Posted on 28 April 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

I’m totally impressed with Tsuki ga Kirei thus far. This show has its own voice and after this episode I’m confident that we will have the constant quality in display for the rest of its run. Nothing can beat consistency, I assure you. This week, the kids go to another city for a school trip and it’s…wait a minute…Kyoto. Within the first few shots of the city I could easily recognize that favorite town of mine (if you ask me how much I love Kyoto, let just say it’s THE city that I wanna live in. And I might). I’m digging it how the show handles the aftermath of the confession last week: take it slow and give it some more thoughts. Her delayed response really is the most natural decision come from Akane and it might be her best decision, at that stage when she isn’t sure if she’s romantically interested to Kotarou (whether she has a crush on Kotarou, yes, but how many crushes you have back in school life? Once every few months right?). Remember that she doesn’t deny when her friends ask her if the boy she’s interested in was Takumi. Chinatsu, on the other hand, plays off her role as a romantic rivalry, though there was never any romance to begin with, and actively assists the duo. I love that behind her cheerful and out-there personality, she reads the situation so spot-on; and she handles the situation effortlessly. Minor issues that both Kotarou and Akane would find to awkwardly to address, she brushes it off with ease. Such a good characterization for a character who doesn’t have much screen-time. Bravo!

While the romance aspect is this episode’s main focus, the slice of life part really brings the calm, grounded and bright atmosphere to Tsuki ga Kirei. The school trip plays out exactly like any regular school trips, with great details to the settings, and to the small activities of the students. There’s this group of girls taking selfie, the other group playing cards, most of them would skip early bedtime for playing around and talking romantic stuffs. In this world, all the surrounding characters feels breathable (for the lack of better word) in the environments around them. Both Kotarou’s friends and Akane’s friends are highlighted not by their distinctive traits, nor by their development, but by their everyday interactions with the world around them and their own self-position towards that world. Hands up for Aira (one of Akane’s friend) for giving her some space that most of the kids that age ain’t sensitive enough to realize. Again, this show’s characterization is top-notch.

The episode also highlights the anxiety of our Kotarou and Akane towards their newfound relationship (or the lack thereof) and it’s as honest and awkward as it might get. They’re afraid to talk to each other, but always aware of other’s whereabouts (man, so true!). Kotarou’s nervousness of texting the girl and then has his phone taken by the teacher in the process are nicely played out before the climax. And when the climax kicks in, the tone, the pacing and the whole execution were incredible. He’s late to meet her, he doesn’t respond her phone, he shows up in poor, soaked state: all the conditions that could make any girl mad, although we’re in his shoes so we know he deserved better. I understand both the frustration of Akane and the helplessness of Kotarou. He even doesn’t try to justify himself, which make me hold him in higher regard. Akane’s response later perfectly leads the show into the right direction and closes the episode on a high note. She just wants to talk to him more. Usually other romantic anime speed up this process (and to be fair, even in real life), but unless she knows more about him, unless she spends some more time with him, she wouldn’t know if she really likes him.

I was initially considering about the combo of Tsuki ga Kirei – Scum’s Wish for portraying both spectrum of teenager’s romance, but now I’m leaning towards this one – Flowers of Evil double series for addressing contrasted sides of growing up. They’re both set in adolescent phase, when most of them are still unsure about themselves. While Flowers of Evil leans on its dark side that tackle on obsessions, youth-frustration and identity; Tsuki ga Kirei is pure white that focus on the brightest side of first crush and self-grown, and friendship. That not to say this one isn’t complex, far from it, because Tsuki ga Kirei tackles such seemingly simple premise with keen eye for details and a deep understanding of growing up process. It’s simple, true, but it’s the kind of “simple” that isn’t easily obtained.

