April Anime Roundup

Last Season

It is April already and most of my watches from the last season have ended, and some were better than others. The two biggest disappointments for me were Urasekai Picnic:   and Yakusoku no Neverland 2nd Season. Picnic seemingly had no story to it. Just a jumbled collection of episodes about 2 girls who explore the “Otherworld”. I really expected this to be more of a supernatural horror show, but it turned out to be disjointed and not worth remembering. I rated it a 7 with MAL rating it 6.53. Frankly the show just did not deliver. 

Neverland has become the letdown of 2021. After an excellent 1st season everybody expected so much more from it, but that did not happen. Instead it turned out to be a disjointed hodge podge of episodes that became increasingly erratic as we neared the end. The final episode was a joke, with no coherent path to the end. To say I was let down is an understatement, and viewers are quite rightly cheesed off. I rated it 6 and MAL rates it 5.87. 

Horimiya showed a lot of promise too and I have to admit that I did enjoy it. However, it seemed to loose the plot just past the midpoint and concentrated more on the side characters than the  Hori/Miyamura pairing. The one thing I did notice was Hori had a tendency to break out into violence and jealousy. Miyamura should really find a way out of that relationship and fast! It was an OK show though, but fell short of being a great one due to a loss of direction. I rated it 8 and MAL rates it 8.42

I started watching Wonder Egg Priority just over halfway through and it was a refreshing change from so much that I have seen before. Artwork was fantastic although I did not really connect to any of the characters.  The story was different, and just that wee bit contentious, but overall the show did have merit until the last two episodes which seemed to be very rushed and disconnected from what we had seen up till that point. The end has confused everybody but apparently there will be an additional episode in a few months time. Whether it will be a movie or OVA remains to be seen. Definitely a good watch and I rated it 8 and MAL rates it 8.25.  

Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season. To reach this point you would have probably waded though a gazilion episodes of Attack on Titan and at some point may have dismissed the series as having dragged on way too long. That is pretty much how I felt too and then they dropped “The Final Season” on our heads.  It was as if the whole canon had been thrown out with the bathwater because what I saw on the screen was like nothing I had seen in the original series. I even double checked that they had uploaded the correct series. Finally some answers are revealed to the age old questions of “who/what/where were the Titan?” and “Why are they so aggro?”. A lot of it is revealed in this series and be prepared for quite a few surprises. Do not however assume that this series is plain sailing, it can be confusing and at times drag on in a random direction. When it finished I was still asking myself what had just happened and I bet that the final season will end up having a final season.    MAL rates it 9.10 while I give it a miserly 6 because it has not answered all my questions and left me even more confused. I will leave you with one huge question to ponder: “Just who are the bad guys in this series?”

 New Season Watches

By the Easter Weekend many new shows are starting to come out and I have not been overly impressed by what is on offer. A few likely candidates did trigger my interest though and these are them:

Super Cub: An introverted high schooler (Koguma) purchases a used scooter and starts to discover a whole new world as she gradually comes out of her shell and her life changes for the better.  This show is slow and not too exciting and is pretty predictable too, but overall is visually pleasing and uncomplicated. A regular slice of life anime and I doubt whether there will be any major drama or zombies in it.  I rate it a 6 and I do not expect to up that rating in the future. 

Mashiro No Oto.  A young boy has to reconnect with the Shamisen, a musical instrument that his much loved grandfather used to play. The first episode was wonderful and I just hope that they continue with this quality. A special mention must go to Tachiki, Yuna, she was a stunning character and I really hope that she has not been written out of the series. Music was amazing and overall I am hoping that this show reaches new heights of enjoyment. Whether it will remains to be seen as the ending was awful.

