Posted on 8 January 2018 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

It’s been three weeks since my last 3-gatsu post, a gap owed in part to the break the show took around New Years’. Perhaps it’s because of all that time away from the series, or maybe it’s due to the massive difference between these two episodes, but I had a tough time connecting with the characters here. Episode 33 revolved around the quirkier members of the 3-gatsu family, and came out mostly comedic, while its follow-up focused solely on Hina’s bullying drama, and came out mostly not. And while I consider myself a 3-gatsu anime apologist, both of these offerings were disappointing to me. Episode 34, in particular, is my least favorite adaptation of Hinata material yet, featuring a multitude of distracting shot choices and some phoned-in character animation. Shaft’s unmistakable, borderline-invasive style is often the first criticism that people lob at this show, and though I usually view that as a matter of taste, I have to join their ranks this time.

That’s probably enough negativity, yeah? On to “Where the Sun Shines/Small World,” which featured appearances from plenty of fun side characters, both shogi players and members of the Shogi Science Club. Though the most significant developments in this episode were the reveals of two upcoming matches, my favorite moment was a clash between Gakuto and Shimada. Their contrasting personalities were showcased not just visually, but sonically, as well. Listen to the full band that plays behind Gakuto’s mountaineering-based “special attacks,” and then the quiet woodwind performances that underlie Shimada’s calm, calculated moves. That switching of styles makes their face-off a lot funnier, but the show quickly moves to a more reflective mood after Shimada’s victory. He’s dehydrated and exhausted after the win, but also shivering with excitement at having secured the right to fight Yanagihara in the Kishou Championship title match. This mix of the comical and the emotional is where I like 3-gatsu best.

The impending Shimada/Yanagihara battle is only second in importance to Rei’s upcoming match, however. The Chairman has arranged for his young star to go up against Meijin Souya in a commemorative match, all for the sake of maintaining their sponsors’ interest in shogi. Though the event’s planning may be a result of financial concerns, just hearing the news stuns Rei to his core. He looks up to Souya as though he were a god, and because of the parallels that 3-gatsu has drawn between them in the past, we know that this will be the most important match of the series thus far. Later, Rei becomes even more flustered at the outpouring of support that he receives from his school club after earning the Newcomer King title. All of this is enough to drive him to tears midway through the episode, but even that emotional scene failed to get a similar reaction from me. Attached to this show as I am, it’s hard to put my finger on why that is, so I’m not going to spend a lot of words trying. I will note that Rei’s realization (that happy memories can always be called upon, even if your circumstances are unhappy) is a powerful one, though.

“Black Mist/Light” is much bleaker than what came before, what with the breakdown of Hinata’s teacher and the stress placed on Akari as her makeshift parent. The two characters who shine most brightly here are Hina herself (whose determination to “win” against her tormentors is almost feral), and her new instructor Kokubu-sensei, whose zero-tolerance approach to bullying marks a turning point in this story. Kokubu’s sudden need to juggle two separate classes leaves him totally overworked, but I’m guessing he was assigned to Hinata’s class because of his ability to handle these sorts of situations. Unlike his predecessor, he doesn’t let Takagi (or her mother) run him over, which is great news, but the anime’s treatment of his character is too worshipful compared to the manga. Still, this episode had its bright spots, most notably the love shared between the older Kawamoto sisters. Akari is still plagued by worries about her suitedness as a caretaker, which have even started to invade her dreams. The image of her mother on a hospital bed, crying and apologizing for leaving her oldest daughter with such a heavy burden, is hard to watch. But Hinata, full of appreciation for her sister’s appearance at her parent-teacher conference, manages to be strong for the both of them. As Rei pointed out weeks earlier, it’s thanks to Akari that Hina has that strength of character – I just hope she takes those words to heart before too long.

Posted on 18 December 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

3-gatsu has been on the road for a couple weeks now, with much of the action taking place in Osaka and Kyoto rather than good old Tokyo. The results have been mixed, although neither of these episodes were bad by any means. It’s the two-part chapter “Kingdom” (which aired last week) where my issue really lies – nothing about it grabbed my eye or my heartstrings until the final scene, where Rei found Hinata by the river on her school trip. The bullying arc has been and continues to be spectacular, but fetching more water from that well right after an underwhelming final shogi match didn’t do much for me. Luckily, “River Scenery” from the subsequent episode elaborated on their meeting in Kyoto, which was just what the show needed. What it didn’t need were the two flashbacks in episode 31 that recapped conversations from just ten minutes prior… but rather than obsess about that dreadful technique, let’s address the elephant-sized shogi player in the room.

His name is Yamazaki Junkei, and he’s a buff, bald brute of a man. At least, that’s what 3-gatsu would have had you believe during his game with Rei. Their clash in the finals of the Newcomer Tournament begins with his towering appearance, gets smothered by a wall of loud, somber strings, and suddenly ends with Rei’s victory. I’m happy that our boy fulfilled his promise to Hinata by winning, but we hardly learned a thing about Yamazaki before or during the game to make it interesting for non-shogi players. It’s true that he took advantage of Nikaidou’s illness and timed him out in the semifinals, and my guess is that Umino-sensei gave his character as little attention as possible so we would root against him, but the result of that strategy was an underwhelming title match. Take Rei’s semifinal game against Hachi as a point of comparison – that scene gave us a full picture of the opponent’s character, and was much more involving for it.

Yamazaki’s backstory doesn’t come until “Silver Wings” in episode 32, but taken on its own, it’s a terrific slice of a series that excels at these sorts of character portraits. Though the man in question is merciless enough to push a sick child to the brink to keep his title, he’s not without a heart. If anything, his heart is too big and too weary to yield to a kid whose passion he can’t understand. Frustrated by his own lack of improvement, and fearing Rei and Nikaidou’s reckless dedication to the game, Yamazaki sees the two boys as “insane.” But it’s Nikaidou himself who inspires a change in his opponent’s attitude, as just before collapsing, he smiles ferally at Yamazaki, a sign of recognition from one competitor to another. That image is burned into the older man’s mind, and it seems to me that it rekindles his love for shogi (as indicated by his study of Rei’s game logs). That renewal is further symbolized by Silver the pigeon’s return, and the blooming of the chrysanthemums in his garden, which he gives to Nikaidou as a get-well present. Though Rei’s “Go to hell!” was appropriate, given the dirty way that Yamazaki sneaked into the finals, I was quite happy to spend these eleven minutes learning more about the man.

All of this brings us to Rei and Hinata, who have grown closer than ever after this week. I’m really appreciating 3-gatsu’s slow approach to romance, which it’s safe to say is the plan for these two characters at this point. Hina may not transform in a blushing, stuttering mess every time Rei is around, but it’s clear that she relies on and appreciates the great lengths that he goes to where she and her family are concerned. As for Rei, his momentary lust for Akari seems to have been a one-time thing, and his strongly-worded dedication to Hinata is looking more and more like love. It’s not the kind of love you find in supernatural high school love triangle series (thank anime god for that), but the kind that’s tentative and selfless, and doesn’t complicate their friendship. It’s especially nice that Rei knew where to find her based on his own history of isolation on school trips, and that he took a page from her grandpa’s book and praised her for hanging in there despite her troubles at school. Watching Rei learn from others and use his own struggles to empathize with them has been some of the most believable character progression in anime this year.

Posted on 3 December 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

Look at me, posting this review just hours after episode 30 showed up online! This must be the start of a new chapter in my blogging career, and my reward is a pretty good episode of 3-gatsu. I say “pretty good” rather than “great” because, as is often the case with this show, one of the manga chapters it covered was much better than the other. Thankfully, the team at Shaft seemed to recognize this, because they devoted a lot more time to Nikaidou’s story than to the dialogue between Rei and Hayashida-sensei. This is the second of these student-teacher chats that we’ve seen this season, and while they’re important for establishing Hayashida as a fatherly presence in Rei’s life, this one wasn’t as strong as the original. The close-ups, head tilts, and repetition of past jokes (countering “monster parents” with other monsters) were particularly distracting this week. Really, the only thing I gleaned from this scene was the way in which the Kawamotos’ father disappeared – he found a new girlfriend, abandoned his family, and started a new one somewhere else, just like that.

