Musings and Reflections – Spring 2017 Week 5

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 13)

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      I can’t say the last episode of the series was satisfying, and even more knowing that there was a whole extra month for ufotable to polish every last cut. There’s just so much stuff to be criticized. The final fight was once again very RPG-like, not to mention that its importance was very undermined by two (yep, not one but two) epilogues, featuring so important stuff like forgettable character No. 58 chasing forgettable character No. 143 with a fried chicken. But, yes, the fight. Why is it so normal to fight almost to the last breath but when the opponent is still too strong, the hero just casually changes the gears and manages to end everything even without the Seraphim? Not to mention that the whole idea of Sorey sealing the big bad villain somewhere far away just came out of nowhere. It looks like Sorey just had to wait several years (and in this way technically the deciding battle of the show was fought off-screen) while Alisha and Shirayuki probably got married and stuff, and everything got back to normal. And how about the new shepherd then? Laila clearly got a new one, so is Sorey still a Shepherd? Doesn’t it kinda break the rules? Well, overall it looks like ufotable tried to do their best, but the source material wasn’t the strongest, and just piling everything that seems “cool” (just like playing the second ED and the first OP back to back during the fight, moving the camera and adding tons of effects) doesn’t really offer much depth to the story. CG finally looked like it blended with everything else rather well but that just may be the main thing I’ll remember about the series, and I’m even doubtful about that. But man, the end credits were just HUGE! Did they include even the Janitor No. 29?

Re:Creators (Ep. 4)

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     The ambiguous feeling that I developed for the show continues. On one hand, there are nice bits here and there – for me totally unexpected fact that Meteora’s creator died, humanizing lunch for Mamika and Alice, the idea that there’s a limit of how much unnatural stuff you can bring to our world and that in order to save one world you may need to destroy another. On the other hand, Re:Creators might be just called Exposition: the Anime. I understand that the lore and various hypotheses need to be introduced, but the way it’s done clearly isn’t the most smooth and exciting. The first part moved at a pace of a snail, then it continued, but the visuals randomly changed to everyone eating stuff. Yes, as the scene with Mamika and Alice showed, eating may help as a characterization, but having that while the expository dialogue continues? I don’t know about that… Well, in general episode 4 rarely is as strong as previous three, and even if you can’t say anything really important happened this time, growing numbers on the opposite sides should keep things interesting, provided something other than exposition will start to happen.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 17)

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      If everything LWA is going to do with the genuinely interesting premise of the second cour is only this, count me disappointed. I guess the magical words lose much of their mystery if they are now thrown around very casually and used without anything as significant and spectacular as for example that hungry ghost that threatened to eat the girls at the festival. Actually, the whole set up of this episode is very week. Fate/Stay Night also used the concept of the Holy Grail, but can you even compare something as omnipotent and mysterious as it in the Nasuverse to this drinking glass with no properties, no history and virtually no significance. Should you introduce an artifact of such importance just in one sentence just like “oh, and by the way there’s Holy Grail around in a nearby school, I guess we can go see it if there’s nothing better to do”? The nearby school itself is just crowded with one-dimensional dudes that of course find so many witches in the vicinity that witch hunting rituals are widely practiced and apparently approved. Andrew is a bit better character, but it’s still a very far road for him to overcome the initial impression of being just an arrogant prick. The episode in its essence is very similar to many short stories of the first cour – something kinda looks like happening though in the end none of it really matters. Well, maybe the lead with problems that Diana’s family is facing will prove to be more fruitful.

Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (Ep. 4)

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     Any two-episode stories in Natsume can compete for being best ones in the entire show, and this one also shows potential. There are things that a little bit bother me, but as it’s Natsume, I’m able to forgive a lot. It was about time for Natori to show up, but he did that weirdly on time to save Natsume from a fall, also Natori and Tsukiko managed not to hear Natsume talking with the maid being only several meters away, everybody continues to speak about weird strange presences but nobody even questions if the maid is a human being. Natsume certainly didn’t need to once again bring his backstory with the Book of Friends, at least so obviously. On the other hand, I can’t help but fall head over heels for Tsukiko’s design. Natsume’s character designer Akira Takata has done an amazing job overall (as confirmed by my affection for Taki), and that’s actually no wonder since she has made character designs for Haibane Renmei and also worked on countless shows including Baccano, NGE 2.0, FMAB, GitS SAC, Karas and many others. Anyway, Tsukiko, both by appearance and voice, just encompasses pretty much everything I may find attractive about an anime character. Yep, fanboying mode on when there’s nothing else clever to say.

Sakura Quest (Ep. 5)

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      Again I can restate that I really like what the show is doing. There’s definitely some food for thought considering the idea that a person most of times can definitely be replaced but that doesn’t mean that his contribution is meaningless and doesn’t provide something personal and something that no one could ever add, even if it’s not widely recognized or that essential in the grand scheme of things. At that point I think Sanae to me became more relatable and more likable. Previously to me she was more mysterious but now her problems and her personality are much clearer, as more details about her are revealed – her strive to become someone irreplaceable as well as wishes to be wanted and required, to have close friends and family around, to belong somewhere. It was a great moment when she connected with the carver who started in the same way but in the end adapted and fitted with the community of Manoyama. Is the first ship getting the sails ready? Another nice thing in the episode was the fact that there was no single idea generator – the plan was born fitting various parts of sometimes weird thoughts everyone had. I’m very doubtful about the success of this huge project but the start looks definitely promising. Also, not discarding the exoskeleton aspect works wonders for the continuity.

Tsuki ga Kirei (Ep. 5)

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    Awkward as hell. Sometimes it’s almost painful to watch the kids getting flustered in completely normal situations. Nevertheless, even if it’s exaggerated, I definitely get where that’s coming from. Teens just don’t have the experience and, as with other new things, look at dating overseriously, thinking too much about details while actually what matters is just having a good time being with a person you like. Going on the internet to search for the dating ideas looks a bit worrying since you can’t really trust anything on such matters and teens may not always be able to judge whether given advice is any good. Also there comes an aspect of trying to live by the rules set by someone else. Well, Akane and Curly finally managed to get some time to talk so the relationship is moving forward. Earlier I thought that there might be some twist about the two other love interests but it looks like the show won’t reinvent the wheel and just will play with awkward situations and misunderstandings in order to give some drama. And I guess that’s fine since up to this point everything’s been working out pretty well. About other things, the music is spot on, and the skits at the end were more bearable to watch than usually. I wonder which search engine is better – Guugle or Yahho! ?

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) receives the award of the 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 13

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 12) 

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    Underwhelming, as the whole show has been. Everything’s just bland, predictable and uninspired.  Called that 4 elements uniting thing when Dezel was introduced and that was way back. Again everything feels very RPG-like when the team talks, then runs to the battle, then fights a bit, then takes a breather from that and so on. Not to mention that so battle shounen idea of forming a contract with Zaveid while the bad guy is conveniently waiting in the middle of the fight. Also not to mention the whole memory-reading thing. Am I supposed to think that this bad dude is actually a good-hearted misunderstood person? Well, if he’s so suffering from the curse (and how exactly does it work in the first place?) wouldn’t it be a better idea not to fight the only person who could help you by doing some purification? And of course shepherds can retire like all normal people. I guess they also get an old-age pension. The new huge-ass dragon talking in a female voice somehow doesn’t fit. And the best part is that ufotable delayed the last episode a month. A month! They better do their best unless they want a similar success like they had with God Eater. All the brownie points from Nasuverse are almost completely spent and while visually ufotable is able to achieve more than many studios, it’s content is getting too much style over substance.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 12) 

