basics? I’m also still puzzled by the fact that Sengoku explains the rules of the competition to Tatara only during the competition. The audience voicing everything that’s clearly told visually can get very annoying. Also annoying is  endlessly repeating“make me bloom” and stuff. I got that the first time, you hear me? And that was the last episode, and that was already enough. I ponder how the show is going to continue since Tatara already seems like the best dancer in the world. There’s just no way for him to improve, and he only recently started dancing. On an unrelated note, with all these head tilts I wonder how this anime would look in Shaft’s hands.

Made in Abyss (Ep. 9)

     Not bad – a whole level per episode, and quite an eventful one. However, the scene in the beginning featuring other kids from the orphanage felt out of place. Yes, it reminded us that they still live high above and that was relevant during the hallucination scene but still. Anyway, for Riko it was a very healthy experience not to rely on Reg too much. Still, I’d expect that after all these events she’d become a little more cautious, but at this point I doubt even a serious injury could restrain her that much. At least Reg should address the issue that she wonders into nests of predators, moves him even after being told not to, finds some animal-eating plant that’s actually also an animal (I guess?) and stuff. So far luck has been incredibly on Riko’s side but I wonder how long that can be until she breaks a leg or gets her arm bitten off. The Abyss won’t go easier on the pair I presume. Getting back on the surface seems absolutely out of question since a mere hundred meters (or so) proves to be an incredible challenge compared to the vast height of roughly 6 kilometers to the ground level. A few fight scenes as expected were animated well enough but these cutesy cat-like creatures at certain moments were too CG. I wonder what fan reaction would’ve been if the show actually ended with Riko coming up with her mother and it had been actually Lyza who found her. In such a case the director should be given a medal for trolling and financial support to make any anime he would like.

Re:Creators (Ep. 20)

     Well, I don’t buy it. It’s a mess all around. What’s the point in all of the buildup if you still are going to throw omnipotent characters all around and revive anything you can? Probably there’re many people both in the anime and in real world that approve of such twists but I’m definitely not one of them. In principle anything that is omnipotent is boring as hell because it can win against anything. The idea of two omnipotent characters fighting or someone reviving dead people like crazy (come on, then let’s go from the beginning, starting with Mamika, Alice and Selesia) is in theory just a deadlock for any story. Escaping such a deadlock is even worse, so say what you will but my acceptance got as low as it can. I don’t even want to think why they got Altair’s creator involved at all if everyone thought that making Altair’s copy was a perfect plan. The whole idea of Sirius negating Altair is also shady to say the least but I can’t say anything because we have damn omnipotent characters. And why did Altair became so popular in the first place? How does a random scribble become more popular than decent characters in widely known stories? Is there a precedent for that in the real world? Please name any such character more popular than, say, Goku. And why doesn’t anyone else have these fanfiction abilities? And one more – I don’t really get how Altair is planning to destroy everything, why does she need so much acceptance and why doesn’t she just kill everyone with her pinky? I probably could think a thousand more damn questions and some of them might be unfair or plain wrong but I just got a bit emotional because for me everything just doesn’t make any sense.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 23)

     Somehow the problems encountered in this episode seem to be very artificial. Well, more like artificially implemented. First of all I doubt there would be only one shop whose owners wouldn’t live on the second floor. For the movie arc quite a few empty houses were found so why there’s only one suitable shop in all of the town? Also, if that Akiyama guy was burnt only because of monetary reasons and he is conscious about that, isn’t it possible for someone else to be a witness in any financial transactions? Chitose herself could’ve easily given her word that Akiyama would only need to give the keys and receive the money without being concerned at all. Come on, if you’re so cautious, ask for a lawyer and make a contract. If a shop is able to withstand the competition in Tokyo, they probably mean business. I was also annoyed by the final few minutes when the incorporation plans were revealed. That bigger city came out of nowhere. Why we haven’t heard about it until now if it’s so big and growing that Manoyama could stand in a way of it? Well, the first problem could’ve been easily resolved only by decent arguments and no such fuss, and the second one just came out of nowhere. Sure, the girls need some stuff to take care about for the show to be interested, but please make more effort in thinking everything up. By the way, it’s admirable that the characters try to reach decisions that would benefit each and every one of Manoyama’s citizens but actually that’s the drawback of democracy – you either end up being in a deadlock because the opinions of some people are simply incompatible or you have to stay with the majority in order to accomplish anything but that at the same time inconveniences the minorities. Any way you think, it’s not an option in order to run a town smoothly.