Godzilla Singular Point. Any Godzilla show will make me take notice although as far as I am concerned an animated Godzilla just does not cut it. Godzilla SP may be the one that breaks the mould. So far 3 episodes have flighted and both were excellent. It is bright and colourful and the CGI was fantastic although I am a tad concerned the Jet Jaguar may just ruin it all. It is going to be interesting to watch though as already there have been a number of references to classic Godzilla movies. I live in hope…  

Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou  ( I Shaved. Then I Brought a High School Girl Home., Higehiro). A young man meets a young high school girl sitting on the side of the road. The girl has nowhere to go and attempts to seduce him. He rejects her advances, but nevertheless invites her into his apartment. It sounds corny and probably is, but I suspect there may be more to this than meets the eye. I am on the 3rd episode now  and I cannot help but be squicked by what I see (or don’t see). I do not know where this going yet but so far have stuck with it because there isnt much else to watch.

Fumetsu no Anata e (To Your Eternity). A nameless entity comes to Earth and is able to take the shape of those around that have a strong impetus. That is pretty much what it is about and it is at an early stage (episode 3) so have no idea where it is leading although there does seem to be promise and the manga is seemingly quite popular. 

Previous season watches

Kono Oto Tomare!  Season 1 and 2. (originally broadcast Apr – Jun 2019 and Oct – Dec 2019).  I am a sucker for music anime and Tomare I picked up by accident, and at first it seemed like just another slice of life that has music in it but I was pleasantly surprised. The story revolves around a high school Koto club (the Koto is a  Japanese plucked half-tube zither instrument, and the national instrument of Japan) that has only one member following the graduation of the senior members. A sharp tongued  delinquent appears on the scene (Kudou, Chika) and chases away students that are abusing the clubroom. At first it appears as if he has no reason to be there but the viewer is surprised when his past is revealed and shortly afterwards a young girl (Houzuki, Satowa) joins too, and she is somewhat of a prodigy, albeit with her own baggage. 

From there the story just flows as a strange group of students all become members of the club and take it to the conclusion at the end of the 2nd season. It is a wonderful watch, with wonderful music and very strongly developed characters that you either love or hate. The beauty of an anime like this is a strong story line and and a chance to learn about an instrument that we know almost nothing about in the West. Kudou is an excellent character and he probably makes the series so enjoyable because not only is he volatile but he is fearless in his passion and that carries across in the series. Houzuki comes across as cold and haughty but she grows so much in the series and I could not help but think that her own choices lead her to where she really shines.  I rate the series a 7 and a 9 and the 2nd is the better of the two, although it would be meaningless to watch it on its own. The only real failings that I felt were a loss of quality in the animation in some parts and and the OP and ED were awful. I sincerely hope that there is a third season or I will really do my nut. MAL rates the series 7.87 and 8.42. 

Rewatches from other seasons.

Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro (Chio’s School Road. Broadcast Jul – Sept 2018). I recall those long mornings heading off to school as being boring and mundane with not much to look forward to. However, Miyamo, Chio  has a much more exciting time walking to school as she is an avid gamer and has an very active imagination and her walk to school is the exact opposite of mine. Often accompanied by her red nosed  friend Nonomura, Manana they both spend that time involved in all sorts of strange encounters and experiences.

The show is a blast and it was so funny and so off beat that I ended up rating it a 9 just because it was so enjoyable. My biggest gripe is that it was not longer because there was just so much potential in it.  

Monogatari Mayhem.

These past few weeks I have been playing catch up with the Monogatari anime franchise. It is a long and complex series, the first season (Bakemonogatari) having aired way back in July 2009.  The series up till now seems to have spawned 103 episodes spread between 2009 and 2019 and I have just finished watching them all in order.  

The story really revolves around Araragi, Koyomi and his encounter with one of the more famous tsundere around: Senjougahara, Hitagi. This comes about as a result of him meeting up with the very cool Oshino, Meme who is a “specialist” that knows about “Oddities (or aberrations)”. Senjougahara is suffering as a result of her encounter with an oddity and the effects that it has on her. What we eventually discover is that Araragi had previously encountered  a powerful vampire called “Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade”, and the almost fatal encounter would change his life. To be honest it is incredibly hard to describe the series because it tends to be quite convoluted and not necessarily in the chronological order that you would expect.

Araragi’s world is populated  by a number of girls (naturally)  who re-appear throughout the series. My personal favourites being Hachikuji, Mayoi, Hanekawa, Tsubasa and Kanbaru, Suruga.  Senjougahara is best avoided as she is a dab hand with a stapler, would kill you in an instant and has the emotions of a cold fish. Yet, she does have a certain “prescence” that is best unexplored. 

