Posted on 19 September 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Moyashimon



The Noitamina timeslot and sequels don’t go well together. For a long while there were only three series that got a continuation: Bake Neko, Honey and Clover and Nodame Cantabile, the series that made the timeslot as popular as it is today. And then a Moyashimon sequel got announced. Yes: more antics with the guy who can see germs. But did they make a good use of this?

Well, here is the thing: this sequel is fun, it’s nice to watch, and it definitely has its merits. But it does have its flaws as a second season. The big reason is that it doesn’t really seem to know what it wants to do, and therefore rather forces in a story about arranged marriage and Paris. A transition that doesn’t happen smooth at all and makes this season feel more like a random side story than a proper sequel here. The germs are pretty much side-lined through the entire story, even though they were the main selling point of this series. I really feel like Noitamina could have spent its time better than on a sequel for this series.

But on the flipside, this still is a very enjoyable series. Apart from the germs, there is another thing that this series has that sets it apart, and that’s its chemistry, and this sequel has plenty of that. Caracters always have something interesting to talk about, whether it’s about fermenting, wine or relationships, and this show is at its best whenever a lot of characters are together doing all kinds of stuff at the same time. It brims with life when it does that so even when the story gets distracted on the unimpressive arranged marriage, the characters manage to retain your interst with their quirks and goofs. This season does a very good job of fleshing them out.

So if you’re a fan of Moyashimon and want to see more of the characters, then go for it because this show definitely delivers on that. However, this second season is no reason to pick the series up anyway if you haven’t seen it before. It’s definitely got some nice storylines, and the newly introduced characters have some good stories. The trip to paris was nice and fun, but ultimately this is just a glorified side-story. It’s nice that it’s there and all and definitely not boring… but did they really need to spend an entire slot on Noitamina for that?

Storytelling: 7/10 – Despite the many criticsms above, all of Moyashimon’s problems can be boiled down to just one big issue: Haruka’s arranged marriage is not fit to dedicate an entire season to, and yet that’s what they did. The side stories are very well told and do make this series worth watching, but the main thread throughout the entire series is dull.
Characters: 8.5/10 – This series understands character chemistry and brings a lot of it here. Characters are well acted and voice acted making them fun and interesting to watch.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Still has the same visual style as the first season. Meaning that at first the visuals may not seem like much, but when you start thinking about it the shots become surprisingly well drawn and creative. Yes, I just edited this in at the last moment.
Setting: 9/10 – Lots of interesting trivia about fermenting and wine brewing. The bacteria may be reduced to mere narrators, but this show hasn’t lost its educational value.

Suggestions:
Honey and Clover
Nodame Cantabile
Spice and Wolf

Posted on with categories: Moyashimon

Hey, currently posting from an outskirt town in Cornwall, England and resting a bit from my trip to Napels, it sounded like a good idea to check out Moyashimon’s conclusion. In the end, it turned out that the climax of the series was last week. This instead was an aftermath. Everyone returned to Paris and all issues got settled. Haruka blew off the marriage and is back again like nothing happened.

Now, this episode did have what made me originally like the series: a lot of good chemistry between the different characters. Everybody got the chance to talk to each other and sort things out and the way in which it happened was quite down to earth. I just dislike a bit that some things about Haruka were a bit side-lined. Most notably, her future. This episode did bring up that she now lost any reason to stay at the school. That’s fine, but it made it seem like she was going to stay there forever. There was no mention of her future plans, or any kind of ambition. I think that’s a missed opportunity, and it’s what makes this series inferior to Nodame Cantabile and Honey and Clover, the only other two Noitamina-series to have gotten sequels.

Ultimately, this was fun, and Moyashimon’s sequel did get the Noitamina spirit, but in terms of structure it’s not a Noitamina-series. This second season feels more like a random side-story that got stretched into an entire season. To me, it doesn’t really feel like this was a necessary sequel, and while it was fun to watch, I would rather have seen a new series instead. I mean, the first season was inconclusive as hell, but it had its charms that way. The way in which they tried to stretch it out by moving Haruka to Paris feels… forced and not in the spirit of Noitamina by having series that are short but sweet.

