Posted on 29 May 2017 with categories: Uchoten Kazoku

Woah, there’s a lot of things going on in this episode. This week, The Eccentric Family returns to themes that it is most comfortable with: family and life’s purpose which have been put mostly on the sidelines this season. The episode, in hindsight, is a string of many effective scenes combining, making this week one of the most diverse cast we have this season, yet all these sequences point towards the family’s responsibility, the red fur of fate and individual’s goal and deliver many resonate bittersweet moments. Eccentric Family might just release its best episode to date here. First, the ongoing feud between Shimogamo’s and Ebisugawa’s families have finally come to an end as the young head of Ebisugawa: Kureichirou brings down the annoying twins to the Shimogamo to amend for their father’s evil actions. Like Tousen said earlier, it’s idiotic blood of the tanuki that make them fight against each other (but aren’t we human the same?). Yaichirou of course doesn’t want any more conflict so they agree to lay off that dispute and shake hands. Well, since we were witnessing along them how the feud come into its biggest confrontation in the first season, seeing that war was resolved completely feel like a triumph for me. Just imagine how Kureichirou could bring the stupid twins to kneel down and offer to be pulled out fur from their butts (which I could imagine a very humiliated tanuki way) make me realize how influential the guy to his brothers. This sequence links well to the theme of family, now with the former powerful heads of each family gone, the young heads have to settle down and have to choose their own ways; there’s no point in continuing the feud, must like there is no point to punish the Ebisugawa’s sons for what their father had done.

We also have all the members of Shimogamo (plus one future member) meeting together. This episode smartly showcases the development of each brother in the family. Yajirou can be able to transform again, although he still can’t stay in his shape for too long. Yashirou, with the help of Kureichirou, has a whole lab for himself to experiment whatever he likes. In term of personal conflicts, there is a lot to chew on as well. Yaichirou feels his responsibility to look after his brothers, to guide them to their own paths, and to become like what their father did. Of course, the first two are genuine but Yasaburou points out the last point that he doesn’t need to shoulder the responsibility of a dad. Because he can never fulfil that role, nor he need to be (he was sitting the exact same spot that his father had dinner before he disappeared). Asking Yasaburou to marry Kaisei in order to have something for Yasaburou to protect is an interesting valid point, but doesn’t Yasaburou’s everyday chores are to take care of his sensei and protect the people around him? Yassburou might be too carefree to never consider what is his real goal in life except slacking around, and Kaisei’s comments in the end all point out to his lack of responsibility, but remember he was always the first to run to his mother whenever thunder came, or helps out his sensei whenever possible.

Benten also makes an appearance in this episode; and she’s having a date with… Nidanme no less. Their conversations are still pretty vague right now, but I do hope Nidanme isn’t into Benten like almost every male creatures in this Eccentric Family’s universe. (She’s bad egg, don’t cha see that?) One thing for sure is that he comes back to this town because of their previous encounter in London and they remain awkward, but surprisingly no ill-resentment to each other. Then it’s Yajirou who have a juicy role this week, as he decides to leave Kyoto to find his own path, much to the dismay of Yasaburou. For Yasaburou, whatever happens, the family stays together, but Yajirou will forever be a frog if he still stays under the well (the image of all his belongings fit right into a hankerchief is serious sad – and there is greeting from Kaisei here). The brotherly talk brings so much warm to the scene, and the tender score really hits its spot. This is a sudden but believable development from Yajirou. Yasaburou doesn’t cry (he proclaimed himself that he never cry, and doesn’t have any weakness – both of which were prove untrue in this episode), but he ends up running to the mountain to sulk for A WEEK, which of course is far more immature.