There’s more that could be said about “Midday Moon,” but the Kawamoto family wasn’t the real focus of this episode. That honor belongs to Nikaidou, who some 3-gatsu fans cite as their least favorite character due to his role as a loud, hotheaded rival character. If there were ever an episode capable of changing their minds, though, it would be this one, which explored his history as a shogi player, his struggle with chronic illness, and his fierce competitive mentality. Shimada is the perfect conductor for these flashbacks due to his status as Nikaidou’s shogi “brother” and his recent mentorship of Rei. Even more than his present relationship to their characters, however, his initial dislike of Nikaidou is what sells “Adventures” as a complete story. Shimada first dismisses him as a rich kid looking for kicks, resenting his wealth because of the poverty in which he himself grew up. But after perusing his semifinal match records, he realizes Nikaidou is an obsessive student of shogi, and that his sickness must have created the conditions where he’d be able to fully devote himself to the game.

Knowing this about Nikaidou, it’s easier than ever to draw a parallel between him and Kiriyama, his arch rival. Rei was essentially forced into shogi in both his biological and adoptive families, and continued to use it as an unhealthy mode of escape even after becoming independent. For both boys, the game functions as something of a curse, but it’s also a life preserver in an ocean of pain both psychological and, in Nikaidou’s case, physical. He can’t bear the thought of anyone going easy on him, because for him, shogi is the only contest in the world where he’s on a level playing field with everyone else. That’s why he begs Shimada not to tell Rei about his illness – not only does he want to avoid burdening his friend, but he also wants to maintain their rivalry as a means of personal growth. As I watched this scene, I remembered Kyouko’s past strategy of telling Rei about the strained family life of another shogi player, hoping to sabotage her stepbrother by generating sympathy for his opponent. The hurt that Rei experienced in childhood makes him scared of hurting others, so it seems Nikaidou was on the right track by concealing his condition from his best friend.

The question of whether Rei can still treat Nikaidou as a rival is left unresolved here. Shimada reveals that his opponent in the semifinals forced a second game after a threefold repetition, which has a direct equivalent in chess. In that game, such deadlocked board states are typically avoided, but can be intentionally pursued to manipulate the game clock, which appears to be what Nikaidou’s opponent had in mind. Whether he purposely took advantage of the boy’s poor health isn’t clear to us yet, but either way, Rei has an opportunity to avenge his friend in the finals. That match will function as a landmark moment in Rei’s shogi career, but Shimada is more interested in whether he can still be merciless Nikaidou, as his opponent was. And although Rei is determined to win his next match, he dodges Shimada’s question, which signals to me that he now sees Nikaidou in a totally different light. Even if the finals end in victory for Kiriyama, it’s going to take a lot more than a trophy and a promise of vengeance to bridge the gap that has formed between them.

Posted on 26 November 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

Before I launch into things here, allow me to express my apologies for the double episode review. 3-gatsu is the type of show that ought to receive weekly coverage, but I’ve been busier than usual during the past month. Among my list of preoccupations was a marathon of the 3-gatsu manga, which I couldn’t stop myself from reading once the bullying arc began. Before I knew it, I was caught up, and the agonizing year-long wait for new material had begun. How great is it that there are still fifteen episodes left this season to help tide me over? I can’t wait to watch each one, and hopefully blog about them not too long after they’ve aired. (For anyone wondering how the manga compares to the show, I’d say it manages to be even more emotional despite the limitations of its format – I can’t recommend it enough.)

For several episodes now, Rei has been thinking about what kind of help he can offer to Hinata during this difficult period. He has a plan to support her financially, should that become necessary, and he’s made himself a constant presence in her life, keeping the promise he made by the river in “Ladybug Bush (Part 2).” But now he’s approaching the problem as directly as he can, by asking her to describe her school life little by little. Rei even uses his connection with Hina’s schoolmate (and crush) Takahashi to provide her with an escape route during her unbearable lunch hour. Though Takahashi is certainly doing her a favor by springing her from that oppressive environment, he misses the mark in another way. As the two of them play catch, his hard throws cause Hinata to yelp in pain, but he denies that the pitches were fast enough to warrant that response. He can’t understand that stinging sensation because he doesn’t share her perspective, the same way that those who minimize the negative effects of bullying don’t realize how damaging it is. Maybe I’m reading too far into the scene, but it seems like the show is presenting this solution to Hina’s isolation as a temporary, imperfect one.

Of course, Takahashi does more to help than just injuring Hinata’s glove hand. He remembers Chiho, who once gave him half of her lunch during a school trip, which gives Hina an opportunity to talk about her. He also invites Takagi (the head bully) and her friends to play catch, only to intimidate them by using his full strength, sending a clear message that his friends aren’t to be messed with. But his involvement in their class backfires when the jealous Takagi (or one of her flunkies) scrawls an insulting message on the chalkboard, and their teacher sidesteps the issue by calling Hinata “uncooperative.” The look on her face at the end of “Letter” closely resembled one of Kyouko’s bitter facial expressions, which is a scary parallel to consider. Hina describes the anger she feels in the episode’s most striking segment, which featured violent colors splashed on a dark background, closely matching her desire to beat the bullies in her class to a pulp. Despite her bottled-up rage, though, the conclusion to this scene was more sad than anything else, as we learn that Chiho is now at a rehab center, having failed to attend her new school. For all that Hina has had to endure, she’s proven to be resilient, but the same treatment was enough to break her sweet friend.

Even Akari is a victim of this awful situation, facing feelings of inadequacy as a mother to her younger sisters, and dreading the inevitable parent-teacher conference that will be arranged if Hinata continues to keep her chin up. Though Rei managed to find the perfect words to reassure her several weeks ago, he’s so moved by her plight here that he loudly proclaims his support for her before God and several dog walkers. Akari charmingly accepts, which apparently causes the younger boy’s heart to thump, but it isn’t just his heart that responds; as Rei rides the train to his next shogi match, he recalls that seeing Akari smile against the sunset like that caused a bolt of desire to shoot through him. This poses a sizeable predicament for him, since he already cares very strongly for her younger sister, though not in an overtly romantic sense. It’s hardly a surprise that Rei would feel something for Akari – not only has she showered him with attention and care since they met, but she’s a beautiful woman with a highly desirable body. The natural way that this attraction was introduced came as a relief, since there are plenty of other series that would linger on the subject for too long. We’ll see how willing the show will be to explore it as the season progresses.

Rei is forced to shut down that line of thinking before his match with Hachiya, AKA the Irritated Prince of the East. All of his ticks, from tongue clicking to fast, aggressive play, really pulled me in during their showdown. 3-gatsu is generally good at making shogi interesting for those of us without any knowledge of the game, but it slipped a bit during the back half of its first season. For me, this was a return to form, but the most interesting thing about Rei and Hachiya’s match came after its conclusion, when Yanagihara and Smith declared them to be totally alike. Like Rei, I didn’t agree with that assessment one bit – at least, not at first. During their match, Rei assumes Hachi to be totally self-absorbed, because he doesn’t think about how his noise-making affects his opponents. But despite Rei’s willingness to consider the needs of others, especially in this arc, he does have a tendency to focus inwards, likely because of the isolation he experienced at school and in his second home. This intense introspection can make him blind to the feelings of others, especially Nikaidou, whose friendship he often takes for granted. There will be an even better example of this limited perspective in a few episodes, though, so I’ll put a pin in this theory until then.

