Fall 2018 – Week 5/6 & Midseason review

Tsurune - Teamwork - Episode 4
Well, on top of having a bit of writer’s block, last week was also my birthday…  and I wasn’t going to push myself and struggle to get something out on my birthday.  And then of course, the writer’s block persisted into this week.

So, this entry covers two weeks and is once again in the “grumpy old man goes for speed” mode…  Sumimasen!

So, hit the jump and let’s run down the past two weeks and my mid-season thoughts on each shows.  Any guesses as to which ones get dropped?
The shows that I am watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italics, and strikethrough marks dropped shows.

A Certain Magical Index III Eps 5-6

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what happened in these two episodes beyond various groups in Academy City’s underworld maneuvering in their endless plots against each other…  It’s got something to do with Aleister Crowley (the City’s head honcho and chief puppet master) but that’s about all I got.

A Certain Magical Index III - Episode 5.png

But we finally saw Accelerator is bad_ss mode, and that’s good enough for me.

Midseason thoughts:  Keeper, mostly out of habit, and it’s not a bad way to waste a half hours.  If you think that’s damming with faint praise, you’re not far wrong.

Anima Yell! Eps 5-6

The Cheer Association is turning out to be more like Yuuki Yuuna‘s Hero Club – they’ll help and support anyone that needs it, however they can even if it doesn’t involve cheers and pom-poms.  This is a welcome development because it gives the story more to work with than just being cheerleaders on somebody else’s sideline.

Episode 6, featuring the Cheer Association cheering for a public audience the first time was particularly well done.

Overall, Anima Yell! is staying well within its comfort zone.  In anything but CGDCT, that might be a flaw – but here consistency and comfort is a solid plus.

Mid-season thoughts:  Keeper!

Bloom Into You / Yagate Kimi ni Naru Ep 6

I’m not sure what to think about the “live for my sister” line…  It just seems too pat, too easy.  Somehow it doesn’t fit what we know of Nanami’s personality.

Bloom into You episode 6.png
The sequence on the stepping-stones was beautifully done…  If I picked a “scene of the week” – this would be the one this week.  Using the stepping stones and their footsteps to express the distance and closeness and progression – just beautiful.

Bunny Girl Senpai Eps 6-7
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai / Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl-senpai no Yume wo Minai

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 6.png
The ending of Tomoe’s arc…  Would it be too much to say that it’s the best (ending) or at least the most emotional so far?  It’s interesting that even though she was rejected by Sakuta, she still had the consideration to return to the full beginning – giving him his moment with Mai.

As far as Futaba’s arc goes, I think I’m going to withhold comment…  Ok, to be more honest I don’t know quite what to say.  Her arc is a bit more complex than Mai or Tomoe’s in that there’s two individuals involved.  (Plus the presence of Shoko has to mean something.)

And now – something I’ve got to get off my chest:  This is not a harem show.  Yes, there’s one guy and a bunch of girls who have feelings for him…  But it’s missing the second key element, he’s not leading them on, misleading them, or toying with their emotions.  Sakuta has made his choice and like Kirito, cleaves only to one.

Iroduku Sekai no Ashita kara / IRODUKU : The World in Colors Ep 6

So Hitomi can see colors again – and Yuito is a big part of why.  The latter is no surprise, it’s been plain since the first episode.  The former, now there’s the Big One.  You’d figure that would be the big reveal at the emotional climax of the series…

Iroduku episode 6.png
I expect that this exchange between Grandma-chan and Great Grandma-san holds the key to where they’re going.  Hitomi unknowingly used magic when she entered Yuito’s dream world – and that appears to have unleashed…  something.  I don’t know that I can quite put my finger on it.  The golden fish and reappearance of her colors seems to be tied back to that dream world.  Hang on folks, the story is in’t over yet and I think there’s something big coming down the pike.

Midseason status:  Solid keeper!  I’m very curious as to where they’re going to go with this.

Release the Spyce Ep 5-6

After last week’s botched character driven episode, ep 5 was a welcome return to competency.  (Which appears to be about as high as they’re aiming.)  Had last weeks’s story been framed more like this, I would have liked it a great better.

On the balance though, I hope they taper off with the “Momo is insecure” shtick.  Two episodes have taken that plot line about as far as it can be stretched and there’s still five more characters that need screen time.  (I’m including Yuki in the count because so far we’ve really only seen her from Momo’s perspective.)

Ep 6 however…  was a complete train wreck.  They plainly meant for the viewer to have an emotional reaction, but the hackneyed plot line and wooden acting meant the whole thing fell flat.

Midseason thoughts:  If I had any sense, I’d drop this like the lukewarm leftover potato that it is.