 

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2017 Week 9

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 8)

     It pisses me off that the tournament is made to look like it’s Tatara dueling with the Jerk and their partners (who just can’t keep up with both of the dance geniuses) are there only because the rules say so. Come on, it’s a pair sport, isn’t it? Even Hyoudo who tells Tatara not to dance alone seems to treat women only as if there were some props: “You need to make Mako a better dancer…”. Well, maybe just talk to Mako then, wouldn’t you? She has danced for quite a while and knows everything far better than a plain copycat that Tatara is. As if there is some magical switch that Tatara needs to find in order to make his partner better. And no, Mako has no say in this thing. Why would she? When Shizuku gets in the competitive mood it’s only because she wants to impress her ex-partner, and Mako also does the same exact thing. Even if the show’s focus is rather on the relationships of the characters I think it still should give more information about the dancing itself, not to mention ANIMATING THE DAMN THING! Some of the character interactions this time definitely were expressive but come on, I know that you can make a dancing cut longer than 2 seconds. I understand that Tatara is a beginner and Sengoku also just took a new mentor role (wait, that’s just like Victor from Yuri!!! on Ice) but simply forgetting to mention the importance of stamina is unbelievable. Is Tatara so unhealthy that every single person dancing only loses a breath when he seems to be on the verge of asphyxiation? Stamina needs to be built but didn’t Tatara practice his whole routine even once to see his capabilities? Please tell me what does the show’s fixation on Hyoudo’s mother (well, more often than not a certain part of her to be more exact) gives to the story.

Made in Abyss (Ep. 8)

      I wish the show spent more time revealing how Riko and Reg spent their training days. Apart from annoying flies and that hippo thing (yep, Kou Yoshinari again but as always the monsters get awfully little screen time) the trip seemed to be going rather ok and problems only mentioned could’ve been a good way for further characterization and development. Still, even if the level wasn’t explored to my satisfaction the overall mood of the show has gotten more serious compared to the sunlit school-walks during the first episodes. You really need to push yourself and level up in order to go deeper. The flashbacks a bit humanized Ozen showing her fondness of Lyza, may I guess the only friend she had. The Abyss truly is powerful if it’s able to connect two so different characters who on the first glance shouldn’t have any common points to share. Lyza has been featured quite a lot lately (and only now I realized she’s voiced by Maaya Sakamoto. Cool!) but Riko’s father remains a mystery. Was he truly just a usual bland anime protagonist, loved for his “kindness”? Lyza definitely couldn’t get an overall satisfying friendship from Ozen and seemed to be fairly outgoing person so having lots of very different friends wouldn’t be unnatural but still Riko’s father is another intriguing part of the show.

Re:Creators (Ep. 19)

      Well, that was something. I guess I wasn’t the only one who doubted the show and was if not annoyed then at least disappointed by endless stream of recaps (to be frank it wasn’t bad, but a recap remains a recap) and episode-less weeks. Now I think it was worth it. Animation alone compensated quite a lot of static talking scenes in the past – the show’s really determined to gather all of the fan following it has been slowly losing. When there’s plenty of action scenes Hiroyuki Sawano may feel like a god – he’s in his own territory and even if the insert songs were not unique, their task of pumping excitement up to eleven was accomplished well. Turning now to the meat of the episode, I don’t think Alice’s death was as impactful as Mamika’s. Of course it did give more gravitas to the story, especially when paired with such phrases like “you only have a supporting role in this story”. Nonetheless, I feel that Alice reverted to the rightful side too quickly and almost completely off-screen. After that she was featured only marginally so Alice with a changed worldview wasn’t seen enough for me to start caring about her a lot. Yes, she was a nice girl but not more than that. Her death also brings an ongoing issue – we still have no idea how much the creators are able to influence the ongoing story – did Alice’s creator really killed her off? If yes, then was it done for the approval of the viewers (not the most elegant way of getting that then)? If not, then to what point he has written Alice’s storyline – did the reality negate that? Even if we take another matter – Matsubara was clearly astounded by Selesia’s decision so that would mean that he wasn’t the one who crafted such a twist. But then again – to what point has he written everything and how much freedom do the characters really have? I don’t think Selesia died – killing two pretty important characters in a single fight isn’t as impactful as killing them separately over a longer time. Plus, we didn’t see the pixels that appear when a character dies. Anyway, knowing that Meteora was able to revive Blitz’s kid I wouldn’t be so sad neither about Alice nor about Selesia no matter their fates. Not to mention that Magane and the main guy so far haven’t shown their cards. Still, having ability of revival is a double edged sword and I’m afraid the show may cut itself in some way. Speaking about other matters, there’s still stopping to talk mid-fight and fighting weirdly (why didn’t Selesia and 2nd-rate-Shinji fight Charon together? Don’t tell me two robots (and one of them a giant-ass one) can’t obliterate a single one). I guess that’s just how things in many anime are.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 22)