Posted on 27 April 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sakura Quest

Hmm, I don’t really like the direction Sakura Quest is going for. To be more precise, this episode brings up some questionable variables that I don’t think blended well with the show. The actual story for this week though, is still enjoyable and grounded enough to overcome those concerns. At least for now. This week the Queen and co take up a new approach of boosting tourism: promoting woodcarving industry that is indeed a traditional government-protected industry in Manoyama, albeit many earlier attempts of gaining tourist flows using woodcarving industry have been failed. This time brings the same unsuccessful outcomes, as expected, mainly because of the girl’s lack of knowledge to the town, and to the art of woodcarving itself. How can they expect to successfully draw people in if they don’t really know about what they’re promoting? The plot is going to get worse for Yoshino and her friends before they can learn from those mistakes and get better. So this episode is functional enough at its core, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

The first issue is its weird addition of modern technology in this otherwise mundane and down-to-earth world. The girls meet the oddball local mechanic who is your typical silly inventor-type that usually brings more trouble than success, or both at the same time (think about “Doc” in Back to the Future). In this episode, his inventions come a bit too handy that they would be right at home at Phineas and Ferb’s daily summer break: an iron box that transforms into a jukebox, the mechanic suits that help farmers carry their loads easier. I get the point of merging the traditional woodcarving and the modern technology (old and new) from the outsiders with the assistance from the locals (in and out); but if the show meant to be a grounded, realistic portrayal of tourism job in rural town then those weird robotic arms and suits throw that realism out of a window. It’s so out of place and weird that for once I’m not on board with their plan and agree to that grumpy woodcarver and Mama merchant instead (come on, Buddha vending machine is BLASPHEME!!!)

The second flaw of this current approach lies in the main cast themselves. Take their spiritual predecessor, Shirobako, for example. The main cast in Shirabako have different jobs within the anime industry and even in different stages of their careers; they each have to deal with their own problems because each of them have different issues in their lives. Sakura Quest groups them together too early, so that all of them now work for the same goals, share the same house, eat the same food and that don’t work well in their favor. I have fun following them for the first 3 weeks because each of them still has different interesting traits, but their personalities start to blur in this episode. Give me more drama, tear the group apart so they have to overcome their issues by themselves is for me a much more appropriate approach (but seeing that we have 20+ episodes in our hands here, I don’t worry much about not having enough time to develop them). This episode sadly doesn’t work well character-wise.

Furthermore, I have a mixed feeling towards hinting at the romance of Sanae and the new guy woodcarver. Romance isn’t bad by all means but Sakura Quest is about mature people and their tourism jobs, so I hope the romance will only serve as a character’s development for Sanae and not taking too much concentration. The new guy nails it when he mentioned about the insecurity of Sanae: running away to the small town because she feels replaceable, like her existence isn’t that important to the busy Tokyo life. I had that experience myself sometimes so this might cut a little too close for myself. Overall, this week is a slightly misstep episode as the core material is still running strong here, but this episode is bogged down by some unconvincing details. These issues won’t deal any permanent damage, but Sakura Quest needs to work harder than this to become a real sleeper hit.

Posted on 26 April 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Little Witch Academia

One of the weaker episodes of the show but still enjoyable. This week sees us visiting Lottes parents and Akko unlocking another of the words of Arcturus after sloving a disease outbreak. Thus getting closer to the grand triskelion and now learned the meaning of pathence. Except she didn’t learn the meaning of pathence. This episode was strange in that it clearly was geared towards teaching Akko the meaning of pathence. Much of the episode showed off Akko’s lack of pathence causing trouble and I was waiting for the “Ah Ha!” moment of realisation where she would demonstrate her new understanding of the word. However that didn’t actually happen as when Akko had her “Ah Ha!” moment when stiring the potion and then proceeded to stir it slower till Shiny rod finished the job for her. It feels like Akko only learned the meaning of the word when the Shiny rod just said “Close enough” and gave her a freebie. Which makes me wonder if the activation of these words just means you have to guess the meaning of them and not nessarily grow or learn from them.