Posted on 15 November 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

This episode of 3-gatsu felt like a companion piece to the heart-wrenching drama of the previous week. In fact, the “Feelings” chapter from this installment, where Rei asks Hayashida-sensei for advice, was a direct continuation of the same chapter from last time. Until this point, I felt that the series had approached the subject of bullying very naturally, without lecturing or feeling like an after-school special. There was a bit of preachiness to Hayashida’s dialogue this week, though it would have been tough to avoid that sensation, based on the straightness with which Rei asks for “anti-bullying measures.” Listening to the teacher’s speech on the difficulties of dealing with bullying, one gets the sense that this chapter was a sort of soapbox moment for Umino-sensei. Given the overall strength of this arc so far, though, I’m willing to handwave its less subtle bits. Plus, I admire anyone who integrates the social issues they care about into their art, especially when the end product is actually good.

There were two elements of Rei and Hayashida-sensei’s conversation that made it a success on a level apart from “bullying is a tough nut to crack.” The first was the humor, which came as a relief for me, since Shaft’s brand of comedy doesn’t always find its way to my funny bone. I credit a lot of the laughs to the keyboard track that starts around 1:40, and again at 7:30. Combine its playful Wurlitzer melody with some goofy voice acting and inventive visual gags (Hayashida turning into a wooden statue springs to mind), and you can generate a lighthearted tone that balances the chapter’s heavier moments. The second, more significant element was the show’s flirtation with the Rei/Hinata pairing, as seen through Hayashida-sensei’s eyes. In my last 3-gatsu post, I mentioned that the two characters are quite suited for one another, but that was in regards to their temperaments and personal histories. The three year difference between Rei and Hina makes it difficult to think of them as romantic partners, and Honey and Clover was famous for its couple-related curveballs, so I don’t want to make any serious predictions at this stage. Hayashida is certainly convinced that Rei has a crush, though, if his disappearance into the rushing river of adolescence is anything to go by.

I appreciate that “Confession” continued to explore the effects of Hinata’s bullying on other members of the Kawamoto family. Akari carries one of the heaviest burdens in the 3-gatsu universe, having acted as a mother to her sisters since the age of 17, and for this to be added to her plate must be nearly unbearable. She feels even worse after comparing her own defensive, questioning response to Someji’s reassuring one, which isn’t an observation that a lot of other series would make. Poor Akari – she declares herself “no good” because of her failure to comfort her baby sister, but she’s the most traditionally “good” character the show has to offer. Thankfully, Rei draws an inspired parallel between Hina’s courage and the values with which Akari raised her, and gives her a much happier reason to cry. Even though Rei made such a bold commitment to Hinata last week, I think he actually demonstrated more growth here by attending to this subtler form of grief. Finding the perfect words like he did in this episode proves that Rei is on a path of real transformation, and I plan to accompany him until he reaches its end.

Posted on 12 November 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

During the bizarre cold open of this makeshift two-parter, the thought flashed across my mind: are we getting one last bit of frivolity before the other shoe drops, or is wackiness the new normal for 3-gatsu? Over the last couple weeks, we’ve witnessed a lot of exaggerated behavior from characters like Hiyashida-sensei, Nikaidou, and even Rei himself, and as much as it pleases me to see everyone enjoying shogi and loving life, I’ve been waiting for the series to take a dramatic turn. I’ll even confess to experiencing a sinking feeling as Rei’s self-proclaimed rival engaged in his usual hysterics during “June,” wondering if the rest of this season was going to be more of the same. But if you’ve seen both of these episodes (which you almost certainly have, since this post is weeks overdue), you already know that my worrying was in vain. From the moment Akari opened that door to reveal her sister’s mismatched shoes and teary eyes, this show put me through an emotional wringer as powerful as anything from its first season. 3-gatsu, I’m sorry I ever doubted you.

Apart from the inherent injustice of Hinata’s circumstances, what makes her story particularly effective is how strongly Rei can relate to her. He’s been bullied for a good portion of his life, whether it was being labeled a robot on the class chalkboard, having a classmate refuse to sit next to him on a field trip, or getting cans full of rocks chucked at his head. As a quiet, introverted kid, made more quiet and introverted by the death of his biological family, Rei was a perfect target for bullying by exclusion. The show even refreshes our memory on the subject just before telling Hina’s story, so it’s easy to identify her withdrawal at home as a symptom of bullying. When the truth finally comes out, Rei is horrified to realize that the pain he once felt is now being visited upon someone who has always supported him. And when Hinata bolts from her house, filled with shame and self-loathing, there’s no question of who will follow. The only thing he manages to say before sprinting after her is, “I will.”

Bullying in Japan is often characterized by its intensity, and the scope with which it’s carried out. Entire classrooms can ally themselves against individuals in the name of conformity, and even teachers may be complicit, as they are in this case. Though Hinata’s sensei refuses to acknowledge the abuse occurring just under her nose, kind-hearted Hina could never abandon a friend, so she sits with Chiho during lunch and sticks up for her in class. But Chiho eventually changes schools, and the bullies shift their sights to the closest remaining target. After Hinata recounts all of this to her family, she begs through her sobs for Akari to tell her what she ought to have done to save her friend. But later, as she confesses her fear and sorrow to Rei on that bench by the river, she starts on the long journey of putting herself back together. With big Ghibli tears dripping down her face, she raises her voice and screams in defiance of her classmates, teachers, and culture that what she did was right.

That was the moment where I lost all control. How could Hinata, who never goes anywhere without a smile, be reduced to this scared and angry state? How could the incompetents running that school allow any of this to happen? The girls who stole her shoes could work their whole lives and still fail to pay for the hurt they caused her. I was furious – but Rei, despite all the bullying he’s endured, had a different reaction. His promise to Hinata, to stay with her and to spend the rest of his life paying her back for her kindness, closely resembled a marriage proposal, and his commitment felt just as strong. He even got down on one knee before making his big declaration, which I’m sure was a conscious decision on Umino-sensei’s part. When Rei described the feeling of being saved by Hina’s courage, it struck me that both of these characters are uniquely positioned to help the other. Hinata’s good nature allows her to extend warmth to people who dwell in dark places, and Rei’s familiarity with that darkness enables him to lead others out of it. This episode, more than any other, has convinced me of their suitedness for one another, and of my love for this series. May it continue for years to come.

Some other thoughts about these episodes:

  • Though Rei’s initial reaction by the river is one of dedication and compassion, he later thinks to himself that he wants to rip Hina’s tormentors limb from limb. Episode 26 even closes with him wracking his brain for a way to improve her situation, so we haven’t reached the end of this story yet.
  • The symbolism behind the ladybug in “Ladybug Bush (Part 3)” was a stumper for me, perhaps because of the language barrier. I did a little Googling, and it turns out that aside from the general superstition of ladybugs bringing good luck, they can also represent impending happiness, or the idea that one’s troubles have come to an end. Hinata would welcome either possibility, I’m sure.
  • Someji’s commendation of his granddaughter’s courage warmed my heart (and what a fantastic lesson for little Momo), but even more moving were the contents of the dinner that Akari prepared for her little sister: deep-fried chicken, potato salad, and cream stew, all of Hinata’s favorite foods. The fictional moments that touch me most are always the ones where people are good to each other.
Posted on 30 October 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

Ask the average 3-gatsu fan who embodies the heart and soul of the show, and they’re likely to say Momo, the precocious preschool-aged sister in the Kawamoto trio. Another popular pick would be Hinata, whose sensitivity and unflagging support for Rei make her an invaluable member of the cast. Yet despite their big fanbase and importance in balancing the series’ tone, we hardly got a glimpse of them in the last episode, and they were nowhere to be found in this one. Though I haven’t read the manga, I’ve heard that Hinata will be the focus of a big arc in the near future, so I guess Umino-sensei is saving the ever-popular sisters for that moment. In the meantime, we got to reconnect with plenty of familiar faces in this episode, including Nikaidou, Smith, Gotou, and Kyouko. How nice to be reunited with friends!