      It seems like with Erika’s tooth also came out a bit of her childish stubbornness. It’s very true that sometimes any arguments of a third party simply can’t make a difference and only a very close person can help to appreciate other opinions. It’s also a lesson of maturity for Erika – she may as well go and live in Tokyo but even if her mother’s opinion isn’t relevant (probably because of dim future prospects), she isn’t the only one who deeply cares about Erika. The ending also very satisfyingly made things click – ideas borrowed from Warabiya also brought more light to the streets of Manoyama – just the thing Erika wanted. Maybe that also had some effect since in the end (as expected) Erika decided to settle down for a time being and even acknowledged Shiori’s opinion as having right to be valid. Maybe there might have been more to this story but with only 3 episodes left the festival stuff will probably completely usurp the scene. Somehow it’s comforting that as with other two treasures, the search of the Golden Dragon also turned out not be that trivial.

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2017 Week 8

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 7)

    I have to give some applause to the staff for making the Jerk the most unlikable character of the season. Also let’s give another round just for finally giving some lines to Shizuku. Well, I don’t know how the dancers usually communicate mid-dance but constantly randomly changing routines just for fun doesn’t seem like a very smart thing to do. I understand that someone as close to a pro level as Hyoudo might do that but for Tatara who just began dancing in the first place and now participates in his first competition with his first partner – isn’t it too selfish? Or is Mako (and previously Shizuku) just a doll who can (and must) easily say “screw the plan” and mimic anything Tatara can think of? Anyway, what really aggravates me is the use of humor, especially the fan-service-y stuff. Can’t you just stop using it in order to make fun of women? On the other hand, can’t just stop using any humor at all completely? This kind of jokes doesn’t add anything and only breaks the mood and because of that reminds me of my problem with 3-gatsu no Lion. At least that show had some deeper ideas and redeeming qualities. It turns out I was wrong about some decent sakuga appearing because of the competition. When will the show move from such a pedestrian form? Maybe it’s because this competition doesn’t feel like anything special? Yes, Hyoudo’s appearance made everything more interesting but aside from that the rivalry between Tatara and the Jerk doesn’t really interest me. Delving into some speculations, I think that as every shounen Ballroom just loves maintaining status quo and that should mean no change in pairs. I’d wager that neither Tatara nor the Jerk would win – Tatara’s not good enough and the Jerk (or Shizuku more likely) might find some trouble because of Hyoudo.

Made in Abyss (Ep. 7)

    Well, I knew that from Ozen you can expect many things but her brutality against Reg still came as a surprise. As her motivations became clear, Ozen was revealed to be one of the most fascinating characters of the season. Even her longevity and athleticism massively contrasts the frailty of Riko and Reg, but it’s her character that is the most interesting. Ozen clearly enjoyed being adored by Riko’s mother at the time and it seems like the same also applies to the daughter, albeit in a particular not beginner-friendly way. The harshness of Abyss affects its explorers and it’s natural that Ozen has perfected her survival skills and that probably leaves very little space for feelings, leisure time and other privileges of people living on the surface. Apart from immense practicality (as expected from a cave rider), she also possesses curiosity (that wasn’t too pleasant for Reg’s parts) and a particular dark sense of humor. Mix everything and you’ll get a very rough person with whom it’s very hard to live with but once you befriend such a character, the support will never waver if you can just keep up. Meanwhile other unexpected facts were revealed. Riko originally being a stillborn adds more seasoning to her determination to climb down, not to mention the whole existence and working principle of that cube. It appears that Lyza’s grave was actually empty. But then why would she need a grave if she’s alive – there’re better places to keep your stuff, and if she’s already dead (which now seems doubtful) – where’s the body?

