It’s of course easy to immediately start comparing this show to Kaiba, however I opted not to do this for the first four episodes. Simply, because that would not be fair. Kaiba was a stellar series, and amongst my favourites. Expecting the same would just be unrealistic. The interesting thing about anime is that beforehand you almost never know which shows will turn out to be the best. Even more, Kaiba had a stellar first episode. Yojou-han instead was completely focused on building up. Kaiba sold me with its incredibly creative back-story and its gripping narrative. Yojou-han instead has its dialogue, repetition and wit. With a series as Durarara, you can see that it tried to look like Baccano at times, however Yojou-han makes no attempt at trying to catch in on Kaiba’s… um… popularity.
This show is weird: we’re still stuck in those random campus life stories. In this episode, Watashi ends up in a hippie-cult full of peace-loving flower-children that look a lot like scienology. It’s another story of how he completely throws away his first two years at college, just in an attempt to fit in. It’s actually very similar to the third episode in which he couldn’t fit into the cyclist club because he wasn’t athletic, here too he couldn’t fit into the softball club because he wasn’t one of those people who always look at the bright side of life. Here things got carried way more out of control though, because Ozu was surprisingly absent here. He for once only caused trouble that helped Watashi.
What’s also interesting is that Akashi still is Higuchi’s disciple. Her role seems to be all over the place, it seems. Sometimes she ends up joining the same club as Watashi, sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes she’s straight-up his love interest, but this episode has him chasing after someone completely different. I think a key is also that she’s a year younger than him, so by the time that she gets to join college he’s also completely involved in whatever stupid club he’s involved in. I think a major theme in this show has been the contrast between Watashi’s image of romance, between the types of girls that he’s actually interested in. Watashi ends up in such a huge mess every time because his expectations of college life are completely different, and instead of choosing a club that fits him he instead keeps choosing clubs that fits the romantic image that he has in his head. He just is an anti-social character, and I’m beginning to think that Ozu and Akashi always end up with him because they too aren’t fond of socializing and doing regular college stuff.
I also labelled Watashi as a loser once, but that also doesn’t quite turn out to be the truth. He can be quite successful when he wants to: he can train and become very muscular, he can make a lot of money through jobs, he can put together an entire movie on his own. It’s not like he’s not good at anything, he just doesn’t use his energy at the right places and instead wastes it on stupid stuff that only make his life miserable.
In any case, what I’m trying to say here is that Yojou-han episodes have this weird effect. Especially this one. Overall this episode was enjoyable, though nothing special when you get past the styles. There were a number of interesting jokes, plus the critique at scientology also had its moments, but it’s nothing that I would label amongst Giant Killing and Sarai-ya Goyou as my favourite of this season. However the final few minutes in a Yojou-han episode are very often the best ones. We get to see the point at which Watashi snaps and turns back time, but the whole episode also comes together surprisingly clever. This episode even added to the previous episode (explaining that the 20000 leagues under sea novel and the globe actually were from Watashi and he thought that Ozu stole them).
The weirdest thing here was this future version of Watashi suddenly popping up. Was this just symbolism, or is this going to continue more often? In any case I must say that I was right in not expecting too much from the first few episodes of this, because after a few episodes that may not have been the most exciting I’m getting more and more excited about this series.
Rating: ** (Excellent)