Spring 2018 – Week 3

This week, mostly fast hot takes and I go full-bore grumpy old man on a couple of shows. (Hey! Maybe there’s my brand!)

If nothing else, do take a moment to read my discussion of Rokuhoudou. The second ep brings out some interesting things with regards to Japanese artisans.

So, let’s hit the jump and let’s dive right into it!
The shows that I am watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italics.  Question marks denote shows not watched yet (during the premiere weeks), and strikethrough marks dropped shows.

3D Kanojo / Real Girl

I’m a week behind here, but will almost certainly watch it as soon as I’m done writing this.

Comic Girls Ep 3

Kaos-chan once again fails at being a mangaka.   Because she still doesn’t quite get what ‘normal’ high school girls are all about.  (And she’s not gonna learn in the dorm!  None of ’em are quite normal.)  I’m not quite certain why she’s trying to become a mangaka, since (apparently) she’s been doing 4 panel so far…  Of the fanservice portion of the ep, the less said the better.  Fanservice and CGDCT don’t mix all that well, especially when so blatant as it was this week.

All that being said, I hope there’s some rays of sunshine coming for Kaos.  This unrelenting gloom ‘n doom is neither attractive nor funny.

Crossing Time Ep 3

A teacher can’t figure out how to interact with one of his students outside the classroom… and comes off a creeper.   Ick.  Sadly, the first ep was the best and this series is rapidly going downhill.

Cutie Honey Universe Ep 3

Pretty much a mess from end-to-end.  Very little in the way of action, and who the hell was that big ugly girl?  I don’t think I’m quite ready to drop yet, but things are not looking good for the mid-season gut check.

Hinamatsuri Ep 3

The first part of the episode, about Anzu making her way in the world…  was stunningly good.  It was candycoated a bit, as they never did really adress her time spent sleeping rough, but realistic nonetheless.  Her encounter with Nitta was impossibly well done.

The second segment, Hitomi as a barkeep, was not so bad.  What’s she going to do with all that money?

The final segment, with Hina cleaning the apartment…  Incredibly good comedic timing.  Cutting to the credits right on the cusp of Nitta’s reaction was pure genius.

Hinamatsuri remains the best show of the season so far.  (Rokuhoudou is starting to give it some serious competition though.)

Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits / Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi Ep 4

Aoi confronts her enemy  Aoi is too kind, gentle hearted, and airheaded to even recognize she has an enemy…  And as a result more-or-less wins Oryou to her side.  (Though I bet she’ll flip from dere back to tsun as soon as she’s completely healed.)  A large part of this, as we’re very bluntly told, is her food has “large amounts of spiritual power” (whatever that means).  Which also neatly explains why the ayakashi are all so fond of her food.

And we see animation problems again.  Last ep, they couldn’t remember whether her mask was tied on or had an elastic band.  This week, they couldn’t keep track of whether the medical book was hardbound Western style or softbound Japanese style.  (Bookbinding is one of my hobbies, so this leapt right out at me.)

And Oh Lord, this is going to be a two cour show…

My Hero Academia 3 /  Boku no Hero Academia 3 Ep 3 (Ep 41)

A very slow-moving ep in which not much happens other than once again reviewing quirks of the various cast members.  But, last season was much the same – it took a while to gain traction…  With the League of Villains finally making their move, I expect the action to pick up next week.

Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori Ep 2

One of the few shows this week with some positive developments…  Though the tea shop owner is a sour gatekeeping old bastard, I can see his point.  I can see why he would think it better to simply quit.  It hurts to pour your heart and soul into something only to see it not appreciated.  (Or worse, treated as some kind of odd anachronism.)  In the same way, I can see why he’d want Rokuhoudou to audition for the right to carry his teas – his name is on them, and he wants someone who will not sully it.  It’s not a popular message in these more egalitarian times…  But it’s also a level of personal touch and involvement that used to be valued.

It also speaks to an issue that the average anime fan may not be aware of, many of Japan’s traditional arts and artisans are an endangered species.  When the country modernized and industrialized postwar, very few were interested in the traditional (and not very remunerative) arts and crafts and the lengthy apprenticeships involved.  And because so many activities are intertwined, there’s a domino effect…  If an umbrella maker goes out of business or dies, the papermaker no longer has a customer.  (And the reverse, losing suppliers, happens as well.)  I’ve been a customer of David Bull‘s traditional Japanese prints for years – and he struggles to get his materials.  Finding both wood (to carve the blocks) and paper (to print on) has been an ongoing concern.