Re:Creators (Ep. 18)

     As much as I enjoy Magane’s playfulness I have no idea what was the point of spending half an episode to have her talk to the main guy. Yes, her personality carries much weight but apart from the fact that Magane isn’t inherently bad and just wants to have some fun in her own way that was just empty talking. Yes, she also showed some affection to the main guy because of their apparent similarities but that has little meaning until the main guy’s role in all this event is revealed. It’s very funny how he still is just a discardable self-insert guy and barely a character. Moving on, everyone loves Mahou Shoujo style, I can’t argue with that. Still, I’d be more glad if Mamika was here. Wait, how did Yuya and his opponent got from streets to some Antique building to fight? Am I wrong not to believe that the majority of people do care about the stories they get and look for consistency and inner logic? I can’t grasp that no one would give a damn about Yuya talking about things he has no evidence about and everyone just accepts that. Finally Selesia’s colleague showed up. I wonder what Altair told him to convince him to fight against her comrade. Also, there still remains Alice’s request for Magane to make a some huge mess.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 21)

     Entertaining as usual. It was a bit unexpected that Erika would make such an impact on the story but on the other hand she’s as suitable as anybody to once again make the dilemma of choosing between the country and the city relevant. The theme has been discussed already by the main girls but as those that didn’t enjoy the country at first also had some experience of living in a city, seeing a local who desperately wants to leave brings some new winds. For the main girls it’s like a challenge of another level – at first they needed to get comfortable in Manoyama themselves and since this task has already been accomplished they can try to pass the message to others, even if they are as cynical and stubborn as Erika. The subplot about the last treasure didn’t bring any surprises, only compared to the previous two items everything seems to move too smoothly. Anyway, it was a good chance to add some little details to the supporting cast and the show didn’t miss the opportunity. The festival will probably be the culmination of the show with the girls getting even the most withdrawn residents of Manoyama starting to appreciate the place they live in. Still, what interests me even more than the festival is the final choices of the group – will Yoshino leave or remain for a second term as a queen?

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2017 Week 7

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 6)

     The Jerk seems to be getting even more unbearable to watch. It seems like he can think only about himself. Why would Mako still want to do anything with that prick of her brother? And isn’t Tatara being a bit unfair, thinking only about how to get Mako to dance with the Jerk and keep him away from Shizuku regardless of what Mako might truly want and what Sengoku has been saying about dance pairs equaling marriage? Also, doesn’t anyone want to know what Shizuku thinks about this whole situation? As if it doesn’t concern her in the slightest. It looks like concerns of many about that role of women in the show continue to have a clear reasoning – Shizuku remains a faceless doll and Mako is treated only as tool to show off for either her brother or Tatara. In terms of sakuga this time was disappointing – too many still frames. As far as I remember, the production for the show has been quite healthy but it’s no wonder if apart from the first episode the animation highlights were as scarce as possible. Maybe all the resources went into the competition next time?

Made in Abyss (Ep. 6)

     Oh, the cliffhanger. That thing (I guess there’s no better word for that creature) certainly is interesting as well as Ozen with her overwhelming presence and more secrets than you can count. The story moves at a fine pace but if the show stops for a while to answer the questions of the Seeker Camp I doubt there will be enough time left to continue the story and reach any satisfying conclusion. The manga is still ongoing so a conclusive ending probably isn’t a possibility, but to add Made in Abyss to the endless heap of manga-promotional-only anime would be a shame. I guess reaching the bottom of the Abyss won’t be the case, especially since quite a prominent character (apparently named Nanachi) according to the ED still hasn’t been introduced. It’s probably too early to think about the ending but seeing how well everything has been developing so far it’s the biggest possible problem that I can think of. Getting back to the episode I have to say that Ozen’s VA Sayaka Ohara is overdoing it. She’s definitely a fine VA but deepening her voice to suit Ozen’s personality feels very unnatural and artificial. Unless the manga stated that Ozen had some problems with her vocal chords. Anyway, someone with a naturally deeper voice would probably have sounded way better.

