Diamonds and coal – Winter 2021 – Week 8

Some shows bring joy to my heart this week… and others bring out my grumpy old man. And a bit of a side trip into canned coffees. All that after the jump!

The shows that I’m watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italicsstrikethrough marks dropped shows and (*) marks shows with no comments this week.

A reminder for the Winter 2021 season: Due to the large amount of shows this season, brief comments and no comments are likely going to be common… This is about the only way I can remain sane.

Attack on Titan: The Final Season Episode 12
Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season

Watching this episode was a combination of “oh, wow.  oh, fudge” and “wait, WHAT?”  Even though they’ve been hinting and laying the foundations for a number of episodes now, it was still a shock to feel the rug pulled out from under and to be sent into free fall.

Attack on Titan Final Season - Eldian Empire
WTF does Eren actually intend to accomplish here?  He’s not stupid.  He knows that both Paradis and Marley are gunning for him and intent on stopping whatever he plans to do…  Or is it his plan?  After all, his first step is to head off the free Zeke.  Has this (whatever “this” is) been Zeke’s plan all along?  To establish a world order enforced with the power of Titan Shifters backed up by the threat of the Rumbling?  A new Eldian Empire?  Or are the Jaegerists pawns in Zeke’s game?  Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear that Eren is cooperating with Zeke.  It’s unclear though whether he (Eren) is part of Zeke’s game, or running his own side game.

Attack on Titan - Final Season - PieckAnd now, Marley is back in the game too…  with Pieck present on Paridis, inside the walls, Reiner’s retributive strike is plainly underway.  With or without the cooperation of the Marleyean goverment?

It’s gonna be a long wait for Sunday…

Cells at Work!! Episode 8
Hataraku Saibou!!

After Regulatory T Cell see’s the light (that Cancer Cell isn’t a “good” cell), he’s easily disposed of.  And the last Lactobacillus comes to the rescue of Ordinary Cell at the last possible moment.

The End.  Roll credits.

I guess that sounds more critical than I mean it to be?  It’s not like Cells is a particularly complicated show…  This was a perfectly ordinary and unobjectionable episode by it’s standards.  It’s just I’m moderately unhappy with the series overall (as this seems to be the finale) because of it’s limited range.  Just like the first season, it was mostly about the immune system.

Dr. Stone: Stone Wars Episode 7

Good news, bad news time…

Good news, the Kingdom of Science of has an unexpected ally in the form of Ukyo, one of Tsukasa’s right hand men.  This is on top of making progress in subverting Tsukasa’s subjects.

Bad News.  Very Bad News.  Tsukasa is now aware that someone in his Empire has been in contact with the Kingdom of Science.  I think he’s made the conceptual link to a traitor in his ranks, and the potential of subversion.

In the middle of this, they humanized Tsukasa by showing him memorializing his fallen subjects.  I actually like that he’s not a one-dimensional cardboard villain.  And I suspect that Hyouga is going to be in real trouble if/when Tsukasa learns the truth.

Time-and-space (which this season has made a right hash of) skip, and we cliffhanger with the start of the assault on the Cave of Miracles.

Horimiya Episode 8
Hori-san to Miyamura-kun

Man, there’s a lot going on in this episode, so let’s just start from the top and run it down… 

Horimiya Season 1 Episode 8Miyamura’s conversation with his younger self really struck home.  There’s been plenty of points in my life that I wish I could back and re-assure my younger self. I imagine that’s not actually that uncommon.

Hori is…  a bit of an enigma here.  She definitely takes the lead in their relationship most of the time, but she’s also got a hidden submissive side.  And that dovetails neatly with Miyamura’s hidden more aggressive side.  (Which we’ve seen before…  When he confronted Kakeru, when he took the candy from her mouth.)  Problem is, Miyamura doesn’t much care for that side of himself.

I liked that Remi turned out to actually like books, all too often in anime one partner or the other fakes liking something for the sake of getting attention.  I hate that trope.  Despite their positive contributions to the show’s theme of hidden sides, I don’t care for Remi or Kakeru as a character.