I talked a lot last week about Yanagihara, who became one of the show’s most captivating characters practically overnight, and he cemented that feeling for me in “Chaos.” The man really commands a room, shutting down Rei and Nikaidou’s antics and forcing others to accommodate his need for space as the Meijin title match continues. Many other pros tolerate the eccentricities of their fellow shogi players, but Yanagihara puts the game above all else – including people, one suspects. Not even Gotou, whose imposing frame and viper’s tongue cause people to tread carefully around him, can phase the old master as he studies the Souya/Kumakura match. Still, there’s a chill in the air during their scene together, with mournful strings blaring in the background as they size each other up. Based on Rei’s dislike for Gotou (who is sleeping with his adopted sister), one might assume this tragic background track is meant to foreshadow a conflict between the prodigy and his most hated opponent. It seems to me, though, that Yanagihara and Gotou will be the ones sitting across the board from one another before too long. Their personalities and schools of thought are too different not to clash with shogi as a metaphor.

Contrary to my prediction about the Meijin match, Kumakura managed to take it to a seventh and final game. Given the way Souya checkmates him to protect his title, however, it’s safe to say there’s still a sizeable skill gap between the two. I was impressed by the way the show handled this scene: the match commentator and nearly every pro in the shogi hall couldn’t make sense of the move, but after thinking for a while, Kumakura gracefully admitted defeat, stunning nearly everyone. Apart from the two men engaged in combat, only Yanagihara realized it was mate in 17 moves, and only after playing it out did the truth become obvious to everyone else. 3-gatsu isn’t exactly a top-shelf psychological anime, but I’m always intrigued by the way it portrays its 9-dan players as existing on another plane of reality. Souya typically looks so fragile that a strong gust might blow him to pieces, but the wind in his world blows where he commands it. The show keeps giving us peeks into Shimada’s home, where the former challenger appears to be playing along with the current TV broadcast, never leaving his house or contacting anyone. If getting swept 4-0 can do this much damage to a man, how much anguish must Kumakura be experiencing, having tasted victory only to get blown back by Souya’s superhuman foresight?

Even with such a pivotal match taking place this early in the season, the highlight of this episode was what we learned about Gotou after he left the shogi hall. Rei’s biggest problem with the man isn’t just that he’s sleeping with Kyouko, but that he’s having an affair with her, and for anime-only fans, that fact has stained our perception of his character… until now. In a very tender hospital scene, the show reveals that his wife Misako is in a coma, and that the skincare products Kyouko bought for him were intended for her. Kyouko knows this, and asks if she ought to accompany him during his visit, but despite their continued intimacy, Gotou doesn’t want a lover’s comfort while visiting the woman he married. The show generates nothing for pity for these characters here, including Kyouko, whose feelings of loneliness and paternal abandonment drive her to show up at Gotou’s apartment later that night. She sweet-talks her way in, overriding his protests in a brief moment of levity, but the mood becomes sorrowful again as Kyouko observes his physical and emotional exhaustion. Forced to put her selfishness aside, she finds that she can’t get angry with him, which leaves her with only their shared pain to consider. This type of emotional gut punch is one of the things I love most about 3-gatsu, but deep down I’m waiting for the moment when Rei must contemplate his own pain and loss once again, since that’s what drew me to this show in the first place.

Posted on 26 October 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

When 3-gatsu no Lion first aired in the fall of 2016, there was a heated controversy among manga fans about the appropriateness of Shaft’s adaptation. The show was undeniably faithful to its parent material in terms of story, but its abstract visuals and quirky mood shifts gave it a different flavor than its predecessor. Although Umino-sensei personally requested that Shaft handle the TV series, the decision was met with resistance by part of her fanbase, some of whom swore off the anime completely. Happily, I approached 3-gatsu last year with no prior expectations to weigh me down, and it became one of my favorite series in recent memory, and a virtual lock for my top 10 list in a couple months. Despite my love for the work, I opted not to read the manga during the offseason (a self-imposed restriction I’ll be sure to lift one day), so these blog posts will be written without knowledge of future events. I also want to say a quick thank you to Mario, who has graciously allowed me to continue where his coverage of the story left off six months ago. Cheers, mate!

After the previous season concluded on such a hopeful note, I was curious about which version of Rei we’d get in this opening episode: sadsack Rei or social Rei. Despite his clear growth leading up to this point, 3-gatsu hasn’t been afraid to isolate its main character as he struggles to break free of his anxiety and depression. The show opted to continue where its hopeful season finale left off, though, so we got to spend a delightful half hour with a friendly, optimistic Rei. Seeing him in a teaching role within the new Shogi Science Club was really satisfying – some of the best teachers are driven to give to others the type of care they never received, which I sensed from him in this opening scene. His style of instruction was gentle, but occasionally urgent, as if knowing just when Noguchi (the mustachioed senpai of the club) needed a push to continue with his frustrating shogi training. I really enjoyed the back-and-forth between these two, since Noguchi is much more mature than Rei, but maintains a willing attitude as a student for the benefit of his new friend. Their relationship isn’t just a one-way street, either, with the elder boy walking Rei through the process of creating homemade ramune candy, which he eagerly brought back to the Kawamoto household to share with the girls.

The lack of screen time given to Akari, Hinata, and Momo was a little disappointing, but the majority of this cast is interesting enough to have entire episodes structed around them. This one cut between the club’s viewing of the Meijin title match, the match itself, and the private musings of two legendary figures, who I’ll talk about in a bit. The current Meijin, Souya, is an unstoppable force in the shogi world, but it’s his opponent who dominated their scenes together. We only got a glimpse of Kumakura Kengo last season, but we received much more than that here, as he positively devoured the sweets that were brought to him during the match. The peculiar shots of delicate cakes being crushed, all set to a heavy electric guitar riff, were about as Shaft-y as you can get in a scene featuring two adult men eating. This was the one spot where the show’s visual presentation was distracting for me, but it was certainly a memorable way to convey Kumakura’s strength and intensity. Stern-faced and looming in stature, Kumakura appears to present a difficult obstacle for the Meijin, but given Souya’s place as 3-gatsu’s “final boss,” I doubt he’ll struggle too long before putting away his challenger.

The first of the two legends I mentioned earlier is Jinguuji Takanori, the chairman of the Japan Shogi Association. We’re already familiar with the fun-loving, responsibility-shirking chairman from his multiple appearances in the previous season, but his character took on a different dimension in his conversations here. The man sitting across from him was Yanagihara Sakutarou, whose name I only found by Googling, since it wasn’t mentioned in the episode. I really appreciated that 3-gatsu went for naturalism during his first appearance, rather than putting a title card on screen to inform us of his name, date of birth, JSA rank, blood type, and favorite foods. From the dialogue between these two men, we learn that Yanagihara is set to face Souya in a future tournament, where even the reigning shogi champ will occupy the role of challenger. Yanagihara is nearing 60, but his wry sense of humor is very much intact; though he confesses to fearing the Meijin, his tone verges on disrespectful as he describes Souya’s talent. The chairman even labels his playstyle as “mocking,” an accusation which his friend protests only half-heartedly. Based on their playful, layered conversation, I’m already looking forward to the moment when Yanagihara steps into the ring to face his destined opponent.

Posted on 20 March 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

We get to an end of 3-gatsu run but it feels more like a new beginning. Like what I feared last week the last episode doesn’t really have a conclusive ending, instead offers us the new semester of Rei and his childhood and his shogi, which in all fairness are the weaker parts of 3-gatsu. In part I understand it’s tricky to make a conclusive ending point when you’re in the middle of the story, especially for a slice-of-life drama like this one, and the series does attempt to bring some out of order material to shows us how Rei has maturing up to that point. Fortunate for us, they greenlighted the second season which will air in this Fall season (I will be there blogging) so I’m not that dread over this “ending”; but they totally could turn last-week episode into the final episode and I’d be completely content with it. Okay, I’m done rambling now so let see what this episode has offered us.