Re:Creators (Ep. 17)

     When a flying horse is going one on one with a giant robot and their strength seems equal. When a flying horse is able to fly backwards. Yep, it’s pretty, but more than that? Not really. So, everything is broadcasted live, eh? And how does that work? I get that anime characters after their transportation to the normal world are transformed to be like real people but does really no one give a damn that what are they watching suddenly turned from 2D to 3D in their perspective? I think there would be countless hardcore fans that would despise their favorite 2D characters being involved in a 3D crossover. I’m not sure if pointing out clichés like artificially prolonging fights for the sake of the viewers or bringing back dead characters still counts as a positive if the show still use them. Alice certainly has something in her mind but it’s still to be seen what commotion Magane is going to make (if she will though it’s probably unquestionable) and how. So it seems like this birdcage is something like a reality marble, speaking in terms of Fate franchise. When you think about it, is it still possible to fight back Altair even with enhanced abilities if she has endless stock of fanfics behind her? I still don’t really get how characters and their creators’ wishes work in the birdcage. Are the creators able to determine the actions because of this acceptance or is it all just a calculated prediction?

Sakura Quest (Ep. 20)

     I don‘t know who that director  guy is supposed to be but calling those that didn’t make it is anything but ethical. As if it’s not cruel enough for Maki – she thought that maybe after all these times she’ll get to start her dream eventually but it turned out as usual. Anyway, as always even with some difficulties everything ended up quite well with Maki satisfying her thirst for acting and at the same time not abandoning her responsibilities for Manoyama. I wonder why the creators of the show decided to have at least two winter episodes right in the middle of summer. When emptying my backlog I can live with such a discrepancy but it’s more than weird for currently airing shows. Sure, such episodes show that time isn’t static but I just couldn’t shake off a feeling that something’s not quite right about watching snowflakes in the middle of August. Another weird thing was the idea of organizing the closing ceremony. I don’t know how much the Japanese get attached to their schools but come on, it has been 10 years since its formal closing – I doubt many people would still care for that. And why didn’t anyone during all these years managed to take advantage of the fact that the school building might be used for the community of Manoyama?

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2017 Week 5

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 4)

    Continuing from the last episode – why are there people who seem genuinely surprised that using doubles is forbidden? OK, Fujita was dumbstruck with an opportunity to dance but come on, what did you expect? And WHY DID NO ONE NOTICE? It seems like technically you could exchange a pair of professional dancers with two hobos for one dance and no one would bat an eye. Sure, some time later a disqualification letter might come in but at the moment neither judges nor other dancers would say a thing. It’s very simple – our protagonist needs to try a serious dance floor after all doesn’t he? And Sengoku’s a jerk for not taking any responsibility and blaming everyone but himself. Impulsiveness and gut feeling sometimes might come in handy but such people should either restrain themselves or go out of managing business. The damn necks are so much distracting that I have to remind myself it’s not some weird comedy about giraffe people. On the other hand, it is an unintentional comedy  – isn’t it funny how anticlimactically Hyoudo fell of the stairs? The way of introducing new characters is very shounen. As if anything about the show could be non-shounen.

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 5)

     I understand that having (and getting) a partner whom you trust, depend on and have utmost confidence in is crucial but come on, isn’t it taking a bit too far considering that at this point it’s just some practice we are talking about, not some unbreakable bond for the whole life? As far as I remember, Fujita so far has learned only waltz (because he spent extremely long time mastering it) and now he was supposed to dance a completely unknown dance, and even with a partner? If he made some progression off-screen it would be nice to get to know it, the show’s about Fujita’s progression after all, isn’t it? Yep, cliché “a cute dojikko stumbles and falls on the protagonist and thus a long-lasting bond is created” – check. Sengoku turns out to be not a complete jerk because of disqualifying Hyoudo on purpose but still that doesn’t make him a very likable character. Mako’s brother looks to be another overconfident and arrogant (and annoying, let’s not forget that) dude, almost Sengoku without any brains. For me Ballroom still can’t offer any likable enough characters – Fujita is just too unbelievably talented self-insert without too high IQ, Shizuku is just the perfect partner with only a semblance of a personality, Sengoku, Hyoudo and Mako’s brother hold their head’s too high and everyone else has too little screen time to be that noticeable.  The show just can’t go on without spouting dumb jokes left and right, can it? Is it me or some lip-sync this time was a bit off? Aside from all that, I look forward to the developments in the relationship between Fujita and Mako and all the rivalries.

