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)

=========

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!

25 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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  2. Hi! I know I’m late checking in, but here’s the rundown of my spring season. I actually managed to get through six shows (not counting rewatches) while I was stuck in lockdown, the catch is that only one was from the actual spring season. The rest were all older ones.

    Seasonal:
    Kaguya-sama S2 – Fantastic. Better than S1, and I already loved S1. This season saw Kaguya evolve into more of a full-fledged ensemble comedy with tons of great development and featured segments for the supporting cast too, not just the core trio. They even snuck in a few dramatic moments this time around that were every bit as effective as the comedy. The animation and production values were great, too – you could tell this was one of those shows the animators enjoyed working on.

    Non-seasonal:
    Dream Eater Merry – Wasted potential. There’s a reason I added this to the “What anime needs a remake?” poll that ANN was running this week, because this puppy could really use one if anyone actually felt like funding it. I really enjoyed the first nine episodes, especially. It felt kind of like a mashup of Shugo Chara and Soul Eater, and it was a lot of fun. But then came the ending, which was both anime-original and, unfortunately, absolutely terrible. That’s the problem with adapting a series too soon – in this case when the manga was less than a quarter of the way through its eventual run – it’s like the director had no idea what to do with it once he ran out of manga. Still glad I saw it, though. Now I want to hoist a jolly roger and go read the manga, because if I enjoyed the “bad” version that much I’m probably going to love the “good” one.

    Is the Order a Rabbit? – Moe. I decided to try this when I was looking for a new “relaxation” series before bed, after I’d already burned through rewatches of Laid Back Camp, Sweetness & Lightning, and YnS. The first episode was so deadly boring I almost didn’t come back for the second, but it did settle into a pleasantly watchable groove after that. That said, this was easily the most moe thing I’ve watched in years – it’s so moe it makes K-On look like Attack on Titan. I’d still put it pretty far down the pecking order of CGDCT shows that I’ve watched to completion, though. It was relaxing, for sure, but it just didn’t have anything special, no unique hook or gimmick or any memorable characters or scenes to make it stand out among the rest of the CGDCT pack. Well, the girls are all theme-named after various caffeinated drinks, since they all work in cafes (putting their last names first you have Hoto Cocoa, Kafuu Chino, etc.), but that’s hardly a major selling point.

    Jormungand – Incomplete. I’ll need to watch season 2 before I can really fully evaluate it. The main thing with this series is that it’s one of those where there are no “good” characters. The protagonists are still arms dealers and professional killers, they just have a few more scruples about it than the antagonists. Sometimes. And unlike some shows with villain protagonists which will use that to explore some deeper moral or philosophical issues, this one really doesn’t, or at least not in S1. But if you’re just in the mood for an entertaining action series, it’ll give you that.

    Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid – Charming. I loved the core relationship between Kobayashi, Tohru, and Kanna. All three are interesting beings just on their own, but the little “found family” that they make together was both funny and sweet to watch. I can add them to my list of favorite anime trios. It’s the weaker supporting cast material and the very tiresome running joke with Lucoa sexually harassing the little boy that keeps it off the top tier of KyoAni shows for me, but thankfully that stuff didn’t overshadow the main story, which I really enjoyed. Will definitely watch S2, if we ever get one after last year.

    Testament of Sister New Devil – Boobs. It’s basically a High School DxD knockoff with even more sex and nudity and even less plot. But I was able to finish this series (unlike DxD) because I actually liked the MC in this one, compared to Issei who just made me want to smack him. And it gave me a new best girl to add to my list in the form of Maria, an incorrigibly mischievous succubus who stole pretty much all her scenes. Maria and a few decent battles were enough to keep me watching through the season, even though it’s ultimately a very mediocre show (unless you judge an anime’s worth solely by the quantity of bare breasts in it – by that standard it might be one of the best TV anime ever made).

    Also watched a few good movies, including Porco Rosso (always good to knock another Ghibli off the list) and Space Adventure Cobra. I am back at work now, but it’s nice to feel like I at least made a (very) small dent in the backlog! Summer looks like a barren wasteland for me, so maybe I can even make another small dent between now and October, although working again makes that harder.

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    1. Except for Maid Dragon, everything you watched is either something I haven’t or that I dropped. I loved Maid Dragon to pieces… I reviewed it when it was airing: https://apprenticemages.com/tag/maid-dragon/ That was before you discovered my blog…

      I rewatched YuYuYu to go along with Xeno’s episode reviews, and am currently rewatching S2 for the same reason. (Kinda surprised you haven’t commented on those yet.) On his current schedule it’s looking like the episode-I-don’t-want-to-rewatch is going to coincide with an unhappy anniversary… Don’t know quite what I’m going to do there.

      Just looked at my feed on Anime-Planet, and wow… Didn’t realize how many shows I’d re-watched this season: Action Heroine Cheer Fruits, Flying Witch, Magical Girl Raising Project, Recovery of an MMO Junkie, Seiren, Wake Up, Girls!….