Visually the series is awesome, and it makes use of a number of visual techniques that have become the norm throughout the 10 year run of the series. At times you feel like you are getting sucked into the Araragi world  and most of the time there are only the main characters on view and nobody else. My biggest gripe about it is that the episodes are very dialogue heavy so can be a difficult watch. I struggle to stay awake while watching it, not because it is boring but because of the amount of concentration that I need to have to be able to read subtitles and still understand what is going on.  Do not let this put you off!

I have never really rated the individual series very high as some are better than others, and some are more confusing than others too.  But generally speaking It is an excellent watch, and I would recommend the series to anybody looking for a long term commitments to anime. 

Episode list (links open in the Bakemonogatari Wiki):

The anime is based off a series of light novels of which I have only read Kizumonogatari, which theoretically is the first book of the series, as it tells the story of how Araragi has his life changed when he saves Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade from 3 men who have dismembered her. I do recall that it was an easy read and well structured, but it gives no hint of the experience that the anime can become.  Unfortunately I seemed to miss at least 2 of the seasons when they came out and that left the series unfinished in my estimation. That has now been rectified and I am happy to say that I was satisfied (sort of).  Overall I would rate the whole series an 8 because it is very good, but some of it does drag down the overall flow of the series and of course the fact that it went on for so long did mean that you tended to forget what you saw 2 years previously. I do recommend it though, but try to watch it all. At any rate I do advise watching Kizumonogatari before Bakemonogatari and then make up your mind as to whether you wish to continue or not. 

DRW 2021. Created April 2021. Views expressed are my own and do not represent any official reviews or opinions. Information primarily sourced from myanimelist

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Remembering the Members

Remembering those who lost their lives in the sinking of RMS Titanic

With the anniversary of the Titanic coming up on the 15th I was thinking about what I could post for the occasion. Frankly my idea jar is coming up empty but I did consider this short article.

During the short lifespan of the Titanic Society of South Africa I encountered all manner of people. Some were back office workers while others were right at the front leading the way forward. Naturally there were ups and downs and looking back now over the years got me thinking about some of them.  I know of 4 people that were involved with the society that are no longer with us,  and I am sure there are many others who have passed on that I do not know about. I have always said the Titanic disaster is not so much about a ship, it is about people who were faced with an unthinkable unsinkable and who had to made decisions that would either end their lives or change it forever. The decision to step into a lifeboat would haunt Bruce Ismay for the rest of his life,  and the decision to remain behind would mean that Thomas Andrews would drown.  Andrews, had he survived would have provided an incredible insight into the loss of the ship but he chose to remain behind. 

And what about those who decided that 16 lifeboats were enough? or those that decided to step back from their families that were in the lifeboats? what about those parents who stayed behind with their children in Steerage, knowing that they would not survive? Or what about Wallace Hartley and his brave musicians? or the Engineers who kept the lights burning? so many snap decisions had to be made on that fateful night and each still resonates with us so many years after the fact. 

I was looking at a photograph that I have that was taken one year when we went to visit the Webber grave in Braamfontein Cemetery. Two of the people in that photograph have passed on too, and little did I know how much time i would eventually spend in that cemetery photographing war graves.  That was a decision that I made.  

Rudi van Dijk, Derek Walker, George Durant, Hymie Alper, Neville Dolley

We also lost Val MacKeown in 2014, and I suspect that Jim MacKeown has passed on as well. Rudi passed on in 2018 and Hymie passed away in 1993.  For a few brief years we were all in the same boat, our mutual interest bringing us together, just like that ship brought all of it’s passengers to the same point in time.  

There are no living Titanic survivors, but the memory is carried forward by enthusiasts who still use their microscope to unravel the disaster. We know so much more nowadays, and we have seen the ship is she so many years after the fact. Was it worth it? I met many interesting people and corresponded with so many others outside of South Africa back then, and I too have my memories.  The members made the society and I was just one of them.

DRW © 2021/ Created 14/04/2021 

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