Made in Abyss (Ep. 4)

     So far everything seems to be going quite smoothly. But if Riko gets distressed over a spider that is a rather simple creature of the first level, what is going to happen once they descend further below? There’s probably a reason why inexperienced whistles aren’t allowed to go deeper. I can understand that Habo got excited to see Reg knowing what he really is but is it a choice of a responsible adult to let two kids go virtually into a certain death, promise or no promise? I don’t know what Leader was thinking (and it bothers me quite a lot) but Riko feels like she definitely has the right answer. The same happened with the letter asking to come down when Riko decided it was written by her mother. Riko may as well be right but having such a companion with practically no cautiousness and only sky-high confidence instead of actual skills isn’t what I’d choose. The parallel between Riko and her toy was fitting – as the toy just flew away and ultimately was caught in a waterfall, so does Riko (also born in Abyss) started a journey down but may soon find that she has less control than she would like.

Re:Creators (Ep. 16)

     This episode in particular as well as some earlier ones (end especially the recap) have gone full meta. It’s interesting how that started to be more prominent in the second cour – the first one was more or like a regular anime albeit with an original premise. It’s like the creators thought “screw the story and let’s just have fun, and we’ll wrap everything up later on somehow”. When I thought only for a second that the onsen scene in a usual anime would’ve been just a lowly fanservice, Re:Creators not only swapped girls with middle-aged men but also addressed the fact itself (well, they got back to the regular fanservice so in the end I guess they just had the last laugh). Pretty much the same goes for discussing 2nd-rate-Shinji’s VA – just like how in Bakemonogatari Senjougahara told that her VA was amazing. Apart from some mild fun in the baths, the characters continue spawn useless sentences that have no meaning. I guess there had to be some transition to the second half but it felt anything but smooth. Someone in YouTube comments have named this show Re:Meteora talking and that isn’t too far of the mark. It seems like the final showdown is coming a bit early, unless it will be too stretched out or something important after that will have to happen. Either way it doesn’t sound too promising. Of course, Selesia’s comrade as well as the new member of Team-Altair haven’t shown their abilities, the MC’s plan remains a mystery as well as the whole principle of how the showdown is planned to go. The crew has been working for some time but we still don’t know anything substantial about what exactly did they do and I feel a bit disappointed about that. Some intermediate results would probably have made the transition a bit smoother. And do I not remember or so far in the series we still don’t have any clue why exactly Altair behaves the way she does with all the ending of the world and stuff?

Sakura Quest (Ep. 18)

     Well, I don’t know if it was a clever foreshadowing but since the very beginning of the episode I was thinking what would happen if any of the villagers died. Eventually I ended up dismissing the idea because that’s not that kind of a show but surprisingly it proved me wrong. Exiting the world when you have finished what you strove for while in the background Beethoven’s 9th symphony is playing – pretty majestic, isn’t it? Otherwise the episode wasn’t particularly exceptional – the pervy oji-san hopefully won’t appear ever again, the problem got solved in quite a plain way as if it was an afterthought and Sanae got a new way to connect with Manoyama. I don’t know, maybe as with the village, there won’t be any hope for Manoyama left eventually as the population inevitably is getting older and young people are migrating out of rural areas. Sakura Quest doesn’t deny that but instead suggests to find some ways to record what has yet remained and possibly to slow down the process of destruction. Even if the girls are working so hard and let’s be frank, the results are only bringing some happiness to the town and not new people, there probably are hundreds of such towns not only in Japan but also in the rest of the world that can’t afford as much manpower (or of such caliber) or other resources to at least stay afloat. And that’s rather sad.

