Week in Review, 1/25 – 1/31

rakugo 4c

It’s baaack.

I’ve let this particular feature fall by the wayside, in part since last season there was Weekly Trash Update, and this largely superseded this (although it did mean, too, that I never got to talk about Haikyuu, Brave Beats, The Perfect Insider, Princess Precure, and a few others). But with not nearly enough trash to our tastes to bring back WTU this season, it seems a decent time to resurrect my weekly posts.

I suppose due diligence does require that I admit that this may not be a good idea after all, as I’m experiencing a bit of a downturn in my interest in anime at the moment. Not sure if its simply coinciding with a relatively weak season or caused by it, although probably the former is the case as I’m having trouble finding the enthusiasm to watch older shows I’ve been meaning to, too. To everything there is a season, after all… And, hey, I’m re-watching the X-Files and there are only so many hours in the week.

Go! Princess Precure, ep. 45-46

I’m a bit irritated with myself for not giving myself the chance to write about the Kirara-centered episodes that precede these two, as they were genuinely quite good and lent a more mature edge to the show’s focus on people’s dreams. They also had a few great shots (that of Kirara standing at an open window on a cold night stands out in particular), reminding one that Gopri has some folks working on it whom have some talent that it’d be great to see more of going forward.

Kirara’s episodes thus set us up for a re-consideration of the dreams of our primary cast, which Minami continues as she fully commits to the changes to her own dream. I really like hers, by the way, as it ties in well with Minami’s characterization across the show. I like, too, that hers means we’re getting a more diverse set of goals than we did previously, as while Kirara ultimately decides to follow in her mother’s footsteps career-wise, Minami’s taking a step away from what has been the traditional route in her family.

This all makes me curious to see how they’ll handle taking another look at Haruka’s dream of being a princess, especially since this is essentially the core of the show. Sure, Minami and Kirara have done princess lessons, too, and Toa is a princess, but it all started with our resident pinkaholic. The show’s been working toward an idea of princess that has everything to do with one’s personal character instead of to do with royal blood or marital ties, so I expect it’ll be in that sort of territory, but I do wonder if they’ll look at it more concretely. (If Haruka wants to be a crown-wearing-type princess, maybe she should try to keep up that warm relationship with Kanata over the coming years. That, or learn to love Toa in a slightly different way than she’s grown used to…!)

As for Shut’s fall from glory… well, if you can call it that since he’s been on thin ice for just about half the show now. Chance of redemption seems pretty high given Flora and Scarlet’s decision to save him from his own rage. I’ve always like Shut a good bit – looking like he escaped from a visual kei band it a plus in my book, as it turns out. He’s always, too, been a bit queer, given his penchant for some things which code as feminine, even as he had his sights set on Twilight. Now, if only he can fix his habit of blaming everyone else for his problems!

Gatchaman Crowds insight, ep. 1-2

At last, I tried, which in and of itself was surprising since I felt coolly enough toward the finale of the original season to not have the slightest interest in checking out the sequel when it aired. And, as it turns out, skipping it was the right thing for me to do, as these episodes primarily bored me. There’s something here, sure, but my lack of interest in the characters sinks it for me. I liked Hajime the first time through, but not enough to be drawn in by her presence alone, and I find Tsubasa unengaging. What we see of her characterization makes her seem like a lot of other characters who’ve traipsed across the small, animated screen, to say nothing of live action shows, books, theater, etc.

Of course, alternately, as an American in the middle of presidential election season, maybe I just don’t have the stomach for a politically-focused story at the moment. I’ve loved politics since I was a little kid, but these days I’d rather light the Capitol on fire than sit through another second of pontificating commentators and the sleazeballs that haunt the corridors of power. Why on earth would I want to watch an anime version of that?

HaruChika, ep. 3

The short version is “Oh my gawwwd, why haven’t I dropped this awful show yet?”. The longer version is, “I’m troubled by how little the fact that the distressed boy of this episode was given up by his parents because he has a bum leg was examined.”, along with, “Who thought it was a good idea to solve this kid’s problem by doing so while he is on stage in front of dozens of people?” Seriously, though – sensei was involved in this, right? I can get a bunch of teenagers, in their efforts to help someone out, doing something stupid like that, but sensei just smiles beatifically at it all as if there was nothing bad about the idea in the first place.

Also, while I’ve never liked the P.A. Works look, they’re a studio that can usually be relied upon to stay on-model, and that was not the case in this episode.

I’ll grit my teeth and give it one more episode. Figures that we finally get a boy who happens to be gay in the cast of a show and it ISN’T a BL, but the show is crap.

Haikyuu S2, ep. 17

I hate to say this, but Haikyuu’s lost a lot of steam in this second season. Things improved a lot after the halfway mark of the season for it, but this episode deflated me all over again. It’s got some good moments, but the whole thing with Chikara feels forced at best. If they’d integrated him more organically all along, instead of only occasionally cutting to his face in group scenes, this would’ve gone down better, but I was left wondering why they went to him at all. There are other characters who could’ve stepped into the breach here, so deferring for a guy we don’t care about is irritating. Sure, sure, they talk some shop about why a wing spiker is what they really need instead of a setter, but that, too, feels like a lot of justification after the fact for yanking someone out of the show’s collective ass. Tadashi’s entry toward the end of the episode only makes it stand out even more. Tadashi doesn’t get a huge amount of screentime, but he’s always been included in the show in a way that Chikara or the other filler background guys never have been.