And poor Yuki, her lack of self confidence is really hurting her.

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My wife has started reading the manga, and was telling me about some of the bits left out…  Which lead to a long interesting conversation on the adaption process and what goes into it.

In the same vein…  There was this exchange of tweets between Scott and I the other day (Click through to see the whole thread) :

Idoly Pride Episode 8

I like what they did, the plot points they set up and resolved…  I just don’t care for how they did it.  For Sakura’s thread, they just kept hammering on it rather than being more subtle and letting the viewer work it out.  Kotono’s thread was simply wrapped up too neatly and too fast.  AKA “Oh.  Crap.  We’ve only got three minutes left in the episode and we can’t leave it to the next.”

(I.E. minimal comment this week lest it turn into a rant.)

Kiyo in Kyoto: From the Maiko House 
Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san

I commented on this show last week because it aired on Wednesday, and I actually posted on Thursday.  Since this post is going out, as scheduled, on Wednesday, coverage will pick up next week…  So I’m constantly going to be a week behind.  Which sucks.

What also sucks is this show is not (near as I can tell) getting any attention or traction out in the community.  Anyone want to write a guest post on it?

Laid-Back Camp 2nd Season Episode 8
Yuru Camp 2nd Season

Going into this episode, I somehow though there would be a lot more minor misadventures…  But reflecting, that’s not really Nadeshiko is it?  She’s a bit impulsive, a bit of an airhead, but she’s never been portrayed as anything resembling incompetent.  And though this is her first solo camp, it’s not like she doesn’t have any camping experience.  And she was smart enough to consult Rin first…

That being said, she did violate one my personal culinary rules – never try anything the first time when it’s important.  Or, maybe, she had some curry cup noodles back in camp…  Just in case.  I would.

I did think the bit with Rin and Sakura was a bit overblown and maybe played with what was possible in terms of time and space…  But charming nonetheless.  Sakura cares a great deal for her sister, and Rin cares a great deal for her friends.  And getting the two together has been a Good Thing overall for the show.  I’d love it if this week’s (upcoming) episode covered their dinner together.

Non Non Biyori Nonstop Episode 8

Non Non Byori Nonstop - Episode 8 - Natsumi pillow fight

Classic Natsumi – from the first throw to her final, irrevocable, screwup.  Never change lass, never change.

Akane’s flute performance out in nature, ranks right right up there among the best scenes Non Non Byori has ever offered.

Also, that one outdoors nighttime shot, with all the crickets… powerful nostalgia for my aunt’s lake house way out in the boonies.  (Back then.  Practically in the ‘burbs nowadays.)

So I’m a Spider, So What? Episode 8
Kumo desu ga, Nanika?

I am…  thoroughly confused by what’s going on over on the human side.  From what I’ve gathered, the can be laid at the source material’s feet.  Not helping, this week was a mish-mash from the light novel and the webtoon.

I laughed at the bit about carbonated coffee, but more on that in my comments at the end of the reviews.

Over on the spider side…  I thought that the Parallel Processing Personalities would be annoying.  But it turns out, they’re actually amusing.  And they’re showing up just as Kumoko’s monologue schtick was wearing just a bit thin.  It’s still a monologue, but it’s not a monologue (if that makes sense).  Aoi Yuki’s voice work is just killing it.

The Promised Neverland 2nd Season Episode 7
Yakusoku no Neverland 2nd Season

I am so completely frustrated with this season and this episode was the pinacle for me.

Lynn Sheridan, The Otaku Author
The Promised Neverland (Episode 19) – Daishichiwa

I think Lynn sums it best, and I pretty much agree with the rest of his post.

A show this bad would probably have long since been dropped by most if it wasn’t a sequel to one of the best shows of recent memory.  And this episode neatly showcases why.