If you watched it, this was also covered (briefly) in last year’s Sakura Quest.  It will be interesting to see if pops up in other anime, as the declining birth rate so often does.

The Japanese Government has the Living National Treasure program to try to staunch the bleeding…  but it can only do so much.  Stipends for Masters do little to attract apprentices.  Ultimately, that’s where the real problem lies – without new blood, extinction is certain.  And for many of these arts, once they’re lost, they’re lost forever.  It’s possible for a future student to recreate the methodology, but the living traditions can only be passed down from Master to apprentice.

Anyhow, I hope this continues…  That the show keeps going outside the teahouse and continues to be more than solving the problem-of-the-week for the forgettable-character-of-the-week.

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online Ep 3

Another boring infodump/flashback episode…  Censored let’s just get to it already.  The basic problem isn’t structural, the same structure has worked in many shows.  The problem is the execution and delivery are so wooden and flat.

Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai 
/ Tada Never Falls in Love Ep 3

Narrated totally from the point of view of Nyanko-Big, the coffee shop cat…  That was an…  interesting and unusual episode.   It worked, and worked well, but strikes me as a diversion from the narrative flow.  And they way over did the whole “eight seconds” bit.

On another note, they keep talking about how hard Tada-kun is working on his photography, but I’m just not feeling it.  I should go back and look at the photos on display in the 2nd ep.

Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Ep 5

Hard at work training, and then Spe-chan gets a totally expected win.  How are we supposed to take her “struggle” so seriously, when no struggle lasts more than an episode?  It’s pretty hard to make a sports anime work/interesting when the protagonist starts at darn near the top of her game and never really flags for any length of time.

And don’t these girls have any lasting rivalries?  I mean they’re teenage high school girls for gosh sakes, not professional athletes.  They spent two eps setting up Silence Suzuka as a frenemy, and she’s barely even had a cameo role ever since.  And for a top and highly touted horse girl, she sure doesn’t seem to race much.

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Ep 2

After a strong premiere…  Wotakoi pretty much wimps out in the second episode.  We did learn that Tarou, as I suspected (due to the OP), is an otaku too.  And that he has some kind of relationship with Hanako.  But other than that, the ep was mostly rather aimless time filler.

=========

And there you have it…  Sorry for the brevity this week, I’ve been dealing with a bit of writer’s block.

And the grumpy old man isn’t all that easy to write.  Mostly comes off as whining I think.  So that idea may need some more polish and work.

Next week, writer’s block or no, will also be brief so I can concentrate on the 2199 finale.

So, how did your week go?  What are your thoughts on my thoughts?  Drop a line down in the comments and let’s chat!

2 thoughts on “Spring 2018 – Week 3”

  1. I’ve seen some episodes past the ones you mention, and often have trouble getting straight what happens when or where, so I’ll just hope I won’t spoil things and talk in general terms for some episodes.

    3D Kanojo: is quickly turning in a show that irritates me as an aromantic, doesn’t have many people I like, but also doesn’t have many people I hate, and had in its latest episode a cringe inducing plot element. Sounds like I’m supposed to drop the show, but I’m actually moderately liking it. I have no idea why – maybe it’s that they’re doing a fairly good job setting up narrative throughlines? Am I watching for plot? (Plot is almost always low priority for me.) I’m mostly confused. No specifics, since you’re behind.

    Comic Girls: In its first episode, I had a slightly positive impression of Kaos’ character development. After this episode? Why does her editor even support her like this? The show spends so much time showing us where she needs to improve, that it’s hard to see where she has talent at all. It’s not that I’m adverse to starting from scratch, but clearly the editor sees something in her, and the show does a lousy job telling us what it is. As a result we get the standard Naruto formula, of a mediocre but ambitious person who just won’t give up. Add that to the rather rote character desing and voice work, and you have platitudinal ganbatte-moe. For me, the show is on a clear downwards trend. There’s still potential for the show to recover (some of the group dynamics in the show are pretty good), so wait and see. But I wasn’t a fan of both ep2 & 3.