Rei starts a new semester and again he finds himself unable to make new friends. Hayashida-sensei (becoming my favorite teacher that is) suggests him to form a shogi club, so that Rei can make new friends and he can still be Rei’s adviser. In all honesty, I would love to see his shogi club instead of the “shogi science club” and I find that students have zero interest in the old game kind of stretching it a bit (I’d join myself, especially if I know a professional player is the club president). But the merging of the club make sense narratively: if you want result, you need to take action. Rei still wants to go back to study because he wants the feeling of not running away, and lately he actually enjoys himself a bit more so I’m sure joining with those guys will be a great experience for him. Also, Noguchi’s moustache is great.

While this first half is generally light-hearted, the second half delves into Rei’s personal problems from way back: the feeling of a lone wolf that doesn’t feel belong to anywhere and scare that the sit next to him will forever be empty. That little trip in his childhood underlines his loneliness. He hides himself from everyone and eating bento all alone, looking at the ants and reading shogi all by himself. There’s also a sad feeling concerning his childhood, so he devotes himself to shogi. With him, shogi is not only the place to belong, but also the place that offers him his companions, offers him the seat where he knows for sure would be taken by his opponents. Then we have a metaphor of he’s riding a train of shogi, with all the shogi players tagging along into the great shiny shogi paradise. But here lies an interesting bit, the show has constantly showed us that the path of shogi is a path that people keeps wandering ahead in the wasteland-like, lonely and suffered; here we have the totally opposite visual metaphor. I guess it just depends on perspective, on how you choose to look at it huh?

In the end, I still have plenty of good time with this episode but it isn’t among its great ones, let alone be worthy enough to be a final episode of this season. I mean, there’s no three sisters, no Kyouko, even no shogi match this week. Normally I would give the show a proper full review, but since it’s confirmed that we will have a second season, plus the fact that I believe with this kind of story we’re better reviewing it as a complete story, I will hold off my full review for now. Overall, I still believe Shaft did a great job of adapting it, and while the shows still have some tonal issues and problems of adapting too faithfully to the source material, the show really shines whenever it digs deep to the characters and fleshes out their relationships. Rarely a show can write characters that deep and heartfelt so I feel overall pleased that we have the next season to look for. Until then.

Posted on 13 March 2017 with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

I have a serious recall on the first episode while watching this episode. Like that premiere, this episode is divided sharply into two half, one focuses on Rei with his shogi life, the other pays attention to three sisters and Rei; and also like that premiere, each half is compelling on its own and brings out the feels that make the whole episode so rewarding. I could go so far to say that this episode IS the warmest episode of 3-gatsu we have encountered yet, to the point that this episode’s warm-heartedness might be the best way to end this season (but then again, we still have 1 more episode). Almost every character has a happy, joyful times. Well, they pretty much deserve to have a rose-color moments once in awhile, especially after weeks after weeks of depressions from Rei and then Shimada.

Coming back to Shimada’s hometown for a shogi festival, which many fun events like Human Shogi or 100 Move events, Shimada can’t help but feeling that he let people in his town down. He expects the old folks would cheer him up, tell him it’s alright despite him losing straight matches, and that make him feel even more guilty. What he doesn’t expect is that the old people in the town don’t even really mind about that title match. They love him and support him in different ways, not by the mere win – loss that Shimada always pushes himself to. The last part when the old men tell him to not rush forward make him realize that he has been pushing himself a little too much. The support from his hometown is always meant to give him strength, not as a pressure that he needs to achieve. It’s great if he can succeed on the road he choose, but either way they will always love him all the same, because simply he means much more to them than the shogi master title. And it’s so warming to hear the extend he goes to provide his old folks a community that they can share time together, playing shogi, eating food and getting daily necessities back home.

Seeing Shimada have a moment of relaxation and smiling with his folks are rewarding on its own, but Rei again is pretty in sync with the place as well. “I felt connected to it”, this might be one of those rare times that Rei really feels like he belong to somewhere, and it’s great to see him passionately talk about Shimada in front of the reporter. Although threatened by the “unexpected” rain, the Shogi festival turns out to be a lot of fun. Harunobu fits this festival so well and you can really see the pride of all people emerge themselves to this events. Every Human Shogi player has their face high up, every person in the 100 Move event waits excitingly, yet patiently to play with the professionals. This might be strictly my own preference but this kind of events I prefer much better than the professional shogi tournaments. This is the kind of events where fun is FUNdamental, where everyone just need to enjoy themselves to the fullest and worry about nothing else.

And I’m glad the Kawamoto sisters are back. I missed them so much to the point that I wouldn’t really mind if the entire second half just focus on them and their own little cute problems, be it their struggle over the new sweet creation, or their bigger struggle of staying away from sweet cake; but then it ties with Rei in the end so well that it brings the most heartfelt moments in this already-solid episode. In this episode, they recalled the sisters’ mom again with such achingly fond memory, and that tender moment really tugs my heartstring. The comedy in the second half mostly works well, Momo again steals the scene and Hina still shines with her directness persona, and I swear if they selling that Puffy Daruma I will be the first in line to try it. In the end, I get out of this episode feeling wholly satisfied and warm, something that I never expect the show could achieve so flawlessly. Now if only the last episode could give me that satisfaction. And a conclusive ending point (with the next chapter named “The New Semester” though, I do have my worry).

