For the last couple of anime seasons, I have only been able to voice my opinions about a couple of shows. I was watching way more, but due to my workload these past two semesters I haven’t been able to put out much content. Even now I am still on my last legs trying to get my Operating Systems assignments done, but I really want to talk about some other shows. So I am going to go ahead and try to get out weekly recaps of what I watched that week with little blurbs about what I thought of that episode. This doesn’t mean I won’t continue with my episodic posts though! I am going to pick back up with Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works this season.
Since this is the first time I’m doing something like this, I am going to go over how I pick shows each season. Generally using anichart I try to figure out what I might like. First time sweeping through the list I pick out all the sequels or spin offs of shows I already enjoy and pick those up. The 2nd time through I look through the list of directors and studios I know well and try to check out their new works. Lastly I gloss over anything else of interest to ask other people if they liked it enough to recommend it to me. I’m primarily going to write about things in the first two categories here since the last category involves starting the show later than everyone else. Let’s get started!
Oregairu Zoku 1
Oregairu starts off with a small reminder of where he finished off with the first season, and a drastic improvement in the overall animation quality of the work. The first season was visually uninteresting, so I am enjoying the change in studio from Brains Base to Feel quite a bit. The concert wasn’t quite as well animated as Kyoto Animation’s concerts but it was respectable. The comedy is still as witty as before and the comedic timing is spot on. Most of the smaller jokes go by quickly without lingering too long with the exception of the ongoing Totsuka and Fujoshi jokes. But what really makes them stand out is how the character personalities and the joke match up. Each character has a very distinct humor that fits well with how they act as a person.
Hachiman is back with all of his immature cynicism, but I can’t help but think he isn’t quite as harsh as I remember him. Yukinoshita and Yuigahama have both returned just as I remembered them though. Yukinoshita with her similarities to Hachiman seen from the outside, and Yuigahama pining for Hachiman while being unable to tell her feelings. As always they both play off the main character well and give us insight into Hachiman perception of people that does not match up with the real world. I particularly liked the scenes where Yukinoshita told off Tobe, Hachiman listing all of the risks of asking out Ebina, and when Yuigahama was flirting with Hachiman on the train. These three scenes play off each other in unexpected ways that make me really praise how well written the story is. The first scene establishes the group dynamic that came to be through the first season of Oregairu. Everyone in the group is friendly and have earned each other’s respect. When Hachiman listed the many risks of confessing to a girl, one stood out in particular, messing with already established relationships. Yuigahama is afraid to outright confess to Hachiman because she doesn’t want to lose what she already has with him and Yukinoshita. Even though she doesn’t blatantly say it, she still flirts with Hachiman often, he is just too pessimistic to believe the signals he obviously sees. There is so much nuance within all of the writing Oregairu, while still staying a light hearted slice of life comedy. I am glad you’re back Oregairu.
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 13
Solid episode for Fate this week, but not exactly the bang I was looking for to start off the second half. I really want to get back to the high points of the show like the Berserker vs Saber fights. I really hope that Ufotable hasn’t used up all of their budget.
The Vanishing of Yuki Nagato 1
I really wish this show was picked up by Kyoto Animation rather than Satelite, but I will take what I can get. I know I am going to dislike this show, but it is a spin off of one of my favorite franchises so I am probably going to force myself to watch all of it. With all that said, at least the animation wasn’t as bad as everyone thought after looking at some key frames. Though it is still a significant decrease in quality from the Haruhi show from 2009 and the movie in 2010. The main visual quirk that bothers me is how different Kyon looks from his original portrayal. Its like they made him in a moe style, which doesn’t really fit Kyon’s lazy demeanor.
As for the actual substance of the show, I am appalled by what I watched. This spin off doesn’t reserve any of the personality traits that made the characters so likable in Haruhi. Yuki transformed from a smart, shy, girl who needed a little bit of help socially into a dumb, annoying, child that is in high school. Her constant pleas for help from Asakura for everything infuriates me and the way she does it is asinine. She doesn’t even make complete sentences! TURKEY. Kyon even mentioned wanting to do things at the club! Which kind of subverts his personal habit of lying to himself, saying that he wants a slow boring life. A part of Kyon that made him so interesting in the older shows. Then there is the comedy, thank god we have the original voice actor for Kyon, Tomokazu Sugita. His portrayal of Kyon is always so spot on and when he blushes over girls or makes sarcastic jokes I still chuckle. Other than his phenomenal voice acting there isn’t very much good comedic material. I already feel that I get bored of jokes on that same episode, such as the competition between Yuki and Mikuru that lasted way too long. I am totally going to be complaining about this show every week.
Arslan Senki 1
I primarily picked up this show because I heard that it was written by the same person who wrote Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I am currently in the process of watching LoGH and am enjoying it a lot. Yoshiki Tanaka has a strong authorial style that leads to great world building and political drama. He uses narrators well to give important information through exposition without having characters in out of place character conversations. My favorite part about his war stories is that it doesn’t glorify the act of fighting, and the characters themselves are very charismatic. As for the animation of the show so far, it actually looks quite impressive. For most anime featuring large scale wars, the use of computer graphics is a must to keep costs down. The CG in Arslan Senki blends somewhat well together with the rest of the animation, but I did still notice it was CG. Though there was a particular scene where the cinematography really stood out and improved the moment. Where the blond Lusitanian boy was surrounded, they panned the camera to show his realization of each troop of pars soldiers one by one.
The first episode established a lot of the country and individual character relations. The dilemma between the Lusitanian and the Pars people surround slavery and equal rights. Yet as Arslan so pertinently pointed out, the Lusitanians themselves deem others inferior for not following their own god. Medieval war stories are always better when neither side are in the right. Tanaka did this brilliantly in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and I am hoping for him to continue the trend here. The character relations are pretty standard affair for young princes within fantasy stories. Naive, noble prince with many loyal generals who support him, and a distant king and queen who seem quite harsh. A solid prologue that introduces us to the world well and gives us an idea of where its headed. As a lover of fantasy and Yoshiki Tanaka’s other work, I have high hopes for this show.
Sound! Euphonium 1
I was greeted by a surprisingly empathetic scene where one is not satisfied with how well they have done. Being comforted by a friend doesn’t help in the moment, it just makes it sting more. Scenes like these have always been the hallmark of Kyoto Animation’s slice of life shows. With their beautiful animation and focus on details such as gestures and informative backgrounds, it gives insight into the character allowing for a human element that is hard to find in a lot of other anime. In this episode we follow along with Oumae Kumiko as she visits clubs, sighs, and talks to her catcus. For a first day of school it’s not particularly exciting. Nothing goes on that one wouldn’t find in any high school around the world. But that’s what makes Kumiko’s dilemma on joining the band that much more emotionally resonant. She is just a teenager trying to figure out what she wants to do. A teenager who thinks better of herself, but still acts kindly to others. A teenager that’s stuck on words she said half a year ago, so much so that she applied to a different high school. Kumiko feels real, and that alone makes it worth it for me to be excited for more.
I will continue putting out these posts out on Wednesdays, so be sure to come back and check them out!