This makes me question Akko’s character growth thoughout the series as there have been times that it felt like she made massive leaps in her character arc only to regress back in the next episode. It’s hard to really cheer on a chearacter when they don’t learn from thier mistakes and Akko was certainly testing me this episode. The whole ordeal with the Yeti was humorous enough until you realise that Akko’s friends were quite literally dying the whole time she was critising the Yeti. Speaking of which, despite the stakes being high the atmosfere of the episode was really too light hearted to get accross the actual agency of the problem. The ridiclous conditions for the desease, the comedic gathering of ingredients and a general lack of concern from both Akko and Sucy made the entire situation just feel like another day at the office. I did like the moment with her begining to doubt herself when walking through the snow but it was a small moment that was quickly brushed aside.

As for Criox, who knows what she’s up to. She’s discovered that the emotion of anger can draw out the most energy from magic but to me that’s just asking for trouble. Much like in Doom 2016 they thought that the prefect solution to an energy crisis would be to draw energy from Hell. It’s just a matter of when everything goes to hell if the source of your power is based around dark matter. My big question is why is Ursula just letting Criox do as she pleases and not warned Akko about her? She clearly sees the threat she poses and yet isn’t really trying to do anything to get in her way. Theres also the matter of the governer who has yet to do anything despite foreshadowing shutting down the witch academy. Seems he was shoved off stage rather fast and the same can be said of Amanda and friends. Despite having a spot on the opening I am rather surpised how under utilised they are. I was under the impression that after the second OVA that the three would be a regular part of Akko’s entourage but that appears to not have happened. Shame as their presense could have really brightened up the interactions in this episode. Sucy and Lotte are good but both are too quiet to really bounce off Akko. Even having just Amanda there would have been good for drilling in the point that Akko needs patence as she could have been another example of lacking it. I have lots of complaints but that is out of a geniune love for this series and a wish for it to excel. I wonder if anyone on the trigger team happens to notice these kinds of complaints as the Yeti getting trolled online certainly seemed like a metaphore for just such a thing.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Re:Creators

This week wasn’t a particular exciting episode as it went further into how the mechanics between the Creator and Created might or might not work.

As speculated last week, Yuuya Mirokuji is a pretty fun character that takes his teleportation into the modern world in stride. His own fictional universe of the Tokyo underground isn’t all the different from the real world and it doesn’t come as a surprise that he sees this whole ordeal as a vacation with good food. It’s too bad that Alicetelia February entry into the show is only given a brief moment to extract Madoka Mamikia before Yuuya gets to steamroll her. Alicetelia’s description as a knight/lancer is within a fantasy setting is a little similar to Selesia’s own story but her noble upbringing is probably the difference that causes her to team up with the Military Uniform Princess.Hopefully, we’ll get to see more fights features multiple creations smashing each other’s faces at the same time.

The bulk of the episode is found in conducting the experiment on whether or not the creator could change their creation’s powers through their descriptions. Whereas most shows would have quickly covered this aspect in an scene or two, Re:Creators, with its extended runtime of twenty-two episodes, has the luxury of fleshing out its relationships and it does so with some humor. Finding out that Charon will eventually betrays Selesia and having her best friend die in the latest light novel is one way of achieving that while demonstrating the differences between the anime and light novel versions of herself. Perhaps the highlight of episode is when Selesia’s attempt at her new transformation that actually combine Sawano’s epic music for a comedic scene of hype and failure.

Posted on 25 April 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Uchoten Kazoku

Dear, how this show spoils me with its magnificent and whimsical magical realism Kyoto world. Last season, we were treated with many Eureka moments like Benten pulling a whale’s tail; tanuki drinking in a floating house to enjoy Gozan Fire Festival, or a fake train running around the shopping mall. Whatever the case, the way the show treats those moments with ease like they’re the most natural thing in the world just made my heart swell. This episode manages to raise up that bar by having Tenmaya reaches up the moon and GRABS IT. Of course, that doesn’t bode well for Benten, because she wanted that moon all by herself. So at the worst timing for Tenmaya ever, she backs to town (BENTEN’S BACK) and gives him a head-on-the-ground treatment. Benten has been the femme fatale for most of the time, charming not only to the human, but to the tanuki and tengu (but knowing that makes the last scene even more powerful). Here on a roof, owning the moon (Yasaburou’s moon) all by herself but is pleaded by Yasaburou to return the moon back because “it would be hard to live in darkness without the moonlight”, she pitches it back baseball-style and I know full well that this moment right there will be what I remember most about the Eccentric Family: whimsical, warmed and always be its own thing.

