I should get on with this review before this season gets any closer to the end. Many anime have already released their tenth episode by this point! Let me just note that you should be seeing my top five anime of 2017 and a quick takes post on the various anime I’m consuming right now in the near future. Before I wrote a definite top five list, there were a couple of shows which I wanted to try. Am I glad that I did: these two anime took the first two places with five stars!
At any rate, below are my thoughts on the now eight anime I’m watching from the current season. I decided that I had room on my schedule to add the short Takunomi, which I’ll be comparing to Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara.
1) After the Rain
Here’s a show which has seen an endless number of bloggers comment on the premise. Is it right for the 17 year old Akira Tachibana to desire a romantic relationship with the 45 year old Masami Kondo? How appropriate is such a relationship? It’s not appropriate at all: Kondo’s wife is still alive. Kondo would sin if he began another romantic relationship, and Akira likewise if she were to become his partner.
Not the answer you were expecting? Good, that’s why you followed this particular blog. To tell you the truth, I started to opine on the situation of a single 17 year old girl falling for a 45 year old bachelor or widower and realized that the merits, demerits, right, and wrong of this relationship are far to complex for what I want to accomplish in a mid-season review. Expect a post about it in the near future.
After the Rain‘s strongest selling point is the beauty of its animation. No other anime I’m watching this season compares. Akira’s eyes are especially beautiful, and I have to marvel at the time and attention the animators must have spent on them. The premise is handled in a very mature way–even if it avoids the issue I mention above. But, this is to be expected since the Japanese don’t hold to the Christian understanding of marriage–as much as they want the externals of a Christian marriage. The characters are deep and likeable. All of which makes this an excellent drama/slice-of-life.
2. Dagashi Kashi
The amusing thing about Dagashi Kashi lies in twice in a row picking the wrong episode length. The first season devoted itself to facts about candy, which can only amuse for so long, and it produced full length episodes. The second gives more time to the romance between Hotaru and Kokonotsu, harps on the dire financial straits of the dagashi store, and introduces a strong competitor which threatens our hero’s store. For these plot types, one would expect the short format for the first and the long format for the second, but Dagashi Kashi reverses them! The end result is that the first season often bored me, while the second season vexes me but not moving the conflict along speedily enough.
Well, the first sin is greater than the second, so I must say that I’m enjoying this season of Dagashi Kashi more than the first. It’s still hilarious, and our new character, the klutzy Hajime Owari (What a name! “Beginning End”), adds a special dose of humor–and fanservice for that matter. If you want to add a comedy short to your watch list, the second season of Dagashi Kashi makes for a great choice.
3. Kokkoku: Moment by Moment
This stands as my favorite title this season, and the most action packed one for that matter. People have remarked that the show features much more telling than showing, but the telling immerses us in the special zone of time and space known as “stasis.” So, I don’t mind one bit. The slow pace of the show does much to increase the suspense, and I’m tempted to wait until I can binge watch the finale. Better than enduring this level of suspense every episode!
In some regards, it reminds me a lot of that trainwreck known as Mayoiga (aka The Lost Village). Both had a supernatural environment and a slow pace. But the action in Kokkoku appears far more relevant to a central plot, and our characters are far more intelligent. Also interesting is that one immediate family living in the same household makes up the majority of our protagonists. I have not seen this sort of cast since watching Summer Wars.
4. Laid-Back Camp (aka Yuru Camp)
You want to watch cute girls do cute things? Love the moeblob style of animation? Laid-Back Camp is your show! Well, perhaps it’s not fair to call the characters moeblobs, but they at least verge on that line if they do not cross it. And, the show has the positive function of making camping look interesting even to a homebody like me. I’m starting to think about trying it for once.
Besides the characters being amusing to watch, we’re treated to some fascinating locations in Japan. I had no idea there was a location referred to as the Southern Alps (Akaishi Mountains) in Japan. This camping tour is great for those who are tired of all the city landscapes one sees in most anime.
5. Miss Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles (aka Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san)
Four anime on my watch list (Dagashi Kashi, Laid-Back Camp, Miss Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, and Takunomi) focus Japanese culture in some way–whether through sweets, scenic countrysides, ramen, or alcohol. Is it just me, or is this the most “Cool Japan” oriented anime season you’ve ever watched?
Miss Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles happens to be the first show that I picked up. Even though it focuses much of its time on the variety of ramen available in Japan, it succeeds at being the funniest anime on my list. Koizumi herself is an unfeeling character, and it’s fun to watch the other three girls desperate to force themselves into her life–at least one of them romantically.
I never noticed this phenomenon myself, but I hear it’s not infrequent for hormonally charged high school girls to develop romantic feeling for those of the same sex. Then, after they graduate, these same women wonder what they were thinking–hence, the acronym L.U.G. for “Lesbian until Graduation.” This is not to look down on them at all: people’s sexuality often leaves them wondering what they were thinking or how they could so turned their brain off at various moments.
At any rate, the characters are all splendidly flawed: whether it’s the heartless Koizumi, the dainty Jun, the narcissistic Misa, or that busybody Yuu. The mix of them together never fails to produce some brilliant comedy. If you’re not watching this show, you should be.
6. A Place Further than the Universe
This and Laid-Back Camp count as the two shows this season I picked up on a whim. Am I glad that I followed those whims! In the case of A Place Further than the Universe, it took two episodes to hook me. But, this show has a splendid mix of comedy and travel. Few genres can be so fascinating as a good travelogue, and this show provides some fascinating insights into what an Antarctic expedition is like.
Beyond that, the characters are all very likable; however, of the four high school girls, our lead character, Mari, strikes me as the most bland by far. At least that allows the other characters to show off their eccentricities–whether it’s Shirase’s rabid obsession with penguins or Hinata’s carefree exuberance. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this expedition.
7. The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done
Along with After the Rain, this show also raised many eyebrows. The ten year old girls under our hero’s tutelage manifest a romantic zeal for our hero which bothers some people. Yet, it’s not unusual for little girls to be precocious on this front. (I still remember my little sister at six or seven years old bragging to all and sundry that she would marry me one day.) While boys of the same age exclaim how disgusting women and romance are, girls enjoy playing house and otherwise fantasize about being a bride. The sexual side of these relationships never plays a part of these fantasies; and so, one must view all protestations of love on little girls’ parts as belonging to the empyrean realm of idyllic fantasy. You might compare it to boys’ love of the game Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians, where there is plenty of shooting but no bloodshed.
Most of my readers already know this much about human nature. I hope my explanation of people’s common experience offends no one. And, I will admit the whole scene with Ai coming out of the shower without clothes was rather uncomfortable. But, I’ll just remark here that screenwriters often employ scenes designed to make the audience squeamish, because audiences love being brought out of their comfort zone. If this were not the case, Game of Thones would not be as popular as it is–or Made in Abyss for that matter.
What about the anime? I’m a fan of shogi, so I absolutely love watching the conflicts on the board. The positions actually make sense–unlike chess positions in anime–and are pretty complex. I often pause while watching an episode to examine the board and consider each sides’ chances. You might call The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done a cutesy, moe version of Hikaru no Go using shogi instead of go. The children are innocent beyond measure and the adults all flawed or twisted, which makes for good comedy and occasionally good drama.
A short time ago, I discovered that Takunomi was on the same half hour block as Dagashi Kashi. Since this was a short and covered one of my favorite subjects (fine drinks), I had to give it a shot. It does a great job in the realm of comedy, and it gives you some interesting information on some good, Japanese comfort drinks–without being overly feminine like in Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara. Watch it if you have some spare time.
What are you watching?