And finally, it’s Kaisei’s secret. In truth, the only disappointment I had for this marvelous episode is that I expected a lot more Kaisei’s moments this week. In reality, she only appears in the last 5 minutes though, but boy she sure delivered. Her secret, turn out to be such sweet twist that tie up the red fur of fate nicely. The sight of her makes Yasaburou’s transformation come undone. Plain and simple. Just like how the presence of Benten did the same thing to Yasaburou’s father. That explains how she can transformed the hypnotized-Yasaburou-bear back to tanuki few episodes back (great foreshadowing). Apart from the fact this is one of the sweetest thing I’ve seen this entire year bar none (the exchanges, especially when she cracks up, are extraordinary), the revelation 1) just shows us how thoughtful and attentive Kaisei has always been to the people around her, especially to Yasaburou. While Yasaburou’s reason for rejecting this proposal idea is mainly about himself and his freedom, Kaisei’s reason has always been for his sake. It’s obviously hard for her to hang around Yasaburou, especially he’s the one she cares dearly for (common, this’s pretty obvious now) 2) more importantly, Kaisei represents the cage that block Yasaburou’s freedom of transformation. Remember they mentioned that tanuki can’t transform inside a cage, because they lost the freedom so to speak. So to choose Kaisei mean that Yasaburou agrees to give up his transformation altogether, which you know he would never do. Such fate that can never bring the two furballs together – the red fur of fate. We have for ourselves a true star crossed anime here.

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

I predicted that Mamika would soon make her choice. I just didn’t expect a magical girl to turn herself into a tactical nuclear suicide bomber.

Starting from episode two, it was clear that this innocent and sheltered magical girl had the most room to grow and her final(?) actions shown how far she has come. The talk between her and Alice was faintly reminiscent of the yuri aspect between Madoka/Homura of Madoka Magica. It’s strange to think that given their backgrounds of a hardcore medieval fantasy and children magical girl show, it is Alice is the one who is obtuse while Mamika is the one who thinks things through. She probably knew that Altair wouldn’t listen to her heartfelt pleas and an epic fight carried the risk of failure. The fact that she didn’t hesitate to unleash the sheer power of that final magical splash flare was fully representative of Mamika’s conviction. The question now becomes whether or not Mamika survives her own magical splash flare. Given that the explosion engulfed the entire stadium and the surrounding area, there is a very good chance that she didn’t intent to get of that fight alive. Either they pull an asspull of an explanation of how Mamika survived that blast or have her come back using some unrevealed mechanic or Mamika is actually gone for good. In any case, Alice is going to feel even more disconcerted within this new world she finds herself in.

All the other parts of the episode leading up to its explosive ending went on with a comfortable pace with the briefings having some meaning in introducing two more creators and setting the tone between Yuuya and his maker. His beatdown something akin to Alice’s own treatment of her creator, just with less kidnapping and more punching. I don’t know about the Code Babylon female creator, but she looks to be fitting addition, if not peculiar, to the main cast. Also peculiar is the continual game of Souta’s little dirty secret only moves forth a tiny bit with his half-assed confession to Meteora. From their meandering conversation, my theory is that Souta asked Setsuna to create Altair and he did such a good job that he become resentful of her talent. As a result, he pushed her away and set on her on a suicidal path, which then set into motion the events of Re:Creators. Thankfully, it comes down to the crazy occult-powered maid of Makagami to confront him about him being a bitch and the scene had expertly done tension with Souta knowing the other side of the conversation is utterly ruthless and sees this world as nothing more than a toy to be played with just like the brochure that was systematically ripped up and thrown into the air. Unfortunately, for him, the mixing of his reluctance to tell the truth and going on a date with Makagami isn’t going to end well, especially when said creation has already racked up two kills in her body count.

Not an action-oriented episode but the bold progression in the plot makes the show only gets better and better.

Posted on 26 May 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Tsuki ga Kirei

With this episode Tsuki ga Kirei marches on its impressive run. If there is one thing that I’m still impressed about Tsuki ga Kirei, it’s that despite its slow-pacing, the story never stands still. Each episode is a steady step-forward, clearly mark-out stage from its main couple’s relationship. I wasn’t at all expecting that much tension from this week, just to show how I am personally invested in its characters and their situation. Again, I totally feel for the total defeat of Chinatsu in this episode, but lest we forget that she was the one who planned to disrupt this couple with all her might. Originally, she staged for only 4 free passes to the amusement park with the intention of using Takumi to hook up with Akane and she has some free time with our main. Kotarou and Akane’s classmates though, are all in for an opportunity to go out for a date so the trip ends up with 9 people, leaving Roman an odd one out. You could argue Chinatsu crossed many lines of actively hurting Akane’s feeling and using Takumi for her own gain, which I totally can’t defend her, but I still read her action as purely self-centric behavior. She just doesn’t think her actions would cause those consequences that far ahead and while it’s dangerous, you can’t really blame her for things she doesn’t aware either. Okay, now I’m defending her, but I believe when Kotarou roars like a lion in front of Takumi declaring what is rightfully his, it blows much harder to Chinatsu than he outright rejects her.