Run with the Wind / Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru Ep 7

The track meet was…  interesting.  Nobody expected them to pull it out and have everyone set the needed record, and they didn’t.  The production staff could have chosen to magic it up, but they chose not to.  Kudos to them!  One interesting point they kinda skimmed over – nobody quit.  Nobody.  King was visibly suffering, but he pushed through.  Though the officials tried to get him to quit, even Prince stuck it out to the end.

Run With The Wind - Episode 7 - Prince.png
Kakeru however got a very rude awakening.  He’s gotten used to lording it up over the other residents of Chikusei-so, and didn’t expect to be so soundly trounced.  He’s not what he thinks he is…  How will he handle it?

Midseason thoughts:  Solid keeper.  Week by week it just keeps getting better.

Sword Art Online: Alicization Eps 5-6

With Kirito and Eugeo off on their journey…  The focus shifts back to real world and a massive infodump as to What Is Really Going On.  There’s nothing tremendously unexpected or exciting so there’s not actually much to talk about.

Well, not quite…  It was nice to see Asuna, even if she is reduced mostly to being a plot device at least she showed some initiative.  It’s criminal how underused and misused her character is.

One thing that did catch my eye was Kayaba’s appearance at the end of Ep 6…  We’ve known he was a “ghost in the machine”, but now he’s appeared in the real world.  Very interesting…

Midseason thoughts:  It seems this slow start and infodumps are all faithfully adapted from the LN and it does get better.  So I’m gonna stick it out.

The Girl in Twilight / Akanesasu Shoujo Eps 6-7

Another two-part “________ finds her inner strength and gains the ability to henshin into her Equalizer form“.  This time is was Chloe’s turn in the barrel, and she didn’t even get to fight…  Instead the other Equalizers fought while she piloted her goofy looking powered up form to insert a virus into a rogue AI.

Sigh.

Mid-season thoughts:  I’ll be keeping an eye on other people’s reviews, but for the moment this show is on hold for potential drop.

Tsurune / Tsurune: Kazemai Koukou Kyuudou-bu Ep 4

Tsurune - Teamwork - Episode 4.png
One thing in Ep 4 did catch my eye.  One of the students was talking about how archery is really a solo sport, and I don’t know that I agree in this case.  The actual shooting is very rhythmic and a shooter takes his timing cues from the shooter before him in the order.  So if a shooter isn’t on the rhythm, he can mess up everyone else’s head space.

Overall Tsurune is…  well, it is what it is.  So far it’s mostly a workmanlike school club drama and little else.  It’s not a dud, but it’s a long way from being KyoAni’s best work.

Midseason thoughts:  Mostly harmless and I’m only watching one other anime on Sunday, so keeper.

=========

Well, quick and dirty but there it is…  What are your thoughts?

Also, with Thanksgiving next Thursday I’ll likely be taking a break and returning to my regularly scheduled post on the 29th.

13 thoughts on “Fall 2018 – Week 5/6 & Midseason review”

  1. I’ve fallen incredibly far behind on all shows this season except for IroDuku, which has been doing an excellent job of keeping me engaged and excited. That it’s the only show that I am consistently watching speaks to its magic: I’m certain the other shows I’ve been watching have their own merits which I will enjoy, but IroDuku is something else entirely :)

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    1. I won’t say it doesn’t have it’s rough patches and inconsistencies – but it does manage to deliver the goods and keep us guessing. As I said, it’s really got me curious now…

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  2. @Bloom into You: Oh, I absolutely think what we learn about Nanami here makes perfect sense to me, especially with the interior monologue at the end in mind, who love is a prison. It’s just so awkward to watch: Nanami is the typical over-achiever, and Yuu is the typical my-pace character. And what they want is at odds. The question is how does what they want align with what they need?

    And, yes, that scene was awesome, with the way setting makes for natural increments with those stones – a sense of bridging the distance, but never completely, and the way the camera uses the setting, say – the pillar as scene divider.

    @Iroduku: Aww, that vision scene! PA Works is really good at those, and they pulled it off beautifully here. That giant dead fish in the desert…

    @Bunny Girl Sempai: If Clannad or Monogatari are harems, then so is this show. If this show isn’t a harem, then harems aren’t all that common. I mean, even in Love Hina it’s always been Naru.

    @Tsurune: I sort of wish the girls weren’t in the club, if the story doesn’t treat them as equals. It’s been bothering me for a while, but when the club got owl guy as the trainer, all the boys introduced themselves, and the girls… didn’t? Could the show be any clearer in their disregard? It’s annoying. I mean, I’m not that fond of how Run with the Wind uses the sole girl as the motivator for the boys, but at least they’ve shown her in her family shop – she feels like she could have her own story. None of the girls in Tsurune feel like that.