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2017 Week 3

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 2)

     I knew it’s absolutely necessary not to get hyped too much for Ballroom but still I feel disappointed. Strip off the visuals and give the reigns to Deen or Pierrot and you’ll see that the show is so basic shounen that you can use it as a blueprint for years to come. Sticking to the basics isn’t necessarily a bad thing but apart from the theme originality isn’t something to talk about. A rival that has skills but no passion against a newbie who has passion and some hidden talent, and (so far) an unachievable crush – haven’t you heard anything similar before? And come on, can we just avoid the mandatory toilet-level humor (and major part of all the humor) please? Is it a slapstick comedy after all? Was that “oh no, he went into a wrong changing cabin, and there was a girl changing!” moment truly necessary? The art also was a bit downgraded. It’s natural that some static shots are used because it’s probably theoretically impossible to continue with the production values like in the first episode. Yuri on Ice did outstandingly well in that respect but still it wasn’t a perfect production. Still, even if the static shots are inevitable, their appeal is very low. Despite all these things, making Fujita a visual learner and Hyoudo’s dance near the end definitely were the highlights. The problem is that they were diluted by so much blandness.

     P.S. It’s turns out it was no joke, the episode was outsourced to Pierrot.

Made in Abyss (Ep. 2)

     As expected, the show retains its charm. Reg’s infiltration went surprisingly well. I guess “foreign technology” can lead you anywhere. Unless Riko and Reg will start climbing down, the secret of Reg’s identity doesn’t look to hold that long. Despite quite a cheerful start, some darker elements slowly started to find a way in. I can’t say that the backstory of Riko’s mother (as well as Riko herself) was tear-jerking but the story about a mother that does anything to save her child has some power in any context. Even if Leader denied Riko having some “special abilities”, her eyesight problems might have some meaning in deeper levels. Besides Riko’s mother’s message “come and get me” (maybe because she went too deep and that may border “loss of humanity or even death”?) probably the most interesting part of the episode was Riko’s reaction to the news that her mother went missing. It’s sad that a kid was forced to grow so distant from her parents so that even such grave news mean so little. So far the show seems to know pretty well how to do exposition without getting annoying – even the ranking of the explorers by the color of their whistles was inserted in a justifiable way.

Re:Creators (Ep. 15)

     I don’t know why but the mere notion of an eroge character being thrown into this mess among venerable heroines and twisted villains is incredibly amusing. Knowing what kind of “plot” has much popularity it’s probably even weird that the show isn’t spawning hentai characters like crazy. Could it be that Nishio Ohnishi is a play on Nisio Isin? Well, towards the end I think the pervy-creator jokes were a bit overplayed but just adding such characters to the story brings lots of fresh air. If only the new girl would prove to be useful in some way and not just being a temporary comedic punch bag. Everything else was just a set up for the upcoming events. Altair encouraged Blitz (who seems to regard her as someone in a similar situation like his daughter) and Alice tries to stir things up for some reason by contacting the biggest troublemaker in the world. The episode doesn’t feel as static as the last one but I start to miss some action or just any interaction between the opposing sides. I understand that everything needs time to brew but as clashes between the different philosophies are the most entertaining thing about the show, I just want more of it.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 16)

     I don’t know if it was my mood or what but the episode somehow made me happy. Pretty much all of the jokes landed, especially the last one during the preview. I guess a good thing is that Sakura Quest starts to connect arcs together thus the Spanish are joined with the Sakura pond which is joined with the past events which is joined with the Festival. This way the arcs are still possible but the connections let the story to move forward more naturally. It’s very interesting to finally see that the old chief hasn’t changed at all during the years – writing (and now saying) weird things and in bad ways trying to gather and motivate people. Chitose on the other hand matured a lot but knowing what kind of personality she had in the past adds some depth to her actions and motivations. When you think of it, it’s seems not that common for a place such as Manoyama not to have a festival. The revival will probably last for at least several episodes, especially if at first some things must be gathered, as cliché as it sounds. Still, I would like very much to see something more of the past. Or just to hear the old band reunite.