In the second sequence, we meet a new character (ANOTHER NEW CHARACTER? This show has such a huge cast) and she again is a fantastic addition to the show, although unlike Tenmaya and Nidaime I don’t think she will appear often for the rest of this series. That new character is Yasaburou’s grandma, a whitest white furball tanuki. I guess she’s more like a big grandma of that temple’s tanuki. Around her, it seems like time has ceased to progress, as she sits there, blind and sleeping most of the time, her memories is fading but she still sees many things that only the wisest livings see. For her, Tousen leaving for marriage was just yesterday (now, she’s already a widow with 4 grown up boys) but that warm conversations between them tell us how much they still care for each other. I also appreciate that she had a small talk with Yasaburou afterward, and never at once he mentioned that he is her grandchild because… they’d know it at heart. Tousen asks her Mom about Yajirou’s condition, further informs us how she still really cares for her kids, even when she still respects his decision to not go visit him in a well. I don’t particularly think grandma’s medicine will have a physical effect on Yajirou, it’d be more of psychological effect of resolving self-guilt from this shogi-addicted frog.

The last segment, which is a nice set up to the main personal conflict of this series, is all about Nidaime and his clash with Benten. I am just amazed how the show portraits Nidaime in this single episode. Moving home to the rooftop of the building by paying the twin tanuki- ironing his identical white shirts in a flick of time – giving his goggles to Yashirou and invites the tanuki to have afternoon tea with him (in which he always calls them furballs but never ever disrespects the tanuki) – then SEND BENTEN OFF HIS CHAISE AND PROCEEDS TO HAVE A NAP LIKE NOTHING HAPPENED. Benten of all people. Like I said, The Eccentric Family sets up the main conflict from way back by showing how opposite those two are: one is a tanuki who was exiled by his father and now living as a fine gentleman, the other is a human who was taken by that same person that disowned him to be a tengu. Both having a race-crisis and both have pride as high as Eiffel Tower, it only makes sense that they’re going to clash and they’re going to clash hard. This episode, without a doubt, is the best episode so far of this new season because it achieves everything I could hope for in The Eccentric Family in a solid package: the whimsical world that has a great sense of wonder, characters that are grounded and have a great, warm chemistry together and the plot that shaping up to be both personal and epic. Like the wise grandma tanuki said: makes sure to cause a lot of trouble, The Eccentric Family.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Seikaisuru Kado

I admit this show moves at a pace that is rather slow but he concept it sets up is truly brilliant. Normally in alien invasion stories the threat is clear as the aliens blow up the white house and attack humanity. Other versions usually paint humans as the antagonist force attacking something they don’t understand. However in Kado, the Alien and humans understand their positions. Logic and reason are prevalent in the discussions at work here and thus the threat of an Alien comes in a new force. The thing that makes zaShunina such a devastating factor is not his potential for warfare but rather his gifts to help humanity’s advancement. Wam’s are his first gift and being an infinite energy source that looks to require no maintenance as well as easy to transport and make, he has effectively devastated the energy market. All major energy production companies are rendered utterly moot in face of this device which results in companies shutting down and thousands losing their jobs. Assuming of course they plan to go down quietly. Make no mistake, they will try to find something wrong with these wam’s and discourage their use. Even I think that what is promised is rather too good to be true.

