Restarting in midstream means there’s a lot to cover… So I’m going for a slightly different approach this week.
He’s going the distance
He’s going for speed
(I ended up dropping Prince of Stride, but it’s still a cool AMV.)
Rather than trying to cover every show in depth, this is going to be a quick and broad overview of the season to date. So, hit the jump and let’s get running!
Just as a reminder, shows that I am watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italics.
A Centaurs Life (Eps 1-2)
Man, we struggled to find some value in Centaur… But it just wasn’t there. Tedious and unfunny, it was painful to watch because of the manner in which the background material on race and racism was repeatedly slammed into our faces. The pseudo-scientific explanation for why the world was that way practically made me retch. (Especially since one of the main characters was very visibly an exception to their ‘rules’.)
When it comes to handling issues of ‘different’ characters, Demi-Chan (and to a lesser extent SukaSuka and Scum’s Wish) set a very high bar. Centaur doesn’t even come close.
Fastest Finger First (Eps 1-3)
Fastest Finger caught my eye because I was in Quiz Bowl my sophomore year in High School. Sadly, they managed to take a fairly fast paced and interesting activity and… turned it into a boring lump. The key players here were the overuse of tedious exposition and the delivery of the same with all the emotion of a chunk of wood. The just barely workmanlike (at best) animation didn’t help much. Boooooorrring! Watching episodes 2 and 3, I kept checking the time and getting tempted to get up and walk around… Not a good sign.
Isekai Shokudou (Eps 1-4)
This sounded interesting at first… but it’s fallen into something of a rut. Somebody finds Western Cuisine Nekoya, loves the food, vows to come back. Still, they are trying to mix it up a bit. I particularly liked the lizardmen in Ep 4 and how the weekly visit has become ritualized and the food the property of the tribe rather than of the individual. I’d like to see more of the interactions between the guests that we saw in Ep 1.
Konbini Kareshi (Eps 1-3)
When I saw the previews, I thought it would be an anthology show… but it turns out to be the tale of two good friends trying to deal with high school romance. The first tale, dealing with Haruki and his mixed feelings about his childhood friend Miharu is kinda stale and rote. (And three episodes in, still not going anywhere.) The more interesting tale is that of the hugely popular and clownish Towa trying to woo the loner and ‘plain Jane’ Mami. She doesn’t exactly dislike him… but she certainly doesn’t care for him or his style either. She’s convinced his confession to her was just more of his clowning and joking around – and why would a guy like him be interested in a girl like her anyway?
This hits home, as my sophomore year in high school I was in kinda the same situation, though with the sexes reversed… But she moved to another school and then to Pittsburgh before I could find out whether she was having me on or was being honest… But the show is making it very clear that Towa is being honest and is interested in her. To the point where he’s willing to accede to her demands and modify his behavior. Which leaves me a little uncomfortable, but maybe she’ll open up more as she realizes the truth and maybe her self-image problems recede a little bit.
The konbini in the title does play an interesting role… Being on their way to and from school, it often serves as a catalyst for the character’s encounters. The clerk that’s usually there is getting a lot of screen time, so I’m guessing he plays a larger role later on.
Konbini Kareshi (Ep4)
We watched this ep after I’d written the above. Since Friday is going to be post day this season, I decided to go ahead and write it up so as to stay current.
Every school based show seems to feature some kind of festival or other school activity, and Konbini proved no different. Still, I enjoyed the way they worked it in. Through circumstances, Towa and Mami ended up partnered for the three-legged race. She didn’t care for this much as (almost stereotypically) she isn’t athletic at all. (It’s been hinted that she’s a bookworm and possibly something of an otaku for romance manga.) Towa for his part took this in stride and laid out a training schedule, and then relaxed it to meet her abilities (and slowed down his pace to match her much shorter stride.)
The day of the race was handled very well. As they took their place in the starting blocks, they concentrated on Mami her putting her arm around Towa. You could see her struggling between putting her arm around a guy (especially this guy) and wanting to do her best for the race (and by extension accepting what he’d done for her). They didn’t show us the race itself – but afterward they showed the two tired but happy. (Obviously nothing went wrong and they didn’t embarrass themselves.) When the class started praising her, her smile lit up the screen – it wasn’t so bad after all.
Haruki and Miharu’s relationship (finally!) took a step forward as well. They were walking home from the festival and got caught in a sudden rain shower. After they’d found shelter, she opened her bag to get an umbrella out – and then firmly zipped it shut again. Neither has found the courage to confess, but they’re decidedly accepting of each other.
While it’s very rough in spots and has some horrible pacing and repetition issues, I’m starting to like Konbini a great deal. They’ve managed to tell us much about the characters and the changing nature of their relationships without putting it in our face.