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    A bit disappointing that after all the setting up of the bigger story last time this week everything barely moves forward. Another festival is going to take place and once more Akko wants to prove that she’s the best. The trick with the mirror also felt very similar to the episode about the love-bee – it’s just standard silliness with only explanation that it happened because it could and because it’s magic. Nevertheless, Akko has progressed from the start of the show so she understands (although still sometimes manages to forget) that there are people more capable and talented than her, though through her connection with Chariot she’s also able to advance, albeit not in the same pace and direction as everybody else. Ursula also looks to have finally chosen to look after Akko not only as a random teacher but as the real although disguised Chariot. Somehow seeing the flashbacks and all the love Chariot put to her magic felt heartwarming, though the scene practically came out of nowhere. The episode overall felt a bit disjointed but with the grand story around I hope it’s not long when the real action will start to pick up the pace.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 12) 

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    In retrospect, the show did have to end in this or a very similar way. The spirit of Acca ultimately stayed true to itself but even if all the buildup was practically flushed down the toilet, I can’t say that I’m disappointed with that. Mauve was certainly a character to play a role in all this coup thing and not necessarily as she was instructed. Jean probably would’ve been not the best king around – just not caring about his nation enough and doing his job only as much as necessary and not a tad more. For some time it seemed to me weird that no one even tried to talk to the prince about his future decisions, but even knowing that everything was staged in this way so that Lilium and his dudes would lose, was it really necessary to go that far? Furawau still declared independence so what worse than that could have happened? The ending notes like the resources found in Pranetta sounded like also going on a very fairy-tale-ish route – too much happy coincidences and stuff compared to the realism the show was striving to maintain. The fact that Jean’s boss was in fact Abend wasn’t the most satisfying one. Well, Abend had to be one of the usually seen characters or at least something else had to be revealed about him. The idea about the possibility that the boss is the guy just wasn’t elaborated as much as everything else in the story. I mean I have changed my stance towards the main characters not once during the show and to have a random dude revealed to be quite a prominent one just isn’t that compelling.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 12)

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    Kuzu no Honkai managed to provide one of the most satisfying endings of the season. I was worried that Mugi and Hanabi might relapse into their previous relationship (albeit without such toxicity), but I think the decision to leave both of them untied is the best one. Hanabi and Mugi have been doing nothing but entering and leaving all sorts of relationships but I doubt any of them could be called healthy, so now our couple get so needed fresh breath of air and an opportunity to sort everything out in their heads before deciding whether to invest into some kind of relationship in the near future. Especially Hanabi looks to have grown into appreciating the idea that you don’t necessarily need to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend and sometimes it’s really for the better. Hanabi’s rejection scene shows how much Hanabi has learned through the course of the show – sometimes the best decision is to be kind and think about other people beside yourself, even if you don’t get any visible profit from that. I’m still not sure if Kanai’s and Akane’s union would be able to withstand a disaster that is called Akane’s urges. Well, Kanai could endure anything, but that doesn’t mean retaining a good relationship. Still, out of all possible outcomes everything that the show gave offered me very delighted I chose it to watch.

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2017 Week 12

Tales of Zestiria the X (2017) (Ep. 11) 

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    Well, you know you failed with your worldbuilding when in the penultimate episode you still have to introduce new concepts and charatcers. Am I really supposed to feel anything for the fox-guy? I don’t remember a single scene with him that would make me to. Or a single scene where he did anything worth noticing. Moving on, somehow I wouldn’t be so assured if someone told me “don’t worry, I have 5 invisible friends with me”. And why all of the mascot guys aren’t coming along? I understand that ordinary humans may not do much but as far as I remember mascots give some power boost, so?.. Anyway, the second half was way more enjoyable, with both the soundtrack and the animation showing what they can. It’ a bit sad that Rose is left only with an invisible hat – Dezel also had some pretty good trousers. Joking aside, the show hasn’t achieved much, but moments like these are certainly not the worst I’ve seen. What Zestiria also did was to pique my interest about the Berseria game. Probably not in the most straightforward way as I strongly disliked Berseria episodes in the first cour, but there’s history behind all of blunderings of Sorey’s gang, and that history seems a bit interesting so I guess Zestiria more or less achieved what it wanted after all.

