Spring 2020 – Ending not with a bang, but with a whimper.

OK, despite not actually covering much of the season…(For which I apologize, it’s been a stressful few weeks.)  Thought I’d try and get out at least a few lines on the few shows that, between drops and delays, managed to make it through the season.

Hit the jump and let’s dive in!

The shows that I am watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italicsstrikethrough marks dropped shows and (*) marks shows that are watched but not regularly reviewed.

A reminder on my rankings… they’re on a five point scale to coincide with my rankings on Anime Planet. But one 2.5 can often be different from another 2.5, so where needed I supplement them here with verbal comments to clarify.

Fruits Basket 2nd Season

I have no words.  It’s just simply that good.

Mid-season ranking: 4.5  Solidly among the best.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
(Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei Shiteshimatta…)

Why did we watch this show?  Because Katarina Claes is a loveable idiot.  Because she conquers her world not through strength or cleverness, but just by being nice to everyone around her.  The weird part is this, the entire midsection of the show is repetitious as hell, but I never noticed.  Any other anime, I’d have been pissed and/or bored, but here (somehow) it worked.  Maybe it’s because there’s such a dearth of genuinely nice characters in anime…

Final Ranking: 4.0  Solidly on the “edge of greatness”.  Why on the edge?  Because episodes 11-12 were mostly a waste the viewers time.  And because Katerina X Sopia never became a canon couple.  OK, I kid about that…  mostly.

Nami yo Kiite Kure (Wave, Listen to Me!)

This is one of those shows that when the final credits rolled…  I was left stunned and wondering just what the hell I’d just watched.  And I totally mean that in a good way.  Characters that were both bizarre… and completely believable.  Unlikely situations that I just couldn’t help but accept in the context of the show.  And it never slowed down and took a chance to catch it’s breath.  I loved it.

And I wouldn’t complain at all if a second season was announced.

Maybe Yata summed it up best….

Crunchy has the manga, though it’s missing the first twenty odd chapters…  Time to hoist the Jolly Roger!

Final Ranking: 3.5  Why 3.5 rather than 4.0?  The latter is normally my “trembling on the edge of greatness” tier, and half of me things Wave would be right at home in that neighborhood.  The other half frowns in annoyance at the final episode – which managed to both tie things up in a neat bow and leave us with something of a cliffhanger.

Sing “Yesterday” for Me (Yesterday wo Utatte)

Sing “Yesterday” had one of the strongest starts of the season….  But somewhere around the middle it lost it’s way and started wandering around in circles.  The interpersonal relationships and drama were still riveting, it just never went anywhere.  And then the final episode basically undid what little it had managed to accomplish.  From what I’ve picked up here and there, this “our battle goes” on ending actually sets up further plotlines in the original manga.  But it made for a very unsatisfactory anime.

Final Ranking: 3.0  Above average, but it’ll rapidly be forgotten.  At best, it’s one of the most well crafted disappointments I’ve seen.

Tamayomi: The Baseball Girls

Along about episode 7 or so, I was busy or something on Wednesday and forgot to watch that week’s episode.  Never could quite motivate myself to catch up after that.  It wasn’t a bad show per se – just bland and unremarkable.

Drops: Appare-Ranman! (1 ep) • Arte (2 eps) Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater (Houkago Teibou Nisshi) (2 eps) • Kakushigoto (1/3 ep) • Listeners (3 eps) • Shachibato! President, It’s Time for Battle! (1 ep) •  Tamayomi: The Baseball Girls (7 eps)

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Again, I apologize for the absence and the brevity of this post…  Four long months of lock down have been very stressful.  Things are starting to get a little better in this neck of the woods, so…  fingers crossed.

Drop a comment with your thoughts on this season, and look for my season review after the weekend!

17 thoughts on “Spring 2020 – Ending not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

    1. I would recommend it highly! So far, S2 is blowing S1 out of the water – and that’s no mean feat considering how good S1 was. (That presumes of course that you enjoyed S1 as S2 doesn’t fall that far from the tree.)

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  1. Actually, Sing Yesterday for Me remained my solid favourite to the end. I do think it got repetitive, but I didn’t really mind. I fully agree about messing up the ending, though. It’s such a mess, I don’t even know where to start. I did like the scenes, by themselves, but they just don’t contextualise seamlessly.

    Fruitsbasket is great in its familiar way. Also, this is now the start of the section I know nothing about, so there’s that.

    Villainess: I loved the early episodes, and liked it to the end, but the repetitiveness near the middle did get to me, and, yeah, the final arc wasn’t much to write home about, but I did love the “false real world section”. There was just so much loving detail in the slice-of-life depictions, like the sweets-loving girl hugging a taiyaki (? that fish-shaped snack) plush.

    Wave Listen to Me was an odd show for me. I never looked forward to watching it, and always hesitated hitting play, yet I enjoyed every episode and was quite fond of the weird characters. There was stuff that didn’t work for me, but it’s in the minority. I loved the curry employee’s sister: fun character.

    Tamayomi is an odd show: the slice-of-life aspect is dull as hell; the production values suck, but the actual baseball games are pretty good (or could be if the production values actually supported it). After the premier, I said better than Cinderella 9. I think I’ll still stand by this, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think long and hard on that. It’s a better base-ball show at the very least, but it’s worse in nearly every other aspect. Well, Cinderally 9 will re-air next season… WITH A NEW EPISODE!!!! I can’t contain my excitement. (Is there a curse on girls playing baseball in anime? The only good show I’ve seen is still Taishou Yakyuu Musume…)

    The Shachibato/President anime actually turned out to be better than expected. That said, it didn’t turn out to be good. I sort of got attached to the goofy characters by the end, and I really, really like the character designs. But nothing else amounts to much, and the plot is just… boring. It’s one of the shows I ended up low-key liking, despite itself. It’s an odd category of shows I sort-of-kind-of like but wouldn’t recommend even to myself. Last show this happened to me before this one: Colourful Pastrale.