That is only one of the problems with an even bigger problem being that Japan is now the holder of the greatest energy device known to man and the only present manufacturer. The preview does hint at discontent over Japan’s monopoly over the devices. So the question is, just why is zaShunina presenting these wams to Japan? We get somewhat of an explanation over just why he chose Japan though admittedly it’s a little sigh inducing. Apparently Japan has more “heart” than the rest of the world and thus seem more likely to share the gifts zaShunina presents. This logic is fairly flimsy and zaShunina does mention that heart is only a word that represents half the mention of the quality used to judge. Personally I prefer to think of it that Japan had the prefect dimensional parameters for the manifestation of Kado. Really both of these are just a flimsy excuses to make Japan the center of the story, much like Kyubei’s explanation about emotional energy in Madoka was a flimsy excuse to justify magical girls over magical boys. What’s important here is that Japan now has the solution to the energy crisis and zaShunina has left the distribution, use and handling of these devices completely within the hands of the Japanese government. Painting a giant target on Japan because with a device like this, someone is going to want to try weaponising it. Thus having it that anyone can grab one of these things opens up the dangers of them being greatly misused. Whereas withholding such a device from the world makes you public enemy number one.

The first episode makes it clear where this series is planning to take itself as it’s most likely up to Shindo to find a way of reaping the benefits of this fantastic device while preventing it from sparking World War III. This being only the first of zaShunina’s gifts as I am certain he has more groundbreaking items at hand. He has already shown that he can duplicate food which could end world hunger and is most likely capable of teleportation as well. Both equally as devastating to earth economy. Something that I think could really carry the series is the interaction between zaShunina and Shindo as the two do sometimes devolve into amusing bickering from time to time. The negotiator on the side of the Japanese government briefly broke character upon witnessing it though previously she did state that she was wary of Shindo. These three character show good potential for growth and i hope they do and that things are kept as far away from the weird science girl as much as possible. Comic relief characters are all well and good but when a show has such a mature serious atmosphere, having some hyper teenager who looks like she jumped out of a light novel adaption just kills the mood. With the stakes laid out and the setup pretty much done I hope this is the point this show really takes off.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Shingeki no Kyojin(Attack on Titan)

Before I started this episode, I had it in mind to write in this post that the titan designs of this season were far less intimidating and more comical. After this episode however you can consider that though solely retracted. Personal favorite is the titan that appears when Reiner opened the stairway door. If I saw that in the middle of the night you would be certain I would be running as far as possible in the opposite direction. It’s good to have some action after the cool down period of the last episode. Monkey trouble is kicking up…trouble but I can’t help but wonder just what is his agenda here. Is this simply an act of killing humans or is there something else at work. Considering her recent focus, perhaps Krista is the one he wants dead and the others are just collateral. But then again Ymir is acting suspicious enough that she could very well have something to do with this. I really wish this series could hold back a bit presentation wise and show a little more subtly as Ymir had “Acting suspicious” plastered all over her face and the camera make a point to shout this all the more. The reveal at the end of the episode isn’t really that much of a surprise when you openly announce that she’s hiding things with dramatic emphasis. Honestly I had her number when she interrupted Connie just as he was coming to the realisation that the titans within the wall where his village’s inhabitants. Making her the second person to cut off the line of thought, with the first being Reiner. Though considering Reiners actions this episode and his brief flashback that seems to dismiss the idea of him being a titan.

The deaths of the scout corps leaders didn’t surprise me all that much. Upon introduction I had these people marked for dead so to see it happen was hardly surprising. Though even if it was expected I will say those death scenes were really good. I knew when I seen Krista pouring that alcohol over Reiners wound that it would come back later. It annoyed me so much to see her waste the entire bottle, not even pouring it over the full wound. Majority of it ended up on the floor. Poor Gerger, all he wanted before he died was a drink. This world couldn’t even give him that. I do find it rather amusing how Nanaba sacrificed herself in order to save him, only to give him a far crueler death. Though considering what happened to Nanaba afterwards, maybe not. At least he wasn’t conscious when the titans started eating him and Nanaba’s last words are utterly bone chilling. Fun fact for some, the last line that Nanaba said “Father. Please stop. I won’t do it again” was an anime only addition. I actually really like this change as it insinuates a lot about the character just right before she dies and to see a strong character get broken down to a sobbing child is a pretty horrifying sight. As to what we could inferred over her last words, perhaps it was a beating she got after doing something wrong or that her father was an abusive parent or potentially something significantly darker. What it is we shall never know now that she’s titan chow but what it does show is that the veterans of of the scouting corps are just as fragile as the rookies.