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      1. Yeah, I went back and read some of those Maid Dragon writeups after I finished the series. I think we’re generally in agreement on it – I loved 90% of it – I just wasn’t a big fan of most of the material that didn’t focus on the main trio, like I said. It was cool when the whole cast all came together, though, like in the Christmas Pageant episode – that ended up being one of my favorites.

        It’s funny…while I wouldn’t really recommend most of the other five anime in this slate to you aside from Jormungand (which I think I undersold a bit in my first comments) – and knowing you already dropped Kaguya, which was the best of these besides Maid Dragon – I don’t regret any of them, and watching some of them gave me an even greater appreciation for some other shows I like. Testament, for instance, really reminded me why I liked Stella from Chivalry of a Failed Knight so much, after seeing Testament’s own busty redheaded tsundere Mio. While Stella’s a strong girl with her own dreams and ambitions that she worked hard to achieve, Mio is nothing but a helpless possession for her man to either protect or ravish – she has virtually no agency of her own. And Rabbit illustrates the difference between a top-shelf CGDCT like YuruCamp that doesn’t skimp on story and character development, and one that really is largely just faffing around every episode like critics of the genre claim. I suppose that’s the value of not just watching the very best anime all the time – it helps remind you why the good ones are so much better.

        The reason I haven’t commented on the YuYu S2 posts yet is simple: for a lot of the S2 stuff I can’t remember what’s spoilers or not. Unlike S1, which I know backwards and forwards, I only watched S2 once when it first came out, so even with things I’ve thought about commenting on I can never remember what’s yet-to-be-revealed in the anime and what was only in the books or the supplemental materials. I really should just watch it again, but Amazon is so user-unfriendly compared to CR, and I hate their subtitles. I hadn’t put that together with the anniversary date, but…ow.

        Didn’t Bofuri just finish streaming not too long ago? Guess you must’ve really liked it if you’re rewatching it that fast.

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        1. Didn’t Bofuri just finish streaming not too long ago? Guess you must’ve really liked it if you’re rewatching it that fast.

          Winter 2020, so about average for a rewatch of a show I really liked. (I rarely mention rewatches.) The record will be hard to beat, I started re-watching Yuru Camp within an hour of the final credits rolling… (Honest to $DIETY, I only meant to check out the start with Rin to compare it to Nadeshiko at the end.) There’s also the factor that I’m regularly reminded of Bofuri… I made a Maple inspired character in City of Heroes and she’s on the first page of my character roster.

          That makes sense for YuYuYu S2. Though I probably could have commented on S1 w/o a rewatch, I rewatched anyhow. (Since I never actually had.) But I wouldn’t be able to comment sensibly on S2 w/o rewatching.

          Re:Rabbit That’s actually one of the shows I dropped. I don’t mind just faffing about, Non Non Byori makes it work… It was that darned mascot character. I don’t care for them to begin with, and that one particularly grated. That and the characters were particularly one-dimensional.

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          1. Well no arguments there, especially in calling them one-dimensional. The mascot is actually Chino’s grandfather, and we find out later that it’s Cocoa’s fault he got transformed, though of course none of them are aware of that. Once I started thinking of him as an old man and not a mascot, I started to like him better.

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    2. Also forgot to mention my wife and I are in the midst of re-watching Bofuri and Sabagebu! Survival Game Club. I’d forgotten just how insanely over-the-top the latter was.

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    3. I remember liking Dreameater Merry, but I can’t remember anything about the plot or the ending.

      I thought Is the Order a Rabbit was one of the better lesser CGDCT shows, and the second season was slightly better, though not enough to matter. Now I wonder whether I should watch the third season in fall… It’ll probably depend on which day it airs, alongside what shows.

      I think the last older show I finished was Yoshinaga san chi no Gargoyle. I’m having trouble staying focussed, so I’m sort of stalled with a lot of other shows (Pita Ten, Figure 17, Xenosaga…).

      Oh, and I definitely haven’t forgotten how over-the-top Sabagebu was, that show with its refreshingly petty MC and platypus mascot…

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      1. Merry was the one where the MC befriends an unattached “Dream Demon” who wants to go home but can’t figure out how to get back, and they end up teaming up to fight other Demons who are possessing their friends’ subconsciouses to try to free them from their control. I did enjoy it, like I said, ending aside. I thought the art and animation especially were really good, with striking character designs and backgrounds and lots of good little character animation bits. If they’d just waited a few more years to adapt it when they had more manga to work with (or done it now, because the author just announced that the manga’s ending in a few more chapters), I think it could’ve become one of my favorites.

        Rabbit is a series that looks great – as you’d expect from White Fox, they’re usually one of the better animation studios – there’s just so little substance to it. Though I suppose that does make it easy to relax with, which is the whole reason I picked it up. And I’m cruising through the second season right now. Season 3 is going to a new studio, though, and that’s got me a little worried, since the visuals were about the best thing it has going for it. I guess we’ll see when it starts airing.

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