And what a natural progression of this first love has come to be. After last few episodes about how to behave when you’re actually in a relationship, the next step is to acknowledge your relationship to others. And this episode is all about opening your relationship’s status to your friends without feeling reserved about it. Like Chinatsu few episodes back, Roman is the guy who can read between the lines so he caught on with Kotarou – Akane relationship. Special shout out to Roman as the buddy who got his friend’s back and do whatever necessary to support his friend. Unlike Roman, others don’t have a clue about this relationship and for once, Takumi also finds this trip a good opportunity to spend some time with Akane. When Kotarou catches up with the two of them walking together, for a moment I thought he would be silent and walk away without calling them back – and indeed, most of other shows will fall for that route, but we’re talking about Tsuki ga Kirei for Peter’s sake, so Kotarou instead steps up and declares in front of Takumi that they’re in relationship. Yes, what important is to acknowledge your love. Boy, what a truly great moment. Takumi, surprised, but take that news really well too. The subtle body languages in those scenes certainly enhance the character’s emotions, as you can read the reactions of both the four main casts. Tsuki ga Kirei’s visual storytelling is truly magnificent.

The rest of the time afterward, Kotarou and Akane have their first real date, alone together, in this amusement park. There are some truly intimate and sweet moments out there, certainly helped by contrasting them with Chinatsu and Takumi’s sadness. They eat together for a first time, playing together and kissing each other in a firework backdrop. Well, they aren’t technically kissing though but it feels much more intimate than any other actual kissing out there. At least, Chinatsu apologizes to Takumi and even texts Akane about not being able to confess her love. There’s nothing you need to say sorry about, Akane, because when it comes to deciding between your and Chinatsu’s own feeling, it’s a clear answer. The couple goes a long way since they’re first dated, and I’m not even hard-pressed to say this, considered that this is a story about first love from some middle-school kids, but this is a real depiction of how two individuals falling in love, along with what a true growing up would be like, and those alone make Tsuki ga Kirei stands above the rest of your average anime offerings.

On last note, those shorts this week are still pretty on par, although they run a bit longer than I would’ve preferred (because, geez, it means the actual story is cutting short). Those shorts are pretty much a part of Tsuki ga Kirei’s identity right now, and so far they’re all gorgeous. And I couldn’t say this last week because of the recap, but the new OP is solid as well, make me wonder if the overall production (especially the CG extras) could have been improved if they have some more extra time for correction?

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Sakura Quest

This was a solid episode from Sakura Quest. This week is the first of the two-parter (probably) about the Queen and her team making a special dish for Manoyama town that could attract tourists. Now I see the formula the show’s currently employing: the first three episodes focus on Yoshino and her coming to term with the rural village, and gathering the main cast. Episode 4 and 5 concentrate on woodcarving industry and fleshing out Sanae, the last two episodes they shift the focus to assisting movie crew and give a necessarily development to Maki. This new episode will be all about cooking, taste testing and developing the core member that I’m most worried about: Shiori. Turn out both the food-making part and the Shiori part were all excellent. At the end of this episode, Sakura Quest merges those two storylines together as Shiori takes charge as the leader of that food project, with some clearly identified obstacles to overcome. So why do I have to namelist all the previous episodes, you ask? Well, knowing its patterns help me to suspense my disbelief so I can enjoy the ride better. As of now, this format doesn’t bother me too much anymore. While it’s sitcom-y, meaning after the arc is done we gonna reset back to status quo for another new story, which kind of defeat the development of previous arc; giving the show different scenarios to work with make that world feels rich, like every corner of the town Manoyama has lives on its own. For example, the lake the girls fishing (by bare hands) or the farm at the beginning of this episode feel entirely vivid and lifelike, which of course add to the charms of this little town.