CHANGE USERNAME
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: its back up now though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Its front page has server issues from time to time sometimes for hours.
SuperMario
I just read some manga on kissmanga a week ago, is the site down already?
Niello
Well to be fair batoto is down because of the site owner personal reason.
Kaiser-Eoghan
So Mangahere, mangachapter, baoto, animea seem to be gone and kissmangas front page is down , mangafox is slow, whats next to go down....
Niello
I don't currently see an anime this season that really stands out from the others. Right now if I have to rank them
1) Miira no kaikata
2) Kokkoku
3) Sora yori mo tooi basho
4) Koi wa ameagari no you ni
5) Takagi-san.
Not counting Devilman Crybaby since it's already finished.
Niello
@Eoghan I love Urobuchi and still find the Godzilla film weak.
SuperMario
I just looked through the nominations for the Crunchyroll Anime Awards and to my surprise, it's a pretty solid lineups. Find myself agreeing with most of their choices there
AidanAK47
Actually forgot about it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't know why you don't just read kara no shoujo 2 instead.
AidanAK47
And Himawari is actually boring me. It's proving difficult to push myself though just to see where the point that makes it highly regarded comes in.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: In the end I was pretty much curious about it.
AidanAK47
Yep, that's it. Gonna stop discord displaying what I play from now on. It's weird when people comment on it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Now my current rankings: 1. Devilman
2.Junji itou
3. sangatsu
4. Cardcaptor sakura
5. Pop team
6. Evergarden.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*Aidan
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm joking obviously, but I am surprised to see you playing Himawari Aiden.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh Aidan you and your lolicon visual novel you =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Alonaria: Shin Godzilla had the evolving godzilla thing and that freaky ass final shot too, it also justified itself quite well i think by showing how relevent he is today, given the nuclear thing and that it drew on the Fukushima incident essentially.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Alonaria: Thats a far better and shorter way of putting it than I.
Alonaria
I wish I'd just waited for the other parts of the Godzilla movie trilogy to be released. As it is, I'm just going to remember it as "that incomplete movie." And the character designs kind of blurred together for me, which was really disorienting.
Anonymous1746949
Oh psgels is back
Kaiser-Eoghan
But I've seen other Godzilla things so I pretty much was supposed to see this anyway.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or you know you could always take what I said with a pinch of salt, because you know....I don't get on with Urobutcher.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The idea behind it is definately cool and a different spin for the franchise though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Maybe I was held back a bit by the cgi or the mediorce voice acting.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But I'd need to see its followup before properly assessing it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Godzilla often makes for silly films, but lke alot of silly older films the silliness and seriousness combine without clashing, this one is too Poe faced .
Kaiser-Eoghan
I saw that Godzilla anime film, I'd describe it as watchable in parts but far too caught up in setup mode and an unlikeable protaganist , it could go somewhere with what it raised at the start but this is an example of a first film in a trilogy that suffers from being unable to currently stand on its own.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I generally feel that Itou's stories have a winning track record but theres exceptions, Uzumaki and Gyo in manga form struggle toward the end and the first episode story the anime chose to adapt is, while fun one of the weaker offerings.
Alonaria
Honestly, the shorter stories have been more effective at getting a reaction out of me, though. I actually didn't really enjoy the first episode's first story, mostly because I found the MC too obnoxious. :.D Maybe because my younger brother chased me with a bug once and it was really unpleasant. XD
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: It wasn't just it coming out of her mouth, but when they were stamping on them too.
Anonymous1743747
@Kaiser: Yah, I was horrified for like 5 seconds but the other characters made me crack up. :.D
Kaiser-Eoghan
Although it was mixed in with laughing my ass of eventually.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Of all the Itou stories to be un-nerved by, its the second half of this third episode oddly that does it for me and I never get uncomfortable during anything .
AidanAK47
@Anon, We are working on it.
Anonymous1742736
Are you planning on making a top anime of 2017 list?
Amagi
Yeah Mash is one of the few good ones it seems.
Amagi
Oh damn, good that you remind me, I didn't pick anything yet. But I guess I will go with Altera, considering that some of them don't look that good and I own her anyway. Would have wanted the Scat one but the drawing looks weird.
AidanAK47
Which Bond CE did you pick for the 2 mill? I went with the Mash one. Only only whose artwork I liked.
AidanAK47
Might settle for making Bryn my endgame lancer though.
AidanAK47
As I said in my Apocrypha post, I have no interest in any version of Jeanne. My top priorities for my endgame team is Isekander, Scathach and assassin Shiki. And Shiki is a welfare so only need to worry about the other two.
Amagi
Yeah, I was considering to keep rolling for the new 4* at first but I really want Jeanne Alter and she's coming soon.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, I tried rolling for Karna and got nothing. Though I think Bryn is better. I plan on rolling one more time with the saint quartz we are getting to try for NP2. Though we do have the valintines event coming.
Amagi
@Aidan: Same here, just got Brynhildr. Even though I already got Karna last month. But I wanted her, nice design, finally a single-targed 5* and she's even one of the few servants related to my country.
KTravlos
@SuperMario. The contemplation of the death of humanity, and the loneliness, both were very disturbing to me. Kinda like thinking of my grave.
AidanAK47
YANDERE GET. Bryn's mine baby.
AidanAK47
Gonna try rolling for Brynhildr tomorrow. Bit annoyed they chose to translate it as Brynhild. I mean it's not incorrect but her name is far more recognisable as Brynhildr
AidanAK47
@Amagi, The grind wasn't that bad for me. Mordred carried me for it. Though I managed to get Siegfried in the gacha despite not being on rate up. I admit that the event was rather lackluster. Story wasn't that fun and the whole saber restriction was a pain. Also gonna take me a while to readjust to regular damage.
Amagi
Man that FGO Saber Wars event was annoying. I am happy finally I have 2 mio. altrium now and am done with it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Reminder that netflix Godzilla anime is later today.
Amagi
Damn I didn't noticed that ankle band of the little demon from the intro scene of FranXX 01, now I feel stupid.
Lenlo
Yuasa is great! Ping pong and Tatami Galaxy are still some of my favorites
SuperMario
Oh fuck, the lead singer of the Cranberries passed away. I literally just listened to their music yesterday. Damnn, sad news
SuperMario
@Kaiser; thanks for considering me but I believe Wooper is much more a Yuasa's fan than I am
SuperMario
Far out!!!
SuperWooper
Yuasa will be answering questions on Reddit's anime board on the 20th.
SuperMario
@Niello: what do you mean regarding Yuasa?
SuperMario
@Travlos: I agree that Girls Last Tour is a special little gem, but in what ways it's disturbing?
Niello
Holy cow, Masaaki Yuasa AMA!! What magic is this?
Niello
Meawhile, Japan took a different approach and we ends up with a bunch of .hack rehash and diving more and more into escapism. Until we eventually got isekai and then it just spiraled into a sea of mediocrity.
Niello
While that opened its own can of worms, at least it opens up element about making ends meet, managing irl relationships, earning extra income for a poor family, getting cheated etc.
Niello
in the characters real life just fine. Something more a long the line of Net-juu but more technologically advanced. And I would say that plenty of those have been superior to Japanese online game and isekai story shenanigans. That said, it doesn't mean that those don't have their own kind of traps they usually fall in. A bunch of those instead focus on the aspect of making money off of games.
Niello
...Getting stuck in a virtual reality game and being transport to another world that happens to be like a game are completely different though. I don't know what is it with Japan and getting stuck in game plots considering that there are loads of other game-base Asian novels that came before it that manage story lines where they manage to tell compelling stories in game while balancing what happen
KTravlos
I finally finished Girls Last Tour. What a profound, fluffy and disturbing masterpiece. Bravo.
Amagi
Yeah. I feel the world swap is pretty much pointless when real life isn't relevant anymore. It's just a stupid as hell excuse to combine fantasy wish fullfilment with self-inserts, which is why these main characters tend to be 29 by now, just like the big part of the otaku community.
Lenlo
Of those you listed, no, I dont think they get explained? I mean, SAO did, but I dont think that falls into your category.

Thats why I liked .hack//sign over alot of more modern game Isekai. Also .hack//sign did explain what happened to Tsukasa.
Amagi
Considering how bad most of these are I wouldn't wonder if they wouldn't even bother with an explanation and just end it with the characters being happy in that game world and that's it. Or magic and the whole harem gets transported into reality at the end because power of love and such.
Amagi
I have no problem with a sci-fi fantasy mix, I liked .hack//sign for example, but it annoys me that such an incredibly bizarre situation gets never explained. Or maybe it will but it never happened so far because none of these LNs was ever finished and concluded yet. I just wish to know how they explain that.
Amagi
I mean all those shows in which the character just finds himself stuck in a real world that's (coincidentally?) the same as the game he recently played. Be it Overlord, Death March, Log Horizon or the 300 other series with that premise.
Amagi
Some thing that always bothered me about game isekai for which I never got an answer so far: did any of those series ever end and/or explain how the warp has happened and why the MC is in the game? - Not talking about .hack, SAO and such where the action of getting trapped is part of the premise
Niel
@Eoghan - Btw, Kokkoku isn't a time travel. it's stasis, apparently. Looks very promising so far. Though if I am to trust the manga score, it's shit.
Niel
But is Toradora really slice of life? As far as I can see it's straight up romance.
Lenlo
And Mario, ill rag on SOL all I want! :P