But what about how the show gives Chikara some development mid-episode? Nope! I still do not care. If this material had been given to us ten episodes ago, and we’d had some moments of him doing introspection and of other characters giving him a second thought in the episodes since, that could’ve worked. Instead, I’m expected to suddenly care about a boy that the show didn’t care about for the previous forty-one episodes of the series. To mix my sports metaphors – swing and a miss.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, ep. 4

This show is only getting better as it goes along, much to my enjoyment. I’d had some concerns about the pacing from the double-length episode that started the show, but those are all gone now, as the show has settled into the story it wants to tell. Episode four, too, was so good that I didn’t find myself wondering when we were going to get back to our rap-sheet-possessing apprentice like I had in the previous two episodes (I liked episodes two and three just fine, but we met our young delinquent first so I couldn’t help but wonder when we’d see him again).

To keep myself from gas-bagging for thousands of words, I’m trying to limit myself to just a few things from this episode. I absolutely want to address Miyokichi, especially as it seems likely that she’s Konatsu’s mother, which means in turn that she and Sukeroku are probably the shinjuu of the show’s title (well, assuming it doesn’t turn out that Yakumo is her father). But, of course, here she’s going after Yakumo, who doesn’t seem to reciprocate the sentiment, although he does seem to be intrigued by Miyokichi on some level. At the very least, Yakumo is enjoying the opportunity to use the skills he picked up being raised as a child in a geisha house, as he not only instructs Miyokichi on dancing, he very willingly picks up the shamisen when asked to do accompaniment for her singing practice.

I said I’d talk about Miyokichi, but I really haven’t yet – more talking around her. I am genuinely very curious about the woman, as we don’t actually know much about her. We know that Yakumo and Sukeroku’s old rakugo master met her in Manchuria during the war and has pulled whatever strings were necessary to get her accepted as a geisha trainee. We know that she has a romantic interest in Yakumo. But we have no idea what her background really is; how’d she end up in China? Why does she want to be a geisha? I wonder a bit if she’s of mixed background, to be honest, although there is honestly nothing to indicate that that’s the case. We know she’s older than Yakumo is. And everyone should’ve figured out by now that despite her carefree act she’s probably pretty tough – WWII Manchuria was not a fun or easy place to hang out, even for a woman who was ethnically of the dominant group (assuming she was).

…damn, there’s so much more I want to hash, but it’s dinnertime. Ah well.

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9 Responses to Week in Review, 1/25 – 1/31

  1. SStefania says:

    I’m a bit disappointed that you mentioned Brave Beats in the first paragraph, but then didn’t write anything more about it. Did you like it? Are you still watching it or is it dropped? Which characters, themes, dances did you like or dislike?
    It’s very important to me as the show captivated me from the start and I really enjoy every second, but since it’s a cartoon for kids almost nobody talks about it.
    Along with Muco, Brave Beats is my favourite thing this season. Tank and Mink are the cutest.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Tank and Mink were my OTP last season, but I’m behind on the show – I don’t really like the rich boy, which has affected my overall enjoyment of the show. To that point, I’d found it decently charming, so I’ll probably catch up at some point. As I said in my post, I’m in a fallowing stage in my anime viewing habits, so there are quite a few shows I just am not watching at the moment that I’d been working on previously.

  2. Artemis says:

    I gave up on HaruChika after that third episode. Haruta is just plain insufferable to me – his smug superiority rubs me completely the wrong way, and he seems to be lacking anything approaching emotional sensitivity. Him getting the slap he so richly deserved (and then some!) in episode two was honestly the highlight of my viewing experience.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Haruta is pretty bad. For me, the only bits of the show that worked were the moments when Chika and Haruta both got flustered and tried to impress sensei (of course, it helped that it’s clear that neither will land sensei, thank goodness). I did start the fourth episode, but then I freed myself with the beauty of the “x” button… close window, life moves along! What a genuinely terrible show.

  3. Rae says:

    Gatchaman: Insights get better in the middle and ending. It does start out pretty slow but more Hajime is always a good thing.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      If I give it another try, though, I’m waiting until after this election here in America finally closes out. Politics get on my nerves so easily these days.

  4. samui says:

    Uhm.. I actually have the opposite opinion about insight. The first season is more enjoyable than this middling sequel.

    Thank you! I am not the only who is suffering by picking Haruchika! That anime is an effective sleep inducing drug!

    • A Day Without Me says:

      I ended up dropping it only a few minutes into episode four… I simply couldn’t put myself through it anymore. I typically have rock bottom expectations for P.A. Works shows, as it isn’t a studio whose efforts I typically like, but even with the low expectations, this was shockingly bad.

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