So the Board of Tourism comes up with new strategy to attract more tourists: making a home-made signature dish. I know this plan hits my own sweet spot more than anything but the idea of making local food is a sound idea for me. One of the issue of this plan though, is that none of the main casts, save Shiori, have any idea about cooking. I love the way they come up with their own “creations”, which reflect so well with their respective personalities: Sanae with her love for fast-food ramen- chicken wings hybrid, Maki’s quantity-over-quality Mega Tempura Sandwich, Yoshino with all mixed ingredients that already sound like a bad idea, and Ririko with her green “witch” soup (the bug she brought earlier squeezed out green cream as well. Could it be…). I also love her grandma super calm reaction after tasting that soup (a big disaster) and her even calmer suggestion to eat takeaway food. It also helps that when the girls being themselves without any development, they still bounce off each other very well. Ririko’s snarky comments hit a lot of target here, so does Maki and Sanae teasing (and then team up) to each other. Their absurd outfits at the beginning is a feat to watch as well, especially Maki and her Bruce Lee’s uniform with David Carradine’s famous hat.

Back to the main plot, only Shiori has any idea of making “eatable” food, but also like her personality, her foods taste great, yet so plain that fail to impress anyone. In addition, only Shiori who came to know and appreciate the local ingredients, which makes sense when you want to promote a local food. The rest of the group want to appoint her as the head of the cooking campaign, but she hesitates with that idea since it comes so much of a burden to her. Sakura Quest pretty much answers my concerns regarding developing Shiori character, as this episode challenges her supporting, never-want-to-be-in-spotlight personality and makes it her ultimate catalyst to overcome. Then Sakura Quest raises the stake even further by providing the conflict between the Tourism Board and the Merchant Board. Yoshino forgets to inform the Merchant Board about their food day, which happens to overlap with the Merchant’s Summer Festival. Later, when all members from Tourism Board come over to apologize, Grandma Oribe also points out, quite rightly, that Kadota has been selling out. While she hated his Chupakabura manju, she can deal with it because he still used the local products, but the “deluxe version” is created from some other company, thus defeat its very purpose of promoting local foods. Kadota clearly cares about gaining more tourists for the town, but he ultimately uses more aggressive methods, which caused a stir with the local people. This conflict is well thought-out so I’m interested to see what Shiori will come up with next week.

The episode also spends a huge amount of its time for Shiori’s own family and introduces two new characters, Shiori’s older sister Sayuri and the bear chef Kumano and the two have some romantic tension with each other. The parents and grandparents of her are all adorable people and have a very warm chemistry together. The way the grandparents introduces non-subtlety their single granddaughters to any young man they like as “We have two here. You can pick one” is sooo my grandparent way of obvious hook-up lines that it’s endearing and scary at the same time. Later on, when Shiori’s dad take her for a little walk, his wisdom “Everyone’s life changes eventually” again hit hard here. Shiori is the type of person who doesn’t want anything to change, because she’s happy with everything right now. But things won’t stay the same as time progresses, so the lesson here she needs to learn is that changes aren’t that scary and they eventually come as she moves on to the next stage of her life. Even without the progress of the tourism plan and the core cast’s developments (in which this episode happens to excel in both departments), random wisdom like this, heart-warming and meaningful that cut right through my heart, is a healthy dose of insight that I clearly need right now.

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

The conclusion to the last week’s fight turns out to only eslcate in size with Yuuya and the giant robot joining the fray before ending off on a rather anticlimactic note. You have Mamaika remaining true to her character and trying to put out fires everywhere while everyone else pairing off in a grudge match. Every creation (excluding Altair) came together for the first time and we got to see some seriously hyped action with Yuuya’s Stand giving Alice a run for her money. It’s too bad that it all ends so abruptly when shows up and the BLANK doesn’t do much more than wave its arms around. The point of giant robots tends to be ripping and tearing at away at their enemies with their array of weapons, which Yuuya takes an enthusiastic interest in. I could see him and Rui fostering mirror image of the friendship that Meteora and Selestia currently share, albeit with more masculine outbursts of awesome.