There actually are only a few Noitamina-series that would benefit from a second season, I think. Hourou Musuko would be one to pull it off, because there still is a ton of potential left in that series, both if they went for the prequel and sequel route. That’s also the beauty of that series, because it still works as a series without that sequel. Apart from that, Toshokan Sensou with its movie will also benefit quite a bit, and I can also see Kuragehime 2 work when done well. Apart from that the only other kind of sequel that I want to see is a series set in the same universe as Fractale, but actually makes use of its setting.
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on 7 September 2012 with categories: Moyashimon

For as much as I’ve ranted about this sequel, I do have to say that this was one of the best episodes of Moyashimon here. Finally this series gets down to business and the drama that results from it is actually pretty good here. With this I also realize the main problem of Moyashimon’s sequel: it took too much time building up.

That thing with Hasegawa has been going on for the entire season now, and aside from perhaps the things around Hazuki, everything was vaguely leading up to her talk with her fiancée in this episode. The thing however is that that story isn’t really that complex so it feels like in terms of storytelling, it could have been done much more concise, save from the fact that we’re now in france and that they needed an excuse for that. The conversation she had with her fiance in this episode standalone was very good, but I can’t help but feel like it is a bit of an anti-climax in the grand scheme of things and how the build-up doesn’t really come together here.

On the other hand, I really, really liked Marie’s story with her father. It already was an interesting spin on the story about succeeding your family’s business, but this episode threw in a very nice bit of irony about her father not liking alcohol and basically devoting his life to something he doesn’t enjoy due to the pressure from his father. The relationship between the two really got its time to shine here.

Oh, and I also quite liked how easily Takuma and Kaoru made friends with the bodyguards.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 30 August 2012 with categories: Moyashimon

This episode had something: chemistry. It’s the kind of chemistry that drew me into the second season of Moyashimon in the first place, and that had been unfortunately absent for a string of three or four episodes. I’m glad to see it back again.

It’s hard to describe what made this episode work, but the variety had a lot to do with it, how everyone split up in three groups that all did their own stuff, and how whimsical this all happened. There was one part romance, one part comedy and one part character-study and they went togehter really well. The animators also were quite good with their camera angles this week, which also really helped in bringing the cast alive.

I feel that this episode was really needed to keep this show from getting stale. The story from the blond girl about inheriting her family’s business: it was different from the usual things. You know, parents pushing their businesses down onto their children without much more detail. The story of her father and how her entire family is involved: I like that. Especially after watching so many episodes in which Haruka’s story was nothing really more than “girl gets forced to marry against her will”. That also got a bit more detail. It still is a bit stale compared to the wine girl, but at the very least it isn’t so damn cliched anymore.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 23 August 2012 with categories: Moyashimon

I liked this episode. This really had the creativity I had been looking for, and the creators actually found a way to tie in the bacteries with its focus on the wineyard that most of this episode took place in. The new girl that the characters ran into started off a bit generic, with how she has been forced to take over the family wine business despite her will, but as the episode went on her reasons for this were quite refreshing: instead of having no interest in wine making, she had a lot of interests, enough to know that her work was not going to become appreciated by the right people. That’s quite neat.

Another big thing of the past episodes wsa that the chemistry between the different characters didn’t really work. Last week was the best example with just the three guys together causing trouble… and not much else. This introduced a new haracter who may whine a bit, but does get some interesting reactions out of them, not to mention bringing Haruka back in a coincidence that I actually enjoyed a lot.

A few nit-picks: I’m not sure whether some of the antics of the bacteria when they start to play narrator actually work. I mean, most of the times they’re just stating the obvious or stalling for time. Just get on with it, or add some more detail to your explanation of where wine is made: the part you’re actually good at. Also the fanservice in this series remains a bit weird. I don’t know many French girls, but do they often run around in strange clothing and strip in front of people they only met a day before?
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 16 August 2012 with categories: Moyashimon

Only three monthsago I was a weekend in Paris for a holiday, so it was kindof nice to see it in animated form. And some parts of this episode definitely rang home to me, like how on one hand it profiles itself as this hip charming city, yet still is full of merchandizing stuff, how the hotels are small and how things are pretty expensive. There was one part that I found a bit fishy: the creators handled the language barrier right, but how did they know the exchange rates between euros and yen instantly?

But still, there is something I’m really wondering here: what’s the point? Why is Paris important fo this series? All the characters did in this episode was eat out expensively and spend money. There were hardly any microbes, plus it doesn’t really add anything to the premise, setting or characters. Haruka’s whole wedding has been going on for nearly the entire season, but has much changed?