Wooper, its true good shows transcend genre, as there are still some like Toradora I like, but those are exceptions that prove the rule so to speak.
Lenlo
@Niel, yeah I base my potential % on the odds something gets/stays good.
AidanAK47
I am of similar mindset about Franxx. I want it to get better but I don't really see it doing so. Unless the other characters get a majority personality boost or the MC stops being a plank.
Niel
XD
Kaiser-Eoghan
I confess....I only sat through just over half an episode of aldonoah.
Niel
Since it's Trigger, I will give the benefit of the doubt. I'm just very skeptical about this whole formula.
Niel
The way I can see this series improving is through world building. And if other aspects are going to improve too, it's going to revolve around that.
Niel
It leaves about as much impression on me as much as the first episode of Aldnoah did, and I dropped that one straight away. The character chemistry doesn't look like it will go places that's not cliche. The gimmick doesn't seem like it has much potential either.
Niel
So you're all betting it on "this is going to get better". I mean, I hope it gets better. Though right now this feels more Kiznaiver than Kill la Kill or LWA.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'd nominate Mario to do the devilman review as he's the most immediate Yuasa fan to do it and Bam is too awol to write it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The cute girl shows just bleed and blend in my mind now, same with the isekai shows.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Devilman, my show of the season, unless after the rain ends up having some emotional wallop.
Kaiser-Eoghan
So for me its looking like: Junji itou, Cardcaptor sakura, keeping up with sangatsu, wait and see on amegari . Not watching a time travel or trigger show and I remain unable to sit through Mahoutsukai .
Amagi
The story itself is generic so far but so are most Trigger series at the beginning so not sure. Maybe it will stay weak, but in general I prefer series that start with the weaker episodes and get better and better over time over the many series that use up all of their budget and trump cards in the first episode and drag on after that.
Amagi
I really love Trigger's esthetics and their characters. I am happy they're more often involved in non-trigger-only productions because I honestly think that most of the stuff I enjoyed about FranXX was heavily influenced by them.
SuperMario
@Nielo: Franxx's first ep was stellar for me. Storywise, it's lackluster (and I see the similar in tropes between this and Beatless) but production-wise it's excellent
SuperMario
I think I just keep watching it on a weekly basis. Still trippy as hell
SuperMario
Okay, I just watched second episode of Devilman Crybaby and it's still pretty good.
Nielo
By the way, what's up with Darling in the Franxx? I thought it's a very weak first episode.
Nielo
@Lenlo: Slice of life isn't my thing either, and I usually avoid series set in high school.
Nielo
@SuperMario: Takagi-san is cute, I'll admit that, but since I already read the manga it's not new to me. Sora Yori is good, but it's not particularly cute. I found Hakumei to Mikochi and Yuru Camp very boring. Haven't got the chance to watch Mitsuboshi Colors or Gakuen Babysisters but I don't think they could be more cute than Mii-kun.
SuperWooper
HOT TAKE: Genre is irrelevant. What matters is whether a show is good.
SuperMario
Don't knock off MY genre Lenlo. It's one of the reason I got into anime in the first place :)
Lenlo
Im not saying it doesn't do what it sets out to. I just don't think what it sets out to do is all that... great.
Lenlo
@Niello, Slice of Life was never my Genre in the first place :/ I typically avoid them. I have my own life to deal with and already graduated high school, why would I want to deal with a melodramatic anime highschool, is my line of thought.
SuperMario
@Niello: okay, let's see:Takagi-san (the titular character), Mitsuboshi Colors, Gakuen Babysisters (Toddlers!!), Hakumei to Milochi (tiny girls) and two more slightly more mature but equally cute: Sora Yori and Yuru Camp's casts
Nielllo
@SuperMario: I'm sure this is where our definition of "cute" parts way, but I'll ask anyway, what are those 5 shows?
SuperMario
@Niello: seems so because I can eaisily pick 5 more shows that are cuter, and better than Mummy this season ;)
Nielllo
...So I suppose I'm the only one who's kinda bored out by a lot of the slice of life shows that's trying to be cute this season and only perked up by the Mummy anime because it's actually do what it's meant to do and be legit cute.
Lenlo
I am interested in Koi, but still have concern about the relationship itself.

@Vonter, the mummy anime would be better as short vignettes together I feel.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Koi amegari is surprisingly tasteful, subdued and pretty.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*to where
Kaiser-Eoghan
Try as I might, my love of kyoani tv anime has largely evaporated did where I no longer want to bother at this stage, I'll just wait and see. I'll just stay quiet on the franxx anime, theres little value in me trying to get through a trigger work at this point.
SuperMario
I get the exact same feeling with Takagi-san. It's pretty good on what it does but 20 minutes of the same thing for a whole season doesn't sound that promising
Vonter
The chibi mummy anime
Vonter
It's a shame it isn't a shorter 10 or 5 minute series, I think that format would make it shine more, since it does what it's trying to do.
Amagi
Speaking of it, I liked the second episode of Kokkuko or whatever the name is even more than the first one.
Amagi
I really have a problem with all these shows that rely on one single thing, joke, shenanigan or whatever. Be it something cute, some certain kind of interactiong or whatever. It doesn't matter how good it is it will bore me with episode 2.
Lenlo
Like, yeah, the mummy was cute. But the cute became rote/bland really quick. There has to be more than "cute" to be worth watching for more than a single episode to me.
Lenlo
@Niello, I was harsh because its not aimed at me. I wanted to drop it 5 minutes in, kept up for the post, then was thankful it was over. There wasnt anything overtly bad about it. Its just there was nothing good either.
AidanAK47
To be fair it's not as if we are lacking cute in this season.
In fact it's in danger of inflation.
SuperMario
@Niello: yes, the mummy is cute, the show is cute but beside that it's pretty mediocre. That show in particular is the only show that I have the damnest time to give it a potential rating.
Niello
It's not even down because of legal reasons, since the site pull down contents that are lincensed. It's down cause it's too much for the site owner to manage. Much of it also have to do with too many bots, which comes back to how a lot of other sites are relying on batoto.
Niello
@Masky: Not enough manga titles are getting translated. Batoto is the site scanlation groups basically rely on, and where other aggregation sites pull their content from. No batoto no obscure titles, a big blow to small scantation groups and one big manga/scanlator community down.
Niello
Why are you guys so harsh on the mummy show? It's so darn cute. Give it some credit. If a comedy show can be good because it does comedy well I don't see why a show ike Mummy can't be good if it can make people go "aww".
Masky
I don't really know why that is the case, maybe marketing budget and UI friendliness when done right? :P
Masky
Eh, wouldn't say it will kill manga industry. I mean, more and more official methods of reading manga online is starting to pop up and legit channels to pay to get access to manga can surprisingly enough harm free channels to get manga.
Masky
Anyway, I do find it funny how how the isekai character dies can be so meaningless that is joke in most of them
Niello
Batoto is going down, how this affect the manga reading is going to be interesting. Hope it's not slowly dying.
Masky
(at least that one, besides forgetting to introduce what the heck is gimmick besides generickness, acknowledged how most of otaku mcs shouldn't erally want to get transferred to fantasy world since they never get to see how their favourite mangas end :P )
Masky
Anyhoo, it gets annoying since its not just isekai being cliche, sometimes is just them being kind of badly written(or at least adapted to manga). Like, I found one new isekai today, but I have no idea what its gimmick is(from what I understood, its that "cute companion" that character gets is hideously op because mc didn't spefy cute girl when he asked god manager dude for cute companion)
Masky
Slime one is one of better from the more generic ones weirdly enough :P I mean I still wouldn't call it good, but at least MC character isn't god tier, just top tier and it has sort of village building simulation feel to it. Plus at least naming things giving monsters more powers is something funny regarding jrpg mechanics
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or alternatively the car was on a boat with the character or parents in it and the boat and car were hit by a falling plane lol
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its always "car accident" that sends the characters to another world or in harem cases "Lost parents due to car crash", for christs sake doesn't anyone die in out of control plane or speedboat crashes anymore, at least make it a motorbike....
Nayrael
Ah sorry, should probably not have touched the colors...
Nayrael
Trust me, Isekai is better when it doesn't try to be imaginative. When it tries to be original then... Isekai with a Smartphone... Isekai where the MC turns into a Slime... and my favorite: Isekai where the MC became a Hot Spring popular with sexy girls.
Masky
Assuming "new" things can happen under the sun
Masky
Anyhoo, I do wonder what the heck will be next "popular genre trope that will become so overused cliche that everyone groans whenever show uses it even if its actually good show"
Masky
Like, seriously you could do really interesting story variant on isekai with that if done right. Suddenly becoming characters you have roleplayed would be trippy as hell espicially if one of characters went really into detail with backstory while one of them is just "Bob the fighter, he likes fighting" and has to deal with what happens when you assume life of such a person
Masky
But I wouldn't honestly be surprised because of my anger issues related to amount of unimaginative isekai :P Though I guess trpg based one would be more imaginative in comparison
Masky
I'd assume not since I assume tabletop rpgs are much more niche than jrpgs in japan
Masky
So has anyone yet done isekai where guys getting transferred were playing trpg? :P
KTravlos
quite happy with most recent Attack of Titan manga chapter.
SuperMario
Alright, one more impression post to go before we really get on to new season
SuperMario
@Kaiser: yep, I just fixed it. Thank you
Kaiser-Eoghan
*than just the reviewers names
Kaiser-Eoghan
A slight problem with the coding there in the newest impression, showing code gobbledeegook rather than the reviewers names above their impressions.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I'm seeing it on 2nd of February.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Late screeners generally leak shortly after the uk release, so maybe early Febbruary it'll be online?
SuperMario
@Kaiser: yep, Phantom Thread. Could be Daniel Day Lewis's final performance. Is it available online already?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Did you know that Paul Thomas Anderso8n has a new film coming out? Also I found out there is a Polish semi-knockoff of purple rose of cairo.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Awesome, just got myself an invite to a secret private torrent site =)
K-Off
@Kaiser When I was in University, I was a waiter at a Korean-owned Japanese Sushi restaurant with a kitchen staff of entirely Mexicans with poor English. The owner, while he provided the rest of his staff with small meals during our lunch or dinner shifts, never game any to the kitchen staff. The guy even ranted to a customer about how "lazy" or "ignorant" they were.
K-Off
Buses are pretty common in America, even outside the major super-cities like LA, NYC, or Chicago. It's public rail you're thinking of that we don't have much of outside the cities.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I brought up the racisim/aunt story wondering if anyone had any horror stories about where they worked?
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Featured Posts