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    1. Sorry for the late reply… Yesterday was crazy busy.

      Re: harems: The term is mis- and over- used IMO, especially as it’s almost always used as a descriptive meant to convey a sense of distaste, disdain, and opprobrium. If that makes them uncommon, I’m good with that because that means the term has actual meaning beyond it’s current misuse of “anytime you have one guy and a bunch of girls”.

      Re Tsurune: Yeah, I caught that too. It’s annoying.

      Speaking of The Great Passage… It was available for checkout on my Kindle for November, so checked it out and started reading it on a whim. Enjoyed the heck out of it. Started the anime last night.

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    2. TV Tropes points out two main types of harem shows. One is the Balanced Harem show, where every girl in the harem gets similar screen time and none of them are allowed to get (or keep) a lead for very long. Think Tenchi Muyo or (so far) Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs. The other is the Supporting Harem show, where there’s clearly an official couple but several other girls are still pushed as romantic rivals chasing the main guy anyway, either for drama or (more cynically) as bait for viewers who don’t like the main girl. That’s the Love Hina/Ah! My Goddess model. To the latter I would also add another subtype, what I call the “False Harem.” That’s a show that has all the outward surface trappings of a Supporting Harem series, but isn’t one because none of the other girls who hang around the main couple are actually chasing the MC in more than (at best) a token way – they’re either not romantically attracted to him, content to be “just friends” with him regardless of their feelings, or simply never make any moves. I’d call SAO a False Harem, from the way you guys describe it, and so far Bunny Girl is also a False Harem to me. It could still end up as a Supporting Harem, depending on what happens with the other girl from Sakuta’s past, but as things stand right now Sakuta is 0-for-2 on acquiring haremettes, since Tomoe’s already resigned herself to “just friends” status and Rio’s crushing on someone else (I won’t even count little sister since it’s not that type of series).

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      1. As far as I remember Ah! My Goddes is more a false harem than a supporting harem (in your terminology), so I suppose TV tropes lumps them together? Anyway, there’s plot logic and there’s meta genre logic. Some of the imouto-jokes in Bunnygirl sempai make most sense if you view them as genre expectation jokes. It’s a way of signalling, “here’s the cute little sister type, but she’s not a romantic interest” (and there’s an easy segue should they ever want to make a VN or dating sim out of it).

        Also, I’d say Yuuna feels a lot like Love Hina, so I’d really consider it more a support harem. You have a very definite primary bonding with Yuuna, here. Tenchi Muyo, as far as I call, is one of the view shows that have an explicit harem ending. Smartphone went that route, too.

        The currency, in a harem show, I think is attention, not romantic interest, with girls paying attention to being some sort of validation of your masculinity. SAO (I can only speak for season 1) is a great example of that. Steins;Gate, too (lest people think I’m only talking about shows I don’t like that much).

        I’ll try any new harem. Bunny Girl Sempai was one of my main picks for this season, and I fully expected a harem from the description. Sadly, it didn’t really work out for me. I certainly didn’t expect to be… bored? Not quite bored, but something rather close to that feeling. Can’t put my finger on it. If it were a weekend show, I’d probably have dropped it by now.

        Speaking of The Great Passage… It was available for checkout on my Kindle for November, so checked it out and started reading it on a whim. Enjoyed the heck out of it. Started the anime last night.

        Ooh, so a translation of the novel’s available in English? I didn’t know that. Cool.

        I loved the anime a lot (but at that point it’s not a surprise, is it?).

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        1. Yuuna’s too early to tell, which is why I said “so far;” the anime kept the girls’ screentime and alone time with Kogarashi pretty balanced, and the fact that Yuuna’s a ghost and the whole setup of her story arc is that she eventually has to be released from this world makes it not-obvious at this point who Kogarashi will ultimately end up with, if anyone. Whereas with Love Hina or AMG or Bunnygirl, we basically know who the final canon couple is going to be right from the first arc, whatever hijinks may ensue between the starting gate and the finish line. The line for me between “support” and “false” (and remember, “false” is my own headcanon, not a TV Tropes thing), is the intent and behavior of the other potential haremettes. Like I put a series like My Wife Is the Student Council President on the “support” side, since several of the girls are still actively pursuing Izumi even when they know he’s dating (and living) with Ui, and Rin in particular won’t leave them alone because of her own feelings for him. Whereas a series like Clannad goes on the “false” side, since the stiffest resistance Tomoya and Nagisa get to their budding relationship from any of the other girls is Kyou’s occasional interference on Ryou’s behalf, and even she gives up as soon as she realizes what’s going on with them. As far as AMG goes I don’t remember enough about it anymore to really debate it, but I at least remember Sayoko and Peorth both making valiant efforts to seduce Keiichi away from Belldandy at different points in the story, futile though they ultimately were.

