Week in Review, 2/1 – 2/7

MT precure 1e

You know the word ‘cours’?

There’s a good chance that you do – that its plural and singular are both spelled the same (with an ‘s’), that it refers to chunks of 11-13 episodes (depending on the show) that corresponds to the length of an anime broadcast season, that it’s a loanword from French… But I bet you didn’t know that Cours is also the name of a Byzantine general about whom we know next to nothing? Bet you didn’t. But now you do. He may’ve been dismissed from his post over allowing a military defeat to occur because he was petty enough to let his jealousy prevent him from assisting his commander. Swell dude. Don’t be like Cours.

Also: don’t be like me. I 100% meant to post this last week, let it slip my mind, then left town without posting it. Whoops. Embarrassing.

Go! Princess Precure, ep. 47-50

While Princess Precure had a pretty variable run, it closed out on a high note, as these were a good set of episodes. Episode 50, though, stands out in particular, proving to be the high-water mark of the series at large. I could gripe about how Haruka’s dream isn’t really re-contextualized in the way that Minami or Kirara’s are (and, really, how could it be? even considering the fact that “princess” is recast as a matter of character rather than bloodline, it still isn’t a career goal), but Haruka’s personal development and growth across the series is enough to overlook that.

While there were other moments I appreciated in episode 50 (such as the glimpses we get of the girls as adults at the very end), Haruka’s final contest with Close stands head and shoulders above the rest. The choreography and composition were *fantastic*; this was far and away much more dynamic than Toei can generally be trusted to provide (particularly in one of its year-long series – World Trigger, anyone?). Although it’s visually compelling, I suspect some folks probably found it anti-climactic ultimately, something I think isn’t at all the case. I was surprised and pleased with the decision to opt for something more mature than could’ve been achieved with a simple “We defeated the bad guy, yay!” ending. Even tempered by the fact that Cure Flora argues that dreams allow people to overcome it, how many children’s shows go with the idea that despair isn’t something that can be fully eradicated?

Mahoutsukai Precure, ep. 1

What a fun episode! It’s probably not the best place to start talking about it with, as “fun” isn’t a great descriptor, but it was my initial gut feeling when the ED began to roll. I was charmed almost immediately, and that has never been the case with Precure’s first episodes (although I’ve only finished Gopri, I’ve watched part of Futari wa, Splash Star, Yes! Precure 5, HeartCatch, Suite, and HappinessCharge). Actually, generally speaking, first episodes of magical girl shows tend to be the *least* attractive episodes of these shows as they’re the ones which stick closest to established formula. And Mahoutsukai does keep to the general magical girl opener formula, but does a good job of making that work in its favor rather than against it.

I like the characters. Mirai could be a little less like scads of other magical girl leads, but the dynamic that has already developed between her and Riko makes me feel less inclined to be churlish about this. Riko isn’t wholly without precedent character type-wise, but it isn’t all that common to have the “prickly but not wholly competent” be anything other than a supporting player who gets trotted out for humor (see Gopri’s Ranko for an example).

I also very much liked the everyday magic aspect demonstrated in this episode. I’d wondered a bit how it’d work out, since while magic is inevitably a part of magical girl stories, for modern magical girls, it’s usually magic that is locked very strictly to the battle system. There might be some deviations, but even these typically serve the end goal, such as in Gopri with the princess training. A standout to this is Ojamajo Doremi… which makes sense since that show was a show about magical girls who were witches. (And, at this point I would encourage you to try that one if this Precure is to your tastes.)

My lone point of misgiving concerns the magical creature of this season. While the idea of Mofurun is good, as it’s already a part of Mirai’s life before gaining a voice, the voice already has my teeth on extreme edge. Also, come onnnn, what thirteen year old girl openly carries a teddy bear around?

Haikyuu, ep. 18

Aughhhhhhh I don’t caaaaaaare about Ennoshitaaaaaaaa. NOOOOOOO. DO NOT CAAAAAARE. That the boy is clearly now going to drop back into the obscurity from which he’d emerged in episode 17 makes me all the more irritated over the whole thing. Admittedly, I’m giving the show no options that could be on the table after they hurriedly whisked the kid out of the dusty corner of a broom closet; had they retained him in the primary cast, I still would’ve been piqued. Haikyuu flat-out botched this one.