The one thing that irks me is the constant regurgitation of information and the two briefings that doesn’t do itself any favors by going over information that is just icing in background or confirming what fans already know. At least the show doesn’t leave the true identity of Altair dangling around as it makes a nod towards the fan made and amateur side of the anime industry through during the unmasking of the main antagonist. It seems it’s up to Mamaika to be the one that drives the story with her ever expanding bold choices. With Alice and Blitz seemingly dead set in their ways, our magical girl is going to have to make some tough decisions on which side she belong. It is far pass the time where sitting on the fence and trying to play nice with everyone is a viable option especially with Makagami tailing Sota in that Ufotable Fate/stay night cafe. While it wasn’t as good as last week’s episode, Re:Creators is chugging along at a more tolerable pace with each side looking gearing up to make some big moves.

Posted on 25 May 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Id-0

This week found the three main characters: Ido, Maya and Alice all got “eaten” by that huge annoying rock. Thankfully, being a rock – they themselves call it a wandering planet, or Rajeev retrieved, it can only swallow them whole – not chew – but it effectively cuts down all the communication and oxygen from the outside; as a result Maya, and to greater extend Alice, have to find a way out before running out of oxygen. While in there, they found out about the lost ship who experienced the same fate and managed to restore some data from that ship. Outside, Rick and Amanza are responsible to find a way in by Rick distracting the defense mechanism of the satellite and Amanza attacks on its weak spot (love the chemistry between those two). At long last, it’s Grayman and the rest of the cast had to charge the precious Orichalt (the amount equal to half of their year’s earning) to get through the rock, and later spend the other half to destroy it (of course, giving away all their income is a taboo in this pirate’s job.

Also with this episode, we learn something more about the space “conspiracy” of that world. Ido and Maya conclude that the Police and the Observer from last week know about the dangerous of those wandering planets, but keep their existence in the dark from human because the prospect of going to space is too huge to ignore. Those wandering planets are attracted by the Orichalt (not Alice, huh, a bit confusing here) so they could pose a potentially huge damage if someone possess a huge chunk of Orichalt. At last, we get to see the real face of the masked man and this guy’s surprising young, reinforce the theory that he is the real version of Ido. We do have a bit of a clue with the spilling of someone named Dr Arisugawa, with for me he/she will have vital information regarding Ido’s identity and what is going on.

Again, the main cast’s chemistries become a highlight of this episode. Maya, in particular, shines when she reflected about where she really belongs on the edge of her death. I know this is nothing deep but they hit all the right notes with her development so far. We get to know more about the mateship between Rick and Ido. On the outside, Ido is the “everyone for himself” kind of guy, but he treasures his friends more than that, as more than once he saved Rick’s ass despite the high risk of rescuing him. This is pure speculation at this momonet but I like to think that this trait of Ido might be what make the current version of Ido differs than his previous self. Also the back and forth interactions between Rick and Amanza are a welcoming one, them being the most unlikely duo based on Rick’s relaxed personality and Amanza’s total seriousness, but they give off a nicely chemistry all around. Though I’m not in for their romance, as I don’t think developing a romance at this point is necessary.

ID-0 continues its winning streak this week. Usually for shows this calibre, at this stage after introducing the cast and the settings they tend to go big with facing down the evil corporation. Not so with ID-0, which I am kind of glad. They understand that the dynamic between their cast is one of their greatest strength, so they spend this whole episode revolving around them instead: Trapping the main characters inside the satellite, with the rest of the cast tries rescuing them. At the same time, the show gives us some new info about what is going on and the pacing, in particular, never drags out, something that their previous effort BBK/BRK was struggled with throughout its run. I’m quite happy with the development of ID-0 right now. This little gem is one confident show.