The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ Episode 8
Go-Toubun no Hanayome ∬ (Second season)

I have to say…  I was not impressed with this episode overall.  We get it, Futaro can’t tell the quints apart (except maybe by their asses?), but they kind of drove it into the ground.  I suspect that’s an adaptation thing – manga readers didn’t have the voice actresses giving the game away.

Quintessential Quintuplets - Miku tackles FutaroNot without good parts though.  I liked Ichika finally understanding that’s OK for her to live for herself.  And Miku finally admitting to herself that she has feelings for Futaro…  Itsuki and Yotsuba better get themselves in gear soon, because they’re losing emotional ground rapidly.  Futaro isn’t going to stay a self-centered clueless jerk forever.

Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Season 2

Episode 8 – Rice Blessing wins against Mejiro McQueen…  and I actually feel a lot bad for Rice.  And kinda pissed that the show simply wrote her off rather than giving her a redemption arc.  I mean, the horse girls and Bourbon in particular respecting her is cool – but that doesn’t offset the hate she’s getting from the racing public.

Episode 9 – not watched this week.

(*) With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun
Inu to Neko Docchi mo Katteru to Mainichi Tanoshii

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As mentioned above…  canned carbonated coffee.  I tried the new Coca Cola Coffee, and honestly I didn’t much care for it.   It was too sweet, and had this weird dark caramel middle note.  I’ll stick with Mr. Brown, my 2nd favorite brand of canned coffee.  And my regular grocery store carries it now, so I can pick it up whenever rather than having to stock up when I go to a local Asian grocery.

My favorite brand is Boss Coffee, finally available in the US again, but it’s pretty expensive ($2.75/can versus $1.50)…  So it’s more of a special treat than a regular thing.

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I think that about covers it this week… What did you think of your shows this week? Anything I missed in my shows? Drop a comment and let’s chat!

13 thoughts on “Diamonds and coal – Winter 2021 – Week 8”

  1. I didn’t mind the Quints this week, but like you say with Neverland, had this been a season one it would have been an easy drop. I still can’t believe how far it’s fallen from the amazing season one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not that I minded Quints… Just that I wish they’d back off the throttle a bit.

      As far as Neverland goes, I’m not certain why we haven’t dropped it yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Quints: Miku’s actually been self-aware of her feelings for a long time – she’s just not good at doing anything about them. One of those three chapters they completely cut way back at the start of the season (which I can only assume we’re never getting now) included Miku’s first unsuccessful attempt at confessing. In-universe, that was about 3 months before this hot spring trip, and all she’s done since then is spin her wheels making all these elaborate plans (the Valentine Chocolate gift, the “confess after I get the highest exam score” idea) that end up going nowhere.

    As for the episode itself, while I liked it, it was definitely the most heavily truncated so far. I was still able to enjoy it though because they at least kept the scenes I was looking forward to the most: Nino the runaway train of love, Yotsuba’s chat wih Ichika, and the whole last scene with Miku. That’s all good stuff. On the other hand, giving all the girls their normal voice actresses even in disguise instantly took all the mystery (and a fair bit of the fun) out of it. I wasn’t thrilled with that decision.

    BTW, if they had kept the three-chapters-per-episode pace of season one, then this actually would’ve been where the whole season ended. And since this arc culminated with another wedding flash-forward scene just like the chapter that ended season 1, it felt like a natural stopping point to me. Instead they cut the wedding scene (unless it’s shoved into the next episode, which I don’t expect) and we still have four more episodes left. Oh well.

    Weekly Yotsuba: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EvMdbsQVgAE2lty?format=jpg&name=large

    Nadeshiko Camp: Not sure if this episode or episode 4 is my favorite of the season so far. Either way, Nadeshiko taking the love of camping that she got from Rin and passing it on to those little kids was fantastic. I didn’t even wait two days to watch this one again. I’m also kind of curious now about just how bad roasted avocado actually tastes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nino the runaway train of love, Yotsuba’s chat wih Ichika, and the whole last scene with Miku. That’s all good stuff.

      100% agreed. I dithered over which of those to use to illustrate my review, and then over whether to use Natsumi or Miku for the header image. But that’s a good problem to have.