Little Witch Academia (Ep. 11) 

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     Well, everything just became infinitely more interesting. At first, going back to the roots was a good idea – having Akko and Chariot nearby just asks to create situations for them to play off of each other. And that was good, but then finally the overarcing plot appeared out of nowhere. From the start it was clear that only with episodic fooling around you just can’t make a good and satisfying 2 cour show having such a premise as LWA has. I think there already was too much time spent on not that important stuff, but better late than never. And, on the other hand, it’s probably better if there will be less filler-ish material left to incorporate into the story. Speaking about the premise, it’s not that clear what are these words, what‘s their meaning and what’s exactly going on. Well, there’s lots of time left to elaborate that, and that’s ensuring. I’d say that eventually Akko will be able to collect all the seven words (how else) and that somehow will rekindle magic in the world, also making Akko somehow capable at it. The episode fully restored my excitement and I hope it won’t disappoint. By the way, the character designs didn’t look that consistent but let’s believe it’s only temporary.

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (Ep. 11) 

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    The finale will have to be particularly spectacular to deserve such a buildup. Sure, sometimes it’s the journey that counts, and the journey through the districts was a diverse one, but inevitably it leads to the coup, and the coup should better be a good one. There are several things that still bother me about the show. First, how could Jean know about the cigarettes he got during his visits and that he should collect them and not to smoke them right away? Nino’s heroics somehow could’ve been more impactful, but even as it is, was it really the easiest way to shield Jean instead of tackling the assassins or just somehow distracting them? And the assassins look to be pretty unprofessional. The last thing is about Jean himself – even after all 11 episodes I’ve no idea who he actually is as a person. Yes, we see that he’s relaxed, he can do his job well, but is bored by it, he cares about Lotta and Nino, but that’s about it. We don’t know anything about his goals, thoughts, motivations, aspirations and just anything. And unless something changes next time Jean could be remembered only as a particularly dull protagonist. And by the way – was it only me, or the character designs weren’t holding up especially well? And character faces further away also weren’t the most impressive thing I’ve seen.

Kuzu no Honkai (Ep. 11)

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     Once again a beautiful episode about (most of times) ugly people. And in this context Kanai feels a bit wrong, being almost a perfect dude among all other broken individuals. Maybe it’s too much having a guy consciously marry an absolutely worst girl possible who by no means deserves such ending, but I guess everyone deserves to be saved. Especially since Akane has started changing due to her confusion about Kanai and attempts to decipher his motives and goals. Looking to the future, I doubt that Akane will be able to withstand her urges and boredom having a nice and most of times very predictable guy at her side, but only time will tell. As Akane herself stepped from her usual territory, Mugi was dismissed without any consideration about his opinion. Well, probably he himself knew that nothing good will come out of his relationship with Akane and he’s just unable to start any change in her. At least another unhealthy relationship is put to an end for good. And now the interesting part comes in since the final chapter of the manga hasn’t been released yet. Will Mugi end up with for now absent Hanabi? It looks likely though for all the reasons I’d prefer them not to hang up again.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen (Ep. 12) 

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    Where do I begin? Well, the show’s phenomenal and you have to think hard to come up with any criticism that would undermine the emotional value of all this journey. Seeing characters age and start behaving less youthfully and more wisely (in Yotaro’s and Konatsu’s case) as well as others grown up with some clear influences from the past or just inherited traits is very bittersweet. You understand that time flows whether you want it or not, people change for better or worse, but everything moves and rakugo through the love of its performers and fans is alive and will be ok. Well, I’m just speechless how incredible the journey was, from Yakumo the 8th playing around as a kid to the introduction of oh-so-lively ex-prisoner Yotaro to the same Yotaro (although a bit fatter) giving advice to his own son and apprentice. It’s heartwarming and almost tear-jerking that Yotaro has grown so much to be able to tell Shinigami not that much worse than Yakumo himself. On a side note, I’d vote Matsuda for the president no matter the circumstances. He’s the real MVP period.

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 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…