Musings and Reflections – Summer 2017 Week 2

Ballroom e Youkoso (Ep. 1)

     Well, it truly is a shounen underdog story featuring Haikyuu. If it weren’t for the visuals I doubt that it would make an interesting premise for me. The way Fujita ended up joining the dance studio isn’t the most believable. I mean what are the chances that a guy who isn’t apparently interested into anything suddenly finds out that he has an irresistible wish to dance? Why not try some sport, volleyball for example, if he has wants to do something? Too many coincidences undermine the idea that a person might need only a little push to get into something if he’s just waiting for the right opportunity to show itself. Also, from where does the devotion to dance all night come – that time it was his only second visit to the studio? I think the story would’ve started in a more powerful way if we had been shown more of what a person Fujita really is before giving him this fascination about dancing. Now we only know that he behaves a bit foolishly sometimes and doesn’t have many interests. As the show at the very start introduced the dancing itself, Fujita has been used only as a shapeless clay and he’ll gain any new characteristics only through dancing. It’s a pity because we’re just thrown into the fray with a loud exclamation “This is the protagonist and you should care!” but so far there’s no reason to do that – he’s just more or less a blank doll until he overgrowns that state but that will happen only through dancing. Speaking about the art, it’s rather astounding. The count of lines seems far greater than only necessary, the movement combines gracefulness with not that smooth but precisely calculated angular movements, the famous giraffe necks also stand out quite a lot. Well, the show has its own aesthetic and it should fit the theme rather well. So yeah, it doesn’t look like the show I would drool over but nonetheless it should be entertaining enough from time to time, especially when the competitions will come.

Made in Abyss (Ep. 1)

     Not bad, not bad at all. The initial stage of the story definitely feels childish but many manga readers only smirk knowingly about that. An unexplored location always is a good start to any kind of story, and also having a character who only recently got attached to a group of local people is a classical way to start everything with a justified reason to explain everything. The info-dump that’s almost inevitable to such kind of stories is kept until the very end, and overall is very limited, so both of these things are positive. The whole location as well as that giant slug monster reminded me strongly of Ghibli production, both by the feelings they evoke and just because of detail put into everything. Shots here and there giving more depth to the world payed off really well, giving more ideas into what kind of place we’re invited and what kind of society exists near the Big Hole. Character designs as well as a guy who’s basically Astro Boy with some Spiderman capabilities may not be the most exciting aspect about the show but again – only the time will judge the end result. Anyway, the premise sounds unique enough, the atmosphere was just brilliant and I’m more than happy I decided to try the show out.

Re:Creators (Ep. 14)

     Millions of questions. How widespread is the knowledge about the creations? Is it wise to tell so many people about the truth and the plan? Also, can the government expect that the anime industry will find enough resources to produce something big and cohesive when already in the real world some animators are dying from overworking? Why does Kikuchihara give a presentations while standing in front of her slides and thus blocking the view? Do we really need another character? Where is Magane? Anyway the meta part of discussing the creative differences and problems of creating such a huge collaboration was quite interesting, though everything once again boiled down to lots of static shots and taaaaaalllllkiiiiiinnngggggg. The creators only showing written ideas to each other and not just simply discussing them by speaking feels silly though of course it’s for the dramatic profit. The same goes for showing a black screen during the main guy’s mysterious suggestion. Regardless of the usefulness of his ideas as far as I remember, he can’t really draw that well so trying to involve a kid with no experience in such a huge project have infinite ways to backfire. And doesn’t anybody need to go to school by the way?

Sakura Quest (Ep. 15)

     To think about it, just the fact that Sakura Quest included a foreigner as a dweller in a rural Japanese town as well as some foreigners that are neither Americans nor Russians (and not English either) makes the show exceptional. As usual, Sakura Quest manages to create some sort of a cliff-hanger so you would eagerly await the next episode, but this time I’m a bit cautious. Earlier such situations were usually downplayed for laughs or just explained in a too normal way – that happened with the ominous dude in the match-making event (oh, but he’s just an ex-boyfriend) as well as the apparent Yoshino’s run from Manoyama just a couple of episodes ago (oh, but it’s just her vacation) or the very question who the Spanish were last week. Maybe this time something that starts interestingly will retain its attractiveness until the very end. Though again, the preview of the next episode showed a picture of a band that apparently consisted of the old chief, the exoskeleton guy and Riri’s grandma, and that looks not exceptionally exciting. I’m not even going to guess what is the thing that was drowned in the pond, it can be anything from a boat to some weird statue but as it’s going to shed some light on the past of Manoyama, I’m all in. Speaking about Riri’s longing for other places than her own town, it’s great how the show manages to weave this thread with the Spanish and the secret in the pond. Even when some other story is in the focus, the girls are not left without some minor but still essential developments, and that’s commendable.