      Speaking of which, are you watching Non Non Byori? (It’s on Crunchy.) ISTR you grumbling when you thought it was on HiDive.

      And good Yotsuba… But it would be hard to have a bad Yotsuba.

      Like

  3. @Horimiya: This was definitely the episode that made Remi for me. I didn’t really mind her, but I didn’t particularly like her either. This episode was pretty cute, though. As for the guy who confessed to Yuki, I actually like him, too, but I feel they overplayed his short sightedness. It’s one thing to not recognise people; it’s another thing to have comedy-selective functional blindness.

    @Neverland: Yeah, not fond of the current direction either. Not really sure what the plan is here. But then I didn’t find season 1 to be “one of the best shows in recent memory” either. It probably wouldn’t even have made my top 10 of the year. So at least I’m not really disappointed. Could have been, could have been worse. I said it over on Crow’s blog: my guess is that the birds will rise up to eliminate both demons and humans. That’s what I’m going with.

    @Spider: I’m really not all that confused. I’d summarise the overall story line like this: Teacher tries to protect former students, but some of them end up antagonising each other (like that Demon Lord recruiting megalomaniac student – wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a reincarnation as well). What I’m confused about is the flashback to classroom-days. We’ve been led to believe that Kumoko is that book-reading loner, right? Am I imagining this? (I think I got this from the opening?) Yet there’s no conceptual relation I can make between them at all. I mean it wouldn’t be the first time people are different in public, but it’s just too suspicious. As an upshot, I’m not really sure anymore who she was. That freaky kid, for example, would have looked a lot more like Kumoko. Meanwhile, book girl might make sense as the demon lord? Trouble is these aren’t really speculations so much as my attempt to say that something feels off and I can’t put my finger on it. So, yeah, my only real confusion comes from who is who.

    And Gekidol turns out to be this season’s most unpredictable show to me. This episode has just pulled the rug from under my feet, and now I have to re-evaluate everything. And yet it makes sense both on a plot level and on a thematic level. The writing is solid (even if there’s too much melo in the drama at times, in the every-one’s-got-issues department), but I’m still not quite sure how much I actually like the show. One of the weirdest experiences in recent memory. Compare this to Wonder Egg Priority. There’s little doubt in my mind that I enjoy the show more than Gekidol. The characters are way better and feel more real. But at the same time the writing doesn’t really come together and it’s a bit of a mess. The alternate spaces are supposed to be weird but feels like rote weirdness. And I’m tired of supernatural social workers/quacks/manipulators(?). I’m not sure how much I like Wonder Egg Priority either, but it’s got a “shape” I can grasp. It don’t feel weirdly confused about the show, like I do about Gekidol. And it’s not the writing: I’m fairly convinced that Gekidol has the better writing of the show (with the exception of character portrayal – they’re different types of shows so it’s difficult to compare them; basically, I feel like both shows have slips, but those slips are regular feature of Gekidol, while they’re rare in Wonder Egg Priority.) I know I’m rambling, but it just feels so strange, and I’m not sure what’s going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Horimiya

      As for the guy who confessed to Yuki, I actually like him, too, but I feel they overplayed his short sightedness. It’s one thing to not recognise people; it’s another thing to have comedy-selective functional blindness.

      Agreed. All I could think during that parts was “how does he even function in a classroom environment when he can’t see the board?”

      We’ve been led to believe that Kumoko is that book-reading loner, right?

      Spot on. Which is why the “current real world” segment lead to me being confused. It didn’t really gell with what has gone before.