    Crossing Time: I wasn’t quite as squicked out by this episode as you, and I sort of liked the development (of barely contained laughter), but on the whole I’m not a fan of either concept or execution. First episode still best episode, by very, very far.

    Kakuriyo has its problems, it’s biggest being that the Oni is extremely dull. But I’m liking the show in a switch-off-your-brain version. Mean spider attack – Shiro sho ryuken – Fluffy spider version. It’s so stupid it works on me. I didn’t notice any of the inconsistencies you mentioned, but I tend to miss things like that. It’s not a top show, but I’m comfortable with it.

    MHA3: I’m not that excited about the show, but this episode was my favourite this far into the season, mostly on account of some great visual direction. I liked, for example, the shot of Kouta from inside the cave. There were other shots, too, but I can’t remember them. Episode was prettier than usual, or so it seemed to me.

    Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori: has firmly established itself near the top this season. I’ve seen one episode beyond what you’re discussing here. After the discussed episode ended there was this mysterious character whose offer was refused, and I thought – oh no – drama. Please, no. Needn’t have worried. The show’s fit to handle what it wants; it’s very confident and knows where it’s going, and doesn’t ever break mood.

    Tada-kun: Also seen one more episode, but it doesn’t matter since I have little to say anyway. I like the show, it’s fun (and occasionally annoying). It’s near this season’s top, but it’s not likely to make the year’s top 10. What did I think of the kitty narration? Neutral on it. The photography aspect? Not an expert, but it seems to me little more than flavour, using the photography more as an anime-visual framing device than giving me any sense of what it’s like to take photographs. No Tamayura, or Just Because. Just this show’s gimmick. (I do like the photos themselves.)

    Umamusume: Can’t disagree with anything you said, but also can’t say I expected anything else. Game concept + PA Works = Uma Musume. No surprises. I like the show in much the same way as I like Kakuriyo. Also, groping jokes just aren’t funny.

    Wotakoi: I barely remember the episode, to be honest.

    Hinamatsuri: It was one of my two picks before the season started, and surprisingly it’s shot past Hisone to Masotan, which would have been my number one pick. Yeah, the scene with Anzu running into Nitta was excellent. There’s a real sense of income imparity. In that scene, Nitta really was the guy who collects expensive vases. At the same time, the scene’s direction is casual and understated. Great show.

    Steins;Gate 0: After three episodes I’m certainly sold on the sequal. I was worried it would be a pointless cash-in, but they’re stepping back from the time-travel aspect and exploring the neuroscience aspect, which has always been equally important, but underdeveloped. If we’re lucky, they’ll finally explain Okabe’s childhood illness. Not holding my breath, but wouldn’t be surprised either. This is how you do a sequal. You keep what worked in the first series, but change up important things. Steins;Gate is good again.

    Hisone to Masotan: had a good second episode as well, but potential pitfalls are starting to show. It’s not going to drop from this season’s elite spot anytime soon. I can definitely see the handiwork of Okada, here, and she’s allowed to write to her strength here. Currently it’s mostly light comedy in a way she’s not often allowed (the last I remember was Amazing Twins with Junichi Sato.) And the visuals are definitely my favourites this season. Even the CGI blends in well and doesn’t bother me.

    Finally, it’s really a pity that Creature Family Days has no legal release so far. It’s shaping up to be really good after two episodes. One of the better Chinese co-productions (?) lately. Maybe the best? We’ll see. There’s a good sense of: how much should you dial yourself back to fit in, and how much are you allowed to be yourself. Good character handling, and irresponsible mad-scientist parents (?) in the backstroy that are neither demonised nor excused. Worth seeking out the fansubs for this one, I’d say.

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  2. Sorry for the late reply, it’s been a crazy few days…

    I’ve seen some episodes past the ones you mention, and often have trouble getting straight what happens when or where, so I’ll just hope I won’t spoil things and talk in general terms for some episodes.

    And with the late reply, now I’m in the same boat! :)

    re:Hinamatsuri, It’s still rough, but the highs are getting higher without the lows getting lower. I’m not sure that it’s still the top show (what with Rokuhoudou‘s recent plot twist), but it’s going to be a close race.

    Re:Umamusume, Yeah. The groping jokes have gotten really old. Enough already.

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