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          1. @Yuuna: It’s not really about who ends up with whom, to me. It’s the way they develop the bonds. Kogarashi and Yuna share a room and a promise; as far as romances go, they’re practically married at this time. If the show ever ends and isn’t an open ended romp, I fully expect Yuuna to move on eventually, with a never-ending bond being implied. After that he might get together with classmate girl, whose the only real candidate, the way the story is portrayed. But anime has done re-incarnation stuff before, or they might opt for an Altair/Vega ending in some way. I agree it’s too early to tell the outcome, but that’s not what gives the show its structure. If it’s anyone other than Yuuna, I’d consider it a twist, not unlike Shuffle. It’s an expectation that Yuuna set for me in episode 1 and never went back on during the one-season incomplete run.

            @Ah! My Goddess: Easily possible that I’ve forgotten much.

            I haven’t read the article on TV tropes, but for me the main point would be the quality of the relationship and how it’s portrayed rather than the ultimate outcome. Whether the other girls give up or not is a very minor detail for me. It’s actually not even a requirement that all the girls even have romantic interest to begin with. In Yuuna, for example, I saw very little romantic interest from most of the girls – they’ve so far only set up Yuuna, Classmate girl, and ninja girl, IMO.

            That’s basically why I think the key currency is attention rather than romance, as I said in my reply. The genre is very easy to roll up from that, and allows ambigous teasing to remain ambiguous – without forcing a decision. There’s a substratus of gender relations, here, that isn’t entirely sexual/romantic. There’s an implied protector/protectee hiearachy that you can play with, affirm or undermine and make fun of.

            Bunny Girl Sempai as a harem is acutely aware of its tropes. There’s this one line from Sakuta during the second arc, for example, where he practically tells Tomoe that if she weren’t a cute girl he might not be here helping her. Where Monogatari turned harem shows into a semiotic puzzle, Bunny Girl Senpai feels like a fatigued harem show: self aware and neither rejecting nor affirming it.

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      2. Over at 100 Word Anime, Karandi makes a good point WRT to Bunny Girl Senpai down in the comments They might have the [harem] structure but with one critical difference. They don’t have a completely oblivious and indecisive protagonist at the centre. In both these cases the protagonist has chosen his girl and is perfectly happy with his choice.

        https://100wordanime.blog/2018/11/17/how-to-build-an-fascinating-harem-starting-with-a-bunny-girl/

        For me, it’s not just the presence of a gaggle of girls that defines a harem, it’s the protagonist’s behavior too. That’s one of the reasons I don’t regard SAO as a harem, not only does Kirito have a clue – he’s made his choice. (And esp WRT Liz, he does know how the girls feel and let’s them down easy.) We’re seeing the same development in Bunny Girl Senpai… So, yeah, maybe “False Harem” really does need to be a thing.

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        1. There’s always a certain amount of disagreement over the boundaries of genre fiction, even with “traditional” genres like mystery or sci-fi (Google “Star Trek is not science fiction” sometime and have fun getting sucked down that rabbit hole), and that goes double for newer, non-traditional genre labels like harem that have basically been created and defined by small fan communities and don’t really have many hard and fast rules. We’re seeing a sample of that with the discussion here, where all three of us are bringing our own preconceived notions to the table and looking at the same basic question (“What is a harem?”) from three different perspectives, based on not just our own exposure to the genre, but our internal biases for or against that genre also. But just about any anime you can think of where the MC is surrounded by multiple characters of the opposite gender, especially if one or two of those are crushing on him/her, chances are someone somewhere out there on the internet has asked, “Is that series a harem?”

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          1. Worse yet, “is Star Wars science fiction”… I know folks who’ve been fighting that battle (on both sides) for decades. (FWIW, I think it’s “space opera” – a specific sub genre.)

            As I said in a comment on Karandi’s post, certainly there’s some fuzziness and room for discussion. I don’t have a problem with that. The problem I have with harem in particular is that it’s misused mostly as a term of opprobrium – and that misuse just engenders further misuse. Conversations like we’re having here at at 100 Words Anime help fight back against that.

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          2. I’ve become acquainted with the harem term in around 2009, and I immediately knew what sort of show they’re going for. The only people who were using the term back then were people who liked the genre, so I have little sense of it being a dirty word. It’s no surprise that it gets a bad reputation in a more mainstream circle, but I never much cared. I don’t think the term’d have ever caught on if it’d been applied very strictly.

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