      Like

  4. I’ve been watching Idolly Pride and I think you’ve under-estimated this show a bit. I’ve enjoyed the slowly expansive character development they have given the girls (apart from a couple of the minor ensemble characters). Now, by episode 8, they have their own characters that feel a lot more real than any of the Love Live characters. I like the way they have moved away from the cancerous sparkly shiny Love Live cliches and give the girls more grounded dilemmas to resolve. Its been good that Mana hasn’t been too intrusive but serves to guide Sensei down the right path for the girls. I find the performance animation, when they let us see it, a lot more natural than any of the (often) poor CGI work that Love Live shoves at us. I’m going out on a limb to say I find that Idolly Pride is in fact superior to the last two Love Live series and not far that far behind the first series either. The competition between the two ensembles means there are going to be winners and losers, and like the effort we have seen the girls put in to get there, there may be painful moments ahead for the girls of the Moon and the Sun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve spoken positively of Idoly Pride on a number of occasions. There’s a lot to like. But even the best show stumbles now-and-again, and (YMMV of course) that was certainly the case this week.

      Also, being superior to the last two Love Live series (particularly Sunshine) isn’t a particularly high bar. :) :)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hell’s bells, Love Live Sunshine looked like a work of genius compared to the last mess they served up, Blah Blah High School Idol Club or whatever it was. Still when it comes to idols, give me AKB0048 every time!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. @Shingeki no Kyojin:

    It’s unclear though whether he (Eren) is part of Zeke’s game, or running his own side game.

    Rather than respond directly to your comments about this episode, I’d like to riff a bit on your comments elsewhere on adapting manga to anime. It’s clear to me that MAPPA has decided with Shingeki no Kyojin S4 to stick more closely to the manga even where it means introducing continuity errors with WIT’s adaptation of S1-3. Besides that, they’ve made choices about which manga scenes to adapt and in what order. Not having direct insight into their reasoning, I’ve mentally divided those choices as follows:
    1) “Flattening the narrative” – this manga arc was highly non-linear, with flashbacks inside of flashbacks (and in at least one case, inside of flashbacks to the third level). The anime has attempted to reduce this with the apparent goal of making the narrative easier to follow.
    2) “Tightening the focus” – the manga frequently shifted focus from character to character, and the anime appears to be shuffling the order of scenes to focus on fewer characters in each anime episode.
    3) “Aligning the story beats” – each (monthly) manga chapter is not quite enough to fill one anime episode, and two manga chapters is just a bit too long for one anime episode. So scenes need to be deleted, shortened, or moved around for the sake of ensuring that the manga cliffhangers wind up properly at the end of anime episodes.
    All this to say, the cumulative effect of these differences has been to heighten the mystery of Zeke’s motives… and the degree of Eren’s agreement/disagreement with those motives… at least with respect to what manga readers knew at this point in the story. Which means (at least at the pace MAPPA seems to be adapting) that tomorrow’s episode is going to drop like a ton of bricks, especially if the voice actors deliver like I’m confident they will. You’re not ready, and I know that because I’m not ready. Mmgh.

    @Horimiya:
    Confession time: I mistook the episode 7 post-credits scene as a preview for episode 8, and when watching 8 was very confused to see no followup to the “bite mark”. I can’t have been the only viewer foolish enough to fall for that.. or was I?

    @Yuru Camp:
    Did you see the Heya Camp special last week? Not critical to the plot of Yuru Camp, but I loved Rin’s reaction to the three-wheeler loaner. Wonder if that’s going to make its way back into the main plot.

    @Kumo desu ga, Nanika?:
    Caught up, guess it’s a keeper.

    @Uma Musume S2:
    Advice taken, dropped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Shingeki no Kyojin: Good stuff! Thanks!

      @Horimiya: No, you’re not, I fell for it too… And I might have missed it were I not in the habit of always looking for a post-credits or a preview, even if the series doesn’t usually have them. I do find it odd that the series hasn’t followed up though… I mean, they can address it low key w/o panicking over it, right?

      @Heya Camp: Yes. Given the timing, I expected to play a role, but it hasn’t (so far). But it was still a nice touch.

      Like

      1. @Horimiya:

        I do find it odd that the series hasn’t followed up though… I mean, they can address it low key w/o panicking over it, right?

        I know, right? Showing my age, but this reminds me of KareKano back in the 90s.

        Liked by 1 person

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