This episode does showcase the things which make attack on titan so well regarded but while I enjoyed this episode a lot I still have this nagging in the back of my mind. That being that this episode presented more questions and little answers. We are reaching the 30th episode of this series and we don’t know much of anything about the titans or anything in general. There are plenty of teases for answers down the line(The key to the basement, the priest talking to Krista) but whether we will get those answers in this cour is up in the air. Another thing is that I would really like to see humanity start winning. Every victory up until this point has come with a big however nailed to it. I may have mentioned this before but the key to tragedy is the balance between hope and despair. Muv Luv Alternative (Stated as the inspiration for Attack on Titan by the mangaka himself) managed this balance perfectly. It made you believe that humanity could win, that things were turning the tide before bringing in the BETA and everything going straight to hell. Attack on Titan piles tragedy upon tragedy and a constant tragedy isn’t interesting. We had a small moment where it looked like the survey corps would pull through but pretty much one minute later and things are right back to doomed. I think this would have had greater impact if the survey corps succeeded in defending the tower and then the viewer is like “Yes, these people can win!” and then just as they are about to leave the second wave of titans come in. Then the despair is real and more poignant because for one moment we believed things would work out. Well next episode has titan Ymir and if I am not mistaken, her titan form looks remarkably similar to the titan that killed Reiner’s brother in that flashback.

Posted on 22 April 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

Tsuki ga Kirei sure understands about the life of 14-year-old kids would be like. I’m sure we all have different experience about that pre-teen stage of our life, but the life portrayed here is so vivid and true to life that it brings out our fond memories as well. Personally, while not much really happen between each episode, this show is weirdly the show that I’m eagerly anticipating the most each passing week. So far, the simple visual style and its focus on characters’ little exchanges make it an unusually appropriate and grounded production values. But in terms of plot where progression is the key, the show still manages to surprise me with its confession right at the end of this third episode. I guess the bookworm Kotarou has balls after all.

This episode follows Kotarou as he’s hoping for his first writing piece to get published, the anticipation occupied his mind that he couldn’t concentrate on his exams. I’m still a fan on the way this show focuses more on the anxiety of Kotarou than the outcomes. The same approach can be said with Akane and her track competition. We follow her as she engages in the competition (the bit where Chinatsu chanting her name is great), not the result of whether or not she suprasses her track record. We also have a fairly mundane dinner scene of Akane’s family and I’m quite amused that we have a dinner scene as it is, where parents have a presence (unlike other anime where they disappear in the background) in her life. Tsuki ga Kirei still excels of its show-don’t-tell approach, even later when Kitarou unfortunately falls into the usual trap of saying out loud what he thinks, I still give it a pass since he’s anxious about whether or not he should text the girl, and we can’t fault the lovestruck Romeo for being too excited. Many tidy details that the show doesn’t outright state but it’s golden once we pick up those details: we can see Kotarou is fond of boxing, not only box around his light chord in excitement, but the poster of Mohamed Ali is up there in his room. Or in Akane case we pick up that the sisters live in a same room, whereas more oftern than not the kids in other anime will have their own rooms doesn’t matter the finalcial situation of the parents. Or how we aren’t sure what his Sunday practice might be, but looking at it (the group and him practising various instruments in a local shrine), we have a good idea about the details.