Posted on 24 May 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Little Witch Academia

This episode has really nailed home for me just how defanging Diana has been a bad choice. In the OVA episodes Diana was bratty and stuck up but at least then she had character. In the TV series she’s more or less a mary sue through and through which is sadly a much more boring characteristic. When comparing how the two clash in both continuities it felt more animated in the OVA’s whereas Diana’s talks here are more exasperated. When you have a high energy character like Akko then I think the best foil is someone who is equally as outspoken. Compare the bickering at the end of this episode to that of the bickering at the end of the first OVA and I think you might see what I am getting at. It is good that we have awakened another word and only have two left for Akko to unlock the seal. The key to this one seems to be Akko relating Diana’s efforts to keep the history of the cavendish family from dying out to the pursuit of her own dream.

As predicted the evil Aunt tries to interfere with Diana taking the ritual and in all honestly I don’t know why this comes as a surprise to anyone. Both Akko and Edward are shocked to hear this as is the maid but when you get down to it then if her Aunt didn’t do something then that would be surprising. Did they really think she was just going to sit back and let Diana take the head position from her? With Diana being as perfect as she is I just don’t get how she couldn’t see this coming. Animation was up to the usual trigger standard with the broom sequence being quite excellent.

In the end the status quo wins. Diana gets to back to school and Daryl looks to have had a change of heart. Besides unlocking a word this little adventure hasn’t changed the norm. Maybe Diana and Akko will be closer after this? Chances are that’s not going to be the case. We did get to learn a little more about Diana with this episode. Things like her temporarily losing her magic when she was a child. This is likely the point she became a fan of Shiny Chariot. There is also her history lesson on the Cavendish family acting as war medics during wars which is rather fascinating. I wonder if witches took part in the fighting as well? Based on what they are capable of they would be formable weapons in a war.

It is rather odd to have this kind of seriousness when most of the violence in the series is treated with cartoon logic. Well we have five episodes of little Witch Academia left and it’s only now that Netflix announces that they plan to release the first cour on their service on June 30. Likely dubbed as they have with other anime releases. I must say that if Netflix will continue with licensing anime then they need to rethink how they release it. The binge format has its good points but when it comes to online discussion then it kills any talk about individual episodes. People accuse this of killing the momentum of Relife and Little Witch Academia which I would be inclined to agree. I think Netflix should consider a simudub strategy much like Funimation. It is great to see more companies jump into licensing anime but with the methods Amazon strike and Netflix are making use of it’s proving to make things more difficult for those who don’t wish to obtain anime on the high seas. Regardless I am looking forward to giving this show a rewatch dubbed when it does come out next month.

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

One thing that continues to surprise me when covering this series is that after watching a full 25 minute episode of it and sitting down to write, I think about what happened in the episode and find it remarkably little. Truly, what did happen this episode? Well Reiner and Bertholdt ran off with Eren and everyone else chased after them once the military police showed up at the wall. That’s it. With one sentence I have hereby encapsulated what has transpired within the entirety of the episode. Maybe that is selling it short as we did have another flashback and Hans giving Mikasa and Armin some pep talk. Still I find the ever excessive use of flashbacks annoying and we could have established this at a much earlier point instead of now. Other than that we just have that one scene with Mikasa and Armin trying to eat as dramatically as possible. That was just really silly.

Perhaps you may be berating me for criticising this show taking it’s time as an attempt to speed things up could very well remove the gravita of the situations. But we only got a single cour this time round and to have more than one episode just focused on one or two significant events just feels like a waste of resources. But enough about that. Hans tried to make a point with his pep talk with Mikasa and Armin that Eren’s tenacity for never giving up was something to be admired. I however disagree with this statement. Tenacity in face of overwhelming odds is commendable, but only when they reason for those odds is not the person’s fault. Eren picks fights he cannot win. That’s not bravery, that’s stupidity. Still he’s likely right in that Eren will struggle and give his captors hell whenever he can. Though considering how effective Eren usually is I don’t expect much of a result from that. They already chopped off his arms to stop him turning titan. They could just cut out his tongue to stop him giving them any lip. Through considering this series so far, what else would they fill the time with if they can’t let people talk?