The episode as a whole isn’t bad – in fact, outside of the lingering issues with Ennoshita, it’s a pretty good episode. The matches have gotten a lot better in the latter half of this season, but this one outclassed any of those before it. It was an energetic, engrossing match with high stakes and it showed off the progress the boys have made. Although I never doubted that Karasuno would win, I nevertheless felt myself drawn into the back and forths, up and downs of the game.

Also, this week featured a bunch of boys crying in frustration. Woohoo! Crying boys!

HaruChika, ep. 4

Dropped, dropped, dropped. I could feel my jaw clenching up over the course of the three minutes that I watched of it. I can’t do this! I hate you P.A. Works!

This Boy is a Professional Wizard, ep. 1

I like Soubi Yamamoto’s stuff, and I’m glad to see her getting to do her own material rather than getting stuck dealing with someone else’s crappy material (Meganebu!). I had feared that the poor quality of Meganebu would mean Yamamoto might not get another whack at TV anime, so it’s good to see this one make the airwaves, even if it’s a four-episode short.

As for the episode itself… I liked it. It continues her trend of moving away from pussyfooting around about whether what she’s doing is outright BL or not, as we get a confession well before the episode even ends. Even better, both our leads are adults! All in all, it’s a decent, light watch, and I’m looking forward to the rest.

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, ep. 5

Damn, that was a good episode. The voice acting has been great throughout this show, but Akira Ishida handles Yakumo’s transition in-play from pretending to be a woman to admitting that he’s a man in disguise is impressive. I don’t want to get too down on new talent, but this is a show that repeatedly demonstrates how a veteran cast can add depth to a production.

Speaking of that transitional scene, though, I want to give due to the visuals here. Not only do Yakumo’s tone and inflection change, but the way he holds himself and moves shifts as well. It’s a set of differences to visuals and vocals that comes together to demonstrate the talent that Yakumo possesses and had struggled previously to unlock, and it works perfectly.

As for the episode content beyond its presentation… Yeah, look, I know last week I floated the idea that Yakumo could be Konatsu’s father, but that really doesn’t seem to be in the cards, does it? I’ve been hesitant to suggest Yakumo as not particularly interested in women (read: GAAAAY) because I’ve seen anime do this before only to at the last second pull a fast one and give us het end. Rakugo has been quite good, and its quality and maturity seems to suggest it wouldn’t do this to us, but I’ve learned to never trust anime. Buuuut yeahhh, Yakumo… Miyokichi’s got it figured out, too, as she looks pained when she tells her manager that her relationship with Yakumo isn’t romantic/sexual.

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4 Responses to Week in Review, 2/1 – 2/7

  1. Artemis says:

    Yep, I couldn’t get through more than 3 episodes of HaruChika. I feel like the show could have been infinitely better in somebody else’s hands – but then, I’ve never been a fan of P.A.Works.

    Like you though, I do enjoy Yamamoto Soubi’s stuff a lot. Actually, I’m pretty much in love with her work (aside from the aforementioned Meganebu!, which I thought was just kinda average). I wish the episodes of This Boy is a Professional Wizard were longer, and also that there were more than four of them, but I’m always happy to see more of her anime regardless.

    • A Day Without Me says:

      Same regarding P.A. Works – the sorts of stories they tell simply don’t do anything for me, and I genuinely dislike their visual style by and large. In particular, I despise their backgrounds! It’s like they traced something, then plasticized it, and it comes off as sterile. Let’s not even talk about their tendency to prop up characters who have persistently terrible behavior as not themselves being in the wrong.

      I hope that this Kono Danshi does well enough to potentially lead to Yamamoto getting another shot at a full TV series.

      • Artemis says:

        Yeah, I’d be really thrilled if Yamamoto got another full-length series going. I adore her visual style in particular, it’s so vibrant and alive, and pretty unique too.

        • A Day Without Me says:

          Episode three’s visuals really impressed me… but I should leave that for my next weekly update ^^;

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