After the Rain – 02 [Rain Drops on Green Leaves]

It has been exactly a year since I last blogged you, noitaminA shows, and this time again it’s another romance drama. Unlike Scum’s Wish last year, however, Ameagari has one simple premise, but it executes the idea with such grace. This second episode is even stronger than the first, setting the stepping stone for Tachibana […]

Violet Evergarden – 02 [Never Coming Back]

I’m thankful that this second episode plays out much quieter and more subtle than the first, because I’m not a fan at all with the grandeur approach of the first episode. This makes the second week of Violet slightly better than last week, but I still find myself not totally satisfied with the whole experience. […]

Kokkoku – 2 [The Second Moment]

Hello and welcome to the 2018 Winter season! This time, we have an interesting little time-based drama called Kokkoku. It has mystery, it has cults, it has dead-beat parents and apparent god-like beings. Lets jump in! To start, a quick blurb about our characters. Personally, I like them so far. They are all flawed and imperfect […]

A Place Further than the Universe – 03 [The Follow Backs Don’t Stop]

“I could just die right now” That line, spoken by our new member, Yuzuki, bookends this week’s Universe. It marks the shift in the new girl’s character growth. Last week, the Expedition girls mentioned they have a plan to raise fund, right? Turns out it’s not the mother, but the young girl herself, is used […]

Junji Ito Collection – 02[Fashion Model, Long Dreams]

After the first episode started off as a black comedy, I was worried that this series may suffer the same problem as Kino’s Journey in that the weaker stories in his work would be chosen for adaption. Lucky this does not appear to be the case but there is another problem which is not quite […]

Mahoutsukai no Yome – 13/14 [East, West, Homes Best]/[Looks breed love]

Hello and welcome to the new year! New Year, a new Cour for Mahoutsukai no Yome, this time with slightly more plot. These past two weeks have been a bumpy ride of Mahoutsukai, with plenty to talk about. So let’s jump in! To start off, the new OP is terrible. The music isn’t as good […]

A Place Further than the Universe – 02 [Kabukicho Fremantle]

I’m glad that this second episode addresses straight out all my worries from the first episode: the actual implementation to make that trip a reality, because boy, it’s no simple matter. Universe apparently does its research, telling us exactly places they need to go, the initial trip ahead and the amount of money they need […]

3-gatsu no Lion – 33/34 [Where the Sun Shines…Light]

It’s been three weeks since my last 3-gatsu post, a gap owed in part to the break the show took around New Years’. Perhaps it’s because of all that time away from the series, or maybe it’s due to the massive difference between these two episodes, but I had a tough time connecting with the […]

Dies Irae – 10/11[Einherjar/Self-Destruction Factor]

Quite late in covering this one though out of the three shows I covered for the fall season my level of interest in this series has more or less evaporated. Truth be told, while this is a episode review of ten and eleven, i honestly cannot even remember what happened in episode ten. I think […]

Latest Reviews

In This Corner of the World (2016) Movie Review – 90/100

In this Corner of the World (for the purpose of this review, I’ll refer it as “Corner”), is the truest slice of life drama if you ever encounter one, in that it’s a slice into an ordinary life of an ordinary girl during the War period. That speaks into the very first strength of Corner, […]

Houseki no Kuni (Fall 2017) Review – 92/100

Make no mistake, Houseki no Kuni is the most ambitious anime project of the year. Not only because it’s an entirely CG project (and make a damn good use of it, mind you), or because of its narrative scope that at once strange, grand and beauty, but also in its very conception in their production […]

Fate/Apocrypha Anime Review – 64/100

I was quite excited for Apocrypha and in the so called year of Fate adaptations, it looked to be the crown jewel. Sadly, partly due to lacking adaption and the source lacking in areas, this anime turned out to be not quite the jewel I thought it would be. It’s hard to call this a […]

Kino’s Journey -The Beautiful World Anime Review – 73/100

One of the surprises of the year was to see the return of Kino’s Journey, a very well regarded and more unique anime among those deemed classic. Many, myself included, were very much looking forward to the return of Kino and her talking Motorrad. Though due to some factors this series doesn’t quite live up […]

Girls’ Last Tour (Fall 2017) Review – 86/100

Girls’ Last Tour falls within my favorite new trend that emerging the anime medium over the last decade: a dark moe anime. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has almost extinct, our two girls wandering around the world in their kettenkrad looking for food and shelter. If it sounds a bit bleak […]

Two tales of War: Reviewing The Heroic Legend of Arslan and Altair: A Record of Battles

It would not be an exaggeration to say that my favorite type of anime is the political-military epic. This comes partly out of my profession, I study war and politics, but also my hobby, as military and political history is something I enjoy. When it comes to anime there is a clear sub-category that can […]

The Night is Short, Walk On Girl (2017) Movie Review – 92.5/100

“How many decades have passed since our drinking contest?” “It hasn’t been that long. It was only a few hours ago, this very night!” That gap in time perceiving plays a significant role in Night is Short. For you see, it all depends on how our perception of the surroundings and time itself can affect […]

Ballroom e Youkoso Review – 65/100

In the weeks leading up to the summer 2017 season, Ballroom e Youkoso was one of the most buzzed-about new series. Produced by the Production I.G. team responsible for the smash hit Haikyuu!!, and set to air on Amazon’s brand new Anime Strike service, the series had no shortage of promotion or hype behind it. […]

Inuyashiki Review – 80/100

Do you know what the average age of an anime protagonist is? Neither do I, but I’d wager its in the upper teens. For obvious reasons, most anime focus on high school and have high school aged protagonists with similarly aged problems. Its not often that we get a good older main character, who has […]