Love & Lies (Eps 1-4)
I don’t even know how to describe Love & Lies… mostly because it’s gone in several different and unexpected directions. Frankly it’s one hell of a show – if you liked realistic looks at teen romance and sexuality like Scum’s Wish, then Love & Lies is something you should check out. (Love & Lies is not at all dark, so you don’t have to worry in that respect.)
I can’t help but think that the revelation that Yuusuke is gay (and attracted to Yukari) and the conversation that Yukari saw between him and Misaki is somehow related. You simply can’t drop a bomb like that and not have ripples.
My Hero Academia 2 (Eps 14-16)
I’m enjoying the heck out of the Field Training Arc. Hero Killer: Stain is… one of the more interesting villains I’ve seen in a very long time. Particularly interesting in the last ep was Todoroki very casually using his left (fire) side.
Princess Principal (Eps 1-3)
Man! Did they troll us with that trailer. It promised a great deal of action, and while there’s been no lack of action and tension, there’s a whole political dimension going on too. And it’s that dimension that elevates PriPri above the ordinary.
The centerpiece of this dimension is the relationship between Ange and the Princess… Just what is their connection? Just what the heck is going on? Remy has some thoughts on that which are worth reading.
For my part, I’m still waiting on Ninja Girl (Chise) to be introduced. As she’s the last major cast member still waiting in the wings, that should be soon.
Re:Creators (Eps 13-15)
Our Heroes are will into their plan to force Altair into their trap, and defeat her there. Turns out that she’s quite aware of their plans though… And as I kinda predicted back before the hiatus, she’s growing in power as her fans continue to create additional material featuring her. (Our heroes are not only not aware of this, it doesn’t even seem to have occurred to them.)
And a huge shout out to the show’s production staff, Ep 13 (the recap ep) was one of the best such I’ve ever seen.
Also worth reading, an ANN article on the likely inspirations for the various characters in re:Creators. (Hatsune Miku inspired Altair? Ick, but the author makes a good case.)
Sakura Quest (Eps 12-17)
Man, there’s a lot to catch up on here, so let’s just proceed in order:
Founding Festival/Moving Mountains: Honestly, despite being a bit irked at how the first ep played out, the second ep really brought it home solidly. Despite their best efforts and unexpected aid – the whole thing backfired. At that point, a high point of the show.
Summer Vacation: I have mixed feelings about this… The episode itself was very well done, and above their usual standards. But really, the whole vacation thing came out of left field and they dodged dealing with Yoshino suddenly leaving Monoyama.
The Drying: A new high point! Ririko gets to meet folks who share her interest, and learns that not only is she not alone, there’s a world beyond the village. (Something she hadn’t previously considered.) The story of The Garage Band was the best part, adding a great deal of unexpected depth and back story to Kadota and Oribe’s prickly relationship and to Monoyama’s history.
The current ep reflects how much the show has grown from it’s (very) shaky beginnings. I was afraid the whole plot would revolve around the search for the Treasures… But they very cleverly wove that story with a wider look at the issues surround a dying village with a graying population. I’m bothered by the “hostage situation” though, IRL that’s something that brings swift (and generally unpleasant) consequences.
Hopefully they haven’t forgotten the B&B side story, but I have increasing faith in the production staff.
I know, I know, I said quick… But Sakura deserved more than that. For all the dumping on it I did in the first cour, it’s matured remarkably in the last few episodes.
The Reflection (Ep 1)
So… we have a bunch of powered people, and a couple of them fighting each other for no clear reason. And really, that’s it. That’s the whole episode. A very inauspicious beginning, leaving us hanging (and not in a good way) waiting for next week. They’re going to have to work very hard in the next couple of episodes to avoid an early drop.
Tenshi no 3P! (2 eps)
Never did figure out quite how to describe this show… But really, there’s no need to. After two episodes of inappropriate fanservice and sexualization of 5th graders, I’d had quite enough.
Tsuredure Children (Eps 1-4)
An anthology series covering a number of couples and their budding romances… There’s some squick in there (such as the Student Council Prez getting a bit… forceful with the Yankee in the current ep), but overall it’s charming as hell. They’ve hit a nice balance between light drama, comedy, and pathos.
Whew! That was a lot to cover in just a few days of writing!
In other news…
Looking at the schedule, it appears this season’s post will come out on Fri.
The thing that consumed most of my July is, as of this morning, formally and finally completely behind us. But I’ve still got to find time to work on my photographs (only two weeks until they’re due).
Thanks to all of you who’ve hung around and are still here.
So, how has your season gone? Let me know in the comments!