    Both Appare Ranman and Breakwater have been delayed; I’m going to re-pick them up when they start again, especially Appare Ranman, which I genuinely liked.

    Arte was pretty fun in the end; I found it easy enough to forget my misgivings. Hardly a masterpiece, but I did end up liking most characters.

    Kakushigoto is my second favourite show this season, and might have more staying power than Yesterday. A surprisingly gentle father-daughter story with a plot that can only work in a comedy, and shouldn’t actually work but does. Its ending is also my favourite credits-theme of the season.

    Listeners… I really liked the second episode, and they actually managed a finale that makes sense, but on the whole I just didn’t like the show much. Also, for me, the show got worse the more of its musical allusions I understood, and as a result my favourite episodes are the ones where I didn’t catch many or any at all.

    Surprise of the season goes to Princess Connect. I expected nothing, but it’s actually good fun. Not much to say about it, but that’s it.

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    1. I’d agree about Shachibato getting better and ending up not bad. Same with Tamayomi. I really enjoyed the game in the last three episodes, but most of the season was fairly dull. And finally Princess Connect. I’m loving that one. It came out of nowhere and blew me away.

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      1. I glanced at your reviews of Tamayomi, but as I got further behind I couldn’t bear the thought of slogging through a couple more episodes to get to the “good part”. (Seemed like a “sunk cost” fallacy to me.)

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    2. @Sing Yesterday I don’t think I emphasized it enough that I enjoyed it quite a bit (verging on AOTS) – right up until the last episode. Generally you have to really work at it to completely blow it in the last ten minutes of the season… But “Yesterday” went above and beyond and managed that rare feat. I positively loathe “and I woke up and it was all a dream” type endings.

      @Tamayomi It’s not like being “better than Cinderalla 9 is a particularly high bar… At least Tamayomi leaned (mostly) on baseball/personality than weird personality quirks.

      @Wave Listen to Me I think this is the show I most hope will get a second season. (As much as I enjoyed @villainess, I don’t see where it can go in the 2nd season…) Minare is about the weirdest and most interesting and compelling character we’ve seen in a long time.

      I think I might have liked Arte a little better had it not been so obviously a very modern morality play dressed in period costume… The cardboard stereotype side characters were particularly galling. For all intents and purposes it was an animated Facebook meme/rant. Shirayukihime took on the same themes and was so much better. A good part of that was that the side characters were (in the main) sympathetic and fleshed out.

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      1. @Arte: Yeah, if you can’t ingore the modern morality part, it’s going to annoy you right through to the end. I personally think, though, that in that respect, Arte is still far superior to Shirayukihime. The thing is this: the narrative focus was actually on Arte’s career, while the narrative focus on Shirayukihime was on being a prince’s bride. That means, for me, there was a clash between the modern morality text book relationship and the fairytale fantasy romance that sort of made both characters (Zen and Shirayuki) less interesting than they would have been in their own stories. As a result, I can ignore the historical setting in Arte, but I can’t ignore the modern morality part in Shirayukihime because it feels either half-heatedly copied from a textbook, or downright insincere lipservice (I lean towards the former).

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    1. I’m not sure what more I could say that I didn’t say in the Reader’s Digest version above… In retrospect, the slow pacing is annoying. It wouldn’t have been quite so much if the ending had been a step forward (after the slow circling in place) rather than basically wiping out all forward progress. Shinako’s end I can kinda understand, but Rikou’s was basically completely unheralded. Had they fixed the latter flaw, the show might have ranked higher.

      I know they left out a lot, and I can’t help but wonder if those fixes were in the skipped/very sharply condensed chapters.

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      1. I think the worst part about the ending is that the plot and narrative framing are at odds. When you look at character trajectories and what they actually, what you get is rather open ending, and that would be fine, in a sense. The narrative does sort of fall apart near the end of Rikuo and Shinakos parkbench conversation (“What are you going to do about Nonoka?”), and from then you get accelerated developments that make you feel like they’re about to enter the event horizon of a narrative black hole. It’s a pacing problem seeping over into what actually happens.

        Still, at that point things would still be salvagable for me, if I could tease that apart and give them more time, I could somehow imagine that things would make sense, in an open-ended sense. Wait and see, like life. The problem, though, is that the narrative framing. There’s always been this parrallel structure, as embodied in the (opening? ending?), HaruRikuoShinakoRyou, but none of the relationships were ever overtly romantic (and this is actually I found Rikuo X Shinako so awkward all the way through). The ending, though, seemed to use that structure for an overtly romantic framing, with the confession, and the re-introduction of Ryou’s painting during a romance-tinted conversation with friends.

        Basically, what I have is a pacing problem that turned into a minor plot problem rendered unsalvagable by superficial romantic framing. The smartest character on the finishing line was Kansuke, the crow.

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        1. “The smartest character on the finishing line was Kansuke, the crow.”

          Yup. If Kansuke hadn’t started cawing when he did, Haru would have gotten on the bus and never encountered Rikuo. Solid wingman duty by Kansuke there.

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