Most shows are getting to the middle third of their arcs… introductions and set up are over, and now we dive into the meat of things!
Just as a reminder, shows that I am watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italics.
I kept putting this off because what glimpses I caught of other people’s reviews told me there was a lot going on… and I simply ran out of time. Hopefully a two-fer next week.
BanG Dream! Ep2
Fairly typical let’s-get-the-band-started ep with the fairly typical heel-face-turn by the resident typical tsundere. And the previews seem to indicate that ep3 will be the typical “someone wants off the bus” episode. (A staple of band and idol anime.) I’m wavering here…
I’m a sucker for band/idol anime, but BanG Dream is pretty bland, and on top of some wonky character designs they keep wandering off-model. There’s not much to hold me here so far, especially in an already crowded season.
Note: Because Ep1 was delaycast more than subsequent episodes, I’m an ep behind. Hopefully a two-fer next week.
Honestly, the best ep since the beginning of the show. Yuki’s distance comes less from the differences that spring from her being a demi, and more from her own fears and insecurities caused by those differences. (Which reveals last eps encounter with the gossip girls to have been foreshadowing of this week’s themes.) Takahashi-sensei deftly leads her to the realization that she can overcome these. The second half of the episode, which was pretty much the demi’s hanging about like normal schoolgirls, was a delight.
Much has been written about how the girls map onto the issues of disabilities and race…. I’m having a hard time figuring out where Yuuki falls on the continuum though.
Cauthan at the Cauthan Reviews blog posted this interesting piece about Conceptualizing Monster Girls a couple of days back, it’s well worth reading.
Also a shout-out to those readers who kept insisting I just had to check out Demi-Chan, thank you!
This episode falls neatly into three parts… In the first, we learn the full backstory of Yu and Kayuki’s special relationship. In the second part, Kayuki attempts (not completely successfully) to reconcile with Yu after her abrupt departure last episode. And he admits, much to her dismay, that he both likes and is forming a band with Fuuka (without naming her) – breaking both their childhood promises to each other. Yu doesn’t seem bothered by this, Kayuki is but conceals it. In the third, Kayuki gets splashed with mud, then encounters Fuuka and gets dragged to the sento her family operates to warm up and get her clothes cleaned. The two share some girl time and some song composer time, along with entirely too much censor steam. (By which I mean too many shots were framed to require it, once again the show reaches for fanservice when it’s not really required.)
Actually, a pretty good episode by the standards of the show so far… Though Kayuki seems to be solidly in possession of the idiot ball in not making the connection as to who and what Fuuka is in relation to Yu. On the other hand, as trope driven as Fuuka tends be, this is to be expected. Plus the title of the show isn’t Kayuki.
Lovely, lovely episode! Darkness is being forced into an arranged marriage, but resists… Kazuma wavers between trying to save his ‘comrade’ and availing himself of this opportunity to be rid of a “crusader who can’t land a hit”. Pure comedy gold. The funniest part is as Darkness describes her perfect husband, the antithesis of the noble being forced on her – and describing Kazuma to a T. (And of course she then turns around and berates Kazuma for being exactly that.)
Sigh Another girl added to mix? Fergoshsakes why? And why is she pretending to interested in/indebted to Masamune?
I like the second half though… Adagaki’s shell seems to be finally cracking. (And there appear to be some insecurities revealed beneath.) How will Our Hero handle her direct challenge in the cliffhanger? Longs odds say “like a typical harem MC – he’ll run, metaphorically if not physically, as fast and as far as possible”.
Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club Ep 4-5
Episode 4 was a typical “she’s going to join my club, not yours!” episode… resulting in a senpai from the swimming club challenging Hiromi to race to determine which club Natsumi would join. Though Mori-sensei tries to rig the race in favor of the girls, the senpai still manages to pull out a win – and then reveals she was just shining the girls on, she never intended to force Natsumi out of the cycling club. The episode ended with a typical challenge though… the principal informs the club they must “show results” within ninety days or be disbanded.
Episode 5… after the rare burst of energy displayed in Ep4, back to boring. This time an extended lecture by the bicycle shop owner on the different types of bikes and which one(s) the girls should choose.