I actually misses the shorts that came out last week (boy do I wish it regular features), but we do have a brief callback to one of those shorts, this time in Kotarou’s awkward point of views. LINE is the biggest winner here (I use it in real life too), being the communication platform for our two leads where they’re too shy and cautious to talk to each other in real life. The romance so far is understated but again so true to life and Akane returns his encouragement last week with another heartwarming response “You’re perfectly fine the way you are”. The two other casts don’t have much attention this time, Chinatsu being busy with her track competition but I love how effortless whenever she’s around Kotarou. Takumi, on the other hand, has a slight chance to confess his love for Akane, but decides to back down. I don’t really think Akane has a romantic feeling for him (more of respectation) but I would like to see him making a move to Akane. I also adore the way Kotarou really wanted to ask Akane how she been doing, but won’t be able to. The way his thoughts and his focus are entirely to the phone rather than the practice is something I’m sure we all been through; and for once dead phone actually gives a positive outcomes since Akane decides to go to the shrine to see him. As they’re sitting there and looking at the moon. She remarks the moon is beautiful, Kotarou takes this as a clue to ask her out (remember I said last week that “The moon is beautiful” is a poetic way to say “I love you” in Japan). Part of me want Akane to reject it, as first love is only pure and shine the brightest when we never reach it in full, unlike the moon itself.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Sakura Quest

“The one who can change the town is the young fool outsider”
Which kind of makes sense, since the outsider’s perspective will give a fresh take to improve the town. That makes our Queen Yoshino the perfect candidate, but as the interview goes on, she learns the truth: she hardly knows anything about the town, except from perhaps its scenery and expired manjus. So her first step as Manoyama’s Queen is to find what the locals like (to no result) and what makes the town unique. Here Yoshino learns the main conflict between Tourism board and the Merchants Group, the UMA boom resulted in Kadota-sensei switched from homemade carrot Kabura-kun to the silly Kabura-chupa mascots. As we knew last week, the Kabura-chupa has nothing to do with the Mexican mythical creatures and does seem to cause more mixed response from the local and neither attracting much tourist attention. After the hilarious runs from both our girls and the Tourism board to achieve the mascots’ heads, the final parade where Yoshino decides to ditch both the town’s previous mascots (making Kadota-sensei appear in a mix of Chupa with Carrot head, but that mainly for practical reason) and her promotion speech is a touching, if not a bit too honest for her own good (now I have an idea why she failed 32 interviews). She decides to spend her time as a Queen to pick a mascots that could stand the test of time. And now our real Quest finally begins.

One thing of note that I find particularly true to life is the way the villagers are indifferent about what they want to make the town better. They’re just a bunch of locals who born and live within the town to the point they don’t really question about the town’s condition anymore. Usually in other series that take place in a small rural area, they tend to feature many local custom (like welcoming the sunshine in Love Live Sunshine), and the local’s unabashed love for their town. Not here. The old people in the town don’t want anything to change; while the young ones pretty think it’s a dead town anyways, why bother trying. Manoyama feels really like some random small town we might come across. It’s not like they don’t love their town, but more of they are born here, taking a job that passed through generations and taking the town for granted. Whatever going to happen, they’d still live there, so why bother on the change at all? I’m kinda curious to see how the girls can fire up those people in coming events.

Finally, I’m glad that Sakura Quest is a more adult-oriented show that don’t feature high school settings with juvenile humor, because the humor in this show is deadpan and much more attuned to my own taste. Lines like “just the cold indifference of time’s unending march” both sound true, but with a more sarcasm tone. Also I really enjoy the various costumes that the main cast’s wearing. There is a great attention that focus on these costumes here as oppose to say, high school uniforms. As it announced, the show will be 26 episode long and so far Sakura Quest more than earned its spot in my watching list.

Posted on 20 April 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by SuperMario

I remember back in the first impression of last Winter season, I regarded Demi-chan as a better Monster Girls slice of life subgenre over this one. But as the season progressed, while Demi-chan run out of its steam quickly, this one picked up its pace after an underwhelming first episode to become a much more worthy title of last season, to the point many critics (according to ANN critics) hailed it as one of the best show out of 2017 Winter season, behind only to the modern masterpiece Rakugo. Do I agree with that consensus? No, God, no. They obviously don’t watch ACCA, and I would argue Scum’s Wish or Tanya are better options. Dragon Maid is a warm little show that have some neat things to say about dysfunctional family and a high production values for its genre, but it never raises above exceptional level to me.