On top of that, this episode also wasn’t really fun, it wasn’t surprising, it wasn’t entertaining. It was just… there. I’m really starting to wonder whether my original assessment for this sequel was right: why was it made? What does it have to add? Right now this feels like the Paris-hen of Nodame Cantabile: sure it has its moment, but was it really necessary? There are virtues in being concise, you know?
Rating: 3/8 (Mediocre)

Posted on 9 August 2012 with categories: Moyashimon

Hmm, this school festival arc in the end didn’t really work. It had a purpose: raising enough money to get to France, but the way in which it did it was uninspired and stereotypical.

The thing is that in the first episodes of this season, I praised this series for nailing college life. This episode… doesn’t really feel like college. It’s all so overblown, one-sided and riddled with bad innuendo jokes, portraying half of the campus as a giant pervert. The idol thing in particular was just bad.

What’s more is that this series is starting to feel a bit lazy. I mean, I can understand a lack of germs around Haruka, but within that auction, there wasn’t a single germ to be found, which is a little weird if you ask me. It just seems to me like the creators forgot to put them in or something. It’s pretty serious for a show to forget its main gimmick like this…

The one fun part of this episode was the boxing match. That brought in some creativity at last, and it feels fully in line with the school itself.
Rating: 3.5/8 (Enjoyable)

Posted on 5 August 2012 with categories: Moyashimon

Ah, another school festival arc. The second series this season that has a school festival that takes up multiple arcs. Unfortunately, this is such an overused backdrop that every series that uses it needs to have something that makes it stand out. Moyashimon comes with mexican liquor and housewives.

To be honest, this was probably the weakest of Moyashimon Returns so far. For one, it was building up to a joke that will only arrive next week (a joke that seems pretty lame, by the way) so very little happened, but the cast seemed to miss its usual chemistry. I also think that Misato and Kawahama went a bit too far, but that might change next week. The problem is that with only eleven episodes, 20 minutes to waste on a simple build-up episode is a lot of precious time here, so I do hope that the creators know what they’re doing.

And I dunno, this series has a bit of a bad luck to air right alongside Hyouka’s school festival arc, which did put in a ton of detail in its setting. I can’t help but compare the two, and with that, this feels rather empty. The mexican liquor was interesting, but beyond that I didn’t see much more extra detail in how the school was portrayed.
Rating: 3.5/8 (Enjoyable)

Posted on 26 July 2012 with categories: Moyashimon

This second season did have a bunch of strange plot decisions, I give it that: I mean, at this point the main character of this show has pretty much changed into Hazuki. A germophobe. Because of that, the microbes have completely changed their role in the series due to the lack of interaction between them. Right now, this is a series that has a character who happens to be able to see them, and they’ve become narrators and commentators.

Now, is that a bad thing? I wouldn’t say that that automatically is the case: the series just needs to provide something to make up for this change of focus. And it has done so with its lectures and slice of life, both of which are excellent. This episode showed new stuff about old alcohol brewers and their businesses, which was quite interesting to watch.

The slice of life in this series also is the kind of slice of life I really like: it doesn’t focus on the daily grind, but on the small details, like the characters sitting down to eat some kind of new snack, or hanging out at a bar. They’ve provided lots of interesting conversation in the process. My only complaint is Haruka. I know arranged marriages are still a big thing in Japan, but this is a cliché that has gotten to the point of being a dead horse that’s too often used to introduce tension when the creators lack inspiration. If you wanted some drama around Haruka, you could just as easily have given her some money troubles that would prevent her from carrying her studies further.
Rating: (Great)

Posted on 20 July 2012 with categories: Moyashimon

The creators here nailed college, with one exception, which became clear to me with this episode: how come there is only one member of the cast who drinks? I mean, it’s college: the time which is notorious for people drinking themselves into a coma over and over again. I don’t care about the minimum age in Japan being high: Japanese students have got to have found some ways around that, right? In any case, my biggest issue is that with this, the “drinks a lot” has become a stereotype, rather than an actual character trait, due to the main cast being portrayed so black and white.

Also, my memory on the first season is completely fuzzy: I really don’t remember much of it, but haven’t some things changed in the process? I mean, for example I cannot remember that the microbes actually gave classes on fermenting (which are really interesting, by the way). In any case, what also strikes me as a big difference is that the cast is much more fun to watch now, now that it doesn’t have to bother with introductions. It makes the characters more… down to earth.

This meanwhile was an arc for Hazuki to flesh her out, and I must say that the creators used her well, but also the rest of the cast worked quite well together. I’m just wondering where the creators plan to go with that arranged marriage stuff…
Rating: (Great) – (Note: I am going to think of something new for these ratings, I just don’t have the time for that right now)

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