The current season is in it’s final month and a number of shows will be finished very soon. Quite a few of my original choices have proven to be less than I expected while some have turned out to be real gems.
Most of the shows I have been have completed as I post this, the first being Mashiro No Oto. From the first episode it has been a very good watch and as expected it maintained a good story and music right till the end. The difficulty with a show like this is preventing a rehash of what has been seen in so many anime before. So many have this “we/I am going to the nationals/finals!” thread in them and realistically that can be very boring because you then have lots of episodes of the same thing. Mashiro avoided that trap reasonably well and I think a second season would be great.
The music was amazing and I never realised that a Shamisen could be as versatile an instrument. I hated the ED though. My final rating is a 9, MAL rates it 7.70.
Another show that ended was Jouran: The Princess of Snow and Blood: If anything it was disappointing as the story was somewhat disjointed and often left me asking myself what had I missed?
Visually it was very beautiful, and some of the backgrounds were spectacular. Character development was sketchy in some cases, although Sawa Yukimura was fleshed out considerably. The ending was poignant though but once again left me asking myself “What happened?” I think that was the one question I kept on asking throughout the series. I rated it 6 and MAL rates it 6.12.
Godzilla Singular Point also ended and it was the letdown of the season. The first few episodes were so promising but the story became increasingly more bogged down as it progressed.
At the end of the day there was more waffling about some strange new material and some weird theory about a catastrophe that it completely forgot to show Godzilla! Visually it was amazing but the story just fell flat on it’s face, rolled over and then died. In this case I am going against the rave reviews and will rate it a mere 5. MAL rates it 6.74 so I am not the only one out there that has been let down by what was essentially a load of Kaiju poo! The show is now available on Netflix but I will not waste my time rewatching it.
86 was another gem that could have been just so much better. The soldiers are members of a faction of the population who do not conform to the physical attributes of the country where they were born and are considered to be expendable. I really felt that the expendable part pretty much summed up my own “National Service” and it could be why this show seemed to resonate with me.
The story was not too bad and some of the action scenes were well crafted but at times the show bogged down and seemingly lost the plot. There may be a second series in the offing too as well as a special so maybe the answer is in those? I rated it a 9 with MAL rating it 8.21.
Super Cub also ended this past week and it was about an introverted high schooler (Koguma) that purchases a used scooter (Honda Super Cub) and discovers a whole new world when she is befriended by Super Cub riding classmate Reiko . This show started out slow but by mid season it was becoming really good and it was worth waiting the week for my “fix”. Reiko really brought a whole new breath of fresh air to the story as she was outgoing, a motorbike boffin and all around gung-ho girl that drew the awkward Koguma out of her shell. I initially rated it a 6 but revised my rating to an 8 as it was truly a great watch and I hope that we see a second season. MAL rates it 7.58 and it has a lot of fans out there.
Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou also finished this week and at the time I was really uneasy about this show. It seems as if my fears may have been misplaced, although there are still many who question the idea and raise fears about grooming etc. To be honest nothing untoward happened, and dirty laundry was aired as Sayu is forced to return home. Unfortunately the family reunion does not go well. ’nuff said, watch it yourself and see. I have rated it a 7 and MAL rates it 7.55 but it is a contentious watch and may raise hackles with people. Will there be a series 2? Your guess is as good as mine. The last scene is pretty nebulous and it can go either way.
Way back in 2013 I started to watch “Fruits Basket” and looking at my list I dropped it after 5 episodes. I do not recall why but I probably disliked an aggro character or the irritation value was just too high. In between then and 2019 the series was remade and this is all about the remade version. Why did I watch it this time around? it does have quite a following and rates 8.20 on MAL, and having dropped it then maybe the new version was better? The first season of the new series ran from April till September 2019 and I tackled it a week or more ago. There are 25 episodes so it was guaranteed to be a mammoth watch assuming I ever completed it and did not give up after the 5th episode once again.
The story revolves around a high schooler named Tooru (or Tohru) Honda who is living in a tent in the grounds of the private property of the esteemed Souma family. Having been caught out she ends up staying in the same house as Kyou, Yuki, and Shigure Souma and as the series progresses encounters each of the mostly male members of the family as the dark secret of the dysfunctional family is revealed episode by episode. As in many anime it is quite a convoluted secret with all manner of weird and downright scheming psychotic family members involved. The second season ran from April till September 2020 and was really a continuation of the first. In spite of the high ratings of both seasons I could only offer up a 6 for both as I felt the story was dragging on and at times the animation was poor. However, character-wise I did like some of them and Tooru is probably the type of girl that you wished you had met when you were young and hopeful. She is sweet, not too bright, loyal and willing to accept and forgive all around her. Even extending the olive branch in the direction of the head of the family Akito. In spite of everything she seems to have an unswerving ability to see the good in everybody and has so much faith in humanity that it can be scary to watch.