Miss Koyabishi’s Dragon Maid Ep4
A two parter this week… The first part is all about Kanna going to school (for reasons that are never made entirely clear). When the three go shopping, there’s a nice air of family as Koyabishi-san learns about Kanna and encounters for the first time in her life a child’s desire for cuteness and bling. (Spiced with Tohru’s typical complete misunderstanding of how the human world works.) Through a convoluted series of events we get to the second half – dragons v. dragons in a game of dodgeball. Turns out that dragons know only one way to play – take-no-prisoners, spare-no-portion-of-the-landscape. I actually enjoyed the second portion a bit more as it lampshaded so many anime battle tropes.
Schoolgirl Strikers Ep5
Huh? A training battle in which the girls learn the value of teamwork? I thought they learned the value of teamwork back in Ep2!
Scum’s Wish Ep4
Damm. Is there anyone in this show that’s comfortable in their own skin? There’s a lot to unpack this week, but that pretty much summarizes my thoughts overall.
That being said, I think I’m going to concentrate on Hanabi here… She gets hit pretty hard from the start, with both the revelation of what piece of work Minagawa-sensei is and then seeing her predatory nature in action when she accepts Kanai-sensei’s confession. Then things really fall apart when she blames herself for not acting soon enough. (In a large part she didn’t because she doesn’t think of herself of being worthy of love. This also colors her later encounter with Ecchan.) On the other hand, she shows a surprising level of maturity by being unwilling to burden Mugi. This was foreshadowed a bit last episode… she’s gotten the idea that love involves two people mutually interested. However, other than a brief moment of loveless pleasure last ep all they’ve shared is pain… so it’s curious she stops short of sharing this pain. An interesting action for someone that’s been largely self centered so far.
After leaving Mugi’s, she encounters Ecchan… and decides to seek solace in her arms instead. Ecchan knows she’s being used on the rebound (and is deliberately taking advantage of Hanabi), but she’s more than willing to seize what she sees as her one chance to be intimate with Hanabi and maybe her last chance to get Hanabi to see her as she sees Hanabi. The resulting sexual encounter leads to some unpleasant self-realization on Hanabi’s part – that what she is doing is wrong. Not at all because of the genders involved, but because she’s exploiting Ecchan to sooth her own heart and this drives her even further into despair and self loathing. The physical pleasure she gets from the encounter is just guilt and confusion icing on the self loathing cake. (Like many people her age, sex and love are still inextricably and confusingly intertwined… )
As the episode ends, Hanabi is at her lowest point to date – thinking she’s as much a monster (as she sees it) as Minagawa-sensei even if she’s no ‘match’ for her, and resolves to change. When she confronts Minagawa-sensei in the final scene, I think Hanabi is on the cusp as to the nature of that change… will she become what she already sees herself as and accept Minagawa-sensei’s invitation to join the dark side? Or will she grow beyond it?
One one hand, she seems to know she’s digging herself a hole… but on the other she also feels powerless against the forces driving her and the fates seemingly arrayed against her. Right now, I feel as powerless and buffeted as Hanbi… which, I think is the point. But I also see glimmers of hope, does she?
And now, the second arc… It takes place in the same town, at roughly the same time (Hikari makes a cameo at her “secret” job in a very contrived scene). Shouichi however has been recharacterized as a gamer geek while retaining his “nice guy” persona.
Side note: I’m annoyed at several reviewers that have proclaimed that they cannot see what Hikari saw in him. He is a bit on the shallow and shy side, but so what? He’s definitely not a doormat – he gives Hikari as good as he gets, and is kind and considerate as well. Certainly not a BMOC, but not a forgettable nobody either… just in the middle of the pack (which is kinda unusual in anime).
That being said, I’m not nearly so fond of Toru as I was of Hikari… She’s just too dang perfect. Gamer girl, top student, top athlete, and insecure to boot. If there’s a bundle of anime tropes in Seiren, Toru not Shouichi is the top contender to date. (Think Kirino from Oreimo without the attitude.)
It’s snowing today, and I spent a good chunk of the time that I should have spent writing and editing this post taking and editing pictures instead. I’m unsure about this one, it needs a lot more work… but I think there’s a nice abstract hiding in there somewhere. (It’s the tree right off our balcony.)
Which brings me to another topic… Wow, did I bite off more than I chew. I’m going to have to rethink things a bit next season. Even getting into my groove, covering this many shows is harder and taking more time that I thought. Crawl, walk, run… I seem to have forgotten about the first two steps.