Alright I am being mean as this episode wasn’t a bad one by any means. I am sure fans are still eagerly awaiting the next development but I do think the way Attack on Titan tells it’s story is flawed. Nonetheless the soundtrack and production values are carrying it despite the story not really going anywhere fast. You may argue that a lot has happened over the season but I ask whether any of your questions from the first season have been answered? For the answer on that is surely no. Instead we got a lot more questions. Seeing as we got Reiner and Bertholdt to represent the unknown enemy, we might finally get some answers when they are confronted by Eren next episode. Still I think that this story will hold it’s cards for quite a while yet.

Posted on 23 May 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Uchoten Kazoku

For a show that has a knack for little moments, this episode is one of the rare times that Eccentric Family goes for big dramatic emotional route, and manages to knock it out of the park. Soun, in the end, serves no more purpose than a pawn in a chess. Wicked all the way, but died abruptly and meaninglessly. Everyone might just brush off and say that he deserves it, but for once I can see his real struggles there. Running away from tanuki society, he aims to join the Friday Club to hunt down all the tanukis that “betrayed” him, but all his efforts and careful schemes are all taken away by spurring moments by Yasaburou, who obviously doesn’t even try, nor care at all, but getting everyone’s approval instead. Irony is there. The natural order is there, too. At the end of the day, doesn’t matter if they’re a hero (like Soichirou) or villian (like Soun), ultimately they are just a weakling tanuki who died helplessly at the hand of the human. Soun doesn’t end up in hot pot tanuki stew, but his death is equally vulnerable. In fact, building him up as evil and ruthless make his defeat even more tragic.

But before that resting moment happened, we have quite an eventful day out of Yasaburou; the more amazing when you notice that last week and this week occur in a span of one single day – where he enjoyed a public bath, went through hell, watching Oni wrestling… and back, enjoyed mixed onsen (boy, that IS truly heaven), having crazy dinner party afterward. Just like what I gathered from the new movie “Life is Short, Walk on Girl”, also written by Morimi. The whole movie happens in a span of a single night, but the events feel much longer than that. This is on purpose, of course, since what is a better way to highlight the enjoyment of busy carefree life by crazy events one after another? It is the magical realism not only by its settings that consists of many mythical figures; but also by warping a sense of time that feel much longer than it supposed to be.

And that wrapping sense isn’t only limited in time, but in space as well. The Eccentric Family has various impossible physical interior places that looks much grander than it supposed to be. Last few weeks we have Nidaime’s cozy apartment that situated in a roof of a small, washout building; we have a hole in a shogi board that actually has a secret room inside it; we also have a painting that have a whole world inside its own; this week they might have its greatest addition: a three-stories train by Jyurojin whom its first story is his office, second story is a dining room and the third one has an open-air onsen with bamboo pathway to boost. The interiors clearly don’t fit with the exterior outside, but that is again intentional to highlight this magical world.

Jyurojin emerges himself as the real threat this episode, especially now when Tenmaya joins him again as a faithful servant. You dare to defy the Friday Club purpose? You get a gun pointed right at you by him. You want your dragon stone back because you couldn’t get in the club? No way in hell. When he mentioned he’s scared of the Painting of Hell because it reminds him of his own inside he seriously gives me a chill. The banquet night, likewise, isn’t your normal banquet. Things quickly go out of hand when Yodogawa sensei declares his love for tanuki (“Love is something you have to force on others”, haha), and protests tanuki stew hot pot tradition. Jyurojin quickly ties him up and “force on his love” to sensei by shooting him in the face, and he means business. Yasaburou then saves his friend by expelled himself from the Thursday club in order to change sensei mind, but Bentei gets the clue and asks him to join the Friday Club instead, meaning he will eventually get to eat a delicious tanuki hot stew. Benten has been very playful this week (guess she’s really in a good mood). That decision also means the total exclusion of Soun, and our Yasaburou is the stone that cries in this episode.

I’m glad that Kaisei has an excellent moment this week, and it appears she will get more spotlight now, as next week will be her episode: “Ebisugawa Kaisei’s Secret”. I have a feeling her secret will be dark (maybe she’s adopted by Soun?), and I hope whatever the secret is, it doesn’t involve with the death of Soun. After all, she takes her father’s death surprisingly calm, doesn’t it?