The third season is currently airing and should end just before July with some sort of final conclusion and reconciliation not too far off. The third season has been the best so far and I suspect the ending is going to go in one direction. I would like to think that Tooru would pack her goodies and run screaming away from that bunch of people, but it is not quite how she is so I guess it could turn out to be somewhat of a wishy-washy type ending as opposed to a family murder type ending. I suspect the anime gets its name from the fact that many of the members of the Souma clan are a bunch of fruits and basket cases, and as the story unravels you can see why. It is really a lesson in how not to be the head of a family and how not to ignore the silent, shy, lonely and different people amongst us. There is an episode about bullying in it and it was not fun to watch, although the bullied does turn out to be one of the better characters in the show. My final rating will probably be an 8 although I have it at 7 when I started this post (episode 9).
I picked up Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka? (So I’m a Spider, So What?) on a whim and it too finishes at the end of the season after a 24 episode run. The main drawcard for this show was the spider (Kumoko) who was originally a high school girl that was killed when her class was obliterated by an explosion. Most of the pupils were re-incarnated into a a new Isekai world and some land up with their asses in the butter. Unfortunately she was the only one that ended up as a spider! The catch is that our seemingly unfortunate spider is the star of the show. Starting out at the bottom of the spider family she uses her game playing skills to understand the world that she is trapped in and thereby improving her skills and abilities to finally emerge as a “spider monster”. All of this takes place in a light hearted way and at times it is really funny to hear her comments as she fights off even more dangerous monsters. The story really revolves around her while the scenes revolving around her former classmates are boring and a waste of time because some have become really pompous and power mad.
I doubt whether I will upgrade my initial rating from 6 because realistically the story is really tired and the artwork is not fantastic with lots of cgi and no real inspiring views. Had it not been for Kumoko I would not have even watched this. It does rate 7.36 at MAL which goes to show that Kumoko has a lot of fans out there. Unfortunately the last episode has been delayed so I will only know the outcome somewhere in July.
Live Action vs Anime:
This past weekend I binged four live action movies based on the anime Rurouni Kenshin (aka Samura X) that aired in Japan from January to September 1998. It is the story of an assassin (Himura Kenshin) that gives up killing and takes up the reverse-blade sword determined to help out anyone in need who is suffering right before his eyes. I have not seen any of the anime but picked up the four movies on Netflix and I was blown away. While the overall plot is not too complicated all four movies were excellent. The fight scenes were slick and incredibly fast, pacing was perfect and the actors were fantastic. I could not find anything to fault and thoroughly enjoyed them. It has been said that the movies are amongst the best adaptations of an anime that have been made and if they run true to the anime then theoretically the anime may be worth watching. Unfortunately I am not too keen a fan on the artwork from back then and committing to 94 episodes is just too much for me. I do recommend the movies though, especially if you like that sword wielding good guy Asian type genre.
Rewatches from previous seasons:
I am NOT a fan of the “magical girl” genre in anime. There is something about a young girl being magically transformed by cute clothes and a fancy weapon that gets up my nose. Just how is she expected to fight off bad guys without getting her party dress stained?
However, my dislike for the genre was overturned when the first season of Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica aired from January till April 2011 (Ten years ago). The whole concept of the magical girl revealed a dark secret that rocked the anime world to it’s foundations. Coupled with amazing artwork and a fantastic plot and subplots it just worked well and people were raving about this brave new work. This was not how magical girls were supposed to be, and 10 years later the show is still as amazing as it was way back when I saw it originally. The plot revolves around a girl (Madoka Kaname) who encounters a mysterious creature called Kyuubey who tries in vain to persuade her to take up a contract as a magical girl. She also encounters the mysterious Akemi Homura who tries her best to ensure that Madoka does not take up the contract.
The story is not very convoluted and is an excellent watch, especially if you watch it in movie format. There are three movies out, the first 2 are really recaps of the original anime while the third (Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari) pretty much ends the story off with a real shocker of an ending.
It has since been revealed that there will be a 4th movie to co-inside with the 10 anniversary of the series and hopefully it will be as excellent as the series and 3 movies were. Madoka and her gang rate 8.37 at MAL but those ratings are now quite old as the original viewership of the series has “moved on” or died or become magical girls. I do recommend the movies because they are spectacular and of course there is this twist to the story……. I will never watch a magical girl anime without thinking about Madoka ever again. On a side note, a spinoff series Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story was made and aired from January till March 2020. It was agony to watch and eventually I dropped it altogether because it really made no sense at all.
That pretty much wraps the season up for me, I will update this post as more shows end and next month we can start afresh.
DRW 2011. Created 01-19/06/2021