In fact, now looking back, the premiere episode of Dragon Maid was a bad representation of a whole show. The premise of a female dragon decides to live in a human house as a maid and devotes herself to that role, loves her host unconditionally is a wish-fulfilment and convenient one. That episode also played up the slapstick tone of dragon making a mess trying to fit in with human environment, which became less and less prominent as the show went on. They also played up the comedy which was a missed opportunity because while Dagon Maid is very solid at humor, they never meant to be in a forefront. The show improved dramatically from second episode with the introduction of Kanna and the show shifted the focus to slice-of-life approach, but the first episode already did the damage to discourage anime watchers into this show.

The humor of the show is on the risqué and bawdy side and I really do prefer this type of humor than over the top silliness, but I also agree that sometimes they got too carried away. The yuri love at the centre between Tohru and Kobayashi-san is well grounded; but the same can’t be said for the running gags of yuri undertone between two primary schoolers of Kanna and Riko (sometimes Kanna is a perpetrator for example, in which she “innocently” staying too close to Riko). More cringe-worthy, Lucoa and Shouta running gags of gigantic bouncing boob gave a huge backlash to more serious anime watchers as it appears the older (dragon) woman sexually assaulted the young shy boy. Well, for the love of God I’m not that serious about the issue but bouncy boob jokes do get old fast.

But at its core, Dragon Maid is a sensitive portrayal of a dysfunctional family and what it means to share happy moments with the person you love. Kobayashi-san, a thirty something workwoman who prefer to be left alone than having any real relationship is a perfect protagonist for this tale about family. Sometimes she remarks that it’s her who unsure how to express her feeling. Most of the time she doesn’t contact her real family not because they are having a tense relationship, it’s just her who feels detached from the family. There’s a real, honest look at the heart of modern day lifestyle, when individual starts drifting away from any real connection and this series is all about establishing that real connection.

The second theme Dragon Maid of underlined is the very definition of “family” and “where we belong”, as Tohru, who born a dragon, comes to live together with a human. The show addressed many times that the human world isn’t Tohru’s place, and because human’s and dragon’s lifespans are vastly dissimilar, what will happen to Tohru once Kobayashi reaches her end? Does lingering on the life that clearly don’t belong to you worth taking at all? As this series says, yes, because feeling is true. The other theme about family this show also addresses is the parental relationship, especially those from Kobayashi-san and Kanna. There are many touching moments where Kanna looks up to the protagonist as her mother figure (as a dragon she was exiled from her family) and Kobayashi-san tries her best to fit in that role. Secretly buying the stationary that she loves, tries to finish work early in order to aatend her play. Those intimate moments come from a very real place that doesn’t matter if the premise is phony (dragon appears as maid girl, duh), as long as your heart is in the right place you still hit jackpot.

True to its “sharing the moments together” theme, many of the show’s best sequences lie in the slice-of-life activities the characters have with each other, be it as bizarre as dragon’s fights, anime convention (where real monsters appear as themselves), or as mundane as spending a christmas holiday in kotatsu, preparing dinner or having a sport festival (there must be one in every slice of life high school show huh?) or performing a play together. The cast is mostly likable, especially Kanna who takes the anime world by storms. I also find the different length in each segment to be effective. Sometimes it plays for entire episode, sometimes it chops off and we have 4-koma like format, which actually adds to the final punch and the laid-back atmosphere of the show.

As KyoAni is the studio behind this show, it goes without saying that the show have a great treatment in productions values. The characters facial expressions are varied and spot on, the animation- where it needs to be, especially during dragon’s battles, is energetic and exciting. From what I gathered the studio actually modified a bit in its last 2 episodes from the manga source, which for me enhanced the main emotional core and successfully ended the show by overcoming its biggest external and internal threats.
All in all, Dragon Maid is an enjoyable anime. The show has relaxed atmosphere, engaging chemistry between its main cast, great animation and have some deeper and more intimate moments than its usual slice of life fare. Still compare to KyoAni canon I can’t help but think this is an inferior one with questionable fanservice. It’s heartwarming but lack certain quality to raise above the rest of a pack.

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