Posted on 19 May 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sakura Quest

This week in Sakura Quest, we have core members lashing out at each other, and some more nice interactions between other members – which in fairness is all I could hope for. You know a cast is well developed when you can pick any two main characters and they still have their unique chemistry together. This week is a second half of a double episode about filming production and as far as “second half of double episode” entails, it does its job magnificently. Not only Sakura Quest manages to detail the activities of assisting the shootings from the girls and make it fun, they also flesh out the core casts. Maki’s material in particular is one of the strongest development they’ve succeed so far. What I’m not confident about is the larger narrative, which I guess we have to see how it will turn out next week.

Turn out the main reason for Shiori’s hesitation at the idea of burning that old house is because she spent her childhood memories in that house. She’s used to play around a lot as a kid with the owner of the house, now seeing that place is about to burnt down make her feel nostalgic. That flashback swells me up with emotions with the remains of forgotten memories: several marks of her height charts as a kid, the once-cozy house now empty and worn out. I always have a soft spot for ruins and empty houses (you can feel those places are immune from the passage of time) so I’m totally on Shiori side in this matter. That argument between Yoshino and Shiori is great, and I would love it if the show can continue pushing characters arguing with each other. No fight no glory as they say. Yoshino makes a jerky move by pointing out that Shiori was selfish- reluctant to burn this house but “don’t say a thing” when the crew mentioning other houses. Well, let see how Yoshino REACTS if this was the house she grew up with for Peter sake. I feel that sacrificing your own feeling in service of the shooting is way too easy for the filming crew. First, they don’t aware how difficult it is for the locals to follow their demands (even emotionally) and second, that house wasn’t originally planned to burn down to begin with. Maybe no one like to ask for more trouble, given that the relatives already give it a go but if I were Shiori then they can burn that house down over my dead body.

Maki is given a motivation push over what she wants with her acting job. While last week was all about her self-doubts towards her career, this week is Maki’s journey to find the love for acting all over again; all through tutoring a complete amateur about acting, find the passionate young versions in every corner of the town, and realize that she has the supports from others over pursuing what she loved, even if the supports are often subtle and low-key. I particularly love the sequences of her remembering her childhood, with lovely insert music and very great visual that highlighting the sad truth between her now and her passionate young self before. Again, her whisper ”It’s got to be something you like, or you won’t get far, kid” hits a bit too close to home. I appreciate the mature theme of Sakura Quest here, about the very real struggles that now, as someone who also in his 20s, have to deal with. Maki soon picks up her spirit, playing double for Moe in an overdramatic burning house scene (which was a crap decision by the movie crew for me, burning the house for just one take in such dangerous scene? There’s a high chance that she fails and what’s ever going to happen if that is the case? Burn another house down?), but she succeeds beautiful and moreover she enjoys herself to act again.

This episode also deepens the chemistry of our cast, especially between Maki and Ririko, my two favorite characters. What Maki says to Ririko ta calm her nervousness is great, but their easy atmosphere when they talk to each other about their old school and The Snow White’s tradition plays are what really sold me on their relationships. Not only give the core cast some internal conflicts to work with like in Yoshino and Shiori’s case, Sakura Quest also give the cast an opportunity to improve each other by using one character’s strength to help out the others. Ririko also has another cute scene when she was slowly moving sideways with her hands covering her butt. You have to see it for yourself but it was a solid joke for me (didn’t I mention I like the humor of this show?).

While last week I was a little frustrated with the direction of this show, Sakura Quest, at its core, still pull many moving and honest treatments to young adult’s insecurities and struggles with their life, something that anime medium don’t tend to do too well. If there is a movie on top of my head that resembles this show in terms of tone and the theme about the insecureness of twenty-something characters, it has to be Garden State. Moreover, while the plot does feel force at times (the crew guy talking to Shiori about Yoshino’s request is incredibly forced for example), it’s those quiet moments that help carry the emotional weight. Scenes like Maki seeing her childhood as I mentioned above, Yoshino glances over Shiori during the burning house shooting, or Shiori quietly watching the ashes, speaks more volume than any word can convey. Sakura has its charms and I will stick with it for a while longer, at least until the end of this season.

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